February 3, 1962
(A visitor has written to Mother about her difficulties, saying she is the victim of a “collective karma.”)
Those karma stories....
I often wonder, very often, whether it helps people to know their karma. I don't think it does.
I mean, if they themselves discover the experiences they had in their past life, then it's part of a whole inner, psychic awakening, and very useful. But if some guru or other comes along and tells you, “Here, this was your karma....” I don't think it's useful, to put it mildly!
If you discover the line of a former life on your own, that's different; it's part of an inner, psychic awakening, and it's very good. But I don't think it's helpful when someone sees something and comes and tells you, “You know, you have been this, you have done that....” I feel it makes things worse instead of better – it puts you back in touch with things you were in the process of eliminating.
This woman... a “collective karma”! What rubbish – absolute humbug.
It may be true for some people, but not for her. If I hadn't seen her I might have been intrigued and tried to find out, but.... A collective karma.... Of course, there are all the links you have with people you've known in past lives; in that sense, yes, there is a collective karma! But really, people use such big words and big ideas for things that are actually quite natural.
Yet I found it helpful to have some understanding of what happened in my other lives.
Because you were here.
Because before you were told about your karma, I had already seen certain things about you and was trying to set you free – not from the thing itself, but from the tendency that remained in your nature. That, yes.
But Sujata, for example, was completely, COMPLETELY free of the whole... (what shall I say?) what could be called the unhappy aspect of her karma – completely free. For I know the people around me and what they carry with them very well, and there was nothing – just one thing remained, the one part that was rather constructive, so I had left that totally intact. And when the events of her past life were revealed to her, I took the greatest care to destroy the revelation as it was being given. And I did it ruthlessly. You see, it was like dumping a load of mud on someone completely unsullied, and I didn't let it happen (I couldn't stop what entered through her physical brain, but inwardly... I utterly annihilated it). The only thing I left untouched was the constructive part of the bond that had existed between you two, and so when she met you, she.... That's all I left, because it was good, pure, lovely – it was good. But all the rest.... And you saw how strongly I protested when I was told she had committed suicide. “No, no, no!” I said; even if somebody with perfect knowledge were to tell me so, I'd still say NO.
She is untainted by all that – pure – and I won't stand for someone pure to be soiled. She was so much my child that after her death everything was carefully cleansed, arranged, put back in place, organized, purified. So she returned unblemished and pure, and I don't want her soiled.
You see, a grace is actually working to drive those karmas away – sometimes far, far away – and it's no good to call them back.
I have had dozens of similar examples.
In some instances, my work has been thoroughly mucked up, and I don't like that.
It happened again recently: K.'s sister came because she had lost her son – it had just occurred and he was still here (he hadn't left yet). So I arranged everything, saw to the mother's condition and so forth; I arranged it all nicely, very carefully keeping the son here and telling his mother he would shortly return in some family member. Everything was well organized.
But naturally that was against “the rules” – I make a habit of doing everything against the rules, otherwise there would be no point in my being here; the rules could just go on and on! So they went to see X. They shouldn't have said anything, but they did. And that was that – all sorts of things were said and my work was completely mucked up.
So now it's all going according to “rule,” because that's the way it “has to” be.... I am not bothering with it any more.
Myself, I have learned a lot of rules I didn't know before (thank God!) – the divine Grace saved me from that whole hodgepodge of rules about how this happens and how that can't happen and how that must happen and how.... Oh, good Lord!... I saw things very simply, without a single rule in my brain, and so I did them just as simply, with no rules in my head – it worked very, very well, I didn't run into any trouble. Things worked out quite naturally and simply. And if I was told, “That can't be” – “Well, sorry,” I would say, “but it's already done.”
That “can't be” .... Sometimes it can!
Besides, if you remember the beginning of Savitri (I read it only recently, I hadn't known it), in the second canto, speaking of Savitri, he says she has come (he puts it poetically, of course!) to (laughing) kick out all the rules – all the taboos, the rules, the fixed laws, all the closed doors, all the impossibilities – to undo it all.
I went one better; I didn't even know the rules so I didn't need to fight them! All I had to do was ignore them, so they didn't exist – that was even better.
But now I have first to undo and then redo – a sheer waste of time.
In the lower mind there was a whole world of difficulties I was unaware of. In the vital I knew, because I'd had to do battle there – which was fine with me! Just imagine, this time I have been given a warrior as my vital being. A magnificent warrior, neither male nor female, and as tall as this room1 – he is splendid. I was so happy when I first saw him. “Well,” I thought, “that's worth my while!”
Yes, there are battles galore there!
Oh, by the way, how are your nights, mon petit? Because I have put you in my warrior's hands, you see.
Better. More conscious, anyway.
Inwardly, I haven't felt too great, so I don't get the full benefit, but my nights are more conscious.
It's he who made me remember; I have put you in his care.
I'm glad. I can see that my consciousness is steadier. I feel clearly that something is helping me to be conscious....2 Where I go isn't so interesting, but that will change, I expect.
The point is to become conscious of one's activities and master of one's actions.
That's the thing.
So, mon petit, have you brought anything? I am so lazy! Did you bring a question?
I haven't really found a question....
(Satprem reads the following aphorism.)
71 – A thought is an arrow shot at the truth; it can hit a point, but not cover the whole target. But the archer is too well satisfied with his success to ask anything farther.
But that's obvious! So obvious (to us).
Yes, but how do you cover the whole target?
Stop being an archer!
The image is lovely. It's perfect for people who imagine they have found Truth. It's a good thing to tell those who think they have found the truth... simply because they've managed to touch one point.
Yet how many times have we said that that's not enough!
One might ask this: the day one is able to take in the whole target, in other words to know all viewpoints and the usefulness of each thing, then, seeing that everything is useful and has its place, how can one act? Doesn't action require one to be somehow exclusive or combative?
Well, so long as there are conflicting thoughts....
Did you ever hear the story of the philosopher who lived in the South of France? I don't recall his name, a very well-known man. He was a professor at Montpellier University and lived nearby. And there were several roads leading to his house. This man would leave the university and come to the crossing where all those roads branched out, all eventually leading to his house, one this way, one that way, one from this side.... So he himself used to explain how every day he would stop there at the crossroads and deliberate, “Which one shall I take?” Each had its advantages and disadvantages. So all this would go through his head, the advantages and disadvantages and this and that, and he would waste half an hour choosing which road to take home!
He gave this as an example of thought's inadequacy for action: if you begin to think, you can't act.
This analogy is very apt down here on this plane, but for the higher realms it doesn't apply – up there it's just the opposite! As long as you remain the archer, touching one point, that's how it is; all intelligence below is like that, seeing all sorts of possibilities, so it can't make a choice and act. To see the whole target, the all-inclusive Truth, you must cross to the other side. And when you do, what you see is not the sum of countless truths, an innumerable quantity of truths added together and viewed one after another, making it impossible to grasp the whole at a glance; when you go above, it's the whole you see first, AT A GLANCE, in its entirety, without division. So there is no longer any choice to be made; it's a vision: THAT is to be done. The choice is no longer between this and that, it doesn't work that way any more. Things are no longer seen in succession, one after another; there is rather a simultaneous vision of a whole that exists as a unit. The choice is simply a vision.
As long as you're not in that state, you can't see the whole. The whole can't be seen successively, by adding one truth to another; this is precisely what the mind does, and why it is incapable of seeing the whole. It can't do it. The mind will always see things in succession, by addition, but that's not IT, something will always elude you – the very sense of truth will elude you.
Only when you have a simultaneous, global perception of the whole as a unit can you see truth in its entirety.
Then, action is no longer a choice subject to error, correction, discussion, but the clear vision of what must be done. And this vision is infallible.
But your question leads us elsewhere....
Won't this do for you! (Mother laughs.)
I would like to ask you something about my japa3.... Do you feel it's getting me anywhere? Is there any sense to it?
That's what I have been studying these past two days – not for you in particular, but the general effect of japa, the reason for it in the organization of one's life.... I can't say I have made any discoveries (maybe for myself, I don't know); but my study is not on higher levels, it's right here.
It would take too long to give the details; I can summarize, but I don't want to make a doctrine, and for it to be living it's bound to be long.
For some time now I have been running into difficulties with my morning japa. It's complex. I won't go into details, but certain things seemed to be trying to interfere, either preventing me from going on to the end, or plunging me into a kind of trance that brought everything to a halt. So I began wondering what it was and why. A very, very long curve was involved, but the result of my observations is the following. (All this is purely from the body's standpoint; I mean it doesn't concern the conscious, living, independent being that would remain the same even without the body – to be exact, the being whose life, consciousness, freedom and action do not depend on the body. I am speaking here of that which needs the body for its manifestation; that alone was in question.)
There has been a kind of perception of a variety of bodily activities, a whole series of them, having to do exclusively (or so it seems) with the maintenance of the body. Some are on the borderline – sleep, for instance: one portion of it is necessary for good maintenance of the body, and another portion puts it in contact with other parts and activities of the being; but one portion of sleep is exclusively for maintaining the body's balance. Then there is food, keeping clean, a whole range of things. And according to Sri Aurobindo, spiritual life shouldn't suppress those things; whatever is indispensable for the body's well-being must be kept up. For ordinary people, all other bodily activities are used for personal pleasure and benefit. The spiritual man, on the other hand, has given his body to serve the Divine, so that the Divine may use it for His work and perhaps, as Sri Aurobindo said, for His joy – although given the present state of Matter and the body, that seems to me unlikely or at best very intermittent and partial, because this body is much more a field of misery than a field of joy. (None of this is based on speculation, but on personal experience – I am relating my personal experience.) But with work, it's different: when the body is at work, it's in full swing. That's its joy, its need – to exist only to serve Him. To exist only to serve. And of course, to reduce maintenance to a bare minimum while trying to find a way for the Divine to participate in the very restricted, limited and meager possibilities of joy this maintenance may give. To associate the Divine with all those movements and things, like keeping clean, sleeping (although sleep is different, it's already a lot more interesting); but especially with personal hygiene, eating and other absolutely indispensable things, the attempt is to associate them with the Divine Presence so that they may be as much an expression of divine joy as possible. (This is realized to a certain extent.)
Now where does japa fit into all this?
Japa, like meditation, is a procedure – apparently the most active and effective procedure – for joining, as much as possible, the Divine Presence to the bodily substance. It is the magic of sound, you see.
Naturally, if there's also an awareness of the idea behind it, if one does japa as a very active CONSCIOUS invocation, then its effects are greatly multiplied. But the basis is the magic of sound. This is a fact of experience, and it's absolutely true. The sound OM, for instance, awakens very special vibrations (there are other such sounds as well, but of course that one is the most powerful of all).
It is an attempt to divinize material substance.
From another, almost identical point of view, it fills the physical atmosphere with the Divine Presence. So time spent in japa is time consecrated to helping the material substance enter into more intimate rapport with the Divine.
And if one adds to this, as I do, a mantric program, that is, a sort of prayer or invocation, a program for both personal development and helping the collective, then it becomes a truly active work. Then there's also what I call “external” work: contact with others, reading and answering letters, seeing and speaking to people, and finally all the activities having to do with the organization and running of the Ashram (in meditation this work becomes worldwide, but physically, materially, it is limited for the moment to the Ashram).
In the course of my observation, I also saw the position of X and people like him, who practically spend their lives doing japa, plus meditation, puja,4 ceremonies (I am talking only about sincere people, not fakers). Well, that's their way of working for the world, of serving the Divine, and it seems the best way to them – perhaps even the only way – but it's a question of mental belief. In any case, it's obvious that even a bit of... not exactly puja, but some sort of ceremony that you set yourself to do – habitual gestures symbolizing and expressing a particular inner state – can also be a help and a way of offering yourself and relating to the Divine and thus serving the Divine. I feel it's important looked at in this way – not from the traditional viewpoint, I can't stand that traditional viewpoint; I understand it, but it seems to me like putting a brake on true self-giving to the Divine. I am speaking of SELF-IMPOSED japa and rules (or, if someone gives you the japa, rules you accept with all your heart and adhere to). These self-imposed rules should be followed as a gesture of love, as a way of saying to the Divine, “I love You.” Do you see what I mean? Like arranging flowers in a certain way, burning incense, dozens of little things like that, made beautiful because of what is put into them – it is a form of self-giving.
Now, I think that doing japa with the will and the idea of getting something out of it spoils it a little. You spoil it. I don't much like it when somebody says, “Do this and you will get that.” It's true – it's true, but it's a bit like baiting a fish. I don't much like it.
Let it be your own manner of serving the Divine, of relating to Him, loving Him, of joining Him to your physical life, being close to Him and drawing Him close to you – that way it's beautiful. Each time you say the Word, let it be an invocation, let it be like the recitation of a word of love; then it's beautiful.
That's how I see it.
And so according to your mission in the world, you have to find for yourself the right proportion between this work and external, intellectual or organizational work; and then there are the body's needs, which can be met in the same way, trying to make it possible for the Lord to take delight in them. I have seen this for trivial things: for example, making your bath a pleasant experience, or caring for your hair, or whatever (of course, it's been a long time since there have been any of those stupid, petty ideas of personal pleasure), so that these things aren't done indifferently, out of habit and necessity, but... with a touch of beauty, a touch of charm and delight for the Lord.
There, that's all....
Mon petit... (Mother gazes a long time at Satprem).
For me, you know, japa means a moment when all physical life is EXCLUSIVELY for the Divine. A moment when nothing but the Divine exists – every single cell of the body, each second, is EXCLUSIVELY for the Divine, there is nothing but the Divine.
When you succeed in doing that, it's good.
Japa shouldn't become so exclusive that it's done twenty-four hours out of twenty-four, because then it's equivalent to asceticism – but there should be a good dose of it.
It's almost the one luxury of life – that's how it feels to me. The luxury of That alone, nothing but that divine vibration around you, within you, everywhere. Nothing but the divine vibration.
Now, that's luxury.
Voilŕ, mon petit....
1 About 15 feet high.
2 In fact, without knowing anything, Satprem had sensed a kind of warrior, very luminous and white, reminding him of the god Kartik, son of the Universal Mother, armed with a spear. Later, Mother said that her vital being was a “diamond-warrior.”
3 Japa: the continuous repetition of a mantra.
4 Puja: a ritual or ceremony to invoke or evoke a deity.