November 8, 1960
(After a conversation with Z, a distant “disciple” reputed for his loose morals and the object of numerous “moralistic” or even so-called “yogic” criticisms among the “true disciples” in the Ashram)
He lives in a region which is largely a kind of vital vibration which penetrates the mind and makes use of the imagination (essentially it's the same region most so-called cultured men live in). I don't mean to be severe or critical, but it's a world that likes to play to itself. It's not really what we could call histrionics, not that – it's rather a need to dramatize to oneself. So it can be an heroic drama, it can be a musical drama, it can be a tragic drama, or quite simply a poetic drama – and ninety-nine times out of a hundred, it's a romantic drama. And then, these “soul states” (!) come replete with certain spoken expressions... (laughing) I'm holding myself back from saying certain things! – You know, it's like a theatricals store where you rent scenery and costumes. It's all ready and waiting – a little call, and there it comes, ready-made. For a particular occasion, they say, “You're the woman of my life” (to be repeated as often as necessary), and for another they say... It's a whole world, a whole mode of human life which I suddenly felt I was holding in my arms. Yes, like a decoration, an ornament, a nicety – an ornament of existence, to keep it from being flat and dull – and the best means the human mind has found to get out of its tamas. It's a kind of artifice.
So for persons who are severe and grave (there are two such examples here, but it's not necessary to name them)... There are beings who are grave, so serious, so sincere, who find it hypocritical; and when it borders on certain (how shall I put it?) vital excesses, they call it vice. There are others who have lived their entire lives in a yogic or religious discipline, and they see this as an obstacle, illusion, dirtyness (Mother makes a gesture of rejecting with disgust), but above all, it's this “terrible illusion that prevents you from nearing the Divine.” And when I saw the way these two people here reacted, in fact, I said to myself, “but...” – you see, I FELT so strongly that this too is the Divine, it too is a way of getting out of something that has had its place in evolution, and still has a place, individually, for certain individuals. Naturally, if you remain there, you keep turning in circles; it will always be (not eternally, but indefinitely) “the woman of my life,” to take that as a symbol. But once you're out of it, you see that this had its place, its utility – it made you emerge from a kind of very animal-like wisdom and quietude – that of the herd or of the being who sees no further than his daily round. It was necessary. We mustn't condemn it, we mustn't use harsh words.
The mistake we make is to remain there too long, for if you spend your whole life in that, well, you'll probably need many more lifetimes. But once the chance to get out of it comes, you can look at it with a smile and say, “Yes, it's really a sort of love for fiction!” – people love fiction, they want fiction, they need fiction! Otherwise it's boring and all much too flat.
All this came to me yesterday. I kept Z with me for more than half an hour, nearly 45 minutes. He told me some very interesting things. What he said was quite good and I encouraged him a great deal – some action on the right lines which will be quite useful, and then a book... unfortunately mixed with an influence from that artificial world (but actually, even that can be used as a link to attract people). He must have spoken to you about this. He wants to write a kind of dialogue to introduce Sri Aurobindo's ideas – it's a good idea – like the conversations in Les Hommes de Bonne Volonté by Jules Romain. He wants to do it, and I told him it was an excellent idea. And not only one type – he should take all types of people who for the moment are closed to this vision of life, from the Catholic, the fervent believer, right to the utmost materialist, men of science, etc. It could be very interesting.
This is what you see in life, it's all like that – each thing has its place and its necessity. This has made me see a whole current of life... I was very, very involved with people from this milieu during a whole period of my existence – and in fact, it's the first approach to Beauty. But it gets mixed.
(Mother remains silent a moment)
Symbolically, in life, we might think of tamas as the earth (the solid and obdurate earth), and this intervention of the vital is water flowing onto it. But when first it touches the earth, it stirs up mud! There's no reason to protest, for it's like that. And thereby the earth becomes less hard and resistant, and it begins receiving.
It's an approach which is not at all mental nor intellectual nor (God knows!) moral in the least – no notion of Good or Evil nor any of those things, absolutely none of that. There's a moment in life when you begin thinking a little and you see all this from an overall or universal point of view in which all moral notions completely disappear – FOR ANOTHER REASON. This experience with Z reminded me of a certain way of approaching Beauty that enables you even to find it in what appears dirty and ugly to the common vision. It is She trying to express herself in this something which to the common vision is ugly, dirty, hypocritical. But of course, if you yourself have striven assiduously and have greatly held yourself in, then you look at it reprovingly.
From my earliest childhood, instinctively, I have never felt the slightest contempt or... how should I say... (well, well! I was thinking in English) shrinking or disapproval, severe criticism or disgust for the things people call vice.
I have experienced all kinds of things in life, but I have always felt a sort of light – so INTANGIBLE, so perfectly pure (not in the moral sense, but pure light!) – and it could go anywhere, mix everywhere without ever really getting mixed with anything. I felt this flame as a young child – a white flame. And NEVER have I felt disgust, contempt, recoil, the sense of being dirtied – by anything or anyone. There was always this flame – white, white, so white that nothing could make it other than white. And I started feeling it long ago in the past (now my approach is entirely different – it comes straight from above, and I have other reasons for seeing the Purity in everything). But it came back when I met Z (because of the contact with him) – and I felt nothing negative, absolutely nothing. Afterwards, people said, “Oh, how he used to be this, how he used to be that!... And now look at him! See what he's become!...” Someone even used the word “rotten” – that made me smile. Because, you see, that doesn't exist for me.
What I saw is this world, this realm where people are like that, they live that, for it's necessary to get out from below and this is a way – it's a way, the only way. It was the only way for the vital formation and the vital creation to enter into the material world, into inert matter. An intellectualized vital, a vital of ideas, an “artist”; it even fringes upon or has the first drops of Poetry – this Poetry which upon its peaks goes beyond the mind and becomes an expression of the Spirit. Well, when these first drops fall on earth, it stirs up mud.
And I wondered why people are so rigid and severe, why they condemn others (but one day I'll understand this as well). I say this because very often I run into these two states of mind in my activities (the grave and serious mind which sees hypocrisy and vice, and the religious and yogic mind which sees the illusion that prevents you from nearing the Divine) – and without being openly criticized, I'm criticized... I'll tell you about this one day...
Yes, but naturally without daring to criticize me openly. But I'm aware of it. On the one hand, they see it as a kind of looseness on my part (oh, not only for that – many things!). And on the other hand,1 you know well enough; it applies to other things, slightly different areas, it's not exactly the same, but in this area they're also severe. I'm even told that there are some people who shouldn't be in the Ashram.
My reply is that the whole world should be in the Ashram!
But as I cannot contain the whole world, I have to contain at least one representative of each type.
They also find I give too much time and too much force (and maybe too much attention) to people and things that should be regarded with more severity. That never bothered me much. It doesn't matter, they can say what they like.
But since Z's visit yesterday, and this morning on the balcony... Oh, it's so... I had already seen this long ago – this whole milieu that is not very pretty – and I had said, “Well, it's all right, that's how it is,” and I didn't discuss it further: “That's how it is, and absolutely the whole world belongs to the Lord – IS the Lord! And the Lord made it so, and the Lord wants it so, and it's quite all right.” Then I put it aside. But with his visit yesterday, it found its place – such a smiling place. And there's a whole world of things of life which have found their true place in this way – with a smile!
As if suddenly something were opening in a marvelous way – it has classified a whole part of terrestrial life. It was truly interesting.
How strange it is!... You have the feeling of ascending, of a progress in consciousness, and everything, all the events and circumstances of life follow one another with an unquestioning logic. You see the Divine Will unfolding with a wonderful logic. Then, from time to time, there appears a little “set” of circumstances (either isolated or repeated), which are like snags on the way; you can't explain them, so you put them aside “for later on.” Some such “accidents” have been quite significant, but they don't seem to follow this ascending line of the present individuality. They're scattered along the way, sometimes repeated, sometimes only once, and then they vanish. And when you go through such an experience, you sense that they are things put aside for later on. And then, all of a sudden (especially during these last two years when I have again descended to take all that up), all of a sudden, one after another, all these snags return. And they don't follow the same curve; rather, it's as if suddenly you reach a certain state and a certain impersonal breadth that far surpasses the individual, and this new state enters into contact with one of those old “accidents” that had remained in the deepest part of the subconscient – and that makes it rise up again, the two meet... in an explosion of light. Everything is explained, everything is understood, everything is clear! No explanation is needed: it has become OBVIOUS.
This is entirely another way of understanding – it's not an ascent, not even a descent nor an inspiration... it must be what Sri Aurobindo calls a “revelation.” It's the meeting of this subconscious notation – this something which has remained buried within, held down so as not to manifest, but which suddenly surges forth to meet the light streaming down from above, this very vast state of consciousness that excludes nothing... and from it springs forth a light – oh, a resplendence of light! – like a new explanation of the world, or of that part of the world not yet explained.
And this is the true way of knowing.
These things are like landmarks along the ascending path: you go forward step by step, and sometimes it's painful, sometimes joyful, or with a certain amount of toil that bears witness still to the presence of the personality or the individuality and its limitations (the Questions and Answers are full of this) – but the other thing is different, completely different: the other thing is an overflowing joy, and not only the joy of knowing but the joy of BEING. An overflowing joy.2
There, my child.
...If you weren't there, all these things would never get said.
I don't know why. I don't know why I wouldn't say them. But I know why I say them to you – I already gave you a hint.3 I told you, didn't I, that there was a reason.
Yes, but you didn't tell me what it was!
(Mother laughs) Because it's not that kind of reason, not a reason that can be explained!! No, it's a... it's the same thing, a contact.
I know – I told you that I had had a vision, but you didn't understand what I told you that day. It was a vision of the place you occupy in my being and of the work we have to do together. That's really how it is. These things [that I tell you] have their utility and a concrete life, and I see them as very powerful for world transformation – they're what I call “experiences” (which is much more than an experience because it extends far beyond the individual) – and it's the same whether it's said or not said: the Action is done. But the fact that it is said, that it is formulated here and preserved, is exclusively for you, because you were made for this and this is why we met.
It doesn't need a lot of explaining.
And, even with Sri Aurobindo, even with him I didn't speak of these things for I wouldn't waste his time, and I found it quite useless to burden him with all this. I would tell him... I always described my visions and experiences at night – I always recounted that to him. And he would remember (I myself would forget; the next day, the whole thing would be gone), he would remember; then sometimes, long afterwards, even years afterwards, he would say, “Ah, yes! You had seen that back then.” He had a wonderful memory. While myself, I would already have forgotten. But those were the only things I told him, and even then only when I saw that it had a very sure, very superior quality. I didn't bother him with a whole jumble of words. But otherwise... even Nolini,4 who understands well... I never, never felt even the... (it's not the “need”) not even the POSSIBILITY.
I don't want to tell you this too precisely, to expand on it, for these things cannot be explained. I want you to – not know nor think it, but feel it suddenly, like a little electric shock within that leaps forth.
It will come.
I'm really so thick, you know...
It's the mind that's terrible. It's a nuisance. To have an experience like the one I told you about a little while ago, you have to tell it, “Okay, be quiet; be quiet now, be calm.” But if it's left on its own and you're unfortunate enough to listen to it, it spoils everything. This is what you must learn to do.
But effort is not of much use, my child, it's... (long silence) it's... you can call it grace, or you can call it a “knack” – two very different things, yet it has something of each.
If I could only make my head quiet!
That is horrible. It's painful, exhausting.
And the more you try, the more fidgety it gets.
That's it, exactly. It's what I was telling you, that it's not the result of any effort... In fact, sometimes it comes all by itself when you're no longer thinking about it. Maybe I'll be able to help you one day.
1 Mother is referring to traditional tantrism.
2 Later, coming back to the experience She has just described, Mother added the following: “It's a very interesting experience. It's a very powerful lever for abolishing the moral point of view in its narrowest forms. And this is precisely what I encounter all the time in people – you see, all those who make a spiritual effort bring me truckloads of morality!”
3 Original English.
4 The most senior disciple in the Ashram.