March 16, 1963
(Regarding the conversation of March 9: “A few seconds' experience that gave me the sense that the most central problem was solved.” That experience was what Mother called “the death of death.”)
Those things are strange.... You don't remember actively, that is, you can't find any thought whatsoever to express the experience; even the active sensation of the experience fades away. And yet you are no longer the same person – that's the remarkable thing! I experienced this phenomenon several times (I don't remember clearly enough to tell you exactly how many times), several times in my life, it was always the same thing: no longer the same person, you've become someone else. All the relationships with life, with consciousness, with movement – everything changes. Yet the central thing is just a vague impression. At the moment of the experience, for a second, it's so clear, so precise – a thunderbolt. But then... probably the cerebral and nervous system is incapable of preserving it. But all the relationships are changed, you are another person.
I've seen this phenomenon very often. For example, the impression people have in ordinary life (few are conscious of it, but everyone has the impression, I know that) of a Destiny or a Fate or a will... “hanging over” them, a set of circumstances (it doesn't matter what you call it), something that weighs you down and tries to manifest through you. But weighing you down. That was the first of my experiences: emerging above (very long ago, at the beginning of the century). And it was that kind of experience: one second, but suddenly, oh, you find yourself above it all. I remember because at the time I told the people I knew (maybe I was already looking after the Cosmic Review, it was the beginning, or maybe just before), I told them: “There is a state in which you are free to decide what you will do; when you say, ‘I want this,’ it means it will happen.” That was the impression I lived with. Instead of thinking “I'd like to do this, I'd like that to happen,” with the sense of the decision being left to Fate, the impression that you are above and you make the decision: things WILL BE like that, things WILL BE like that.
That's my memory of the beginning of the century.
I had several experiences of the kind – quite a number of them. And since that last experience [the death of death], which lasted a second, I've had the feeling... the same kind of feeling. Before that, whenever I intervened for people, either to prevent them from dying or to help them once they were dead – hundreds and hundreds of things I used to do all the time – I did them with the sense of Death like this (gesture above Mother), as something to be conquered or overcome, or the consequences of which had to be mended. But it was always that way, Death was... (laughing) just a little above. And from that moment [the death of death], the head emerged above – the head, the consciousness, the will were above. On the side of the Lord.
I had an experience quite a long time ago, when Sri Aurobindo was here: one night I had the experience of being in contact with the Supreme Lord, and it was concrete:
“One dies only when You will it.”
I don't remember in detail (I wrote it down), but the idea was like this: the Lord makes you die only with your consent – your consent is necessary for you to die. And unless He decides, you can never die. Those two things: for you to die, something (the inmost soul, that is) must consent, the soul must say yes, then you die; and when the soul says yes, it's for the Lord to decide. Ever since that experience, there had been the certainty that you can die only when the Lord wills it, that it depends entirely and exclusively on His Will, that there are no accidents, no “unforeseeable mishaps,” as human beings think – all that doesn't exist: it's His Will. From that experience till this latest one [the death of death], I lived in that knowledge. Yet with the feeling of... not quite the unknown but the incomprehensible. The feeling of something in the consciousness which doesn't understand (what I mean by “understand” is having the power to do and undo, that's what I call “to understand”: the power to realize or to undo, that's the real understanding, the POWER), well, of something which eluded me. It was still the mystery of the Infinite Supreme. And when that experience [the death of death] came, then, “Ah, there it is! I have it, I've caught it! At last, I have it.”
I didn't have it long (laughing), it went away! But my position changed. It's one more thing I see from above; I rose above, my position is above.
I have always observed very carefully every time somebody died here in the Ashram, and well (one or two persons have died since that experience, in particular the old doctor's sister), well, since then it has been ABSOLUTELY DIFFERENT. It was something I saw from above. There was no longer any mystery. But if you ask me to explain... That I can't – words, the mind, no. But the POSITION of the consciousness was different – the position of the consciousness. Altogether different.
And it happened the same way every time.1 But it may take years to turn into a conscious power. And IN THE PRESENT CASE, the conscious power would mean the power to give or prevent death equally; to effect the necessary movement of forces – almost... almost an action on the cells, a mechanical action on the cells. With that power, you can give death, you can prevent death.
But there is NO LONGER any of that sensation people have of a brutal clash between life and its opposite, death – death is not the opposite of life! At that moment I understood, and I never forgot: death is NOT the opposite of life, it is not the opposite of life.2
It's a sort of change in the cells' functioning,3 or in their organization.... When I say all this now, I try to pull back a deep-buried memory. But that's the point. Once you have understood that (all that you understand, you can do), once you've understood that, you can do it. Then it's very simple: you can easily stop the thing from going this way or that way; you can go like that or like this or like that (Mother seems to handle forces or shift the position of the consciousness). Then it almost becomes child's play to make someone die or make someone live! But that is better left unsaid.
But it will surely come! In how many years, I don't know, but the thing has become plain. And to me (as I said the other day), to me it seemed quite a central secret – not the most central of all, no, but fairly central with regard to life on earth.
It's... of course, it would mean a new phase for life on earth.
It may almost result (later, once modern science has run an ascending curve) in a MATERIAL knowledge. It wouldn't be that [Mother's experience], but the image of it: what Sri Aurobindo calls a figure, a representation; the closest word is “image.” An image: not the thing itself but its projection, as on a movie screen.
It is clear that... It is clear that we are drawing near to what ordinary consciousness regards as the Marvelous.
At bottom, to understand the creation is to be able to make it – that's it. When you understand, you can do. Whatever men do is done with a conscious will here (Mother makes a gesture as if she were wearing blinkers), but with an invisible Power which may or may not come, which is at their disposal or isn't. And that invisible Power is what ACTS. Men can have conceptions, but they don't have the power. But when you make that movement and go from here to THERE (gesture above), then you realize that all those conceptions are like the notes of a universal keyboard; you can play all the notes, it's very fine and makes a beautiful orchestra, but it isn't essential, it's incidental. THAT [the invisible Power] is what is needed. THAT is what knows how things are to be done and how one should play.
1 Later, Mother added: “That is to say, an extremely powerful experience but which doesn't stay, except in its effect: becoming another person, changing position. I wouldn't be able to describe the experience, but my position changed. That's what happened every time. It's very different from the other experiences: they stay, you understand them fully, they don't fade away – but they don't have the power to change your person. They are two types of experience, both very useful, but very different from each other. The experiences of the very powerful but very brief type are those that, afterwards, are expressed in the form of the other type. The other experiences are those that ESTABLISH in a certain domain of consciousness that first experience which had come only as a shock – a compelling but transient shock. And sometimes it may take long – formerly it took years between the first experience and the resulting ones; now the interval seems a bit shorter, though it still takes some time. And it follows the same course every time: something comes, has the necessary effect, and then the consciousness seems to go to sleep on that point, as if a silent incubation period were needed – you stop dealing actively with the subject – and it reemerges at the end of a long curve, but as if it had been digested, assimilated, and you were now ready for the full experience.”
2 With a sort of incomprehensible comprehension, we are reminded of the words of the Vedic Rishis: “He uncovered the two worlds, eternal and in ONE nest.” (Rig-Veda, I.62.7)
3 Thus it is in the depths of the cells that the key is found, that the passageway is found, not in a world “beyond” but in this very world where death is not the opposite of life – where death is no more (this very world too where you fall on flints weightless and unscathed?).