17th Nov 1973 is regarded as the Mother’s Mahasamadhi day. This day and event has become the subject of much speculation. The sceptics wonder about the fate ofIntegral Yoga without a spiritual successor, especially since they think that the task of physical transformation undertaken by Sri Aurobindo and the Mother has been left incomplete. Some use the term postponed, others say it has been temporarily abandoned. The faithful however continue to repose their trust in the Mother and accept everything as part of Her Divine Lila even if they do not comprehend it.
This article (running in ten parts) is an effort to take a look at some of these issues with regard to the Integral Yoga and its many-sided fulfillment.
Part 7. Towards the New Body (1)
We see that She was simultaneously working on the transmutation of Her own body as well as working out the stages through which humanity would walk that path. The path was opened now in both directions but the actual process remained still an adventure. Her She provides us a brief glimpse:
You said there had been a step forward. Is there something new?
I had always said that there were two points on which the future hadn’t been revealed to me. First, what the first form of supramental life on earth would be exactly, that is to say, the stage that will follow man as he is – just as there was a stage that followed the animal (and which, in fact, disappeared), what is the stage that will follow man, and will perhaps be destined to disappear, too? Then the other point, which was more personal: could the transformation of this body go far enough to allow an indefinite prolongation, or would the work on the cells be somehow partly wasted?
I can’t say I have answers, but in both directions there has been some opening, as it were. The feeling that I was in front of a wall and it’s opening up, I am allowed to proceed. Well, the conclusions aren’t there yet, but in both directions we have actually taken a step forward because it’s open – there isn’t a wall any longer, it’s open.
Especially that feeling of being stuck has gone away.
The first discoveries aren’t worth telling because they aren’t precise or concrete or definitive enough. There is just this sense of relief: instead of standing in front of something that blocks your way, phew! you can breathe and walk on.
The consequences will be for later.
Among other possibilities there was this possibility of directly entering into an “improved physical body,” that is to say switching from one body (Her own) into another. This would mean one form of prolongation of life through another body thereby carrying on the work indefinitely.
The transition between the two appears really possible only through the entry – the conscious and willed entry – of a supramentalized consciousness into a body that we could call an “improved physical body,” in other words, the human physical body as it is now, but improved: the improvement produced, for instance, by a true physical training, not in its present exaggerated form but in its true sense. It’s something I have seen fairly clearly: in an evolution (physical training is developing very fast nowadays, it’s not even half a century since it started), in evolution, that physical training will bring an improvement, that is, a suppleness, a balance, an endurance, and a harmony; these are the four qualities – suppleness (plasticity), balance between the various parts of the being, endurance, and harmony of the body – that will make it a more supple instrument for the supramentalized consciousness.
So the transition: a conscious and willed utilization by a supramentalized consciousness of a body prepared in that way. This body must be brought to the peak of its development and of the utilization of the cells in order to be … yes, consciously impregnated with the supreme forces (which is being done here [in Mother] at the moment), and this to the utmost of its capacities. And if the consciousness that inhabits that body, that animates that body, has the required qualities in sufficient amount, it should normally be able to utilize that body to the utmost of its capacity of transformation, with the result that the waste caused by the death of decomposing cells should be reduced to a minimum – to what extent?… That’s precisely what still belongs to the unknown.
That would correspond to what Sri Aurobindo called the prolongation of life at will, for an indefinite length of time.
But as things are at present, it would seem there is a transitional period in which the consciousness has to switch from this body to another, better prepared body – better prepared outwardly, physically (not inwardly); “outwardly,” I mean, having acquired certain aptitudes through the present development, which this body doesn’t have, of the four qualities – which it doesn’t have in sufficient amount and completeness. That is to say, those four qualities must be in perfect accord and in sufficient amount to be able to bear the work of transformation.
I don’t know if I can make myself understood….
Yes, but you are talking about “switching” to a new body?
In that case, one would have to switch to a new body. But a switching (from the occult point of view, that’s a known thing), a switching not to a body to be born, but to an already formed body. It would take place through a sort of identification of the psychic personality of the body to be changed with the other, receiving body – but that, the fusions of psychic personalities, it’s possible, (laughing) I know the procedure! But it requires the abolition of the ego – yes, the abolition of the ego is certainly necessary; but if the abolition of the ego is sufficient in the supramentalized individuality (can I use the word individuality? I don’t know … it’s neither “personality” nor “individuality”), in the supramentalized being, if the abolition of the ego is done, completed, that being has the power to completely neutralize the presence of the ego in the other being. And then, through that neutralization, the shrinking that always comes from a reincarnation would be canceled – that’s the dreadful thing, you see, that time lost in the shrinking into a new being! While through that conscious passage – willed and conscious – from one body to the other, the being whose ego no longer exists has an almost total power to abolish the other ego.
All that occult mechanism needs to be developed, but for the consciousness it’s almost rational.
That would be the procedure.
The conditions for the almost indefinite prolongation of the life of the body are known, or almost known (they are more than sensed – they are known), and they are learned through the work that must be done to counteract the extreme fragility of the physical balance of the body undergoing the transformation. It’s a study every minute, as it were, almost every second. This is the extremely difficult part. It is difficult because of all the reasons I have already explained, because of the intrusion of forces that are in a state of imbalance and have to be, as they come along, brought back to the new state of balance. That’s where you find the sign of the unknown.
Voilà. It’s there.
But it’s not blocked anymore. The path is open, one can see – one can see.
It will come.
[Conversations with a disciple: April 17, 1965]
In the following conversation The Mother clarifies this, further elaborating upon this occult process of switching over from one body to another.
….I am wondering to what extent even an improved physical body could be of use? Because the thing is going to be so different. Whether this body is old and bent or young and very supple, does it really make any difference, since …
That’s not what I meant by “improved.” Whether the body is young or old doesn’t make any difference, because the advantages are balanced by drawbacks. I have also looked at the problem – it doesn’t make any difference.
Switching to a new body may become a necessity, that’s all, but it’s secondary.
What I meant by an “improved physical body” is that sort of mastery over the body that’s being gained nowadays through physical training. I have seen lately magazines showing how it had started: the results in the beginning and today’s results; and from the standpoint of the harmony of forms (I am not talking about excesses – there are excesses everywhere – I am talking about what can be done in the best possible conditions), from the standpoint of the harmony of forms, of strength and a certain sense of beauty, of the development of certain capacities of endurance and skill, of precision in the execution combined with strength, it’s quite remarkable if you think of how recent physical training is. And it’s spreading very quickly nowadays, which means that the proportion of the human population that is interested in it and practices it is snowballing. So when I saw all those photos (for me, it’s especially through pictures that I see), it occurred to me that through those qualities, the cells, the cellular aggregates acquire a plasticity, a receptivity, a force that make the substance more supple for the permeation of the supramental forces.
Let’s take the sense of form, for example (I am giving one example among many others). Evolution is openly moving towards diminishing the difference between the female and the male forms: the ideal that’s being created makes female forms more masculine and gives male forms a certain grace and suppleness, with the result that they increasingly resemble what I had seen all the way up, beyond the worlds of the creation, on the “threshold,” if I can call it that, of the world of form. At the beginning of the century, I had seen, before even knowing of Sri Aurobindo’s existence and without having ever heard the word “supramental” or the idea of it or anything, I had seen there, all the way up, on the threshold of the Formless, at the extreme limit, an ideal form that resembled the human form, which was an idealized human form: neither man nor woman. A luminous form, a form of golden light. When I read what Sri Aurobindo wrote, I said, “But what I saw was the supramental form!” Without having the faintest idea that it might exist. Well, the ideal of form we are now moving towards resembles what I saw. That’s why I said: since there is an evolutionary concentration on this point, on the physical, bodily form, it must mean that Nature is preparing something for that Descent and that embodiment – it seems logical to me. That’s what I meant by an improved physical form.
The other point is quite secondary, it’s incidental, it isn’t in the line of evolution. I am only saying that it’s a method that CAN be used, and it has been used in the past.
Switching to a new body?
Switching to a new body. The method may be used again, if it is felt to be necessary. It wasn’t the central idea, it was perfectly incidental – it may happen. And all I said was that the consciousness of these cells having lost the sense of ego (I think they have lost it, though this body was formed without the sense of ego – at any rate, if it was necessary at a given time, it no longer is), having lost the sense of ego, it finds no difficulty in manifesting in another body. And this is a perfectly practical and material experience, I mean I have had multiple experiences of this consciousness using that body, this body, that other body … for certain things; of course it was momentary, not in a permanent way, but at will and anyway lasting long enough to make me experience it concretely.
But this is a personal affair, it has nothing to do with the public or collectivity, while the other point is interesting: I have a feeling it is Nature’s collaboration, pushing humanity in that direction in order to prepare a matter more receptive to the ideal that wants to manifest.
When I thought about the last conversation again, it seemed to me that the gap between the two creations, the animal and the supramental, is so huge that it doesn’t make much difference whether the body is more supple and so on.
The gap isn’t so huge. The gap is huge in the MODE OF CREATION, that’s where there is a huge gap. That’s where it is difficult to conceive how we will switch from one to the other and how there can be intermediaries.
Exactly, I suddenly remembered in this connection a quotation from Sri Aurobindo that seemed to me interesting. It’s in “The Human Cycle,” at the end of “The Human Cycle.” Here’s what He says: “It may well be that, once started, it [the supramental endeavour] may not advance rapidly even to its first decisive stage; it may be that it will take long centuries of effort to come into some kind of permanent birth. But that is not altogether inevitable, for the principle of such changes in Nature seems to be a long obscure preparation followed by a swift gathering up and precipitation of the elements into the new birth, a rapid conversion, a transformation that in its luminous moment figures like a miracle.”
This is very interesting…. Yes (laughing), he said this to me a few days ago!
It is true.
Basically, once there is a body formed, precisely, by an ideal and an increasing development, a body with sufficient stuff and capacities, sufficient potential, there may very well be a rapid Descent of a supramental form, just as there was one with the human form…..
That’s how we began, and it began that way because there was a descent of the higher human mental consciousness into the form that existed. The phenomenon may recur in the same way, with the difference that it can be more conscious and willed – there may be the intervention of a conscious will. It would, or it could happen through an occult process – well, I don’t know, there are all sorts of possibilities, one of which could be the conscious passage of a being who has used the old human body for his development and his yoga, and who would leave that form once it became unnecessary in order to enter a form capable of adapting to the new growth. Here, the two possibilities meet.
But for the time being, there is no question of that because although the development of physical training is extremely rapid, it’s still clear that it may take hundreds of years.
[Conversations with a disciple: April 21, 1965]
Now She goes one step further in the realm of possibilities, that is, instead of dying and entering another body so to say, to actually form a material body by spiritual means and entering into it! Our human limitation may consider it fantastic but what is impossible for the Supreme Creatrix Power.
This Consciousness has a fantastic imagination! … It makes me see all kinds of fantastic possibilities regarding what will happen in the future. Like, for instance, for a woman, instead of dying, to be born again in her own child …. Things would be different from what they are now, there would be a capacity to form the child, not with a “material complement,” but with a spiritual complement (“spiritual” is a manner of speaking: the complement of an invisible force), and instead of dying and entering another body, one would oneself be able to form, with the most developed cells of one’s body, the being in which one will live again …. Quite an idea, isn’t it!
It came very early this morning (it’s always at that time), and with all the details, and an extraordinary intensity of life! … You see, in the body certain cells are developing as much as they can, growing increasingly conscious, and instead of disintegrating when the whole becomes inadequate to express the fullness of life, it’s inwardly that all those cells would gather to form a new body with a matter superior to ordinary matter.
It was so interesting that I looked at it for hours this morning, and in every detail.
[Conversations with a disciple: March 15, 1969]