“The Ideal Centre” – Nolini Kanta Gupta


Once when the Mother was asked by a group of disciples  to give permission and blessings for opening a centre, She said in answer: “To open a centre is not sufficient in itself. It must be the pure hearth of perfect sincerity, in a total consecration to the Divine.” This is the first motto or mantra that should be inscribed upon the tablet of the inner constitution of every group organization. It states the basic spirit, the true inspiration that should initiate the work and guide it through.

The second mantra is embodied in these lines of Sri Aurobindo: “Love the Mother: always behave as if She was looking at you, for indeed She is always present.” These are words that should be kept bright and blazing in the heart of each and every one. It gives the source and origin of the inspiration, the single fount of all movements collective and individual.

And the third mantra not less living or urgent has been given by the Mother: “Let us work as we pray, for indeed work is the body’s best prayer to the Divine.” Here we learn of the way, the process that is to be followed, the skill, as it were, for realizing the goal.

And for a final comprehension and direction we are to remember these words of Sri Aurobindo:  “All problems of existence are essentially problems of harmony.”

In life, which is necessarily corporate life (a centre essentially means a training and a realization in corporate life) the first and last necessity is harmony, that is to say, understanding and union among the members of the corporate life. That is a self-evident truth understood and accepted by one and all. But the crux of the matter is how to achieve the harmony. It can be achieved only on a higher level of being and consciousness. On the lower ordinary level there can be only a compromise, an unstable balance, an uncertain counterpoising of diverse and divergent elements. Also, it must be noted that the higher and deeper the consciousness, the wider and more comprehensive, the more the harmony becomes natural, spontaneous, faultless, perfect: and on the highest level the harmony becomes not merely union but indivisible unity.

That is the goal towards which a dedicated centre, that is to say, a spiritually aspiring group should move and labour. And that is also the primary work, the first and foremost for which the centre stands as a field. And this work can be done and has to be achieved through the discipline enunciated in just the previous, our third mantra – the fundamental attitude with which the work has to be done. It is said there that the work, consecrated work or service is the prayer of the body. Mind’s prayer is expressed in words, body’s prayer in works.

Work is the prayer in its dynamic and concrete form, it is the utterance of the physical, the language it knows in order to ask for and seek the union with the Divine. It is the holy ritual expressing and embodying in the physical, material life, one’s adoration, one’s adhesion to the ideal, the deity one worships.

Work or service expressing harmonization needs to be based, as I have said, upon a higher and higher consciousness. Work done as prayer is the best means of effecting an ascent in consciousness. This is the lesson that each individual of a centre must learn from the very outset and ever afterwards. He must always try to rise in consciousness, reach an ever higher status of being and from there let the work flow, as it were, from a spontaneous spring. As one rises in consciousness and being, naturally and inevitably this consciousness widens and one feels naturally and spontaneously kinship and union with all others. Work or service is then only a dynamic means of achieving and realizing the sense of perfect unity of oneself with all other selves.

Work is not meant to show or express one’s capacity or skillfulness or cleverness, nor is it a mere mechanical execution of outward acts performing certain duties, however conscientiously or meticulously.  It is indeed a ritual of prayer and self-dedication, adhesion and surrender of the most dynamic and material parts of our being – the most unresponsive and insensible elements – to the One Divine Will.

And this brings us to the major, the cardinal mantra which Sri Aurobindo gives about the constant and living presence of the Mother. The very core of a centre is this Presence. A centre grows and can grow perfectly only around the Mother’s Presence and Consciousness. As the ideal for the individual is to be conscious of one’s central inner being and relate all parts and all movements to that central reality, organize oneself in perfect harmony around this core, even so a group-centre has to organize itself in perfect harmony around the central reality of the Mother: only so can it grow and grow harmoniously.  Indeed a group, that is to say, a centre, like the individual can successfully grow into a living and harmonious dynamic Truth only when it has in its consciousness at every moment and in every movement of its life the never-failing Presence of the Divine Mother, for thus only a centre can become a divine embodiment and incarnation of the Supreme Mother for the expression and realization of her truth upon the earth.

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