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(Student, 1956:) “Sweet Mother, I have a question to ask you but it is not my own it is someone else’s.

(Mother:) Ah! let us see.
         Why? That person isn’t here?... He is afraid to speak! All right, ask your question.

It is often said, or predicted, that the numbers 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 (23 April 1956) will have a special significance for the Ashram. Is this true?

I can reply with a joke, if you like. There’s talk now about changing the calendar; if it is changed, the numbers will be changed, and then the whole of History will have gone, flown away!
         It is a convention, you see.
         Obviously, if the convention is generalised, as is the case with the calendar, it can become a very powerful formation. But it must be very widely adopted to become a powerful formation. What I call ‘formations’ are images which can be animated by a force and taken as symbols. Some people create images for themselves and use them as their own symbols; and for them they may be very useful and valid, as, for instance, the symbols of dreams. But these are valid only for them, they are purely subjective. While, if you take the calendar which has been adopted by almost all human beings, your symbol can act on a much wider field; but the origin is the same, it is a convention. Naturally, these are things we are used to, for they were like that when we were small children; but it depends on the country of one’s birth and the community in which one is born.
         There are communities which count differently. And so, for them, other numbers at other times have a symbolic significance. Only, if our formation — the one in which you are born, which you have adopted — if this formation is adopted by the vast majority of men, you will be able to act on this majority by acting through this formation. You can act through a formation only to the extent to which it is adopted by a certain number of people. It is purely conventional. We began counting from a certain date — which, besides, was chosen quite arbitrarily — and so the numbers came to be what they are today. But, for instance, one has only to visit a Muslim community, where they started counting from — I don’t know whether it is the birth or the death of Mohammed — and their numbers are quite different. So, if you go and tell them: “2, 3, 4, 5, 6”, they will say, “What does your number mean, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6? Nothing at all.”
         These things can be taken usefully as symbols and as a means of bringing a more subtle world in contact with a more material world. They may be used in this way, that’s all.
         But if, instead of the millions of people who use the present calendar, there were only three or four, it would be pointless to say that these numbers are symbolic. They would be symbolic only for these three or four people. Therefore, it is not the thing in itself which counts, it is the extent of its usage. That’s what’s important.
         People make the same mistake with the stars and horoscopes. It is quite simply a language and a convention, and if this convention is adopted, it may be utilised to do a certain work. But it has only a relative value in proportion to the number of people who have adopted it.
         In this relative world, everything is necessarily relative. So things should not be taken literally, for that makes your mind small and narrow.
         The more primitive people are, the more simple-minded they are, and these things take on a more superstitious turn. Superstitions are simply a wrong generalisation of a particular fact.
         There was a very old tradition, very, very old, even older than the Vedic tradition here, which said, “If twelve men of goodwill unite and call the Divine, the Divine is obliged to come.” Well, perhaps this is a truth, perhaps a superstition. Perhaps it depends on the twelve men of goodwill and what they are. Perhaps it depends on other things also. If you ask me, I think that it probably happened like this, that in the beginning twelve men gathered together — there happened to be twelve, perhaps they didn’t even know why — and they were so united in their aspiration, an aspiration so intense and powerful, that they received the response. But to say, “If twelve men of goodwill unite in an aspiration, they are sure to make the Divine descend” is a superstition.
         In fact, things must have happened like that, and the person who noted it put it down carefully: “If twelve men of goodwill unite their aspiration, the Divine is obliged to come.” And since then, I can tell you that a considerable number of groups of twelve men have united in a common aspiration... and they did not bring down the Divine! But all the same the tradition has been left intact.
         There we are.
         We are many more than twelve this evening. (Laughter) Shall we try it once and see if we succeed!”[1]

See also