April 18, 1961
Man as instrument; free will
The subconscient is seething.... We shall see. And you?
- I stumbled upon a sentence from Sri Aurobindo yesterday or the day before. From the occult standpoint it has to do with a rather important problem, and I would really like some light on this question: “The man who slays is only the occasion, the instrument by which the thing done behind the veil becomes the thing done on this side of it.”
It means exactly this (I am going back to the preceding sentence): Who can protect the one whom God has already slain? He has already been slain by God. When God has decided that someone is to be slain, nothing can protect him or keep him from being slain. And Sri Aurobindo adds: the man who slays (because it is not God who slays directly, he uses a man), the man who slays is only a circumstance, the instrument through which the thing decided by God behind the veil is accomplished materially here.
These are political texts from the revolutionary period, concerning bomb attacks against the English. And then he says that the man God has protected can never be touched. However hard you try, you will never be able to slay him. But who can protect the man God has already slain? He has already been slain by God. And man is simply the instrument used by God to do here what has been done there (it has ALREADY been done there). It's very simple.
Yes, I quite understand. But in general, does EVERYTHING that happens here first get played out on the other side in some way? It's an occult problem, and furthermore a problem of freedom.
According to my experience both things are simultaneous, so to speak. It's we who introduce the notion of time, but the notion of time doesn't exist on the other side.
For example, if I were asked how much time it takes for a thing decided upon there to be realized here, I would answer that it is absolutely indeterminate. That is my experience. I always give the following example because it's so clear: Thirty-five years before India became free, I saw that she was free. It was already done. And I have also seen things which for us are almost instantaneous — something is decided there and realized almost instantly here. And there are all sorts of possibilities between these two extremes, because the notion of time is not at all the same — so we can't judge. It is facile to say that what you are seeing will happen in a year or in a week or in an hour — but in fact, this is impossible. It depends upon the case and certain factors which are part of the whole.
In one chapter of The Synthesis of Yoga, Sri Aurobindo says that there is a state of consciousness in which all is from all eternity — everything, without exception, that is to be manifested here....
- In detail?
In a certain state of consciousness (I no longer remember what he calls it — I think it's in “The Yoga of Self-Perfection”), one is perfectly identified with the Supreme, not in his static but in his dynamic aspect, the state of becoming. In this state, everything is already there from all eternity, even though here it gives us the impression of a becoming. And Sri Aurobindo says that if you are capable of maintaining this state, then you know everything: all that has been, all that is and all that will be — in an absolutely simultaneous way.
But you must have a firm head on your shoulders! Reading some of these chapters in “Self-Perfection”, I thought it would be better if it didn't fall into just anyone's hands.
Anyway, in this state the feeling of uncertainty completely disappears (he explains it very well).
Material circumstances ‘change character’
We think it's BECAUSE we do such and such a thing that something else happens. (And how frequently, too!) People are constantly saying and writing: do this and that will happen. But the fact that this person speaks and the other one acts is also absolutely decreed.
If we could really get this into our heads, it would probably make them swim.
But things as they are wouldn't be changed at all. I have had a very clear experience of this: the absoluteness of all that is materially; everything we think we are doing, or are planning, or intending, doesn't change anything about anything. But then, I was intent upon understanding what difference there can be between the true and the false state, SINCE MATERIALLY EVERYTHING IS EXACTLY AS IT SHOULD BE. (We think that things are like this or like that because of certain reactions we have, but our very reactions are as absolute and decreed as the thing itself.) And yet....
I have had this experience, and I remember it even went on for several days; I saw all material circumstances as an absolute — an absolute that we perceive as an unfolding, but which is an eternally existing absolute. I had this experience, and at the same time I had a very clear perception of what falsehood is — the lie; what, from the psychological, the mental point of view, Sri Aurobindo, translating from the Sanskrit, called crookedness. We attribute the course of circumstances to our psychological reactions — and indeed, they are used momentarily because everything collaborates either consciously or unconsciously to make things be what they have to be — but things could be what they have to be without the intervention of this falsehood. I lived in that consciousness for several days, and it became apparent that this was what separated falsehood from truth. In this state of knowledge-consciousness, the distinction can be made between falsehood and truth; and when seen in that truth-consciousness, material circumstances change character.
Now I no longer have the experience of that state except as a memory, so I can't formulate it accurately. But what was very clear and comes very often — very often — is the perception of a superimposition of falsehood over a real fact. This brings us back to what I was telling you some time ago, that everything is very simple in its truth, that human consciousness is what complicates everything. But the former was an even more total experience of it.
It is very interesting from the standpoint of death. I saw it once so clearly when someone (I no longer remember whom) had left his body. The word ‘death’ and all these human reactions seemed so foolish! So senseless, ignorant, stupid — false, without reality. There was simply something that shifted, like this (Mother draws a curve showing a shift of consciousness from one mode of being to another), and then we, in our false consciousness, made a drama out of it. But it was simply something evolving (same gesture).
Let me tell you about a recent occurrence. E. had sent a telegram saying that she had a perforated intestine (but it must have been something else because they operated on her only after several days, and when you are not operated on immediately in such cases, you die). Anyway, it was very serious and she was on the threshold of death — that much is certain. She wrote me a letter the day before the operation (what is interesting is that now she doesn't even remember what she wrote). It was a magnificent letter saying that she was conscious of the Divine Presence and of the Divine Plan. “Tomorrow they will operate on me,” she said. “And I am entirely aware that this operation has ALREADY been done, that it is a fact accomplished by the Divine Will; otherwise it could be a fatal ordeal.” And she said she was conscious of the supreme Will's action, in a perfect peace. It was a magnificent letter. And the whole thing went off almost miraculously; she recovered in such a miraculous way that the surgeon himself said, “I must congratulate you”, to which she replied, “How surprising! You did the operation!” “Yes,” he said, “we did the operation, but it is your body that willed to be healed, and I congratulate you for your body's willpower.” Of course she wrote to me that she knew who had been there to see that all went well. And this feeling of the thing being already accomplished is a beginning of the consciousness Sri Aurobindo speaks of in the “Yoga of Self-Perfection”, where one is simultaneously both here and there. Because, as Sri Aurobindo says, some people have managed to be entirely ‘there’, but what he has called the ‘realization’ is to be both there and here simultaneously.
- Of course, one might wonder what the meaning of everything here is, if it has all been already accomplished above, on an occult plane, and we are merely re-enacting it.
- We are like puppets!
No! That's exactly our falsehood! What we see is not THE THING; it's a reflection, a distorted image in our consciousness. The thing itself exists outside this reflection, and in that existence it doesn't have the character we attribute to it. Once we have grasped this, we understand that we can get out of it — otherwise, we could never get out!
There is a universal unfolding, the true unfolding, that of the Supreme Lord who watches (this is the best way to put it) his own unfoldment. But for some reason or other, there has been a deformation of consciousness which makes us see this unfolding as something separate, a more or less adequate expression of the Divine Will. But it isn't so! It is the very unfolding of the Divine within Himself — within Himself, from Himself, for Himself. And it's simply our falsehood that makes a separate thing of it ... The very fact of objectifying (what WE call ‘objectification’) is already a falsehood.
I have had this particular consciousness in flashes. The difficulty is that in expressing it, we use all our mental faculties, and they themselves are false — so we are cornered. Because when you follow through.... Whatever you say — “If this, if that, if the other...” — is all part of our general stupidity. Going right to the end of it, you are suddenly like this: “Ah!” (Mother remains suspended midway in her sentence) There is nothing more to do, not a move to make.
Only, as I have told you, practically speaking this experience can be dangerous. When it came, you see, one part of me was having the experience, and one part wasn't yet ready for it. Well, I was awake enough to tell myself, “The part experiencing this prevails and keeps the rest calm, yet if the preparation had not been adequate, it could have produced an imbalance.” And if by mischance someone without sufficient strength had the possibility of picking up something of that, well, he would lose his head.
This has made it very clear to me why certain things can illuminate some people (I have clearly seen it) and drive others utterly mad — completely destroy their balance. You might say to me, “Then it's because they had to go mad!” Yes, evidently.
But even if it's put in absolute terms, the relationships remain exactly the same. You see, the initial impulse is to say, “What's the use of doing anything?” But look here, the very fact that you might want to do something is part of the general determinism! Because we always keep something back and won't admit it into the total scheme of things, otherwise.... There is no way to get out of it — that's just the way it is.
And Sri Aurobindo explains this in such a complete, total and compact way, that there is no escape; so this so-called incapacity, this idea of still being incapable of emerging from one's divided state, becomes false.
But you have to have a firm head on your shoulders. You must always be able to refer to THAT (pointing above) and then here, silence (Mother touches her forehead): peace, peace, peace, stop everything, stop everything. Don't try, above all, don't try to understand! Oh, there is nothing more dangerous! We try to understand with an instrument not made for understanding, that's incapable of understanding.
In any case, for your question it's very simple: we don't need to go to these extremes!
- No, I wasn't putting the problem on a metaphysical plane but on an occult one ... as if the play were acted out occultly and we were executing it materially.
For us, it seems like that.
- It seems like that.... You mean it is He who is playing within Himself.
That is still another way of putting it!
Absolute freedom and absolute determinism
When I used to speak at the Playground, I tried to explain this one day — I was facing the same problem: what really is? And clearly, it is utterly impossible to understand with the mind. But I had a vision of a kind of infinite Eternity through which the Supreme Consciousness voyages ; and the path this Consciousness travels is what we call the ‘manifestation’. And this vision explained absolute freedom, it explained how both things — absolute freedom and absolute determinism — could coexist in an absolute way. The image in my vision was of an eternal Infinity in which that Consciousness voyages — one can't even say ‘freely’, because ‘freely’ would imply that it could be otherwise.
All who experience this say that the first movement of the manifestation, or the creation (creation, manifestation, objectification: all these words are imperfect) is CHIT, Consciousness that becomes Power. Consequently, Consciousness goes voyaging along in SAT, in Being — static, eternal, infinite and necessarily outside time and space — and this movement of Consciousness is what produces time and space within this Infinity and Eternity. This leads to the understanding that things can simultaneously be absolutely free and absolutely determined.
This vision I had is of no value to anyone else, but it gave me a kind of satisfaction, a kind of peace (for a while).
Vedic archetypes and the will to progress
I go on reading the Vedas and I see quite well how beautiful it is and how effective it must have been for those people, what a power for realization these hymns must have had! But for me....
Yet for a time I was in contact with all these gods and all these things, and they had an entirely concrete reality for me; but now ... I read and I understand, but I cannot live it. And I don't know why. It still hasn't triggered the experience. You see, experience for me — the constant, total and permanent Experience — is ... that there is nothing other than the Supreme — only the Supreme — that the Supreme alone exists. So when they speak of Agni or Varuna or Indra ... it doesn't strike a chord. However, what the Vedas succeed in doing very well is to give you the perception of your infirmity and ineptitude, of the dismal state we are in now; it succeeds wonderfully in doing that!
Yesterday, this ardor of the Flame was there — burning all to offer all. It was absolutely concrete, an intensity of vibrations; I could see the vibrations — all the movements of obscurity and ignorance were cast into that. And I recall a time when I was translating these hymns to Agni with Sri Aurobindo, and Agni was real for me. Well, yesterday it wasn't that, it wasn't the god Agni, it was a STATE OF BEING. It was a state of the Supreme, and as such, it was intimate, clear, intense, vibrant and living.
Only just towards the end of the night, after 2 a.m., does all this subconscient rise up to be relived. And with such a new and unexpected perception, oh! ... It's incredible! It changes all values and relationships and reactions (Mother shapes great movements of shifting forces); it's like a chessboard ... absolutely unexpected!
And I see a very steady, insistent and regular action to eliminate moral values. How I have been plagued all my life by these moral values! Everything is immediately placed on a scale of moral values (not ordinary morality — far from it! But a sense of what has to be encouraged or discouraged, what helps me towards progress or what hampers it); instantly everything was seen from the angle of this will to progress — everything, all circumstances, reactions, movements, absolutely everything was translated by that. Now, the subconscient is mounting upwards and, knee-deep in it, you see it as a lesson to tell you: so much for all your notions of progress! They are all based on illusions — a general lie. Things are not at all what they seem, they don't have the effects they appear to have, nor the results that are perceived — all, all, all, oh Lord!
Well, obviously to establish contact with and manifest what the people of the Vedas called the ‘Truth’, I still have a lot of things to change ... a lot.
And yet it's a fact that I am in the state where nothing exists any longer but the Divine, the Supreme — the Supreme in every vibration, in everything I do, everything I feel. But in some way it must still be conditioned by my consciousness, since ... since it's not yet THE Truth.
Something is happening there (Mother touches her head); something is taking shape, being worked on.... Every day, twice a day, during my long evocation-invocation-aspiration (or prayer, if you like), I say to the Supreme Lord, “Take possession of this brain.” (I don't mean ‘thought’, I mean this — Mother points to her head — this substance inside.) “Take possession of it!”
Once during the night, I went exploring inside this head; some cells still had fresh imprints of things registered during the day — for whatever reason they hadn't had time to be combined into the whole, so they showed up as tiny, very clear images, minuscule things utterly devoid of any mental or psychological movement — simply like tiny photographic images. There were three or four images like that, and it was so shocking to see them in this Presence that ... all at once I said to myself, “Am I going mad?!” It was that shocking. And I had to bring in a peace, a peace — not to make the movement of possession stop, but to accompany it simultaneously with a mighty peace so I wouldn't tell myself, “You're losing your head.” That's how shocking it was.
A tiny, very tiny image, just like a little photograph, clear! Everything else was in a vibration of transformation — splendid!
You know, mon petit, you really must have your feet on the ground, be very solid, firmly balanced, and not get carried away!
- But you seem to be saying that the ideas which govern or underlie our progress are more or less false moral ideas; so what should underlie our progress? What would make us say: this is good or not good, useful or not useful for progress?
That's just it — none of it is necessary!
Now I know that it's not necessary at all — not at all. Simply the aspiration must be constantly like this (gesture of a rising flame). Aspiration — that is, knowing what you want, wanting it. But it cannot be given a definite form; Sri Aurobindo has used certain words, we use other words, others use still other words, and all this means nothing — they are simply words. But there is something beyond all words, and that ... for me, the simplest thing (the simplest to express) is, ‘The Supreme's Will’.
And it's ‘The Supreme's Will’ FOR THE EARTH — which is quite a special thing. I am in a universal consciousness at the moment and the earth seems to me to be a very tiny thing, like this (Mother sketches a tiny ball in the air) in the process of being transformed. But this is from the standpoint of the Work, it's another matter.
But for those who are here, we can say, “It is what the Supreme Lord is preparing for the earth.” He sent Sri Aurobindo to prepare it; Sri Aurobindo called it ‘the supramental realization’, and to facilitate communication we can use the same words. Well, this movement (gesture of a rising flame) towards That must be constant — constant, total. All the rest is none of our business, and the less we meddle with it mentally, the better. But THAT, that Flame, is indispensable. And when it goes out, light it again; when it falters, rekindle it — all the time, all the time, ALL THE TIME — when sleeping, walking, reading, moving around, speaking ... all the time.
The rest doesn't matter, one can do anything (it depends on people and their ways of thinking). You can just ask people like X, they will tell you: “You can do anything at all — it doesn't matter in the least. Only you mustn't feel it's you doing it, that's all. You have to feel that Nature does it.” But I don't much approve of this system.
The important thing is the flame.
Actually, in these scenes from the subconscient presented during the night, there were things I had believed ill-omened in my life — yet suddenly I saw the vibration of this aspiration arising, with such a power and intensity EVEN THERE. “Oh,” I said, “how mistaken we are!”
And this aspiration depends neither on the state of health nor .... It's absolutely independent of all circumstances — I have felt this aspiration in the cells of my body at the very moment when things were at their most disorganized, when, from an ordinary medical standpoint, the illness was serious. The cells THEMSELVES aspire. And this aspiration has to be everywhere.
When one is in this state, there is no need to worry — nothing else matters (Mother bursts into laughter).
- Essays in Philosophy and Yoga, p.31, “The Greatness of the Individual”
- “Whom God protects who shall slay? Whom God has slain who shall protect?”
- Satprem had assumed that this state of consciousness was accessible only through a kind of trance or samadhi and that when Mother said one had to be capable of ‘maintaining this state’, she meant that one should be capable of bringing it back here, into the waking consciousness. However, Mother rectified: “It is a state with no ‘here’ or ‘there’. I have had this experience in the waking consciousness and both perceptions (the true and the false) were simultaneous.”
- The Rishis distinguished between the ‘straight’ (almost in the optical sense: that which allows the ray to pass straight through) and the twisted or crooked consciousness.
- Agenda of December 31, 1960.
- Satprem remarked that this sentence might be interpreted in an ‘illusionist’ sense (i.e., that the objectification of the material world would be a falsehood), and Mother replied: “No, it's not the objectification that is a falsehood, but our conception of the objectification as being something other than THAT. When we say that ‘He objectifies’, well, we are thinking something that is not the truth — that is no longer the truth.”
- (Later, Mother clarified this sentence as follows:)
“We always reserve a part of ourselves for looking and observing; but if we were capable of including everything, without exception, all the relationships would remain the same — I have experienced this.
- Remain the same?
An illustration of this is the well-known story about the man who refused to move out of the path of an elephant on the pretext that he was Brahman and that Brahman had told him to stay put. And the mahout replied, “But Brahman has told me that you should get out of the way and let the elephant Brahman pass.” Although childishly simplified, it's the same thing. It's because we look ‘in this way’ yet not ‘in that way’ at the same time, and above all, because we don't look at EVERYTHING at the same time. From the minute we could be integral in our perception, all relationships would remain the same, but instead of being in a state of ignorance, we would experience them in a state of knowledge.
- Would remain the same? You mean they would physically be the same as they are now, but would be seen in a different way?
- Remain the same?
- In Questions and Answers 1957-1958, February 5, 1958 (the ‘Great Voyage of the Supreme’).
- Once again, Mother's experience coincides with modern science, which is beginning to discover that time and space are not fixed and INDEPENDENT quantities — as, from the Greeks right up to Newton, we had been accustomed to believe — but a four-dimensional system, with three coordinates of space and one of time, DEPENDENT UPON THE PHYSICAL PHENOMENA DEVELOPING THEREIN. Such is ‘Riemann's Space’, used by Einstein in his General Theory of Relativity. Thus, a trajectory — i.e., in principle, a fixed distance, a quantity of space to be traversed — is a function of the time taken to traverse it: there is no straight line between two points, or rather the ‘straight’ line is a function of the rate of speed. There is no ‘fixed’ quantity of space, but rather rates of speed which determine their own space (or their own measure of space). Space-time is thus no longer a fixed quantity, but, according to science, the PRODUCT ... of what? Of a certain rate of unfolding? But what is unfolding? A rocket, a train, muscles? ... Or a certain brain which has generated increasingly perfected instruments adapted to its own mode of being, like a flying fish flying farther and farther (and faster and faster) but finally failing back into its own oceanic fishbowl. Yet what would this space-time be for another kind of fishbowl, another kind of consciousness: a supramental consciousness, for example, which can be instantaneously at any point in ‘space’ — there is no more space! And no more time. There is no more ‘trajectory’: the trajectory is within itself. The fishbowl is shattered, and the whole evolutionary succession of little fishbowls as well. Thus, as Mother tells it, space and time are a “PRODUCT of the movement of consciousness”. A variable space-time, which not only changes according to our mechanical equipment, but according to the consciousness utilizing the equipment, and which ultimately utilizes only itself; consciousness, at the end of the evolutionary curve, has become its own equipment and the sole mechanism of the universe.