Receiver of memory
(Sri Aurobindo, The Synthesis of Yoga:) “The mind in Samadhi has access to the inner space called sometimes the cidākāśsa, to depths of more and more subtle ether which are heavily curtained from the physical sense by the grosser ether of the material universe, and all things sensible, whether in the material world or any other, create reconstituting vibrations, sensible echoes, reproductions, recurrent images of themselves which that subtler ether receives and retains.
It is this which explains many of the phenomena of clairvoyance, clairaudience, etc.; for these phenomena are only the exceptional admission of the waking mentality into a limited sensitiveness to what might be called the image memory of the subtle ether, by which not only the signs of all things past and present, but even those of things future can be seized; for things future are already accomplished to knowledge and vision on higher planes of mind and their images can be reflected upon mind in the present. But these things which are exceptional to the waking mentality, difficult and to be perceived only by the possession of a special power or else after assiduous training, are natural to the dream-state of trance consciousness in which the subliminal mind is free.”
(Medhananda:) “Ghosts, called ‘toupa-paou’ in Polynesia, are coherent but insubstantial remnants of vital elements. They live in a world of dreams, and often appear clothed. If one has no fear at all, they may take advantage of the support our presence provides to dissolve or evaporate. If we are afraid, our fear gives them a little substance to exist a while longer.
In this way I once met an ancient Tahitian king in full costume, while I was working in the garden on Moorea. The usual end of the afternoon rain had not come, and I had to water the lettuces. The sun was just setting and there was a very beautiful light when I saw him appear, luminous against the dark background of the forest. He was very majestic and somewhat formidable with his high crown of feathers of light. He came towards me along the narrow path leading to the garden, where there was no room for two. I did not step back or feel any movement of fright – I kept quite calm. He saw me smile. I was as if in a dream, my smile frozen on my lips, and the watering-can in my hand. When he came up to me he let out a weird ululation. Later on I learned that this cry used to be made at the moment of death to help the expulsion of the vital being – this is the role of those women who perform ritual lamentations, with loud piercing cries.
What did surprise me for a moment was that he vanished totally into me. He had no body – it was as if he was made of mist – a thick substantial mist. He entered me through the nose, gently, deliberately, and without any shock. But what entered was much more voluminous than just a body. He had chosen to liberate himself in me. He would not have been able to do this in someone of his own race. He had waited a long time for this opportunity. For this liberation was also the fulfilment of his mission as a king: to pass on his knowledge so that it would not be lost. What he gave me was not personal or individual. It was not his royal personage, but the whole Tahitian royalty, not a being but a function. It was this function that he had, so to say, introduced into me. I did not understand all this at once. The Tahitian king has the title ‘Aimata’ – ‘the eater of the eye’: that means, one who eats vision, who has absorbed the vision of his ancestors. Modern Polynesians have lost most of this because they have become Christians.
I absorbed this vision that evening of my encounter with the phantom king. And it opened the doors of prehistory to me. The Stone Age and its gnosis became an extension of my consciousness. In fact, this process had begun long before. Soon after our arrival in French Polynesia the island of Moorea ‘adopted’ us, giving us two hundred hectares of fertile land practically as a gift. This adoption continues with my children, who feel like Polynesians and have typically Polynesian psychological traits. They are part of the island, which is a living being, and they are under the protection of the community of ancestors who preside over its destiny, who consider them as royal children.
This story of my relationship with the ancient king was not known to anyone, but my wife was regularly asked to officiate at birth or death ceremonies: she was the one who spoke, in the old Tahitian language, the appropriate sacred mantras. And when the airport of Faaa near Papeete was completed, plunging Tahiti into the midst of the 20th century, she was given the honour of being asked to cut the ribbon on the inauguration day.
What I received was not limited to one island or one archipelago, but extended to a whole ocean – or rather, to the vibrant power of that ocean. The Tahitian royalty had its origin and its reason for existence from the ocean, it was the child of the ocean. The whole race was married to the ocean (as the Swiss are married to their mountains and the Red Indians to the Great Plains). A Tahitian hymn says, “The high seas are the sacred womb of this world.”
This royal Tahitian function will remain alive, even when I no longer live in Tahiti. When the transmission of the function happens en masse and suddenly, as in this case, one cannot fail to be aware of it. An entire cultural and spiritual department, along with its corresponding archetypes, was suddenly added to my subconscious memory, and only waits to become active as soon as one callls on it. But not all transmissions happen this way, from individual to individual by identification.
What have we received and continue to receive constantly here in the Ashram? It is like a dust of living gold settling gently, quietly into our subconscious – we become totally impregnated with it. The transmission of the ancient king into a chosen vessel reactivated the Tahitian racial memory, and confirmed its gnostic power.”
(Medhananda:) “A psychological phenomenon similar to the absorption of the old Polynesian royalty occurred forty years later when we went to Egypt. The ancient Egyptians had the same image as the Polynesians for knowledge – but I did not know it then. They said “Eat the eye of Horus” – that means, “Absorb the knowledge of all the archetypes”. And in a sense, that is what happened. But the process lasted longer, was much more complex, and one could also say, more tremendous.
The memory of Polynesia goes back a thousand years; but the consciousness that expressed itself in ancient Egypt, and before that in times preceding the historic era, stretches over ten thousand years. For twelve days this absorption was continuous, night and day, especially during sleep. I say absorption, but it was more a matter of self-widening, encompassing an incomparably rich way of being and seeing, a wisdom in which the two kingdoms of earth and heaven are perceived as equal and one, in which each movement of consciousness is an eternal birth, prefiguring the age of vibratory mechanics and of Sri Aurobindo.
Long before going to Egypt I had extended myself further back than the Cro-Magnons, but without absorbing them. Then suddenly this extension completed full circle. No intermediary stages were missing, everything found its right place and meaning. Now when I see the symbol HU, or the elephant's tusk, or the hippopotamus, I know that they were always there, a part of myself. I did not discover them, I discovered myself. It is my HU, my strength, my protection. I understand why Unas is called Unas, which means Being. One becomes the master of one's own existence – not in an exclusive or special way. That existence does not exclude anything. One discovers an inclusiveness.
Within oneself one is everything – unavoidably. Whatever meaning we have given the the hieroglyphics, from the chick to the owl, the crocodile to the falcon, from the eagle to the vulture, they all mean ‘myself’. The Pharaoh offers a mirror to the goddess, so that she can see herself physically. And in return the goddess gives him the ability to see himself as RE sees him. And the Litany of RE has taught us how RE sees the cat, the crocodile, the fly, the millipede, he sees them all as himself.
In ancient Egypt, as in prehistory, men lived in a non-anthropomorphic, non-anthropocentric world, but one that was humanised. You could converse with everyone, a bee, a bird, a rat, a tree, a star – what can be nearer to us than a star? You were asking me what I saw in Egypt. I didn't need to see anything. I could just sleep. Everything was myself. They were all my own dreams, each pharaoh a dream; every priest, every temple image was a mirror to look at myself in, always the same and always different, always intimately myself, and always totally different too. ...
After all, I did not learn anything new: I relearnt what I carried within me, more precisely, let us say more overmentally. In India we have a dozen three-word mahavakyas that say exactly the same thing: “Thou art That”.
Mother said once that she had never met anyone she did not recognise. She meant that she recognised herself in every being she met.
When the physical body was asleep, it was all relatively easy. The difficulties began when I had to function in an apparently normal way. Perhaps also because there were so many tourists, ghosts from the future, passing like shades amidst the splendours of a past they could not see.
I did not see any thing. Even the paved avenue that leads to the pyramid of Unas was not a thing. It was a festival. It was “Beauty! Beauty! Beauty!” – an Egyptian mantra. I found myself at the tip of a pendulum of time that now carried me five thousand years back into the past, and then brought me back into a ravaged, vulgar world, amongst the desecrated ruins. The contrast between the two was excruciating. To live for a moment or two in Sakhara in the time of the fifth dynasty was an unheard-of aesthetic and psychological experience. How lovingly everything was cared for, painted, decorated, perfumed – so that it always looked new and fresh.
That is the experience of ancient Egypt, everything is new. Look at Tut-Ankh-Amon's jewels: they are completely new. And the hieroglyphs: they have just been created. Everywhere one felt like being in a sanctuary. At every step one asked inner permission, to be sure that one was doing it right. And the massiveness of the consciousness, the knowledge of the One at the time of King Unas was a little overwhelming. Imagine a king called ‘Being’, who could describe and follow they psychological journey leading from the One to the Many, and from the Many to the One, as it is recorded in detail in his pyramid.
One could also feel the surge of the enormous wave of energy that lifted a whole nation and led them to build pyramids for a thousand years, that are still transmitting their message to the stars. The first pharaoh known to history is called Menes, ‘The Permanent’. And his reign, symbolising the oneness of all the pharaohs who were to succeed him, and the unshakable psychological foundation of ancient Egypt – in which the whole scale of consciousness is known, represented and used – can have no end.
It was not memories of past lives coming back to me. And it was not Egypt alone – it was much more than that, it was all my lives, as a whole, each one in its place, in its own role, its own function. It was the history of the earth. This is the earth [touching his leg]. ”