July 3, 1963
(This conversation took place a few days after the new Pope, Paul VI, was enthroned. Mother had asked Satprem to erase the recording, except for a few fragments, but he thought it fit to retain at least its integral transcription.)
Here, your flowers [roses]. A magnificent color....
Then I have another photo of the Pope (Mother shows “Time” magazine).
It seems it's the photo he chose himself for the press, to announce his election.
It's better than the last one.
(Mother hands the photo to Satprem) So, what do you have to say?
You should be the one to say!
I have to say.
I have to say that I know this man. I have met him several times. I don't know whether he is conscious, I mean I don't think he remembers when he returns to his body. But for a long time (not recently, certainly at least for a year, maybe two), the man has been involving himself in world affairs, which means he takes interest in global movements.1 I met him in this connection. I cannot say we've had interesting “conversations” or anything of that sort, but he is part of the organizations.
I hadn't seen that at all in the other photo [published by the daily newspapers]... it's his eyes. The mouth is bad as in the other photo, but bad in another way: he looks almost malicious. But the man has power – real power; not a Pope's power, I mean: real power, inside him.
Vital power, you mean, or spiritual?
Not spiritual! Not spiritual: power. Power – which means a somewhat higher mental capacity along with a vital realization. He's a man who, were he not the Pope, would have no scruples. But he happens (laughing) to be obliged at least to appear good!
I get a sense of hardness.
Very hard. Just the opposite of the other one [John XXIII].
But he has publicly pledged to continue what the other one had begun. Only, the other one had no power whatsoever: he was simply a good man on earth. This one isn't a “good man”! He's an effective power in the terrestrial organizations.
And now he has a position.
It's a bit outdated [the papacy]. But not so much as one may think. I saw that when the other one died, oh, how it stirred the earth's mental atmosphere, it was considerable. Which means that many, many human beings are still governed by that.
But I never concerned myself with that domain. Even when I saw the Pope, the one before the last one [Pius XII], who came to offer me the Keys (I told you the story, didn't I?), even with him, who had a SPIRITUAL rapport with the universal Mother, I never concerned myself. I never did anything for him, I never concerned myself with him. This time, for whatever reason, there is something that keeps pulling and pulling me in that direction.
I don't know, maybe something decisive is going to be achieved? I don't know....
But is his power of organization a power for the “good,” if I may say so, or what?
I tell you, it's a power of domination. But now he is the Pope, so his domination will have to be at the service of his position, you understand.
But maybe... The very fact that I met him (he may have been already thinking of becoming Pope, I don't know), but anyway, long before anyone except him thought of it, the fact that I met him while seeing to certain terrestrial arrangements shows that, probably unconsciously (I told you right away: I don't think he is conscious in his body), he is nevertheless under the influence, if not the control, of the higher forces.
Why is my attention drawn all of a sudden in that direction? Generally, I am not interested in all those things. For the action, I am concerned only with the little field of experience I have been given, and my terrestrial action is of quite another nature; it's on a higher plane, very independent of individuals.
I find there are three noteworthy points: First, this man was already concerning himself with terrestrial affairs when he was a mere cardinal in Milan (in Milan he was very involved in labor problems – there are many workers in Milan – and that interested him, he liked to solve workers' problems). Then there is the continuation of the other one's work: the rapprochement, so to say, with Russia, which is truly interesting. Last, there is the fact that Kennedy is Catholic. And also, that all this is happening just now, I mean when AT LEAST (I don't say at best, I say at least) the foundation of the new world is being prepared....
The foundations are being prepared.
We shall see.
(Mother looks at the “Time” magazine photo again:) With these photos it's very interesting, I have intriguing experiences: all at once I'll see crystal clear (much clearer than I see physically), I'll see the individual very clearly – he comes alive, the eyes speak to me – and I'll say, “Oh, he's like this and like that....” Everybody brings me photos, because I am used to reading people's characters in their photos, that's very easy for me, elementary; but sometimes when I am given a photo, suddenly I see somebody and I say, “Oh, but it's such and such person, he's like this and like that....” But if I am shown the SAME photo a few days afterwards, it's just a photo and I see nothing. It's a method that's used to “let me know” certain things, and once I know them, it's finished. For instance, the first time I saw this photo of the Pope, when they brought it to me, I saw the man (I know him, you see) JUST AS I see him over there. But if I look at it now – it doesn't evoke anything in me any more, only the kind of things you see in a photo: a mouth that's not good, far from it.... Certainly, that he chose this photo means he LIKES authority – he wants to be seen in his aspect of authority.
The odd thing is that he is seated [in the photo], while all the time I see him standing. He is seated with his hand on the armrest, but I keep seeing him standing – holding his head high, facing life, standing. He must be fairly tall: the man I know is fairly tall, he looks very much like this one. It's unmistakable, I mean, when I saw the photo I saw the man I knew.
But I think... not “think,” I see that his belief is, first, simply a question of habit, because he was born in that religion, and then a question of political necessity – I don't think he has the conviction that it is the pure Truth. Whereas the previous Pope really believed in it. This one knows too much in his supraconscient to believe that Christianity is the pure and exclusive Truth. Only, you see, when you're lucky enough to be the Pope, you've got to believe that the Pope is the Pope! Try to imagine, look at the global situation from a distance: of course the whole world isn't Catholic, but there are Catholics all over the world.
What seems... bizarre to those who have gone beyond the petty, purely terrestrial limits – human terrestrial limits – is that belief in a SINGLE divine manifestation on the earth; all the religions are based on that, everyone says, “Christ was the only one,” or “Buddha was the only one,” or elsewhere “Mohammed was the only one,” and so forth. Well, that “only one” is something IMPOSSIBLE as soon as you rise a little above the ordinary earth atmosphere – it appears childish. You can understand the thing and accept it only as a sort of recurrent movement of the divine Consciousness on the earth.
Of course, officially there is only Christ; maybe for this man [Paul VI], he is still the greatest, but I would be surprised if he thought Christ was the only one. Only, Christ “has to” be the only one – you'd cut out your own tongue rather than say he's not!
I don't think the question bothers him much (!) His concern is how to exert his power and keep people in it, so as, maybe, to prove his superiority.
This much conviction they still have, you see, that their religion IS superior to all others, their power is superior to all others, and therefore they have to be more powerful than the others. That's the main idea: “To be the most powerful.” And what's the way, now, for them to gain that all-powerfulness? Already for two or three generations, they have understood the necessity of a broadening: the narrowness of their dogma gave them too many weak points.... But he [Paul VI] understands maybe even better. We'll see what happens.
Look what I've received (Mother hands a garland of jasmine), you'll give it to Sujata – it smells nice!
But he seems to me by far the most interesting Pope in a very long time.
It's strange, I got a sense of repulsion.
The only danger with these people is a spirit of Inquisition, but is that possible nowadays? I don't think so.
No, but under the cover of a “synthesis” or a broadening of the doctrine, they may very well be trying to expand further the power of Catholicism over the world.
Of course. Oh, but it's obvious. That's their intention.
Only, there is always an irony in things: if they grow too vast, they'll be engulfed in their own magnitude! It cannot be otherwise.
If, out of the need to enlarge, the Pope accepts, for instance, all the different sects (they've already started to accept the Protestants), if he accepts all those sects, (laughing) little by little they will either break apart or be drowned! You follow, if we look at it from above... Let's even assume it's an Asuric power – it isn't... (Mother hesitates) it isn't clearly and distinctly an Asuric power, because by his very position, the Pope is OBLIGED to recognize a god higher than himself; that god may, of course, be an Asura, but... I have a sort of memory – the memory of a very ancient story no one ever told me... in which the first Asura challenged the supreme Lord and told him, “I am as great as You!” And the answer was, “I wish you would become greater than I, because then there will be no more Asura.”
This memory is very living, somewhere.... If you become the Whole, it's finished – you see, the Asura's ambition is to be greater than the supreme Lord: “Become greater than I, then there will be no more Asura.”
On a very small scale, it's the same thing on the earth.
In a certain state of consciousness, it becomes absolutely impossible to worry about what may happen2; everything becomes visibly, obviously, the work of one and the same Force, one and the same Consciousness, one and the same Power. So that sense and will and ambition to be “more” – more powerful, greater – is again the SAME Force which pushes you to expand to the Limitless. As soon as you cross the limit, it's finished.
Those are old ideas – the old ideas of two powers opposing each other: the power of Good and the power of Evil, the battle between the two, which of the two will have the last word.... There was a time when children were entertained with such stories. They're just children's stories.
Some people (or if you like, some beings, or forces, or consciousnesses) in order to progress need to give themselves, to merge, and in total self-annihilation, they attain Realization; for others the path is diametrically opposite: it's a growth, a domination, an expansion which assumes fantastic proportions... until the separation disappears – it can no longer exist.
Some prefer this path, others prefer that one – but when we reach the end, it will all meet.
Ultimately, the one thing necessary is to abolish limits.... There are many ways to abolish limits.
And maybe they are all equally difficult.
That religion is perhaps the one I have fought the most. For a very simple reason: its power, its means of action (the power it uses as a means of action) is fear. And of all things, fear is the most degrading.
I saw two examples of this, one physically and the other intellectually (I am referring to things I was in contact with materially). Intellectually, it was a studio friend; for years we had done painting together, she was a very gentle girl, older than I, very serious, and a very good painter. During the last years of my life in Paris, I saw her often and I spoke to her, first of occult matters and the “Cosmic philosophy,” then of what I knew of Sri Aurobindo (I had a “group” there and I used to explain certain things), and she would listen with great understanding – she understood, she approved. Now, one day, I went to her house and she told me she was in a great torment. When she was awake, she had no doubts, she understood well, she felt the limitations and obscurities of religion (she came from a family with several archbishops and a cardinal – well, one of those “old French families”). “But at night,” she told me, “I suddenly wake up with an anguish and something – from my subconscient, obviously – tells me, ‘But after all this, what if you go to hell?’” And she repeated, “When I am awake it doesn't have any force, but at night, when it comes up from the subconscient, it chokes me.”
Then I looked, and I saw a kind of huge octopus over the earth: that formation of the Church – of hell – with which they hold people in their grip. The fear of hell. Even when all your reason, all your intelligence, all your feeling is against it, there is, at night, that octopus of the fear of hell which comes and grips you.
That brought home to me... the magnitude of the problem – it's terrestrial. There are Catholics everywhere: in China, in Africa among the Negroes; people who don't give a thought to these things yet are under the sway and caught by the octopus.
Another time, when I was younger, I was in Italy, in Venice, painting in a corner of St. Mark's Cathedral (a marvelous place of great beauty), and I happened to be sitting right next to a confessional. One day, as I sat there painting, I saw the priest arrive and enter the confessional – that man... completely black, tall, thin, the very face of wickedness and hardness: a pitiless wickedness. He closeted himself in there. After a short while there came a rather young woman, perhaps thirty years old, gentle, very sweet – not intelligent but very sweet – entirely dressed in black. She entered the box (he was already shut in and could no longer be seen), and they spoke through a grille. I should add that it's far more medieval than in France, it was really... it was almost theatrical. She knelt down there, I saw her long gown flowing out, and she was speaking. (I couldn't hear, she was whispering; besides, both of them spoke in Italian, although I understand Italian.) The voices were barely audible, there was no sound. Then all at once, I heard the woman sobbing (she was sobbing in spasms), and it went on till suddenly – a collapse: she crumpled in a heap on the floor. Then that man opened the door, shoving aside her body with the door – and he strode away without a backward glance. I was young, you know, and if I could have, I would have killed him. What he had just done was monstrous. And he was going away... it was a chunk of steel that walked out.
Incidents of that sort have left me with a peculiar impression. The stories of the Inquisition had already given me a sufficient... Now, of course, you've heard what I told you [the story of the Asura], and that's really my way of seeing the thing. But there was a time when I might have said, “No religion has done more evil in the world than this one.”
But I am not so sure now. It's one ASPECT of that religion.
It's yet too human a vision of things. I prefer – I prefer the vision of the Lord telling the Asura, “Go ahead, keep on growing and growing and growing... and there will be no more Asura!” (laughing) That's better.
This man [Paul VI] may have been like that priest in Venice. He was a tall young man, couldn't have been more than thirty, very thin, with a face like a knife blade, oh!...
Fear is not a negative thing: it's a very positive thing, it's a special form of power that has always been used by the Asuric forces – it's their greatest strength. Their greatest strength is fear.
I can see: whenever people are defeated, it's ALWAYS through fear, always.
So if you (Mother turns to the photo) intend to make use of it, you'd better beware!
(Mother stares at the photo)
What comes to me is a magnificence....
Well, we'll see.
(Later, the subject is the English translation of Satprem's recent book on Sri Aurobindo:)
I think E. will be able to find a public over there, in America especially – more than in France.
In France, all those who have an awakening, a spiritual need, rush back to the Catholic religion. Which means the octopus still has a great deal of power there – a very great deal.
Some time ago, I don't remember on what occasion, I recalled the time when you couldn't say that the earth rotates, or even that it's round – they killed you! Can you imagine that....
All the same, we've covered a good bit of ground.
When I realized that I knew this man [Paul VI], a thought came to me as if in jest: what if someone showed him my photo (because I know some people who can do it), and if he himself said, “But I know this woman!” Then I saw that old instinct, that habit not to allow anyone even to say or express opinions contrary to theirs. And I saw the curve – the curve we have traveled just the same towards freedom.... He would be almost obliged to tolerate me. His predecessor's predecessor [Pius XII] forbade the archbishop here to excommunicate people who came to the Ashram. (The archbishop wanted to do that, but he couldn't without the Pope's permission, and the Pope answered him, “Keep quiet.”) The next archbishop renewed the excommunication here from his pulpit, but it didn't go beyond that. So I wondered, “What will be the Pope's attitude?” Because naturally, that kind of individual is quite capable of ordering the excommunication of something he considers and KNOWS to be true – that's just what you're seeing in this photo [Satprem's sense of repulsion]. Naturally, in them the political spirit overrides everything else.
Don't record all I've said. I don't want to have it here, I don't want it kept. Because the time hasn't come for me to meddle in these affairs.
There's a whole part in me that very often sees itself as a warrior when I come into contact with that Christian octopus. Something in me immediately feels an urge to fight against those people.
But isn't it chiefly mental? You feel the battle of ideas.
Yes, but almost in the way of those monks of old who went about preaching – I don't see myself preaching (!), but I see myself fighting them through speech.
Yes, through speech, that's what I mean.
Because you have a great combative power in the mind, very great, and that's immensely useful, but on the vital level I've never seen anything in you like a warrior.
Oh, yes! To go about the world preaching, to go about fighting with ideas, like, for instance, the great sages here who fought through speech – that, of course. But not as the general-in-chief of an army!
Not a Napoleon, I mean.
But the urge to fight! Because I feel so strongly the Evil hidden there....
And a vicious evil – a vicious evil hidden there.
Under the cloak of charity and total benevolence: a hypocrisy.
Yes, those are the things that always made me get up in arms.
And in a way, it pains me to see that what little I can do, this book on Sri Aurobindo, for instance, isn't understood. There is a wall in France – a refusal, I can't get in there, it's blocked. It pains me. With the people I know there it's the same thing; everywhere I meet with a wall of incomprehension – it's absolutely and completely closed.3
(Long silence) With France's intellectual quality, the quality of her mind, the day she is truly touched spiritually (she never has been), the day she is touched spiritually, it will be something exceptional.
Sri Aurobindo had a great liking for France. I was born there – certainly for a reason. In my case, I know it very well: it was the need of culture, of a clear and precise mind, of refined thought, taste and clarity of mind – there is no other country in the world for that. None. And Sri Aurobindo had a liking for France for that same reason, a great liking. He used to say that throughout his life in England, he had a much greater liking for France than for England!
There is a reason.
Things are perhaps going to move a little – I have a sort of feeling they're on the move. Only, there may be casualties – whenever things move fast, there is a possibility of casualties. Periods of stability when things settle down and take their place are more peaceful. But at the moment, it's more dangerous.
(Mother takes back the Pope's photograph)
Leave me my Pope! (laughter)
1 Occultly speaking, Mother means.
2 Mother is referring to Satprem's “worries” in the face of Catholic expansionism.
3 Things have changed much since then.