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At the Feet of The Mother

Destiny and Determinism – The Inner Side of a Story (HH 235)

Views have differed over the ages between the fixity of fate and the role of free will in changing the seemingly inevitable and fixed front of Destiny. Sometimes real-life events and stories reveal to us the complex interplay of the various determinisms that weave the play of fate, and we can learn so much by looking deep into that story. One such story has been of the miraculous escape of the Thai footballers stuck in a ‘death-cave’. It is a story where Science and Faith, Human and Divine, individual and collective effort came together to demonstrate how a seemingly inevitable fate can be changed.

Words of the Mother


Who says that a sufficiently sincere aspiration, a sufficiently intense prayer is not capable of changing the path of the unfolding?

This means that all is possible. Now, one must have a sufficient aspiration and a prayer that’s sufficiently intense. But that has been given to human nature. It is one of the marvellous gifts of grace given to human nature; only, one does not know how to make use of it.

This comes to saying that in spite of the most absolute determinisms in the horizontal line, if one knows how to cross all these horizontal lines and reach the highest Point of consciousness, one is able to make things change, things apparently absolutely determined. So you may call it by any name you like, but it is a kind of combination of an absolute determinism with an absolute freedom. You may pull yourself out of it in any way you like, but it is like that.

I forgot to say in that book (perhaps I did not forget but just felt that it was useless to say it) that all these theories are only theories, that is, mental conceptions which are merely more or less imaged representations of the reality; but it is not the reality at all. When you say “determinism” and when you say “freedom”, you say only words and all that is only a very incomplete, very approximate and very weak description of what is in reality within you, around you and everywhere; and to be able to begin to understand what the universe is, you must come out of your mental formulas, otherwise you will never understand anything. To tell the truth, if you live only a moment, just a tiny moment, of this absolutely sincere aspiration or this sufficiently intense prayer, you will know more things than by meditating for hours.

CWM 5: 88 – 89


* * *


(D., a disciple, sent Mother an eighteenth-century account by a Japanese monk of the Zen Buddhist sect describing a method called “Introspection,” which enables one to overcome cold and hunger and attain physical immortality. Mother reads a few pages, then gives up.)

It’s better to work out your OWN system – if you want to work one out at all.

That’s what people have always reproached Sri Aurobindo for, because he doesn’t tell you, “Do this in this way and that in that way….” And that’s precisely what made me feel that there was the Truth.

People cannot live without reducing things to a mental system.

They need a mechanism.

Yes, but as soon as there’s a mechanism, it’s finished.

The mechanism may well be very good for the person who found it: it’s HIS mechanism. But it’s good only for him.

As for me, I prefer not to have any mechanism!

The temptation comes sometimes, but … It’s far more difficult without, but infinitely more living. All this [the Zen account] seems to me … I immediately feel something that’s becoming dead and dry – dry, lifeless.

They replace life with a mechanism. And then it’s finished.

But if I only had a method!

There are methods – books are full of them. I don’t recommend any of them: it’s always the method the author uses or has heard of. Everyone has to find his own method.

One can get certain hints, one can find one’s own method.

But one has to…. Look, it’s the same as for japa. Your japa is given to you, isn’t it? You receive it (unless you find it on your own, but that’s harder and already requires another level of realization); you receive your japa along with the power to do it – but you have to learn how to do it, right? For a long while you don’t fully succeed; all sorts of things happen – you forget it right in the middle or fall asleep or grow tired, get a headache, all sorts of things; or even outer circumstances interfere and disturb you. Well, here it’s the same: you tell yourself, “I’ll do it,” and you will do it, even if…. You have to go at it just like a mule: everything blocks the way but you keep going. You said you’d do it and you will do it. There are no results – I don’t care. Everything is against me – I don’t care. I said I’d do it and I will … I said I’d do it and I will. And you keep on going like that.

It’s the same thing in your case. It depends on what you want to achieve. Simply what I told you about sleep or resting, for example, ought to be enough. On that, you base your own discipline – or on words that were uttered, or gestures that were made, or ideas you’ve received. You establish your own discipline. And once you have chosen your discipline, you keep on with it.

That’s my experience.

Stubbornly. You have to be stubborn – stubborn, stubborn, stubborn. You’re up against all the resistance of unconsciousness and ignorance, up against all the power of unconsciousness and ignorance – something obstinate and unyielding. But it’s like the story of the drop of water on the rock: a matter of time. The water will eventually wear its way through the rock. It takes ages, but it will succeed, for it falls persistently, drop after drop. First it runs off, eventually it makes a hole, and you have a wide river flowing below. Nature gives us this wonderful example to follow. That’s it: we must be like the water dripping on the rock.

Water is vital energy. The rock is unconsciousness.

There you are, mon petit.

August 5, 1964


* * *


Japa, like meditation, is a procedure – apparently the most active and effective procedure – for joining, as much as possible, the Divine Presence to the bodily substance. It is the magic of sound, you see.

Naturally, if there’s also an awareness of the idea behind it, if one does japa as a very active CONSCIOUS invocation, then its effects are greatly multiplied. But the basis is the magic of sound. This is a fact of experience, and it’s absolutely true. The sound OM, for instance, awakens very special vibrations (there are other such sounds as well, but of course that one is the most powerful of all).

It is an attempt to divinize material substance.

From another, almost identical point of view, it fills the physical atmosphere with the Divine Presence. So time spent in japa is time consecrated to helping the material substance enter into more intimate rapport with the Divine.

In the course of my observation, I also saw the position of X and people like him, who practically spend their lives doing japa, plus meditation, puja, ceremonies (I am talking only about sincere people, not fakers). Well, that’s their way of working for the world, of serving the Divine, and it seems the best way to them – perhaps even the only way – but it’s a question of mental belief. In any case, it’s obvious that even a bit of … not exactly puja, but some sort of ceremony that you set yourself to do – habitual gestures symbolizing and expressing a particular inner state – can also be a help and a way of offering yourself and relating to the Divine and thus serving the Divine. I feel it’s important looked at in this way – not from the traditional viewpoint, I can’t stand that traditional viewpoint; I understand it, but it seems to me like putting a brake on true self-giving to the Divine. I am speaking of SELF-IMPOSED japa and rules (or, if someone gives you the japa, rules you accept with all your heart and adhere to). These self-imposed rules should be followed as a gesture of love, as a way of saying to the Divine, “I love You.” Do you see what I mean? Like arranging flowers in a certain way, burning incense, dozens of little things like that, made beautiful because of what is put into them – it is a form of self-giving.

Now, I think that doing japa with the will and the idea of getting something out of it spoils it a little. You spoil it. I don’t much like it when somebody says, “Do this and you will get that.” It’s true – it’s true, but it’s a bit like baiting a fish. I don’t much like it.

Let it be your own manner of serving the Divine, of relating to Him, loving Him, of joining Him to your physical life, being close to Him and drawing Him close to you – that way it’s beautiful. Each time you say the Word, let it be an invocation, let it be like the recitation of a word of love; then it’s beautiful.

That’s how I see it….

For me, you know, japa means a moment when all physical life is EXCLUSIVELY for the Divine. A moment when nothing but the Divine exists – every single cell of the body, each second, is EXCLUSIVELY for the Divine, there is nothing but the Divine.

When you succeed in doing that, it’s good.

Japa shouldn’t become so exclusive that it’s done twenty-four hours out of twenty-four, because then it’s equivalent to asceticism – but there should be a good dose of it.

It’s almost the one luxury of life – that’s how it feels to me. The luxury of That alone, nothing but that divine vibration around you, within you, everywhere. Nothing but the divine vibration.

Now, that’s luxury.

February 3, 1962

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