June 24, 1961
I have received your note1 and it didn't surprise me, because just about a month ago I received what seemed like an SOS from your mother, telling me your father was rapidly declining. I have done what I could, mainly to bring in some tranquillity, some calm, some inner peace. But I haven't done.... You see, there are always two possibilities when people are so seriously ill: they can be helped to die quickly, or else made to linger on for a very long time. When I have no outer or inner indications, all I ever do is apply the consciousness for the best to happen to them (the best from the soul's standpoint, of course).
Do you know whether your father has expressed any wish?
According to my mother's letter, he says he no longer particularly cares to live, that his days are so miserable....
But he still doesn't want to pass away? Is he suffering a great deal?
(Mother remains silent for a moment, then says.) Over the years I have had a considerable number of experiences in this realm, and my first action is always the same: send the Peace (I do this in all cases, for everyone) and apply the Force, the Power of the Lord, for the best thing to happen. Some people are very sick, sick to the point where there is no hope, where they cannot be cured, where the end is coming; but they sense that their souls must still need to have certain experiences, so they hang on-they don't want to die. In such cases I apply the Force for them to last as long as possible. In other cases, on the contrary, they are weary of suffering, or indeed the soul has finished its experience and desires to be liberated. In such a case, if I am sure of it, sure that they themselves are expressing the desire to depart, it's over in a few hours – I say this with certainty because I've had a considerable number of experiences. There is a certain force which goes out and does what is necessary. I haven't done either of these things for your father – neither to prolong his life (because when people are suffering it's not very kind to prolong their lives indefinitely), nor to finish it, because I didn't know – one can't do either without knowing the person's conscious wish.
As for your mother, she must have been thinking of me, for otherwise she wouldn't have come in that way – she would have come through you (it's different when things come through you). But she came to me directly, so I thought that for some reason she must have remembered me. I don't know. And I looked and said to myself (it came just like that), “Now that she will be left all alone, why doesn't she come here?” I haven't done anything about that, either, one way or the other.
That's odd – the same thought has been coming to me these last three or four days: why doesn't she come here?
It didn't come from me, you understand; it didn't stem from a construction made by me: it came from outside. “Why doesn't she come here?” I wondered.
The same thought came to me three or four times.
Then she is thinking about it – perhaps not consciously, but in her subconscient.
it happened some time ago. I even spoke to Sujata about it and said that someone over there was calling you. Did she tell you?
That your mother was pulling on you.
She had Z write to me.
As I said, I have done nothing, neither one way nor the other. So don't do anything. You know, from time to time when people are very sick, something comes out of them to indicate their will. But one has to be present, one has to hear it.
There was an experience like that quite recently. A.'s mother was ill – old and seriously ill. Seeing her declining, A. wrote to me: “If the time has come, make it happen quickly – don't let her suffer.” Then I saw very clearly that there was still something in her which didn't want to go; and when I applied the Force for the best to happen she suddenly began to recover! It must have coincided with a kind of inner aspiration in her – no more fever, she was feeling well. And A. began preparing to come back here. “If she's recovering,” he said, “there's no longer any point in my staying!” The same evening she had a relapse and he sent me a telegram. Meanwhile (it was evening) I had gone upstairs to “walk”; suddenly The Will came (which is a very, very rare thing), The Will: “Enough, now it must finish – it's enough as it is.” Within half an hour she was dead.
These things are very interesting. They must form part of the work I have come on earth to do. Because even before encountering Théon, before knowing anything, I had experiences at night, certain types of activities looking after people who were leaving their bodies – and with a knowledge of the process; I didn't know what I was doing nor did I seek to know, yet I knew exactly what had to be done and I did it. I was around twenty.
As soon as I came upon Théon's teaching (even before meeting him personally), and read and understood all kinds of things which I hadn't known before, I began to work quite systematically. Every night, at the same hour, I was working to construct – between the purely terrestrial atmosphere and the psychic atmosphere – a path of protection across the vital, so that people wouldn't have to pass through it (for those who are conscious but without knowledge it's a very difficult passage – infernal.) I was preparing this path, doing this work (it must have been around 1903 or 1904, I don't remember exactly) for months and months and months. All sorts of extraordinary things happened during that time – extraordinary. I could tell long stories....
Then, when I went to Tlemcen, I told Madame Théon about it. “Yes,” she told me, “it is part of the work you have come on earth to do. Everyone with even a slightly awakened psychic being who can see your Light will go to your Light at the moment of dying, no matter where they die, and you will help them to pass through.” And this work is constant. Constant. it has given me a considerable number of experiences concerning what happens to people when they leave their bodies. I've had all sorts of experiences, all kinds of examples – it's really very interesting.
Lately it has increased, become more precise.
There is a boy here, V., who is especially interested in what happens at the moment of death (this seems to be one reason why he has reincarnated). He's a conscious boy, a remarkable clairvoyant, and he has a power. And we have had (how to put it?) some quite interesting correlations of experiences concerning people who pass away here. Extremely interesting and extraordinarily precise: he sends word to me, I reply, and at night when the disincarnated person comes he says, “Mother has done this and says to do that,” and the person does it. And we don't need to speak – such precision!
This happens in sleep?
He might do this work in sleep, or sometimes in meditation, or in a kind of trance he enters into – it depends on the case.
I will give you a concrete example, then you'll understand. When I.B. was killed, I had to gather up all his states of being and activities, which had been dispersed by the violence of the accident2 – it was terrible, he was in a dreadful state of dispersion. For two or two and a half days the doctors fought in the hope of reviving him, but it was impossible. During those two days I gathered up all his consciousness, all of it; I collected it over his body, to the point where, when it had come and formed itself there, such vitality, such life was coming back into his body that after some hours the doctors believed he would be saved. But it couldn't last (it wasn't possible – a part of the brain had come out). Well, when not only his soul but his mental being, his vital being, and all the rest had been properly collected and organized over his body and had realized that the body had become quite unusable, it was over – they gave up the body and it was over.
I was keeping I.B. near me because I already had the idea of putting him immediately back into another body – his soul was not satisfied, it had not finished its experience (there was a whole combination of circumstances) and it wanted to continue to live on earth. Then, that night, his inner being went to find V., lamenting, saying he was dead and hadn't wanted to die, that he had lost his body and wanted to continue to live. V. was very perplexed. He let me know about it in the morning: “Here's what has happened.” I sent word to him of what I was doing, that I was keeping I.B. in my atmosphere and that he should stay very calm and not get excited, for I was going to put him back into a body as soon as possible – I already had something in view. The same evening I.B. again went to find V., with the same complaint. V. told him very clearly, “Here is what Mother says, here is what she is going to do; come now, be calm and don't torment yourself.” And he saw in I.B.'s face that he had understood (the inner being was taking on I.B.'s physical appearance, naturally); his face relaxed, he became content.
He went away and he never came back. That is, he stayed tranquilly with me, until I was able to put him into C'.s child.
This correlation in the work is very interesting because it has quite practical effects – V. was able to communicate exactly what I had to say to I.B., and I.B. understood better through him than through me directly (because I do the work, but don't have time to deal with all the details, to tell each individual what to do).
I was telling you the other day how vexing it is that we are all on different planes all the time,3 but on that particular plane it works very well with this boy – on this one point, this tiny, precise point concerning the moment of leaving the body. We can do interesting work this way.
Is one snatched up by the vital zone upon leaving the body?
No, it depends.
It depends entirely upon the way people die: on the way they leave their bodies, on what is around them, on the atmosphere created for them.
If they call me, then it goes well.
There have been very, very few cases, a quite minimal number, when people have called (not very sincerely) and their call hasn't had much effect. But even these people have a protection. There was a woman here, an old woman who was not very sincere (she didn't live here – she only came to visit) and the last time she visited she fell ill and died. Then I saw that she was completely dispersed into all her desires, all her memories, all her attachments... and it had all been scattered here and there, into all sorts of things (one part of her was seeking, seeking where to go and what to do); anyway, it was rather pitiful. Afterwards I was asked, “How did it happen? She was calling all the time.” I replied that I had not heard her call – it must not have been very sincere, only a formula.4
But it's very rare that people get no response.
Not long ago M.'s sister died (psychologically, she was in a terrible state – she had no faith). Well, on that day,5 just when I came to know that she was passing away, I remember being upstairs in the bathroom communicating with Sri Aurobindo, having a sort of conversation with him (it happens very often), and I asked him, “What happens to such people when they die here at the Ashram?” “Look,” he replied, and I saw her passing away; and on her forehead, I saw Sri Aurobindo's symbol in a SOLID golden light (not very luminous, but very concrete). There it was. And with the presence of this sign the psychological state no longer mattered – nothing touched her. And she departed tranquilly, tranquilly. Then Sri Aurobindo told me, “All who have lived at the Ashram and who die there have automatically the same protection, whatever their inner state.”
I can't say I was surprised, but I admired the mighty power by which the simple fact of having been here and died here was sufficient to help you to the utmost in that transition.
But there are all sorts of cases. Take N.D., for example, a man who lived his whole life with the idea of serving Sri Aurobindo – he died clasping my photo to his breast. This was a consecrated man, very conscious, with an unfailing dedication, and all the parts of his being well organized around the psychic.6 The day he was going to leave his body little M. was meditating next to the Samadhi when suddenly she had a vision: she saw all the flowers of the tree next to the Samadhi (those yellow flowers I have called “Service”) gathering themselves together to form a big bouquet, and rising, rising straight up. And in her vision these flowers were linked with the image of N.D. She ran quickly to their house and – he was dead.
I only knew about this vision later, but on my side, when he left, I saw his whole being gathered together, well united, thoroughly homogenous, in a great aspiration, and rising, rising without dispersing, without deviating, straight up to the frontier of what Sri Aurobindo has called “the higher hemisphere,” there where Sri Aurobindo in his supramental action presides over earth. And he melted into that light.
Some time before his heart attack he said to his children: the gown is old, it must be thrown away.
But people are so ignorant! They make such a fuss over death, as if it were the end – this word “death” is so absurd! I see it as simply passing from one house into another or from one room to another; you take one simple step, you cross the threshold, and there you are on the other side – and then you come back.
Have I told you about the experience I had the day I suddenly found myself in Sri Aurobindo's home in the subtle physical?7 Well, it's as if I took a step and entered a far more concrete world than the physical – more concrete because things contain more truth. I spent a good while there with Sri Aurobindo and then, when it was over, I took another step and I found myself back here... slightly dumbfounded. It took me quite some time to regain my bearings here, because it was this world that seemed unreal to me, not the other.
But it's simply that – you take a step, and you enter another room. And when you live in your soul there is a continuity, because the soul remembers, it keeps the whole memory; it remembers all occurrences, even outer occurrences, all the outer movements it has been associated with. So it's a continuous, uninterrupted movement, here and there, from one room to another, from one house to another, from one life to another.
People are so ignorant! That's what irritates those who have passed to the other side – people don't understand, they shoo them away: “What does he want? Why does he bother me? He's DEAD!”
Later, as Mother is about to leave:
I have to go – a high-priest is waiting for me! Yes, the man in charge of all the temples of Gujarat, thoroughly orthodox – he has come to the Ashram for some mysterious reason and he wants to see me. “Is it really necessary?” I asked. He wanted an interview, he wants to speak to me (naturally he'll be speaking god knows what – Gujarati!). I had him told, “I can't hear, I'm deaf!” It's very convenient – I'm deaf, I can't hear. If he wants to receive a flower from me (I didn't say make a pranam,8 because that would be scandalous!), he can come and I'll give him a flower. I told him eleven o'clock – it's that time now.
This is all X's work. The most unexpected people, people you'd think would rather be cursed than come to a place like this, are coming from everywhere, from the most diverse milieus – the most materialistic materialists, fanatical communists, as well as all sorts of sannyasis, bhikkus, swamis, priests – oh! People who previously were not at all... they weren't so much disinterested as actually displeased with the Ashram.
We have a disciple here who returns to his birthplace from time to time, and after the first year X began to do his puja to get people interested in the Ashram, he said it was extraordinary. He had previously been looked at askance and had to argue with people, but now everyone came to call on him as soon as he arrived! He wrote that he was completely astonished (he wasn't aware of X's work); hundreds of people came to ask him to hold huge meetings; sadhus, monks and priests came to him for information on the Ashram. Things have developed so rapidly and completely that they now have some land where they have built a center and hold meetings.
And it's like that almost everywhere.
When P. returns from Switzerland, she will have some very interesting stories to tell. She has written me of experiences she had with Swiss children, genuinely interesting experiences. It is going on everywhere, everywhere, everywhere, and in a much more precise and exact way than one would ever believe. Even in America.
Do you know the story of the two simultaneous operations of E. and of T.? T. is that vice-admiral who came here and became quite enthusiastic – he had a kind of inner revelation here. The two of them were operated on for a similar complaint, a dangerous ulcer in the digestive system. He was in one town and she was in another, and they were operated on a day apart – both serious operations. And in each case, after a few days had gone by, the surgeon who did the operation said, “I congratulate you.” Practically the same phrase in both cases. And they both protested: “Why are you congratulating me?” (Each one wrote me about this separately; they were living far from one another and only met afterwards.) “Why? You did the operation – you should be congratulated for my quick recovery.” And in both cases the doctor replied, “No, no; we only operate, the body does the healing; you have healed yourself in a way which can qualify as miraculous, and I genuinely congratulate you.” And then the two of them had the same reaction – they wrote to me saying, “We know where the miracle comes from.” And they had both called me. Moreover, E. had written me a remarkable letter a few days before her operation, where she quoted the Gita as if it were quite natural for her, and told me, “I know that the operation is ALREADY done, that the Lord has already done it, and so I am calm.”
Things like that, everywhere – and PRECISE! Something quite precise. Of course, to say that I work consciously is almost silly, it's commonplace. But in many cases one may work consciously for long years without getting that precision in the result – the action enters a hazy atmosphere and makes a kind of stir, and out of it comes the best that can, but no more than that. But now it's exact, precise – it's becoming interesting.
And now I know why this sort of impersonalization of the material individuality is so important. It is very important for the exactness of this action, so that it is only – ONLY – the purest divine Will (if it can be put that way), expressing itself with a minimum of admixture. Any individualization or personalization results in admixture. But the divine Will acts like this (direct gesture).
Oh, it was magnificent at the balcony this morning!
And then one understands all, all – all the details. Some things can be understood intellectually or psychologically (which is very good, it has an effect and it helps you), but that always seems so hazy; it works through an imprecision. But now the vibration's mechanism is understood – its MECHANICS; and thus it becomes precise. All these attitudes the yoga recommends – beginning with action done as offering, then complete detachment from the result (leaving the result to the Lord), then perfect equanimity in all circumstances, all these stages which one understands intellectually, feels sentimentally, and has fully experienced – well, all this takes on its TRUE MEANING only when it becomes what could be called a mechanical action of vibration – at that point one understands why it must be like it is.
And these last few days, especially yesterday and this morning, oh! Extraordinary discoveries! We are on the right track.
That's all, mon petit – now I'm off to see the priest. What a face he's going to make!
(Mother gets up to leave)
At least fifty people wait for the last days of the month to see me and they imagine.... One thing I have not yet comprehended: what to do to make physical time lose its physical reality?... It may come. As you see, I still have to watch the clock, and when I am late, well, time gets short! Maybe I'll get the power of (what is it called?)... ubiquity. I believe that's the solution! To be here, and then there – just like that! It would be very amusing.
1 Satprem no longer has the text of this letter.
2 He was run over by a truck.
3 Agenda, June 17, 1961.
4 Among Mother's papers we have found the following, which indicates that a state of dispersion after death is rather frequent (it concerns a disciple's mother who did not herself live at the Ashram): “She has left her body without being at all prepared for the change of condition and has found herself disoriented and rather dispersed. She will need some time to recover from this dispersion before anything useful can be done for her.”
5 May 17, 1959.
6 In Sri Aurobindo's and Mother's terminology, “psychic” or “psychic being” means the soul or the portion of the Supreme in man which evolves from life to life until it becomes a fully self-conscious being. The soul is a capacity or grace particular to human beings on earth.
7 Experience of July 24, 1959.
8 Pranam: To bow down.