Talk for Tibetan students (Radio program)
- 1 Mother and Sri Aurobindo and why they came
- 2 The supramental transformation
- 3 The action taking place through Auroville
- 4 Q & A
- 4.1 Why did Mother always talk about flowers?
- 4.2 What is the significance of the symbol of Auroville?
- 4.3 Who was Sri Aurobindo's mentor?
- 4.4 What is the best coordination between the Mother and Sri Aurobindo?
- 4.5 What do Sri Aurobindo and the Mother say about dying?
- 4.6 How did people start believing in the new consciousness?
- 4.7 Was Sri Aurobindo included in the Indian freedom fighting struggle?
- 4.8 Are there any people at this time who oppose the new consciousness?
- 4.9 Did Sri Aurobindo meet Mahatma Gandhi?
- 4.10 Can you explain Sri Aurobindo and the Mother's vision for the future?
Mother and Sri Aurobindo and why they came
I love seeing you all here. And already I had some feeling about this group: that you are all extremely smart. And all interested in real facts – you really want to know. I'm feeling that, because when I think of what I am going to say sometimes I have a feeling who is going to listen. So I've prepared a talk starting with simple facts about Mother and Sri Aurobindo's life, that come together with why they are here.
Now, people are now seeing that the world is changing very fast. It seems like things are happening, things are difficult, but at the same time wonderful things are happening. And Mother and Sri Aurobindo talked about this a hundred years ago.
I'm sure that in your Tibetan teachings and in other books you have read, people are talking about a new consciousness that is coming now (yes, I see some people shaking their heads 'yes'). This is the reason that Mother and Sri Aurobindo came here. Their purpose was to work for bringing this new consciousness to man. So, this sense of the new consciousness is springing up like flowers out of the earth, all over the world. Even in people who don't know anything about Mother and Sri Aurobindo. And especially young people – people of your generation, and also now little babies. You can see how very open they are, and how very smart they are – and great changes are coming.
So in order to understand Mother and Sri Aurobindo in this frame, I'm going to talk about their early lives.
Sri Aurobindo was born in 1878, and he was educated in England. And from his childhood he was a good writer. So from his early, early years, he was given training in writing. Now why is that important? Because great realized beings like Sri Aurobindo – everything he touches carries the vibration of his consciousness. Just like with the Dalai Lama: when he is in the room with us, we feel his consciousness; we see his photograph, we feel his consciousness; we read his words – same with Mother and Sri Aurobindo. So Sri Aurobindo from his early childhood has this training in being able to write. He was a tremendous reader; sometimes he read ten books a day, and he never forgot what he read.
He did not have spiritual experiences in England, where he was educated. At the age of 21 he came back to India; and when his feet touched the shores of India, he started having realizations and experiences. And eventually he understood from these that the new consciousness was coming, and he worked to have it come in him.
Now of course the big question is: what is the new consciousness? What are we possibly talking about?
You look back through all spiritual history and there's always one goal. It doesn't matter what country it's from, who's teaching it. It's the full consciousness – the full consciousness that created the universe, the full consciousness that manifests the universe, the full consciousness that's in the universe, and the unmanifested consciousness on which everything sits. This consciousness is the goal of all spiritual seekers. And Sri Aurobindo and the Mother said that this (what they called) 'supramental consciousness' is this consciousness.
So what is happening is that for those people who are ready, for those souls who are ready for this realization, this consciousness is becoming more available. Now why is it becoming more available? Because there are very realized souls who are helping it to come, because now is the time. There are prophecies and sayings in probably most spiritual teachings about this change. And it seems we're all very lucky to be born in this time. Because this is the time this is available. And it's available for those who are capable of receiving it; it takes work, and we'll talk about that in a little bit.
But this is sort of the groundwork with which we can understand Sri Aurobindo's life and Mother's life, and Sri Aurobindo and the Mother's teachings.
So Mother was born in 1878 – and a little different from Sri Aurobindo, she was always conscious. I don't know if you saw in the exhibition the little photo of Mother standing by her chair – at age 4 with a little tiny chair – but by age 4 she was sitting in meditation. And as she was sitting in meditation, she could perceive this great light above her head. And she could feel this light doing something – creating some activity inside her brain. And she wanted to unite with the light. She wanted to become one with this light.
By age 4 she understood she had a great work to do. She was always conscious. By age 5, she started to create a process by which she could help people to realize this consciousness. This little girl, age 5 years old, was working out a method that she used throughout her life to help people to receive this consciousness.
As she grew up, she went into trance; she showed great supernatural strength, a great supernatural brilliance. By the age of 11 and 12 she was already no longer sleeping at night. She remained conscious all the time, and while her body was asleep, she would go out of her body to help suffering people. And she writes about some of the things that she did. Around this time she started receiving teachings from other beings at night; and one of those people was Sri Aurobindo. And she understood that it was with Sri Aurobindo that she would be working later in her life. And at that time she had no one to help her; she had no book to read, no one to guide her. But she called Sri Aurobindo 'Krishna', even though she knew nothing about Indian philosophy or Krishna-consciousness or anything.
Later when they first met, she recognized him immediately.
So as she grew up, she had the same realizations that Sri Aurobindo did, and she became a teacher at a very early age. In 1914, she came to India to meet Sri Aurobindo; she recognized him and they started their work. World War I broke out at the end of 1914, and she had to go back. But she came back permanently, to live in the Ashram, in 1920. And people started coming.
Mother wrote somewhere that they thought: “Should we start an ashram? Should we not? What should we do?”; and people started just knocking on the door. So the question was answered by the universal cosmos itself. And Mother organized the Ashram, where people could work on receiving the new consciousness.
Now, what is that work doing?
The supramental transformation
The name of this consciousness is 'supra-mental', because our mind is not a fit instrument to receive this higher consciousness. Mankind has to develop beyond the mind, to become a different kind of a person. Now Mother and Sri Aurobindo called that 'transformation'. And I'm sure you've heard the word now: 'the transformation', 'the supramental transformation'. All over the world, for no reason, everyone is saying 'transformation', 'transformation', 'transformation' – why? Because this is a consciousness that is coming out. It is coming out everywhere, and those people who are able to receive it – they will receive it.
So what does that mean? What do you have to do?
First of all, you have to want to do it. That's already a very big step. Because while all over the world there are many people to whom it's coming, there are also many more people who don't know anything about it. Who are not interested in it. They like their lives; they want material things; they don't realize when their behavior is not the best, because they're running after their desires – it's the normal, non-seeker consciousness (that of course you people learn about – you know, from an early age you always learn these things).
So you have on the earth these two kinds of people. And the way to make this consciousness come more is for us to want it. For us to decide: 'yes, this is something I want'. But it's also a fact that if we choose this, that it has been choosing us. Because it is those people whose souls are ready to receive it.
And what we have to do – in our life, we have developed certain personalities, because of the way we were born, the culture we are in, the particular parents that we have, the school we have gone to – and so in order to get along, in order to function, to act, we developed certain responses and reactions. Not only that: we have their patterns of thought, that just – we've heard them all our lives, we never thought about them – we automatically think them. Maybe they're not the best.
So what we have, we have what's called 'purification'. Because what we're trying to do is to purify our beings out of these automatic responses. Maybe being angry, maybe being very unhappy, maybe fighting – any of these kinds of things. Maybe even being too happy – being so too happy that we are blind to know what we really are doing and what is going on.
How do we do that? Well first of all we notice it. And then we understand that there's a much greater power than we are, that's acting in the universe. A great power for good; a great power for progress. People like His Holiness [the Dalai Lama] embody that power; people like Mother and Sri Aurobindo embody that power. And we ask for help.
So Mother had a couple of phrases: she said we have to have 'aspiration'. Aspiration means a high wanting. We aspire to the higher thing. And then, she says, we have to 'surrender'. So we give up [to], we surrender to the higher power these – whatever they may be, within us, that we recognize are not the greatest thing. And so we're basically asking for help. And it takes years; I am learning how to give it up, little by little, little by little. It's a long practice, and a deep practice, and sometimes it's a painful practice. Because sometimes what we've done is we've taken in things that have hurt us. And we don't want to see those things, so we shut all the doors inside and don't look at them. So then sometimes we have to face those things. And we have to offer them up and surrender them. And we have to be open to receiving all of the new and wonderful things that are coming into the creation.
So when Mother and Sri Aurobindo started the Ashram, very special people came to live in the Ashram. And at that time it was very strict. There were very strong rules, because this was very new. And so the people stayed in their rooms, they went to their meditations, and they worked – always trying to open their beings, to surrender their beings, to receive the divine forces.
And in , Sri Aurobindo saw that he could work better if he wasn't in his body any longer. One of the things that he was doing, and one of the things that Mother and Sri Aurobindo said which was new (in the history of most spiritual teachings), was that the realization had to come all the way through into the cells of our physical body. Most teachings at this point in time – or at that point in time – were saying 'you go out', 'you go up', 'you recede', 'you leave the body'. But Mother and Sri Aurobindo said that's not enough. Here it is! They came here for something – you can't throw it in a trench. Everything starts and ends in this physical body.
Now why is that so difficult? Because consciousness itself moves easily. Just pure consciousness moves easily. Our thoughts are not pure consciousness; but they also move easily. Our feelings move easily. (Maybe not as quickly as our thoughts, but they move.) But our body is very dense. Physical matter – this physical matter, all of it – is the final end of the manifestation of the consciousness. So what do I mean by that?
We take pure consciousness. It says: 'I'm going to forget who I am, and work back to becoming who I am – to become One'. So the final 'forgetting' is in the physical matter. So part of the work that Mother and Sri Aurobindo were doing was bringing the consciousness and fixing it in physical cells of their bodies – and also in everything.
Mother said that when she walked on the earth, every place she put her foot, she would put the consciousness into the earth. Every place that she walked.
So Sri Aurobindo said to the Mother, 'your body is a stronger body, and a better body for working on the consciousness. And I'm going to go out now and leave my body to work outside. Because I can work faster'. So on December 5th, 1950, he left.
Mother carried on; she continued to bring the new consciousness and she worked with the ashramites. By now, children were coming to the Ashram. And the Ashram was not so 'tight' – there were many wide open things going on – sometimes people were serious about the Yoga, sometimes they were not. But there was a solid foundation built in the Ashram. So that the work could go on all over the world.
The action taking place through Auroville
When Mother was ninety years old, in 1968, she started Auroville. Now Mother had been thinking about starting a city for many many years. But it was only then that it was able to come in the universal consciousness. And Auroville is the next step.
Mother and Sri Aurobindo worked; the early seekers worked; the later seekers worked; and when there was enough strength of the new consciousness established, then you could have a place like this, where there are many people who don't know anything about it. But they feel something. We have here in Auroville all levels of people: ready to receive the consciousness, not ready to receive the consciousness, trying, not trying. And Auroville – what happens in Auroville, it has an influence all over the world. So people like Kalsang who is here – her consciousness, what she receives affects her country. I come from the United States, what I – it's automatic, I don't think about it. It's because consciousness is only one. And when we finally become a person we're sort of cutting off our knowledge of our oneness – but it's still one. So we are all connected. And everything that we do affects everything in the universe.
So I think I've said enough to get lots of questions! Please, tell me what you'd like to know.
Q & A
Why did Mother always talk about flowers?
It's a good question. We are made of the earth. Everything we eat, everything in our bodies, everything we sit on, everything in this world – everything comes from the earth. We are no different: we come from the earth. The earth is a great being. And the earth has its own path of progress. And we are that sort of 'final top' of the earth's progress, because we are part of the earth that can step off the earth. We can walk. Flowers are a part of the earth that are planted inside the earth. And Mother found that each flower had inside them some part of the earth's aspirations, the earth's wanting to grow or to progress. And she was able to feel from each flower what they are.
And I think the book is in the library – you can read some of the names Mother felt. There's a flower she called “Mental honesty”. There's a flower she called “Progress”. There's a flower she called “Love for the Divine”. And because these flowers carry that vibration, she used them in teaching people. And so people would come to see her, and she would give them the matching flower that they needed that day, for their consciousness.
But when Mother left her body in 1973, at the age of 95, she left us the living earth to be our teacher. I mean down through the ages, great wise men are always seen looking at a beautiful flower, always receiving something from a flower – and now we know why. So that's the reason that Mother spoke about the flowers.
And there was another reason as well: because mankind, as a general thing, has lost the feeling for what man is supposed to do to take care of the earth. And these teachings of Mother's about the flowers helps to bring back this feeling in us, when we have more of a relationship with these flowers.
There's a – I guess you call it a game, 'game' is not the right word, it's not respectful enough – someone here in Auroville has made of cards with Mother's flower teachings. (And I don't know: Kalsang might have it in the library.) But they're most wonderful, because you can approach these cards in a feeling of aspiration, and take a card, and it will help you. And on the card is a flower: “Mental honesty”, let's say, or “Aspiration for Divine Love”, or “Love for the Divine”, and you can actually receive – it's one of those things like in a book, the words, you get their presence. The card itself, the photograph, has some presence.
So Mother has left behind many ways to follow this path, which is a path without a path. Because every single person is different. And everybody has to do it in their own way.
I wanted to say a little bit about their writings. Sri Aurobindo wrote a big poem called Savitri. You may have heard of it – the book is like (gesture) this thick. And that poem – he put all of his spiritual realizations, and all of Mother's spiritual realizations, and all of his teachings. And for more than thirty years he wrote that poem over and over and over again. Now why did he do that? Because each time he was able to go to a higher level in the consciousness, and bring down more of the consciousness into the poem.
And Mother, she taught classes. And they recorded or wrote down everything, and they made Mother's books. And that consciousness that Mother had at that time stays in those words. So if you need help, when you are struggling and fighting, as everybody does – and it's a serious work, when you are struggling and fighting with your own purification – just to read the words of Mother or the words of Sri Aurobindo gives some help. Gives some more consciousness that carries us on. Because why are we struggling and fighting? Because our consciousness isn't full enough.
I would also say that when we have problems, it's very much because we are resisting the new Light that is coming. Mother talks about that. She says, when you have something inside, and you say 'this person is difficult', or 'this situation is difficult', she says what you have to say is 'my surrender is not perfect'. And then you open yourself to receive something and receive something, and then you go on.
Any more questions?
What is the significance of the symbol of Auroville?
Ok, the question is what is the significance of the symbol of Auroville – and I have to say I can't answer it. It's very specific significance, and it's in the book. There are five sections, and each one means something, and if I make a mistake I will feel very bad. So I think you will find it in many of the books – they will explain it very precisely.
Who was Sri Aurobindo's mentor?
Sri Aurobindo didn't have much of a mentor. He started experimenting on his own. And one day, he met a yogi named Lele. And Lele told him to sit in a room and watch the thoughts, because thoughts come in from outside. We are not our thoughts. We are a kind of a receiving station, like a radio station. And Lele said 'you sit in your meditation and watch the thoughts coming in'. And Sri Aurobindo did that for three days – and after that he had no thoughts. He had a totally quiet mind.
So one of the things – part of the teachings that there are, that in this book (this poem Savitri) he talks about the process to do it – where you just sit down, and you watch. And pretty soon, you can see that the thought is coming inside. And you don't accept the thought; and the thought cannot stay. That goes as well for our feelings. If we go in front of an angry person, we get angry for no very good reason. On the other side, if we are really peaceful and we don't have much anger in us, that angry person will lose their anger. Because the basic thing that all of us are – each one of us – is like a radio station, receiving and sending. All thoughts, all feelings. And that is why we can receive the new consciousness. And then we can give out the new consciousness, to make the change.
What is the best coordination between the Mother and Sri Aurobindo?
Coordination! That's what I thought you said.
Mother said that they had one consciousness. She said that the best coordination between them was to think of them as the same being. And I can explain that.
As of course you know, from your own cultural teachings, the whole of the creation can be kind of seen in two ways. The Unmanifest full consciousness is like the 'male' consciousness, the purusha, the unmanifested. The manifest consciousness, the Shakti, the prakriti. And the whole purpose of the manifest consciousness is to bring into the creation the consciousness of the Unmanifest Supreme. And Mother said that's who they were. And that's what they were doing.
What do Sri Aurobindo and the Mother say about dying?
That's a big subject... if you read Sri Aurobindo's poetry, and you try and think, 'is he talking about life, or is he talking about death?', you find that Sri Aurobindo has one foot in life and one foot in death all the time. His consciousness is so big that he has understood that death is only a process.
What he says is that what happens when you die is that the body can no longer keep on changing with the changes of the life. There are two reasons: one is that our consciousness itself tends to get fixed. The other reason is that the body has built-in machinery for breaking down. And in the Yoga of Mother and Sri Aurobindo, they talk about this a lot; that we have so many thoughts when we get older, of 'am I going to die'; the culture around us [prepares] us that we are going to die – and this becomes part of the purification. Because we don't have to die! In that way. Because consciousness is eternal. And the more that that eternal consciousness is us, the less of 'dying' that we do.
Mother and Sri Aurobindo said that part of the transformation that will happen is that the body will change. So that this breaking down and this dying will not be a part of life. But they said it will take hundreds of years.
Mother worked to do that as much as possible. And she said that in the present, whole consciousness of all of the earth, there's not enough support for that kind of strong change. But it's coming – that's the point, that it is coming.
So – and of course your own teachings in your culture talk about souls going from life to life. And what is happening now is that so many of these souls will have learned so much and gained so much – are now ready to start on the next step.
How did people start believing in the new consciousness?
In two ways. Number one: unconsciously, because it's coming up. So people automatically are changing and they don't know it.
But did they practice?
Well – the unconscious way is that. The conscious way is that people know something about it, and they try to have it. And so of course, then they practice. And – you feel something. I mean you guys all feel something or you wouldn't be asking me these questions. It's there. And when you read Mother and Sri Aurobindo, some of the things they say you think, 'my God, how can I believe such a thing they are saying?!'. As you go on and read more and more, you understand that everything they said is true. And it's our responsibility. We are partly the artist of our own change. Because that's what a person is. We have the capacity to do that.
Flowers and trees – they are conscious of their source. A flower sings the praises of God every minute. You know – a flower is happy, a tree is happy – these things are automatically connected. But we have to work for that. Because that's our job. We are given the machinery to do it.
But also it's happening all over the world. I mean you meet people, they know nothing about Mother or Sri Aurobindo, but their consciousness – and because of their soul's rebirth it is ready to receive something – and you can see it in their eyes. You can. You have that experience. You meet a person and you know, 'ah, something is there'. And it's like, you know, you meet a monk, and you can feel in the presence of that monk that they have been working. They are purified. But why were they purified? What's the point? Because the new consciousness is coming.
But it has always been the same thing throughout all history. Any person who goes into a monastery, who truly wants to achieve whatever the new consciousness might be – they get that. Because there's no end. This quote 'supermental' consciousness, this great big consciousness, is not the last one. I mean for us it's, you know, a big thing, and many many years (I don't know, maybe thousands of years) into the future for this kind of growth of consciousness, but eventually something new will come. Because that's the nature of God. To constantly grow, to constantly love, to constantly rise.
Ok, let me think if there's anything else I can tell you.
Was Sri Aurobindo included in the Indian freedom fighting struggle?
When Sri Aurobindo was sixteen years old, and he was in England, he took the decision – the firm decision – that he would liberate India. And he came back to India at the age of twenty-one. And he started immediately working for India's freedom. He was one of the main foundations of India's freedom. He published the first publications that spoke out against the British. He clearly and boldly followed these things. He formed groups; at one point, he was the only one left. And he single-handedly was pushing the revolution forward.
In 1908 the British arrested him, and he was tried – they wanted to kill him. And he was imprisoned for one year. And while he was in prison, he heard a voice and that voice said to him: 'I [inaudible] here, because you were not listening to me! You have to stop your freedom fighting. Your job now is to work for the whole creation'. And slowly slowly while he was in the prison, Sri Aurobindo attained his full cosmic consciousness. And then after one year there was a trial, and he was acquitted. And in 1909 it was the time he was single-handedly running the whole revolution.
And people said about Sri Aurobindo: he was a very quiet man; he wasn't a big person. He was thin and dark and very quiet. He spoke in a very, very quiet voice. And he had a pakka English accent, because all his childhood he was educated in Britain (until he was twenty). And he spoke in a very quiet voice and when he spoke, there was not a sound in the room. Because of the great power and wisdom from his being.
In 1910, the British – they were just going to kill him, they were just going to get him. And he heard a voice saying, 'now, go, now'. And he dropped everything and he left. And the voice told him, 'go to Chandernagore'. So – it's a very exciting story, we don't have time to tell it, but it's written how he was smuggled here, and hidden there, from the British. And in Chandernagore, the voice told him 'go to Pondicherry'. Pondicherry at that time was a French colony. And because it was French the British couldn't take him.
So he came here and he thought – he's wanted India's freedom, his whole being wanted India's freedom – still he thought he would go back. But slowly, slowly he realized that no, his work is really done. And his universal work was to bring down the consciousness.
I can recommend something of books. When he retired to his room – I told you in 1926 he went into his room and he didn't come out – people wrote letters to him. And he answered the letters in great detail. And there are three [now four] big books called Letters on Yoga. And they've divided the letters into categories: questions about the mind. Questions about the emotions. Questions about the body. And it's all full of his advice to the early people, the first examples of people who were trying to receive the consciousness.
Are there any people at this time who oppose the new consciousness?
Yes. In fact, in some way, we all oppose it. Because we have our resistances. Everybody's different – I mean, I know people who oppose it one-hundred percent! They don't want to know about this; they don't want to know about spiritual life; they don't want to know about people who are doing spiritual things – fully one-hundred percent. And you will find those kind of people everywhere. Because the earth is made up of a mixture. There are some souls who are new souls, who are simple, they only want things – physical things. So then we have the whole levels: more finer souls who have had more births; and then slowly, slowly the higher souls that – then, they want the consciousness. But every single one of us opposes the new consciousness on some level, because we don't have it fully. It's automatic. It's just logical.
And like what Mother was saying: when we have a problem, or we have a difficulty, we say: 'my surrender was not perfect'.
Did Sri Aurobindo meet Mahatma Gandhi?
I am not a hundred percent sure. But I would guess that they did not meet. Because Sri Aurobindo came here in 1910, and he never left. And I don't think Mahatma Gandhi ever came here.
Can you explain Sri Aurobindo and the Mother's vision for the future?
Yes. They talked about a glorious and wonderful future, where people are one in their consciousness. Not one in the fact that they all have the same way of thinking, but one in inner consciousness. One in love; one in cooperation; one in giving; one in building; one in taking care of nature. This is the reason for the new consciousness.
And Sri Aurobindo has written actually many books where he tries – he tries to bring your consciousness along in his sentence, from your older way of thinking along to something of the new way of thinking. And he writes – some of his writings in which he does this have to do with new ways of government; Mother talks a lot about new foods coming, new ways of eating, new habits, new ways of education; all of this for making people better.
I mean we are a walking miracle, every one of us. A person is such an incredible thing. We have so many talents. Look at what people have done – look at computers! My God! Incredible. Look at making a film. Look at how incredible it is. Look at creating new flowers now – people make new flowers. We have so much; we have so many talents. And what Sri Aurobindo and Mother are saying is, 'all of this will get better'.
But right now it's a hard fight. This is just the beginning.
- Words of the Mother - I, p.212