Guiding Light of The Month

In this immense heroic struggle, in this sublime struggle of love against hatred, of justice against injustice, of obedience to Thy supreme law against revolt, may I gradually be able to make humanity worthy of a still sublimer peace in which, all internal dissensions having ceased, the whole effort of man may be united for the attainment of a more and more perfect and integral realisation of Thy divine Will and Thy progressive ideal. - The Mother

Meditation on The Mother’s Symbol – A personal experience

(The word symbol comes from the Greek symbolon, which means contract. In its original meaning the symbol represented a greater whole by means of a part. The part guaranteed the presence of the whole.)*

Our contemporary world has lost much of the original meaning, so it is important to remember that the Mother’s symbol is more than just a beautiful design. Chosen by herself, it is already a part of herself, half of a Truth that promises the fullness of Truth to the seeker who is sincere. This I have known for a long time, and yet have never thought to mediate upon the symbolic image of a lotus in full bloom now lying on the table in front of me. Was it fear that held me back – the fear of being found wanting? I make a conscious effort to dismiss these thoughts, and with a silent mind prepare to receive whatever comes. I decide to make a record of it, because too often, when the mind returns to its usual preoccupation with immediate surroundings, insights and glimpses that occur in a state of meditation vanish like a dream.

I am looking at a beautiful representation of the symbol in which the twelve outer petals of the lotus are pictured in full colour. My eyes are immediately drawn to these colours and the named qualities associated with them: the red and orange shades of Courage, Progress and Receptivity; the yellow and golden tones of Aspiration and Perseverance merging into the light green of Gratitude; a darker green Humility becoming Sincerity’s blue and deepening into Peace; the purple of a spiritual Equality embracing the violet and magenta of Generosity and Goodness. I understand that wherever these qualities are found, the Mother’s presence is also there. But why these and no others? The mental consciousness will not be silent, loudly asserting its right to know! Why is Patience not here, though greatly valued by the Mother - we are told that she often wore a bracelet of ‘patience’ flowers around her wrist – and where is Humour, so highly prized by Sri Aurobindo himself? I push these questions aside, knowing that answers will come when I am ready to receive them. I begin to meditate on the relationship between the colours and the human qualities assigned to them.

In no time at all, it seems, I am inside the Mother’s room in the Ashram. I am very conscious of everything that is happening around me. Huta is there with one of her paintings and the Mother is giving her a lesson. She leans forward and says: ‘You see, these colours are lights.’ Of course they are! Suddenly the petals of the lotus are radiant like gemstones and I see them as delegated powers of the One Light. In a moment my consciousness becomes flooded with images from ages past when rich jewels adorned the breastplates of priests and the crowns and regalia of kings, prized not for their rarity and value but because they signified contact with the gods or a sign of their favour.

My gaze moves to the centre of the lotus and the four white heart-shaped petals. These symbolize the manifesting Powers to which Indian tradition has given the names Mahakali, Mahalakshmi, Maheshwari and Mahasaraswati. It is they, emerging from Shunya (the void) who preside over the evolution of the Earth. In imagination I separate the petals and pile them one on top of the other – there is no overlap. They too are One Light, and each contains the ‘wholeness’ of all the others. Gradually I find myself surrendering the power of thought to the power of imagination. I become aware of the ‘void’, represented by a tiny circle. (In reality it is not a void, but so-called because no human mind can comprehend its nature.)

All my attention is now fixed upon that little space, and I want to pass through it, to know what is on the other side. For a long time no thought or image arises but eventually words come up as if from a storehouse of memory: “(He) entered where Wings of Glory brood / In the sunlit space where all is forever known”. These evocative lines from ‘Savitri’ remind me of Sri Aurobindo’s quest and his vision of an integral Yoga for the transformation of the world. Only the soul or the perfected psychic being can pass through the eternal gates – the untransformed mental, vital and physical consciousness would be forced to abdicate in the intensity of the Light. They would be left behind and the world would continue to exist in the old way under the yoke of the powers of falsehood and death. A sudden longing rises in my heart for the rainbow coloursof the Lotus wheel, symbols of the path of transformation that is the Mother’s work.

But now I no longer need the printed picture. The lotus lives in the inner eye of imagination where it has a life and a vitality of its own: no longer an outline, an abstraction.  The one we call the Mother is a force in action and her symbol, no more ‘abstract’ than the telephone number of a friend, can be a means of making contact with a living Presence. The image of an old fashioned telephone with itscircular numbered dial intrudes upon my meditation and I smile at the thought of telephoning the Mother.

A finger of imagination touches the blue of a cloudless sky that the Mother has named Sincerity. The origin of this word goes back to antiquity, to a Latin phrase meaning “without wax.” It refers to the common practice of disguising faults and cracks in the marble used by sculptors by filling them in with wax, so that when painted over the flawed statue would appear to be perfect. The Mother called Sincerity above all ‘the transforming power’ and perhaps it is the most difficult of all the qualities for our human nature to sustain.

The colourful ring begins to turn – slowly at first, then faster and faster until the colours run together. The black lines separating the lotus petals disappear to reveal a brilliant rainbow of light in which every possible shade and variation of colour is contained. No longer can the qualities represented by those colours be separated in an arbitrary way. Perseverance embraces Patience, and a Humour that can laugh at self and smile in the face of adversity goes hand in hand with Courage. The lotus wheel continues to spin until finally there is only the blinding white light of the Mother – her diamond light.

“Rose of God, damask force of Infinity, red icon of might,
Rose of power with thy diamond halo piercing the night!
Ablaze in the will of the mortal, design the wonder of thy plan
Image of immortality, outbreak of the Godhead in man.”

How can it be that I have read Sri Aurobindo’s wonderful poem so many times, talked about it, written about it –always without seeing its intimate connection with the inner meaning of the Mother’s symbol? How could I not have recognized a mystical truth uniting the wheel of refracted colour as a symbol of earthly life and Sri Aurobindo’s “Rose of life, crowded with petals, colour’s lyre!”?  Meditating on these two symbols, the lotus and the rose, I see both arising from the shared consciousness of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother.

Memory takes me back many years to find myself once again in Singapore on a Sunday evening, listening to Mrs. Dhana read the opening words of the Mother’s prayer:

“My aspiration to Thee, O Lord, has taken the form of a beautiful rose, harmonious, full in bloom, rich in fragrance. I stretch it out to Thee with both arms in a gesture of offering and I ask of Thee: if my understanding is limited, widen it; if my knowledge is obscure, enlighten it; if my heart is empty of ardour, set it aflame; if my love is insignificant and egoistic, make it intense; if my feelings are ignorant and egoistic, give them the full consciousness in the Truth.”
(Prayers and Meditations 25.10.14)

It is a prayer I know very well and though I used to listen with love and admiration, I somehow never thought to make this prayer my own. And now at last I see this Rose not simply as an image of the Mother’s own aspiration, but as the special gift she was offering to everyone seated there in that room. Perhaps this is why meditation on a lotus turned into another chance to accept, with infinite gratitude, the gift of a rose. One could not wish for a greater blessing.

(*The definition of the word ‘symbol’ is taken from an article in Encyclopaedia Britannica)

-          Sonia Dyne

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