The world has seen religious fundamentalism for quite some time now. But with the possibility of much more devastation through weapons of mass destruction, the problem has become acute. All over the world there is serious thinking going on as to what is happening and what is the solution. The problem is that most religions have become defunct and their seats of power have been occupied with asuric beings. Though great in their own time and during inception, the religions have failed to sustain the evolutionary momentum needed for any religion to survive. The result is a constant regressive tendency, a backward pull contrary to the forward movement of the world. Some of these issues and their occult side is being discussed in this talk.
Words of the Mother
The wrath of indignation
March 10, 1959
I spent a night – a night of battle – when, for some reason or other, a multitude of vital formations of all kinds entered into the room: beings, things, embryos of beings, residues of beings – all kinds of things … And it was a frightful assault, absolutely disgusting.
In this swarming mass, I noticed the presence of some slightly more conscious wills – wills of the vital plane – and I saw how they try to awaken a reaction in the consciousness of human beings to make them think or want, or if possible, do certain things.
For example, I saw one of them trying to incite anger in someone so that this person would deliver a blow – a spiritual blow. And this formation had a dagger in his hand (a vital dagger, you see, it was a vital being: gray and slimy, horrible), he was holding a very sharp dagger which he was flaunting, saying, ‘When a person has done something like that (pretending that someone had done an unforgivable thing), this is what he deserves …’ and the scenario was complete: the being rushed forward, vitally, with his dagger.
I, who know the consequences of these things, stopped him just in time – I gave him a blow. Then I had enough of all this and it was over, I cleaned the place out. It was almost a physical cleaning, for I had my hands clasped together (I was in a semitrance) and I threw them apart in an abrupt movement, left and right, powerfully, as if to sweep something away, and frrt! … immediately everything was gone.
But had that not happened … I was watching, not exactly with curiosity, but in order to learn – to learn what kind of atmosphere people live in! And it is ALWAYS like that! They are always pestered by HORDES of little formations that are absolutely swarming and disgusting, each one making its … nasty little suggestion.
Take these movements of anger, for example, when someone is carried away by his passion and does things which, in his normal state, he would never do: he is not doing it, it is done by these little formations which are there, swarming in the atmosphere, just waiting for an occasion … to rush in.
When you see them, oh! it’s … suffocating. When you’re in contact with that … Really, you wonder how anyone can breathe in such an atmosphere. And yet people CONSTANTLY live in that atmosphere! They live in it. Only when they rise above are they NOT in it. Or else there are those who are entirely below; but those are the toys of these things, and their reactions are sometimes not only unexpected but absolutely dreadful – because they are puppets in the hands of these things.
Those who rise above, who enter into a slightly intellectual region, can see all this from above; they can look down at it all, keep their heads above and breathe; but those who live in this realm …
Sri Aurobindo calls this realm the ‘intermediate zone,’ a zone in which, he says, you can have all the experiences you wish if you enter into it. But it isn’t (laughing) very advisable! – and I understand why! I had that experience because I had just read what Sri Aurobindo says on this subject in a letter in this latest book, On Yoga; I wanted to see for myself what it was. Ah, I understood!
And I express this in my own way when I say’ that thoughts ‘come and go, flow in and out.’ But thoughts concerning material things are formations originating in that world, they are kinds of wills coming from the vital plane which try to express themselves, and most often they are truly deadly. If you are annoyed, for example, if someone says something unpleasant to you and you react … It always happens in the same way; these little entities are there waiting, and when they feel it’s the right moment, they introduce their influence and their suggestions. This is what is vitally symbolized by the being with his dagger rushing forward to stab you – and in the back, at that! Not even face to face! This then expresses itself in the human consciousness by a movement of anger or rage or indignation: ‘How intolerable! How … !’ And the other fellow says, ‘Yes! We shall put an end to it!’
April 29, 1961
‘Many people say that Sri Aurobindo’s teachings are a new religion. Would you call it a religion?…’
I wrote (Mother reads her answer): ‘Those who say that are simpletons and don’t even know what they’re talking about! It is enough to read everything Sri Aurobindo has written to know that it is IMPOSSIBLE (underlined) to found a religion upon his writings, since for each problem, for each question, he presents all aspects and, while demonstrating the truth contained in each approach, he explains that to attain the Truth a synthesis must be effected, overpassing all mental notions and emerging in a transcendence beyond thought.
‘Your second question, therefore, makes no sense! Furthermore, if you had read what appeared in the last Bulletin, you could never have asked it. ‘Let me repeat that when we speak of Sri Aurobindo, it is not a question of teaching nor even of revelation, but of an Action from the Supreme; upon this, no religion whatsoever can be founded.’
‘Men are such fools’ ‘that they can change anything at all into a religion, so great is their need for a fixed framework for their narrow thought and limited action. They don’t feel secure unless they can affirm: “This is true and that is not” – but such an affirmation becomes impossible for anyone who has read and understood what Sri Aurobindo has written. Religion and yoga are not situated on the same plane of the being, and the spiritual life can exist in its purity only if it is free from all mental dogma.’….
Religion always has a tendency to humanize, to create a God in the image of man – a magnified and glorified image, but essentially always a god with human attributes. And this (laughing) creates a sort of intimacy, a sense of kinship!…
There are people here who do the same thing. I know some people who had a statue of Kali in their house (it was their family divinity), and all kinds of calamities befell them, so the last generation became furious and took the idol and threw it into the Ganges. They are not the only ones – there have been several cases like that. And to cap it all, one of them even asked my permission before doing it!
Creating a god in the image of man gives you the possibility of treating it as you would treat a human enemy.
There could be many things to say….
Oh, I’ve had some very interesting revelations on this point, on the way people think and feel about it. I remember someone once made a little statue of Sri Aurobindo; he gave it a potbelly and … anyway, to me it was ridiculous. So I said, ‘How could you make such a thing?!’ He explained that even if it’s a caricature for the ordinary eye, since it’s an image of the one you consider God, or a god, or an Avatar, since it’s the image of the one you worship, even if only a guru, it contains the spirit and the force of his presence, and this is what you worship, even in a crude form, even if the form is a caricature to the physical eye.
Someone made a large painting of Sri Aurobindo and myself, and they brought it here to show me. I said, ‘Oh, it’s dreadful!’ It was … to the physical eye it was really dreadful. ‘It’s dreadful,’ I said, ‘we can’t keep it.’ Then immediately someone asked me for it, saying, ‘I’m going to put it up in my house and do my puja before it.’ Ah! … I couldn’t help saying, ‘But how could you put up a thing like that!’ (It wasn’t so much ugly as frightfully banal.)
‘How can you do puja before something so commonplace and empty!’ This person replied, ‘Oh, to me it’s not empty! It contains all the presence and all the force, and I shall worship it as that: the Presence and the Force.’
All this is based on the old idea that whatever the image – which we disdainfully call an ‘idol’ – whatever the external form of the deity may be, the presence of the thing represented is always there. And there is always someone – whether priest or initiate, sadhu or sannyasi – someone who has the power and (usually this is the priest’s work) who draws the Force and the Presence down into it. And it’s true, it’s quite real – the Force and the Presence are THERE; and this (not the form in wood or stone or metal) is what is worshipped: this Presence.
Europeans don’t have the inner sense at all. To them, everything is like this (gesture), a surface – not even that, a film on the surface. And they can’t feel anything behind. But it’s an absolutely real fact that the Presence is there – I guarantee it. People have given me statuettes of various gods, little things in metal, wood or ivory; and as soon as I take one in my hand, the god is there. I have a Ganesh (I have been given several) and if I take it in my hand and look at it for a moment, he’s there. I have a little one by my bedside where I work, eat, and meditate. And then there is a Narayana150 which comes from the Himalayas, from Badrinath. I use them both as paperweights for my handkerchiefs! (My handkerchiefs are kept on a little table next to my bed, and I keep Ganapati I and Narayana on top of them.) And no one touches them but me – I pick them up, take a fresh handkerchief, and put them back again. Once I blended some nail polish myself, and before applying it, I put some on Ganapati’s forehead and stomach and fingertips! We are on the best of terms, very friendly. So to me, you see, all this is very true.
Narayana came first. I put him there and told him to stay and be happy. A while later, I was given a very nice Ganapati; so I asked Narayana – I didn’t ask his permission, I told him, ‘Don’t be angry, you know, but I’m going to give you a companion; I like you both very much, there’s no preference; the other is much better looking, but you, you are Narayana!’ I flattered him, I told him pleasant things, and he was perfectly happy.
It has always been like that for me – always. And I have never, never had the religious sense at all – you know, what people call this kind of … what they have in religions, especially in Europe. I see only the English word for it: awe, like a kind of terror. This always made me laugh! But I have always felt what’s behind, the presences behind.
I remember once going into a church (which I won’t name) and I found it a very beautiful place. It wasn’t a feast or ceremony day, so it was empty. There were just one or two people at prayer. I went in and sat down in a little chapel off to the side. Someone was praying there, someone who must have been in distress – she was crying and praying. And there was a statue, I no longer know of whom: Christ or the Virgin or a Saint – I have no idea. And, oh! … Suddenly, in place of the statue, I saw an enormous spider … like a tarantula, you know, but (gesture) huge! It covered the entire wall of the chapel and was just waiting there to swallow all the vital force of the people who came. It was … heart-rending. I said to myself, ‘Oh, these people…’ There was this miserable woman who had come seeking solace, who was praying there, weeping, hoping to find solace; and instead of reaching a consciousness that was at least compassionate, her supplications were feeding this monster!
I have seen other things – but I have rarely seen anything favorable in churches. Here, I remember going to M I was taken inside and received there in quite an unusual way – a highly respected person introduced me as a ‘great saint’! They led me up to the main altar where people are not usually allowed to go, and what did I see there! … An asura (oh, not a very high-ranking one, more like a rakshasa), but such a monster! Hideous…. So I went wham! (gesture of giving a blow) I thought something was going to happen…. But this being left the altar and came over to try to intimidate me; of course, he saw it was useless, so he offered to make an alliance: ‘If you just keep quiet and don’t do anything, I will share all I get with you.’ Well, I sent him packing! The head of this Math …. It was a Math with a monastery and temple, which means a substantial fortune; the head of the Math has it all at his disposal for as long as he holds the position – and he is appointed for life. But he has to name his successor … and as a rule, his own life is considerably shortened by the successor – this is how it works. Everyone knew that the present head had considerably shortened the life of his predecessor. And what a creature! As asuric as the god he worshipped! I saw some poor fellows throw themselves at his feet (he must have been squeezing them pitilessly), to beg forgiveness and mercy – an absolutely ruthless man. But he received me – you should have seen it! … I said nothing, not a word about their god; I gave no sign that I knew anything. But I thought to myself, ‘So that’s how it is! …’
In churches, I don’t know…. I haven’t been to them very often. I have been to mosques and temples – Jewish temples. The Jewish temples in Paris have such beautiful music; oh, what beautiful music! I had one of my first experiences in a temple. It was at a marriage, and the music was wonderful – Saint-Saens, I later learned; organ music, the second best organ in Paris – wonderful! I was 14 years old, sitting high up in the galleries with my mother, and this music was being played. There were some leaded-glass windows – white, with no designs. I was gazing at one of these windows, feeling uplifted by the music, when suddenly through the window came a flash like a bolt of lightning. Just like lightning. It entered – my eyes were open – it entered like this (Mother strikes her breast violently), and then I … I had the feeling of becoming vast and all-powerful…. And it lasted for days….
But I have rarely had an experience in churches. Rather the opposite: I have very often had the painful experience of the human effort to find solace, a divine compassion … falling into very bad hands.
One of my most terrible experiences took place in Venice (the cathedrals there are so beautiful – magnificent!). I remember I was painting – they had let me settle down in a corner to paint – and nearby there was a … (what do they call it?) … a confessional. And a poor woman was kneeling there in distress – with such a dreadful sense of sin! So piteous! She wept and wept. Then I saw the priest coming, oh, like a monster, a hard-hearted monster! He went inside; he was like an iron bar. And there was this poor woman sobbing, sobbing; and the voice of the other one, hard, curt…. I could barely contain myself.
I don’t know why, but I have had this kind of experience so very often: either a hostile force lurking behind and swallowing up everything, or else man – ruthless man abusing the Power.
In fact, I have seen this all over the world. I have never been on very good terms with religions, neither in Europe, nor Africa, nor Japan, nor even here…
When I was told that the Divine was within – the teaching of the Gita, but in words understandable to a Westerner – that there was an inner Presence, that one carried the Divine within oneself, oh! … What a revelation! In a few minutes, I suddenly understood all, all, all. Understood everything. It brought the contact instantly.
Q) But all the same, can’t it be said that whatever the appearances – these vital spiders or frightful Kalis – the Divine still acts and helps people through them? It’s not all totally swallowed up and lost, is it?
No, but this is something else. Those who are capable of personal experiences pass through everything. But not the common herd….
Only one thing has been continuous from my childhood on (and the more I look, the more I see how continuous it has been): this divine Presence – and in someone who, in her EXTERNAL LIFE, might very well have said, ‘God? What is this foolishness! God doesn’t exist!’ So you understand, you see the picture.
You know, it’s a marvelous, marvelous grace to have had this experience so CONSTANTLY, So POWERFULLY, like something holding out against everything, everything: this Presence. And in my outward consciousness, a total negation of it all. Even later on, I used to say, ‘Well, if God exists, he’s a real scoundrel! He’s a wretch and I want nothing to do with this Creator of ours….’ You know, the idea of God sitting placidly in his heaven, creating the world and amusing himself by watching it, then telling you, ‘How well done!’ ‘Oh!’ I said, ‘I want nothing to do with that monster!’
Formations of adverse forces and ill-will
October 26, 1963
I saw that whirlwind coming, and inside it there were formations: like heaped masses, some gray-black, others reddish-brown. And I watched it all; I saw them from a distance, there were lots of them: big formations, about as big as houses. They came in heaped masses, with kinds of formations WITHIN the whirlwind. So I was here, just beginning to have my dinner, when a reddish-brown formation went over, like this, right from here towards your house (Mother sweeps across the room from south to north), and it struck me. Mon petit, howling pains! And then a horrible discomfort. So naturally, my usual remedy: I stayed still and offered it all to the Lord. The formation went past, didn’t stop (it went past, struck and went away), and left behind it (afterwards the pains were dull, they could be controlled) a kind of very peculiar sense of discomfort … a sort of wickedness, like big sharp claws raking one’s stomach. So I was expecting something for you – others too fell sick who were in the path of the formation. But there must have been quite a number of cases, because I saw many formations – that one did strike, you see. I saw it arrive as swiftly as the cyclone, strike, and then go on. So when I was told that you had a fever, instantly I thought, “That’s it.”
Was it painful?
Oh, terrible, as if I were burning within.
That’s it, like red-hot iron claws. And others too had the same thing, the very same thing.
My body and muscles are aching all over, as if I had been battered.
Yes, that’s it, mon petit. The doctors would say it was a mass of germs or microbes or viruses (or God knows what), but it was vital ill will – vital malice – but with a coating material enough to act directly (Mother strikes): it was instantaneous, you know, no need of incubation! Instantaneous, like a fiery sword ripping open your stomach – charming.
It will go away.
But I stopped the immediate effect (the immediate effect was … almost catastrophic), I stopped it with my great method: that sort of inner immobility, and leaving everything in the Lord’s hands. Nevertheless, the next day, I was unwell (I’m not quite well yet), as though the body had been terribly shaken.
Then I saw all kinds of things – oh, bah! bah!… An adverse organization in the most material vital to mislead unenlightened spiritual aspirations: I encountered that last night. There was a kind of preacher teaching how to do things, and for each thing I had to contradict and explain – because he had quite an audience: he has that audience at night, and when people wake up, they aren’t conscious of it, and it influences them. It results in a kind of possession. It was (oh, I see that gentleman often), it’s a tall, black being – he is black, jet black – but he passes himself off as a great Initiate! People don’t see him as he is (they must see him in a very attractive guise), and he preaches the very things that foster disintegration. He teaches you in detail how to do – a very good teacher of mischief. But I argued with him about everything, explained everything in detail, very carefully, very conscientiously, and when it was over, I offered it all to the Lord – so I don’t know what happened to him!
“They” are quite unhappy at what’s going on here! (Mother laughs)
May 16, 1960
Humility is the safety for avoiding pitfalls
If there is one fundamental necessity, it is humility. To be humble. Not humble as it is normally understood, such as merely saying, ‘I am so small, I’m nothing at all’ – no, something else …
Because the pitfalls are innumerable, and the further you progress in yoga, the more subtle they become, and the more the ego masks itself behind marvelous and saintly appearances. So when somebody says, ‘I no longer want to rely on anything but Him. I want to close my eyes and rest in Him alone,’ this comfortable ‘Him,’ which is exactly what you want him to be, is the ego – or a formidable Asura, or a Titan (depending on each one’s capacity). They’re all over the earth, the earth is their domain. So the first thing to do is to pocket your ego – not preserve it, but get rid of it as soon as possible!
You can be sure that the God you’ve created is a God of the ego whenever something within you insists, ‘This is what I feel, this is what I think, this is what I see; it’s my way, my very own – it’s my way of being, my way of understanding, my relationship with the Divine, etc.’
And then they say, ‘I want to close my eyes and see nothing but Him I want nothing more of the outer world.’ And they forget there’s Love! That is the great Secret, that which is behind the Existent and the Non-Existent, the Personal and the Impersonal – Love. Not a love between two things, two beings … A love containing everything….
After all, it’s good to know gradually, good to have some illusions – not for the sake of illusions but as a necessary step along the way.
Everything comes at the right moment.
And what is wonderful is that at each moment the Grace, the Joy, the Light, the Love never cease pouring down in the very midst of all this – despite the ego, despite the shame, despite the unworthiness. To be humble …
* * *
Words of Sri Aurobindo
References to Religion in Savitri
Only religion in this bankruptcy
Presents its dubious riches to our hearts
Or signs unprovisioned cheques on the Beyond:
Our poverty shall there have its revenge.
Our spirits depart discarding a futile life
Into the blank unknown or with them take
Death’s passport into immortality.
CANTO V: The Godheads of the Little Life
A zealot fervour pushed their ruthless cults,
All faith not theirs bled scourged as heresy;
They questioned, captived, tortured, burned or smote
And forced the soul to abandon right or die.
Amid her clashing creeds and warring sects
Religion sat upon a blood-stained throne.
A hundred tyrannies oppressed and slew
And founded unity upon fraud and force.
CANTO VII: The Descent into Night
The writhing of creatures under the harrow of doom
And sorrow’s tragic gaze into the night
And horror and the hammering heart of fear
Were the ingredients in Time’s heavy cup
That pleased and helped to enjoy its bitter taste.
Of such fierce stuff was made up life’s long hell:
These were the threads of the dark spider’s-web
In which the soul was caught, quivering and rapt;
This was religion, this was Nature’s rule.
In a fell chapel of iniquity
To worship a black pitiless image of Power
Kneeling one must cross hard-hearted stony courts,
A pavement like a floor of evil fate.
Each stone was a keen edge of ruthless force
And glued with the chilled blood from tortured breasts;
The dry gnarled trees stood up like dying men
Stiffened into a pose of agony,
And from each window peered an ominous priest
Chanting Te Deums for slaughter’s crowning grace,
Uprooted cities, blasted human homes,
Burned writhen bodies, the bombshell’s massacre.
“Our enemies are fallen, are fallen,” they sang,
“All who once stayed our will are smitten and dead;
How great we are, how merciful art Thou.”
Thus thought they to reach God’s impassive throne
And Him command whom all their acts opposed,
Magnifying their deeds to touch his skies,
And make him an accomplice of their crimes.
There no relenting pity could have place,
But ruthless strength and iron moods had sway,
A dateless sovereignty of terror and gloom:
This took the figure of a darkened God…
It was a world of sorrow and of hate,
Sorrow with hatred for its lonely joy,
Hatred with others’ sorrow as its feast;
CANTO VIII: The World of Falsehood 229
Even meditation mused on a narrow seat;
And worship turned to an exclusive God,
To the Universal in a chapel prayed
Whose doors were shut against the universe;
Or kneeled to the bodiless Impersonal
A mind shut to the cry and fire of love:
A rational religion dried the heart.
It planned a smooth life’s acts with ethics’ rule
Or offered a cold and flameless sacrifice.
The sacred Book lay on its sanctified desk
Wrapped in interpretation’s silken strings:
A credo sealed up its spiritual sense.
CANTO III: The Entry into the Inner Countries
* * *