I've received a letter from a publisher friend of mine. He tells me the real reasons for their refusal of my manuscript “Sri Aurobindo or the Adventure of Consciousness.”
It's interesting. If you want me to read it to you...
... “I had already told you about my misgivings.1 As to the motives for the decision, it always boils down to the same point: a sincere (though ambiguous) will of ecumenism, a broad rather than deep intellectual curiosity, permit mentalities such as those that give our firm its orientation and public image to pay some attention to academic essays regarded (wrongly so in the present instance) as dealing with the famous ‘Eastern spirituality.’ But as soon as the essays are lived from within, the goodwill withdraws into its shell. The reaction is even worse if the author is a ‘renegade,’ a Westerner who has gone over to the enemy side. (I can vouch for that!2) I must emphasize that this whole process is not only unintentional but, more than that, unconscious (which is not an excuse but an aggravating circumstance). The opposition put up against your first manuscript3 rather hardened with the second, a much more personal book, I mean less ‘detached,’ still less ‘objective’ than the first – and more ample. Through the medium of literature, you were able to convey whatever you liked. Through a direct essay, you will reach – and so much the worse, or so much the better – only those who seek. Our firm and its public do not belong, for that matter, to the category of those who seek.”
It's obvious, I told you so all along: your book isn't meant for them. There aren't many who seek.
Those who seek... really, there aren't many.
I see the letters we receive from those who are convinced not only that they seek but also that they've found. Letters from would-be disciples of Sri Aurobindo coming from over there, from France, Germany, England – don't understand, they don't understand!
Anyhow, that doesn't matter, it will be for later.
Above all, they think they've understood everything.
Ah, the less you know, the more you think you know.
Yes, they know everything, they can't learn anything from us.
They will have to return both your manuscripts to you. No need for them to rot there.
But I don't see what can touch that?
No, no! It's not worth trying.
But still it's worth it from the point of view of the Work – how will there be a breach there one day?
Oh!... You remember that aphorism of Sri Aurobindo's?... I understand VERY WELL what he means.
That will be the day of the great overturn.
A little child...
[76 — Europe prides herself on her practical and scientific organisation and efficiency. I am waiting till her organisation is perfect; then a child shall destroy her.]
I didn't want to comment on it.... But it's true.
Because they're impregnable. Those people are impregnable.
It's not mentally that you can make them yield.
Then how?... It's either by force – violent force – or else by a miracle (what they call a “miracle”) that will leave them... dumbfounded.
Those people are entirely vulnerable (by vulnerable, I mean defenseless) to spiritual force. The day when it manifests physically, there will be a debacle.
Even here, with these people who through their tradition are so accustomed to the Power, the true spiritual Power, when it just manifests a little, they... they tremble all over. But there they deny it... which means they are completely defenseless.
I don't know when it will come – I don't know, it may not be soon – but one thing I know: when it comes, there will be panic – you know, THE Panic.
And in a panic, you can do something.
In any case, your book will be published here, which means it will reach the few who are ready – but not over there.
The Americans are more open, because they have remained more childlike – they think they know everything on a material level, but they also know that there are things they don't know. While the others... they are “beyond childish religious beliefs,” of course!
It's not even true, for as soon as a little something stirs within (gesture at the heart center), they plunge back into their Catholicism.
(There follows a discussion between Mother and Satprem to decide whether Mother's comment on the last aphorism, on renunciation, should be published in the “Bulletin” in full or only in excerpts. At first Mother finds it too “personal.” This raises the problem of the publication of Mother's words.)
...It should have been said objectively, not as “my experience.” But if I start saying “my experience,” I have to go right to the end of my experience, I can't stop halfway.
But that's just the point: it's really striking only when it's YOUR experience.
Yes, but then I would have to tell everything.
It's exactly as your friend wrote in that letter: if you present an “objective” theory, then it's fine – people can take it or leave it, it doesn't matter; but when you introduce that personal element...
Not that I am afraid people may not appreciate (I am perfectly indifferent to that), it's that I fear it may harm some.
When you read something you are not ready for, it does you no good.
If I at least had put it in a didactic way...
Yes, but in a didactic way it won't have that richness, that force.
Of course, but that's what people consider “intellectual.”
Well, I think we should just ignore them.
Either I should give lessons, or else... But I must say that nowadays I don't enjoy it. I find it so childish to say, “Things happen in this way” – I know perfectly well they don't happen “in this way”! They happen in this way and they happen in another way, and everything is possible. You can't keep telling people, “Everything is possible, you know.” To keep repeating, “Everything is possible, you know,” is absurd.
So either I should keep quiet, or else...
Let me give you another example: when I answer people's letters, I never write about myself, I write about them, yet it's very personal: it's FOR THEM. And in fact, I am coming to see (in not a very pleasant way) that out of a personal answer they want to make a general teaching – it's absurd! Absurd. I say something to this man or that woman, and I'll say the opposite to someone else! But they publish it.... So we should stop publishing anything.
Either stop publishing anything or else, well, too bad....
If we must always take this and that into account, there's nothing we can do or say any more.
I could very well stop publishing anything and declare, “Now, I won't speak any more, it's finished.” But then we would have to stop the Bulletin.
I think you should present your experience, and that's all. Because otherwise, if we cut these texts to leave only the “objective” things, it becomes dry.
Yes, dry and hollow.
And incomplete, terribly incomplete. Then people will understand very dogmatically – that's bad.
I think it's better to put everything in.
To tell the truth (laughing), I don't care! Even if they get the impression that I have “a screw loose”....
Those who get wrong impressions will get them anyhow.
And, truly, sincerely, it's absolutely all the same to me. It's the same when people write to me, “How wonderful”: I smile and I think, “What can they understand?!” I receive letters... priceless letters! Positively exuberant, full of bombastic words, and then there are others who tell me very frankly that they are full of doubt, that I quite simply use “tricks” to run the whole “business” (!) like any ordinary human intelligence, and that they can't feel anything divine at all behind all that – both make the same impression on me, the one and the other! (Mother laughs) To me it's all the same thing. It's their opinions – they have the right to have any opinions they like. To tell the truth, all that we could reply to them is, “Have the opinions that make you progress,” whether in this way or that, it doesn't matter in the least!
That's not the point.... Maybe it's the fear (there is a fear somewhere, I don't know), the fear of opening the intimacy a little too much, a fear from the standpoint of the vibrations.
But (laughing) I don't think there's much danger!
I saw that, in fact: I showed A. some passages from the Agenda that I had selected; obviously A. likes me, also he makes an effort to understand spiritually – well, I clearly saw while he was reading that he doesn't understand. There was a whole part that was absolutely beyond his understanding, he didn't understand, and what little he could catch was just a husk.
So, to tell the truth, it doesn't matter.
Of course, there's the rule that it's not good to speak of yourself – that goes without saying. But what can I talk about now, if not about my experience? Because nothing exists any more – all the so-called “objective” knowledge is to me a useless mental activity.
So let's just leave it at that.
Otherwise, truncated publications... I find that very bad; better nothing at all, because they are, as it were, drained.
Yes, drained of all power.
Let's just leave it as it is.
1 See conversation of May 25.
2 The author of this letter is a Westerner turned Sufi.
3 Sri Aurobindo or the Transformation of the World.