May 25, 1963
(Regarding a letter from a personal friend of Satprem at the Editions du Seuil, who hints that the second manuscript on Sri Aurobindo [“The Adventure of Consciousness”] will also be refused: “I do not know whether P.A.L. has read it yet, he hasn't told me, but as soon as I read the first pages, I felt that this manuscript would never be published by Le Seuil. It has some defects and clumsy passages – but that will not be the reason for its refusal....”)
Very well! (laughter) Let us wait and see what they say. Of course, I never thought even for a minute that those people would publish it – but others will.
Once WE have published it, I am certain – certain – that there will be people who will want to publish it. Besides, it's not the kind of book to have a success for a while and then fall away. It will have a lasting action.
What does he mean by “clumsy passages”? Whatever he couldn't understand!
He understands. Maybe he means some passages that are a bit lengthy from a literary standpoint. Anyway, I don't know, he'll write to me. He will tell me.... I'd be curious to know what he understood. But the man is open-minded.
My own impression is rather that in order to appreciate the book fully, you must already know a lot – a lot more than those people know.
I have a strong impression – and that's why Sri Aurobindo was so interested in the book and took such a part in it – that it is the way of explaining things which those with a European education can best understand. Or those with a modern education, at any rate, with a modern turn of mind, because it's very appropriate for America, too. And for the whole part of India that's under the influence of British education, it will put them in touch in a way they can understand.
Not for a second did I think they would publish it – in fact, to tell you the truth, it wouldn't make me too happy either! It's not a book for their “Collection.” Their Collection is much too trite, too superficial.
Anyhow it wouldn't have been in their “Collection” because it has more than 300 pages and the books in their Collection have only 150. But it could have been outside the Collection – well, it doesn't seem it's going to happen.... I'd be curious to see their criticisms.
Oh, they won't understand anything anyway.
Show me his handwriting.
(Mother studies the letter)
Oh, the man is intuitive! Oh, oh!
Oh, he's very fine! Much better than what he writes.
I'd like to ask you a little question. In this book on Sri Aurobindo, I say in passing that the three aspects – Transcendent, Immanent, Cosmic – probably correspond to the Catholic Trinity, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Could you tell me the exact correspondence? The Father is clearly the Transcendent, but the Son?
The Son is the Immanent.
But then, what about the Holy Spirit and its descent?
Yes, I've often wondered.
I used to know. Once I had a discussion on this with the friend of a cardinal, and he gave me the explanation, adding that the cardinals were taught this interpretation esoterically, under a vow of secrecy. They were also taught that the Virgin was Nature, the universal Mother.
But what does the Holy Spirit descending with “tongues of fire” on Pentecost represent? Those “tongues of fire” don't look like a cosmic symbol, do they?
But I don't see how the Christ could be cosmic? He is very clearly the god within man.
Why? Does the Holy Spirit descend everywhere, or in a limited way?
Tradition has it that it descends on Pentecost.
What's the meaning of Pentecost?
I believe it's forty days after Easter.
Forty days after the resurrection, that is.
At that time, the twelve Apostles were gathered and the Holy Spirit “descended” upon them, in the form of tongues of fire.
But the Immanent doesn't “descend,” mon petit!
Well, of course! But how can the Cosmic (assuming the Holy Spirit to be a cosmic symbol) “descend” too? And in the form of tongues of fire?
Maybe we're trying to stretch the parallel too far, maybe it's something else.
It might rather be part of the announcement (not the Annunciation!), the heralding of the new world – of a new world. The Holy Spirit would then be the world that will descend after the human world.
I say this because Théon always announced the coming of the “new world.” He didn't speak of “Supermind,” he said: “There shall be new heavens and a new earth.” That was his explanation. So it may be that, originally, in the origin of the Catholic religion, they too had the idea that after forty days (it could also mean forty centuries, maybe forty eons or forty ages), there would come the descent of the Holy Spirit in the form of flames that would enter those who are ready. I find this explanation more logical.
Of course, the bird, the “white dove” they speak of, could be the Universal. Maybe it would manifest openly as a result of that descent?
Basically we always try to cut things into small pieces. It evidently means the manifestation, a new manifestation of the Divine, which takes place some time after the Divine in man is resuscitated. The Divine in man is resuscitated, that's very clear: it has become conscious. And after a time (4 is the manifestation, 10 is the perfection of the manifestation), the perfection of the manifestation of God resuscitated in man allows that universal or cosmic thing to manifest. If you take it like that, it makes sense.
That “universal thing” might be a collective transformation. A transformation that's no longer exclusively individual – the descent of the Holy Spirit into the collectivity?
I had been told that even in the College of Cardinals, things were only suggested, and each one was left to understand more or less deeply, according to his capacity. It's quite likely. But who has kept the tradition intact?... We can't say.
Anyway, put like this, it makes sense.