Loretta reads Mother's Questions and Answers:1957-01-16

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Transcript of:
Mother's Questions and Answers: January 16, 1957
by Loretta, 2019 (59:22)
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Today Mother speaks about how people are not conscious of themselves. How people live impressions of things and forces, impressions of impulsions and movements. Most people have a sort of hazy awareness of what drives them in life. Mother points out that there is a huge difference between this and having a clear vision, an exact perception, of the meaning of one's life. Only then do we know why we are here, what we really want to do, and we begin to see things as they are. Only then can we consciously follow the thread of our own destiny. Then we can see our goal, and the way to reach it. And finally the whole vision of all our seeking, even through past lives, comes through a series of successive inner openings.

In a previous class, on the 26th of December, Mother said that the first experience of our soul shows us the goal and the way. It opens in us suddenly, and we should keep going back to that, so we can get into that consciousness, and it will make the opening for us to go on.

And the destiny that Mother speaks about here, is our destiny to realize our true being, so as to act through it – to act in our daily life, and to be guided by the real truth of our being.

Mother points out that most people live in a cloud, groping under the weight of a destiny they feel they cannot change. But in fact, we can change it.

The solution to this problem is to find our psychic being – our soul. To identify with it. To have it be a part of our lives. Then we can attain the consciousness to know our purpose in life, and to know the path to follow.

This class again shows how Mother is guiding the students with so much love. She begins by pointing out that if she were to suddenly ask them, “What are you thinking about?”, 99 times out of 100, they would say, “I don't know.” And it would be the same if she asked them what they felt, or what they wanted. Only people who are used to observing themselves, and watching how they live, people who are concentrated on the need know what's going on in them – only these people can immediately reply to those questions, and say what they are thinking at the moment, or what they really want, or what they're really doing.

And this need of self-observation – Mother talks about a need of self-observation – comes when one wants to change what one is. It certainly comes when people are practicing Sri Aurobindo's yoga, and they want to purify themselves. One has to know what one is doing, how one is thinking, how one is feeling. What one is doing to the outside world, in the outside world, and inside oneself, and to oneself, in order to offer up all inner movements to the Divine, so that one can be purified and can move on, and can receive the new force.

It is a long and highly-detailed concentration. It's truly a life's work. But Mother says when you actually start working on yourself, you can't be bored – there's always something to do. And the people who are sincere about this, and make it their own lifestyle, say that it eventually works: they do change, and they like who they become, and they want more of this consciousness.

Mother says that in the depths of everyone's being, our own soul never stops working to awaken our consciousness to our true source, and to our true purpose. When it can, our soul also gives us the sense of immortality. Otherwise we have little feeling for any continuity of our consciousness. And little feeling for the continuity of the creation itself.

Sri Aurobindo and Mother both always spoke of the fact that there is no end to the creation. Mother once even spoke about the supramental consciousness – which everyone feels is the end and the final, so important – she said that after some centuries we will look back, and we will see that it was actually not very much after all, and there is something else to attain.

But we can't really get that feeling of immortality, unless the consciousness of our immortal part, our soul, becomes part of our outer consciousness. Otherwise we live somehow or the other, without any real feeling of ongoing existence. Not just a mental idea, but a real feeling. But somewhere inside and in some inner way, we're being driven by the fact that we do have to end some time or other. And this colors all that we think and feel and do. We may believe in reincarnation as a true fact – especially if we're born into a culture which believes it and we grow up always knowing it is certainly true – but that is far from living in the consciousness of eternity which our soul has. A living consciousness of eternity.

And this is an important part of Sri Aurobindo's philosophy. This is why he spoke so much about ‘not escaping’ – because there really is no escape. It truly never ends. He wrote a poem called, “The End?” And there's a question-mark in the title: “The End?”, question-mark. So what he's really saying is, “Is there an end?” Here's the poem:

The End?

Is this the end of all that we have been,
And all we did or dreamed, —
A name unremembered and a form undone, —
Is this the end?

A body rotting under a slab of stone
Or turned to ash in fire,
A mind dissolved, lost its forgotten thoughts, —
Is this the end?

Our little hours that were and are no more,
Our passions once so high
Dying mocked by the still earth and calm sunshine, —
Is this the end?

Our yearnings for the human Godward climb
Passing to other hearts
Deceived, while sinks towards death and hell the world, —
Is this the end?

Fallen is the harp; shattered it lies and mute;
Is the unseen player dead?
Because the tree is felled where the bird sang,
Must the song too hush?

One in the mind who planned and willed and thought,
Worked to reshape earth’s fate,
One in the heart who loved and yearned and hoped,
Does he too end?

The Immortal in the mortal is his Name;
An artist Godhead here
Ever remoulds himself in diviner shapes,
Unwilling to cease

Till all is done for which the stars were made,
Till the heart discovers God
And soul knows itself. And even then
There is no end. [1]

Sri Aurobindo has written, “Till the soul knows itself”. And he tells us that hidden in the heart of man, the Eternal lives. But it is who we really are. And it is all-love, and beauty, and truth, and goodness. Looking for our soul can become like a mysterious thing; it is definitely hidden behind the veil of our outer being. Somewhere there, behind our outer thoughts, our outer feelings and actions. We can bring it more into all of these outer things, by concentrating on all the good qualities we have. If we go for everything that uplifts us: goodness, kindness, love, care, tenderness, generosity, humility – there are so many.

When we are trying to see ourself, when we start concentrating on ourself, we do see how all our mixed negative and positive automatic stories start running in the mind, and how our ego keeps us bound to our own ideas. When we think about adding higher qualities, and we do the work to do it, we automatically get another view of ourselves. When we have this other view and we see some change, it makes it easier to want to change. To make the effort.

Mother once gave some this advice to progress quickly. She said, if we pass all the happenings of our day before our highest consciousness every night, we will progress very quickly. Most of us can't truly say that our highest consciousness is close to the Supreme, but we can work to make our consciousness more love, kindness, more goodness, more humility before the Divine. And so many other fine qualities that we can work for. Because in fact, all these are the qualities of the soul; and we can concentrate on them and improve them in ourselves.

And you do start to change. And you do see that the things you do and the way you do them are missing these higher qualities that you're now looking for. So you see that you're not guided by your soul – you're guided by the lower parts of your being, things in the vital, but self-seeking, by egoism. And then you begin to want these other things. And then you begin to need these other things. You need to be a more conscious and kind and loving and caring person. And you begin to get a feeling for the presence of your soul, when you have that consciousness.

Most people who feel the presence of their soul say that it did take many long years, but it's worth all the work, because they feel so much better. And they didn't even know they had to change so much, until they really started to look at themselves.

And this sense of immortality, coming from the soul, in a world which is always changing and in which we feel immortal – this sense of immortality gives strength to bear what we have to go through to make the changes, and to do all the things that are called from us, that are presented in front of us. Often things we never thought we'd have to do. The world is changing quickly, and we have to keep up with the changes.

In Savitri, when she is doing her yoga to find her soul, and to prepare her being to face Death – when she does find her soul, and Sri Aurobindo describes it for us, he says that through the soul we receive the glory and powers of the Divine. And we receive it through our Jivatman, our personal portion of the Atman, the Self that is the All. We receive the “strength to do our daily task / And sympathy that partakes of others’ grief / And the little strength we have to help our race”[2].

And also, through this eternal presence inside us, we have and we feel deep inside us an endless hope, which makes an endless beginning, as things come and go over time.

We have another poem by Sri Aurobindo where he tells us what happens when time ends. And it's called “In the ending of time”:

In the ending of time

In the ending of time, in the sinking of space
What shall survive?
Hearts once alive,
Beauty and charm of a face?

Nay, these shall be safe in the breast of the One,
Man deified,
World-spirits wide, —
Nothing ends, all but began. [3]

Today Mother ends her class by urging the students to bring up out of semi-consciousness, and to voluntarily, consciously, obstinately, seek to become aware of their soul. We have the original tape-recording of the class, and even though you don't understand the words in French, you will clearly understand and feel the tenderness and care, the love, the intimacy in Mother's voice when she speaks to the children. It's very, very beautiful when she speaks to them. The tape will play automatically after the English translation, so you can just let the program run, and you'll hear Mother speaking so lovingly to the students, after she's read the long aphorism.

It's January 16th, 1957. Time for Mother's Wednesday class in the Playground. All the students are here, the ashramites are here; Mother starts to read...

16 January 1957 [4]

“Man seeks at first blindly and does not even know that he is seeking his divine self; for he starts from the obscurity of material Nature and even when he begins to see, he is long blinded by the light that is increasing in him. God too answers obscurely to his search; He seeks and enjoys man’s blindness like the hands of a little child that grope after its mother.”

Sri Aurobindo, “Thoughts and Glimpses

[(Mother continues to read quite a bit more; the aphorism is much longer than this, but they only print the part which relates to the question that's asked.)]


[Then? Something to say? No? Nothing?]

Sweet Mother, how is it that one seeks something and yet does not know that one is seeking?

There are so many things you think, feel, want, even do, without knowing it. Are you fully conscious of yourself and of all that goes on in you? — Not at all! If, for example, suddenly, without your expecting it, at a certain moment I ask you: “What are you thinking about?” your reply, ninety-nine times out of a hundred, will be: “I don’t know.” And if in the same way I ask another question like this: “What do you want?” you will also say: “I don’t know.” And “What do you feel?” — “I don’t know.” It is only to those who are used to observing themselves, watching how they live, who are concentrated upon this need to know what is going on in them, that one can ask a precise question like this, and only they can immediately reply. In some instances in life, yes, one is absorbed in what one feels, thinks, wants, and then one can say, “Yes, I want that, I am thinking of that, I experience that”, but these are only moments of existence, not the whole time.

Haven’t you noticed that? No?

Well, to find out what one truly is, to find out why one is on earth, what is the purpose of physical existence, of this presence on earth, of this formation, this existence... the vast majority of people live without asking themselves this even once! Only a small élite ask themselves this question with interest, and fewer still start working to get the answer. For, unless one is fortunate enough to come across someone who knows it, it is not such an easy thing to find. Suppose, for instance, that there had never come to your hands a book of Sri Aurobindo’s or of any of the writers or philosophers or sages who have dedicated their lives to this quest; if you were in the ordinary world, as millions of people are in the ordinary world, who have never heard of anything, except at times — and not always nowadays, even quite rarely — of some gods and a certain form of religion which is more a habit than a faith and, which, besides, rarely tells you why you are on earth.... Then, one doesn’t even think of thinking about it. One lives from day to day the events of each day. When one is very young, one thinks of playing, eating, and a little later of learning, and after that one thinks of all the circumstances of life. But to put this problem to oneself, to confront this problem and ask oneself: “But after all, why am I here?” How many do that? There are people to whom this idea comes only when they are facing a catastrophe. When they see someone whom they love die or when they find themselves in particularly painful and difficult circumstances, they turn back upon themselves, if they are sufficiently intelligent, and ask themselves: “But really, what is this tragedy we are living, and what’s the use of it and what is its purpose?”

And only at that moment does one begin the search to know.

And it is only when one has found, you see, found what he says, found that one has a divine Self and that consequently one must seek to know this divine Self.... This comes much later, and yet, in spite of everything, from the very moment of birth in a physical body, there is in the being, in its depths, this psychic presence which pushes the whole being towards this fulfilment. But who knows it and recognises it, this psychic being? That too comes only in special circumstances, and unfortunately, most of the time these have to be painful circumstances, otherwise one goes on living unthinkingly. And in the depths of one’s being is this psychic being which seeks, seeks, seeks to awaken the consciousness and re-establish the union. One knows nothing about it.

When you were ten years old, did you know this? No, you didn’t. Well, still in the depths of your being your psychic being already wanted it and was seeking for it. It was probably your psychic which brought you here.

There are so many things which happen and you don’t even ask yourself why. You take them... it is like that because it is like that. It would be very interesting to know how many of you, till I spoke to you about it, had asked yourselves how it happened that you were here?

Naturally, most of the time, the reply is perhaps very simple: “My parents are here, so I am here.” However, you were not born here. Nobody was born here. Not even you, were you? You were born in Bangalore. No one was born here.... And yet, you are all here. You have not asked yourselves why — it was like that because it was like that! And so, between even asking oneself and giving an external reply satisfactory enough to be accepted as final, and then telling oneself, “Perhaps it is an indication of a destiny, of the purpose of my life...” What a long way one must travel to come to that!

And for everybody there are more or less external reasons, which, besides, are not worth much and explain everything in the dullest possible way, but there is a deeper reason which as yet you do not know. And are there many of you who would be very much interested in knowing why they are here? How many of you have asked yourselves this question: “What is the true reason for my being here?”

Have you asked yourself the question?

I asked you once, Sweet Mother.

Oh! that’s true. And you?... And you?

I don’t remember.

You don’t remember. And you?

Not before, Mother.

Not before. Now it begins to come! and you?


No.... And I could ask many others still. I know very well. Only those who have come after having had some experience of life and came because they wanted to come, and had a conscious reason for coming, they can of course tell me, “I came because of that”, and that would be at least a partial explanation. The truest, deepest reason may still elude them, that is, what they specially have to realise in the Work. That already requires having passed through many stages on the path.

Essentially, it is only when one has become aware of one’s soul, has been identified with one’s psychic being that one can see in a single flash the picture of one’s individual development through the ages. Then indeed one begins to know... but not before. Then, indeed, I assure you it becomes very interesting. It changes one’s position in life.

There is such a great difference between feeling vaguely, having a hesitant impression of something, of a force, a movement, an impulse, an attraction, of something which drives you in life — but it is still so vague, so uncertain, it is hazy — there is such a difference between this and having a clear vision, an exact perception, a total understanding of the meaning of one’s life. And only then does one begin to see things as they are, not before. Only then can one follow the thread of one’s destiny and clearly see the goal and the way to reach it. But that happens only through successive inner awakenings, like doors opening suddenly on new horizons — truly, a new birth into a truer, deeper, more lasting consciousness.

Until then you live in a cloud, gropingly, under the weight of a destiny which at times crushes you, gives you the feeling of having been made in a certain way and being unable to do anything about it. You are under the burden of an existence which weighs you down, makes you crawl on the ground instead of rising above and seeing all the threads, the guiding threads, the threads which bind different things into a single movement of progression towards a realisation that grows clear.

One must spring up out of this half-consciousness which is usually considered quite natural — this is your “normal” way of being and you do not even draw back from it sufficiently to be able to see and wonder at this incertitude, this lack of precision; while, on the contrary, to know that one is seeking and to seek consciously, deliberately, steadfastly and methodically, this indeed is the exceptional, almost “abnormal” condition. And yet only in this way does one begin to truly live.

Le 16 janvier 1957 [5]

«Tout d’abord, l’homme cherche aveuglément, et il ne sait même pas qu’il cherche son moi divin, car son point de départ est l’obscurité de la Nature matérielle, et même quand il commence à voir, il reste longtemps aveuglé par la lumière qui croît en lui. Dieu aussi ne répond qu’obscurément à sa quête ; il recherche l’aveuglement de l’homme et en jouit comme des mains d’un petit enfant qui tâtonne vers sa mère. »

(Aperçus et Pensées, « L’Homme, le Purusha »)

Douce Mère, comment se fait-il que l’on cherche quelque chose, et tout de même on ne sait pas ce que l’on cherche ?

Il y a tant de choses que tu penses, que tu sens, que tu veux, même que tu fais, sans savoir. Est‑ce que tu es pleinement consciente de toi-même et de tout ce qui se passe en toi ? Pas du tout ! Si par exemple, tout d’un coup, sans que tu t’y attendes, à un moment donné, je te demande : « À quoi penses-tu ? », ta réponse, quatre-vingt-dix-neuf fois sur cent, sera : « Je ne sais pas. » Et si je pose de la même manière une autre question comme cela : « Que veux-tu ? » tu diras aussi : « Je n’en sais rien. » Et : « Que sens-tu ? » — « Je ne sais pas. » Ce sont seulement ceux qui sont habitués à s’observer, à se regarder vivre, qui sont concentrés sur ce besoin de savoir ce qui se passe en eux, à qui l’on peut poser une question comme cela, précise, et qui peuvent tout de suite répondre. Dans certains cas de la vie, oui, on est absorbé dans ce que l’on sent, ce que l’on pense, ce que l’on veut, et alors on peut dire : « Oui, je veux cela, je pense à cela, j’éprouve cela », mais ce sont seulement des moments de l’existence, pas tout le temps.

Tu n’as pas remarqué cela, non ?

Eh bien, chercher ce que l’on est vraiment, chercher pourquoi on est sur la terre, quelle est la raison d’être de l’existence physique, de cette présence sur la terre, de cette formation, cette existence... l’immense majorité des gens vivent sans se le demander même une fois ! C’est seulement une petite élite de gens qui se posent la question avec intérêt, et il y en a encore moins qui se mettent au travail pour avoir la réponse. Parce que, à moins que l’on n’ait la chance de se trouver en présence de quelqu’un qui le sait, ce n’est pas une chose si facile à trouver. Admettez, par exemple, que vous n’ayez jamais eu entre les mains un livre de Sri Aurobindo, ni d’aucun des écrivains ou des philosophes, ou des sages qui ont consacré leur vie à cette recherche ; si vous étiez dans le monde ordinaire, comme des millions de gens sont dans le monde ordinaire, n’ayant jamais entendu parler de rien, excepté quelquefois — et pas toujours maintenant, même assez rarement — de certaines divinités et d’une certaine forme de religion, qui est plus une habitude qu’une foi, et qui d’ailleurs rarement vous dit pourquoi vous êtes sur la terre... alors, on ne pense même pas à y penser. On vit au jour le jour les circonstances de chaque jour. Quand on est petit, on pense à jouer, à manger, et un peu plus tard à apprendre, et après on pense à toutes les circonstances de l’existence. Mais se poser ce problème, se mettre en face du problème et se dire : « Mais enfin, pourquoi suis-je ici ? », combien sontils ? Il y a des personnes à qui cette idée-là ne vient que quand elles sont en présence d’une catastrophe. Quand elles voient mourir quelqu’un qu’elles aiment, ou qu’elles sont mises dans des situations particulièrement douloureuses et difficiles, alors elles font un retour sur soi, quand elles sont suffisamment intelligentes, et elles se disent : « Mais enfin, qu’est‑ce que c’est que cette tragédie que nous vivons, et à quoi cela sert, et quel est son but ? »

Et c’est seulement à ce moment-là que l’on commence à chercher à savoir.

Et c’est seulement quand on a trouvé, n’est‑ce pas, trouvé ce qu’il dit, trouvé qu’on a un Moi divin et que par conséquent on doit chercher à connaître ce Moi divin... Cela vient beaucoup plus tard, et pourtant, malgré tout, du moment même de la naissance dans un corps physique, il y a dans l’être, au fond de l’être, cette présence psychique qui pousse tout l’être vers cet accomplissement. Mais qui le sait et qui le connaît, cet être psychique ? Ça aussi, cela ne vient que dans des circonstances particulières, et malheureusement la plupart du temps il faut que ce soit des circonstances douloureuses, autrement on se laisse vivre sans réfléchir. Et dans le fond de son être, on a cet être psychique qui cherche, cherche, cherche à éveiller la conscience et à rétablir l’union. On n’en sait rien.

Quand tu avais dix ans, toi, tu savais cela ? Non, n’est‑ce pas. Eh bien, pourtant, dans le fond de ton être, ton être psychique le voulait déjà et cherchait à ce que ce soit. C’est probablement lui qui t’a amenée ici.

Il y a tant de choses qui arrivent et on ne se demande même pas pourquoi. On les prend... c’est comme cela parce que c’est comme cela. Ce serait très intéressant de savoir combien d’entre vous, jusqu’au moment où je vous en ai parlé, se sont demandé comment il se faisait qu’ils étaient ici.

Naturellement, la plupart du temps, la réponse est peut-être très simple : « Mes parents sont ici, alors je suis ici. » Pourtant vous n’êtes pas nés ici. Personne n’est né ici. Même pas toi, n’est‑ce pas, tu es née à Bangalore. Personne n’est né ici... Et pourtant, vous êtes tous ici. Vous ne vous êtes pas demandé pourquoi — c’était comme cela parce que c’était comme cela ! Et alors, entre même se demander et se donner une réponse extérieure suffisamment satisfaisante pour s’en tenir là, et puis se dire : « Peut-être que c’est l’indication d’une destinée, de la raison d’être de mon existence ? »... combien de chemin il faut faire pour arriver à cela !

Et pour chacun, il y a plus ou moins des raisons extérieures, qui d’ailleurs ne valent pas grand-chose et qui expliquent tout de la façon la plus plate possible, mais il y a une raison profonde que vous ignorez encore. Et est‑ce qu’il y en a beaucoup d’entre vous qui seraient très intéressés de savoir pourquoi ils sont ici ? Combien d’entre vous se sont posé la question : « Quelle est la vraie raison de ma présence ici ? »

Tu t’es posé la question, toi ?

Je t’avais demandé une fois, Douce Mère.

Oh ! c’est vrai. Et toi ?... Et toi ?

Je ne me souviens pas.

Tu ne te souviens pas. Et toi ?

Pas avant, Mère.

Pas avant. Maintenant ça commence à venir ! Et toi ?


Non... Et je pourrais demander à beaucoup d’autres encore. Je sais bien. Il n’y a que ceux qui sont venus après avoir vécu et qui sont venus parce qu’ils voulaient venir, ayant une raison consciente pour venir, ceux-là naturellement peuvent me dire : « Je suis venu à cause de cela », et ce serait au moins partiellement l’explication. La raison la plus vraie, la plus profonde peut encore leur échapper, c’est-à-dire ce qu’ils ont de spécial à réaliser dans l’OEuvre. Ça, cela demande déjà d’avoir franchi beaucoup d’étapes sur le chemin.

Au fond, c’est seulement quand on a pris conscience de son âme, que l’on s’est identifié à son être psychique, qu’on peut voir d’un seul coup le tableau de son développement individuel à travers les âges. Alors là, on commence à savoir... mais pas avant. Alors là, je vous garantis que cela devient très intéressant. Ça change la position dans la vie.

Il y a une si grande différence entre sentir vaguement, avoir une impression tâtonnante de quelque chose, d’une force, d’un mouvement, d’une impulsion, d’une attraction, de quelque chose qui vous pousse dans la vie — mais c’est encore si vague, si incertain, c’est nuageux —, il y a une telle différence entre cela et avoir la vision claire, la perception exacte, la compréhension totale du sens de sa vie. Et c’est seulement à ce moment-là que l’on commence à voir les choses comme elles sont, pas avant. C’est seulement à ce moment-là que l’on peut suivre le fil de son destin et qu’on perçoit clairement le but et le moyen d’y atteindre. Mais cela, ça se produit par des éveils intérieurs successifs, comme des portes qui s’ouvrent tout d’un coup sur des horizons nouveaux — vraiment, une nouvelle naissance à une conscience plus vraie, plus profonde, plus durable.

Jusque-là, on vit dans le nuage, à tâtons, sous le poids d’un destin, qui quelquefois vous écrase, qui vous donne le sentiment d’avoir été construit d’une certaine manière et de n’y pouvoir rien. On est sous le fardeau de son existence, qui pèse, qui vous fait ramper par terre, au lieu de s’élever au-dessus et de voir tous les fils, les fils conducteurs, les fils qui réunissent les différentes choses en un seul mouvement de progression vers une réalisation qui devient claire.

Il faut jaillir de cette semi-conscience, que généralement on considère comme tout à fait naturelle — c’est votre manière d’être « normale » et vous ne vous reculez même pas assez pour pouvoir voir et vous étonner de cette incertitude, de ce manque de précision ; tandis que, au contraire, savoir que l’on cherche et chercher consciemment, volontairement, obstinément et méthodiquement, c’est cela qui est la condition exceptionnelle, presque « anormale ». Et pourtant, c’est seulement ainsi que l’on commence à vivre vraiment.

  1. Collected Poems, p.643
  2. Savitri, p.527, “The Finding of the Soul”
  3. Collected Poems, p.650
  4. Questions and Answers 1957-1958, p.15
  5. Entretiens 1957-58, p.17