Notes on the Way (CWM Vol.11)

Notes on the Way

Collected Works of the Mother Volume 11

During the years 1961 to 1973 the Mother had frequent conversations with one of her disciples about the experiences she was having at the time. She called these conversations, which were in French, l’Agenda.

Selected transcripts of the tape-recorded conversations were seen, approved and occasionally revised by the Mother for publication in the Bulletin of Sri Aurobindo International Centre of Education; they appeared regularly from February 1965 to April 1973 under the titles “Notes on the Way” and “A Propos”. The English translations that accompanied the French text in the Bulletin were sometimes read out to the Mother for approval; the same translations, with minor revisions, are published in this volume, number eleven of the Collected Works of the Mother.

The following introductory note preceded the first of the “Notes on the Way” conversations:

“We begin under this title to publish some fragments of conversations with the Mother. These reflections or experiences, these observations, which are very recent, are like landmarks on the way of Transformation: they were chosen not only because they illumine the work under way — a yoga of the body of which all the processes have to be established — but because they can be a sort of indication of the endeavour that has to be made.”

Book Details

Author: The Mother

Print Length: 360 pages

Publisher: Sri Aurobindo Ashram

Book format: PDF, ePub, Kindle

Language: English

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Notes on the Way

Things have clearly taken a turn for the better, not from the ordinary point of view but from the higher. Yet the material consequences are still there — all the difficulties are as though aggravated. Only, the power of the consciousness is greater — clearer, more precise, and also the action upon those who are of good will; they make quite considerable progress. But the material difficulties are as though aggravated, that is to say, it is… to see if we can stand the test!

It is like that.

It isn’t long (since yesterday), something has cleared in the atmosphere. But the way is still long — long, long. I feel it is very long. One must last — hold on, above all, that is the impression — one must have endurance. These are the two absolutely indispensable things: endurance, and a faith that nothing can shake, even an apparently complete negation, even if you suffer, even if you are miserable (I mean to say, in the body), even if you are tired — to last. To hold on and to last — to endure. That is it.

But according to what I have been told, I mean by people who listen to the radio, read newspapers (all the things that I do not do), the whole world seems to be undergoing an action… which for the moment is upsetting. It seems that the number of the “apparently mad” is increasing considerably. In America, for example, the entire youth seems to have taken up with a sort of curious brain-wave which would be disquieting for reasonable people, but which is certainly an indication that an unusual force is at work. It is the breaking up of all habits and all rules — it is good. For the moment, it is rather “strange”, but it is necessary.

The true attitude, at present, is it not to try to be as transparent as possible?

Transparent, receptive to the new force.

I put the question to myself because the impression is that this transparence is transparent, but it is somewhat like nothingness, a nothingness that is full; all the same it is nothingness, one does not know. One does not know if it is a kind of higher tamas, or…

Above all, to be confident. The big difficulty in Matter is that the material consciousness (that is to say, the mind in Matter) has been formed under the pressure of difficulties — difficulties, obstacles, sufferings, struggles. It has been, so to say, “worked out” by these things and that has left upon it a stamp, almost of pessimism, defeatism, which is certainly the greatest obstacle.

It is of this that I am conscious in my own work. The most material consciousness, the most material mind is accustomed to act, to make an effort, to advance through whippings; otherwise, it is tamas. And then, so far as it imagines, it imagines always difficulty, always the obstacle or always the opposition, and that slows down the movement terribly. Very concrete, very tangible and often repeated experiences are needed to convince it that behind all its difficulties there is a Grace, behind all its failures there is the Victory, behind all its pains, its sufferings, its contradictions, there is Ananda. Of all efforts it is this one which has to be repeated most often; all the while you are obliged to stop or to remove, to convert a pessimism, a doubt or an imagination altogether defeatist.

I am speaking exclusively of the material consciousness.

Naturally, when something comes down from above, that makes, well… a crash, like that (Mother makes a gesture of flattening), then all is silent, all stops and waits. But… I understand well why the Truth, the Truth-Consciousness does not express itself more constantly, because the difference between its Power and the power of Matter is so great that the power of Matter is, as it were, annulled — but then that does not mean transformation, that means crushing. That is what they used to do in ancient times — they crushed all this material consciousness under the weight of a Power against which nothing can struggle, which nothing can oppose. And then one had the impression: “There you are! It has been done.” But it has not been done, not at all!—for the rest, down below, remained as before, without changing.

Now it is being given the full possibility to change; well, for that you must allow it full play and not interpose a Power that crushes it — this I understand very well. But this consciousness has the obstinacy of the imbecile. How many times during a suffering, for example, when a suffering is there, acute, and one has the impression that it is going to become unbearable, there is the little inner movement (within the cells) of Call — the cells send their S.O.S. — everything stops, the suffering disappears, and often (now more and more) it is replaced by a feeling of blissful well-being; but the very first reaction of this imbecile material consciousness is: “Ah! We shall see how long that is going to last”, and naturally, by this movement it demolishes everything — one must begin all over again.

I believe that for the effect to be lasting — not a miraculous effect that comes, dazzles and goes away — it must really be the effect of a transformation. One must be very, very patient — we have to deal with a consciousness very slow, very heavy, very obstinate, which is not able to advance rapidly, which clings to what it has, to what has appeared to it as truth; even if it is quite a tiny truth, it clings to that and does not want to move. Then to cure that, one must have very much patience — much patience.

The whole thing is to hold on, to endure, to endure.

Sri Aurobindo has said this many times in many forms: Endure and you’ll conquer… bear — bear and you’ll vanquish.

Triumph comes to the most enduring.

So then, that seems to be the lesson for these conglomerates here (Mother points to her body) — bodies appear to me simply as conglomerates and so long as there is a will behind to keep them together for some reason or other, they remain together…. In the last few days, yesterday or the day before, there was this experience: a kind of consciousness wholly decentralised (I am speaking always of the physical consciousness, not of the higher consciousness at all), a decentralised consciousness which happened to be here, there, there, in this body, in that body (in what people call “this person” and “that person”, but this notion does not exist very much any more), then there was a kind of intervention of a universal consciousness with regard to the cells, as though it asked those cells for what reason they wanted to keep this combination, if one can call it so, or that conglomerate. Indeed, they were made to understand or feel the difficulties coming from the number of years, the wear and tear, the external difficulties, in sum, all the deterioration caused by friction and usage — but that seemed to them quite unimportant. The answer was rather interesting in the sense that they did not seem to attach importance to anything other than the capacity to remain in conscious contact with the higher Force. It was like an aspiration (not formulated in words, naturally), what is called in English “a yearning”, “a longing” for this contact with the divine Force, the Force of Harmony, the Force of Truth, the Force of Love. And it is because of that that they appreciate the present combination.

It is altogether another point of view.

I express it with the words of the mind, for there is no other way, but it was in the domain of sensation rather than any other thing. And it was very clear — it was very clear and very continuous, there were no fluctuations. At that moment, this universal consciousness intervened, saying, “There! — the obstacles”, and these obstacles were clearly seen (this kind of pessimism of the mind — a formless mind which is about to be born and organise itself in the cells), but the cells themselves cared nothing for it; it appeared to them as a kind of disease (the word deforms, but they had the impression as of an accident or an inevitable disease or something which did not form a normal part of their development and which was imposed upon them). Then, at that moment, there was born a kind of lower power to act upon these things (this physical mind); that has given a material power to separate itself from that and reject it. And it is after that that there was this turning of which I spoke just now, the turning in the circumstances as a whole, as if truly something decisive had happened. There was as though a confident joy: “Ah! We are free from this nightmare.”

   And at the same time, a relief — a physical relief, as though the air was easier to breathe — yes, a little as though one was closed in a shell — a suffocating shell — and that… in any case an opening has been made within. And you breathe. I do not know if it is more than that, but it is as though a fissure was made, an opening, and you breathe.

And it was an altogether material, cellular action.

But as you descend into that domain, the domain of the cells, even of the very constitution of the cells, how it seems less heavy! This sort of heaviness of Matter disappears — it begins again to be fluid, vibrant. This would tend to prove that the heaviness, thickness, inertia, immobility, is something added, it is not a quality essential to… it is the false Matter, that which we think and feel, but not Matter itself, as it is. This was clearly felt.

7 October 1964

Cathegory “The Mother”


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