Loretta reads Mother's Questions and Answers:1956-11-14 part 2

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Transcript of:
Mother's Questions and Answers: November 14, 1956 (part 2 of 2)
by Loretta, 2018 (45:55)
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In part 1, Mother finished reading the first half of The Synthesis of Yoga. And she asked the class what they had gained from it – how much it had helped them or inspired them to do the yoga. She didn't get a very satisfactory answer. And so next week she's going to take up a much simpler writing by Sri Aurobindo. So we'll see that next week.

And in the first part of this class, which we heard last week, Mother spoke of the necessity of getting beyond wanting to look good for other people. Getting beyond needing to have the appreciation of other people. She made it clear that it's a small, foolish vanity that makes us like to be complimented, and makes us dislike being criticized. (Because often criticism is helpful.)

And if it's a matter of yogic discipline – if we're on the path, and we want to progress beyond ordinary consciousness, it's absolutely indispensable to free ourself from wanting to look good to other people. Even from wanting to know how other people see us. It's a necessary part of a preparation for a life dedicated to the path of spiritual progress. If we want someone to see us and we want to know how they think, Mother says that we should refer to the vision of the guru – this is the surest path.

And Mother's quite strict – she's very direct. We're going to see that this mood continues all through the rest of this class. She's very strict. Unfortunately, there's no original French tape-recording of the class. We have the words, we have the English translation, but we can't hear Mother's voice. And that's another level of teaching. We don't get the opportunity to learn just from the tones of her voice and to receive her consciousness through listening to her voice.

So in today's part of the class, the first question is based on something that Sri Aurobindo wrote in The Synthesis of Yoga. The sentence is printed as a footnote in the book. And it says:

“It is thus by an integralisation of our divided being that the Divine Shakti in the Yoga will proceed to its object; for liberation, perfection, mastery are dependent on this integralisation, since the little wave on the surface cannot control its own movement, much less have any true control over the vast life around it.”[1]

The questioner wants to know about controlling their surroundings. Mother explains the difference between having control over our surroundings, and having an influence on our surroundings. One has to begin by having self-control. She goes into detail about how this works, to have first self-control and then control others. She says one cannot control outer matter until one can control inner matter. In both cases, the control is the same.

The disciple who asked the question said that Vivekananda had no control over his own anger, but he had control over the life around him. Mother said control outside was not possible unless there was control inside. And Mother questioned whether or not Vivekananda really could not control himself. The disciple said that Vivekananda himself had said that sometimes he got carried away by anger.

Vivekananda was a great yogi. He was known to have spiritual attainments. His name means ‘the bliss of discernment or discrimination’ or discrimination. Viveka in Sanskrit means ‘discernment’ or discrimination. Ananda means ‘bliss’; that's a usual name for a certain kind of a swami. So he was presumably known for his clear-mindedness, his discrimination.

Sri Aurobindo spoke of the experience he had with Vivekananda. Someone asked Sri Aurobindo if he had seen Vivekananda. And Sri Aurobindo said:

“No, not in the body. My contact with him was in the jail when he was speaking with me for about 15 days, giving me the first insight into the Intuition plane (not the intuitive mind which is mental and not supramental) as the first opening to Supermind.”[2]

He was not speaking of the ‘intuitive mind’ – which is mental, and not supramental – but the intuition plane, as the first opening to the supermind. And Sri Aurobindo also said that Vivekananda came repeatedly until Sri Aurobindo understood the matter, and then he left and never returned.

Vivekananda had passed away in 1902 – six years before Sri Aurobindo was in the Alipur Jail. He was there from May 5th of 1908 to May 6th of 1909. Vivekananda had said that he would not live forty years; and that was true. He left his body at the age of 39. He went to sit in meditation in his room, and he told everyone not to disturb his meditation. And he left. The physical cause of his death was the rupture of a blood vessel in his brain.

What Mother is teaching here about controlling oneself and others is yet another illustration of how we are made like the universe. Because it's clear that our inner matter is the same as universal matter; and we have to start with our inner matter to control universal matter.

Then, Mother explains something that she has said before. She says if you can replace the bad vibrations of others with the vibrations you have in yourself (the good vibrations), and do this without saying a single word, without explaining anything – then, you have the control. Otherwise whatever you say is only an ‘influence’. It is not ‘control’.

Sri Aurobindo and Mother spoke freely and often about using their consciousness to change other people's consciousness. Here in the class, Mother shows us something of how it can be done. She explains how to control people because we identify with them. We create our own vibration in them without saying a word. We replace their negative vibration with our positive vibration – something we have mastered in our own self.

Mother says mastery means “the knowledge of handling certain vibrations”[3].

When Mother was here in the body, people would go for Mother's darshan in her room, to be alone with her. In her later years it was a very, very quick experience, because Mother did her work very, very quickly. She would do exactly what she's talking about here, as part of her work for transformation. People would kneel before Mother, and she would change them with an inner movement of her own consciousness. Mother's consciousness was so vast, she was identified with the whole universe. We were all in her consciousness; and she spoke of that often also. It was not necessary to have a conversation with her.

Many people knew this, and they came to see Mother to receive this kind of help with their sadhana. And then when they were consciously receptive and open for this purpose, it was a very, very strong experience. (Although people always seem to have very strong experiences in Mother's presence – whether they expected it or not.)

Often the person did not even know what happened to them; or they didn't know what was changed in them. People are generally so unconscious, and it takes a lot of work to get that conscious. But everybody could feel blissful; everybody felt blissful for Mother's darshan. Even when they had a public darshan, and Mother came out on her terrace, two floors above the street.

Mother was also working on the universal mental planes, and the universal vital planes. She was working even higher, in the source of ideas. These were the planes from which people receive the mental and vital impulses which drive their lives. And in the Agenda from time to time, she tells Satprem about certain concepts that she sees are in the human consciousness. So this work is the same thing on a larger scale, as the work she was doing in her room. And it affected larger areas of the world for a general transformation of consciousness.

Last week, Mother taught in some detail about how we receive from the mental planes. And she explained how even thought we think the thoughts are ‘our’ thoughts, they really are not our thoughts. It is well-known that Mother was naming the flowers. She was able to see what their spiritual vibration was, and in this case that means what they carried that was for the progress of the earth. She named flowers like “Aspiration”, like “Divine Love” – things like this.

And Mother found that flowers could be used to transmit vibrations. So she would use the flower with its spiritual significance to transmit the vibration of their meaning to a person. And it's most likely (from what she says here) we can presume that she also had mastered that same vibration in herself, and she identified with that person silently, and gave her own mastery – some of her own consciousness – to them, along with the flower and its vibration. (She doesn't bring up the subject of the flowers in the class, but at least we can guess.)

Here in the class, Mother speaks about being able to cure ignorance, but not to cure it by using words. She says that curing ignorance is also done by a silent transfer of one's own consciousness. This will help them to understand, and it will awake in them the desire to know and the discipline to learn.

Here, we have an explanation of the cure of the state of ignorance, which shows that it is an awakening within the person: the wish to learn, and the discipline to learn. This is a different thing – this is awakening them to have a whole process in themselves. And Mother says here: we make the light enter into them, which will make them understand and adopt this new ability. And she's using the word ‘light’ here for the first time; but she's often spoken about being able to see a thought enter our mind as some kind of light.

But it's very interesting because this is not simply transmitting information about being not-ignorant. It's giving a way of being, a way to work oneself out of ignorance, that will last for a person's whole lifetime. And Mother says when one has mastered the state of ignorance in oneself, then one can transmit this mastery to others.

It's clear from the way she speaks that she's doing this work. Just from reading what we say here, we understand that both she and Sri Aurobindo were doing this work. And the reason she goes into so much detail, is because she wants the teachers in the school to work to do this with their students. She also wants to make this part of what they do in life – and of course she's talking to a whole playground full of people. So she's talking to the students, she's talking to the other ashramites, and she's talking to us.

Here in class, she says that this is what everyone who wants to make a real change in the world has to do. Otherwise, all they can do is try to influence other people.

We don't have the original tape-recording of this class. So we're not absolutely sure who the questioner is. But we can guess that it is a teacher in the Ashram school. Because then they go on to say that they have a problem with controlling their class. And they ask what should they do if they have no self-discipline. We will see that Mother is quite hard on this person. She is disciplining him severely. She has no sympathy. And of course we understand that she knows the person, and she knows how to speak to them for their own best benefit. So she tells them that they have to control their temper. They have to have self-control. She says that a teacher who does not have an endurance that never fails, and a quietude which nothing can disturb, and a teacher who has no self-respect, will get nowhere.

She says one must be a saint and a hero to be a good teacher. One must be a great yogi to be a good teacher. One must have a perfect attitude to get one's students to have a perfect attitude.

Then she goes on to speak about how she asks people to teach in the school. She asks particular people because it is the best way for them to discipline themselves and to learn their subject. It is all part of their working to reach an inner perfection.

Mother and Sri Aurobindo always spoke of all life and work being the path of union with the divine consciousness. Sitting in meditation cannot help unless what we achieve in meditation is brought forward into daily life. And she has said that work done in the right spirit, with the right self-giving, is many, many, many times more valuable than sitting in meditation. Mother says that the discipline needed to be a successful teacher is very severe. Then she points out many kinds of inner progress that a successful teacher has made along the way.

Mother started the Ashram school in 1943. Because of the war, many families of devotees came to the Ashram with their children. They were seeking refuge because they couldn't stay in their own place anymore. And when she started the school, Mother said that the purpose of this school was to prepare the students to open themselves to the new force: to prepare the students to give the force the possibility of manifesting on the physical plane. The school was the place for the soul, the psychic being, of the student, to come forward, and to unite with the outer being of the student. And then for the soul, the psychic being, with the knowledge it has from its continual contact with the Divine, to transform the body so that the body can receive and manifest the divine consciousness and harmony.

In 1930, 15 years before she started the school, Mother said that “the finest present one can give to a child would be to teach him to know himself and to master himself.”[4] Here in class today, she repeats that the teacher has to master himself, in order to teach.

Mother was a groundbreaking pioneer in education. Long before the others thought of it, Mother worked to set up a system of free-progress education, which would be able to give each student exactly what they needed for their own progress, their own education, their own preparation for life. Students who showed special aptitude, who had a special inner development, would be placed in classes where their needs would be met in the best way; and they would get the particular treatment and the opportunities they needed for their growth.

Up to that time, schools were set up to make each child go through a set system of classes, as though all children were exactly the same. Mother's way was absolutely revolutionary in the educational systems of India in the 1940s and 1950s, and such ideas were just beginning in education elsewhere. Today, these ideas are accepted as valid, and there are certainly lots of free-progress schools and better ways of looking at children.

So in the setting up of this school, the teachers were given the principles to follow. But because Mother wanted them to do this out of their own realizations, with their own experience, they were not told exactly what to do. So they were put in a similar position as a student would be, of learning and creating. So they were often quite lost. And they would end up having to ask Mother how to proceed.

We can see this in the last question in today's class. Mother had said that students may choose which classes – or course of study – they wish to follow. And the questioner says that some teachers interpret this as meaning that there should be no fixed classes at all, and the student should be left free to do whatever he likes, to come to class or not, as he likes. So given this situation, they need to know how to arrange the classes when classes are going to be like this. Mother says on the contrary: once a student decides to follow a class, he must go to class regularly. The Ashram school is also run in this way. Students may choose their subjects.

I have three friends in the Ashram who were in the school in the 1940s and 1950s. These three people told Mother they were not interested in book study. Today all three are valuable, successful, hard-working ashramites – each one in their own particular area. And I believe that all three left the school quite early, with Mother's permission, and began this chosen work when they were quite young. Mother saw that this was their education. This was their individual path to progress. And for each one, Mother must have seen that their individual work was what their being was gifted to do, and she encouraged it in every way, but not in the school system.

I also have friends in the Ashram who teach in the school; they are really serious about their work. They are very, very dedicated, very hard-working, and they care a lot about all of their students, all the time. They always have former students coming back to see them.

As there's no original French tape-recording for the class, the class will end after the English translation.

It's November 14th, 1956; we're still in class. Mother has spoken about becoming free of wanting the good opinion of other people. And then she asks...


Is that all?

Mother, I had a question. The control of one’s own movements and the control of the vast life around oneself — are these interdependent or independent?

Self-control and the control of what surrounds you?... That depends on your standpoint. The police superintendent, for instance, has a certain control over the circumstances around him, but he doesn’t usually have much self-control! (Laughter)

What exactly do you want to know?

To understand the meaning of “control over the vast life around it.”

(“It is thus by an integralisation of our divided being that the Divine Shakti in the Yoga will proceed to its object; for liberation, perfection, mastery are dependent on this integralisation, since the little wave on the surface cannot control its own movement, much less have any true control over the vast life around it.” The Synthesis of Yoga, p.183, “The Ascent of the Sacrifice”)

Oh! it is a phrase from the book!

It is quite obvious that one must first begin by self-control, otherwise one has no effect on the surroundings except to increase the confusion.

To give an example, Vivekananda had no control over his own anger, but he had great control over the life around him.

This is the first time I’ve heard that. He had no control over his anger? Who told you that story?

It is in his biography.

Did he say it himself? Is it authentic, this story?

(Another disciple) Yes, sometimes he used to get carried away.

But he knew it himself?

Yes, he knew it.

Anyway, he did not have a “great control” over his surroundings: he had a great influence, which is something very different. One can’t control outer matter if one does not control inner matter, for they are the same thing. But he had an influence, which is quite different. It is not a mastery, it is an influence. That is, he could awaken certain movements in others, but he could not control them, it was they who had to control themselves with the awakening, it was not — I say “he”, it can be anyone you see, it is a general rule.

Besides, it is childishly simple, for mastery means the knowledge of handling certain vibrations; if you know how to handle these vibrations you have the mastery. The best field of experimentation is yourself: first you have the control in yourself and once you have it in yourself you can transmit the vibration to others, to the extent you are capable of identifying yourself with them and of thus creating this vibration in them. And if you cannot handle a vibration in yourself, you don’t even know the procedure; you don’t even know what to do, so how can you manipulate it in others? You may encourage them by words, by an influence over them, to do what is needed to learn self-control, but you cannot control them directly.

To control something, a movement, is simply to replace by one’s presence, without words or explanations, the bad vibration by the true one. This is what constitutes the power of mastery. It does not lie in speaking, in explaining; with words and explanations and even a certain emanation of force, you may have an influence on someone, but you do not control his movement. The control of the movement is the capacity to oppose the vibration of this movement by a stronger, truer vibration which can stop the other one... I could give you an example, you know, a very easy one. Two people are arguing in front of you; not only are they arguing, but they are on the point of coming to blows; so you explain to them that this is not the thing to do, you give them good reasons for stopping and they come to a stop. You will have had an influence on them. But if you simply stand before them and look at them and send out a vibration of peace, calm, quietude, without saying a word, without any explanation, the other vibration will no longer be able to last, it will fall away of itself. That is mastery.

The same thing applies to the cure of ignorance. If you need words to explain something, that is not true knowledge. If I have to say all that I do say for you to understand me, that is not mastery, it is simply that I am able to exercise an influence on your intelligence and help you to understand and awaken in you the desire to know and discipline yourselves, etc. But if by looking at you, without saying anything I am not able to make the light enter into you, the light which will make you understand, I won’t have mastered the movement or the state of ignorance. Do you understand this?

So I can tell you with certainty that at least in this matter, if it is historically correct that Vivekananda had movements of anger which he could not control, that is, that he was carried away either in word or action, well, in this matter he was incapable of controlling those around him. He could only awaken similar vibrations in them, and so probably justify their weakness as regards this. He could say to them in so many words “Above all, don’t fly into a temper”, but that is no use at all. It is the eternal “Do what I say, not what I do.” But that has no effect.


Mother, the problem comes up in our class.

Oh! oh! you get into a temper with your students? (Laughter)

To control and discipline them, what should one do if one has no self-control?

Then one can’t! (Laughter)

But the way you describe it, this control will take a whole lifetime!

Oh! what a pity! (Laughter)

But how can you hope... Let us see, you have an undisciplined, disobedient, insolent pupil; well, that represents a certain vibration in the atmosphere which, besides, is unfortunately very contagious; but if you yourself do not have within you the opposite vibration, the vibration of discipline, order, humility, of a quietude and peace which nothing can disturb, how do you expect to have any influence? You are going to tell him that this should not be done? — Either that will make things worse or he will make fun of you!


And if by chance you don’t have any control yourself and become angry, then it’s finished! You lose for ever all possibility of exercising any authority over your students.

Teachers who are not perfectly calm, who do not have an endurance that never fails, and a quietude which nothing can disturb, who have no self-respect — those who are like that will get nowhere. One must be a saint and a hero to be a good teacher. One must be a great yogi to be a good teacher. One must have a perfect attitude to be able to exact a perfect attitude from the students. You cannot ask anyone to do what you don’t do yourself. That is a rule. So look at the difference between what is and what ought to be, and you will be able to estimate the extent of your failure in class.

That is all I can offer you.

And I may add, since there’s the occasion for it: we ask many students here when they grow up and know something, to teach others. There are some, I believe, who understand why; but there are also others who think it is because it is good to serve in some way or other and that teachers are needed and we are happy to have them. But I tell you — for it is a fact — that I have never asked anyone educated here to give lessons without seeing that this would be for him the best way of disciplining himself, of learning better what he is to teach and of reaching an inner perfection he would never have if he were not a teacher and had not this opportunity of disciplining himself, which is exceptionally severe. Those who succeed as teachers here — I don’t mean an outer, artificial and superficial success, but becoming truly good teachers — this means that they are capable of making an inner progress of impersonalisation, of eliminating their egoism, controlling their movements, capable of a clear-sightedness, an understanding of others and a never-failing patience.

If you go through that discipline and succeed, well, you have not wasted your time here.

And I ask all those who accept to give lessons, to accept it in that spirit. It is all very well to be kind and do some service and be useful; that is good of course, a very good thing; but it is only one aspect and perhaps the least important aspect of the problem. The most important one is that it is a Grace given to you so that you can achieve self-control, an understanding of the subject and of others which you could never have acquired but for this opportunity.

And if you have not benefited from this all these years you have been teaching others, it means that you have at the very least wasted half your time.


Is that all? Convinced? You are going to set to work!

(Another disciple) Mother, what you have said concerns each teacher, his inner attitude.


But concerning the outer organisation of the school, how do you want it to be done? — because at the moment there are many disputes among the teachers.

Disputes! Not too many, I hope!

Discussions. (Laughter)

How do I want it?

I can tell you things in general, you see, but the details of the organisation... What is your problem?

So far what you have said about the University consists of general ideas, but what about the details?


There are many differences of opinion; so what is the true way you want us to follow?

But excuse me, first you must tell me from what point of view. “Organisation” is very vague, isn’t it? If it is about the courses of study, that’s quite a formidable subject which can’t be settled just like that. If it is the method of teaching, that is something quite personal — personal in both cases. The general plan is easy, that is, it has been given quite clearly; but unless you give me an instance about which, let us say, there is some discussion and different opinions...

For example, let us take one point, Mother. You have said that the student must be given full freedom. Now, some interpret this as meaning that there should be no fixed classes, for the student should be left free to do what he likes, to come to the class or not as he likes, etc. So in this case, there should not be fixed hours for each class. And in this case the organisation becomes very complicated — how to arrange the classes?

Quite impossible! But when did I say that the student must be left free to come or not?...

Excuse me, you must not confuse things. I have said and I repeat that if a student feels quite alien to a subject, for example, if a student feels he has an ability for literature and poetry and has a distaste or at least an indifference for mathematics, if he tells me, “I prefer not to follow the mathematics course”, I can’t tell him, “No, it is absolutely necessary to go to it.” But if a student has decided to follow a class, it is an absolutely elementary discipline that he follows it, goes to it regularly and behaves himself properly there; otherwise he is altogether unworthy of going to school. I have never encouraged anyone to roam about during class-hours and to come one day and be absent the next, never, for, to begin with, if he can’t submit to this quite elementary discipline, he will never acquire the least control over himself, he will always be the slave of all his impulses and all his fancies.

If you don’t want to study a certain branch of knowledge, that is all right, no one can compel you to do it; but if you decide to do something — anything in life, if you decide to do a thing — you must do it honestly, with discipline, regularity and method. And without whims. I have never approved of anyone being the plaything of his own impulses and fancies, never, and you will never be able to have that from me, for then one is no longer a human being, one is an animal. So, here is one of the questions quite settled, without any discussion.

Now, another problem?

That will be for next time! (Laughter)

Good. Let us keep it for another time. We shall stop here.

  1. The Synthesis of Yoga, p.193, “The Ascent of the Sacrifice – 2: The Works of Love – The Works of Life”
  2. Letters on Himself and the Ashram, p.264
  3. Questions and Answers 1956, p.351
  4. On Education, p.166
  5. Questions and Answers 1956, p.350