April 4, 1955
(Letter to Mother from Satprem)
Pondicherry, April 4, 1955
Mother, for more than a year now I have been near you and nothing, no really significant inner experience, no sign has come that allows me to feel I have progressed or merely to show me that I am on the right path. I cannot even say I am happy.
I am not so absurdly pretentious as to blame the divine, nor yourself – and I remain quite convinced that all this is my own fault. Undoubtedly I have not known how to surrender totally in some part of myself, or I do not aspire enough or know how to “open” myself as needed. Also, I should rely entirely upon the divine to take care of my progress and not be concerned about the absence of experiences. I have therefore asked myself why I am so far away from the true attitude, the genuine opening, and I see two main reasons: on the one hand, the difficulties inherent in my own nature, and on the other, the outer conditions of this sadhana. These conditions do not seem to be conducive to helping me overcome the difficulties in my own nature.
I feel that I am turning in circles and taking one step backward for each one forward. Furthermore, instead of helping me draw nearer to the divine consciousness, my work in the Ashram (the very fact of working – for to change work, even if I felt like it, would not change the overall situation), diverts me from this divine consciousness, or at least keeps me in a superficial consciousness from which I am unable to “unglue” myself as long as I am busy writing letters, doing translations, corrections or classes.1 I know it's my own fault, that I “should” know how to be detached from my work and do it by relying upon a deeper consciousness, but what can be done? Unless I receive the grace, I cannot “remember” the essential thing as long as the outer part of my being is active.
When I am not immediately engrossed in work, I have to confront a thousand little temptations and daily difficulties that come from my contact with other beings and a life that does indeed remain in life. Here, even more, there is the feeling of an impossible struggle, and all these “little” difficulties seem to gnaw away at me; scarcely has one hole been filled when another opens up, or the same one reappears, and there is never any real victory – one has constantly to begin everything again. Finally, it seems to me that I really live only one hour a day, during the evening “distribution” at the playground.2 It is scarcely a life and scarcely a sadhana!
Consequently, I understand much better now why in the traditional yogas one “settled” all these difficulties once and for all by escaping from the world, without bothering to transform a life that seems so untransformable.
I am not now going to renounce Sri Aurobindo's Yoga, Mother, for my whole life is based upon it, but I believe I should employ other means – which is why I am writing you this letter.
By continuing this daily little ant-like struggle and by having to confront the same desires, the same “distractions” every day, it seems to me I am wasting my energy in vain. Sri Aurobindo's Yoga, which is meant to include life, is so difficult that one should come to it only after having already established the solid base of a concrete divine realization. That is why I want to ask you if I should not “withdraw” for a certain time, to Almora,3 for example, to Brewster's place,4 to live in solitude, silence, meditation, far away from people, work and temptations, until a beginning of Light and Realization is concretized in me. Once this solid base is acquired, it would be easier for me to resume my work and the struggle here for the true transformation of the outer being. But to want to transform this outer being without having fully illumined the inner being seems to me to be putting the cart before the horse, or at least condemning myself to a pitiless and endless battle in which the best of my forces are fruitlessly consumed.
In all sincerity, I must say that when I was at Brewster's place in Almora, I felt very near to that state in which the Light must surge forth. I quite understand the imperfection of this process, which involves fleeing from difficulties, but this would only be a stage, a strategic “retreat,” as it were.
Mother, this is not a vital desire seeking to divert me from the sadhana, for my life has no other meaning than to seek the divine, but it seems to be the only solution that could bring about some progress and get me out of this lukewarm slump in which I have been living day after day. I cannot be satisfied living merely one hour a day, when I see you.
I know that you do not like to write, Mother, but couldn't you say in a few words if you approve of my project or what I should do? In spite of all my rebellions and discouragements and resistances, I am your child. O Mother, help me!
My dear child,
No doubt it would be better to go to Almora for a while – not for too long, I hope, for it is needless to say how much the work will be disrupted by this departure...
(Another handwritten version)
My dear child,
You may go to Almora if you think it will help you break this shell of the outer consciousness, so obstinately impenetrable.
Perhaps being far away from the Ashram for a while will help you feel the special atmosphere that exists here and that cannot be found anywhere else to the same extent.
In any event, my blessings will always be with you to help you find, at long last, this inner Presence which alone gives joy and stability.
1 For a long time, Satprem took care of the correspondence with the outside, along with Pavitra, not to mention editing the Ashram Bulletin as well as Mother's writings and talks, translating Sri Aurobindo's works
into French, and conducting classes at the Ashram's “International Centre of Education.”
2 Every evening at the Playground, the disciples passed before Mother one by one to receive symbolically some food.
3 In the Himalayas.
4 An American artist, an old friend of D.H. Lawrence, and Satprem's friend.