Loretta reads Mother's Questions and Answers:1956-07-25

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AurovilleRadio-logo-pop.png Mother's Questions and Answers: July 25, 1956
by Loretta, 2017 (1:27:56)

Loretta reads Mother's Questions and Answers
July 25, 1956
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In Mother's class last week, she explained how to pray effectively. She said that real prayer is expressed in words which have to come from our heart, spontaneously. They come automatically with ardour ‒ with intensity, and passion, and warmth of feeling. In other words, we have to really want what we're praying for, and to really want it at that moment. Then there is a spontaneous expression.

Mother describes it as coming spontaneously from our heart, because suddenly, a flame is lit within us. Our want flames up and expresses itself from the heart, in words ‒ in true words. And that is true prayer. Otherwise it's just words in our head, and it doesn't have any effect; there's no result. And all this just becomes a kind of empty religious ritual. It is we who have to make the things real ‒ real for ourselves.

She explained that the real meditation and prayer is something that we have to work at concentrating on. And if we're just sitting there, it's a waste of our time. So she advised taking a break, if we become aware that we're only sitting there, and then we go back to our meditation and prayer.

This week, Mother speaks of the method to do physical acts of worship, like puja for an Indian religion, or lighting candles in a church for a Catholic religion, or any physical act of worship in any kind of faith. And she defines this physical act of worship as physical movements or gestures, which are meant to express consecration, or giving of the being to something higher. And then in some cases, also asking for something from a higher being. And in India, here, this form of regular religious worship is very, very common, often done daily in households.

So Mother says, first there is the physical movement. Then there is its meaning ‒ what does it symbolise. So there's a second thing that we have to do: when we make the movement, we have to have the conscious understanding of its meaning. And the third thing is there, because behind movement and understanding, there has to be a living, constant aspiration for union with the Divine. Without all three, again, we're wasting our time in meaningless religious ritual, even if it makes us feel good for a moment.

Last week, Mother also spoke about the fact that our universe is a progressive universe. She pointed out that what seems to us beautiful, marvelous and Divine in the past, can no longer appear so now. And what is so beautiful now, will be an obscurity after some time.

She said that in the same way, the gods who were all-powerful at a certain period, belonged to a lower reality than the gods who will manifest tomorrow.

And there was a class that came about later, about a year after this class, in July of 1957 (about a year later) ‒ where Mother spoke about what the gods of today would become by the time of the new supramental creation. She said that the gods of the past, and the gods of today, come from the plane of consciousness just beyond the highest mental plane: a plane of consciousness that Sri Aurobindo has called ‘the Overmind’ ‒ something beyond the mind, the next step beyond the mind. And Mother told her 1957 class that the gods, the great divine beings, would be able to participate in the new creation; but to do so, they will have to come here, and they will have to put on a body (although at that point, she said, it's what we can call the ‘supramental substance’ on earth ‒ this is far into the future). And she said that if some of them chose to remain in their world, as they are ‒ if they decide not to manifest physically ‒ their relationships with the beings of a supramental earth, the beings that man is evolving to become, will be a relation of friends and collaborators. A relation of equals. Because the highest divine essence will be manifested in the beings of the new supramental world on earth.

Of course, all this is very, very far into the future. And Mother and Sri Aurobindo said often that they could not predict details about the future ‒ because people were asking them all the time about what it would be like. They always said it depended on the way everything went on working itself out, as the new forces were able to manifest more and more.

In this week's class, Mother speaks quite seriously to the school children, and particularly to the girls, about not falling into the patterns of behavior which are usual in ordinary life. With regard to the girls, it appears to be focused on the fact that at that time in India, women were expected only to marry and to produce children. And in all cultures, through time, women are expected to marry and produce children; and in most cultures, that's all they're supposed to do. So women are encouraged and taught from babyhood to have certain types of behavior which make them attractive to men. Mother doesn't explicitly mention marriage, but it's clear that she's doing her best to take the students out of this fixed idea of women and ‘the only way that they can be’; and that there should be a change. The Ashram is there for a new change.

Which of course we see today, has taken root, and things are changing.

And in this context ‒ because she is always the guru ‒ she also points out very gently how the behavior of women to be attractive includes egoism, and pride, and competition with other women. And she gently points out that if the boys didn't have the same attitude, the girls couldn't keep their attitude.

Mother and Sri Aurobindo came here to bring a new consciousness which would change everything as it manifested. But they also worked (and especially Mother also worked) on the practical level, to bring about the changes in the daily life that have come today. And Sri Aurobindo at one time gave his whole being to bring about the changes that we see today, in the whole country of India.

We have the story about how Mother was able to put the first pair of shorts on an Indian woman. She started the Ashram school in 1943, and she started the physical education department in 1945. Soon, everyone in the Ashram was able to join some kind of sport or exercise. It was open to every age. The younger children were started together in co-educational groups. They did exercises and sports together ‒ and this was absolutely revolutionary for the India of that time. Girls doing sports with boys was simply unheard-of. In fact it was rare to have any girls doing any kind of sports, in any regular ‒ and let us say ‘large’ ‒ amount.

But Mother and Sri Aurobindo focused a lot on physical education. They said it was really important that people's bodies were strong, because the body had to receive and hold the new forces. Sri Aurobindo wrote:

“The body is the pratistha in this material universe; for the working out of the divine lila on earth it is necessary that it should have especially the dharanasamarthyam or power of sustaining the full stream of force, of ananda, of widening knowledge & being which descends into mind and prana and the vital and bodily functions with the progress of the siddhi.”[1]

In the beginning, the girls did sports dressed in their traditional clothes. They wore the punjabi pants and the kurta dresses that we still see around us today. But that's all they wore ‒ you never saw a girl in anything else but that or a sari. One day, one of the girls who was doing exercises in this outfit got hurt, because the clothes hampered her movements. Then Mother asked Bratati, one of the Ashram ladies, to make an exercise costume, consisting of white shorts, a white shirt, and a special white cloth to cover the hair. It was wrapped around the head and it was called a ‘kitty cap’.

Then Mother had a special meeting with all the girls. And she told them about the necessity for this type of dress in physical education activities. Then in front of the girls, she called Bratati, and in front of the girls she gave her the new sports outfit, and asked her to put it on. Thus, immediately after hearing Mother's explanation, all the girls saw Bratati wearing their new sports clothes. Soon, all the girls of every age were wearing shorts.

“Shorts and exercises ‒ oh my god!” It caused quite a stir in the Ashram. Older people were shocked; they were upset to see their daughters so scantily dressed, doing exercises jointly with boys. A few conservative guardians wanted to take the children in their care away from the Ashram, because parents had brought their children and left them there in the Ashram boarding, trusting that the Mother would take care of their children ‒ and now, my god, look! The girls were in shorts! Exercising with boys!

But shorts and shirts came to be the exercise dress for everyone. Even older Indian women, who had never worn anything that didn't completely cover their body, were wearing these things. I remember, in the early 1970s, you could see women wearing it all day long. Some forward-thinking Indian women decided it was much more comfortable, and they went around the Ashram just wearing their white shorts and their white shirts.

Each group of children ‒ the different age groups ‒ wore shorts of different colors. And that is how the groups were named. There was the ‘red group’ (children who wore the red-colored shorts), the ‘green group’ (for children in green shorts), etc. etc.

This was such a total change in Indian custom that many of the ashramites believed that Mother had prepared the grounds on the occult planes ‒ that she had changed the forces to support her new revolutionary step.

One ashramite later pointed out that putting both the boys and the girls in the exact same simple sports clothes was one of the most effective means to eliminate sex-consciousness between the male and the female. Mother gave a lot of attention to helping the children move past the old conventions of the outside life. For sports, she published a booklet on sports education for women; and it was called “To Women about Their Body”.

On Education
“To Women about Their Body”

On Education - To Women about Their Body.jpg
PDF (8 pages)

They've printed some of it at the end of the transcription of this class, and we'll hear it. But in starting, we should know this when we hear what Mother is going to say to the girls, because she does scold them quite a bit. So it's good to know exactly what she always wanted for the girls, before we have her comments. Here's the question that was printed in the book: “What is the ideal of physical beauty for a woman?” And this is what Mother said, this is what she's working toward:

“Perfect harmony of proportions, suppleness and strength, grace and force, plasticity, endurance and, above all, an excellent health, unvarying, unchanging, the result of a pure soul, of a joyful trust in life and an unshakable faith in the divine Grace.”[2]

And I have to say, personally, when I was living in the Ashram, in the seventies ‒ that that's how the girls looked. They just were so beautiful, these girls of every age. They had perfect harmony of proportions, and suppleness, and strength. They looked healthy, they looked happy. They looked very together. It was just a pleasure, to just see them.

So Mother's original talk, the original French recording, will play automatically after the English translation of this class.

So here we are; it's the 25th of July, 1956. We're sitting in the Playground, all the students are in front of us, close to Mother. All the ashramites are all around us; and Mother has just read her French translation from Sri Aurobindo's The Synthesis of Yoga. And they printed, at the top, in the book, the paragraph that relates to the first question. And it goes like this...

25 July 1956 [3]

“It may be said that a complete act of divine love and worship has in it three parts that are the expressions of a single whole, — a practical worship of the Divine in the act, a symbol of worship in the form of the act expressing some vision and seeking or some relation with the Divine, an inner adoration and longing for oneness or feeling of oneness in the heart and soul and spirit.”[4]
I have not understood the first two parts very well.

There is a purely physical form of the act, like those forms in cults in which a particular gesture, a particular movement is meant to express the consecration. That is purely material, as for example, lighting incense, arranging offerings, or even looking after a temple, decorating an idol, indeed all such purely physical acts.

The second part is a sort of mental consecration which makes the act that is performed a symbol. One is not satisfied with merely lighting the incense, but while lighting the incense one makes this gesture symbolic — for example, of the aspiration burning in the body or of self-giving in a dissolution, in the purification of the fire. That is to say, first the act, then the symbol in this act and the symbolic understanding of what is done.

And finally, behind these two, an aspiration for union; that all this, these acts and the symbol you make of them, may be only a means of drawing closer and closer to the Divine and making yourself fit to unite with Him.

These three things must be there for the act to be complete: that is, something purely material, something mental, and something psychic, the psychic aspiration. If one of the three is there without the other two, it is incomplete. As a rule, very rarely are the three consciously combined. That produces beings of exceptional sincerity and consecration: the entire being, in all its parts, participates in the action.


(Mother shows a packet of written questions.) Well, there was a time we had some difficulty in finding questions; now we have gone to the other extreme! I have so many that they would keep us at least till midnight if they were all to be answered! So I shall have to make a selection.... There is one at once very common and very practical which seems to me quite appropriate.

I have noted — much too often, I must say — that most of you do not listen to what I say, so much so that many a time I have answered a question in detail and immediately afterwards someone or other among you asks me exactly the same question, as though I had not said anything! And the phenomenon is explicable: each one is shut up in his own thought, just as, I suppose, you are in the habit of doing at school where you repeat your lesson to yourself if you are attentive and hardworking, and don’t listen to what the teacher is asking or what the other students are answering, and thus lose three-quarters of the advantage of not being alone in the class. Here, it is more serious, for I never give a personal, individual answer, I reply for everybody to profit by it and if, instead of listening, you continue thinking of what is in your head, it is quite obvious that you lose the opportunity of learning something. That’s the first point. If you are here, well, first listen, don’t think of something else.... But that too is not enough, that’s just the beginning: there is one good way of listening and many bad ways of listening.

I don’t know if any of you are so fond of music as to know how to hear it. But if you want to listen to music, you must create an absolute silence in your head, you must not follow or accept a single thought, and must be entirely concentrated, like a sort of screen which receives, without movement or noise, the vibration of the music. That is the only way, there is no other, the only way of hearing music and understanding it. If you admit in the least the movements and fancies of your thought, the whole value of the music escapes you. Well, to understand a teaching which is not quite of the ordinary material kind but implies an opening to something more deep within, this necessity of silence is far greater still. If, instead of listening to what you are told, you begin to jump on the idea in order to ask another question or even to discuss what is said under the false pretext of understanding better, all that you are told passes like smoke without leaving any effect.

Similarly, when you have an experience, you must never, during the period of the experience, try to understand what it is, for you immediately cause it to vanish, or you deform it and take away its purity; in the same way, if you want a spiritual teaching to enter into you, you must be absolutely immobile in your head, immobile like a mirror which not only reflects but absorbs the ray of light, lets it enter and go deep within, so that from the depths of your consciousness it may spring up again, some day or other, in the form of knowledge.

If you don’t do that, you are wasting your time, and, into the bargain, wasting mine. That’s a proved fact. I thought I had already told you this several times, but still perhaps I didn’t tell you clearly enough. If you come here, come with the intention of listening in silence. What happens you will know later; the effect of this silent attitude you will recognise later; but for the moment, the only thing to do is to be like this (gesture), silent, immobile, attentive, concentrated.

That is all.

The second question is of an altogether external kind — relatively. But it seems quite indispensable, for it concerns our sports education and also, generally, the psychological basis on which we have founded our activity here. These things have been written by Sri Aurobindo, I have written them very often, have explained them to you many a time, but I am really sorry I am obliged to state that it has not entered your consciousness.

I don’t want to start a war against what you feel and do, but I should like you at least to understand why things are done here as they are, instead of letting yourselves go in a retrograde impulsiveness and copying all that is done elsewhere under the pretext that it is “like that” that things are done, under the pretext that your parents and great-grandparents, your relatives and friends, and the grandparents of your friends, all those who stay outside continue to do things in this way and consider it the normal, natural way of doing them.

I don’t dispute the fact, in the sense that humanity was created by Nature for a special purpose and special ends, and in order to realise her ends she has produced beings and also given them special habits and special functions. Therefore, if you speak of “natural” things, I cannot tell you that this is not “natural”, for that is the way of Nature. But still, I believe I have told you — not only once but many times, and Sri Aurobindo also has written this, not once but many a time — that we are not here to recommence, perpetuate, continue what is done elsewhere. And we have given a concrete form to this fact specially in our education; for I must say, without offending anyone, that those who come here after having already seen much of life, those who have quite a heavy past behind them, may find it difficult to change their attitude and point of view immediately, but if you take very young children who have not yet been too spoiled — they are always spoiled — but those who have not yet been too spoiled by ordinary education, the ideas of their family, the atavism of their parents, etc., you have a chance of orientating the consciousness on the right path and getting a tangible and concrete result.

To tell the truth, we have nothing to complain about, for we have had striking proofs that if one knows how to do it, what we claim is possible.

What we claim is this, that in similar conditions, with the same education and the same possibilities, there is no reason to make a categorical distinction, final and imperative, between what we call men and women. For us, human beings are the expression of a single soul. It is true, as I said at the beginning, that Nature has differentiated her expressions for the satisfaction of her needs and the realisation of her purpose, but if our needs and purposes are of another kind and we don’t recognise the physical ends conceived by Nature as final, and absolute, then we can try to develop consciousness on another line.

Unfortunately, we have noticed one thing. As the years pass and the little girls grow up into big girls, suddenly we find that they begin to remember that they are girls, that they must be pretty, they must please, must dress up in a special way, put on little affectations to attract attention — and the whole result of our work collapses.

There are some — there are always exceptions to the rule — who have understood and who try to realise. But even among these there is still in the background that kind of little satisfaction of not being quite “like the others”, of being able to do what the others cannot, and for this to be clearly seen, well, they must compare themselves with the others!

So that is exactly the occasion of what I have just told you. It is a question from one of you which has given rise to another question, and I hope that if I explain to you once more in detail, insisting on the fact, we shall perhaps be able to start anew and realise something more complete and more clear.

We come down altogether to earthly things: somebody has been very successful in athletics and has come first in one event. This somebody is a “she”, for convenience in speaking. And so, ah! besides the satisfaction of having done well, there was a little satisfaction in having done better than the others, and she came to ask:

“Why are women’s records not announced?”

We have, I believe, repeated and reiterated that there are no “women’s” and no “men’s” records, there are only group records. There is the green group — the various green groups — there is the red group, the grey group, the blue group, the khaki group, the white group. You may tell me that some of these groups are exclusively men’s or women’s. I shall answer what I have just said, that unless one comes here very young, it is difficult to change one’s habits, and that is what has made this separation necessary — but it is not the ideal. And if we made it a habit to announce gloriously: “This very remarkable girl has done what no other girl could do before”, oh, la, la, what a fall it would be! Not to mention that this encourages vanity — which is not good — it is also an assertion that this fact is remarkable because it is a girl; now it is not at all a remarkable fact that it is a girl: it is remarkable because she has done very well, and there are many boys who have not done so well. But if one wants to magnify this fine fact by comparing her with other girls who have not done as well, it becomes deplorable.

So this question was brought to me. I believe that person has been given the answer which I have just told you, that there are only group records and no records of sexes.

But that is not all. I am told that some have heard — not once but hundreds of times, especially from those who come from outside with all the ideas of the world outside — this question:

“Why do you have the same programme of physical education for boys and girls?”

There are some who consider it a scandal; some consider it a glaring error from the physical, material point of view. “Why aren’t girls treated in a special way and quite differently from boys?” — then the great argument — “as it is done everywhere.”

Ah! thank you. Then why do we have an Ashram? Why do we have a Centre of Education? If everywhere the same things are done, we don’t need to repeat them, we won’t do them any better than others.

And when they put this argument in my way, they couldn’t tell me anything that appears more utterly stupid to me. It is done everywhere? That is just the reason for not doing it; for if we do what others do, it is not worth the trouble doing anything at all. We want precisely to introduce into the world something which is not there; but if we keep all the habits of the world, all the preferences of the world, all the constructions of the world, I don’t see how we can get out of the rut and do something new.

My children, I have told you, repeated it in every tone, in every way: if you really want to profit by your stay here, try to look at things and understand them with a new vision and a new understanding based on something higher, something deeper, vaster, something more true, something which is not yet but will be one day. And it is because we want to build this future that we have taken this special stand.

I tell you that we have had quite material proofs of the correctness and truth of our position, but... they are not lasting. Why? Because it is extremely easy to fall back into the ordinary consciousness, and there is nothing more difficult than to always stand on the top of the ladder and try to look at the world from up there.

We don’t want to obey the orders of Nature, even if these orders have millions of years of habits behind them. And one thing is certain, the argument of Nature when she is opposed to things changing, is: “It has always been thus.” I claim this is not true. Whether she likes it or not, things change, and a day will come when it will be said: “Ah! yes, there was a time when it was like that, but now it is different.”

Well, grant only for some time, in a way which is still that of faith and trust, that we are in fact bringing about this change, that we have come to a point where things are going to take a turn and a new orientation. You are simply asked to have just a little faith and trust and allow yourselves to be guided. Otherwise, well, you will lose the advantage of being here, that’s all. And you will go back with the same weaknesses and same habits one sees in life as it is outside. There you are.

You thought I was a little severe, a little hard, and that after all it was not easy to satisfy me! That is why you tie pretty little pink ribbons in your hair or on pigtails hanging at the back. I say, perhaps a little uncharitably: “You look ridiculous!” For you think you are very fine to look at, but truly this makes you ridiculous. If you want to go out into the world and preen yourselves as girls do in the world and give yourselves airs in order to please because that is your sole defense and sole weapon, to attract attention and to please, and be quite pretty, quite seductive, you are quite free to do so, it’s no longer my concern. But indeed to do all that here is ridiculous. It is ridiculous and you also bring yourselves down immediately to a level which is not very pretty.

Naturally, you may blame me for telling you all this in front of “the other sex”. But I include him in the ridicule, for if he did not think as he does, if he did not feel as he does and did not act as he does, you would have long ago been disgusted with these childish little affectations. There we are.

Now I have told you all I wanted to say. I think this is enough for today, isn’t it? You have really had it!

Le 25 juillet 1956 [5]

« On peut dire aussi qu’un acte complet d’amour divin et d’adoration comprend trois parties qui sont l’expression d’un tout unique : un culte pratique du Divin dans l’acte, un culte symbolique dans la forme de l’acte exprimant quelque vision et quelque recherche du Divin ou quelque relation avec lui, enfin une adoration intérieure, un besoin d’unité ou un sentiment d’unité dans le coeur, dans l’âme et l’esprit. »
Je n’ai pas bien compris les deux premières parties.

Il y a une forme purement physique de l’acte, une forme comme celle des cultes, où l’on fait un geste spécial, un mouvement spécial qui est destiné à exprimer la consécration. Cela, c’est purement matériel, comme par exemple d’allumer de l’encens, d’arranger des offrandes, ou bien de prendre soin d’un temple, de décorer une idole, enfin tout ce genre d’actes-là, purement physiques.

La seconde partie est une sorte de consécration mentale qui fait de l’acte que l’on accomplit un symbole. On ne se contente pas simplement d’allumer de l’encens, mais en allumant l’encens on fait de ce geste un symbole ; par exemple, de l’aspiration qui brûle dans le corps, ou du don de soi dans une dissolution, dans la purification du feu. C’est-à-dire l’acte d’abord, puis le symbole dans cet acte et la compréhension symbolique de ce que l’on fait.

Et finalement, derrière ces deux choses, une aspiration à l’union ; que tout cela, que ces actes et le symbole que l’on y met soient seulement des moyens de vous rapprocher de plus en plus du Divin et de vous rendre capable de vous unir à Lui.

Ce sont les trois choses qui doivent être là pour que l’acte soit complet ; c’est-à-dire une chose purement matérielle, une chose mentale, et une chose psychique, l’aspiration psychique. S’il y a l’une des trois sans les deux autres, c’est incomplet. Il est généralement très rare que les trois soient consciemment unies. Cela fait des êtres exceptionnels de sincérité et de consécration : l’être tout entier, dans toutes ses parties, participe à l’action.


(Mère montre un paquet de questions écrites) Eh bien, il fut un temps où nous avions de la difficulté à trouver des questions ; maintenant nous sommes allés à l’autre extrême ! J’en apporte tellement que cela nous garderait au moins jusqu’à minuit s’il fallait répondre à toutes ! Alors, je vais être obligée de faire une sélection... Il y en a une qui est à la fois d’un ordre très général et très pratique, et qui me paraît assez appropriée.

Je me suis aperçue (beaucoup trop souvent, je dois dire) que la plupart d’entre vous n’écoutent pas ce que je dis, au point qu’il est arrivé maintes fois que je répondais en détail à une question et qu’immédiatement après l’un ou l’autre d’entre vous me posait exactement la même question, comme si je n’avais rien dit ! Et le phénomène s’explique : chacun est enfermé dans sa propre pensée, comme d’ailleurs, je le suppose, vous avez l’habitude de le faire à l’école où vous vous répétez votre leçon à vous-même si vous êtes attentif et assidu, et vous n’écoutez pas ce que le professeur demande ni ce que les autres élèves répondent, et ainsi vous perdez les trois quarts de l’avantage de ne pas être seul en classe. Ici, c’est plus sérieux, parce que je ne donne jamais une réponse personnelle, individuelle, je réponds pour que tous en profitent et si, au lieu d’écouter, vous continuez à penser à ce que vous avez dans la tête, il est de toute évidence que vous perdez l’occasion d’apprendre quelque chose. C’est le premier point. Si vous êtes ici, eh bien, d’abord écoutez, ne pensez pas à autre chose... Mais cela ne suffit même pas, c’est seulement le commencement : il y a une bonne manière d’écouter et beaucoup de mauvaises manières d’écouter.

Je ne sais pas si quelques-uns d’entre vous sont assez amoureux de la musique pour savoir l’entendre. Mais si vous voulez écouter de la musique, il faut que vous fassiez un silence absolu dans votre tête, que vous ne suiviez et n’acceptiez aucune pensée, et que vous soyez entièrement concentré comme une sorte d’écran qui reçoit, sans mouvement et sans bruit, la vibration de la musique. C’est la seule manière, il n’y en a pas deux, la seule manière d’entendre la musique et de la comprendre. Si le moins du monde vous admettez les mouvements et les fantaisies de votre pensée, toute la valeur de la musique vous échappe. Eh bien, pour comprendre un enseignement qui n’est pas tout à fait d’ordre matériel ordinaire, qui implique l’ouverture à quelque chose de plus intérieur, cette nécessité du silence est encore beaucoup plus grande. Si, au lieu d’écouter ce que l’on vous dit, vous commencez à sauter sur l’idée pour poser une autre question, ou même à discuter ce qui vous est dit sous le prétexte fallacieux de comprendre mieux, tout ce qui vous est dit passe comme de la fumée sans laisser aucun effet.

De même, lorsque vous avez une expérience, il ne faut jamais, pendant le temps de l’expérience, essayer de comprendre ce qu’elle est, parce que vous la faites s’évanouir immédiatement, ou vous la déformez et vous lui enlevez sa pureté ; de même, si vous voulez qu’un enseignement spirituel entre au-dedans de vous, il faut que vous soyez tout à fait immobile dans votre cerveau, immobile comme un miroir, non seulement qui reflète, mais qui absorbe, qui laisse le rayon entrer et aller profondément au-dedans, afin que des profondeurs de votre conscience il ressorte, un jour ou l’autre, sous forme d’une connaissance.

Si vous ne faites pas cela, vous perdez votre temps, et pardessus le marché vous perdez le mien. Voilà un point qui est bien établi. Je pensais vous l’avoir déjà dit plusieurs fois, mais enfin, peut-être que je ne vous l’avais pas dit assez clairement. Si vous venez ici, venez avec l’intention d’écouter dans le silence. Ce qui arrivera, vous le saurez plus tard ; l’effet de cette attitude silencieuse, vous le reconnaîtrez plus tard ; mais pour le moment, la seule chose à faire est d’être comme cela (geste), silencieux, immobile, attentif, concentré.

C’est tout.

La seconde question est d’un ordre tout à fait extérieur (relativement). Mais elle paraît assez indispensable parce qu’elle concerne notre éducation sportive, et aussi, d’une façon générale, la base psychologique sur laquelle nous avons établi notre action ici. Ces choses ont été écrites par Sri Aurobindo, je les ai écrites très souvent, je vous les ai expliquées maintes fois, mais, avec assez de regret, je suis obligée de constater que ce n’est pas entré dans votre conscience.

Je ne veux pas partir en guerre contre ce que vous sentez et ce que vous faites, mais je voudrais au moins que vous compreniez pourquoi les choses sont faites ici comme elles le sont, au lieu de vous laisser aller dans une spontanéité rétrograde à copier tout ce qui se fait ailleurs, sous prétexte que c’est « comme cela » que les choses se font, sous prétexte que vos parents et arrièregrands-parents, que les parents et les amis, et les grands-parents de vos amis, que tous ceux qui sont restés au-dehors continuent de faire les choses comme cela, et qu’ils considèrent que c’est la façon normale, naturelle de les faire.

Je ne conteste pas le fait, en ce sens que l’humanité a été créée par la Nature dans un but spécial et pour des fins spéciales, et qu’en vue de la réalisation de ses fins, elle a fabriqué des êtres et leur a donné des habitudes spéciales aussi, et des fonctions spéciales. Par conséquent, si vous parlez de choses « naturelles », je ne peux pas vous dire que ce n’est pas « naturel », parce que c’est la manière de la Nature. Mais enfin, je crois vous avoir dit — pas seulement une fois, bien des fois, et Sri Aurobindo aussi l’a écrit, pas une fois, mais bien des fois — que nous n’étions pas ici pour recommencer, perpétuer, continuer ce qui se fait ailleurs. Et nous avons concrétisé ce fait spécialement dans notre éducation ; parce que je dois dire, sans offenser personne, que ceux qui viennent après avoir déjà beaucoup vécu, qui ont un passé assez lourd derrière eux peuvent trouver difficile de changer immédiatement leur attitude et leur point de vue, mais que si vous prenez des tout petits enfants qui n’ont pas encore été trop gâtés — ils sont toujours gâtés, mais qui n’ont pas été trop gâtés par l’éducation ordinaire, les idées de la famille, l’atavisme des parents, etc., vous avez une chance d’orienter la conscience sur la vraie route et d’obtenir un résultat tangible et concret.

À dire vrai, nous n’avons pas à nous plaindre, parce que nous avons eu des preuves éclatantes que, si l’on sait le faire, ce que nous prétendons est possible.

Ce que nous prétendons, c’est que dans des conditions analogues, avec une éducation identique et des possibilités identiques, il n’y a pas de raison de faire une distinction catégorique, finale et impérative, entre ce que l’on appelle les hommes et les femmes. Pour nous, les êtres humains sont l’expression d’une âme unique. Il est vrai, comme je le disais au début, que la Nature a différencié ses expressions pour la satisfaction de ses besoins et la réalisation de ses mobiles, mais si nos besoins et nos mobiles sont d’une autre nature et que nous ne reconnaissions pas que les fins physiques telles qu’elles sont conçues par la Nature soient des fins finales et absolues, alors nous pouvons essayer de développer des consciences sur une autre ligne.

Malheureusement, nous nous sommes aperçus d’une chose. À mesure que les années passent et que les petites filles deviennent de grandes filles, voilà que tout à coup, elles commencent à se souvenir qu’elles sont des filles, qu’elles doivent être jolies, qu’elles doivent plaire, qu’elles doivent s’habiller d’une façon spéciale, faire des petites manières pour se faire remarquer — et tout le résultat de notre travail tombe par terre.

Il y en a (il y a toujours des exceptions à la règle) qui ont compris et qui essayent de réaliser. Mais même parmi celles-là, il reste à l’arrière-plan cette espèce de petite satisfaction de ne pas être tout à fait « comme les autres », de pouvoir faire ce que les autres ne peuvent pas faire, et pour que cela apparaisse clairement, eh bien, il faut comparer avec les autres !

Alors, voilà exactement quelle a été l’occasion de ce que je viens de vous dire. C’est une question de l’une d’entre vous, qui a fait naître une autre question, et j’ai l’espoir que si je vous explique une fois de plus en détail, en insistant sur le fait, nous pourrons peut-être repartir à nouveau et réaliser quelque chose de plus complet et de plus clair.

Nous descendons tout à fait dans les choses terrestres : quelqu’un a réussi très bien en athlétisme et a été la première dans une épreuve. Ce quelqu’un est une « elle », pour la facilité du langage. Et alors, ah ! en plus de la satisfaction d’avoir bien fait, il y a eu une petite satisfaction d’avoir mieux fait que les autres, et elle est venue demander :

« Pourquoi n’annonce-t-on pas les records féminins ? »

Nous croyons avoir répété et redit qu’il n’y a pas de records « féminins » et de records « masculins », qu’il y a des records de groupes. Il y a le groupe vert (les différents groupes verts), il y a le groupe rouge, il y a le groupe gris, il y a le groupe bleu, il y a le groupe khaki, il y a le groupe blanc. Vous pouvez me dire que certains de ces groupes sont exclusivement masculins et d’autres exclusivement féminins. Je vous répondrai ce que j’ai dit tout à l’heure, c’est qu’à moins que l’on ne vienne ici tout petit, il est difficile de changer ses habitudes, et c’est ce qui a rendu nécessaire de faire cette séparation — mais ce n’est pas par idéal. Et que si nous prenions l’habitude d’annoncer glorieusement : « Cette fille si remarquable a fait ce qu’aucune autre fille n’a pu faire avant elle », oh ! là ! là ! d’où tombonsnous ! Sans compter que c’est un encouragement à la vanité (ce qui n’est pas bon), mais c’est aussi une affirmation que c’est un fait remarquable parce que c’est une fille ; or, ce n’est pas du tout un fait remarquable que ce soit une fille : c’est un fait remarquable parce qu’elle a très bien fait et qu’il y a beaucoup de garçons qui n’ont pas fait si bien. Mais si l’on veut amplifier ce bien en la comparant aux autres filles qui n’en ont pas fait autant, cela devient lamentable.

Alors, on m’a apporté cette question. Je crois que l’on a répondu à cette personne en lui disant ce que je viens de vous dire, qu’il n’y a que des records de groupes et pas de records de sexes.

Mais ce n’est pas tout. On m’a dit avoir entendu (pas une fois, mais des centaines de fois, surtout de gens qui viennent du dehors avec toutes les idées du dehors) cette question-ci :

« Pourquoi avez-vous le même programme d’éducation physique pour les garçons et pour les filles ? »

Il y en a qui considèrent que c’est un scandale ; il y en a qui considèrent que c’est une erreur grossière au point de vue physique, matériel. « Pourquoi les filles ne sont-elles pas traitées d’une façon spéciale et tout à fait différente des garçons ?... » Alors, le gros argument : « ... comme cela se fait partout. »

Ah ! merci bien. Alors pourquoi avons-nous un Ashram ? Pourquoi avons-nous un Centre d’Éducation ? Si partout on fait les mêmes choses, nous n’avons pas besoin de les répéter, nous ne les ferons pas mieux que les autres.

Et quand on me met cet argument dans les jambes, on ne peut rien me dire qui me paraisse plus profondément imbécile. Cela se fait partout ? C’est justement la raison pour ne pas le faire ; parce que si nous faisons comme les autres, ce n’est pas la peine de rien faire du tout. Nous voulons justement introduire dans le monde quelque chose qui n’y est pas ; mais si nous gardons toutes les habitudes du monde, toutes les préférences du monde, toutes les constructions du monde, je ne vois pas comment nous pouvons sortir de l’ornière et faire quelque chose de nouveau.

Mes enfants, je vous ai dit, répété sur tous les tons, de toutes les manières : si vous voulez vraiment profiter de votre séjour ici, tâchez de regarder les choses et de les comprendre avec un oeil nouveau et une compréhension nouvelle basée sur quelque chose de plus haut, quelque chose de plus profond, de plus vaste, quelque chose de plus vrai, quelque chose qui n’est pas encore mais qui sera un jour. Et c’est parce que nous voulons construire cet avenir que nous avons pris une attitude spéciale.

Je vous dis que nous avons eu des preuves tout à fait matérielles de l’exactitude et de la vérité de notre position, mais... elles ne sont pas durables. Pourquoi ? Parce qu’il est extrêmement facile de retomber dans la conscience ordinaire, et qu’il n’y a rien de plus difficile que de se tenir tout le temps sur le haut de l’échelle et d’essayer de regarder le monde de là-haut.

Nous ne voulons pas obéir aux ordres de la Nature, même si ces ordres ont derrière eux des milliards d’années d’habitude. Et une chose est certaine, c’est que l’argument de la Nature quand elle s’oppose à ce que les choses changent, c’est : « Cela a toujours été ainsi. » Moi, je prétends que ce n’est pas vrai. Qu’elle le veuille ou qu’elle ne le veuille pas, les choses changent, et un jour viendra où l’on dira : « Ah ! oui, il y avait un temps où c’était comme cela, mais maintenant c’est autrement. »

Eh bien, admettez seulement pendant quelque temps, d’une façon qui appartienne encore à la foi et à la confiance, que, justement, on est en train de faire ce changement, qu’on est arrivé au moment où les choses vont se retourner et prendre une nouvelle orientation. On vous demande simplement d’avoir un tout petit peu de foi et de confiance, et de vous laisser guider. Autrement, eh bien, vous perdrez l’avantage d’être ici, c’est tout. Et vous repartirez avec les mêmes faiblesses et les mêmes habitudes que l’on voit dans la vie telle qu’elle est en dehors de chez nous. Voilà.

Vous avez cru que j’étais un peu sévère, un peu rigoureuse, et qu’enfin ce n’était pas commode de me satisfaire ! C’est pour cela que l’on choisit de jolis petits rubans roses dans les cheveux, ou des queues qui pendent dans le dos. Je dis, sans charité peut-être : « Vous êtes ridicules ! » Parce que vous croyez que vous êtes très agréables à voir, mais vraiment cela vous rend ridicules. Si vous voulez aller dans le monde et puis vous arranger comme les filles s’arrangent dans le monde, et puis faire des petites manières pour plaire parce que c’est votre seule défense et votre seule arme d’action, attirer l’attention et plaire, et être bien jolies, bien séduisantes, libre à vous, cela ne me regarde plus. Mais vraiment faire cela ici, c’est ridicule. C’est ridicule et puis vous vous faites descendre immédiatement à un niveau qui n’est pas joli.

Naturellement, vous pouvez me reprocher de vous dire cela devant « l’autre sexe ». Mais je l’inclus dans le ridicule, parce que s’il ne pensait pas comme il pense, s’il ne sentait pas comme il sent et s’il n’agissait pas comme il agit, il y a longtemps que vous seriez dégoûtées de ces petites manières si enfantines. Voilà.

Maintenant je vous ai dit tout ce que je voulais dire. Je crois que cela suffit pour aujourd’hui, non ? Vous avez votre compte complet !

  1. Record of Yoga, p.11, “Sapta Chatusthaya”
  2. Questions and Answers 1956, p.242
  3. Ibid., p.234
  4. The Synthesis of Yoga, p.163, “The Ascent of the Sacrifice – 2: The Works of Love—The Works of Life”
  5. Entretiens 1956, p.262