True hierarchy

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“What is a “hierarchy”[1]?

It is a grouping organised in order of merit. For instance, you have a chief at the centre and you may have four persons around him, and around these four, 8, then 12, 24, 36, 48, 124, and so on, each with his special mission, his special work, his particular authority, and all referring in an ascending order to the centre. That is a hierarchy. In governments they try to form hierarchies, but these are untrue, they are arbitrary and not worth anything. But in all ancient initiations there were hierarchies which were expressions of individual merit — individual powers and merits — having always at their centre the representative of the Supreme and the Shakti; sometimes having only the Supreme, depending on the religions. But the groups were always organised in that way, that is, with a growing number of individuals, each one having to refer to the officer immediately above him. For instance, the 124 had to refer to the 48, the 48 had to refer to the 24, the 24 refer to the 12, the 12 to the 8, and so on. That is a hierarchy. The word is used in a very imprecise and vague way. They speak of a hierarchy and think it is the men who govern and have subordinates. But the true hierarchy is an occult hierarchy, and this occult hierarchy had as its purpose the manifesting, the expressing of a more profound hierarchy which is a hierarchy of the invisible worlds.”[2]

“One can understand nothing of the spiritual life if one does not understand the true hierarchy.
         Nowadays it’s not in fashion. It is something which human thought doesn’t favour at all. But from the spiritual point of view, it is automatic, spontaneous and indisputable. And so, if the hierarchy is true, there is a place for everybody; and for each individual in his own place, his individual truth is absolute. That is to say, each element which is truly in its place has a total and perfect relation with the Divine — in its place. And yet, on the whole, there is a hierarchy which too is quite absolute. But to understand spiritual life one must first understand that; and it isn’t very easy.
         Everyone can be a perfect expression of the Divine in himself, on condition that he knows his place and keeps to it.

And if they do not know the hierarchy, they cannot know this?

But they don’t need to know that they form a hierarchy, it is not necessary to know it. It is only if one wants to physically organise a spiritual society — then one has to materialise the hierarchy. But generally, in the world as it is, there are so many gaps in this hierarchy that it seems a confusion.
         The perfect hierarchy is a total hierarchy, and it is not concerned with time and space. But when you want to realise this physically it becomes very difficult. It’s like weaving a piece of cloth with lots of holes everywhere; and the holes disturb the general harmony. Always people are missing, steps are missing, pieces are missing on the chess-board — all this is missing. So it looks like a confusion. But if everything were expressed and each thing in its place, it would be a perfect harmony and a perfect hierarchy.
         There is somewhere — not in the material universe, but in the manifested universe — this perfect hierarchy; it exists. But it is not yet manifested upon earth.
         Perhaps this will be one of the results of the supramental transformation: the world will be ready for a perfect, spontaneous, essentially true hierarchical manifestation — and without any kind of coercion — where everyone will become aware of his own perfection.

Mother, what does a spiritual hierarchy mean exactly? Because when we speak of hierarchy that implies something graded in a superior and inferior order, doesn’t it?

Yes, and that’s quite wrong. That is to say, materially it is like that. But this is not what I call a hierarchy.

Then what is a hierarchy?

It is the organisation of the functions and the manifestation in action of the particular nature of each person.”[3]

“For, truly speaking, each one finds only what he wants to find of the Divine. Sri Aurobindo has said this by turning it the other way round; he has said — I am not quoting the exact words, only the idea: what you expect from the Divine is what you find in the Divine; what you want from the Divine is what you meet in the Divine. He will have for you the aspect you expect or desire.
         And His manifestation is always adapted to each one’s receptivity and capacity. They may have a real, essential contact, but this contact is limited by their own capacity for receiving and approach.... It is only if you are able to go out of all limits that you can meet the total Divine as He totally is.
         And this capacity for contact is perhaps what constitutes the true hierarchy of beings. For everyone carries within himself the Divine, and therefore everyone has the possibility of uniting with the Divine — that possibility is the same in all. But according to each one’s capacity — in fact, according to his position in the divine hierarchy — his approach will be more or less partial or total.
         It could be said — although these words deform things a lot — that the quality of the approach is the same in every being, but the quantity, the totality is very different.... It is very difficult to explain in words, but if one may say so, the point at which you are identified with the Divine is perfect in itself, that is to say, your identification is perfect in itself, at this point, but the number of points at which you are identified differs immensely.
         And this is very marked in the difference between the paths followed to approach the Divine. Usually people set limits; they limit themselves by excluding everything that is not exactly the path they have chosen, for this is much easier and they go much faster — relatively. But if, instead of following one road, you go forward in a sort of movement which could be called spherical, where everything is included, which takes in all the possibilities of approach to the Divine, naturally the result is much more complete — and it is this that Sri Aurobindo calls the integral yoga — but the progress is much more difficult and much slower.”[4]

“This idea of possessing money has warped everything. Money should not be a “possession”: like power it is a means of action which is given to you, but you must use it according to... what we can call the “will of the Giver”, that is, in an impersonal and enlightened way. If you are a good instrument for diffusing and utilising money, then it comes to you, and it comes to you in proportion to your capacity to use it as it is meant to be used. That is the true mechanism.
         The true attitude is this: money is a force intended for the work on earth, the work required to prepare the earth to receive and manifest the divine forces, and it — that is, the power of utilising it — must come into the hands of those who have the clearest, most comprehensive and truest vision.
         To start with, the first thing (but this is elementary) is not to have the sense of possession — what does it mean, “it is mine”?... Now, I don’t quite understand. Why do people want it to belong to them? — so that they can use it as they like and do what they want with it and handle it according to their own conceptions? That’s how it is. On the other hand, yes, there are people who like to store it up somewhere... but that is a disease. To be sure of always having some, they hoard it.
         But if people understood that one should be like a receiving and transmitting station and that the wider the range (just the opposite of personal), the more impersonal, comprehensive and wide it is, the most force it can hold (“force” that is translated materially: notes and coins). This power to hold is proportional to the capacity to use the money in the best way — “best” in terms of the general progress: the widest vision, the greatest understanding and the most enlightened, exact and true usage, not according to the warped needs of the ego but according to the general need of the earth for its evolution and development. That is to say, the widest vision will have the largest capacity.”[5]

“I have been rethinking what I said about money. That is how life in Auroville should be organised, but I doubt whether people are ready.

That is to say that it is possible so long as they accept the guidance of a sage?

Yes. The first thing that should be accepted and recognised by everyone is that the invisible and higher power — that is, the power which belongs to a plane of consciousness that is mostly veiled, but which is within each; a consciousness which can be called anything, by any name, it does not matter, but which is integral and pure in the sense that it is not false, it is in the Truth — that this power is capable of ordering material things in a way that is truer, happier and better for everyone than any material power. That is the first point. Once people agree on that...
         It is not something one can pretend to have; an individual cannot pretend to have it, either he has it or he hasn’t, because (Mother laughs) in any circumstance of life, if it is a pretension, it will show clearly! On top of that, it does not give you any material power. There again, X once said — he was speaking of the true hierarchy, the hierarchy based on each one’s power of consciousness — the individual or individuals who are at the very summit necessarily have the least needs; their material needs become less as their capacity of material vision grows. And that is very true. It is automatic and spontaneous, not the result of an effort: the wider the consciousness, the more it embraces things and realities — the less its material needs, automatically, because they lose all their importance and value. The need for material necessities is reduced to a minimum, which will itself change with the progressive development of Matter.
         And that is easily recognisable, isn’t it? It is difficult to act the part.
         And the second thing is the power of conviction; that is, the highest consciousness, when it is brought into contact with Matter, spontaneously has a greater power of conviction than all the intermediary planes. By mere contact, its power of conviction, that is, its power of transformation, is greater than that of all the intermediary planes. That is a fact. These two facts together make it impossible for any pretension to last long. I am looking at it from the standpoint of a collective organisation.
         As soon as you come down from this supreme Height, there is all the play of the various influences (gesture of mixture and conflict) and that in itself is a sure sign: even a slight descent — even into the domain of higher mind, higher intelligence — and the whole conflict of influences begins. Only what is right at the very summit and is perfectly pure, has this power of spontaneous conviction. Therefore, whatever one may do instead of that is an approximation and it is not much better than democracy — that is, the system which wants to rule by the greatest number and the lowest level — I mean social democracy, the latest trend.
         If there is no representative of the supreme Consciousness — that can happen, can’t it? — if there isn’t any, there could be instead, it could be tried, government by a few — a small number set between four and eight, something like that, four, seven, eight — who have an intuitive intelligence: “intuitive” is more important than intelligence — with an intuition that is manifested intellectually.
         This would have its drawbacks from the practical point of view, but it would perhaps be closer to the truth than the lowest level — socialism or communism. Everything in between has proved to be incompetent: theocracy, aristocracy, democracy and plutocracy, all those have been a complete failure. The other one, the socialist or communist government is proving itself a failure as well.
         Basically socialism and communism correspond to a kind of absence of government, because they do not have the power to govern others; they are obliged to transfer their power to someone who exercises it, like a Lenin for example, because he was a brain. All this has been tried and proved to be incompetent. The only thing that could be competent is the Truth-Consciousness, which would choose instruments and express itself through a certain number of instruments in the absence of one — “one” is not enough either, “one” would necessarily have to choose a group.
         Those who have this consciousness may belong to any social class: it is not a privilege of birth, but the outcome of personal effort and development. In fact, that is an outward sign, the obvious sign of a change from the political point of view — it is no longer a matter of classes and categories nor of birth — all that is obsolete. It is the individuals who have attained a certain higher consciousness who have the right to govern — not others, regardless of their social class.
         This would be the true vision.
         All those who participate in the experiment [of Auroville] should be absolutely convinced that the highest consciousness is the best judge of the most material things.”[6]

  1. “The Mother as the Mahashakti of this triple world of the Ignorance stands in an intermediate plane between the supramental Light, the Truth life, the Truth creation which has to be brought down here and this mounting and descending hierarchy of planes of consciousness that like a double ladder lapse into the nescience of Matter and climb back again through the flowering of life and soul and mind into the infinity of the Spirit.” – Sri Aurobindo, The Mother p.16
  2. Questions and Answers 1950-1951, p.391
  3. Questions and Answers 1956, p.27
  4. Ibid., p.45
  5. Words of the Mother – I, p.269
  6. Ibid., p.272

See also