Loretta reads Mother's Questions and Answers:1955-08-24

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Transcript of:
Mother's Questions and Answers: August 24, 1955
by Loretta, 2015 (26:40)
Audio icon.png Listen on Auroville Radio →

This week, there are many different questions on many different subjects. In answer to some of the questions, Mother continues to teach about concentration and meditation. But they're all different, and they just seem to come randomly, and Mother just answers them.

The first question is about concentrating on photographs of the Mother. That was an accepted practice in trying to receive the new force that Mother and Sri Aurobindo were bringing. In later years, there were hundreds and hundreds of photographs of the Mother. Someone asked her if they were all good, and she said they were all good – each one was useful because each one gave some aspect of her.

When this class was given, there were very few photographs. And Mother refers to three particular photographs by a name: it is the name of the aspect that she is deliberately showing in the photograph.

Sri Aurobindo spoke about the four aspects of the Mother in a small book called The Mother, which was the first book ever published in the Ashram. These aspects were things that Mother was, and that she used for her guidance and work. They were also capacities and strengths for people to achieve and realize. Here they're mentioned only by the name of the aspect: Mahakali was Power, Mahalakshmi was Harmony, and Maheshwari was Wisdom. The fourth one is not mentioned in this class; it was the power of Perfection, and called Mahasaraswati.

All four are names of very great universal beings who were known for these particular qualities in ancient times. They're referred to in the ancient scriptures, the Upanishads and the Vedas.

This week again, we don't have the original tape-recording of the class to broadcast. They had to erase the tape and use it again for the next class.

So August 24th, 1955, in Mother's class...

24 August 1955[1]

(Mother reads from Lights on Yoga,
“Surrender and Opening”.)

Lights on Yoga - 3 Surrender and Opening icon.jpg
PDF (7 pages)


Sweet Mother, when we concentrate on one of your photos — there are many photos, each one with a different expression — does it make a difference for us, the one on which we concentrate?

If you do it purposely, yes, of course. If you choose this photo for a particular reason or that other one for another reason, surely. It has an effect. It is as though you were choosing to concentrate on one aspect of the Mother rather than another; for example, if you choose to concentrate on Mahakali or Mahalakshmi or on Maheshwari, the results will be different. That part of you which answers to these qualities will awaken and become receptive. So, it is the same thing. But somebody who has only one photo, whichever it may be, and concentrates, without choosing this one or that, because he has only one, then it is of no importance which one it is. For the fact of concentrating on the photograph puts one in contact with the Force, and that is what is necessary in the case of everyone who responds automatically.

It is only when the person who concentrates puts a special will, with a special relation, into his concentration that it has an effect. Otherwise the relation is more general, and it is always the expression of the need or the aspiration of the person who concentrates. If he is absolutely neutral, if he does not choose, does not aspire for any particular thing, if he comes like this, like a white page and absolutely neutral, then it is the forces and aspects he needs which will answer to the concentration and perhaps even the person himself will not know what particular things he needs, because very few people are conscious of themselves. They live in a vague feeling, they have a vague aspiration and it is almost unseizable; it is not something organised, coordinated and willed, with a clear vision, for example, of the difficulties one wants to overcome or the capacities one wants to acquire; this, usually, is already the result of a fairly advanced discipline. One must have reflected much, observed much, studied much in order to be able to know exactly what he needs. Otherwise it is something hazy, this impression: one tries to catch it and it escapes... Isn’t that so?

Is that all?

It is outside the text.
(Another child) Mother, here it is said: “One can relax and meditate instead of concentrating.”

It’s not I who have said it! (Laughter) Good. So? The difference between meditating and concentrating?

Yes, Mother, because when one meditates, isn’t there a concentration of the consciousness?


There are all kinds of different meditations! What people usually call meditation is, for example, choosing a subject or an idea and following its development or trying to understand what it means. There is a concentration but not as complete a concentration as in concentration proper, where nothing should exist except the point on which one concentrates. Meditation is a more relaxed movement, less tense than concentration.

When one is trying to understand a problem which comes up, a psychological problem or a circumstantial one, and he sits down and looks at and sees all the possibilities, compares them, studies them, this is a form of meditation; and one does it spontaneously when the thing comes up. When one is facing a decision to be taken, for instance, and doesn’t know which one to take, well, ordinarily one reflects, consults his reason, compares all the possibilities and makes his choice... more or less. Well, this is a form of meditation.

Now, there is the form of meditation which consists in a concentration on an idea and concentrating one’s attention upon it to the extent that that alone exists; then this is the equivalent of a concentration, but instead of being total it is only mental.

Total concentration implies a concentration also of all the movements of the vital and physical. The method of gazing at a point is a very well-known one. So it is even physical, you see, one’s eyes are fixed on this point, and one does not move any more... nothing more... one sees nothing, doesn’t move his sight from that point, and the result usually is that one ends up by becoming that point. And I knew someone who used to say that one had to pass beyond the point, become this point, to the extent of passing to the other side, crossing the point, and that then one opened to higher regions. But it is true that if one succeeds in concentrating totally on a point, there is a moment when the identification is absolute, and there is no more any separation between the one who is concentrating and the thing upon which he is concentrated. There is a complete identification. One can’t distinguish between himself and the point. This is a total concentration, while meditation is a particular concentration of the thought, a partial one.

The opening, Sweet Mother, for not thinking at all!

Not thinking at all is not easy; but if one wants a perfect concentration it is essential that there are no thoughts any more.

Is there a relation, Sweet Mother, between concentration and contemplation?

There can always be a relation between everything, but usually one means by contemplation a kind of opening upwards. It is rather a state of passive opening upwards. It is a fairly passive form of aspiration. One makes this movement rather like something opening, opening in an aspiration; but if the contemplation is sufficiently total, it becomes a concentration. Yet it is not necessarily a concentration.

When it is a concentration, then the part which concentrates... concentration is limited or rather...

A concentration is essentially a limiting. One can’t concentrate on several points at once, it is no longer a concentration.

No, I mean during a contemplation.

No, you just said that it is a limited concentration; a concentration is necessarily limited.

Sweet Mother, in the Bulletin you have written: “Poetry is the sensuousness of the spirit.” What does that mean?

What does it mean?... It’s because poetry is related to the forms and images of ideas: forms, images, sensations, impressions, emotions of ideas, all this is the sensuous side of things. All the relation with forms and sensations, images, impressions, all that is the sensuousness of things. And poetry is this side of thought; it is this way of approaching the world, approaching the world of thought, by the images of these thoughts, the forms, appearances, emotions and sensations and the play of these things, the play of appearances, of ideas. It is not at all like philosophy or metaphysics, which seek the heart of the idea, the principle of the idea. Poetry is not poetic unless it evokes. It is the world of form and sensation. So we just take an expression that’s a little... how to put it?... epigrammatic, and we may say, “It is the sensuousness of the spirit” — just as those who are exclusively busy with the sensations of all that the material world expresses through its forms, and the whole side of the forms of sensations of the physical life, are men who live in their senses; and when they enjoy all these things, well, we call them sensuous.

Here, instead of being applied to the outer physical life, it is applied to the life of the spirit, to ideas and what is beyond ideas. And all that world, seen under the aspect of the beauty of its form — this is poetry. It expresses the beauty of ideas, the harmony of thoughts, and gives to it all a form which becomes concrete, images, the play of images, the play of sounds, the play of words.

So, instead of being the sensuousness of matter it is the sensuousness of the spirit. It is not taken in a pejorative sense nor a moral one — not at all, it is simply descriptive.

But while concentrating on the form and the beauty of ideas, doesn’t one risk missing the truth?

But that’s what I said. It is not pejorative, I did not say that it prevents you from seeing the truth of things. It is the way, the manner of approaching the subject. Certainly, if I had to choose between reading a beautiful poem and a book of metaphysics, I would prefer to read the poem; it would be less tiring. It is not pejorative, it is descriptive. It’s just to say: “It is like that.” It is a statement, nothing more.

What is surprising is that people have never thought about it. If they moved in the spirit with the freedom of full consciousness, this would not surprise them at all, because they would know it very well, that it is like that, that it is a sensuous way of approaching the truth. Only, you see, in this domain they are not yet absolutely independent, so usually they think in a classical or traditional or habitual manner, or in accordance with what they have learnt or read, but without the freedom of independence.

It is simply a slightly paradoxical way of saying things, in order to strike, strike the thought — that’s all. But you must not think that it is a condemnation of poetry. It’s very far from that.

Sweet Mother, when can we say that a poet is inspired?

Why shouldn’t he be?

Then he doesn’t think when he is writing a poem?

Doesn’t think? That means...?

It comes from above!

It’s not that. You mean: when do we say that a poet is inspired? Usually we say that a poet is inspired when he receives inspirations. (Laughter)

What you mean but don’t say... it’s those who go beyond thought, silence their thoughts, those who have an absolutely silent and immobile mind, who open to inner regions and write almost automatically what comes to them from above. That’s what you meant but didn’t say. But that’s quite a different thing, and it happens once in a thousand years. It’s not a frequent phenomenon. First of all one must be a yogi to be able to do all that. But an inspired poet, as we call him... that’s something absolutely different. All men of some genius, that is, those who have an opening upon a world slightly higher than the ordinary mind, are called “inspired”. One who makes some discoveries is also inspired. Each time one is in contact with something a little higher than the ordinary human field, one is inspired. So when one is not altogether limited by the ordinary consciousness one receives inspirations from above; the source of his production is higher than the ordinary mental consciousness.

That’s all? No more questions?

Mother, sometimes one feels a silence, but feels himself outside this silence. Why is it like that?

One feels a silence, and then?

In things.

No. If you, in your consciousness, reach a state of silence, you perceive your state of silence everywhere, but others don’t necessarily perceive it. You perceive it because you are in that state. It is the same as with those who become aware of the Divine in themselves: they see the Divine everywhere, but others are not necessarily conscious of that. It’s because you have entered into that state; as you are conscious of this state, you are conscious of it wherever it is; and in fact it is everywhere, somewhere, not superficially and outwardly, but inwardly.

One feels that one is outside the silence, that it is not in me.

That one is outside the silence? Then one is in the noise! I don’t quite understand what...

I mean that the silence is in things, but not in myself.

Probably because you are more in things than in yourself at that time. It means that you have become aware of the silence more outside yourself than within yourself.

Sweet Mother, sometimes it happens that one was not ready for a meditation or concentration and then suddenly one is forced into something and obliged to be silent; even if one wanted to get out then, one can’t; one remains like that, sometimes for a long time, absolutely carried away by the torrent of things. Does this enter the category of meditation?

This simply means that one suddenly comes under the influence of a higher force of which one is not conscious; one is conscious only of the effect, but not of the cause. That’s all. It’s nothing more than that. If you were conscious you would know what makes you silent, what makes you meditate, what kind of force has entered into you or acts upon you or influences you and puts you in the silence. But as you are not conscious, you are aware only of the effect, the result, that is, the silence that comes into you.

But one can become conscious, Sweet Mother, can’t one?

Fully! But for this one must work a little within oneself. One must withdraw from the surface.

Almost totally, everybody lives on the surface, all the time, all the time on the surface. And for them it’s even the only thing which exists — the surface. And when something compels them to draw back from the surface, some people feel that they are falling into a hole. There are people who, if they are drawn back from the surface, suddenly feel that they are crumbling down into an abyss, so unconscious they are!

They are conscious only of a kind of small thin crust which is all that they know of themselves and things and the world, and it is so thin a crust! Many! I have experienced, I don’t know how often... I tried to interiorise some people and immediately they felt that they were falling into an abyss, and at times a black abyss. Now this is the absolute inconscience. But a fall, a fall into something which for them is like a non-existence, this happens very often. People are told: “Sit down and try to be silent, to be very quiet”; this frightens them terribly.

A fairly long preparation is needed in order to feel an increase of life when one goes out of the outer consciousness. It is already a great progress. And then there is the culmination, that when one is obliged for some reason or other to return to the outer consciousness, it is there that one has the impression of falling into a black hole, at least into a kind of dull, lifeless greyness, a chaotic mixture of disorganised things, with the faintest light, and all this seems so dull, so dim, so dead that one wonders how it is possible to remain in this state — but this of course is the other end — unreal, false, confused, lifeless!


So, shall we try to enter within, to see if there is a black hole or not?

Only... I would very much like nobody to move, get up or go away.

Those who are not sure of being able to remain still — I request them to go away immediately! For, if they get up during the meditation, they disturb everything.

Here’s someone already moving over there. He has heard nothing and he is moving.

There are some who don’t understand French.

Don’t speak French? If they don’t speak French why are they here? I don’t speak in any other language except French here!