On Accidents (HH 223)

A Talk by Alok Pandey from the “Tuesday Talks” series (AUDIO)


Accidents are a major source of suffering which one feels were quite avoidable. While one has to tackle this at different levels and find ways and means to reduce accidents, there is always something that we can do from our side to diminish its possibility and also the after-effects. This is the subject of today’s reading.


Words of the Mother

What are the causes of accidents? Are they due to a disequilibrium?

If one answers deeply… Outwardly there are many causes, but there is a deeper cause which is always there. I said the other day that if the nervous envelope is intact, accidents can be avoided, and even if there is an accident it won’t have any consequences. As soon as there is a scratch or a defect in the nervous envelope of the being and according to the nature of this scratch, if one may say so, its place, its character, there will be an accident which will correspond to the diminution of resistance in the envelope. I believe almost everybody is psychologically aware of one thing: that accidents occur when one has a sort of uncomfortable feeling, when one is not fully conscious and self-possessed, when one feels uneasy. In any case, generally, people have a feeling that they are not fully themselves, not fully aware of what they are doing. If one were fully conscious, the consciousness wide awake, accidents would not occur; one would make just the right gesture, the necessary movement to avoid the accident. Hence, in an almost absolute way, it is a flagging of consciousness. Or quite possibly it may be that the consciousness is fixed in a higher domain; for example, not to speak of spiritual things, a man who is busy solving a mental problem and is very concentrated upon his mental problem, becomes inattentive to physical things, and if he happens to be in a street or in a crowd, his attention fixed upon his problem, he will not make the movement necessary to avoid the accident, and the accident will occur. It is the same for sports, for games; you can observe this easily, there is always a flagging of the consciousness when accidents occur, or a lack of attention, a little absent-mindedness; suddenly one thinks of something else, the attention is drawn elsewhere—one is not fully conscious of what one is doing and the accident happens.

As I was telling you at the beginning, if for some reason or other—for example, lack of sleep, lack of rest or an absorbing preoccupation or all sorts of things which tire you, that is to say, when you are not above them—if the vital envelope is a little damaged, it does not function perfectly and any current of force whatever which passes through is enough to produce an accident. In the final analysis, the accident comes always from that, it is what one may call inattentiveness or a slackening of consciousness. There are days when one feels quite… not exactly uneasy, but as though one were trying to catch something which escapes, one can’t hold together, one is as though half-diluted; these are the days of accidents. You must be attentive. Naturally, this is not to tell you to shut yourself up in your room and not to stir out when you feel like that! This is not what I mean. Rather I mean that you must watch all the more attentively, be all the more on your guard, not allow, precisely, this inattentiveness, this slackening of consciousness to come in.

[CWM 4: 272-274]

* * *

July 21, 1958

Human beings don’t know how to keep energy. When something happens – an accident or an illness, for example – and they ask for help, a double or a triple dose of energy is sent. If they happen to be receptive, they receive it. This energy is given for two reasons: to restore order out of the disorder caused by the accident or illness, and to impart a transformative force to repair or change the source of the illness or accident.

But instead of using the energy in this way, they immediately throw it out. They start stirring about, reacting, working, speaking … They feel full of energy and they throw it all out! They can’t keep anything. So naturally, since the energy was not sent to be wasted like that but for an inner use, they feel absolutely flat, run down. And it is universal. They don’t know, they do not know how to make this movement – to turn within, to use the energy (not to keep it, it doesn’t keep), to use it to repair the damage done to the body and to go deeply within to find the reason for this accident or illness, and there to change it by an aspiration, an inner transformation. Instead of that, right away they start speaking, stirring about, reacting, doing this or that!

In fact, the immense majority of human beings feel they are living only when they waste their energy. Otherwise, it does not seem to them to be life.

Not to waste energy means to utilize it towards the ends for which it was given. If energy is given for the transformation, for the sublimation of the being, it must be used for that; if energy is given to restore something that has been disrupted in the body, it must be used for that.

Naturally, if a special work is given to someone along with the energy to do this work, it’s very good as long as it is being used towards the end for which it was given.

But as soon as a man feels energetic, he immediately rushes into action. Or else, those who don’t have the sense of doing something useful start gossiping. And still worse, those who have no control over themselves become intolerant and start arguing! If someone contradicts their will, they feel full of energy and they mistake that for a ‘godlike wrath’!

* * *

September 16, 1958

… I am in favor of a short mantra, especially if you want to make both numerous and spontaneous repetitions – one or two words, three at most. Because you must be able to use them in all cases, when an accident is about to happen, for example. It has to spring up without thinking, without calling: it should issue forth from the being spontaneously, like a reflex, exactly like a reflex. Then the mantra has its full force.

For me, on the days when I have no special preoccupations or difficulties (days I could call normal, when I am normal), everything I do, all the movements of this body, all, all the words I utter, all the gestures I make, are accompanied and upheld by or lined, as it were, with this mantra:

OM NAMO BHAGAVATEH … OM NAMO BHAGAVATEH …

all, all the time, all the time, all the time.

That is the normal state. It creates an atmosphere of an intensity almost more material than the subtle physical; it’s like … almost like the phosphorescent radiations from a medium. And it has a great action, a very great action: it can prevent an accident. And it accompanies you all the time, all the time.

But it is up to you to know what you want to do with it.

* * *

September 20, 1960

… I was watching all this sugar cane – piles of sugar cane – which is thrown into the machine, and then it travels along and falls down to be crushed, crushed, and crushed some more. And then it comes back up to be distilled. And then I saw … all this is living when it’s thrown in, you see, it’s full of its vital force, for it has just been cut. As a result, the vital force is suddenly hurled out of the substance with an extreme violence – the vital force comes out … the English word angry is quite expressive of what I mean – like a snarling dog. An angry force.

So I saw this – I saw it moving about. And it kept coming and coming and coming, accumulating, piling up (they work 24 hours a day, six days a week – only on the seventh do they rest). So I thought that this angry force must have some effect on the people – who knows, maybe this is what creates accidents. For I could see that once the sugar cane was fully crushed and had gone back up the chute, this force that had been beaten out was right there. And this worried me a little; I thought that there must be a certain danger in doing such a thing! … What saves them is their ignorance and their insensitivity. But Indians are never entirely insensitive in the way Westerners are – they are much more open in their subconscious.

I didn’t speak of it to anyone, but it caused me some concern. And just the next day the machine broke down! When I was informed, immediately I thought … It was then repaired, and again it broke down – three times. Then the following night, just before ten o’clock … I should mention that during the day I had thought, ‘But why not attract these forces to our side, take them and satisfy them, give them some peace and joy and use them?’ I thought about it, concentrated a little, but then I didn’t bother any further. At ten o’clock that evening, they came upon me – in a flood! They kept coming and coming. And I was busy with them the whole time. They were not ugly (not so luminous either! ), they were wholesome, straightforward – honest forces. So I worked on them. This began exactly at 9:30, and for one hour I was busy working. After an hour, I’d had enough: ‘Listen, this is quite fine, you’re very nice, but I can’t spend all my time like this! We shall see what to do later’ – for it absorbed my whole consciousness. They kept coming and coming (you understand what that means to a body?!). So at 10:30 I told them, ‘Listen, my little ones, be quiet now, that’s enough for today …’ At 10:30, the machine broke down!

I found out, of course, because they log everything at the factory, so when they came to inform me of the breakdown the next morning, I asked them what time it had happened – exactly 10:30.

After that, I made a kind of pact with them – the trouble, you see, is that there are constantly new ones. If only they were the same! They are constantly coming in new floods, so there was the need of a permanent formation over there. I’ve tried to make this permanent formation, to take and absorb them, to calm them down and scatter them a little so they don’t accumulate in one spot, which in the end could be dangerous.

I found this quite amusing.

The most recent incident took place a few days ago, for there was a general excitement in the factory due to the expected visit of a government minister during the day. That afternoon, exactly at half past three, I felt that I had to make a little concentration. So I paid attention and saw poor L’ praying to me. He was praying, praying, calling me – such a strong call that it pulled me. I was having my bath (you know what happens when I’m very strongly pulled – I’m stopped right in the very midst of a gesture, then the consciousness goes wandering off! And I can’t do anything, it stops me dead. That’s exactly what happened to me in the bathroom). When I saw what was happening, I straightened things out. Then they must have had their ceremony, for suddenly I felt, ‘Ah, now it has calmed down, it’s all right.’ And I went on to something else.

The next day, L came to see me. He told me that shortly before 3:30, the machine had stopped once again, but this time it was quickly set right; they found out right away what had to be done. And then he told me that at 3:45 he had started praying to me that all should go well. ‘Oh, I know!’ I said.

Things can be done in this way. In truth, a lot can be done – it’s man’s ignorance that gets him in trouble.

* * *

December 13, 1960

During these last days, I was face to face with a problem as old as the world which had taken on an extraordinary intensity.

It’s what Sri Aurobindo calls disbelief, and it’s located in the most material physical consciousness – it isn’t doubt (which mainly belongs to the mind), it is almost like a refusal to accept the obvious as soon as it doesn’t belong to the little daily routine of ordinary sensations and reactions – a sort of incapacity to accept and recognize the exceptional.

This disbelief is the bedrock of the consciousness. And it comes with a … (‘thought’ is too big a word for such an ordinary thing) a mental-physical activity which makes you … (I am forced to use the word) ‘think’ things and which always foresees, imagines or draws conclusions (depending on the case) in a way which I myself call DEFEATIST. In other words, it automatically leads you to imagine all the bad things that can happen. And this occurs in a realm which is absolutely run-of-the-mill, in the most ordinary, restricted, banal activities of life – such as eating, moving … in short, the coarsest of things.

It’s fairly easy to manage and control this in the realm of thought, but when it comes to those reactions that rise up from the very bottom … they’re so petty that you can barely express them to yourself. For example, if someone mentions that so-and-so ate such-and-such a thing, immediately something somewhere starts stealing in: ‘Ah, he’s going to get a stomach-ache!’ Or you hear that someone is going somewhere – ‘Oh, he’s going to have an accident!’ … And it applies to everything; it’s swarming down below. Nothing to do with thought as such!

It’s quite a nasty habit, for it keeps the most material state in a condition of disharmony, disorder, ugliness and difficulty.

I tried every possible way … To get out of it is relatively easy. But then it doesn’t change.

The problem appeared again to me very intensely when I read Sri Aurobindo’s The Yoga of Self-Perfection. I was confronted with a whole formidable world to be transformed – to transform what is already luminous is quite easy, but to transform that! … ugh – this stuff of life, so low and so coarse, so ordinary … it’s much more difficult.’

For the last several days, I’ve been at grips fighting with it. How can I stop this idiotic, coarse and above all defeatist automatism from constantly manifesting? It’s truly an automatism; it doesn’t respond to any conscious will, nothing. So what will it take to … ? And it’s QUITE INTIMATELY related to the body’s illnesses (the old habits the body has of coming out of its rhythmic movement, of entering into confusion) – the two things are very intimately linked…..

Then comes what Theon called the ‘nervous sub-level,’ which lies between this subtle physical and the vital. And it acts as a protection: if it is stable, harmonious and strong, it protects you – it protects you even physically – from contagious diseases, for instance, and even from accidents. I experienced it when I was living at Val-de-Grâce. It was the year I resolved to attain union with the psychic being and I was concentrated on this from morning to night and night to morning. Every day I spent some time in the Luxembourg Gardens. They were right near the house, but to get there I had to go all the way down Rue du Val-de-Grâce and cross Boulevard Saint Michel, where there were streetcars, automobiles, buses – the whole circus. I would remain in my concentration the whole time, and once, while crossing the boulevard, I felt a shock about this far from my body [slightly more than arm’s length], so spontaneously I jumped back – just enough for the streetcar to pass by. I hadn’t heard anything; I was totally absorbed, and without that warning I would surely have been run over; instead, I jumped back just in time, and the streetcar sped by. I understood then that this nervous sheath was something entirely concrete, because what I had felt was not an idea of danger but a shock – a material SHOCK.

So it’s true that as long as this envelope is strong and undamaged, you are protected. But for instance, if you are over-tired or worried or flustered – anything that brings disorder into the atmosphere seems to make holes in this envelope, and all kinds of things can enter.

* * *

February 27, 1962

I’m tempted to ask one question…. Once events are already prepared in the subtle physical and one sees them, is it too late to alter their course? Can one still act?

There’s one very interesting example I always give. The man involved told me about it himself. A long time ago (you must have been a baby), every day the newspaper Le Matin published a small cartoon of a boy dressed like a lift attendant (he told me the story in English), or a sort of bellboy, pointing with his finger to the date or whatever. This man was traveling and staying at a big hotel in some city (I don’t remember which), a big city. And he told me that one night or early one morning he had a dream: he saw this bellboy showing him a hearse (you know, what they use in Europe for taking people to the cemetery) and inviting him to step inside! He saw that. And when he got ready that morning and left his room (which was on the top floor) there on the landing was … the same boy, identically dressed, inviting him to go down in the elevator. It gave him a shock. He refused: “No, thanks!” The elevator fell to the ground. It was smashed to pieces, and the people inside were all killed.

After this, he said, he believed in dreams!

It was a vision. He saw the bellboy, but instead of the elevator, the boy showed him his hearse. Then, when he saw the same boy making the very same gesture (really just like the cartoon), he said, “No, thanks! I’ll walk down.” And the elevator (a hydraulic one) broke. It crashed down, crushing all those inside it.

He asked me about it and my explanation was that an entity had forewarned him. The image of the bellboy indicates an intelligent, conscious intermediary – it doesn’t seem to come from the man’s subconscient.58 Or else he had seen it in the subtle physical and his subconscient knew – but then why did it present him with such an image? I don’t know. Perhaps something in his subconscient knew, because the accident already existed in the subtle physical. Before it occurred here, the accident – “the law of the accident” – existed.

Of course, in every case there is invariably a time-lag, sometimes a few hours (that’s the maximum), sometimes a few seconds. Quite frequently things announce their presence, but to come in contact with your consciousness, it may take them a couple of minutes or just seconds. I am constantly, constantly aware of what’s going to happen – utterly uninteresting things, as a matter of fact; knowing them in advance changes nothing. But they exist all around us, and with a wide enough consciousness we can know it all. For example, I know that so and so is going to bring me a parcel, that someone is about to come, and so forth. And it’s like this every day. Because my consciousness is spread far and wide – it comes into contact with things.

But the thing already exists, so it can’t be called a premonition; it’s just that to come true for us it needs a few seconds to make contact with our senses, because a door or a wall or something prevents us from seeing it.

I’ve had many such experiences. Once I was walking along a mountain path wide enough only for one: on one side, a precipice, on the other, sheer rock. Three children were behind me and a fourth person brought up the rear. I was in the lead. The path skirted the rock so you couldn’t see what lay ahead. It was quite dangerous, besides: one slip and you fell off the cliff. I was walking in front when suddenly, with other eyes than these (yet I was carefully watching my steps), I saw a snake lying on the rocks around the bend. Waiting. I took one soft step and a snake was actually there! This spared me the shock of surprise (because I had seen it and was advancing cautiously), and as there was no shock of surprise, I could say to the children without scaring them, “Stop, be quiet, don’t move.” A shock might have caused a mishap – the snake had heard us and was already on the defensive, coiled before his hole, head swaying – a viper. It was in France. Nothing happened, but with confusion and commotion, who knows?…

This type of thing has happened to me very, very often – four times with snakes. There was one incident here near the fishing village of Ariankuppam, a place where a river empties into the sea. Night had fallen swiftly, it was pitch dark, and I was walking along a road when right in the middle of a step (I had already lifted my foot and was about to lower it), I distinctly heard a voice in my ear: “Watch out!” Yet no one had spoken. So I looked, and just as my foot was about to touch the ground, I saw an enormous black cobra right where I was casually going to put my foot. Those fellows don’t like that sort of thing! It slithered away and swam across the water – what a beauty, mon petit! Hood wide open, head held high, he swam across like a king. I would certainly have been punished for my impertinence!

* * *

March 25, 1964

… Yesterday again, the experience was quite concrete and powerful: it isn’t necessary to move, or to move anything, for this Truth-Consciousness to replace the consciousness of deformation or distortion. In other words, the capacity to live in and be this true Vibration – essential and true – seems to have the power to SUBSTITUTE this Vibration for the vibration of Falsehood and Distortion, to such an extent that … For instance, the outcome of Distortion or of the vibration of distortion should naturally have been an accident or catastrophe, but if, within those vibrations, there is a consciousness that has the power to become aware of the Vibration of Truth and therefore manifest the Vibration of Truth, it can – it must – cancel the other vibration. Which would be translated, in the external phenomenon, by an intervention that would stop the catastrophe.

There is a growing feeling that the True is the only way to change the world; that all the other processes of slow transformation are always at a tangent (you draw nearer and nearer but you never arrive), and that the last step must be this – the substitution of the true Vibration.

[…]

For example’ every time an illness is cured, every time an accident is avoided, every time a catastrophe, even a global one, is avoided, all that is always the intervention of the Vibration of Harmony into the vibration of Disorder, allowing Disorder to cease.

So the people, the faithful, who always say, “Through the Divine Grace this has happened,” aren’t so wrong.

I only note the fact that it is this Vibration of Order and Harmony that intervened (we’re not concerned with the reasons for its intervention, this is only a scientific observation), and of this I’ve had a fairly large number of experiences.

So that would be the process of transformation of the world?

Yes.

An increasingly constant embodying of this Vibration of Order.

Yes, exactly, that’s it. Exactly.

Even from that point of view, I have seen … You know, the ordinary idea that the phenomenon [of transformation] must necessarily occur first in the body in which the Consciousness is expressed the most constantly seems to me quite unnecessary and secondary. On the contrary, it occurs at the same time wherever it can occur the most easily and totally, and this aggregate of cells (Mother points to her own body) isn’t necessarily the most ready for this operation. It may therefore remain a very long time as it apparently is, even if its understanding and receptivity are special. I mean that this body’s awareness, its conscious perception is infinitely superior to the one all the bodies it comes into contact with can have, except for a few minutes – a few minutes – when other bodies, as if through a grace, have the Perception. While for it, it’s a natural and constant state; it’s the effective result of this Truth-Consciousness being more constantly concentrated on this collection of cells than on others – more directly. But the substitution of one vibration for another in facts, in actions, in objects, occurs wherever the result is the most striking and effective.

* * *

December 17, 1966

… The protection acts on the entire group when it works in a coordinated and disciplined way, but if individuals in it have an action INDEPENDENT of the group, then they fall back into their own determinism, which means that the protection acts according to their personal faith, not at all as something collective: according to their personal state and faith, the action of the protection is greater or lesser.

I saw it was clearly that. I saw how it had happened (because his question made me look at it, so I saw). There is an interesting point, it’s that the mental initiative in swimming across that pond was P.’s and another’s – so, humanly speaking, they are the ones who are “responsible” (but that’s not true, it’s not like that!). But anyway, they were outside the group, it was an action that had nothing to do with the group, and they did it because they were to rejoin the group at a precise time and they were late. So it was clearly an individual outgrowth. Walking round the pond would have taken three hours while there were hardly two hours left before nightfall, and they were in a jungle, without any light or anything. That was another impossibility. So with his reason and human common sense, he said, “The best is to swim across.” But he hadn’t foreseen (that was the reckless part) that the water would be icy.

S: But P. had already swum across the water once, because he wasn’t part of the group that had the accident: they called him from the camp, he came and swam through that water, and the accident took place on the way back. The others were on the other side.

He swam across twice, are you sure?

S: Yes, they called him; he had already swum across the water to come and meet them.

It was the second time…. Then it was still more reckless than I thought! He nearly met his end. Because as for me, I saw him, I knew before I got the news: I suddenly felt a great danger. But P. had faith and so he escaped, while the other one met his end.

It was quite reckless because here, the body isn’t accustomed to cold water, and when you are in water that’s too cold, you get cramps.

But P. was sufficiently protected to escape and be saved, while the other one met his end.

S: It seems the three boys were calling you (there were four, you know), the three were calling you and the one who drowned was only calling P. to his aid. But the other three were strongly remembering you.

I know that very well! I always know it! I don’t need to be told, I know it very well. And I knew that that boy hadn’t called: he didn’t feel it could help him.

It’s not even a mental question: one should FEEL here (gesture to the heart), be convinced that “it” [Mother’s presence] is really active, that it’s something real, that it really does protect. Not a thought “just like that,” a metaphysical thought: a feeling. He didn’t have that.

If he had remained in the group, he would have shared in the protection over the group. Once he had a separate individual action, everything depended on his inner state – this is something they should all understand.

* * *

September 4, 1968

… And over the entire material creation (gesture covering and enveloping the earth), there is a tissue – which we might call “catastrophic” – a tissue of bad will. That is to say, a sort of web, yes, a defeatist web – defeatist, catastrophic – where you botch what you wanted to do, where there are all possible accidents, all possible bad wills. Like a web. And the body is being taught to get out of it.

It’s as if mingled with the Force that realizes and expresses itself; it’s like something mingling with the material creation. And the body is being taught to break free from it. But it’s difficult, very difficult.

It’s the cause of diseases, the cause of accidents – it’s the cause of all destructive things.

And this web is there constantly, all the time, like this (same covering gesture).

It’s very tightly mingled [with the body]. It’s not clearly separate yet.

* * *

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