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At the Feet of The Mother

Child Prodigies

Recently, in one of the Wednesday classes, we talked about child prodigies. Some say that the number of child prodigies is increasing considerably, and some — even among Americans — say it is the influence and work of Sri Aurobindo, and others say it is a result of atom bombs! But the fact is that there is a fairly large number of child prodigies. I did not want to speak about it in much detail, for I did not have any proofs in hand, that is, I did not have any good examples to give. It happens that since then someone has brought me a French book written by a child of eight.[1] Naturally there are people who dispute the possibility, but I shall explain to you later how such a thing is possible.

The book is remarkable for a child of eight. This does not mean that if the age of the child were not known the book would be considered wonderful; but there are, here and there, some sentences in it which are quite astonishing. I have noted down these sentences and am going to read them out to you. (Mother skims through her book.)

A little phrase like this: “If we truly love one another, we can hide nothing from each other”… Obviously this is fine.

And then something else written to a boy with freckles — you know what freckles are, don’t you? She writes to him: “You are beautiful, yes indeed, your freckles are so pretty; one would say that an angel had sown grains of wheat all over your face so as to attract the birds of the sky there.” Surely this is very poetic.

And finally, something really fine which opens the door to the explanation I am going to give you: “I am only an ear, a mouth; the ear hears a storm of words which I cannot explain to you, which an immense voice hurls within me, and my mouth repeats them and nothing of what I say can compare with the streaming of light which is within me.”

Obviously this is very beautiful.

It seems that here and there in her poems she has written many — one can find reminiscences of Maeterlinck, for instance; so people have concluded that it was not she who had written them, for at the age of eight one doesn’t read Maeterlinck, that it must have been someone else. But in fact there is no need at all to suppose a hoax, and the publisher indeed declares that he is sure of what he is about, that he knows the child very intimately — in fact he was in a way her adoptive father, for her father was dead — and can guarantee that there is no deception. But it is not at all necessary to suppose a deception in order to explain this phenomenon.

Authors, writers, who were inspired and serious in their creative work, that is to say, who were concentrated in a kind of consecration of their being to their literary work, form within themselves a sort of mental entity extremely well-constituted and coordinated, having its own life, independent of the body, so that when they die, when the body returns to the earth, this mental formation continues to exist altogether autonomously and independently, and as it has been fashioned for expression it always seeks a means of expression somewhere. And if there happens to be a child who has been formed in particularly favourable circumstances — for instance, the mother of this little girl is herself a poetess and a writer; perhaps the mother herself had an aspiration, a wish that her child would be a remarkable, exceptional being — anyway, if the child who is conceived is formed in particularly favourable circumstances, an entity of this kind may enter into the child at the time of birth and try to use him to express itself; and in that case, this gives a maturity to the child’s mind, which is quite extraordinary, exceptional and which enables him to do things of the kind we have just read.

We could say, without fear of sounding quite absurd, that if what she has written surprisingly resembles certain things in Maeterlinck or has the characteristics of his writings, even with certain almost identical turns of phrase, we could very well imagine that a mental formation of Maeterlinck has incarnated in this child and is using this young instrument to express itself.

There are similar examples, for instance, among musicians. There are pianists who have individualised their hands and made them so wonderfully conscious that these hands are not decomposed — not the physical hands: the hands of the subtle physical and vital — they are not decomposed, do not dissolve at the time of death. They remain as instruments to play the piano and always try to incarnate in the hands of someone playing the piano. I have known some cases of people who, as they were about to play, felt as though other hands entered into theirs and started playing really marvellously, in a way they could not have done themselves.

These things are not as exceptional as one might believe, they happen quite often.

I saw the same thing in someone who used to play the violin and another who played the cello — two different cases — and who were not very wonderful performers themselves. One of them was just beginning his studies and the other was a good performer, but nothing marvellous. But all of a sudden, the moment they played the compositions of certain musicians, something of that musician entered into their hands and made their performance absolutely wonderful.

There was even a person — a woman — who used to play the Cello, and the moment she played Beethoven, the expression of her face completely changed into Beethoven’s and what she played was sublime, which she could not have played unless something of Beethoven’s mind had entered into her.

3 October 1956

[1] Minou Drouet, born in 1947, author of Arbre mon ami.

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