January 12, 1962 (on the experience of the “supramental ship”)
(Concerning Satprem's question on the experience of the “supramental ship”:)
Did you get my note, petit?
I've said something on the subject somewhere.... Do you remember that gentleman from Madras who had asked a question?1 There was an indication there....
Because I followed the thread, I put myself back in contact with the experience of the supramental ship, and I noticed that it had a DECISIVE effect on my position: the required conditions were established quite clearly, precisely, and definitively by that experience. In that respect, it was interesting.
Once and for all it has swept away all these notions – not merely ordinary moral notions, but everything people here in India consider necessary for the spiritual life. In that respect, it was very instructive. And first and foremost, this so-called ascetic purity.... Ascetic purity is merely the rejection of all vital movements. Instead of taking these movements and turning them towards the Divine, instead of seeing, that is, the supreme Presence in them (and so letting the Supreme deal with them freely), He is told (laughing): “No – it's none of Your business! You have no say in it.”
As for the physical, it's an old and well-known story – ascetics have always rejected it; but they also reject the vital. And they're all like that here, even... X may have changed somewhat by now, but at the beginning he was no different either. Only things classically recognized as holy or admitted by religious tradition were accepted – the sanctity of marriage, for example, and things like that.... But a free life? Not a chance! It was wholly incompatible with religious life.
Well, all that has been completely swept away, once and for all.
This doesn't mean that what's being asked of us is easier! It's probably far more difficult.
I mentioned the principal psychological requirement in my answer to that American: a state of perfect equality. This is an ABSOLUTE condition. Over the years since that experience I have observed that no supramental vibration whatsoever can be transmitted without this perfect equality. The slightest contradiction of that equality – in other words, the least movement of ego, of egoistic preference – and everything is blocked, transmission stops. This is already quite a large stumbling block.
And, over and above this, for the realization to be total, there are two other conditions, which aren't easy either. Intellectually, they're not too difficult; in fact, for someone who has practiced yoga, followed a discipline (I am not speaking here of just anyone), they're relatively easy. Psychologically too, given this equality, there's no great difficulty. But as soon as you come to the material plane – the physical plane – and then to the body, it isn't easy. These two conditions are first, the power to expand, to widen almost indefinitely, enabling you to widen to the dimensions of the supramental consciousness – which is total. The supramental consciousness is the consciousness of the Supreme in his totality. By “totality,” I mean the Supreme in his aspect of Manifestation. Naturally, from a higher point of view, from the viewpoint of the essence – the essence of that which in Manifestation becomes the Supermind – what's necessary is a capacity for total identification with the Supreme, not only in his aspect of Manifestation, but in his static or nirvanic aspect, outside of the Manifestation: Nonbeing. But in addition, one must be capable of identifying with the Supreme in the Becoming. And that implies both these things: an expansion that is nothing less than indefinite, and that should simultaneously be a total plasticity enabling one to follow the Supreme in his Becoming. You don't merely have to be as vast as the universe at one point in time, but indefinitely in the Becoming. These are the two conditions. They must be potentially present.
Down to the vital, we are still in the realm of things that are more than feasible – they are done. But on the material level it results in my misadventures of the other day.2
But even accepting all these misadventures a priori, things remain difficult because there's a double movement: both a cellular transformation and a capacity for “something” that could replace expansion with readjustment, a constant intercellular reorganization.3 The way they are now, of course, our bodies are rigid and heavy – it's unspeakable, actually; if it weren't for that we would never grow old. For instance, my vital being is more full of energy, and thus full of youth and power to grow, than when I was twenty. There's really no comparison. The power is INFINITELY greater... yet the body is going to pieces – it's really something unspeakable. So a way has to be found to bridge this gap between the vital and the material being.
Not that the problem hasn't been partially solved: hatha yogis have solved it, partially – provided you do nothing else (that's the trouble). Yet having the knowledge, we should have the power to do what's necessary without making it our exclusive preoccupation. At any rate, this possibility is certainly not altogether unknown; for the first few months after I retired to my room,4 when I had cut all contact with the outside, it was working very well... even extraordinarily so! Lots of disorders in my body were surmounted, and I had many fairly precise indications that if I continued like that long enough I would regain everything that had been lost, and with an even better equilibrium. I mean that the functional equilibrium was far superior. Only when I came back into contact with the world did it all come to a halt and begin to deteriorate – all the more so as it was aggravated by this discipline of expansion making me constantly – CONSTANTLY – absorb mountains of difficulties to be resolved. And so....
With the mind, it's rather easy – you can put things back in order in five minutes, it's not difficult. With the vital it's already a bit more troublesome, it takes a little longer. But when you come to the material level, well.... There's a CONTAGION of wrong cellular functioning and a kind of internal disorganization – things not staying in their proper places. Each vibration absorbed from the outside instantly creates a disorder, dislocates everything, creates wrong contacts and disrupts the organization; it sometimes takes HOURS to put it all back in order. Consequently, if I really want to make use of this body's possibility without having to face the necessity of changing it because it can't follow along, then, materially, I would really need, as much as possible, to stop having to gulp down all sorts of things that drag me years backwards.
It's difficult... difficult.
So long as there's no question of physical transformation, the psychological and in large part, the subjective point of view is sufficient – and that's relatively easy. But when it comes to incorporating matter into the work, matter as it is in this world where the very starting point is false (we start off in unconsciousness and ignorance), well, it's very difficult. Because, to recover the consciousness it has lost, Matter has had to individualize itself, and for that – for the form to last and retain this possibility of individuality – it has been created with a certain indispensable measure of rigidity. And that rigidity is the main obstacle to the expansion, to the plasticity and suppleness necessary for receiving the Supermind. I constantly find myself facing this problem, which is utterly concrete, absolutely material when you're dealing with cells that have to remain cells and not vaporize into some nonphysical reality, and at the same time have to have a suppleness, a lack of rigidity, enabling them to widen indefinitely.
There have been times, while working in the most material mind (the mind ingrained in the material substance), when I felt my brain swelling and swelling and swelling, and my head becoming so large it seemed about to burst! On two occasions I was forced to stop, because it was... (was it only an impression, or was it a fact?) in any event it seemed dangerous, as if the head would burst, because what was inside was becoming too tremendous (it was that power in Matter, that very powerful deep blue light which has such powerful vibrations; it is able to heal, for example, and change the functioning of the organs – really a very powerful thing materially). Well then, that's what was filling my head, more and more, more and more, and I had the feeling that my skull was (it was painful, you know)... that there was a pressure inside my skull pushing out, pushing everything out.... I wondered what was going to happen. Then, instead of following the movement, helping it along and going with it, I became immobile, passive, to see what would happen. And both times it stopped. I was no longer helping the movement along, you see, I simply remained passive – and it came to a halt, there was a sort of stabilization.
But Sri Aurobindo must have had the experience [of cellular expansion], because he said positively that it COULD be done.
The question, of course, is the supramentalization of MATTER – the consciousness, that's nothing at all. Most people who have had that experience had it on the mental level, which is relatively easy. It's very easy: abolition of limits set by the ego, indefinite expansion with a movement following the rhythm of the Becoming. Mentally, it's all very easy. Vitally.... A few months after I withdrew to my room, I had the experience in the vital – wonderful, magnificent! Of course to have the experience there, the mind must have undergone a change, one must be in complete communion; without exception, any individual vital being that hasn't been prepared by what might be called a sufficient mental foundation would be panic-stricken. All those poor people who get scared at the least little experience had better not dabble with this – they'd panic! But as it happens – through divine grace, you might say – my vital, the vital being of this present incarnation, was born free and victorious. It has never been afraid of anything in the vital world; the most fantastic experiences were practically child's play. But when I had that experience, it was so interesting that for a few weeks I was tempted to stay in it; it was.... I once told you a little about that experience (it was quite a while ago, at least two years).5 I told you that even during the day I seemed to be sitting on top of the Earth – that was this realization in the vital world. And what fantastic nights it gave me! Nights I have never been able to describe to anyone and never mentioned – but I would look forward to the night as a marvelous adventure.
I voluntarily renounced all that in order to go further. And when I did it, I understood what people here in India mean when they say: he surrendered his experience. I had never really understood what that meant. When I did it, I understood. “No,” I said, “I don't want to stop there; I am giving it all to You, that I may go on to the end.” Then I understood what it meant.
Had I kept it, oh – I would have become one of those world-renowned phenomena, turning the course of the earth's history upside down! A stupendous power! Stupendous, unheard-of.... But it meant stopping there, accepting that experience as final – I went on.
Well. So now, what can I tell you that's interesting – everything I've just said is a sort of miscellany, and three-fourths unusable.
I didn't say it with the idea of writing an article!
When I read that note6 you sent me, I immediately reconnected with the experience, and things became clear. I have told them to you as well as they can be told....
The people on that ship had these two capacities: one, the capacity for indefinite expansion of consciousness on all planes, including the material; and two, limitless plasticity in order to follow the movement of the Becoming.
It was taking place in the subtle physical. The people who had patches on their bodies and had to be sent back were always the ones who lacked the plasticity those two movements required. But the main thing was the movement of expansion; the progressive movement, the movement of following the Becoming, seemed to be a subsequent preoccupation – for those who had landed. The preparation on the boat concerned that capacity for expansion.
Another thing I didn't mention to you when I related the experience was that the ship had no engine. Everything was set in motion through will power – people, things (even the clothes people wore were a result of their will). And this gave all things and every person's shape a great suppleness, because there was an awareness of this will – which is not a mental will but a will of the Self, what could be called a spiritual will or a soul-will (to give the word soul that particular meaning). I have that experience right here when there's an absolute spontaneity in action, I mean when the action – for instance, an utterance or a movement – is not determined by the mind, and not even (not to mention thought or intellect), not even by the mind that usually sets us in motion. Generally, when we do something, we can perceive in ourselves a will to do it; when you watch yourself, you see this: there is always (it can happen in a flash) the will to do. When you are conscious and watch yourself doing something, you see in yourself the will to do it – this is where the mind intervenes, its normal intervention, the established order in which things happen. But the supramental action is decided by a leap over the mind. The action is direct, with no need to go through the mind. Something enters directly into contact with the vital centers and activates them without going through the mind – yet in full consciousness. The consciousness doesn't function in the usual sequence, it functions from the center of spiritual will straight to matter.
And so long as you can keep that absolute immobility in the mind, the inspiration is absolutely pure – it comes pure. When you can catch and hold onto this while you're speaking, then what comes to you is unmixed too, it stays pure.
This is an extremely delicate functioning, probably because we're not used to it – the slightest movement, the slightest mental vibration disrupts everything. But as long as it lasts, it's perfectly pure. And in a supramentalized life this has to be the CONSTANT state. Mentalized will should no longer intervene; because you may well have a spiritual will, your life may be the constant expression of spiritual will (it's what happens to all who feel themselves guided by the Divine within), but it still comes through a mental transcription. Well, as long as it's that way, it's not the supramental life. The supramental life NO LONGER goes through the mind – the mind is an immobile zone of transmission. The least little twitch is enough to upset everything.
So we can say that the Supermind can express itself through a terrestrial consciousness only when there is a constant state of perfect equality – equality arising out of spiritual identification with the Supreme: all becomes the Supreme in perfect equality. And it must be automatic, not an equality obtained through conscious will or intellectual effort or an understanding preceding the state itself – none of that. It has to be spontaneous and automatic; one must no longer react to what comes from outside as though it were coming from outside. That pattern of reception and reaction must be replaced by a state of constant perception and (I don't mean identical in all cases, because each thing necessarily calls forth its own particular reaction)... but practically free from all rebound, you might say. It's the difference between something coming from outside and striking you, making you react, and something freely circulating and quite naturally generating the vibrations needed for the overall action. I don't know if I am making myself clear.... It's the difference between a vibratory movement circulating within an IDENTICAL field of action, and a movement from an outside source, touching you and getting a reaction (this is the usual state of human consciousness). But once the consciousness is identified with the Supreme, all movements are, so to speak, inner – inner in the sense that nothing comes from outside; there are only things circulating, which, through similarity or necessity, naturally generate or change the vibrations within the circulatory milieu.
I am very familiar with this, because I am now constantly in that state. I never have the feeling of something coming from outside and bumping into me; there's rather the sense of multiple and sometimes contradictory inner movements, and of a constant circulation generating the inner changes necessary to the movement.
This is the indispensable foundation.
I've had that experience for a very long time and now it's completely established. It used to be transitory, but now it's constant.
It is the indispensable foundation.
And in that state, expansion follows almost automatically, necessitating certain adjustments in the body which are difficult to work out. I am still completely immersed in this problem.
Then that suppleness.... It means a capacity for decrystallizing oneself; the whole span of life given over to self-individualization is a period of conscious, willed crystallization, which then has to be undone. To become a conscious, individualized being there has to be a constant, constant, willed crystallization, in everything; and afterwards, again constantly, the opposite movement has to be made – with an even greater will. But at the same time, the consciousness must not lose the benefit of what has been acquired through individualization.
It is difficult, I must say.
For thought, it's elementary, very simple. It's not difficult for the feelings either; for the heart, the emotional being, to expand to the dimensions of the Supreme is relatively easy. But this body! It's very difficult, very difficult to do without the body losing its center (how can I put it?)... its center of coagulation – without it dissolving into the surrounding mass. Although, if one were in a natural environment, with mountains and forests and rivers, with lots of space and lots of natural beauty, it could be rather pleasant! But it's physically impossible to take a single step outside one's body without meeting unpleasant, painful things. At times you come in contact with a pleasant substance, something harmonious, warm, vibrating with a higher light; it happens. But it's rare. Flowers, yes, sometimes flowers – sometimes, not always. But this material world, oh! It batters you from all sides; it claws you, mauls you – you get clawed and scraped and battered by all sorts of things which... which just don't blossom. How hard it all is! Oh, how closed human life is! How shriveled, hardened, without light, without warmth... let alone joy.
While sometimes, when you see water flowing along, or a ray of sunlight in the trees – oh, how it sings! The cells sing, they are happy.
Well, mon petit, that's all I can tell you. If you can make something out of it.... But it's a new experience. Isn't it interesting? I have to put it into the form of an experience – there's no other way for it to be.
But keep it as impersonal as possible!
Do you need this thing [Mother's note to Satprem]?
Here, take your piece of paper – it's nothing but an intellectual notation.
(Later, as Mother is leaving)
If we continue along this path, we will surely be able to do some worthwhile work, because it's all new. It's quite new – I never spoke of this with Sri Aurobindo because at the time I didn't have those experiences. I had all the psychological experiences, experiences in the mind, even the most material mind, or in the vital or the physical consciousness – the physical CONSCIOUSNESS – but not in the body. That's something new, it started only three or four years ago.
All the rest is easy. Everything up to that point is settled – settled very nicely.
Since the physical transformation is so difficult, one is tempted to wonder whether it wouldn't be advantageous to “materialize” something, to work occultly – to create a new body by occult means....
That was the idea: for a few beings to first attain, here in this physical world, a level of realization giving them the power to materialize a supramental being.
I once told you I put a body on a vital being7 – but I couldn't have made that body material; it would have been impossible: something is lacking. Something is lacking. Even if it were made visible, it would probably not be possible to make it permanent – at the slightest opportunity, it would dematerialize. What we can't get is that permanence.
It's something Sri Aurobindo and I have discussed (“discussed” is one way of putting it), something we spoke about, and his view was the same as mine: there is a power, yes, to FIX the form here on earth, a power we don't have. Even people with the ability to materialize things (like Madame Théon, for instance) can't make their materializations last; it can't be done, they don't last – they don't have the quality of physical things.
And without this quality, well... the creation's continuity could not be assured.
Yes, that's an interesting point. One might indeed wonder about it.
I knew the whole occult procedure in detail, but I would never have been able to make that being more material, even if I had tried – visible, yes, but not permanent and progressive.
And mind you (this is my personal case), I don't think I have wasted any time. Because you might say that had I known forty years ago what I know now – at the age of forty instead of eighty – well, there would have been the sense of a lot more time to work with. But I haven't been wasting time. I haven't wasted any time. All that time was necessary to get me where I am today.
I don't think I've been going slowly. As I told you last time, I had the most wonderful conditions, those thirty years with Sri Aurobindo – as wonderful as could be. I haven't wasted my time. Oh, it was hour by hour!
It is a long, drawn-out work.
He used to say it would take at least three hundred years – so there's been no time lost.
To begin with, the body needs something that will allow it to last three hundred years.
1 An American, a friend of President Kennedy, who had made an analogy between tracking down a deer in the forest and tracking down the Supermind: “How can the Supermind be detected, in the way a huntsman would detect a deer in the forest? By which signs can it be recognized?” See Agenda II, February 25, 1961, p. 96 ff.
2 The faint: Mother spreading physically over the world.
3 Mother later clarified the meaning of this sentence: “I saw that to follow the Supreme in the Becoming one has to be able to expand, because the universe expands in the Becoming – the amount of expansion in the universe is not matched by an equal amount of dissolution. So it is really necessary to be able to grow, as a child grows, to expand; but at the same time, for things to progress, this process of expansion demands a constant inner reorganization. As the quantity is increased (if we can speak of quantity here), so must the quality be simultaneously maintained by an ongoing internal reorganization of intercellular relationships.”
4 In December 1958.
5 This is part of the lost treasures, never noted down, because at the time Satprem was not aware that the experiences Mother was relating to him were already part of the Agenda..
6 This letter has vanished with the others.
7 This story is also part of the lost treasures of 1957 or 1958.