Guiding Light of The Month

THERE is a great difference between being in the midst of active work, of external action, while keeping one’s thought constantly fixed on Thee, and entering into that perfect union with Thee which leads to what I have called “absolute Consciousness, true Omniscience, Knowledge”. - The Mother

The Meeting

"I came here…. But something in me wanted to meet Sri Aurobindo all alone the first time. Richard went to him in the morning and I had an appointment for the afternoon. He was living in the house that's now part of the second dormitory, the old Guest House. I climbed up the stairway and he was standing there, waiting for me at the top of the stairs….EXACTLY my vision! Dressed the same way, in the same position, in profile, his head held high. He turned his head towards me…and I saw in his eyes that it was He. The two things clicked (gesture of instantaneous shock), the inner experience immediately became one with the outer experience and there was fusion—the decisive shock."

- The Mother, 20th December 1961.

On 29 March 1914, the very day they arrived in Pondicherry from France, Mirra and Paul Richard met Sri Aurobindo in the afternoon at 3.30. They were received at the top of the stairs that led up to the upstairs verandah. The moment Mirra had so ardently looked forward to had arrived at last, and there was a blaze of instantaneous recognition. Sri Aurobindo was clearly the Master of her occult life, the "Krishna" she had met so often in her dream-experiences. Their first meeting and the current of feelings that may have gone through them are echoed in these lines of Savitri:

Here first she met on the uncertain earth
The one for whom her heart had come so far.
Attracted as in heaven star by star,
They wondered at each other and rejoiced
And wove affinity in a silent gaze.
A moment passed that was eternity's ray,
An hour began, the matrix of new Time.

There was hardly any conversation between them; indeed, there was no need. In K.D. Sethna's words:

“Before meeting Sri Aurobindo she used to find for her various spiritual experiences and realisations a poise for life-work by giving them a mould with the enlightened mind. All kinds of powerful ideas she had for world­upliftment - ideas artistic, social, religious. At the sight of Sri Aurobindo she aspired to a total cessation of all mental moulds. She did not speak a word nor did he: she just sat at his feet and closed her eyes, keeping her mind open to him. Aftera while there came, from above, an infinite silence that settled in her mind. Everything was gone, all those fine and great ideas vanished and there was only a vacant imperturbable waiting for what was beyond mind.”

There is also the report by Nolini Kanta Gupta about the Mother:

“The first time Sri Aurobindo happened to describe her qualities, he said he had never seen anywhere a self-surrender so absolute and unreserved. He had added a comment that perhaps it was only women who were capable of giving themselves so entirely and with such sovereign ease. This implies a complete obliteration of the past, erasing it with its virtues and faults .... When she came here, she gave herself up to the Lord, Sri Aurobindo, with the candid simplicity of a child, after erasing from herself all her past, all her spiritual attainments, all the riches of her consciousness. Like a new­born babe, she felt she possessed nothing, she was to learn everything right from the start, as if she had known or heard about nothing.”

Her own recollection of the meeting, sixteen years after, was significant:

“When I first met Sri Aurobindo in Pondicherry, I was in deep concentration, seeing things in the Supermind, things that were to be but which were somehow not manifesting. I told Sri Aurobindo what I had seen and asked him if they would manifest. He simply said, "Yes." And immediately I saw that the Supramental had touched the earth and was beginning to be realised! This was the first time I had witnessed the power to make real what is true.”

It is probable that it was at one of the early meetings that Mirra asked her question about Samadhi, to which she was to refer forty years later:

“When I came here, one of my first questions to Sri Aurobindo was: "What do you think of samadhi, that state of trance one does not remember? One enters into a condition which seems blissful, but when one comes out of it, one does not know at all what has happened." Then he looked at me, saw what I meant and told me, "It is unconsciousness." I asked him for an explanation .... He told me, "Yes, you enter into what is called samadhi when you go out of your conscious being and enter a part of your being which is completely unconscious, or rather a domain where you have no corresponding consciousness... a region where you are no longer conscious ... that is why, naturally, you remember nothing .... " So this reassured me and I said, "Well, this has never happened to me." He replied, "Nor to me". ”

It may be presumed, then, that when Sri Aurobindo and Mirra met on 29 March 1914, what passed between them was rather more of a wordless communion than any formal or detailed conversation. Writing with the available hindsight, K.D. Sethna comments on it as follows:

“The meeting of the two represents the coming together of the necessary creative powers by whom a new age would be born. And it is to be noted that both Sri Aurobindo and the Mother had been pursuing the inner life on essentially identical lines which would unite Spirit and Matter. So their joining of forces was the most natural thing. And it was not only a doubling of strengths but also a linking of complementaries. Sri Aurobindo's main movement of consciousness may be said to have been an immense Knowledge-Power from above the mind, though whatever was necessary for an integral spirituality was also there in one form or another. The Mother's chief movement may be said to have been an intense Love-Power from behind the heart, even if all else needed for an all-round Yoga was present as a ready accessory. When she and Sri Aurobindo met, they completed each other, brought fully into play the spiritual energies in both and started the work of total earth-transformation from high above and deep within.”

If Sri Aurobindo was an embodiment of the East-West synthesis and contained within himself "the multi-dimensional spiritual consciousness of India", Mirra was the finest flower of European culture with deep spiritual filiations with India and the East as also with Africa, and she incarnated "a practical genius of a rare order, with powers of wide yet precise organisation". Little wonder that they completed, when they met at last as if by divine dispensation, "the entire circle of the higher human activities" and were "supremely fitted to bring the East and the West together and, blending them, lead to a common all-consummating goal". But all this marvellous possibility was only for the yet hidden future. In the immediate context, however, the one supreme gain was the mere fact of the coming together of two rare spiritual powers and personalities, each feeling vastly strengthened by the other. The Richards returned to their hotel in a condition of calm fulfilment and with a hope of exciting new possibilities. Mirra could withdraw into herself, assess the new turn in her life, and re dedicate herself to the Divine. Her deep-felt feelings found memorable expression in her diary-entry for 30 March 1914:

Gradually the horizon becomes distinct, the path grows clear, and we move towards a greater and greater certitude.

It matters little that there are thousands of beings plunged in the densest ignorance, He whom we saw yesterday is on earth; his presence is enough to prove that a day will come when darkness shall be transformed into light, and Thy reign shall be indeed established upon earth.

O Lord, Divine Builder of this marvel, my heart overflows with joy and gratitude when I think of it, and my hope has no bounds.

My adoration is beyond all words, my reverence is silent.

She had found in Sri Aurobindo a being who had "attained the perfect consciousness" and become integrally one of "Thy servitors", and it had seemed to her that she was "still far, very far from what I yearn to realise". But she was happy that a new Dawn in her life had arrived, and would now take her to the beckoning Noon. She recorded on 1 April:

A great joy, a deep peace reign in me, and yet all my inner constructions have vanished like a vain dream and I find myself now, before Thy immensity, without a frame or system, like a being not yet individualised. All the past in its external form seems ridiculously arbitrary to me, and yet I know it was useful in its own time.

But now all is changed: a new stage has begun.

The stress is on the new - the new bearings - the new orientations - the new alignment of forces in the service of the Divine. The old is not altogether annulled or annihilated; like organic filaments, they are but to be melted and moulded into the new instruments. The day has ended, the day has begun. In my beginning is my end; in my end is my beginning!

Thus Mirra in her meditation on the morning of 2 April:

Every day, when I want to write, I am interrupted, as though the new period opening now before us were a period of expansion rather than of concentration.

And on the next day:

It seems to me that I am being born to a new life and all the methods, the habits of the past can no longer be of any use. It seems to me that what I thought were results is nothing more than a preparation .... It is as though I were stripped of my entire past, of its errors as well as its conquests, as though all that has vanished and made room for a new-born child whose whole existence is yet to be lived ....

An immense gratitude rises from my heart, it seems to me that I have at last reached the threshold I sought so much.

These diary-entries only corroborate Nolini's and Sethna's remarks quoted earlier: Mirra's absolute and unreserved surrender really meant “a complete obliteration of the past", and instead "an infinite silence settled in her mind".

(‘On The Mother’, Chapter 6 – “The Meeting”, K.R. Srinivasa Iyengar, Sri Aurobindo Society, Pondicherry)

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