Prospects of the Physical Transformation: A Clarification of the Problem

Wide-eyed amazement, dim-eyed despondence, cold-eyed scepticism, sharp-eyed opposition as well as calm-eyed acceptance have met our reasoned presentation[1] of Nolini’s brief pronouncement that the physical transformation, though not cancelled, has been postponed because of the Mother’s giving up her body.

We argued that this transformation in the sense intended by Sri Aurobindo and the Mother — a transformation supramentalising the body, turning the body totally divine — could be achieved only if either an Avatar of the Supermind was physically present amongst us or else the Supramental Consciousness which manifested on a universal scale on February 29, 1956, and the Superman Consciousness which came at the end of 1969, became the ruling power in the earth’s evolutionary history,[2] a natural force towards supramentalisation.

The use of the word “postponed” has been debated. The common meaning is: “to put off for a future time, to defer, to delay, to subordinate.”[3] The connotations which caused all those various eye-expressions other than that of acceptance were the first and the second. The more appropriate meaning is: “delay.” For, this term has a twofold shade, and the conditions we have to consider are also twofold.

The physical transformation can be considered either as a process or as an end-product. The end-product, the accomplishment of the body’s supramentalisation, may legitimately be taken as delayed in the sense of being put off for a future time or being deferred. The process cannot be so regarded: the Mother, whether physically present or not, is constantly at work on her followers as well as, in a lesser degree, on the rest of mankind, and the new Power that has become a factor in evolution is also pressing on to produce an effect in the world’s surface-life. The process is postponed only in the sense of being retarded, slowed down. Our previous article should have explicitly distinguished the complete achievement from the movement towards it. The circumstances mentioned there could never rule out the continuation of the movement. They counteract only the coming of the fullness of physical supramentalisation in the present time or in the very near future.

Sri Aurobindo said that if the supramentalisation was not done first in him it could not be done in others.[4] The Mother declared that he had given her the work of completing their Yoga of Supramental Descent and Transformation and that her body was to be the first experiment in the difficult process of supramentalisation so as to make the task easier for others by her success. The physical absence of the Gurus is bound to postpone the success of the disciples in this particular part of the Integral Yoga — the postponement will end not before one of the Gurus reappears in some fashion or the manifested Supermind and the Superman Consciousness start operating directly in the forefront of universal evolution.

In the meanwhile the Mother’s new creation, already a multiform splendour in the subtle-physical, is trying to break forth into the gross-material, with her own body of glory in the van of the fight outward. By withdrawing from her earthly sheath she has not abandoned her mission nor has she withdrawn merely because her children proved unworthy. Unworthy in many respects we all certainly have been, but the Divine Love is not offended by the unworthiness of its objects: it knows very well the nature of the stuff it deals with and it gives itself ceaselessly and will carry out what it has set its heart upon. The Mother left her body for occult reasons which determined that the immediate present period was not the one in which her undertaking could best be fulfilled for the good of her followers. A fresh turn of spiritual strategy was called for by the Supreme Will — the Will of the Mother’s own highest Self — and the Mother in her incarnate role responded.

There have been unexpected turns in the past of the Integral Yoga. After the descent of the Overmind into the body on November 24, 1926, the Mother tried to bring down divine beings from the highest spiritual level to work in the human instruments and she could manifest even in her physical form something of her four goddess personalities and powers: Maheshwari, Mahakali, Mahalakshmi, Mahasaraswati. A kind of miraculous sadhana went on. If it had been successfully carried through, the Supermind would soon have taken direct charge. But the method of action from above could not sweep to its conclusion. Certain conditions of earth-nature, particularly as represented in the circle around the Mother, stood in the way. To follow the apparently swift method would have meant a series of brilliant sallies in all directions without striking on the central road. So a different mode of operation was adopted.

The Gurus came down to the level of the physical mind and worked from there, calling the descent of the Supramental Consciousness into that level. At the same time they started digging the Subconscient and the Inconscient. And, all the while, they insisted that the inmost soul, the true Psyche, should lead the Yogic evolution. The new turn was to all appearances a slow process, but it hit upon the main path and, in doing so, avoided the impressively swift-moving yet ultimately time-wasting sidetracks. Its slowness was, in the long run, speed disguised.

A second change of strategy came with the passing of Sri Aurobindo. A breakthrough which would have taken long if he had remained within his body was achieved at one drastic stroke by his leaving it. The Mind of Light, the physical mind receiving the Supramental Light, was established in the Mother the moment Sri Aurobindo made his stupendous self-sacrifice. Sri Aurobindo’s physical absence created indeed a gap in our Yogic lives and the fact that the Mother alone, instead of him and her together, had to deploy the Avatar-energy towards the goal brought a tremendous pressure upon her physical instrument. The breakthrough which Sri Aurobindo had accomplished worked wonders and the Mother brought about two victories on a universal scale and prepared a future course of Supramental Evolution. But her own body had to pass through crisis after crisis at certain intervals of time. No crisis, of course, could ever spell defeat. Yet desperate-looking situations could arise and her radiant form bore wound after wound. Warrior to the end, she saw that the sacrifice of this form was demanded in the larger interests of the Aurobindonian travail of total transformation. Postponement of bodily supramentalisation was the result, for no other body had reached anywhere near her own aspiring Light-touched cell-consciousness. When such a vehicle of the Divine was abandoned for a novel attack on the problem of divinising the earth, the perfection of the individual body could not but be deferred and the process towards it slowed down.

However, by analogy with the past strategic shifts, here is an occasion for hope rather than despair. What might have been done quicker for one special body under stress-conditions — stress-conditions because of a considerable lag between that body and those striving to follow its steps — might have proved too burning a burden, so to speak, for the unprepared, and created unbearable consequences for them by an extreme contrast. The unprepared might have felt internally confused and externally rejected. A more gradual achievement of the goal by means other than the ones adopted after Sri Aurobindo’s passing might be envisaged as more advantageous for them. Hence the deferment of the full physical supramentalisation and the slowing-down of the movement in its direction would be the Mother’s secret blessing to her disciples.

Our journey may seem long, our passage may at times even be as though in the words of T. S. Eliot —

Across a whole Thibet of broken stones
That lie, fang-up.

But if the difficulty is increased, it must be understood as a challenge to us to double our aspiration, our effort at self-surrender. Obstacles may rise before us, but only to raise our will to the highest pitch. Were a lengthy plodding period to become our lot, it should summon from our depths a tremendous power of patience, an unflinching fidelity to the Light, an ever-keener concentration to answer the Infinite Mother with the Eternal Child in us. For, unless we kindle within ourselves this intensity, we could never pass through; but we just have to do so and therefore just have to live at our most eternally childlike, evoking from our inmost the wise innocence and the smiling endurance that are characteristic of the true soul in man.

How long the journey might last nobody could tell as yet. But it would be a journey meant to prepare the way of the Mother’s return by a supramental materialisation and to make the superficies of life respective to the push of the profundities where she has lodged forever the Supermind she had brought from the Beyond. The long-drawn-out journey, heroically and happily undergone, would set our faces towards the invisible Light and bring closer and closer the future to which the consummation of the body’s supramental change has been postponed. Yes, more and more close — for, the postponement, the putting-off to a time-to-come, is not something fatalistically fixed. The Divine is never Time’s slave. He can move farther and nearer as He wills, within the domain of world-circumstances He has chosen. Certain general restrictions He observes as ruler of the lila, but they are not cast-iron bonds. They can be tightened or loosened as He deems proper. So, although there is a postponement of the complete supramentalisation, the exact distance to it would be determined on the one side by the Divine’s Will and on the other by the manner in which we traverse whatever cluttered foot-catching course there may be in store for us at present. If we gathered inner speed with the spur of the outer impediment, we could make the postponed perfection come sooner within sight. Thus all that we yearn for and dream about might take, if we chose, less than we can compute with our logical minds.

Even the difficulties hypothetised as probable may not all occur. Sri Aurobindo has said that the universal evolution itself from the Inconscient, though bound to be a tardy progression, need not have been the blind and blundering and tormented labour it has happened to be. If the psychic being had come to the fore and assumed leadership, the unfoldment could have been as if the protracted yet beautiful and happy opening of a tightly shut flower. The Divine Grace may intervene, especially if our psychic beings press constantly into the outer consciousness. But, whether we have a hard or a smooth time, we may be sure that all is well and that, in the final reckoning, all has been for the best.

To show our gratitude we must keep the inner flame steadily climbing. However, we must guard against one mistake. Those who do not understand the reason for the postponement of physical transformation protest vehemently that they are having marvellous experiences and that when even science is on the track of lengthening life and keeping the force of death at bay it would be unreasonable to limit the present possibilities of the Aurobindonian Yoga. They forget the difference between the immortality founded in a Supramental Consciousness with its divine “causal body” and the immortality due to a medically induced suspension of degenerative processes in the gross body. The suspension could never be one-hundred-percent proof against the forces of degeneration; and the forces of accident, of “crass casuality”, would still carry on their sport. Nor would the Godward-aspiring evolutionary soul be content to inhabit a body still working under an unillumined human consciousness. In any case, Sri Aurobindo and the Mother were not after such a suspension and not even after a divine immortality imposed on the body by a special Siddhi, a supernormal power exercised against the body’s nature. What they wanted was to awaken the body’s own latent Dharma of being divine so that a divine immortality would prove to be its very nature. Our critics would also do well to have a proper view of their experiences. On the strength of diverse purificatory or expansive powers at play within them or even of supramental touches on their minds and life-beings, on the strength of a visioning of their own subtle sheaths that are luminous and can produce some effect on the outer sheath, they should not delude themselves into believing that the supramental perfection of this sheath has not been deferred. They must be realistic and, though never despondent and always certain of the Mother’s ultimate victory, go on doing the Yogically needful as her humble, hopeful, helpful, happy children instead of basing on the greatness of their parent any folie de grandeur.

Provided we keep free from spiritual misapprehension, there is every cause for us not only to have a calm-eyed acceptance of the new situation but also to give it a luminous-eyed welcome.

Mother India, September 1974.

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  1. Mother India, June-July 1974, pp. 438-39.[]
  2. Ibid., March 1974, p. 167.[]
  3. Chambers’s Twentieth Century Dictionary (Bombay, 1971), p. 854, col. 1.[]
  4. Sri Aurobindo on Himself, SABCL, Vol. 26, pp. 144-45.[]