29 March 2014 marks the Centenary of the Mother’s first arrival at Pondicherry. On this occasion we are publishing the notes of Ambalal Balkrishna Purani written down after attending the talks of the Mother in 1947 apropos of Her “Prayers and Meditations”. Every day a Prayer or two were read out and the Mother commented on them or answered questions put to Her. Most of the comments deal with perennial problems of the spiritual life. Some refer to particular occasions; but, just because the occasions are now past, the comments do not lose their point: they always have a wider bearing and join up with the general ones.
With warm regards,
Prayers read: October 9 and 10, 1914
Q. There is a mention of the joy of work and the joy of retiring from work.
There are persons who experience joy while working—for them the joy of action is there. Others sit in meditation and unite their consciousness with the Divine. They experience the joy of meditation. The Prayer says that to experience the two kinds of joy together is the ideal. There are people who have the two kinds of joy alternately—that is to say, when they work they have the joy of action and when they are in contemplation they have another kind of joy. But, in the ideal condition, at the depth of the consciousness there is contemplation and absolute silence while outwardly the nature is busy with all sorts of activities and enjoys work. Generally, you begin with one—either the action or the meditation. But if you are plastic you can get the two together. One part of your being which is outward-turned is occupied in various important or unimportant things—play, labour, struggle. But at bottom there is adoration, silence, freedom from everything. The two seem to us opposites and extremes, but when they meet, the real joy of creation is realised.
Of course, the realisation does not come by itself or by accident. It comes by a working for it, by a training of attention.
It is when men haven’t got this experience that they debate and discuss whether action and yoga are compatible or incompatible.
Q. But is it not true that one can become conscious of one’s psychic being more easily in meditation than in action?
Yes, at the beginning—when you are altogether a novice. Once you become conscious, then you are conscious of your true being all the time, day and night, in the midst of all actions, even in the midst of a battle just as well as during meditation. To start or establish the contact with the psychic being, one may require to meditate.
You think of action as important or unimportant. But merely action means nothing. As I said, you have to resort to meditation and go deep into the being in order to become conscious of the psychic being; but, once the contact is made, it matters little whether you meditate or not.
Generally, when one strongly affirms the need of meditation, silence, retirement, it is a proof that one has not yet contacted the psychic being. If the psychic being is awakened, you have within you something which is all the time aware and it is this that makes you do everything: all your actions springs from it. It organises your whole life. There are cases in which the psychic being does not allow a man to organise his life as his mind or vital being would like to do. For instance, it makes you miss the train you should miss, or the ship you should not travel by. In other words, it organises the life in spite of the man almost!
In order to mark the contact or opening of the psychic being, it is necessary to see what a man does in an acute situation. He generally concentrates, puts all his energies together and intensely wills for a way out or a solution. Then suddenly there is light and he sees. Now, if he is conscious of the opening or of the being that brings the light, there is a kind of permanent consciousness of everything in him, a consciousness which moves every part of him.
This is quite sufficient for a basis of the spiritual life.
But if you have other aspirations, then of course you have to work further. It is not necessarily when one sits in meditation that one feels the presence of the psychic being. It is at the moment when all the movements of consciousness are concentrated that one perceives it. While meditating, there may be no such concentration. This often happens. On the other hand, if one is attentive, one may feel something within one which supports and comforts from inside.
Prayers read: September 4 and 5, 1914
Now that the victory of the Divine is approaching the material plane, the danger too is nearer and greater. Sri Aurobindo has said, and I too see, that now we must all become soldiers in a battle and follow strict discipline. The Prayers that we have read are applicable to the recent events that happened on August 15. For the moment the danger has been thrown back; but the struggle between the Divine and the adverse forces has become, and is bound to become, more and more acute. They will try their best to destroy as much as possible and they will approach the main centre of the Divine’s working. What is begun by them may be nothing. But they will concentrate here as the victory approaches. It is not now a question of sitting in meditation. The adverse forces are growing more and more hardy and violent and, as you know, humanity is quite stupid. It will allow all kinds of lies and falsehoods and let itself be governed by them.
You can see the situation in India. Instead of the festival of freedom won, there is fighting and slaughter. So let each one of you look into himself and bring about a perfect purification of himself and not allowing anything that will open the doors to the hostile forces. It is because of the gravity and urgency of the situation that you must have no contradictory movement—nothing that goes against the spiritual aspiration or the will of the Divine in you. You must become free and pure. We know that each one has his difficulty and we have tolerated it so long. But now the danger is very close and may be great.
Q: How is one to know what comes in the way and what contradicts the Divine?
It is very easy to know it if you are sincere. I can tell each of you or you can come and tell me your difficulty and I shall tell you what is to be done. It can be anything—from big things like impulse, desire, ambition, to small, mean or insignificant ones. You can always know it because immediately you submit to it you are thrown away from the Divine: there is a revolt.
Prayers read: September 6 and 9, 1914
What is “amour intégrale”? “Integral” means total in the sense of something that is totally “conscious”. All the parts must become conscious; then they can have “integral love”.
How to be conscious? By looking around, as you do when you try to find a thief in the dark with your touch. Try to feel and find the contrary and contradictory movements in yourself.
There are two processes in Nature: (1) inertia which refuses to change or become conscious and (2) destruction in order to bring about a change in matter or life or anything.
That is to say, Nature’s own ways are obscure: either she has immobility, unconsciousness, hardness, even absurdity, or else she breaks up and wastes immense quantities of matter and energy and she destroys like a blind force and wants to try something else.
We want to introduce some other process now.
Q: Can we change Nature’s ways?
Yes, we can. Otherwise there would be no use in doing Yoga. It is an old idea, very firmly fixed in man’s mind, that the processes of Nature cannot be changed. Either you have to leave Nature behind and retire for liberation or you have to submit to her processes. But these alternatives are not inevitable. Our Yoga means that if the blindness and inertia go from Nature, then the process of evolution brings about a change in us and the world also changes. We take to something better than Nature’s processes because Nature, left to herself, will always be imperfect.
Q: You spoke yesterday about the near approach of the Divine’s victory in the material world. How far does that victory depend on us, the disciples?
From one point of view one can say that the time is fixed. But from another point of view it can be said that much depends upon the attitude of the sadhakas. For the human mind this question of time is very difficult because mind wants to believe trenchantly that either everything is fixed or nothing is fixed—it is all predetermination or all a world of chance. But it is not like that; it is simple and yet subtle. What is time? Time and space are processes—not ultimate truths—they are the true illusions. They can be taken up and also discarded by the Divine. There is division—division of movement, energy, etc. That is to say, certain conditions are necessary to bring about the change or the result that translates itself in man’s consciousness as time and space. There is a certain determination of forces at work and, if the determination changes, the time and the space for the result change also.
From the point of view of the Divine Consciousness it is not the things that count, their quantity or quality, but the process. Really speaking, the process counts.
What is this process for the Divine? It is a certain relation between vibrations of elements, of forces, which is required to bring about the change or transformation of result, whatever you call it.
You can translate this roughly by saying that there is energy and there is resistance, both taken together as a whole. Now the process will change if for some reason or other the resistance changes. If the resistance is reduced to the minimum the result is instantaneously attained.
You have to imagine the whole process of evolution from the start. It first proceeds like a chaos. Then something intervenes and arranges it. Then the same chaos becomes a world, a cosmos. This is what is translated to us as time and space.
Q: Can we accelerate the Divine action?
Yes. You can see that it was like that from the very beginning. That is to say, a perfectly free movement or play of infinite forces starts—like a chaos, as I said. Then the forces slowly become conscious. But as there are infinitely multiple, infinitely numerous forces, the order does not come all at once, and the condition of things leaves the door open to all kinds of accidents and mishaps. Now, when man becomes conscious he can reduce this chance to the minimum. The final result can be said to be attained when there is perfect order everywhere—the whole world in perfect order: each tiny drop mirroring that perfect order.
Q: Can one say that it would be like the whole sun in each drop of water?
Yes. It is the complexity of the work that is the problem. Something has gone out in complete freedom and then you have to get the whole thing put in perfect order. Whenever I work on or in someone, I don’t make him do great things or purify him but I only put him in order. It is like a mechanical chemistry of consciousness. The scientist has to know two things—the others don’t matter to him. First, the constitution of matter and, secondly, the different dimensions. In the inner work the material dimensions don’t exist: space, as we know it, is negated. The inner work—the work of changing the consciousness—can be said to be the work of God with the world. It can be done in a stone or in a man. Only, in the case of the stone there is no collaboration; therefore the working will be slow. In man’s consciousness, collaboration is possible and the work can be done quickly. It depends upon opening and receptivity. That is to say, there is a certain condition of things in which time does not exist. If, for instance, what Sri Aurobindo calls the Supermind is brought into contact with matter—with material conditions—then the cure of a disease, conversion of consciousness, or change in the circumstances of the world is possible at once. It is not more difficult to change the outer circumstances than to change the consciousness of man.
The important thing is the contact of the Supermind with matter. When great physical changes are produced in Nature—for example, the eruptions of volcanoes take place or continents are submerged—then there is a similar process.
Prayers read: October 11 and 12, 1914
In the Prayer of 12th October there is mention of each element having its own truth. It means that each element in this world has its own proper principle—each movement or vibration has its truth to which it must correspond. Everything in its depths is connected with the Supreme: otherwise it cannot exist. All that is here is an exteriorisation or objectivisation, whatever you may call it, of some Truth of the Supreme.
The Divine is like someone who has some truth within himself and then puts it outside for manifestation. Thus this universe is a manifestation of the Divine, eternally unrolling itself. When each element of the universe becomes, so to say, absolute, identifies itself with the Supreme and manifests Him, then it will know its cause, its raison d’être, its utility, its place in the total Truth.
Q. Does one become conscious of his true being at the time of death?
One does not necessarily become more conscious than when he is alive. There is no reason why the mere fact of physical death should make men conscious of their true being. The only thing that happens in death is that the connecting link between the physical and the vital is cut. But why, because of this fact, should one who is ignorant become suddenly full of knowledge or one unconscious become conscious? There is not a sufficient explanation here of changing so much after death.
On the contrary, many people find the body a very good refuge, a fort, into which they run when they feel or scent danger in the vital. But a vital without a body does not necessarily bring about benefits. A man who is stupid in life remains stupid after death. To think otherwise is like saying that if a man has a coat of a certain colour his inner being undergoes a change.
Q. Does one not become conscious of one’s true being after death?
There are cases in which one does, but these are cases of those who think about the inner being. Most people never think about it at the time of death. For instance, very few have an aspiration at that time, like Goethe who said, “Light, more light.” The last aspiration may be important for a man.
In the case of those in whom the psychic being has separated itself, there is a full possession of one’s being at the time of death. These people know, even before death, that they are separate from their bodies. When they die, they see the curve of their progress in the past and remember their last experience also and in the light of their knowledge they decide in which new body or in what circumstances they should take birth.
In people who are not evolved sufficiently it retires after death to its own plane. But, even if immature, it is the psychic that decides what curve it must take, what will be the future conditions, and it knows the past conditions and why one has taken a decision for the present life.
Q. Is there any rule governing the period of assimilation or rest for the psychic being?
There is a law, but it is a complex law. The time depends upon several factors: the degree of development and experience in one’s life on earth, and the need of intervention. For instance, sometimes it is not merely the law of individual development but also the stage of earth’s evolution which determines this time element.
Here also two movements are seen after death. On the one side, the psychic beings who are not individualised pass from one body to another without any awakening—soul-awakening—or without retirement and rest. On the other side, some take a long period of rest or retirement or assimilation before taking up the next birth or incarnation. That is according to the plan of the nature of life which you have to fulfil—the rest after life may be quick or slow, brief or prolonged. All this depends upon the family of psychic beings to which the individual belongs. They want, or need, to come together on earth—then they make an understanding with one another and promise to be ready at the right time and when the call is given they come up. Thus those who promised to be together come to birth.
But this is not a rigid mental law or rule. There is something like an organisation. It is not each one doing what he likes. There is a rhythm, a harmony.
Q. Has a man’s mental condition, say, a state of intense aspiration, any effect upon his future after death?
Generally what is organised round the psychic being remains, the rest dissolves. It is the psychic influence that unifies the being and if the mental or vital are thus organised they can resist the forces of dissolution and disintegration.
Q. When a child is born, can you predict what its future will be?
In all its details? No—because it is full of all kinds of possibilities. So too in the case of the psychic being all kinds of possibilities are there.
Prayers read: December 22, 1914, and January 2, 1915
It was in 1914 that I had an inner experience and saw India free. I had the experience of the Master of Nations, who was an Asura, and I knew that he and his group would perpetuate horrors unknown to man. I saw all the horrors that were subsequently enacted—even those of the Second World War.
But I knew also another fact: “Horror is gone from the world.” Between the knowledge and its translation into material fact there is a long interval. India has got her freedom just now, in 1947, but in the subtle world she was already free in 1914. It took 23 years to translate that truth into the plane of Matter.
Prayers read: January 18, 24, and February 15, 1915
Q. Why should you feel like common humanity?
One must participate in the limitations of the plane on which one wants to bring about a change: that is to say, one must participate in the conditions of the earth-plane.
If the being who wants to change the law of the earth has no understanding of the defects and the working here, he cannot bring about a transformation: he will not know what the difficulty, the obstacle, is.
If I did not feel like others, I may bring down the Truth but I cannot bring it to you. In fact, nothing that I may say or do would touch you.
Prayer read: April 19, 1915
I was at Lunel in France. The prayer refers to an experience I had when I was not physically well and was in fact narrowly saved from death. I had an inflammation of the nerves.
I was lying in an easy-chair, in front of a garden. I saw that the spiritual power was still active in me: I could go on with occult experiments in spite of the illness. I used to concentrate on things and persons and circumstances and wanted to see if the power worked. It worked very well on the mental and vital planes. Then I broadened the field of activity. I could go on doing my work in various parts of France and America and other places. I could clearly see the faces of the persons worked upon. They could be made to do what they by themselves could not. These were controlled experiments.
I could see that nothing could stop the work: even without my body the work could go on.
Wherever the call was, I could attend. People often appeal to a higher force. The appeals sometimes come to me. During the Second World War many appeals came and there was always a helping answer.
Q. Suppose there are many calls at one and the same time.
They are all attended to, at once. But not all remain afterwards in memory. Only the most important and the clearest ones continue in the consciousness.
I saw some horrible and atrocious things in the course of my work and I did not know at that time what they meant but subsequently all the cruelties were penetrated in the War.
Q. If people do not know you physically, how can they receive help?
The reception depends on their religious beliefs, the sort of mind they have, the form they give to their beliefs, the urgency and sincerity of the call.
During the Second World War Poland called out most for help. The most interesting were the appeals from children. They are very sincere, they feel the horror but have no exaggerated idea of things. I remember two children, a boy and a girl. The boy was about twelve years old, the girl about ten. They came home and found everything destroyed. They called out to their parents and there was no answer. The agony in their hearts was intense when they went from room to room. Then the sister asked the brother not to be disheartened. She sat down and I entered into her and gave her inner support. Her heart got courage and the brother was comforted. Then some help arrived and they were rescued.
Prayer read: November 2, 1915
The True Consciousness had already been reached. It was only the physical consciousness that now reached the complete identification with the Divine. It happened in Paris.
Now all the sense-experiences were offered up to the Divine—all the movements of life—in a single gesture and not like the ordinary consciousness giving up one thing after another. It was a total holocaust—the offering not of this or that movement of life but Life itself! Then I found that everything had undergone a change.
When there is no separate individuality, the world appears quite different. It is the little ego that does not allow one to know things truly.
Prayer read: November 26, 1915
In this experience the mind did not participate. In many spiritual experiences the mind need not participate at all.
I was in a house in Paris, which had three rooms below and one above. It was an atelier, a pavillion with a big garden. The time was evening.
The mind, of course, should always be quiet for one to have any deep experience. In my mind there was no preconception.
I became completely identified with the earth consciousness.
Sri Aurobindo explained this experience as a very high one because the consciousness came back to the body directly—that is, to the individual being.
There is a symbolism in the experience but I had no idea at all of the symbols before the experience. That is how it should always be—without any preconception in the mind of the sadhak.