The Mother considered the Prayer of 7-3-1915 (from Prayers and Meditations) to be the best of all.
(Courtesy: Champaklal Speaks)
March 7, 1915
It is past, the time of sweet mental silence, so peaceful, so pure, through which could be felt the profound will expressing itself in its all-powerful truth. Now the will is no longer perceived; and the mind once more necessarily active, analyses, classifies, judges, chooses, constantly reacts as a transforming agent upon everything that is imposed on the individuality, grown wide enough to be in contact with a world infinitely vast and complex, a world of mingled light and shadow like all that belongs to the earth. *I am exiled from every spiritual happiness, and of all ordeals this, O Lord, is surely the most painful that Thou canst impose: but most of all the withdrawal of Thy will which seems to be a sign of total disapprobation. Strong is the growing sense of rejection, and it needs all the ardour of an untiring faith to keep the external consciousness thus abandoned to itself from being invaded by an irremediable sorrow….
*But it refuses to despair, it refuses to believe that the misfortune is irreparable; it waits with humility in an obscure and hidden effort and struggle for the breath of Thy perfect joy to penetrate it again. And perhaps each of its modest and secret victories is a true help brought to the earth….
*If it were possible to come definitively out of this external consciousness, to take refuge in the divine consciousness! But that Thou hast forbidden and still and always Thou forbidst it. No flight out of the world! The burden of its darkness and ugliness must be borne to the end even if all divine succour seems to be withdrawn. I must remain in the bosom of the Night and walk on without compass, without beacon-light, without inner guide.
*I will not even implore Thy mercy; for what Thou willst for me, I too will. All my energy is in tension solely to advance, always to advance step after step, despite the depth of the darkness, despite the obstacles of the way, and whatever comes, O Lord, it is with a fervent and unchanging love that Thy decision will be welcomed. Even if Thou findest the instrument unfit to serve Thee, the instrument belongs to itself no more, it is Thine; Thou canst destroy or magnify it, it exists not in itself, it wills nothing, it can do nothing without Thee.*
(Courtesy: Prayers and Meditations, CWM 1, pp. 294-295)
The prayers identified by the asterisk sign (*) have been translated by Sri Aurobindo or revised and published under his guidance.
INTERPRETATIONS OF SOME "PRAYERS" OF THE MOTHER
Q: In some of the Mother’s Prayers which are addressed to "divin Maitre" I find the words: "avec notre divine Mère". How can the Mother and "divin Maitre" have a "divine Mère"? It is as if the Mother was not the "divine Mère" and there was some other Mother and the "divin Maitre" was not the Transcendent and had also a "divine Mere"! Or is it that all these are addressed to something impersonal?
A: The Prayers are mostly written in an identification with the earth-consciousness. It is the Mother in the lower nature addressing the Mother in the higher nature, the Mother herself carrying on the Sadhana of the earth-consciousness for the transformation praying to herself above from whom the forces of transformation come. This continues till the identification of the earth-consciousness and the higher consciousness is effected. The word "notre" is general, I believe, referring to all born into the earth-consciousness – it does not mean the Mother of the "Divin Maitre" and myself. It is the Divine who is always referred to as Divin Maitre and Seigneur. There is the Mother who is carrying on the Sadhana and the Divine Mother, both being one but in different poises, and both turn to the Seigneur or Divine Master. This kind of prayer from the Divine to the Divine you will find also in the Ramayana and the Mahabharata.
The experience you have described is Vedic in the real sense, though not one which easily be recognised by the modern systems of Yoga which call themselves Yogic. It is the union of the "Earth" of the Veda and Purana with the divine Principle, an earth which is said to be above our earth, that is to say, the physical being and consciousness of which the world and the body are only images. But the modern Yogas hardly recognise the possibility of a material union with the Divine. (Sri Aurobindo’s answer to the Mother’s letter- prayer dated 26-11-1915)
Q: There are some Prayers of the Mother of 1914 in which she speaks of transformation and manifestation. Since at that time she was not here, does this not mean that she had these ideas long before she came here?
A: The Mother had been spiritually conscious from the youth, even from her childhood, upward and she done Sadhana and had developed this knowledge very long before she came to India.
Q: Nothing is more important than: "Ta splendeur veut rayonner" as the Mother says in her Prayer of the 16th June 1914. All ideas of perfection for oneself or being an instrument seem flat and insipid when considered from the standpoint of the vast universal movement of consciousness.
A: It is correct. Perfection for oneself is not the true ideal. Sadhana and instrumentation are only useful as a means for the "rayonnement".
Q: In her Prayer of the 17th May 1914, the Mother says, "Telles furent les …………sur le papier."
Is it true that a prayer is not sufficiently powerful when it is kept unexpressed by speech or writing, and that its expression is necessary to make it completely powerful?
A: It was not meant as a general rule – it was only a necessity felt with regard to that particular prayer and that experience. It all depends on the person, the condition, the need of the moment or of that stage or phase of the consciousness. These things in spiritual experience are always plastic and variable. In some conditions or in one phase or at one moment expression may be needed to bring out the effectuating force of the prayer or the stability of the experience; in another condition or phase or at another moment it may be the opposite, expression would rather disperse the force or break the stability.
Q: The Mother’s Prayer of the 12th December 1914, begins with: "Il faut á chaque instant savoir tout perdre pour tout gagner…"
The Isha Upanishad also says: "tena tyaktena bhuòjithâ." Do not these two statements refer to the same truth?
A: Yes, certainly. It is essentially the same truth put in different ways. It might be put in a negative form – "if we cling to things as they are in their imperfection in the ignorance, we cannot have them in their truth and perfection in the Divine Light, Harmony and Ananda."
Q: In one of her Prayers the Mother says: "The joy contained in activity is superseded by a greater joy in withdrawal from activity." This implies that withdrawal from activity is preferable to activity.
A: Do you think the Mother has a rigid mind like you people and was laying down a hard and fast rule, for all time and all people and all conditions? It refers to a certain stage when the consciousness is sometimes in activity and when not in activity is withdrawn in itself. Afterwards comes a stage when the Sachchidananda condition is there in work also. There is a still further stage when both are as it were one, but that is the supramental. The two states are the silent Brahman and the active Brahman and they can alternate (1st stage), coexist (2nd stage), fuse (3rd stage). If you reach even the first stage then you can think of applying Mother’s dictum, but why misapply it now?
Q: Is it possible to have the highest Sachchidananda realisation in work?
A: Certainly it is realisable in work. Good Lord! How could the integral Yoga exist if it were not?
Q: The Mother says in her "Prayers" that experience is willed by the Divine. Am I then to suppose that dearth or abundance of experiences is in any given case willed by the Divine?
A: To say so has no value unless you realise all things as coming from the Divine . One who has realised as the Mother had realised in the midst of terrible sufferings and difficulties that even these came from the Divine and were preparing her for her work can make a spiritual use of such an attitude. For others it may lead to wrong conclusions.
Q: The Mother, in her Prayer of the 4th August 1914, says: "Les hommes, poussès par le conflit des forces, accomplissent un sublime sacrifice…" Apparently she refers to the great war; but, as a result of that war has any "pure lumière" filled the hearts of men or the "Force Divine" spread on earth or something beneficial come out from that chaos, as she mentions? Since the nations are once more preparing for war and are in a state of constant conflict, there seems to be no indication of any change in the inner condition of men. People all over the world including even the Indians seem to be wanting another war and hardly anyone seems to require Peace, Light or Love.
A: There has been a change for the worse – the descent of the vital world into the human. On the other hand except in the "possessed" nations there is a greater longing for peace and feeling that such things ought not to happen. India did not get any real touch of the war. However what the Mother was thinking of was an opening to the spiritual truth. That has at least tried to come. There is a widespread dissatisfaction with the old material civilization, a seeking for some deeper light and truth – only unfortunately it is being taken advantage of by the old religions and only a very small minority is consciously searching for the new Light.
Q: In her Prayer of the 16th August 1914, the Mother refers to "chacun des grands etres Asouriques qui ont resolu d’etre Tes serviteurs….."
How was it that the Asuras determind to be the servants of the Divine? Was it to exploit the Divine or a "coup de diplomatie"?
A: It was in reference to Asuras who had taken birth in human bodies – a thing they usually avoid if they can, for they prefer to possess human beings without taking birth – with the claim that they wanted to regenerate themselves by serving the Divine and doing his work. It did not succeed very well.
Q: Is there really an internal progress in the universe – "marche interne d’ univers", as the Mother says? Except in a few individuals there is hardly any progress in mankind. Internally and externally the universe seems to be moving in the same circle always without making any essential progress.
A: "Univers" in French usually means not the whole universe but the "world" – the earth. There must be a progress in the earth-consciousness, otherwise there could have been no evolution. The evolution of mankind may go by circles or spirals, but there is all the time an opening of more and more complete possibilities till the possibility of the evolution of a higher race becomes valid.
(Courtesy : ‘The Mother’ (Part II-Letters on the Mother) / SABCL 25, pp.383-389.)
Remembering the Mother
(A Collection of Reminiscences)
CHITRA SEN, ASTER PATEL
GEORGES VAN VREKHEM
SHOBHA MITRA, GAURI PINTO
RICHARD PEARSON, VARADHARAJAN
KRISHNA CHAKRAVARTI, PREMA NANDAKUMAR
This book is brought out as a commemoration
of the Mother’s 125th Birth Anniversary25/- Tamil Edition is also available.
Original English Edition: Rs. 125/- Tamil Edition is also available.
For enquiries e-mail to: firstname.lastname@example.org
COMMENTS ON PRAYERS AND MEDITATIONS
(The following letters regarding the Mother’s Prayers and Meditations are arranged according to the dates of the prayers concerned. The Mother’s answers appear after every question along with the date of the answer.)
"How many times a day, still, I act without my action being consecrated to Thee."
(2 November 1912)
Even after communion with the Divine, can one act without the action being consecrated to the Divine.
Certainly, communion and consecration are very different things. (8 November 1934)
But is it possible to experience communion before consecration?
The part of the being that experiences communion is not the same as the part that is not consecrated. (9 November 1934)
In this prayerYou write, "I am as yet …… sense of separativity." (19 November 1912)
Mother, is there a difference then between "losing the sense of separativity" and the "identification"?
Losing the sense of separativity is the last step before the Identification, and in the Identification itself there are several steps.(24 September 1934)
In the prayer of 26 November 1912 You say that You have "almost entirely lost the gross illusion of ‘me’ and ‘mine’." In the prayer of 3 December 1912 you say: "in the measure in which my attitude allows Thee to act on me and in me, Thy omnipotence has no limits."
Even after the identification, one’s attitude does not allow the Divine to act completely as He wishes!
There are degrees in everything, and what is perfect one day no longer seems to be perfect the next. (7 November 1934)
"When it is needful ……… is its expression." (3 December 1912)
Mother, when is this possible? I often make mistakes; it I could know what is needful each time, it would be wonderful!
This can only happen when one has given up all personal preference. (26 September 1934)
"For now I should not be able to repeat what was said." (3 December 1912)
Why does this happen?
Because memory belongs to the mind, and it was not the mind speaking, but a consciousness from beyond. (28 September 1934)
"Yes, we should …………to see Thee." (5 December 1912)
Is this true for everyone?
Besides, as a general rule, you must never try to copy my experiences.
I started to note them down after having attained communion with the Divine, a state you are far from having achieved. (October 1934)
"I await, …….. attachments without number." (11 December 1912)
I think that the veil You mention here is the veil between the Supreme and the obscure material world - but it has nothing to do with You.
In order to do my work, I have had to identify myself with the material world and its imperfections. (6 November 1934)
"Already there is heard from behind the veil the word-less symphony of gladness that reveals Thy sublime Presence." (11 December 1912)
Does this mean that there is a glad, wordless music that contains Your sublime Presence?
Behind all appearances there is a harmony of forces and movements which is something like the harmony of all the different kinds of instruments in a perfect symphony. (30 July 1934)
"I am endless Peace, shadowless Light, perfect Harmony, Certitude, Rest and supreme Blessedness." (5 February 1913)
What does "Certitude" mean, in the spiritual sense?
Faith confirmed by the spiritual experience of what one has faith in. (31 July 1934)
"All who seek ………….. need to Thee."(10 February 1913)
Is this not for me?
This is for everyone – you as well as others – who is capable of taking this attitude with integral sincerity. But I ought to point out that it is even more difficult than making an effort. (14 November 1934)
"And in this ………..harmful reactions." (12 February 1913)
So I suppose that this simplicity isn’t good, since it contains a little mixture?
Idiot! What can be without mixture in the world as it is now? Nothing, nothing, nothing! (August 1934)
"The power ………immediate results." (12 February 1913)
So we should never trust the power of the vital?
It is because we like immediate and visible results that we allow ourselves to me misled by the vital. (August 1934)
"As soon ………Thee and Thy service." (11 May 1913)
Here I don’t understand what You mean by "with Thy service", since You said before:
"As soon as I have no longer any material responsibilities".
I wrote this because for a time I was not living at home, but with my mother, so I no longer had the responsibilities of the mistress of the house who has to see that everything is materially in order. (August 1934)
"It is by becoming ………..of the being."(11 May 1913)
I don’t understand what "the secret of the regeneration of forces" means.
The material and vital forces are perverted – they must be regenerated so that they become capable of expressing the divine will. (August 1934)
"To turn towards ……… they feared them?" (18 June 1913)
Why don’t men want to rise above the falsehood and ignorance that reign everywhere in the world?
Because they love falsehood, vital agitation, violence, drama. The peace of eternity seems to them as empty as death because they live exclusively in the mind and vital. (29 January 1935)
"Thou art ourselves in our Reality." (15 August 1913)
Here I don’t understand what "our Reality" means, because I thought there was only one Reality.
I use the world reality in the sense of truth of the being. (25 February 1935)
"Undoubtedly, one must ……….rapidly effective." (25 November 1913)
What is this "thing" that can overcome the subconscient?
The descent of the Supermind. (28 April 1935)
"How many different……….absolute Consciousness ."(13 March 1914)
I mean that the word consciousness should be reserved only for that which is conscious of the divine Presence. (19 April 1935)
"Outside this state range of perception." (13 March 1914)
What is this "veritable inconscience" You mention here?
The subconscient of the subconscient. (21 April 1935)
"In the presence……….yearn to realise." (30 March 1914)
Are there any men on this earth who are already integrally Your servitors?
I wrote this after meeting Sri Aurobindo for the first time. (18 July 1935)
"May my consciousness …… transient instrument." (9 May 1914)
Why do you say "this fragile and transient instrument"? Because it will really pass away one day?
The instrument in question here is on earth, which has an ephemeral existence compared with the eternal consciousness. (1 June 1935)
"And on the earth now I am the joyful child who plays." (17 May 1914)
I think, Mother, that this "I" means You, so why not the feminine form of the adjective?
You ought to know the Hindu tradition that the world is the result of "the Divine Child who plays". It is with Him that I was identified. (5 November 1934)
"All the individual…………is sleep."(19 May 1914)
Does this mean that before the consciousness has awakened in the transcendent states, there is a period in which the consciousness is asleep?
The consciousness is asleep in everyone until it is awakened.
How long does the consciousness sleep like this?
A second or an eternity. (10 April 1935)
Then what does this mean exactly?
There are experiences of a universal order which can be revealed only to those who have had them. (13 April 1935)
"Thou hast made a promise, Thou hast sent into these worlds those who can and that which can fulfil this promise."(14 June 1914)
What do You meant by "that which"?
The force, the power, the consciousness, the knowledge, the love, etc.,etc. (7 April 1936)
"But the religious being turns to Thee, O Lord, in a great aspiration of love, and implores Thy help." (24 June 1914)
What do You mean by "the religious being"?
The being which has religious, devotional feelings.(2 April 1936)
"What wisdom is there in wanting to be like this or like that?" (25 June 1914)
What is the meaning of this passage?
Wisdom lies in wanting what the Divine wants, not in deciding for yourself. (13 December 1933)
"O divine Force, supreme Illuminator, hearken to our prayer, move not away from us, do not withdraw, help us to fight." (8 July 1914)
Does the Divine ever move away or withdraw from us?
No, it is we withdraw from him. (11 July 1935)
Then what do You mean by "move not away from us, do not withdraw"?
I was not addressing the Divine himself, but a Force, an emanation of the Divine, which had come down to do a particular work on earth and could have withdrawn if it had seen that the work it came to do was impossible. (13 July 1935)
"Earthy realisations easily take on a great importance in our eyes." (17 July 1914)
What do You mean by "earthly realisations"?
The works that we do upon earth. (30 January 1936)
"The world is divided between two opposite forces struggling for supremacy, and both are equally against Thy law, O Lord." (9 September 1914)
What are these two forces?
If you had read the meditation carefully you would not have needed to ask this question – the two forces are conservation and destruction. (22 May 1935)
"It is in the cherry-blossom that lies the remedy for the disorders of the spring." (7 April 1917)
What does this mean?
There are certain illnesses that people get particularly in Spring – boils, impurities of the blood, etc. – which the Japanese cure with teas made from cherry-blossoms. I did not know this when I had the experience. (11 February 1936)
(Courtesy: CWM 17, pp.176-186)
The Mother’s Prayer of May 6, 1927
One must know how to give one’s life and also one’s death, give one’s happinessand also one’s suffering, to depend for everything and in all things upon Divine Dispenser of all our possiblities of realisation, who alone can and will decide whether we sall be happy or not, whether we shall live or not, whether we shall participate or not in the realisation.
In the integrality and absoluteness of this love, this self-giving, lies the essential conditions for perfect peace , the indispensable foundation of constant beatitude.
PRAYERS AND MEDITATIONS OF THE MOTHER
Nolini Kanta Gupta
The Prayers and Meditations of the Mother. It is Life Divine in song, it is Life Divine set to music – made sweet and lovely, near and dear to us – a thing of beauty and a joy for ever.
To some the ideal has appeared aloof and afar, cold and forbidding. The ascent is difficult involving immense pains and tiresome efforts. It is meant for the high-souled ascetic, not for the weak earth-bound mortals. But here in the voice of the Mother we hear not the call for a hazardous climb to the bare cold wind-swept peak of the Himalayas but a warm invitation for a happy trek back to our hearth and home. The voice of the Divine is the loving Mother’s voice.
The Prayers and Meditations of the Mother are a music, a music of the lyre, because there is a lyric beauty and poignancy in these utterances. And true lyricism means a direct and spontaneous outflowing of the soul’s intimate experiences.
This wonder-lyre has three strings, giving out a triple note or strain: there is a strain of philosophy, there is a strain of yoga and there is a strain of poetry. We may also call them values and say there is a philosophical, a yogic and a poetic value in these contemplations. The philosophical strain or value means that the things said are presented, explained to the intellect so that the human mind can seize them, understand them. The principles underlying the ideal, the fundamental ideas are elaborated in terms of reason and logical comprehension, although the subject-matter treated is in the last analysis beyond reason and logic. For example, here is true philosophy expressed in a philosophic manner as neatly as possible.
Of what use would be man if he was not made to throw a bridge between That which eternally is, but is not manifested, and that which is manifested; between all the transcendences, all the splendours of the divine life and all the obscure and sorrowful ignorance of the material world? Man is the intermeditiary between that which has to be and that which is; he is a bridge thrown over the abyss, he is the great X in the cross, the quaternary link. His true abode, the effective seat of his consciousness, should be in the intermediate world at the joining point of the four arms of the cross, where all the infinite of the Unknowable comes to take precise form for being projected in to the multitudinous manifestation.
Or again) How many and different are the degrees of consciousness! This word should be reserved for that which, in a being, is illumined by Thy Presence, identifies itself with Thee and participates in Thy absolute Consciousness, for that which has knowledge, which is "perfectly awakened" as says the Buddha.
Outside this state, there are infinite degrees of consciouness descending down to the complete darkness, the veritable inconscience which may be a domain not yet touched by the light of Thy divine love (but that appears improbable in physical substance), or which is by reason of some ignorance, outside our individual region of perception.
However, we note that the philosophical strain merges into the yogic, rather the yogic strain is already involved in the philosophical. Here is an obvious and clear expression of this strain:
Each day, each moment, must be an occasion for a new and completer consecration; and not one of those enthusiastic and trepidant consecrations, over-active, full of the illusion of the work, but a profound and silent consecration which need not be apparent, but which penetrates and transfigures every action. Our mind, solitary and at peace, must rest always in Thee, and from this pure summit it must have the exact perception of realities, of the sole and eternal Reality, behind unstable fugitive appearances.
We are given all the disciplines necessary for the growth of the spiritual life: the processes, the procedures that have to be followed – object-lessons are given even for the uninitiated and for the very beginner, as well as instructions for those who aim at the highest heights thus:
It is always good to look within ourselves from time to time and see that we are nothing and can do nothing, but we must then turn our look towards Thee, knowing that Thou art all and that Thou canst do all.
Thou art the life of our life and
the light of our being,
Thou art the master of our destiny.
Indeed philosophy and yoga go hand in hand. Yoga is applied philosophy. What is at first mentally perceived and recognized, what is accepted by the reason is made active and dynamic in life. The character embodies the abstract and general principles, the vital energy executes them, that is yoga. Philosophy brings in the light of consciousness, yoga the energy of consciousness. Here we have an expression of what may be called "yogic philosophy".
We must at each moment shake off the past like falling dust, so that it may not soil the virgin path which, also at each moment, opens before us.
Once again we see emerging the third note, the note of poetry. In fact the Prayers and Meditations abound in the most beautiful poetry, what can be more beautiful, even more poetically beautiful than these cadences!
Thy voice is so modest, impartial, sublime in its patience and its mercy that it does not make itself heard with any authority, any potency of will; it is like a cool, soft and pure breeze; it is like a crystalline murmur that imparts a note of harmony to a discordant concert. Only for him who knows how to listen to that note, how to breathe that breeze, it contains such a treasure of beauty and such a perfume of pure serenity and noble grandeur, that all extravagant illusions vanish or are transformed into a joyful acceptance of the marvelous truth that has been glimpsed.
Or more beautiful than the beautiful simplicity of these lines!
Like a flame that burns in silence, like a perfume that rises straight upward without wavering, my love goes to Thee…
If one asks for a classical perfection, here is a line that is on a par with a Racinian verse –
My heart has fallen asleep, down to the very depths of my being.
And here is a line flowing with all the milk and honey of the Romantic muse–
And the hours pass like dreams unlived..
which possesses furthermore the magic of an indefinable mysticism so rare in the French language. The mystic element gives a special grace and flavour, a transcendent significance serving as an enveloping aura to the whole body of these Prayers and Meditations.
One cannot, for example, but be bewitched by the mystic grandeur of this image:
O serene and immobile Consciousness, Thou watchest on the boundaries of the world like a sphinx of eternity. And yet to some Thou givest out Thy secret.
In fact three notes blend together indissolubly and from what we call ‘mantra’ – even like the triple mystic syllable AUM.
Once, in connection with Shakespeare, I said that a poet’s language, which is in truth the poet himself, may be considered as consisting of unit vocables, syllables, that are as it were fundamental particles, even like the unclear particles, each poet having his own type of particle, with its own charge and spin and vibrations, Shakespeare’s I said, is a particle of Life-energy, a packet of living blood-vibration, pulsating as it were, with real heart-beat. Likewise in Dante one feels it to be a packet of Tapas – of ascetic energy, a bare clear concentrated flame-wave of consciousness, of thought-force. In the Prayers and Meditations the fundamental unit of expression seems to be a packet of gracious light–one seems to touch the very hem of Mahalakshmi.
The voice in the Prayers and Meditations is Krishna’s flute calling the souls imprisoned in their worldly household to come out into the wide green expanses of infinity, in the midst of the glorious herds of light, to play and enjoy in the company of the Lord of Delight.
We have spoken of the three notes or strains in the Prayers and Meditations. Apart from this triple theme which after all means mode or modulation in expression, there is a triplicity in depth. Along with the strains, there are strands. Besides the value or quality of the things, the thing itself is a composite reality containing different levels. It is not a single, unilateral, one-dimensional world, but it is multi-dimensional consisting of many worlds, one within another, all telescoped as it were, to form a single indivisible whole.
Now these prayers – who prays? And to whom? These meditations–who meditates? And who is the object of the meditation? First of all there is the apparent obvious meaning, that is on the very surface. It is the Mother’s own prayers offered to her own beloved Lord. It is her own personal aspiration, the preoccupation of the individual human being that she is. It is the secret story, the inner history of all that she desires, asks for, questions, all that she has experienced and realized and the farther more that she is to achieve, the revelations of a terrestrial creature of the particular name and form that she happens to posses. Thus for example, the very opening passage of these prayers:
Although my whole being is in theory consecrated to Thee, O Sublime Master, who are the life, the light and the love in all things, I still find it hard to carry out this consecration in detail. It has taken me several weeks to learn that the reason for this written meditation, its justification lies in the very fact of addressing it daily to Thee. In this way I shall put into material shape each day a little of the conversation I have so often with Thee; I shall make my confession to Thee as well as it may be..
But we notice immediately that these are not exclusively personal, absolutely individual assertions. While speaking of herself, spontaneously she seems to be speaking on behalf of all men. The words that she utters come as it were, from the lips of all mankind. She is the representative human being. She gives expression to all that man feels or might feel but is not able or does not know how to express and articulate. Here is how she describes her function as a representative person – so beautifully, so poignantly:
I then thought of all those who were watching over the ship to safeguard and protect our route, and in gratitude, I willed that Thy peace should be born and live in their hearts; then I thought of all those who, confident and carefree, slept the sleep of inconscience and, with solicitude for their miseries, pity for their latent suffering which would awake in them in their own waking, I willed that a little of Thy Peace might dwell in their hearts and bring to birth in them the life of the Spirit, the light which dispels ignorance. I then thought of the dwellers of this vast sea, visible and invisible, and I willed that over them might be extended Thy Peace. I thought next of those whom we had left far away and whose affection is with us, and with a great tenderness I willed for them Thy conscious and lasting Peace, the plenitude of Thy Peace proportioned to their capacity to receive it. Then I thought of all those to whom we are going, who are restless with childish preoccupations and fight for mean competitions of interest in ignorance and egoism; and ardently, in a great aspiration for them I asked for the plenary light of Thy Peace. I next thought of all those whom we know, of all those whom we do not know, of all the life that is working itself out, of all that has changed its form and all that is not yet in form, and for all that, and also for all of which I cannot think, for all that is present to my memory and for all that I forget, in a great ingathering and mute adoration, I implored Thy Peace.
(Or again:) What I willed for them, with Thy will, at the moments when I could be in a true communion with Thee, grant that they may have received it on the day when, striving to forget external contingencies, they turned towards their noblest thought, towards their best feelings.
May the supreme serenity of Thy sublime Presence awake them.
But the Mother is not merely a representative, she has become all men, the entire humanity itself. She has identified herself with each person in her being and consciousness, she is one with all, all are merged in her. Her voice utters the cry of the human collectivity. Mother’s Prayers and Meditations are the prayers and meditation of man. Thus again:
…it seemed to me that I adopted all the inhabitants of this ship, and enveloped them in an equal love, and that so in each one of them, something of Thy consciousness would awake.
She has so clearly and unequivocally expressed her oneness with all men. She mentions specially the miserable, the poor and afflicted mankind:
When I was a child – about the age of thirteen and for about a year – every night as soon as I was in bed, it seemed to me that I came out of my body and rose straight up above the house, then above the town, very high. I saw myself then, clad in a magnificent golden robe, longer than myself; and as I rose, that robe lengthened, spreading in a circle around me to form, as it were, an immense roof over the town. Then I would see coming out from all sides, men, women, children, the old, the s.ck, the unhappy; they gathered under the outspread robe, imploring help, recounting their miseries, their sufferings, their pains. In reply, the robe, supple and living, stretched out to them individually, and as soon as they touched it, they were consoled or healed, and entered back into their body happier and stronger than they had ever been before coming out of it.
But her being and consciousness are not limited to mankind alone. She has identified herself with even material objects, with all the small insignificant physical things which our earthly existence deals with. This is how she takes leave of the house where she had lived, and the things it had sheltered, on the eve of a long journey:
I thank them with gratitude for all the charm they have been able to impart from the outside to our life; I wish, if they are destined to pass for a long or a brief period into other hands than ours, that these hands may be gentle to them and may feel all the respect that is due to what Thy divine Love, O Lord, has made to emerge from the dark inconscience of chaos. (3.3.1914)
It is to be noted how even a material object is taken up, purified and transformed almost into a living being by the Mother’s loving touch.
The same feeling of unity and oneness extends to the dumb plant world also. It is oneness not partial or vague but total and absolute:
A deep concentration seized on me, and I perceived that I was identifying myself with a single cherry-blossom, then through it with all cherry-blossoms, and as I descended deeper in the consciousness, following a stream of bluish force, I became suddenly the cherry-tree itself, stretching towards the sky like so many arms its innumerable branches laden with their sacrifice of flowers. Then I heard distinctly this sentence:
"Thus hast thou made thyself one with the soul of cherry-trees and so thou canst take note that it is the Divine who makes the offering of this flower-prayer to heaven."
When I had written it, all was effaced; but now the blood of the cherry-tree flows in my veins and with it flows an incomparable peace and force. What difference is there between the human body and the body of a tree? In truth there is none, the consciousness which animates them is identically the same.
Indeed the Mother’s voice is the voice of all men, all creatures, all beings, all things. She stands for the entire earth, not only so, she is the Earth itself; the total terrestrial being is embodied in her, earth’s aspiration, and pain and yearning find utterance in her.
This sorrowful world kneels before Thee, O Lord, in mute supplication; this tortured Matter nestles at thy feet, its last, its sole refuge; and so imploring Thee, it adores Thee, Thee whom it neither knows nor understands! Its prayer rises like the cry of one in a last agony; that which is disappearing feels confusedly the possibility of living again in Thee; the earth awaits Thy decree in a grandiose prostration.
This is the second status of the Mother’s being, the first is the personal and individual, the second is this collective and universal being. But she is not merely the universe, she is the Mother of the universe. Hers is not merely earth’s prayer, but the prayer of the Mother of the earth. It is not merely the prayer of the universe but the prayer of the Universal Mother to the Supreme Lord for the deliverance of the universe, for the re-creation of the earth – indeed, for the deliverance of herself for the re-creation of herself out of the present ignorant manifestation:
Mother, sweet Mother, who I am, Thou art at once the destroyer and the builder.
The whole universe lives in Thy breast with all its life innumerable and Thou livest in Thy immensity in the least of its atoms.
And the aspiration of Thy infinitude turns towards That which is not manifested to cry to it for a manifestation ever more complete and more perfect.
(Or again) I am Thy puissant arms of mercy. I am the vast bosom of Thy limitless love..The arms have enfolded the sorrowful earth and tenderly press it to the generous heart; slowly a kiss of supreme benediction settles on this atom in conflict: the kiss of the Mother that consoles and heals.
And once more:
All the earth is in our arms like a sick child who must be cured and for whom one has a special affection because of his very weakness.
The triple status of the Mother, the individual, the collective and the transcendental (or, in other words, the personal, the universal and the supra-personal) has been condensed and epitomized in the magical note describing her first meeting with the Lord:
It matters not if there are hundreds of beings plunged in the densest ignorance. He whom we saw yesterday, is here on earth; His presence is enough to prove that a day shall come when darkness shall be transformed into light, when Thy reign shall be indeed established upon earth.
And the reality that Their manifestation upon earth has to establish, the supreme achievement of Their terrestrial existence is chanted, as it were, in these wonderfully mystic-Sibylline-lines:
Death has passed, vast and solemn, and all fell into a religious silence during its passage.
A superhuman beauty has appeared on the earth.
Something more marvelous than the most marvelous bliss has made felt the impress of its Presence.
I have spoken of the triple status, the three levels of her ascending reality, these are in view of her manifestation of world-labour. There is however, yet another status beyond–beyond the beyond–it is the relation between the Supreme Lord and the Divine Mother in itself apart from their work, their purpose in manifestation, it is their own ‘Lila’ between themselves, exclusively their own. The delight of this exclusively personal play behind and beyond the creation sheds a secret aroma in and through all this existence here and it is also the source of the hidden magic that these utterances of the Prayers and Meditations contain, it is to this status surpassing all wonder that Sri Aurobindo refers so wistfully and so sweetly in those famous opening lines, in "A God’s Labour’: (Sri Aurobindo: Collected Poems and Plays)
I have gathered my dreams in a silver air
Between the gold and the blue
And wrapped them softly and left them there
My jewelled dreams of you.
The delight of delights, the purest delight that exists up there in its self-sufficiency overflows, spills as it were, and a drop of that nectar of immortality is what constitutes these universes here below.
(Courtesy: Collected Works of Nolini Kanta Gupta, Volume 4)
TALKS ON THE PRAYERS AND MEDITATIONS
The Prayers and Meditations of the Mother are a unique document in the spiritual literature of the world. These Prayers are not prayers in the usual sense. They do not ask things from God for one’s own advancement. They are records of communion with the Divine that the Mother had during the early years of her yoga. They express in writing the silent conversations that took place in the depths or on the heights of her consciousness with the Divine. She used to sit up early in the mornings on the window-still, wrapped in a shawl, and note down what have come to be known later on as Prayers and Meditations. It is difficult to say where a meditation turns into a prayer and prayer melts into meditation. The Mother chose that medium to give a certain concreteness to the interchange, to the communion with the Divine. To put a thought or an idea in writing, gives it a definite material power for realization, for effectuation in the world. We live in a physical world and to give a concrete shape to our thinkings and aspirations we express them in words which give them an individuality, a form which lasts long on earth. It is in this background that we have to appreciate the writings only a fraction of which have been preserved in the book Prayers and Meditations. Quite a large number, I am told, were consigned to the boiler in the heating room.
The first Prayer that is included in the book is dated Nov.2, 1912 and I believe the last one is dated Oct. 23, 1937. A number of these prayers, originally written in French, have been rendered into English by Sri Aurobindo, while the rest have been translated by some disciples in the Ashram. Mother has given a preface of this collection of Prayers and Meditations. She has written one for the French and one for the English Edition. They give us a clue to the approach she expects from us, when we take up these Prayers for study. In the French edition, she writes:
"This book consists of extracts from a journal written during years of an intensive yogic discipline. It can serve as a spiritual guide to three categories of seekers, principally those who have set out for a conquest of themselves; those who wish to find the way leading towards the Divine; and those who aspire to consecrate themselves more and more to the Divine Work."
For the English translation she wrote a preface in September, 1941:
"Some give their soul to the Divine, some their life, some offer their work, some their money. A few consecrate all of themselves and all they have – soul, life, work, wealth; these are the true children of God. Others give nothing. These, whatever their position, power and riches are for the Divine purpose valueless cyphers. This book is meant for those who aspire for an utter consecration to the Divine."
We must have a seeking for the Divine. We must have a will to consecrate ourselves and all our life-movements to the Divine. And to the extent that is permitted to us we must surrender, what we have, what we are, to the Divine. Nobody expects either the consecration or the surrender to be complete at the very beginning. It is a process and a long process. We have to persist and try to improve upon each day and build up a growing consecration and an enlarging surrender. Those of us who are on the Path or who aspire to tread this Path, have to offer an integral consecration to the Divine, a consecration not only of the soul but of our body, our life-force, our emotions, our thinkings. All is to be gathered and made over to the Divine for such use as he wills. Those of us who have decided upon that course will find in this book hints of great value, direction that are very apposite.
Now let us take the first Prayer (November 2, 1912):
Although my whole being is in theory consecrated to Thee, O Sublime Master, who art the life, the light and the love in all things, I still find It hard to carry out this consecration in detail.
Mark the phrase "consecration in detail." Consecration in intention is one thing. That is what we start with. But this intention, this determination has to be worked out bit by bit in each part of our multiple being. That is what is meant by carrying out the consecration in detail. Nothing is too insignificant to be left out: even the affixing of a postage stamp is a matter which gives an occasion for consecration. At each step in our work, the remembrance that that act is an occasion to pour ourselves in surrender to the Divine, must be there. That is the working out of consecration.
Mother was once asked what the difference is between consecration and surrender.
I remember it was on a day when she was giving Blessings to all. As the queue was passing, a gentleman paused to ask her, "Mother, what is the difference between consecration and surrender?" she heard him and replied, "Consecration is the working out of surrender in detail."
It has taken me several weeks to learn that the reason for this written meditation, its justification, lies in the very fact of addressing it daily to Thee.
Because it is addressed to the Divine, it is a communion, it is a regular conversation; may be not heard by the physical ear but still, a communion.
In this way I shall put into material shape each day a little of the conversation I have so often with Thee;
It is clear that these conversations took place not necessarily when the Mother sat down to meditate or to commune. They took place at any time. Only she sat there to recollect and note them down.
I shall make my confession to Thee as well as it may be.
Confession here has a deeper meaning than the confessions made in the Church. Here in the spiritual context, "confession" does not mean an admission of sin in the hope of being forgiven, but a revealing of what has taken place, what thoughts have occurred in the mind, what emotions have passed through the heart, where one has failed to carry out what one wants. It is an unreserved, uninhibited bearing of one’s heart and mind and life before the Divine.
Not because I think I can tell Thee anything.
The Mother does not presume that the Divine does not know these things and needs to be told. No, it is not that, because she says,
For Thou art Thyself everything but our artificial and exterior way of seeing and understanding is, if it may be so said, foreign to Thee, opposed to Thy nature.
The Divine is in everything, the Divine knows everything essentially, but she needs to put it before the Divine, because the human way of seeing and understanding is something different, something foreign, strange to the Divine Way. So the Mother feels that she has to put it before the Divine exactly as it has happened.
Still, by turning, towards Thee, by immersing myself in Thy light at the moment when I consider these things, little by little I shall see them more like what they really are, –
When one thinks of what has happened in order to put it before the Divine Light one sees it all differently than when one casually remembers. Here it is done with a sense of responsibility. And then these things strike in a different light, in their true perspective, uninfluenced by one’s own preferences and prejudices.
By immersing myself in Thy light at the moment when I consider these things, little by little I shall see them more like what they really are, – until the day when, having made myself one in identity with Thee, I shall no more have anything to say to Thee, for then I shall be Thou.
This process of communing with the Divine, consecrating one’s thoughts and feelings to the Divine, submitting oneself entirely without reserve to the Divine, culminates eventually in an utter identity with the Divine. That is the goal, that is the objective. All others are processes.
This is the goal that I would reach; towards this victory all my efforts will tend more and more. I aspire for the day when I can no longer say "I", for I shall be Thou.
There are several instances in the spiritual history of mankind when those who have realized their identity with the Divine have found it utterly irrelevant to use the word "I". They do not refer to themselves as "I". Either they refer to themselves in the third person or simply as "this". They don’t say, "I did it, I want it," because there is no "I". The Sage of Arunachala (a place about 60 miles from here) never once during the fifty years of his life of realization did he refer to himself as "I". The consciousness of such sages is so much merged in the Divine, in the Self, that they have no sense of a separate identity.
How many times a day, still, I act without my action being consecrated to Thee;
In spite of all her knowledge, all her intense sadhana, the Mother admits that often in the course of a day, she caught herself acting without that action being consecrated.
I at once become aware of it by an indefinable uneasiness which is translated in the sensibility of my body by a pang in my heart.
First, there is an uneasiness. The uneasiness draws her attention and the Mother looks into herself, and becomes aware of a physical sensation, of a pang in the heart.
I then make my action objective to myself –
She separates herself from the action,
and it seems to me ridiculous, childish or blame-worthy; I deplore it, for a moment I am sad,
but she doesn’t allow that feeling of sadness to overcome her.
until I dive into Thee
she plunges into him.
and, there losing myself with a child’s confidence, await from Thee inspiration and strength needed to set right the error in me and around me – two things that are one;
The situation has arisen because of an error in the individual and also some error in the environment. And she says, the individual and the world around – the environment – are the same, one.
for I have now a constant and precise perception of the universal unity determining an absolute inter-dependence of all actions.
Everything that goes on in us is being influenced by what goes on around us. There is an interdependence, an inter-relatedness, the Mother is aware of it, and that is why she puts both herself and the things around her before the Divine for correction, for inspiration and strength.
So the central theme of this Prayer is consecration. It shows us how even with the best will to consecrate ourselves we fail to do so in the details of our day-to-day life, how when one is sincere and this failure takes place, there is an uneasiness and when one looks for the cause of that uneasiness and discovers how the failure to consecrate has brought it about, there is a pang in the physical body. The Mother feels sad when she recalls an unconsecrated action, but she doesn’t dwell upon that sadness. She immediately thinks of the Divine and plunges herself into the Divine’s arms, putting before the Divine herself and her environment, in order to get inspiration, strength and light. It is by such repeated exercises conscientiously carried out that consecration, active surrender, leads eventually to an utter identity with the Divine, an identity in which the "I" no longer exists.
(Courtesy : Spiritual Communion, M.P. Pandit)
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PRAYERS AND MEDITATIONS
SRI AUROBINDO’S YOGA
There was strange thing happening at the start of the second decade of the last century, evidentially from November 2, 1912. Two persons living far apart were doing an identical sadhana without knowing each other on the material plane. It was the Yoga of love and death, of sacrifice and surrender of giving and getting. It was the Yoga of a new creation, the art of hastening towards a new species with the help of the existing leader – man – in a continuously evolving planet.
In terms of refined love poetry, the Mother’s Prayers and Meditations has just one equal: Sri Aurobindo’s Savitri. But then, the form differs. Savitri is epic; the Mother’s diary is lyric. It is history in the world of lyric poetry. Never before was seen a man or a woman loving the person – just one person – with such an absolute one-pointedness. From 1912 to 1937 the gesture continued, the passion for merger with her Thou by the rejection of her "I", the passion of follow the law of her Thou, the passion to obey his law by manifesting her Thou in a polluted and plundered planet.
There was just one love: the only Love. The return of emotion is certain from there. The Mother’s Imagery is thoroughly Aurobindonian, both in her pre Pondicherry days and the Pondicherry period. Like Sri Aurobindo, the Mother knows that Ma Falesu Kadachana is not always an acceptable code in the affair of surrender. At the back of our mind, the hope of return exists. Death hopes for love. Sri Aurobindo observes in The Synthesis of Yoga:
Our sacrifice is not a giving without any return or any fruitful acceptance from the other side; it is an interchange between the embodied soul and conscious Nature in us and the eternal Sprit. For even though no return is demanded, yet there is the knowledge deep within us that a marvelous return is inevitable. The soul knows that it doesnot give itself to God in vain; claiming nothing, it yet receives the infinite riches of the divine Power and Presence.
(SABCL 20, p.101)
In the Mother’s prayer this combined aspect of giving and getting is quite obvious. Quite often, she uses the directive verb ‘Grant’ to make the issue clear for us.
Grant my prayer: Transform me into a brazier of pure love and boundless compassion.
The images of surrender or death may be detected easily from the pre-meeting prayers. They are exactly expressive of the Yoga of surrender. The image "thy law" is quite bare: no colour, no flash, no ornamentation. We understand this oft repeated phrase properly only when we remember that the first and the last word in Sri Aurobindo’s Yoga is surrender. The chief endeavour is to die into a new life to know that law. All human laws are discarded in favour of the one law: the law of the Divine.
…give us the full consciousness of Thy law, the constant perception of Thy will, so that our decision may be Thy decision…
Even in these pre-meeting prayers, the technique of the new Yoga is either articulated or indicated. There is no image of spiritual wrestling, which was common in many old systems. Instead, we see images of peace and tranquility: solitary, peaceful, repose in thee, calm, peace, bow down, silent adoration, flame that burns in silence, serenity, Equality, peaceful stream, happy peace, calm sunrise, the image of a protected boat on the move, a boat which is a marvelous abode of peace’, a boat which is ‘a temple sailing in thy honour,’ silence of the night, mute adoration, the image of a life that blossoms, widens and expands, joyful adoration, silent canticle, consciousness and light, ever higher light and other images relating to the law of progressive manifestation. In prayer after prayer, we have indications about the value of quieting the vital. We have a significant reference to ‘vital’ in the prayer of February 12, 1913.
The power of the vital should be mistrusted, it is a tempter on the path of the work, and there is always a risk of falling into its trap, for it gives you the taste of immediate results…
The pre-meeting prayers speak also of the integral nature of the new Yoga. Nothing is irrelevant when we have begun our Yoga. Just the day after the great meeting of March 29, 1914, the Mother refers to the Integral Yoga of Sri Aurobindo in a memorable prayer and strengthens her aspiration. She indicates a great rebirth in the prayer of April 1, 1914.
But now all is changed: a new stage has begun.
From this point onwards, the Mother’s imagery becomes more rich with a repeated stress on Sri Aurobindo’s theory and practice of spiritual evolution. The future and the ever-progressive new become the key metaphors.
Along with them, there appear images of love and death, sometimes in the form of superior poetry of revelation. Revelation is not just direct sight; it is also direct listening of the mantra, the poetry of prayer and incantation and vision. The Mother records her listening on April 7, 1914.
"Never hast thou known how to die integrally. Alwayssomething in thee has wanted to know, to witness, to understand. Surrender completely, learn how to disappear, break the last barrier the last barrier that separates thee from me…"
The integral death means a total surrender, a complete merger of "I" in "Thou", a complete love, unadulterous to a degree. Shakeel Badayuni, the popular lyric writer of the 50s used a very expressive image of very expressive image for unadulterous love for. "Naino me koi aaye na duja". It is just that. There is not the slightest divergence of emotion. The integral surrender means that the future will be decided by the Divine’s choice. The Mother refuses to foresee. The future is a ‘Virgin road". A "blank page" goes to the Divine or a "pure flawless crystal" which lets the "divine ray pass without obscuring, colouring or distorting it." The repeated use of comparative degree in imaging the progressive awareness of Truth points to the Master’s theory of progressive manifestation. In the payer of August 29, 1914, the Mother indicates the value of man in his ability to create the Supramental species out of himself.
Man is the link between what must be and what is…
Sri Aurobindo calls that "link" a transitional creature under the supervision of Nature, who can never be satisfied with an imperfect model. The images of boat and voyage are extensions of the symbols used by the poet of Gitanjali. Tagore imagines; the Mother sees. Light, Love, Peace, Joy, alternating phases of action and contemplation, plunging into the Night and the return, images of consciousness tiers, alternating phases of pessimism and optimism (which is her final intellective position) – all these speak of the science and art of Sri Aurobindo’ Yoga. The Mother’s diary is The Life Divine put into lyric form. It contains all: the synthesis of love, knowledge and work, the role of the Mother in the act of transformation, rebirth and evolution, knowledge by Identity, role of the body, cosmic consciousness, Oneness and the clues to the Gnostic awareness and Ananda. The constant rejection of the mental suggestions in favour of the divine’s law and a constant memory of the unchanged earth indicate her dream of the Gnostic race. The law of the Supreme will scheme the details of Gnostic life. The Mother’s dependence on the Supreme law may be clarified by Sri Aurobindo’s words from The Life Divine.
It is impossible for the mind to forecast in detail what the supramental change must be in its parts of life action and outward behaviour or lay down for it what forms it shall create for the individual or the collective existence.
That is why the Mother rejects all mental schemes and all pre-views and pre-visions of the future. And she had known it even before meeting Sri Aurobindo.
Every moment all the unforeseen, the Unexpected, the unknown is before us, every moment the universe is created anew in its entirety and in every one of its parts. (January 11, 1914)
The past is a dead body. The future lies before us with possibilities not known to us. Let our best love prepare our route and the time table. It is a continuous walk ahead, a chase for the ever-progressive new, infinity’s new lines.
The Mother’s Prayer of November 10, 1914
O Lord, Thy Presence is settled within me like an unshakable rock; and the whole being exults in belonging to Thee without the least reserve, with a wide and complete surrender.
O Consciousness, immobile and serene, Thou watchest at the confines of the world like the sphinx of eternity. And yet to some Thou yieldest Thy secret.
They can become Thy sovereign Will which chooses without preferences, executes without desire.
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PRAYERS AND MEDITATIONS
‘AS A COMPLETE SYSTEM OF YOGA’
With regard to Sri Aurobindo’s Savitri the Mother had said:
1) The daily record of the spiritual experiences of the individual who has written.
2) A complete system of yoga which can serve as a guide for those who want to follow the integral sadhana.
3) The yoga of the Earth in its ascension towards the Divine.
4) The experiences of the Divine Mother in her effort to adapt herself to the body she has taken and the ignorance and the falsity of the earth upon which she has incarnated.
(CWM 13, p.24)
I would venture to opine that the Mothers Prayers and Meditations is also nothing but a full and complete working out of the Mother, in her own life and body all the four experiences detailed with reference to Savitri. In my previous talk on the Prayers and Meditations, I had emphasised on the "experiences of the Divine Mother", although it can in no way be considered as an exhaustive study. This time I wish to bring into focus the second aspect mentioned above, that is "A complete system of yoga" maybe, in my future talks on Prayers and Meditations, I shall concentrate on and develop the remaining two experiences enlisted by the Mother while writing about Savitri.
The integral sadhana that the Mother refers to in the second experience, that is "A complete system of yoga which can serve as a guide for those who want to follow the integral sadhana", is actually delineated by Sri Aurobindo in his tiniest, but at the same time the ‘heaviest book’, The Mother. It is interesting to note that all that the Mother had practiced and achieved and noted down in Prayers and Meditations between 1912 and 1931, is in a way summarised and the quintessence given by Sri Aurobindo in 1927-28 in the book The Mother. Seen this way, the tiny book, The Mother is not just a compilation of letters and articles, but actually experiences of the Mother leading to the practice and fulfilment of the integral sadhana. That is why, perhaps, Sri Aurobindo writes:
"The Mother had been spiritually conscious from her youth, even from her childhood upward and she had done sadhana and had developed this knowledge very long before she came to India." (CWM 1, p.380)
The Mother herself wrote in the introductory note to the 1944 edition of the Prayers and Meditations:
"This book comprises extracts from a diary written during years of intensive yogic discipline. It may serve as a spiritual guide to three principal categories of seekers: those who have undertaken self-mastery, those who want to find the road leading to the Divine, those who aspire to consecrate themselves more and more to the Divine Work."
This note shows not only that the Prayers and Meditations is the Mother’s record of her own extensive yogic discipline, but also interestingly, these are the three categories that Sri Aurobindo himself has addressed to in the book The Mother.
a) "The personal effort required is a triple labour of aspiration, rejection and surrender," (Chapter II, Ibid) (… ‘those who have undertaken self – mastery’– Prayers and Meditations)
b) To walk through life…only two things are needed,…the Grace of the Divine Mother and on your side an innate state made up of faith, sincerity and surrender. (Chapter III, Ibid) (…those who want to find the road leading to the divine:.. Prayers and Meditations)
c) "If you want to be a true doer of divine works, your first aim must be to be totally free from all desire and self-regarding ego. (Chapter V, Ibid) (…’those who aspire to consecrate themselves more and more to the Divine Work – Prayers and Meditations)
Perhaps the very first thing that we have been given in Prayers and Meditations is how to pray. It is true that in the little book The Mother there isn’t any direct mention of ‘prayer’ as such. There is greater emphasis on ‘aspiration’ which is essentially something "closer and much more as it were self-forgetful, living only in the thing one wants to be or do, and offering of all that one wants to do to the Divine". (CWM 5, p.143) whereas prayer, when it is not purely mechanical, or material, is "expressing something precise which one wants to ask for". (Ibid, p.142) these are prayers of an ordinary person, one who has not turned to yoga-sadhana. Yet, they have their place; they provide the preparatory link with the divine. Sri Aurobindo explains:
"The life of man is a life of wants and needs and therefore of desires, not only in his physical and vital, but in his mental and spiritual being. When he becomes conscious of a greater Power governing the world, he approaches it through prayer for the fulfilment of his needs, for help in his rough journey, for protection and aid in his struggle. Whatever crudities there may be in the ordinary religious approach to God by prayer, and there are many, especially that attitude which imagines the Divine as if capable of being propitiated, bribed, flattered into acquiescence or indulgence by praise, entreaty and gifts and has often little regard to the spirit in which he is approached, still this way of turning to the Divine is an essential movement of our religious being and reposes on a universal truth." (SABCL 21, p. 542)
The efficacy of prayer may often be doubted because, one may argue, if the divine is omniscient, then he "does not need direction or stimulation by human thought" or individual prayers it may sound logical but the truth is that the universal will of the Divine does not execute solely on mechanical basis; there is always room for human will, aspiration and faith. And "Prayer is only a particular form given to that will, aspiration and faith". (Ibid.)
A sadhak too, for that matter, asks for outer things, but it "All depends on whether the outer things are sought for one’s own convenience, pleasure, profit etc., or as part of the spiritual life, necessary for the success for the work, the development and fitness of the instruments etc. It is a question mainly of inner attitude. If, for instance, you pray for money for buying nice food to please the palate, that is not a proper thing for a Sadhak; if you pray for money to give to the Mother and help her work, then it is legitimate. (SABCL 25, p. 338)
In the sadhaks as well as in ordinary persons, prayer thus acts as the first link between the divine and the human beings. As this link and the relation intensifies there comes a stage when "prayer either ceases in the greater thing for which it prepared us, – in fact the form we call prayer is not itself essential so long as the faith, the will, the aspiration are there, – or remains only for the joy of the relation. Also its objects, the artha or interest it seeks to realise, become higher and higher until we reach the highest motiveless devotion, which is that of divine love pure and simple without any other demand or longing". (SABCL 21, p. 543)
The Mother’s prayers belong to this higher level of ‘motiveless devotion’, of ‘divine love pure and simple’. Here is an example, selected at random from her Prayers and Meditations.
"Lord, hear my prayer ….
In me Thou art all-powerful, sovereign Master of my destiny, my life’s guide, conqueror of all obstacles, victor over preconceived wills and mental prejudices. Perhaps to be all-powerful in the world outside, Thou needest the instrumentation of my mind, organiser and shaper of the means of action; but if Thou canst make the insturment perfect, how can there be any doubt that the work will be accomplished? All evil shadows which bring contrary suggestions must be driven away very far and, with a complete and unshakable trust in Thy infinite mercy, I address this prayer to Thee:
Transform Thy enemies into friends,
Change the darkness into light." (CWM 1, p.288)
"In the silence I beheld Thy infinite and eternal Beatitude.
Then softly a prayer rises towards Thee from what is still in the shadow and the struggle: O sweet Master, O supreme Giver of illumination and purity, grant that all substance and every activity may be no more anything other than a constant manifestation of Thy divine Love and Thy sovereign Serenity….
And in my heart is the song of gladness of Thy sublime magnificence." (Ibid , p. 156)
What we notice in all these prayers of the Mother is that she addresses them to the "Lord", or the "Sweet Mother", or the "Supreme Giver", or "Divine Mother". "It is the Divine who is always referred to as Divine Maitre and Seigneur" for prayer is always to something that has necessarily a personality.
"To aspire it is not necessary to direct the aspiration to someone, towards someone. One has an aspiration for a certain state of being, for knowledge, for a realisation, a state of consciousness; one aspires for something, but it is not necessarily a prayer; prayer is something additional.
Prayer is a personal thing, addressed to a personal being, that is, to something – a force or a being – who can hear you and answer you. Otherwise you can’t ask for anything." (CWM 5, p. 145)
The only difference is that in the case of the Mother ‘the personal thing’ is nothing for the Mother incarnated but "it is the Mother in the lower nature addressing to the Mother in the higher nature…"
However, if this is the difference between prayer and aspiration – that "Aspiration necessarily implies a faith but not necessarily faith in a divine being; whilst prayer cannot exist if it is not addressed to a divine being", (CWM 1, p. 144) then do we see this aspect of aspiration, so very fundamental to integral yoga, in the Prayers and Meditations?
Strictly, seen in the light of this definition, we may not be able to distil this aspect of aspiration for all along there is the presence of a Force or a Divine Being to whom the Mother addresses all her prayers or conversations in meditation. But, the Mother defines aspiration in a different manner too. She says: "One has an aspiration for a certain state of being, for knowledge, for a realisation, a state of consciousness…" (Ibid, p. 145) Understood in this manner, we have ample examples of the Mother aspiring for Harmony, Peace etc.
Hear this aspiration:
"It is the harmony of limitless Love, Love victor over all suffering and every obscurity. By this law of Love, thy Law, I would live more and more totally; to it I give myself without reserve.
And my being exults in an ineffable Peace." (Ibid, p.25)
"Yes, we should not put too much intensity, too much effort into our seeking for Thee; the effort and intensity become a veil in front of Thee; we must not desire to see Thee, for that is still a mental agitation which obscures Thy Eternal Presence; it is in the most complete Peace, Serenity and Equality that all is Thou even as Thou art all, and the least vibration in this perfectly pure and calm atmosphere is an obstacle to Thy manifestation. No haste, no inquietude, no tension, Thou, nothing but Thou, without any analysis or any objectivising, and thou art there without a possible doubt, for all becomes a Holy Peace and Sacred Silence. And that is better than all the meditations in the world."
Of course, the central practice of integral yoga is surrender:
"Surrender of oneself and all one is and has and every plane of the consciousness and every movement to the Divine Shakti." ; (SABCL 25, The Mother, Chapter II)
And a beautiful definition of total surrender is given to the Mother, the aspirant by the Divine Mother:
"I seem now to hear Thy voice: ‘Never hast thou known how to die integrally. Always something in thee has wanted to know, to witness, to understand. Surrender completely, learn how to disappear, break the last barrier that separates thee from me; accomplish unreservedly thy act of surrender.’ Alas, O Lord, for a long time have I wanted it, but I could not. Now wilt Thou give me the power to do so?"
O Lord, my sweet eternal Master, break this resistance which fills me with anguish…deliver me from myself!" (CWM 1, p.120)
And, She achieves this deliverence, as is seen in her prayer written after the meeting with Sri Aurobindo, which, I suppose, is absolute surrender:
"It seems to me that I am being born to a new life and all the methods, the habits of thepast can no longer be of any use. It seems to me that what I thought were results is nothing more than a preparation. I feel as though I have done nothing yet, as though I have not lived the spiritual life, only entered the path that leads to it, it seems to me that I know nothing, that I am incapable of formulating anything, that all experience is yet to begin. It is as though I were stripped of my entire past, of its errors as well as its conquests, as though all that has vanished and made room for new-born child whose whole existence is yet to be lived, who has no Karma, no experience to learn from, but no error either which has to be set right. My head is empty of all knowledge and all certitude, but also of all vain thought. I feel that if I learn how to surrender without any resistance to this state, if I do not try to know or understand, if I consent to be completely like an ignorant and candid child, some new possibility will open before me. I know that I must now definitively give myself up and be like an absolutely blank page on which Thy thought, Thy will, O Lord, can be inscribed freely with out danger of any deformation." (CWM 1, p.116)
It may be difficult to find the aspect of rejection as is given in its detail in The Mother. To cite from Sri Aurobindo:
"Rejection of the movements of the lower nature – rejection of the mind’s ideas, opinions, preferences, habits, constructions, so that the true knowledge may find free room in a silent mind, – rejection of the vital nature’s desires, demands, cravings, sensations, passions, selfishness, pride, arrogance, lust, greed, jealousy, envy, hostility to the Truth, so that the true power and joy may pour from above into a calm, large, strong and consecrated vital being, – rejection of the physical nature’s stupidity, doubt, disbelief, obscurity, obstinacy, pettiness, laziness, unwillingness to change, Tamas, so that the true stability of Light, Power, Ananda may establish itself in a body growing always more divine." (SABCL 25, The Mother, Chapter II)
Yet, the vigilence in the Mother is so acute, so spotlessly sincere that she self- analyses thus:
"What kind of courage is mine that I always try to avoid the fight? What kind of energy is mine, that I am instinctively frightened of the new effort to be made and try, without being aware of it, to go to sleep passively relying upon the results of previous efforts? In order to act, I have to be compelled and my mute contemplation is partly made of laziness…All this is becoming more and more clearly …
"When shall I become a truly strong being, made entirely of courage, energy, valour calm perseverance; when shall I have forgotten my own person completely enough to be nothing but an instrument moulded solely by the forces it has to manifest? When will my consciousness of unity be no longer tinged with any inertia; when will my feeling of divine love be no longer mixed with any weakness?" (CWM 1, p.119)
By this very gesture of self analysis, which in its reality is laying oneself bare under the search light of Divine Consciousness and Power and Light, all the ‘weakness’ and the limitations are lost. Here is what she writes:
O Lord, all thought seems dead within me, now that I have asked these questions. I search for my conscious mind and I do not find it; I search for my individuality and I cannot discover it anywhere; I search for my personal will and it is not there. I search for Thee, and Thou art silent…Silence, silence…" (CWM 1, p.119-20)
And again, on the inmost level of rejection, we hear the Mother praying:
"O Lord, O my sweet Master, sole Reality, dispel this feeling of the "I". I have now understood that so long as there will be a manifested universe, the "I" will remain necessary for Thy manifestation; to dissolve, or even to diminish or weaken the "I", is to deprive Thee of the means of manifestation, in whole or part. But what must be radically and definitively suppressed is the illusory thought, the illusory feeling, the illusory sensation of the separate "I". At no moment, in no circumstances must we forget that our "I" has no reality outside Thee.
"O my sweet Master, my divine Lord, tear out from my heart this illusion so that Thy servant may become pure and faithful and faithfully and integrally bring back to Thee all that is Thy due. In silence let me contemplate and understand this supreme ignorance and dispel it for ever. Chase the shadow from my heart, and let Thy light reign in it, its uncontested sovereign." (CWM 1, p.125-26)
We could go on analysing each of her prayers, the written meditations, and we could identify all of the yogic disciplines as described in The Mother by Sri Aurobindo. Prayers and Meditations are indeed the ‘Record of Yoga’ similar to Sri Aurobindo’s recordings of his sadhana. Sri Aurobindo seems to have given a summary of the Mother’s own achievements as seen in Prayers and Meditations in his book The Mother. In fact, we could propose without much hesitation that this tiny book, The Mother, is the crown-jewel of the sadhana of both Sri Aurobindo and The Mother. The Mother’s own aspiration, noted in the Prayers and Meditations, which is, "I aspire for the day when I can no longer say ‘I’, for I shall be Thou" seems to have been fulfilled when Sri Aurobindo wrote down chapter VI of The Mother and manifested thereby the triple aspect of our own Douce Mere: the Transcendent supreme Shakti, the Universal cosmic Mahashakti and the Sweet Mother!
We could perhaps conclude in all humility that the Prayers of the Mother were granted by the Meditations of Sri Aurobindo!
The Mother’s Prayer of May 28, 1914
Thou settest in motion, Thou stirrest and churnest the innumerable elements of this world, so that, from their primal darkness, their primal chaos, they may awaken to consciousness and the full light of knowledge. And Thou usest Thy supreme love to churn all these elements in this way. And it is from Thy infinite, unfathomable, heart that these inexhaustible torrents of love spring forth. Thy heart is my dwelling-place, Thy heart is the reality of my being. In Thy heart I have nestled and I have become Thy heart.
Peace, peace upon all beings
THE MEETING: FROM WONDER TO WONDER
On the prayer of March 28, 1914
WHERE THE NON-BELIEVER sees only a Piece of chiselled stone, the devotee sees and experiences a great godhead; where the prosaic sees only a cloud, a Kalidasa sees a messenger from the beloved; where an ordinary person sees an ordinary life, a seer has the vision of a supreme Grace’s working and benediction.
For the Mother, those days aboard the Kaga Maru must have been a marvel of Divine revelations with their resultant ecstasies and ananda. On March 28, 1914, she writes:
From the time we started and every day more and more, in all things we can see Thy divine intervention, everywhere Thy law is expressed, and I need all my inner conviction to feel that this is perfectly natural, so that I do not pass from wonder to wonder.
For one who can see directly the Divine working behind the manifestation, the least sunbeam is a messenger from the Master of the suns, the smallest whisper of the wind is a loving note from the lyre of the Master of our hearts. She who was the Divine as well as his creation, realised integrally the wonder behind each facet of living, each moment of being. We, with our clipped outlook, fragmented understanding and limited consciousness, do not realise the marvel of Grace that a rose, a snowflake or a rainbow represents. Those who understand the workings of the Lord become one with his being and becoming. The Mother further writes:
At no moment do I feel that I am living outside Thee and never have the horizons appeared vaster to me and the depths at once more luminous and unfathomable.
To be one with him and yet to find "the depths at once more luminous and unfathomable" represents a divine paradox which we human beings, imprisoned in our ego-self, may not be able to understand. But what follows is a clearest statement of the dual aspect of the Mother, the Individual and the Transcendent. She writes:
Grant, 0 Divine Teacher, that we may know and accomplish our mission upon earth better and better, more and more, that we may make full use of all the energies that are in us, and Thy sovereign Presence become manifest ever more perfectly in the silent depths of our soul, in all our thoughts, all our feelings, all our actions.
As has been noted elsewhere the Mother had embarked on this voyage conscious of her Divine mission on earth, she had in-gathered her energies and had prepared herself totally to seize the Unknown and Unknowable and to bring and manifest him here upon this earth. One moment she identifies herself with the earth and the creation, the next she remembers her oneness with the Creator and writes:
I find it almost strange to speak to Thee, so much is it Thou who livest in me, thinkest and lovest.
Thus playing hide-and-seek with her individual and transcendent aspects, the Mother approached the Indian shores to prepare a new dawn, to give birth to a New Creation here where Sri Aurobindo was awaiting some further impetus to his Yoga. One day more was to pass before the Divine meeting.
(Courtesy: Musings on the Mother’s Prayers and Meditations , Volume I by Shyam Kumari)
The Mother’s Prayer of March 29, 1914
O Thou whom we must know, understand, realise, absolute Consciousness, eternal Law, Thou who guidest and illuminest us, who movest and inspirest us, grant that these weak souls may be strengthened and those who fear be reassured. To Thee I entrust them, even as I entrust to Thee our entire destiny.