The Mother, 31 May, 1962

‘…If ever I were to write a book about Sri Aurobindo, this is the book I would write, like a sort of fairy tale… “Picture it to yourself like this – you see life, you see it as it is, you are used to an existence of this sort, and it is dismal and sad (there are people who enjoy themselves, but it is because they amuse themselves with very little!). Well, there is, behind all that, a fairy tale. Something which is being prepared and which will be beautiful, beautiful, beautiful, inexpressible. And in which we are participating…You are not aware, you believe that when you die you will forget everything, leave everything, but it is not true! And all those who are interested in a beautiful, luminous, joyous, progressive life – well, they will all take part in it in one way or another. Now you do not know; after some time, you will…Voila.

‘So, a fairy tale.

‘And the images, my child! All the outer images, like cinema images: of this activity, and this other, and another… That seems to me to be the only thing that can really be said, because it is the only thing I see. So, one sees, one says. ‘Yes, but there is someone [Sri Aurobindo] who is trying to do something with all that. Look, look, at the beautiful image behind, a beautiful story…and he was trying to bring that story down on Earth, and the story is sure to come…

‘What I myself see is almost a book for children. For a whole generation between ten and eighteen years old…thousands of children – with beautiful pictures.

‘…I would like it to come as an enjoyable experience. That you imagine you are speaking to children and that you are going to tell them the most beautiful story in the world.

‘And it is true! It is the most beautiful fairy tale in the world. There is none more beautiful than that one.

‘I am going to tell you the most beautiful story in the world…’

The Mother, L’Agenda de Mere, III, 1962,
Institut de Recherches Evolutive, Paris.

Expansion and Structuring

THE VISHAAL NEWSLETTER
Volume 1   Number 2    June 1986    

In mid-1984 the work at the Aeon Centre of Cosmology in Kodaikanal, India took a decisive turn indicating that the moment for expansion had come. A reversal of consciousness in the collective yoga transpired, a process akin to the formation of a solar system. Elements of this ‘system’ had matured, or had found their correct poise in relation to each other and to the centre. In terms of the applied cosmology which is the main work of the Aeon Centre of Cosmology, the ‘planets’ were then in correct orbit around the ‘sun’.

As the Aeon Centre of Cosmology took shape, the expansion process also called for the establishment of an organisation representing and promoting the research of the Centre, outside of India. Given the close destiny ties between India and America, it was natural that VISHAAL, the vehicle created for this purpose, was located in America. The office began its work in September of 1984. Its location in upstate New York was clearly indicated when housing was offered in the very community where Vivekananda had been a guest many years before during his mission to the West. In fact, the estate of his benefactors, where he rested and met with students, is less than a mile from the VISHAAL office.

Vivekananda’s role in Sri Aurobindo’s spiritual development has been acknowledged by him in the following passage: ‘…The voice [of Vivekananda] spoke only on a special and limited but very important field of spiritual experience and it ceased as soon as it had finished saying all that it had to say on that subject.’ (CE, Volume 26, page 68) To this day we feel a spiritual bond with Vivekananda and his Guru, Ramakrishna. Their work served to prepare the ground for Sri Aurobindo both in India and the West. Many of Vivekananda’s observations about America remain relevant today, and his experiences in Europe and America and the repercussions of his teaching among certain Hindu sects in India have served to unsettle old attitudes about the spiritual life and its conduct in the world.

Since its inception VISHAAL has been able to expand the distribution of Aeon Books and to put many people in touch with Patrizia Norelli-Bachelet’s yogic work. In October 1985 we began publication of The Vishaal Newsletter, a vehicle that permits a closer and more frequent contact with students of the new way, the third stage in the establishment of Sri Aurobindo’s vision. The Newsletter is offered to a world wide audience with the deep hope of bringing Eastern and Western thought into harmony and revealing more fully the new consciousness that is emerging and making itself felt in world affairs.

Sri Aurobindo’s presentation of the guiding principles of Arya, the journal that published his major works in the second decade of this century, are equally appropriate to our effort today in bringing out The Vishaal Newsletter. The dichotomy Sri Aurobindo discusses in the following passage is still present. However, where our experience differs is in the dramatic world conditions which demand a more earnest dedication in order to bring about the harmony of spirit and matter Sri Aurobindo saw as an imperative necessity. The Vishaal Newsletter, like the Arya, seeks to be an organ for this fundamental change.

‘…Our idea was the thinking out of a synthetic philosophy which might be a contribution to the thought of the new age that is coming upon us. We start from the idea that humanity is moving to a great change of its life which will even lead to a new life of the race, – in all countries where men think, there is now in various forms that idea and that hope, – and our aim has been to search for the spiritual, religious and other truth which can enlighten and guide the race in this movement and endeavour…

‘Our original intention was to approach the synthesis from the starting-point of the two lines of culture which divide human thought and are now meeting at its apex, the knowledge of the West and the knowledge of the East; but owing to the exigencies of the war [1914] this could not be fulfilled. The Arya except for one unfinished series has been an approach to the highest reconciling truth from the point of view of the Indian mentality and Indian spiritual experience, and Western knowledge has been viewed from that standpoint. Here the main idea which has governed our writing, was imposed on us by the very conditions of the problem. All philosophy is concerned with the relations between two things, the fundamental truth of existence and the forms in which existence presents itself to our experience. The deepest experience shows that the fundamental truth is truth of the Spirit; the other is the truth of life, truth of form and shaping force and living idea and action. Here the West and East have followed divergent lines. The West has laid most emphasis on truth of life and for a time come to stake its whole existence upon truth of life alone, to deny the existence of Spirit or to relegate it to the domain of the unknown and unknowable; from that exaggeration it is now beginning to return. The East has laid most emphasis on truth of the Spirit and for a time came, at least in India, to stake its whole existence upon that truth alone, to neglect the possibilities of life or to limit it to a narrow development or a fixed status; the East too is beginning to return from this exaggeration. The West is reawakening to the truth of the Spirit and the spiritual possibilities of life, the East is reawakening to the truth of Life and tends towards a new application to it of its spiritual knowledge. Our view is that the antinomy created between them is an unreal one. Spirit being the fundamental truth of existence, life can be only its manifestation; Spirit must be not only the origin of life but its basis, its pervading reality and its highest and total result. But the forms of life as they appear to us are at once its disguises and its instruments of self-manifestation. Man has to grow in knowledge till they cease to be disguises and grow in spiritual power and quality till they become in him its perfect instruments. To grow into the fullness of the divine is the true law of human life and to shape his earthly existence into its image is the meaning of his evolution. This is the fundamental tenet of the philosophy of the Arya.’

(CE, Volume 17, pages 399-401)

Along with book distribution and publication of The Vishaal Newsletter, we have been giving legal form to our organisation, both in India and in America. Aeon Trust, in India, was registered on 27 March, 1986. A few days later, in America, Aeon Group, a Corporation for Spiritual Renaissance, was granted non-profit status, on 3 April, 1986. These twin organisations are intended to serve the Aeon Centre of Cosmology, to give support to the facility and to make the research of its Director, Patrizia Norelli-Bachelet, widely available. Both organisations are supported solely by contributions and we expect to be able to offer donors tax exemption before long.

In early 1986, a handsome contribution enabled the purchase of land that will be the permanent location of the Aeon Centre of Cosmology. The property is located 18kms. from Kodaikanal in an area with an ancient sacred tradition.  The significance of the site and its meaning in the establishment of a new consciousness will be discussed in detail by Patrizia Norelli-Bachelet in a forthcoming article. At the present time work is being carried out there developing the land, putting in a road and preparing for the construction of housing. This is an unusual opportunity to assist in the building of a new centre, and we hope that supporters of its work will come forward at this time.

In closing I would like to mention that while Vivekananda lived at Ridgely Manor, he planted a tree known locally as the ‘prophet’s tree’. Need I add that this splendid white pine is flourishing today.

The Editor

Myth, the Vision of the Real

THE VISHAAL NEWSLETTER
VOLUME  1    NUMBER  2    JUNE 1986    

‘Twelve books to an epic is a classical superstition, but the new Savitri may extend to ten books – if much is added in the final version it may be even twelve.’

 Sri Aurobindo, 1936
Letters on Savitri

On the subject of East/West intermingling, for students of the new cosmology perhaps it would be of interest to present an example of a thoroughly eastern inspiration that was received in the West in early 1970, when I began writing The Magical Carousel. At the time I was unaware of this connection and was not at all familiar with the material which dated back to India’s remote antiquity. My inspiration invoked certain key elements of the nation’s most ancient scriptures, the Vedas, though it is unlikely the pundits would accept the connection I am now able to make between the two. Thus, by presenting the details of this experience, students will bear witness to the manner in which one can unveil truths that in the Indian scriptures themselves have been hidden for the past several thousand years, in the very land of their origin. In this review it will be seen how the East/West barrier disintegrates when true inspiration comes; but more than that, how in reaching the truer essence one is able to rend the veils that obscure the vision in the two hemispheres, by uncovering mysteries ignored by both.

In writing The Magical Carousel I was taken up by a flow of inspiration in a certain sense unrepeated in any of my later works. Indeed, it seemed to be a sort of seed-vision which thereafter blossomed in a host of different ways in all my other writings, in which I have always been able to find traces of the original seed-vision. This is what pundits sustain about the four Vedas of Indian tradition. It is held that all of India’s subsequent spirituality, schools of yoga, philosophy, ritual and so forth, have their roots in the Veda and can be traced to this remote source. Thus these ancient scriptures stand at the heart of Indian wisdom, and one may find verification of any experience in these most sacred and ancient texts – in fact, the most ancient sacred texts the world knows. Furthermore, they are not fossils of a defunct civilisation. Rather, they are still alive and vibrant. Each day in fact, priests, pundits, laypersons chant hymns from the Rig Veda – the Gayatri, for instance, at the start of the day – thereby keeping the ancient tradition alive.

In 1970 I was living in Rome, Italy, and I knew nothing of the Rig Veda, nor had I any conscious knowledge of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother, for that matter. My attention at that time was focused on certain methods of self-knowledge and transformation that paralleled their work in a sense, by virtue of an emphasis on the integral nature of the processes. One of the systems I used for objective knowledge at that time was the ancient zodiacal tradition. A source of objective knowledge, always of capital importance, was all the more necessary since I was alone in the quest in the midst of an environment somewhat alien to this type of endeavour.

From the first moment I came upon this branch of ancient lore, I realised that there was far more in the study than anyone realised; and from that moment I set about delving into the art’s sacred mysteries until I reached the core of their wisdom. The twelve hieroglyphs of the signs were, for me, storehouses of higher knowledge, though this seems to have been withheld from seekers over the millennia. Having perceived early on the unity of the signs, the coherent and progressively connected development from the first through the last, I was able to extract from them what had for so long remained hidden. I realised that those sacred symbols were very ancient, far more than we are encouraged to believe by historians and archaeologists. Moreover, the exact origins of the glyphs and pictographs of the signs have never been pinpointed with accuracy, either in space or time. They seem to have been always present among us, in the midst of our civilisation and deeply rooted in our collective consciousness from the dawn of time. However, after moving to India in 1971, I soon came to discover that the accepted thesis of a Mid-Eastern origin of the zodiac is unlikely, insofar as I was able to find indications that the zodiac was not only known in India in very ancient times, but finally I discovered exact references to it in the Rig Veda, which, as we know, is older than any document or other extant evidence pointing to a Mid-Eastern origin of the zodiac. (See, The New Way, Volume 2, Chapter 10)

To illustrate, I would like to present a few lines of verse that Sri Aurobindo composed at the time he was deeply engrossed in translating the Rig Veda from the Sanskrit, in an effort to unravel its mysteries, much as I had spent years in a quest for the true secrets of the zodiacal language, as part of the discovery of a new synthesis of cosmic harmonies. The following is a translation of Rig Veda I, Sukta 52, Riks 1-5. Sri Aurobindo translated this particular hymn in rhymed couplets. And the astonishing fact is that these few lines disclose, or rather confirm, that in writing The Magical Carousel I had touched the same source of inspiration or had seen into the same plane as the Rishi who composed this hymn. Sri Aurobindo’s poetic translation came to be published only in 1984 for the first time:

‘A hundred perfect births surprised my sight,
Then I beheld the visioned Ram of light
Whose two gold horns have rent the burning gates
Of the Sun-world’s felicitous estates.
He is the Lord who thunders on my eyes
And comes a galloping strength to sacrifice
And like a hastening chariot runs to me
When he has heard my sacred poesy…’

Sri Aurobindo Archives & Research, December 1984

Those who have read The Magical Carousel will immediately recognise ‘Ram of the golden horns’, the personified Aries symbol, whom Val and Pom-Pom meet in their entry into ‘Zodiacland’ (Chapter 1). The concordance of this exact image in both texts, ancient and new, is not an isolated element without an overall significance pertinent to the deepest essence of the Rig Veda as a whole, as a complete system of Knowledge. And the same can be said for the zodiac. “Ram of light/Whose two gold horns have rent the burning gates/Of the Sun-world’s felicitous estates” is of course the God Indra, to whom the hymn is addressed, the Lord of the Heavens in the Vedic Pantheon. I have drawn attention in my writings to the fact that Indra, who is eulogised throughout the Rig Veda as the Ram or the Bull, is connected to the first two zodiacal signs, Aries and Taurus, whose pictographs are precisely the Ram and the Bull. And Indra’s two eyes, the Sun and the Moon, are known in zodiacal tradition to be ‘exalted’ in these two signs: the Sun in Aries, the Moon in Taurus. The very root of the Sanskrit name Indra is associated with the Moon.

However, when I wrote The Magical Carousel I had no conscious knowledge of Indian scriptures and in particular of this most ancient one, no knowledge of any of their Gods, much less of any relation they may have had to the zodiac. I repeat, I was simply following the thread of a vision, allowing the inspiration to flow on and on. Yet it was not a random and uncontrolled flow, with a product conveying a disconnected and hence incoherent vision. Having a background format to guide the seeing – the twelve zodiacal signs – the result was a distinctly unified vision, a development through the signs progressively unveiling the path of the soul in this sublime odyssey, the basic theme of the Vedic hymns in fact: the ‘sacrifice’ or ‘journey’ that was carried out within the measure of the Year, – the Earth’s orbit of the Sun, or its ‘divine measure’ and hence the sacred module for the soul’s unveiling in the prime species that the planet houses. This is essentially the heart of all myth. We can understand by this that in the Rig Veda, as in all other ancient mythologies and systems of Knowledge, the Earth is revealed to have a special mission in the solar system. The evolution she supports allows a conscient being to come into existence, who can participate in full awareness in this journey of discovery, amidst all the glories of the multiple world of form in which this Sacrifice takes place, a witness as well as an active participant of this magnificent unveiling, whereby the Absolute, through the human instrument, knows and enjoys Itself.

The connection is therefore very precise: the 12 signs covering the twelve months of our Earth year were known to the Vedic Rishis, who placed this same Year, divided into 12 and bearing the same symbols for the most part, on the central altar of their sacrifice. Even more specifically, the hymns inform us that the Rishis considered the months to be gateways to the highest summit: ‘Certain eternal worlds are these which have come into being, their doors are shut to you (or opened) by the months and the years; without effort one (world) moves in the other, and it is these that Brahmanaspati [Jupiter] has made manifest to knowledge…’ (II.24-5). These ‘doors’ are the same ‘gates’ that Ram (Indra) of the golden horns is said to rend in the Sun-world, and the same gates that Val and Pom-Pom open with the special keys they are given when they journey ‘into the Sun’.

In The Magical Carousel, without knowing the ancient text, I presented the same vision. In it, ‘Indra’ appears in the same form of a Ram with golden horns:

‘Suddenly from the distance a horn sounds and they [Val and Pom-Pom] hear the thunder of great galloping hoofs, interrupted every now and then by the loudest of bangs; the horns bellow out, then the hoofs, next the bangs, – all sparked by the cracking sounds of a whip.

‘The children rush to hide, or at least to get out of the way of whatever is coming, for they don’t even know what it is or where its path lies. But all too soon through the crimson wilderness a great majestic ram with golden horns and fiery eyes comes dashing forth. He pulls a chariot within which is a huge man in primitive hunter’s dress, of furs, leather and knee-high skin boots. He cracks a whip in the air, setting off sparks the same colour as his flaming red hair that falls in masses to his shoulders. But most incredible of all are his eyes, luminous tongues of fire! He spurs the animal on and the ram knocks down everything in the path of the chariot with the bash of his horns…’

The Magical Carousel, pages 7-8

The purpose of this crashing drive is so that Ram may open ‘the pathway of the Sun’. It is evident that in my vision I had entered that same ‘Sun-world’ as the Rishi who sang the glories of Indra in the verses Sri Aurobindo has translated. However, there is more to analyse in this cutting across time and space, and it will cast some definitive light on the great body of Knowledge contained in the Rig Veda, which, lamentably, has not been properly understood by either Indians or Westerners. Indeed, in a recently unearthed and hitherto unpublished piece, ‘The Gods of the Veda’, Sri Aurobindo wrote ‘…for some two thousand years at least no Indian has really understood the Veda.’ (Sri Aurobindo Archives & Research, December, 1984.)

I propose in this article to show how and why this has been so, with exact examples to render concrete and devoid of abstraction the knowledge here put forth. This analysis will assist the contemporary pundit, as well as the Western Indologist, to understand a methodology that is ancient yet modern, a system of knowledge whose foundations lie in that ‘Sun-world’ of the Vedas. It is an eternal plane, but one which is involved in a progressive manifestation in time on our planet. If I could enter that Sun-world today and unknowingly come upon the very same images as the Seer who composed these hymns to Indra some 6000 or more years ago, it is proof enough that the knowledge is one and eternal.

But there are certain details of this concordant vision that must be analysed, for they throw light on various hitherto perplexing areas of thought and aspects of a synthetic seeing with which the contemporary human being has lost touch. This concerns dual and even multiple images that extol or explain the same Godhead. For example, in The Magical Carousel, I describe the Ram of the Golden Horns. This we now know is the same Ram of the Vedic Rishi’s vision of Indra. In The Magical Carousel I have also presented a humanised form of this Godhead, who would be comparable to the more humanly recognisable Lord Indra of the Veda – in these particular verses portrayed as the Ram. In my vision they appear together, as often they do in the Rig Veda by including the God’s vahana or animal carrier. This method of expressing certain profound truths of creation, its powers or the energy flows of our world, our solar system, the many subtle as well as physical dimensions, is unsurpassed. This same system has been carried over to the later Puranic period. Therein we find that all the Gods have a specific carrier, ever connected with their appearances; for example, the Peacock of Kartikeya, Ganesh’s Mouse carrier, Brahma’s Elephant, the Eagle of Vishnu, and so forth.

Why is this imagery chosen, and what is its real significance in each case? It is simply that the humanised form expresses the conscious element, the ‘seeing-eye’ or the aspect of Consciousness emerging in the vision; while the carrier expresses the dynamic Energy and its mode of manifestation. The carrier describes that energy as it is channelled and experienced on Earth and in the conscious act of evolution within the very specific framework that Time provides as a gestating power: the Spirit at work through human evolution. In zodiacal tradition these energy ‘qualities’ are threefold, as they are in Indian systems of knowledge. Thus, to provide readers with a specific example, in the Aries chapter of The Magical Carousel, this energy flow is conveyed in the story in the fact that the adventures experienced in ‘Ariesland’, the land of Ram and the Hunter who are meant to open a pathway for the Sun, occur in fits and starts, we may say. This expresses the Cardinal quality of the sign, or its Rajas nature, according to Hindu psychology. But being the very first sign, it stands that this terrific burst is as yet uncontrolled, less refined; and therefore the image coupled with the Ram is that of a primitive hunter, precisely to convey this experience of a Consciousness-Energy as yet in its initial and more chaotic stages of manifestation, a sort of chaos out of which order (‘cosmos’) is to emerge. Scientific cosmology would call this the Big Bang and similarly describe for the macrocosm an emergent order out of that primordial Chaos.

I have referred to the Puranas wherein we find elements of the Vedic system transported to this more recent mythology. Throughout my written works, in fact, I have consistently drawn a connection between these two sources of wisdom, the Vedic and the Puranic. It may be argued that in so doing I have overlooked what is universally considered the highest India has to offer humanity in sacred texts of knowledge, – that is, the Upanishads. But I must state that my spirit has found immense fulfilment in a penetrating quest into the truths contained in the Veda and the Puranas, rather than the Upanishads. I have always felt that far more is contained in the former, and that indeed in India and the West these two sacred texts have not only been disregarded but often ridiculed. It seemed to me that a rediscovery and reinstatement were called for. And this is what I have done.

In this context, I must point out that Sri Aurobindo came to the same conclusion, that from these two founts the future renaissance of Indian wisdom would be drawn. Thus, in the same essay, ‘The Gods of the Veda’, he wrote,

‘If Purana and Veda cannot be rehabilitated, it is yet possible that our religion driven out of the soul into the intellect may wither away into the dry intellectuality of European philosophy or the dead formality and lifeless clarity of European Theism. It behoves us therefore to test our faith by a careful examination into the meaning of Purana and Veda and into the foundation of that truth which our intellect seeks to deny but our living spiritual experience continues to find in their conceptions. We must discover why it is that while our intellects accept only the truth of Vedanta, our spiritual experiences confirm equally or even more powerfully the truth of Purana. A revival of Hindu intellectual faith in the totality of the spiritual aspects of our religion, whether Vedic, Vedantic, Tantric or Puranic, I believe to be an inevitable movement of the near future.’   

Ibid, pages 134-5

I have written time and again that the fount of myth is the soul. Today, unlike in Sri Aurobindo’s time, it has become fashionable to undertake studies of comparative mythology and to seek thereby to establish a connection between East and West via investigations into the mythologies and epics of ancient cultures. However, I must admit that these studies have never satisfied me. They seem to suffer from the same insufficiency Sri Aurobindo describes regarding an over-intellectualised emphasis that disregards the more soul-inspired texts. Myth is a soul expression. But more than that, it encompasses a very precise system of Knowledge. Without an understanding of what that ancient system of Knowledge is, it is virtually impossible to come to the true heart of Myth, whether eastern or western. Indeed, it is because this system of knowledge and transformation has disappeared from the Indian tradition and only what has been carried over into later schools of thought and to a certain degree preserved in the Puranic myths, has survived, that no truly sound interpretation of the Rig Veda has come forth, – except, I must clarify, what Sri Aurobindo has contributed to this subject. But inasmuch as his interpretation evokes this most ancient wisdom, now ignored, his work in this field has been largely disregarded by contemporary scholars and pundits.

The same could be said for zodiacal wisdom: inasmuch as it embraces a system of knowledge and a ‘path of yoga’ now lost, this tradition has also remained a veiled mystery.

The studies in comparative mythology we find in abundance today, even the best of them, are dry intellectual exercises, devoid of any direct experience and insight in the soul, and hence are unable to throw any real and meaningful light on the subject. Furthermore, and this is by far the most important point, it has been my experience that there is only one way to discover the truth of the past and the real method and purpose of the ancient teachings devoid of romanticism and fanciful extrapolations, the fragments of which we find in myth, sacred architecture and all the extant scriptures and epics from the earliest Ages. This is, to discover that same truth in the present. The arguable point is, however, What is meant by a discovery of this nature in the present, and in what manner can it be experienced? What is the method?

In order to support this statement I have offered examples of this very process in these Newsletters, as I have done in fact in all my published works. The example presented herein is one such clue to the process. Thus, The Magical Carousel can be called a modern myth. And this is the important point. The fount of its inspiration was the soul, as it has been in the composition of any other myth. The soul is an eternal source of Knowledge, and hence if one taps that source, one sees perforce into the same plane of truth (‘eternal worlds’ the Rishis call them) as has been done in other ages, other times. Certain thinkers have realised this; for example, the psychologist Carl Jung, to name just one. But when studying the work of these men, I am left dissatisfied, insofar as it is invariably fragmentary. There may be glimpses of the truth, but the essential psychic element is lacking, and this would reveal that one had indeed entered into that sacred dimension of the soul by virtue of a unity of vision that emerges, accompanied by an Earth-oriented focus. The soul of the Earth is one with the individual soul, as well as with the collective soul of the species. Inspirations which are connected to this soul fount display a oneness whereby all the elements of our world, and in particular the planet on which we live, are encompassed: a true harmony of spirit and matter. The biological laws that describe our physical beings, our ‘vahanas’, have come into existence as conditions imposed by the planet’s constitution, her position in the solar system, and, above all, the measure of her orbit of the Sun. Hence in epic, myth, and the psychic seeing these elements are prominent and are conveyed by unforgettable, striking symbolic imagery.

In true myth – and when I use this word I mean the method to transmit this higher knowledge – the centre one touches in the human being is not the mental, or the intellect. The process is psychic and is directed to the higher emotional centre. In the human brain it would draw into action the right hemisphere, the visual-emotive part. Therefore myths are often considered simplistic – in this age of over-emphasis on mental functioning and development – but invariably they display a capacity to evoke a profound sense of pathos, drama, deep emotional responses, by a direct impact through the centre which by visual stimulation, as in dreams, carries the message to very deep strata in the being. The higher vital is activated, a close companion of the soul.

The question is therefore to present a visual impact that sets off a process that is not intellectual per se. It stands to reason that in order to do this one cannot feign a ‘soul’ experience or mentally set about ‘creating a myth’. Once the intent is mental and not supported by a direct seeing in the soul, the process is aborted. I have come across attempts of this nature and the flaw is immediately evident. The same may be said, though to a lesser degree, of fairy tales.

In the modern myth of The Magical Carousel, the children enter that solar region or dimension the Vedic seers sang of. The story relates how they ‘plunge into the Sun’ in their cosmic odyssey. Once they have gone through the first ‘gate’ of that Sun-world, the same as the Rishi’s, they encounter Ram of the golden horns. Inasmuch as my vision was the product of a spiritual experience, by this direct seeing in the present (and indeed The Magical Carousel is written in the present tense, almost as if to stress this lived experience in the present), I was able to confirm and rehabilitate, to use Sri Aurobindo’s expression, the ancient truth-seeing. This cannot be done solely by intellectual means. It can only be fully accomplished when the truth is made to express itself once more in our lived experience of the present, to merge into this present from the eternal plane of the truth-consciousness. In so doing, we can come to appreciate that eternal element not disconnected from our world, and thereby the eternal Word is given a new body consonant with the realistic and actual poise of the evolving consciousness in time and space. Body and soul cannot be separated, for indeed the soul’s truth is its poise in material creation, that spark of the Divine in matter.

This is an essential factor to bear in mind, and I hope that the example I have furnished will suffice to bring this point home: one cannot bring about a renaissance, true and lasting, by focusing on past forms UNLESS they have become absorbed into our experience in the present, as living eternal truths of our spiritual and psychic realisations in this present. This, I must add, is the real foundation of any renaissance and the only way to avoid a catastrophic plunge into fundamentalism, bigotry, fanaticism, or the dryness of intellectualism that Sri Aurobindo has referred to in the passage I have quoted.

This has been the method I have employed in all the branches of higher knowledge I have treated in my books. For example, whatever I have revealed in sacred geometry and sacred architecture came in the same manner as the mythic experience. I focused on the Mother’s vision and plan of her Temple – a product of this century, this epoch – and not upon a relic of antiquity whose secrets we may seek to unravel notwithstanding the most impenetrable veils the Time-Spirit has drawn about them. Seeking to move into the past for such a discovery is a useless and uninspired mental exercise which can only produce a lifeless intellectual statement with no immediate truth pertinent to our times. In consequence, it does nothing to initiate us into the sacred recondite world of these profound mysteries, because the conditioning circumstances of time and space are part and parcel of the overall significance, and above all, of the monument’s purpose. To disregard these is to make our quest infinitely more difficult and the inner meaning far more obscure.

However, if one has a model that is a product of the present, conveying those eternal truths of which all real sacred architecture is a product – and I must stress the word ‘real’ – , revelatory insights based on that contemporary model will come amidst the total circumscribing circumstances that condition its form, thus casting light on the totality of those conditions. That is, a holistic, integral understanding will emerge, bearing an irrefutable, immediate significance. And at the same time, with this model of truth-seeing one can begin to discover the real significance and function of the models of antiquity. But needless to say, the existence of such a model, the product of a truth-conscious experience, is a rarity. In fact, the Mother’s vision in the plan she left is the sole example we have of such a structure for the past several thousand years.

Regarding myth, The Magical Carousel is a product of this same method. Therefore it can help to establish the zodiacal foundation of the Rig Veda, or at least throw light on the fact that this knowledge was so widespread at the time that the then spiritual elite made easy and free references to it throughout the sacred texts. This knowledge, once so extensive, is now lost, and therefore I can agree with Sri Aurobindo when he writes ‘…for some two thousand years at least no Indian has really understood the Veda.’

In The Hidden Manna, I have also discussed at length the zodiacal references in St. John’s Revelation, the last book of the New Testament. These references are just as precise as the Vedic. Yet it is quite amazing to observe that there is a fanatical denial of any connection between Christian scripture and belief and this ancient body of knowledge, by Protestants and Catholics alike. One is forced to ask, what is the purpose in denying the undeniable?

As a final example of the mythic experience there is Sri Aurobindo’s epic poem Savitri. Its subtitle is ‘a legend and a symbol’. Sri Aurobindo used the Vedic story of Savitri and Satyavan as his theme, concerning the death of Satyavan exactly one year after their betrothal and the Goddess’ subsequent pursuit of the Lord of Death into the underworld, in order to bring Satyavan back to life, back to the Earth. Interestingly, the format Sri Aurobindo has given his poem is equally a development in twelve stages, and for the most part these stages correspond to and follow the same sequence as the zodiacal sign/months. For example, the 5th Book of Love, corresponding to the 5th sign of love, Leo; the 7th Book of Yoga, corresponding to the 7th sign of ‘union’, Libra; the 8th Book of Death, corresponding to the 8th sign of death, Scorpio; and, above all, the victorious conquest of the Lord of Death in the 10th Book which is equivalent to the tenth sign/month Capricorn, known precisely as the Divine Mother’s victory. These are just a few of the correspondences between the poem and the zodiac, but they will suffice to illustrate once more that an Earth-oriented vision of this specific type will follow an almost identical pattern and produce the same results, whether consciously undertaken or not. The reason is more than clear: the soul cannot fail to present a vision that incorporates its journey through time as a gestating process that details the soul’s unveiling in consonance with the Earth’s position in the solar system, a reference that cannot be overlooked or minimised if the quest is Earth-oriented and not otherworldly. Time’s function is precisely to make manifest what is contained in the Seed.

Therefore the Rishis sang of the months of the year as ‘doors’ that had to be opened in order to enter those ‘eternal worlds’. The point of this essay is that by realising this connection and by rehabilitating this ancient body of Knowledge in consonance with our present stage of evolution and in the midst of the great transition we are experiencing as a species, we are in effect collaborating in the manifestation of the truth-essence of those higher planes. This is the proverbial marriage of Heaven and Earth – and more specifically, to use the Vedic and Biblical phrase: a new Heaven and a new Earth. It is this newness that we are concerned with, a rediscovery in the present which alone can make ‘all things new’.

Patrizia Norelli-Bachelet
February, 1986

The Change That Saves

THE VISHAAL NEWSLETTER
Volume 1   Number 2     June 1986

To readers of the VISHAAL Newsletter, it ought to be evident after studying several issues that significant emphasis is being given in these essays to the factor of a harmonisation of two poises – the material and the spiritual – and by consequence, to the question of bridging the chasm that now exists between these two dimensions of reality. The spirit/matter polarity has translated itself into a planetary polarity. The East is considered the pole wherein the spirit finds itself most comfortable, and the consciousness of the people born and bred in that part of the world more easily reflects a concentration on this aspect of life. The West, on the other hand, has revealed itself over the past few centuries to be the staunchest champion of the concerns of matter. Our 20th Century technology stands testimony to the formidable strides the West has made in compelling matter to disclose its secrets for the purpose of this remarkable development.

A careful observation of the course of civilisation over the past several hundred years, particularly accelerated in this century, will show that indeed such a polarity exists. Moreover, we can observe that a sort of degeneration has set in, both in the East and in the West. It is clear that these two poises, isolated and disconnected from each other as is presently the case, are experiencing a decay never before witnessed. In fact, never before has it been so easy to distinguish the dichotomy that exists on the planet, clearly displayed in an East/West split and carried over to a disturbing separation between the concerns of the spirit and of matter.

On the surface it would seem that matter is leading in this confrontation and quest for supremacy; but it is moving us toward some as yet unformulated fulfilment, – or devastation. We cannot be sure which. Where is the technological conquest taking us as a civilisation? For we see that the severance between spirit and matter has indeed left the latter in a commanding position. By means of the tremendous destructive power that modern technology has given birth to, we realise that unless something as yet unforeseen takes place, this leadership of the material West will carry us to a devastating annihilation.

In the last VISHAAL (1/1), I discussed to some extent the position of the East in this regard, according to what Sri Aurobindo had foreseen. It is true that the East is to provide the inspiration that will arrest the decline and prevent materialism from overtaking the consciousness of the species and stamping its mould on all future generations, if indeed they are allowed to take birth. But what exactly is this inspiration? This is the important question we must now ask. And it concerns the inhabitants of both East and West in equal measure. At the same time, by reviewing the situation that has developed over the past two decades in particular, we can come to a clearer understanding of what the problem is and where its solution may lie. None can deny that the West has witnessed a spiritual invasion from the East during these past two decades, and more specifically from India. But what has been the result? My own work was born during this very period. It was in 1965 that I took up in earnest the quest for ‘a new way’. From that time until the present, we have seen many spiritual empires rise and fall, with no significant achievements left behind that point to a decisive encroachment into the stronghold of science and the all-pervading materialist consciousness. The latter still holds sway on the planet, still holds it captive to its destructive power, while no spiritual movement has been able to arrest this decay that we consider the upholders of matter over spirit to be responsible for.

However, I view the matter somewhat differently. The decay we are experiencing is largely the result of an effete, impotent and stagnant condition of spirituality. And why is this so? Why have the countless gurus with their respective messages of superior Eastern wisdom failed to correct the degenerative decline in any significant manner?

One of the problems that surfaces in this review concerns the stagnation of spirituality. While we have seen an extraordinary renewal in the realm of science and technology, in particular over the past century, on the surface there has been no such renaissance of spirituality in evidence. Furthermore, the most interesting and significant point is that the very necessity for such a renewal in spirituality is not at all appreciated. Today we are witnessing an upsurge of fundamentalism with its consequent fanaticism. Some people consider this a renaissance; but this appraisal is far from the truth. And in any case the rise of fundamentalism is reserved for religions – all of them without exception, we may add – and does not touch spirituality at all. Indeed, there can be no fundamentalism and fanaticism in true spirituality.

There is a vast abyss between the two – religion and spirituality – as anyone proficient in yoga can affirm. Therefore, while fundamentalism has increased over the past twenty years, in an effort to reinforce the hold religions have over the masses, which has significantly weakened due to the rise of science, we find no such movement in spiritual circles. That is, there is no attempt to renew or formulate the truths of the Spirit in a way consonant with the new demands a bold and determined Science thrusts upon us. What we have seen, however, is a fever to spread the word, in the East and in the West. Consequently, countless gurus have gone on spiritual campaigns to conquer the West and save the world by this invasion of the enlightened hordes from the East.

Many theoretical physicists with philosophical inclinations have become spokesmen for this spiritual invasion. They have perceived that Eastern mysticism holds ‘timeless’ truths and that science is just beginning to discover this fact and come to the same conclusions. These exponents of a new physics consider that they are bridging the gap between Science and Spirit in this fashion, and hence between West and East. However, to date I have not encountered any such thing. We do find physicists quoting from ancient eastern texts of wisdom, such as Brian Josephson with his penchant for Vedic science due to his involvement with transcendental meditation. But in no way does this throw any effective light on the issue, a light powerful enough to dispel the darkness in that abyss and concretely bridge the chasm.

The reason for this is quite clear: spirituality is considered a timeless truth and its experience static and unevolving. This is considered to be its main characteristic, by which it is distinguished from mundane and materialist concerns. The mysticism that has been exported to the West is hence ‘old wine’, devoid even of ‘new bottles’. And in most cases it is not even that, not even the true expression of the ancient paths.

Sri Aurobindo laboured intensely to alter this closed concept of the unchanging nature of spirituality, of schools of yoga and philosophy. I myself have heard criticisms of his work along these lines: It has never been done before, therefore it cannot be done (regarding the establishment of a life divine on Earth). Or else I have heard: If the great sages of the past have not revealed these things, how can Sri Aurobindo pretend to do so? This attitude is so recalcitrant and widespread that it has even been carried over to a condemnation of my work vis-à-vis Sri Aurobindo and the Mother:  ‘They’ never saw these things (you write of), so how can you! One venerable old sadhak who had been with Sri Aurobindo for many years has even gone so far as to tell me explicitly that whatever had not been seen and described by Sri Aurobindo could not be done by anyone else. Sri Aurobindo’s word is the ‘final word’, according to these pontiffs. But following this line of thought, it is evident that they must have also come to the conclusion that Sri Aurobindo’s work has failed, insofar as he himself admitted that much remained to be done. If we are not permitted to carry on where he left off, we must accept that failure is the ‘final word’.

In actual fact, Sri Aurobindo’s ‘word’ is the beginning, the broad outline of a spectacularly vast all-encompassing vision. The task is now to fill in the details of that vision and complete a work that he gave us in seed form.

Let me quote from his letters to disciples on this very theme, showing the incessant effort he was called upon to make in order to expose people to the idea of an evolving spiritual experience, to help them to accept the fact that spirit as well as matter is engaged in the process of evolution, and in equal measure:

‘…I have had no inspiration from the Sadhana of Bejoy Goswami, though a good deal at one time from Ramakrishna and Vivekananda. My remarks simply meant that I regard the spiritual history of mankind and especially of India as a constant development of a divine purpose, not a book that is closed, the lines of which have to be constantly repeated. Even the Upanishads and the Gita were not final though everything may be there in seed. In this development the recent spiritual history of India is a very important stage and the names I mentioned had a special prominence in my thought at the time – they seemed to me to indicate the lines from which the future spiritual development had most directly to proceed, not staying but passing on. I do not know that I would put my meaning exactly in the language you suggest. I may say that it is far from my purpose to propagate any religion, new or old, for humanity in the future. A way to be opened that is still blocked, not a religion to be founded, is my conception of the matter.’

18 August, 1935, ‘Sri Aurobindo on Himself’
CE, Volume 26, page 125  (Emphasis mine)

Concerning those sages he saw connected with him in this pioneering work, I must point out that in the new cosmology the places of both Ramakrishna and Vivekananda are clearly distinguishable above all the others, confirming empirically, so to speak, Sri Aurobindo’s experience (see The Gnostic Circle, and The New Way l&2). But on another occasion he displayed greater impatience:

‘…Truly, this shocked reverence for the past is a wonderful and fearful thing! After all, the Divine is infinite and the unrolling of the Truth may be an infinite process or at least, if not quite so much, yet with some room for new discovery and new statement, even perhaps new achievement, not a thing in a nutshell cracked and its content exhausted once for all by the first seer or sage, while the others must religiously crack the same nutshell all over again, each tremblingly fearful not to give the lie to the “past” seers and sages.’

8 October, 1935
(Ibid, page 135)

These letters cast essential light on the difficulties that have surfaced in the export of spirituality to the West. For in fact what has been sought is an opening to the old spirituality, that the West should become exposed to the timeless truths of the Sanatana Dharma, and in this way find salvation, or give to God what is His just due but which has been denied in the West in its frenetic pursuit of scientific and technological achievements.

However, the result of this endeavour has been quite the opposite. We have witnessed that rather than impose eastern truths of the Spirit on the consciousness prevailing in the West, the movements that sought to establish a certain supremacy became, each one of them, caught up in the morass of that materialistic mire which the gurus encountered, with the result that none of them could avoid the onslaught and the evident toll their spiritual enthusiasm had to bear in an increasing submission to the elements that have always been considered anathema to spirituality, – i.e., wealth, affluence, material comfort, not to speak of the temptations to use the media for publicity and thus become entrapped in the very mire they originally sought to purify. Accepting this state of affairs, the business of guruhood soon became the fastest way to make a fortune. Invariably all the movements that have gone westward since the 1960’s have suffered a diminishing of their spiritual purity and zeal and increasingly have taken on the proselytising attitudes of western religions, so far removed from the true nature of Indian spirituality. They have done very little to effectively change anything, and the most that can be said for them is that they have provided a means to close a culture gap, exposing the West to certain terms and modes of spiritual expression which it had been ignorant of on a mass level, but hardly a true establishment of the highest of Indian spirituality as a real force for change in the world. Nothing in fact comparable to the power that science wields, – not only in the West but increasingly in the East as well. That is, there has been no spiritual movement of this century that has been sufficiently powerful (and I use the word purposefully) to arrest the course that science and western materialism are imposing upon the world.

The reason for this is more than clear. All the spiritual movements have become bogged down in the past and are merely repeating the old formulas. And those formulas were, even in the past, incomplete. They catered to the regions and demands of the spirit, disregarding the life of the body. Indeed, the spirituality we know as ‘eastern’ is founded on the basic principle of escapism. This is the same as the foundation of western religion and mysticism: the Earth is a hell and birth thereupon is a scourge; salvation lies in heaven or nirvana, – anywhere, but decidedly out of this cosmic dimension and free from the strangling coils of a corruptible flesh.

With this formula, no matter how much we seek to clothe it in veils that camouflage its essence or render it palatable to our 20th Century taste for matter-oriented solutions, it is evident that no real and effective change can be brought about. The spiritual power that exponents of the traditional ways bring to the West is undermined from the outset, notably by this emphasis on otherworldliness, the outcome of a spirituality that refuses to renew itself and open itself to the new light that is being born on Earth.

I do not wish the reader to construe from the above that it is not by a spiritual force that the imperative change is to come about. What is meant is that with the spiritual force something more is needed, a new power that can effectively deal with the demands that a growing materialistic consciousness has imposed. Until now it has not been properly understood that ‘something else’ is required at this stage of evolution, something that the old spirituality simply cannot provide because its foundations are essentially otherworldly. And that ‘something’ is the capacity to deal with the power of matter, to withstand its colossal assault and not be overwhelmed by its boldness and, above all, its definiteness.

The way Sri Aurobindo has introduced (‘… a way to be opened that is still blocked’…) is not meant either to be a religion or, more especially, a movement, a stirring thus of the superficial strata in society and the collective consciousness. Rather, this new way offers a true power for change and unfolds a mechanism that works in the deepest layers. Because it touches the heart and root of existence, and because it holds the secret of the method for introducing true change, it is certain of attaining the goal.

In this context, I would like to point out that the USA, which stands at the centre of present day materialism, its inspirer, we may say, is characterised by a constant submersion in the flux and flow of precisely that superficial strata of change, those ceaseless, relentless stirrings in the most external dimensions. This finds its expression in a nation enamoured of fads, to name just one aspect, which wildly overtake the population. Like a tornado that whisks away everything it meets on its path, so the collective consciousness of America is drawn into the frenzy accompanying every new fad, intoxicated by the desire for change – for the sake of change. What is lacking in this display is an immobile, solid and stable core, a poise akin to the centred eye of the tornado which while it encourages and upholds change and dynamic renewal, yet bears in its centre that Stable Constant.

India at present is still caught in the opposite condition. There is stability born of the eternal truth it knows, but deriving from the old poise, it has become a power that obstructs change and renaissance, so badly needed now. India needs to unveil a new core or nucleus, one that is born of true unity, the unity that is the expression of the oneness of spirit and matter. For this, the quest has to be Earth-oriented and no longer otherworldly.

In the VISHAAL Newsletter of December, 1985, I mentioned the work of the neuroscientist, Roger Sperry, who is presently channeling his energy into what he calls the formulation of a new ethic. But he feels that science is the answer, and only through scientific methods – suitably enhanced or modified for the purpose – can any unifying force manifest in the world and halt the decay he is so conscious of, a decline that is precipitating us to our doom. Sperry insists that religion cannot provide this new ethic, nor mysticism, precisely because he understands that they are oriented to a beyond. In his book, Science and Moral Priority (Praeger 1985), he writes:  ‘Today’s conditions call for long-term, biospheric perspectives in which this world is conceived to be more than merely a way station to something better beyond.’ (page 23)

This brief passage reflects a trend in increasing evidence among the world’s intelligentsia. But thinkers such as Sperry or Josephson are well aware that science as it is now cannot provide the new poise that is required for this great transition. Indeed, what is interesting to note is that when they come to the point where their interests turn to the more spiritual needs of the human being, realising the impossible impasse we have reached as a civilisation, they invariably look into more mystical areas in the effort to find a solution. Or, like Sperry, they seek to introduce a new element into the old, a new scientific approach that can somehow accommodate this hitherto disregarded aspect of life. Sperry, as the above passage from his book reveals, is fully aware that any system which does not reorient itself toward a ‘this-world’ quest for truth is hopelessly doomed to failure. And with this – notwithstanding certain reservations which I shall discuss anon – we can agree.

Yet the gurus with their teachings are not equipped to deal with this situation. Hence they all succumb to the prevailing consciousness, in a sort of ‘If you can’t beat them, join them’ attitude. What has been clearly overlooked is that a new way is needed to deal with the problem by effectively providing an entirely new Formula. And this is what the revelation of Supermind is: a newly manifested Power that can introduce real change, because it is a truth-consciousness poised on a completely different foundation from the old ways of the spirit, eastern or western.

This is apparent if we consider the aim of Sri Aurobindo’s work, the Earth-oriented nature of the quest, the goal of a life divine upon Earth. It is evident that in order to accomplish such a thing, a new way has to arise, equipped to deal with the strenuous demands made upon those of us who have become pioneers on this trail-blazing gnostic way, in which the truths of both spirit and matter find their rightful and complementary places.

The old spirituality has sought to convince the West with its technological consciousness that it must give up its materialistic bent in favour of a vision of reality in which forms of matter are seen to be intrinsically unreal. The only truth, they exclaim, is the Spirit, or the Self. And this is of course otherworldly. But the bold materialist consciousness is not so easily convinced, insofar as daily extraordinary breakthroughs are made in science and technology that indicate an increasing power to control those ‘unreal’ substances for the benefit – or detriment, if you will – of the human species. No amount of preaching the illusion of the world, in whatever of its overt or camouflaged forms, will convince the hard-core materialist that otherworldly spirituality is the answer to our woes. Rather, the scientific mind perceives that precisely such escapist attitudes have left us with no other choice but to accept a dichotomy between the two, spirit and matter, one pitted against the other.

After studying Roger Sperry’s work, its limitations become rather evident. Though he perceives or desires an upward trend in evolution to better and more noble expressions, his limited understanding of the human instrument undermines his efforts. The very fact that he places mind at the summit of being is one drawback. It obstructs a fuller vision and hence closes him to the numerous dimensions of consciousness that influence the human being and work through both body and mind. Added to this is his insistence that mind emerges from the instrument’s constituent parts, from which it cannot be separated. He stresses this point in an effort to discourage others from using his ideas to support the contention that there is an indwelling, immortal spirit, not dependent for its survival upon the life of the body. For Sperry, this sort of postulation lies at the root of the otherworldly syndrome he constantly decries.

However, a view of this order closes out the true vision, the integral poise and nature of the instrument, and hence it defeats its own purpose. Though Sperry seeks to reinstate what he considers to be the subjective reality by offering a certain legitimacy to the inner experience via his lofty concept of mind over matter, nonetheless he is closed to certain aspects of that subjective experience which would clearly demonstrate to him the fact that one may very well experience a Reality, a Presence, a Consciousness disengaged from the body and not dependent upon it at all. He ought to realise, furthermore, that it is this very fact that has sustained the otherworldly emphasis for so many millennia. As well, scores of people have had genuine out-of-the-body experiences. For the most part these are experiences in which the vital sheath slips out of the physical body and journeys on its own, fully conscious of what it is experiencing and able to provide a faithful description of those experiences when back in the physical. In many cases, the subject stands beside his sleeping body and thereafter can give a detailed account of what transpired in the room and around his sleeping frame. By an a priori refusal to accept such experiences, scientists like Sperry do little to further their aim of introducing a more holistic approach to life and consciousness.

Roger Sperry’s work offers the most striking example of the constrictions a mental attempt to reorder society imposes. His emphasis is pre-eminently on remodelling science so that it can be made to serve as the overseer in the introduction of ‘a new ethic’. According to Sperry this can only take place within the scientific framework. But the modified science he wishes to introduce is as impotent as the old science, – or the old spirituality, for that matter. It is limited in its perspective to the material strata and barely the surfacemost of those ‘inner’ dimensions. What is revealed is an appalling lack of knowledge concerning the real and integral causal role of consciousness, or even its very nature. The entire effort centres on mind and in fact barely touches the more all-encompassing truths of Consciousness. To further confuse the issue, the activity of consciousness is mistaken for the mental functions, or vice versa. When there is such a total disregard for the undeniable truths of the spiritual experience, when these are dismissed as merely quirks of an immature, undeveloped mind and psyche as yet closed to the higher redeeming light of Science, how can the true change come about that will relieve us of the narrowness that cages us in as a species? These attitudes reflect the customary pompousness of an inflated mental instrument, a mind in love with its meagre light, of which the individual submerged in Science is usually the victim. Rather, salvation can only come by a true widening, by which the truths of both spirit and matter are known. To seek to eschew the undeniable spiritual and occult experiences (called mystical and parapsychological by Sperry) of scores of people throughout the ages in favour of a one-dimensional, narrow and uninspiring concentration on the physical/mental strata solely, is, to say the least, a more presumptuous form of bigotry.

In another of his letters, Sri Aurobindo makes clear the distinction that is paramount in this matter, the line he draws between the change that can be brought about on the basis of traditional spirituality, in contrast to the ‘supramental transformation’ his work has introduced. This distinction is essential to understand because in it lays the answer we seek concerning the failure of the efforts of countless Indian gurus to alter the patterns of evolution in any significant way and thus deter us from the apparent collision course we are on. The supramental transformation, as Sri Aurobindo points out, engages the outer nature of the aspirant in the process of change along with the inner and spiritual dimensions of the being. This is its notable difference. And it is especially because of this that the Supermind can bring about a real and effective change on Earth, since it embraces the totality of the being and the surrounding circumstances of life in the operation.

‘If spiritual and supramental were the same thing, as you say my readers imagine, then all the sages and devotees and Yogis and Sadhaks throughout the ages would have been supramental beings and all I have written about the Supermind would be so much superfluous stuff, useless and otiose. Anybody who had spiritual experiences would then be a supramental being; the Ashram would be chock-full of supramental beings and every other Ashram in India also. Spiritual experiences can fix themselves in the inner consciousness and alter it, transform it, if you like; one can realise the Divine everywhere, the Self in all and all in the Self, the universal Shakti doing all things; one can feel merged in the Cosmic Self or full of ecstatic Bhakti or Ananda. But one may and usually does still go on in the outer parts of Nature thinking with the intellect or at best the intuitive mind, willing with a mental will, feeling joy and sorrow on the vital surface, undergoing physical afflictions and suffering from the struggle of life in the body with death and disease. The change then only will be that the inner self will watch all that without getting disturbed or bewildered, with a perfect equality, taking it as an inevitable part of Nature, inevitable at least so long as one does not withdraw to the Self out of Nature. That is not the transformation I envisage. It is quite another power of knowledge, another kind of will, another luminous nature of emotion and aesthesis, another constitution of the physical consciousness that must come in by the supramental change.’ 

(Ibid, pages 111-112)

The key here is the emphasis on a new development in a world hitherto thought to have reached the summit of the spiritual pursuit, in which the integral scope of the endeavour permits the practitioner of the Yoga to withstand a certain impact – if it may be so called – on the inner dimensions from the powers contained in the more external strata. Until now, the only way to withstand this overpowering onslaught has been by a withdrawal of the consciousness. Thus when the propagators of Eastern mysticism and spirituality voyage to the West and seek to confront that power in its own domain, so to speak, with the old formula of withdrawal, the result is either a complete or partial degeneration of the teachings, or else a submission to the lures the materialist world offers in abundance. In this neither spirit nor matter is the victor. The truth is rather that they end by destroying or at best weakening each other through a process of either top dog bullying or underdog undermining, to use a current description of western psychology.

The truth of the Spirit, upholder of this material manifestation, is an eternal unfolding of Itself into the myriad forms of our universe, – like  a rose that from a perfectly formed bud blossoms into its full and ravishing beauty, each stage in its flowering being as perfect as the former. And yet something increases, something is added by this unfolding of an ever-perfect splendour. Our experience of God is like the blossoming rose – a perfection to an ever greater perfection, never static, ever dynamic, as Truth always discloses more sublime aspects of itself.

This is the essence of Being, Sat of the Hindu tradition. Sat, pure existence is the absolute Truth, the infinitesimal Seed at the core of material creation. It is not religious dogma, so often called absolute truth by the zealots. Dogma is not being and hence can never be an absolute. But a rose engaged in the becoming of perfect and increasingly perfect form, is expressing that state of Being – that absoluteness. Even in its withering it never loses the grace of its essential and spontaneous perfection of being.

On this foundation we must build the bridge that unites East and West: on the solid rock of an eternal but ever unfolding, integral Truth.

Thea (Patrizia Norelli-Bachelet)
February, 1986