Loretta reads Mother's Questions and Answers:1956-11-07 and 1956-11-14 part 1

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Transcript of:
Mother's Questions and Answers: November 7, 1956 and
November 14, 1956 (part 1 of 2)
by Loretta, 2018 (42:56)
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Mother's class of November 7 is quite short, and it also ends abruptly. Usually at the end of a class, we get a feeling that the class has ended. Mother says something that shows she has finished; sometimes she asks for questions and there are no questions, so she says it's finished. Sometimes she says, “There it is,” or “Here it is.” Or sometimes there's a meditation. But this time the class just stops. And we also don't have the original tape-recording of the class; so we don't know anything about the atmosphere of the class. This is something we've always tried to follow, because we've tried to be there, to be with Mother, to follow the progress of the Ashram.

We don't have the original recording for the next class either. And because this class is so short, we can have the first question from the next class also.

In this class, Mother speaks in detail about the forces of the universal Mind entering our body. This is how our thoughts are really created. We are there, our thoughts come in, and these forces of the universal Mind do this work in us. We think that our thoughts are ours; but we only give them a concrete form. We give them a logical appearance. We rarely know where they really come from. And everyone is like this. It happens all the time, to everyone. This is thinking, for almost everybody all the time.

Mother says that the only case in which we can say the thought is ‘our own’ is when we are a concentrated consciousness turned upwards in an aspiration and we are open beyond the limits of the human mind, to something higher. Then we are the direct expression of something that comes down straight to us, and expresses it in us.

In 1960, Mother spoke to the teachers of the Ashram school, of how to think with ideas. This is extremely useful; it helps us to know how to really think thoughts – how to really think what we receive. And the way she expressed it is like a beautiful piece of poetry:

“Our house has a very high tower; at the very top of that tower there is a bright and bare room, the last one before we emerge into the open air, into the full light.
          Sometimes, when we are at leisure to do so, we climb up to this bright room, and there, if we remain very quiet, one or more visitors call on us; some are tall, others small, some single, others in groups; all are bright and graceful.
         Usually, in our joy at their arrival and in our haste to receive them well, we lose our tranquillity and come galloping down to rush into the large hall which forms the base of the tower and which is the store-room of words. Here, more or less excited, we select, reject, assemble, combine, disarrange, rearrange all the words within our reach in an attempt to transcribe this or that visitor who has come to us. But most often the picture we succeed in making of her is more like a caricature than a portrait. And yet if we were wiser, we would remain up there at the summit of the tower, quite still, in joyful contemplation. Then, after a certain length of time, we would see the visitors themselves descending slowly, gracefully, calmly, without losing anything of their elegance or their beauty and, as they cross the store-room of words, clothing themselves effortlessly, automatically, with the words needed to make them perceptible even in the material house.
         This is what I call thinking with ideas.”[1]

In last week's class, Mother spoke in detail on how we distort our own spiritual experiences, by wanting to put them into words. We want to have our own mental way of understanding things. She said that we have to keep our mind quiet and out of the way. Then our higher spiritual experience – which is in a part of our being much higher than our mind – can last for hours, or for days. And then it can do all its work: the work it's come for, the work of transforming our being.

Mother's method of thinking with ideas seems to be a very good way for us to eventually describe a spiritual experience in words. It also looks like a right way to deal with our spiritual experiences. Eventually we'll know; eventually we can express it.

When Mother answers the second question in this class of November 7th, today, she explains that even though our thoughts are created by the universal Mind (because she just explained, this is how they enter our head) – she says that ideas have a higher origin. They come from a place higher than the ordinary universal Mind. They come from a region of mind that's far beyond. Therefore, the functioning of these ideas, in our individual mind and in the universal Mind, is the same. It's actually the same for both. The only difference is it's on a different scale. The universal Mind has a much larger scale than our individual mind.

Sri Aurobindo and Mother often taught that we are organized the way the universe is organized; we have the same levels and parts of the being. We function in the same way, with those levels and parts. So Mother is again showing us another way to see that we contain everything within ourselves. And then she says that after all, the universe is only one person. She says that ideas that come into the universal Mind from there, come into our mind not really as ‘thoughts’ as we conceive thoughts to be. We make them thoughts. What they are are universal principles: the principles on which our universe is built. And we have them in the form of our mind, which give us our thoughts – but they're coming to us through the action of the universal Mind; they are coming down from an even higher place.

It's really good to have Mother's teaching about thinking with ideas. We can use this for the way to have thoughts. If we can do this – and it takes some practice to really go to the summit of our consciousness and to wait quietly and to observe all these things – but if we can do this (and maybe we can do it at least connected with our meditations, because we're quiet in meditation), this way we can receive and understand our spiritual experiences, and also the universal principles properly.

We know (as we learned last week) that when we hurry up and use our mind to put the experience into words, we do this because we believe we can't understand anything until we formulate it – not someone else, but we ourselves – formulate it into words. And now we see that all we have to do is to wait, and the universal principles will choose their own words; and we'll understand them in the best way.

Sri Aurobindo has given us a really beautiful summary of thoughts coming into us, in Book Seven of Savitri. This is the book of Savitri's yoga. It's in Canto Six, on pages 538-544. Sri Aurobindo describes what Mother says in today's class, in a much more detailed manner. He gives good examples; and he shows us several of the universal sources of our ideas and thoughts.

We have these two classes today (or more accurately, we have one short class and one question from the next class. Usually we read the class after we talk about it. So we're going to talk about both classes, and then after that we'll read both classes.

In the beginning of the next class – the class of November 14th, which was the week after the one we just talked about – Mother finishes reading her French translation of Part 1 of Sri Aurobindo's Synthesis of Yoga. The reading is done. Now, she asks the class about how it affected them. Nobody answers her. Then she asks a lot of questions along this line of how they were affected; nobody says a word. Finally Mother ends up asking, “Did you listen?”

This could seem surprising to us now – we people who are reading Sri Aurobindo and Mother and getting so much from them, and wanting to know so much, and trying so hard. But it was all new for people in those early days. We have the benefit today of all the progress that's been made so far. And we know that in the early days of the Ashram, Mother stayed in constant contact with everybody, including the schoolchildren. All this was for the purpose of her work. She wanted increased consciousness.

But we have to remember the condition of consciousness in the world that Mother and Sri Aurobindo started with, in the early 1900s and the mid-1900s. Everything that they had to say was very, very new. They both worked very hard in every way. Mother said it would take 40 years for people to begin to understand her Agenda.

Now many people are ready to hear what they said. And also there is a worldwide movement of people working to become more conscious. In those days, they were much less. And it was in an isolated ashram, in a far corner of South India, with a few ashramites, and a small school that Mother and Sri Aurobindo started.

Because Mother is working always to help them, when she learns that they need more to help them – when she sees that they don't get or they can't keep what comes when she reads – she says that they're going to start next week with another book which is called “Thoughts and Glimpses”. This small booklet contains a collection of short sayings which Sri Aurobindo published in the Arya in two installments, in May 1916 and August 1917. The Arya was a magazine that he published in the Ashram, when Mother first came to the Ashram. She translated what he said into French, and she helped with the publication of the Arya.

This was in 1914. This was the brief visit; because after that she had to leave because of the war, and she came back permanently in 1920. So “Thoughts and Glimpses” were first published as a book (a very small book, called “Thoughts and Glimpses”) in 1920-21. You can buy the book; you can find it in Volume 16 of Sri Aurobindo's Collected Works. And you can also find it on the internet.

Essays in Philosophy and Yoga
“Thoughts and Glimpses”

Essays In Philosophy and Yoga - Thoughts and Glimpses.jpg
PDF (15 pages)

In the class, someone said that they have trouble understanding what Mother read. And we can see that these “Thoughts and Glimpses” are much easier to read than Sri Aurobindo's long sentences in The Synthesis of Yoga. So maybe this is why Mother chose it.

One of the people also said that when Mother reads they get great encouragement, but then when they think about all the effort that must be put in, they don't have the confidence. The Mother says very poetically that it ‘burns out’; then she says that they're going to ‘light the flame’ with “Thoughts and Glimpses”.

So then Mother asks for questions. And someone asks a question which is basic to human motivation when one is not doing yoga. This is something most people do and most people find hard to deal with. The person wants to know how to conquer the desire to appear good in the eyes of other people. This goes deeply into the human need for attention. We all need attention from our parents. The growing child who does not receive attention from his or her parents will have a very different self-image from a child who gets a lot of attention. We carry this through life unconsciously, until we start to look at ourselves and to look at why we do things. Here in Mother's class of course people are trying to do the yoga; so they're looking at themselves and they are questioning what they do.

But there's something else that helps, that's going on here in the Ashram, here in Auroville. These are places where there is more consciousness available in the atmosphere. It comes from the consciousness of Sri Aurobindo and Mother which has been established here since they first came. People can feel it still in the atmosphere. And this increased consciousness gives people more consciousness to see themselves, and also to see other people more clearly. Increased consciousness here also comes from the efforts of all the people who want to do this – who want to increase their consciousness. Who are doing the yoga.

And today it comes as well from the work that both Sri Aurobindo and the Mother continue to do to bring the new consciousness; and it comes from the continuous increase of the new consciousness that's coming into the earth's atmosphere everywhere.

Often it's painful to see ourselves. Painful because of painful memories, or painful because we see that we don't like who we are (!), or we don't like what we're doing.

Sometimes one could fall into the trap of using this increased consciousness to look at somebody else, instead of looking at one's own self. But this only wastes time. It's a useless detour on the road to a greater consciousness.

Mother gives some reasons for wanting to be appreciated by others. And she says that freeing oneself from this is one of the first steps in the preparation for entering on the path of yoga. It's not even a step in the path of yoga. This comes even before that. And she addresses the subject of wanting to have other people's good opinion in serious detail.

She also says that we can find out the impression we make on others, simply by taking them as a mirror in which we see our own reflection more exactly than how we see ourselves.

Mother spoke about this years before; we have something that Mother wrote about it in 1931. It's in the book Champaklal Speaks, where Champaklal put in a few notes which Mother wrote on small pieces of paper when she was alone in her room.

Champaklal came to personally serve Sri Aurobindo and Mother in 1920. He worked in Sri Aurobindo's room, and when Sri Aurobindo left, he worked only in Mother's room. He kept everything they touched or used, even old wrapping paper and things most people throw away. So when he found small notations that Mother had made on paper, he kept those – and he put some of them in this book.

We have a couple of Mother's writings which give us more of her point of view on not looking at public image, but looking at what is the true value of a person. And here is the statement relating to her statement about using someone else as a mirror. She wrote it on June 28th of 1931, and she wrote both in French and English. Here's the French:

“Mon visage est devenu comme un miroir dans lequel chacun peut voir se refleter l'image de sa condition interne.”[2]

In English, she wrote it a little differently. She says:

“From many instances I have come to know that my face is like a mirror showing to each one the image of his own internal condition.”[3]

On May 16th, 1954, Mother wrote this note:

“I do not give positions to the sadhaks – I give them work – and to all I give an equal opportunity. It is those who prove to be most capable and most sincere, honest and faithful who will have a bigger amount of work and the greatest responsibility.”[4]

In another note, she wrote:

“In the actualities of life the power of a man does not depend on an official title, but on the force and the light of his inner consciousness.”[5]

And one day, while looking at Sri Aurobindo's Samadhi down in the Ashram courtyard, while standing at her window, Mother wrote:

“I do not want to be worshipped. I have come to work, not to be worshipped; let them worship Thee to their heart's content and leave me, silent and hidden, to do my work undisturbed – and of all veils the body is the best.”[6]

So since we don't have any original recording of these classes, the broadcast will end after the English translation.

It's November 7th, 1956. We're in the Ashram playground; Mother is still reading, and she reads her French translation. We have the original English – this is what Sri Aurobindo wrote in The Synthesis of Yoga...

7 November 1956 [7]

“The Shakti, the power of the Infinite and the Eternal descends within us, works, breaks up our present psychological formations, shatters every wall, widens, liberates... she frees the consciousness from confinement in the body; it can go out in trance or sleep or even waking and enter into worlds or other regions of this world and act there or carry back its experience. It spreads out, feeling the body only as a small part of itself, and begins to contain what before contained it; it achieves the cosmic consciousness and extends itself to be commensurate with the universe. It begins to know inwardly and directly and not merely by external observation and contact the forces at play in the world, feels their movement, distinguishes their functioning and can operate immediately upon them as the scientist operates upon physical forces, accept their action and results in our mind, life, body or reject them or modify, change, reshape, create immense new powers and movements in place of the old small functionings of the nature. We begin to perceive the working of the forces of universal Mind and to know how our thoughts are created by that working....”

(The Synthesis of Yoga, p. 183, “The Ascent of the Sacrifice”)

Sweet Mother, how are our thoughts created by the forces of the universal Mind?

Because the forces of the universal Mind enter into our heads. We are bathed in forces, we are not aware of it. We are not something enclosed in a bag and independent from the rest: all forces, all vibrations, all movements enter into us and pass through us. And so we have a certain mental force held in, that is to say, ready to be used by the formative or creative mental power. These are, as it were, free forces. As soon as a thought coming from outside or a force or movement enters our consciousness, we give it a concrete form, a logical appearance and all kinds of precise details; but in fact all this belongs to a domain one is rarely conscious of.

But this is not a special instance which occurs only from time to time: it is something constant. If a current of force is passing, with a particular thought formation, one sees it passing from one into another, and in each one it forms a kind of centre of light or force which keeps the imprint—more or less pure, more or less clear, more or less mixed — of the initial current; and the result is what we call “our” thought.

But our thought is something which hardly exists. It can be “our” thought only if, instead of being like a public place as we generally are in our normal state — we are like a public place and all the forces pass there, come and go, enter, depart, jostle each other and even quarrel — if instead of being like that, we are a concentrated consciousness, turned upwards in an aspiration, and open beyond the limits of the human mind to something higher; then, being open like this brings down that higher something across all the layers of reality, and this something may enter into contact with our conscious brain and take a form there which is no longer the creation of a universal force or a personal mind stronger than ours, but the direct expression and creation of a light which is above us, and which may be a light of the highest kind if our aspiration and opening allow it. That is the only case in which one can say that the thought is our own. Otherwise, all the rest is simply a passing notation: we note down, we invest a force with words, a force that’s altogether universal and collective, which enters, goes out, moves and passes freely from one person to another.

But how is the thought formed in the universal Mind?

In the universal Mind?

You say that it comes from outside, don’t you?

Ideas have a higher origin than the mind. There is a region of the mind, higher than the ordinary mind, in which there are ideas, typal ideas, really prototypes; and these ideas descend and are clothed in mental substance. So, in accordance with — how to put it? — the quality of the receiver, they either keep all their own qualities and original nature or become distorted, coloured, transformed in the individual consciousness. But the idea goes far beyond the mind; the idea has an origin much higher than the mind. So, the functioning is the same from both the universal and the individual point of view; the individual movement is only representative of the universal one. The scale is different, but the phenomenon is the same. Of course, these are no longer “thoughts” as we conceive thoughts; they are universal principles — but it’s the same thing — universal principles on which the universes are built.

The universe, after all, is only one person, only one individuality in the midst of the eternal Creation. Each universe is a person who takes form, lives, dissolves, and another takes shape — it is the same thing. For us, the person is the human individual; and from the universal point of view the person is the universal individual; it is one universe in the midst of all the universes.

14 November 1956 [8]

Mother finishes reading Part One of The Synthesis of Yoga.

Now we have finished. Do you have something to ask about this subject, in conclusion? What are your reflections? Your comments?


All right. What effect has this had on you? Has it helped you, did you have the impression that it put you on the way, that it gave you the key of the discovery?

Didn’t you think anything? Didn’t you feel anything, experience anything? You did not... did you listen?

(Long silence)

Now the last question; if you do not answer, we won’t talk about it any more: Did this make you want to do yoga or not?

(Mother looks around.) A nod of the head but, all the same, that’s something.

Yes or no? A little, much, not at all?... So (turning to a child) it is your turn to speak. Has it made you want to do yoga or not?

There were chapters — when I read and understood it well, then I felt a great aspiration. But at other times...

Why? Because you did not follow or because there was no response?

I think sometimes because I did not follow and sometimes because I did not concentrate properly.

Has anyone else anything to say?

Mother, when you read, it gives a great encouragement to do yoga, but when one tries to visualise the effort that must be put in, one doesn’t have much confidence in oneself.

When I read it is all right and then it burns out!... Then I must read to you about that very often in order to re-light the spark!

Very well, next time we shall take Thoughts and Glimpses.

Is that all? Has anyone a question to ask on the subject?

Mother, how can one conquer the desire to appear good in the eyes of others?

Oh, Lord!... To appear good in others’ eyes, to have public approval? Is that it?

First, the best way is to ask oneself why one values others’ approval. For what particular reason, because there are many reasons.... If you have a career and your career depends on the good opinion others have of you, then that’s a utilitarian reason. If you have a little, or much, vanity and like compliments, that’s another reason. If you attach great value to others’ opinion of you because you feel they are wiser or more enlightened or have more knowledge, that’s yet another reason. There are many others still, but these are the three chief reasons: utility, vanity — usually this is the strongest — and progress.

Naturally, when it is a reason of progress, the attitude is not quite the same, for instead of trying to make a good impression, one must first endeavour to know the impression one is actually making, in all humility, in order to profit by the lesson this gives. That is quite rare, and in fact, if one isn’t too naïve, one usually attaches importance only to the opinion of those who have more experience, more knowledge and more wisdom than oneself. And so that leads us straight to one of the best methods of cure. It is precisely to come to understand that the opinion of those who are as ignorant and blind as ourselves cannot have a very great value for us from the point of view of the deeper reality and the will to progress, and so one stops attaching much importance to that.

Finally, if one is sincere one desires no other approval except that of one’s teacher or one’s guru or of the Divine Himself. And that’s the first step towards a total cure of this little weakness of wishing to make a good impression on people. Now, if the movement comes from a motive of utility, the one I spoke of first, the question does not arise here, for here we do not depend upon the opinion others have of us, either for living or for our development. So there remains the most frequent instance, the one most difficult to cure: that kind of small, very foolish vanity which makes you like to be complimented and dislike being criticised. So the best way is to look at yourself, to see how very ridiculous you are, how petty, paltry, stupid and all that, to laugh a little at yourself and resolve to do without the compliments of others.

That is all I have to offer.

It is obvious that if it is a matter of yoga, of yogic discipline, an indispensable preliminary condition is to free oneself from this little stupidity of wanting to be appreciated by others. That is not the first step on the path, it is one of the first steps in the preparation for being able to enter on the path. For so long as one needs to be appreciated and complimented, one is a slavish being and a deplorable weakling.

Indeed, it is better not to care at all about what others think of you, whether it is good or bad. But in any case, before reaching this stage, it would be less ridiculous to try to find out the impression you make on others simply by taking them as a mirror in which you see your reflection more exactly than in your own consciousness which is always over-indulgent to all your weakness, blindness, passions, ignorance. There is always quite a charming and pleasant mental explanation to give you a good impression of yourself. But to conclude, when you have the chance of getting information that’s a little more trustworthy and reliable about the condition you are in, it is better not to ask the opinion of others, but only to refer all to the vision of the guru. If you really want to progress, this is the surest path.

There we are.

  1. On Education, p.186
  2. Champaklal Speaks, p.381
  3. Ibid.
  4. Ibid., p.386
  5. Ibid.
  6. Ibid., p.387
  7. Questions and Answers 1956, p.344
  8. Ibid., p.347