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At the Feet of The Mother

The Supramental Manifestation

Sri Aurobindo’s worldview is dynamic-evolutionary. In his vision (which is identical with the Mother’s vision, but has been specially expressed by him in philosophical terms) the world is not a vain illusion, of which you have to get rid, but the manifest Spirit which embodies itself in manifold forms. Sri Aurobindo thus overcomes the unsatisfactory philosophy of Indian Illusionism which could never properly answer the question why the soul has to incarnate itself in a body which is illusion, in a world which is illusion, in order to escape this deception through a method which is illusion as well. This is basically a negative philosophy which makes our stay on earth a compulsory duty which we have to fulfill until we can at the end happily escape it to merge into a supracosmic Unknown or voluntarily return into the world to free others from the illusion.

Sri Aurobindo, in contrast, speaks of the adventure of the soul which is growing through many births in the world of becoming and gathering experiences. It is the adventure of plunging into the inconscience of matter which is ultimately also divine, but is only in an advanced stage of evolution experienced as such. This embodied soul should joyfully participate in creation and help to lead it to its divine prototype until a virtual paradise on earth is realised, a divine life in harmony, love and truth.

The soul has voluntarily accepted this adventure, for the joy of a fuller manifestation. However, in the first stages it is very much a journey through Ignorance. At first we have the entirely unconscious Matter which is not as lifeless, though, as was formerly assumed. New experiments of unbiassed scientists seem to indicate phenomena such as ‘living reactions’ in matter. In the next stage of evolution we have the principle of Life manifest in plants and animals which, as the Mother points out, already have an awakened psychic being (we may especially think of flowers and cats), and finally in the third stage there is the principle of Mind which makes man. Man himself has developed in a long process through various intermediate forms which have been abandoned in the course of evolution, with the exception of the aboriginals who still co-exist here and there with modern man. As the Mother noted in a talk, it may have taken a million years after the manifestation of the mental principle until man reached his present form. But evolution does not stop here, and why should it do so? It stands smilingly above our theology and philosophy. It was Nietzsche’s great merit to have overcome the concept of a creation culminating in mankind, even though he made serious mistakes in the process. Sri Aurobindo, who used the same term ‘superman’, saw in his inner vision that the next principle to manifest on earth would be Supermind and he made its manifestation the object of his life as evolutionary pioneer.

It is difficult to say something about supermind or to know something about it, but we may state in very general terms that man’s aspiration for total knowledge, full joy and all-round perfection, which again and again flames up on earth in spite of all obstructing forces and appearances, points towards this higher Truth-Consciousness and has its origin in it like a memory of the future.

Sri Aurobindo has discussed these questions in ample detail in his main philosophical work The Life Divine, the greatest part of which was published in the Arya during the First World War. He did not have at that time the direct experience of Supermind, but he could write about it due to his inner vision which, as he has said, had already the Overmind’s range. We have already quoted a letter to his brother Barin in which he stated, “I am just now (that is, in April 1920) rising to the lowest of the three layers of the Supermind…”[1] In 1938 the Mother saw Supermind descending even into the very physical substance of Sri Aurobindo, but it could not yet be fixed there, because earth-conditions were not ready. Another hint we get from a statement of the Mother soon after Sri Aurobindo had left his body:

“As soon as Sri Aurobindo withdrew from his body, what he had called the Mind of Light got realised in me.

The Supermind had descended long ago – very long ago – in the mind and even in the vital: it was working in the physical also but indirectly through these intermediaries. The question now was about the direct action of the Supermind in the physical. Sri Aurobindo said it could be possible only if the physical mind received the supramental light: the physical mind was the instrument for the direct action upon the most material. This physical mind receiving the supramental light Sri Aurobindo called the Mind of Light.”[2]

Here we would have to give long explanations of terms such as ‘the physical mind’, etc., which is not possible in the limited scope of this book. We may only point out here that the above statements refer to the individual experiences of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother which were to prepare for the still more decisive experience of the systematic transformation of the body as well as the general manifestation of Supermind in the earth-atmosphere and its establishment as an irreversible principle. The latter was the main object of the work of the two avatars. In this context the Mother said in 1933:

“The Supramental descent will be the successful consummation of our work, a descent of which the full glory has not been yet or else the whole face of life would have been different. By slow degrees the supramental is influencing us, now one part of our being and now another feels the distant touch of its divinity; but when it comes down in all its native power a supreme radical change will seize our nature.”[3]

For 1956 the Mother gave the following New Year message: “The greatest victories are the least noisy. The manifestation of a new world is not proclaimed by beat of drum.”[4]

It was to be one of the most important years in the history of mankind. On 29 February in the evening, during a meditation on the Playground, the great event of the supramental manifestation took place. In the Mother’s words:

“This evening the Divine Presence, concrete and material, was there present amongst you. I had a form of living gold, bigger than the universe, and I was facing a huge and massive golden door which separated the world from the Divine.

“As I looked at the door, I knew and willed, in a single movement of consciousness, that ‘the time has come’, and lifting with both hands a mighty golden hammer I struck one blow, one single blow on the door and the door was shattered to pieces.

“Then the supramental Light and Force and Consciousness rushed down upon earth in an uninterrupted flow.”[5]

The experience of the Light rushing down was so overwhelming for the Mother that she believed all sadhaks and students present on the Playground had also experienced it and would be lying flat on the ground by the sheer force of the outflow. However, this was not the case: nobody had felt anything special. But five sadhaks – two in the Ashram and three outside – had extraordinary experiences in connection with this great event; The Mother officially announced the Supramental Manifestation in two messages of 29 March and 24 April 1956:

“Lord, Thou hast willed, and I execute,
A new light breaks upon the earth,
A new world is born,
The things that were promised are fulfilled.”[6]

This text is derived from her prayer of 25 September 1914. In it the Mother has changed the original into the present: instead of ‘shall break upon…’, she wrote ‘breaks upon’, and instead of ‘shall be born’, ‘is born’, and instead of ‘shall be fulfilled’, ‘are fulfilled’.

The second message said:

“The manifestation of the Supramental upon earth is no more a promise but a living fact, a reality.
It is at work here, and a day will come when the most blind, the most unconscious, even the most unwilling shall be obliged to recognise it.”[7]

But what did this Supramental Manifestation concretely mean? Many sadhaks expected miracles and a quick end to all their difficulties, whilst others were already looking around for the new race. However, the Mother clarified that this was not the meaning of the descent. In the same way as millions of years passed after the manifestation of mind until man reached his present state of development, even now some time would pass before the new race would be visible, at least a few hundred or thousand years. But the process could be done faster now because man, unlike the ape, could consciously collaborate with his evolutionary ascent. As for the difficulties of the sadhaks, no immediate turn-about was to be expected, but some sincere aspirants who had most obstinate obstacles in their sadhana, could get the decisive breakthrough.

The Mother has explained why it would take some time for the results of this great event to become fully manifest:

“The atmosphere of the earth is too contrary to the magnificence of the Supreme Consciousness and veils it almost constantly. From time to time It can show and express Itself, but then again, this Inconscient atmosphere veils It.

“It was like that when in 1956 the Supramental Power came down upon earth. It was coming in torrents of Light, wonderful Light and Force and Power, and from the earth big waves of deep blue Inconscience came and swallowed It up. All the Force that was coming down was swallowed up and it is again from inside the Inconscient that It has to work itself through. That is why things take so much time here.”[8]

A little less than two years later, in 1957, the Mother had another experience which is of the greatest importance in the history of evolution. For centuries, for millennia the inner search of the yogis, the saints all over the world has been connected with extraordinary difficulties, resistances in nature which made necessary a ‘journey through the night’. Whilst some old traditions such as the Chaldaean, Vedic, Egyptian or Eleusinean accepted Nature with its difficulties and sought to include it – at least individually – in the ascent, there were other branches and traditions which followed the path of askesis and excluded Nature as far as possible, leaving only a necessary minimum which was required to maintain life. The body is put into a cage, as it were, like a rebellious animal, so that it does not trouble the seeker in his advance towards the inner Light. In this way many ascetics and saints have achieved some realisation, but the outer nature remained unchanged, often even rather crude and unrefined. The Mother and Sri Aurobindo wanted to leave this path behind once for all and so they developed the integral path which accepts the challenge to educate this ‘rebellious animal’ within ourselves and to make it collaborate with the divine work. But their object went further than to merely work on themselves and a group of disciples – the whole earth was to be included in the transformation, Earth-Nature Herself was to participate in the Light.

By the end of 1957 the Mother came into ever closer contact with Nature and a new deep relationship was formed which culminated in a decisive experience on 8 November:

“Suddenly Nature understood. She understood that this new Consciousness which has just been born does not seek to reject her but wants to embrace her entirely, she understood that this new spirituality does not turn away from life, does not recoil in fear before the formidable amplitude of her movement, but wants on the contrary to integrate all its facets. She understood that the supramental consciousness is here not to diminish but to complete her.

Then from the supreme Reality came this order, ‘Awake, O Nature, to the joy of collaboration.’ And the whole of Nature suddenly rushed forward in a great surge of joy, saying, ‘I accept, I shall collaborate.’… She accepted, she saw with all eternity before her that this supramental consciousness was going to fulfill her more perfectly, give a still greater strength to her movement, a greater amplitude, more possibilities to her play.”[9]

On 3 February 1958 the Mother had another important experience in the wake of the supramental manifestation. She saw, in a clear vision, a boat on which advanced seekers were trained for supramental life. The beings on board the ship had already reached a high stage of transformation and were now ready to disembark. The Mother was standing at the gangway and called the groups one by one. They were at first inspected by some extremely tall beings and then accepted, or sent back to the ship for further training if their physical substance was not yet sufficiently transparent. The Mother was able to identify all persons on board the ship as Ashram sadhaks or seekers outside whom she knew. Most of them were middle-aged, but there were also a few young and old people. The things on the boat were not of the same kind as here on earth, but of a different substance. Clothes, for instance, were not made of cloth, but were a kind of materialized consciousness-tissue which was sufficiently plastic to assume various forms.

“Life created its own forms: There was one single substance in everything; it changed the quality of its vibration according to need and use.”[10]

This vision of the boat that had reached the shores of the supramental world and carried a first group of future inhabitants of this world is certainly one of the most beautiful experiences which the Mother has recorded for posterity. The full text of the experience can be studied in Volume 9 of the Collected Works (pp. 271-8).

[1] Nilima – Glimpses of the Mother’s Life 1:230
[2] Nilima – Glimpses of the Mother’s Life 2:209-10
[3] Nilima – Glimpses of the Mother’s Life 2:273
[4] K. R. S. Iyengar’s On the Mother 2:599
[5] Nilima – Glimpses of the Mother’s Life 2:278
[6] CWM 15:95
[7] Nilima – Glimpses of the Mother’s Life 2:278
[8] Nilima – Glimpses of the Mother’s Life 2:289
[9] CWM 9:247-48
[10] Nilima – Glimpses of the Mother’s Life 2:308

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