January 17, 1970
What did you want to tell me?
I had a visit from Paolo and N.... There are two things. But first, there is the plan for this Center – to be precise, of the outside of the Center.
The outside, I didn't see anything. There is a sketch by L. I didn't see anything at all, I am open to all proposals. So then?
He explained something I found very beautiful and would like to submit to you.... As a matter of fact, when you spoke of that Center, you said, “I don't know whether the walls will have a slope or the roof.” You seemed, to hesitate. Then Paolo said he received a kind of inspiration and saw something very simple, like a big shell with one part emerging above the ground and another part buried underground. He drew a sort of sketch which I'd like to show you.
Did he see R. also? Because R. had two ideas, he came to see me with two ideas, and I told him which of the two I liked better. But nothing is decided yet. R. has to draw a sketch of his ideas. So I'll see what Paolo says and then I'll tell you R.'s ideas.
(Satprem unrolls a plan) So you see, this is the outside, which would simply be like a shell. The inside is exactly as you saw it: that big bare carpet, and the ball at the center. What determined Paolo's inspiration is that you said one would have to go underground and then to reemerge inside. So he had the idea of going deep down through a spiral staircase here, which would climb back up, and once here, there would be a series of staircases fanning out in every direction (in the lower part of the shell) and ending inside the temple itself. Then, the whole lower part would be in black marble while the higher part would be in simple white marble. The whole thing is like a big bud, you see, as if growing out of the earth.
Are you sure he hasn't seen R.? Because R. told me, “I want to have a big circle; the inside is exactly a semicircle, and the other semicircle would be underground.” He told me almost the same words.
Because Paolo told him his own idea.
Oh, Paolo told him! Oh, that's why...
It's like a bud emerging from the earth.
Yes, yes, that's the first idea R. told me, almost identically with the same words. And his second idea was a pyramid: leave the temple as we said and have a pyramid. But I also thought of a pyramid, and I told him, “I thought of a pyramid....” He said he would make the two plans and we would see. But if it agrees with Paolo's idea, it's very good.
But R.'s idea, in fact, is Paolo's idea.
Yes, that's right.
So when one reaches the top of the “stem,” there are a number of staircases in every direction, so that one can emerge into the temple on any side. The center is absolutely bare, and all around is a sort of footbridge where one emerges from the depths: that's where all those staircases end. And everything bare. There will just be that big carpet bordered from corner to corner by kinds of footbridges. It will appear to be hanging. All white and smooth. Then there was the question of the twelve columns: Paolo said he felt the twelve columns were still an ancient symbol that wouldn't go very well with the shell, and instead, he suggested to have symbolically twelve supports, twelve bases of columns that would act as backrests.
Oh, but the columns serve a purpose, because atop the columns we will have spotlights to light up the Center: there will be light day and night; during the day we'll manage the opening, but once the sun is gone, we'll turn the spotlights on, and from atop the twelve columns their rays will converge onto the Center.
But Mother, if the purpose of the columns is only for the spotlights, those could also be fixed on the walls?
The columns aren't near the wall, they are here, just halfway between the Center and the wall.
Because he saw that space in the center all bare, with just the symbol at the Center and that big, smooth carpet, without, any break caused by the columns. But instead, big blocks – twelve big blocks – signaling the place of the columns and also acting as supports. Twelve big blocks about two feet high.
It makes no sense.
A symbolic sense? Because you did mention those pillars acting also as backrests for people who would want to sit.
Oh, for their backs.
So he said that each of those twelve blocks could, for instance, be in a different matter, as a symbol: twelve different materials.
As for me, I saw columns.
On the outer walls, we'll organize the general ventilation, which will be electrical (without windows), and atop the columns, there was light – I saw the columns, I can't say. I clearly saw the columns.
Well, then, I'll tell him.
As for the gallery all around, I don't know that I like it a lot.... I didn't see it: I saw the walls bare, without windows, also the columns, and then the Center. I am sure of that because I saw it, and saw it for a long time.
Does the shape of a shell suit you?
In the sense that its a perfect circle: half above, half below.... That's all right.
Only, we'll need to arrange something for the sun.
Yes, N. is familiar with the problem of lighting through prisms, because to catch a sunbeam we'll need prisms. He said he would solve the problem quite easily, he's looking into it. A few prisms will simply be put at a number of places, and they'll catch just one sunbeam.
There must be ONE beam. I SAW the beam.
That's right, with a prism, the beam will be seen. Then there will be a number of geometrical openings to follow the motion of the sun.... But inside, on the wall, the twelve facets will be reproduced.
And this [Satprem points to the circular gallery] was in principle the entrance points where one emerges from underground.
I don't know if it's good to multiply the entrance points like that.... There will be a practical problem to be solved: if there is a single entrance with a very severe watch there, it's all right, but if there are several entrance points and not enough light, there will be catastrophes.
No, no, Mother, outside there will be a single entrance, but when one reaches the base of the shell and climbs up again, there would be that multiplicity of entrance points. Outside, there is only one way down, which ends here, at the foot of this spiral staircase.
He thought of this footbridge all around because he said the all-white carpet at the center would stand out better, as if-floating separated, instead of being stuck to the wall.
I didn't think it would be “stuck to the wall,” there was always a space to circulate around the wall.
So that's the space, with a number of footbridges on which people would emerge. And that idea of bareness was also what made him remove the columns.
What I don't like is the idea of footbridges, because the walls were straight from top to bottom, in while marble.
Oh, but the footbridges aren't high, they're about one foot above ground.
Then it's all right.
Besides, he said the carpet could come up at an angle, cover at an angle those footbridges, or rather this space for circulation around.
That's quite all right.
All right, then. So they have to agree. But it must be half done already, since R. told me about the idea. If I had known it was Paolo's idea, I would have said yes straight away. But it will be worked out. It's all right.
So I'll tell him to work on that basis.... The only question that remains is the outside: should a void be left around the shell to make the descent of the shell clearly visible? Otherwise, if the gap is filled, it will simply look like an hemisphere placed on the ground. For the shell's descent underground to be clearly understood, he thought there should be an opening all around.
I don't know. I told you, I haven't seen anything for the outside, so I don't know.
But that will be dangerous. People might fall.
Or else, we could have a sort of moat with water all around, transparent water that would make the descent of the shell clear, for instance?
Yes. Yes, that could be fine.
There's also a question of measurement. According to the plan, you gave 24 meters [78 feet 9 inches] – 72 meters on each side of the globe. But could some more distance be kept for the outer circle? The plan has 24 meters in diameter and 15.2 meters [49 feet 10 inches] in height.
He asks whether these proportions could vary: keep 24 meters for the base of the carpet, but with the possibility, for example, of keeping another two or three meters on each side for passages?
Where would the walls be, then?
The walls would be here [Satprem points to the outer side of the circular passage].
It's the walls that should be 24 meters apart.
He says that if those passages are to be there, 24 meters wouldn't be quite sufficient.
The height, too, is in question.
The question was in fact that it should be a perfect circle.
If it's a perfect circle, then the height should be half the distance between the walls.
What would really please me is if they could agree with each other and present me with a project of the two together. That way, it would be easy to execute.... I mean, if R. has adopted Paolo's idea, why couldn't they see together how to execute it?
Yes, that would make things simpler.
Oh, much, much simpler!
What will happen under there?... (Mother points to the underground part of the shell) All that is mental. When you have a big dark underground, what's going to happen in there?... What's going to happen? – Lots of unspeakable things. Humanity isn't transformed, we shouldn't forget that! And all kinds of people will come.... Even if there is a control at the entrance, you can't stop people from going to see, and what will happen under there?... That was my first objection when R. told me, “We could build magnificent underground passages!” I asked him, “That's very fine, but who will control what will take place under there?”
I thought the descent was your idea?
My idea was a rather short descent emerging here (Mother points to the only opening of the original plan). A rather short descent: not a big underground passage like this.... But it's possible, it's a question of control, that's all. Only, between an underground passage with room enough for two lines of people (one going up and the other going down) and emerging here, and a huge underground passage like this one, there is a big difference! And now he wants it all black on top of it!
In black marble, yes.
Yes, so then? It means one won't see very clearly. So what will take place in there?
The underground passages aren't in the shape of narrow passageways: there is a spiral stairway, and when you reach the top of the spiral, it branches out into a series of open staircases, hanging like footbridges. It's not closed, it's all suspended.
Won't there be accidents?... Oh, there's no lack of hallucinated people who might break their heads on the ground.... You see, it's a little too mental to my taste, I mean that from a mental point of view it's very attractive, but in vision...
The idea is primarily the collective construction of this underground passage as a symbol....
We'll see! (Mother laughs)
At any rate, they should get together. Then I will see.
I'd like to have the two of them together with their paper. That would be very good.
Because the one doesn't tell me it's the others idea – he presents it as his own (!), and the other doesn't tell me he spoke with the first!...
But he didn't have an opportunity to tell you.
No, but you mentioned it because I said it to you.... But I know. So, you understand, we work for “human unity,” and the workers don't get along!
And I clearly see, I clearly see in each one what's like this (twisted gesture). It's not that I am surprised, but... My logic is this: “Yes, it's very good, you are all very nice, you work for human unity – at least be united!...” Do you understand?
But I am sure that Paolo would be only too happy to get along with R.
But you surely understand that if R. has adopted Paolo's idea, it means he admires Paolo's intelligence, otherwise he wouldn't have. So why one side like this and the other side...? We don't want any more of those petty things.
But when Paolo showed me this plan, I felt something very beautiful.... I'll tell you what I felt: I felt I was witnessing the birth of Auroville.
No, that's not true.
The material birth, I mean.
Yes, yes, I understand, but that's not true.
(Mother goes into a long concentration)
We'll let the dust settle. Because, you understand, to accept those changes I must be sure that the origin of the inspiration is of the same quality as mine.... For the execution, I know very well that we need people who know the job and do the work, but for the inspiration, I must be sure that the origin of the inspiration is AT LEAST as high as mine.... And I am not sure, because I saw so clearly. With Paolo's ideas, I saw the mixture straight away. His ideas are all mental ideas, I can assure you because for me that's very easy to see. Well, all of them bring along the same MIXTURE as with anything that's done in the world. And so... what's the use of doing that over and over and over again?...
Something bothers me. Entering underground is very good, but that huge underground?... (Mother pulls a face)
We'll see. Let it settle down, and we'll see.
And for the upper part, do we keep this idea of a shell, or should it be studied further?
Shell... The idea was a sphere. Why a shell?
A “shell,” anyhow a round, spherical shape.
An eggshell is oblong, not spherical. The egg is really somewhat like a spinning top; so the upper part would be broader and the lower part narrower, with only the staircases.... That's quite possible.
Give me a piece of paper... (Mother draws an egg while explaining). So here, all the way down, there would only be the staircases.
Like this, yes.
His idea was to reproduce Brahman's egg – you know, the primeval egg – so that the temple would represent the primeval egg.
But then how is it. Brahman's egg?!...
I don't know.... Like an egg, I suppose!
An egg always has its base narrower than the top. So if we conceive of an egg like this (Mother draws) and the base to be the staircase, a spiral staircase climbing up to the temple... For instance, seven stairways.
Seven instead of twelve.
And here (Mother draws a horizontal line across the “egg”), its 24 meters, and only 15.5 meters high. So this way it's correct.
24 meters for the entire width or for the carpet?
No, the walls must be straight, they cannot be curved. I saw them straight.
Straight, and higher up, rounded.
From what I had seen, the columns were higher than the walls, and that's why the roof was sloping. And it was on top of the columns that the electric lighting was placed.
And the widest point of the egg would be here (Mother draws a line at the level of the carpet).
At ground level.
And you spoke of seven openings?
And then, an underground passageway leading to the base of the egg, from where the seven stairways begin.
In other words, the inner walls of the temple should be straight.
That is, for the outside, to the eye the shape can be rounded, but inside, the wall has to be straight.
A straight wall, and over it a dome.
Yes, a dome over the straight wall. But the dome can be the egg's dome, and I thought that the point at which the dome meets the walls would be over the columns.
And here, for the outside, they can prolong the wall in a rounded shape, like this (Mother draws).
There would even be the possibility of having a space between the outermost and the innermost walls. Keeping a space here. It's to be decided.
You mean, in addition to the 24 meters?
Yes, that's settled: the 24 meters end at the walls.
And the openings for the seven stairways?
I'd rather have them outside the wall.
Yes, it would be better because that would leave more space for the Center.
Oh, yes, and the inside would be much clearer. The sight of all those staircases didn't appeal to me. Even one I didn't like, but seven... While outside, it's fine.
So, a passage outside.
The passage outside.
Yes, as in India when you go around the temple.
So that's all right.
And the seven stairways start directly from the base of the shell without that “stem” coming up from the bottom?
That's up to them. Below, its the same to me. Whether they want a stairway like this or a stairway... As long as it's not too steep.
(To understand which Auroville – and above all which Aurovilians – Mother is referring to here, it must be said that almost all the first newcomers, with a few remarkable exceptions, made up a rather heterogeneous group seeking holidays of sorts on an exotic Riviera and dragging behind themselves a number of unsatisfactory habits. That is what Auroville's enemies later based themselves on to spread all kinds of mischief. It took a few years for the situation to settle and change completely, and for most of the undesirable elements to go away on their own, while fresh newcomers brought a truer aspiration.)
What else do you have?
There is the second part of the problem.
Oh, what is it?
N. and Paolo realized that if Auroville or the construction of this Center is left to Auroville's people as separate from the Ashram, it will never work: the true force will never be there, those who are there aren't receptive enough to do the work. If there is that break between the Ashram and Auroville, it will never work, it will be one more “construction” but not something new. According to them, the only hope is for that Center to be built not by Aurovilians but by all the Ashram people, without distinction between Aurovilians and non-Aurovilians; for the whole force to be united in the construction of this Center, rather than abandon the Aurovilians to an outer break. Just as the disciples built “Golconde” [a guest-house at the Ashram], in the same way all the disciples should build Auroville's Center, without outside manpower.
At Golconde there was outside manpower.
Anyhow with as little as possible of the outside element, so it may be a work of consecration. Otherwise, they told me (N. especially), Auroville's people are all full of arrogance and incomprehension, they see the outside of things. The force of the people here should be mixed into it. If the Ashram people do not mix with them, do not breathe the force into it, it will never work.... Right now, Paolo told me, Auroville as it appears from outside looks like a necropolis.
It is the “living” fruit of egoism. The only saving thing would be for the Ashram people to come in and do the work, and for the others to be absorbed in that, otherwise ...
(after a long silence)
But at the Ashram, we have three centers doing building work: there is P. who looks after the maintenance of houses, A.S., and L.... A. S. isn't equipped for that, and moreover he is too busy, because he doesn't have just building, he has all the cars and all those lands; now I consider he is fully occupied and he does his work well, so if we tried to give him too much, he couldn't do it well anymore. As for L., he is very interested and even said he would take care of bringing the white marble; he would himself go and choose it. He is very interested and if I told him to do it... But that wouldn't be better.
But that's not what he meant, he didn't mean at all a problem of construction: he meant the problem of having the disciples work with the Aurovilians.... N., as an engineer, would look after the construction with the money collected, but the whole manpower would have to be provided by all the Ashram people mingling with the Aurovilians. That's the idea.
That's not possible. All the Ashram people young enough to work are working, they all have their occupation.
He saw a sort of rotation, each giving, for example, an hour a day, or a day a week. Because otherwise ...
They'd be only too happy! For them it would be an extraordinary amusement! I have more difficulty preventing them from dissipating their energies than I would have trying to get them to do some work! For them it would be an amusement.
Because he says that if there isn't the inner force of the Ashram people mingling with the Aurovilians, the Aurovilians will remain what they are. There is a break between Auroville and the Ashram.
As for me, I don't find it sufficient.
I don't find it sufficient. It's not at all on the same level.
The people here...
You just have to imagine I were gone.
Just imagine that and you'll see, you'll soon see what will happen.
Well, it's the only hope.
If they come and tell me, “YOU have to take the responsibility,” ah, then I would say, “They are quite right.” That's quite different.
They have been beside the point. It's not that.
But, Mother, I think that's what they mean, isn't it?
(Mother laughs) They don't think clearly! It's a muddled thought.
When they say that all the disciples here should take part in Auroville s construction, as was done for Golconde, they mean that you are the one who gives the disciples the impulse to come and participate in the work. That was the idea. But you say there should be a separation on the contrary – no mixture.
(Laughing) If you knew things as they are!... Auroville people bring drugs here, they bring... all kinds of things.
Yes, yes, I know – I know, Mother. That's why he says the only hope is ...
Is for them to go and catch all those things there!
He says, “Otherwise, there is no hope.”
Oh no, he doesn't know! It's all in the mentality, all in the mind. They don't know. WHO knows? It's only when one sees. There isn't one who sees.
It's all thoughts and thoughts and thoughts – you can't build with thoughts.
Can the elements in Auroville do the work?
I am working and working (gesture of kneading) to gather the energies that can do the work. And there has to be some sifting there.
But you understand, they speak of physical work, and for physical work there are only the young ones at the School – all the ashramites have become old, mon petit! They are all old. There are only the young ones at the School, and those are not here to become ashramites, they're here to be educated – it's for them to choose.... Many of them, many want to go to Auroville. So that would mean the Ashram's education going to Auroville – there are many of them. But... give me names: who can go and work with his hands?
But, Mother, the only possibility is for you to SAY; and then, tomorrow I'll go and spend two hours in Auroville picking up baskets [of rubble]!
(Mother laughs) Mon petit, you're one of the youngest!... Can you picture me telling Nolini, “Go and work”!
Oh, but that would pull all the others along.... Anyway, that's N.'s and Paolo's idea.
(Mother laughs) Poor Nolini!
If you knew how many letters I receive from so-called Aurovilians, saying, “Oh, I want to be in peace at last, I want to come to the Ashram, I no longer want to be an Aurovilian.” So there. It's just the opposite: “I want to be in peace.”1 There you are.
As for me, you know, I don't believe in external decisions. Simply, I believe in only one thing: the force of Consciousness exerting a PRESSURE like this (crushing gesture). And the Pressure keeps increasing.... Which means it's going to sift people.
Otherwise, there would be no solution, because, you see, in the past (just some ten years ago) I used to go about and see things.... But that's over. It wasn't a decision I made, I didn't at all think it was over, it's not that at all: it was something that COMPELLED me. You understand? So I said all right. It's not incapacity: this body is extremely docile, it does everything it's asked to do; if it were asked to go out, it would manage to go out. It's extremely docile. But that's how it is, there is a Command: NO. And I know why....
So, you know, I only believe in this: the pressure of the Consciousness. All the rest is all the things people do; they do them well or not so well, it all lives and dies and changes and gets distorted and... – all the things they've done. It's not worth it. The power of execution has to come from above, like this, imperative (gesture of descent). And for that, this (Mother points to her forehead) has to keep still. It shouldn't say, “Oh, we don't want this, oh, we want that, oh, we must do this...” – Peace, peace, peace, He knows better than you what needs to be done. There.
And as not many can understand, I don't say anything: I look and wait.
I LOOK.... For instance, I am given a piece of paper as you just did when you gave me that drawing, I look like that, and I very clearly see the part in the paper that's the result from above, the part that has got mixed, the part... Like that. But you don't go and say all that! – Moreover they wouldn't believe me.
I understand very well – very well – why Sri Aurobindo didn't say “superman,” why he said “supramental.” He didn't say “superman” because he didn't want it to be “an improved man,” that's not it. He said supramental because... He said, leave all this.
Supramental – SUPRA, you understand?
These last few days, I saw the photos of those who went to the moon.... Have you seen them? Did you see how decked out they were?
Yes, I saw.
Ah... so they've become machines.
That's right – robots.
Yes, and then (laughing), the Russians said, Why not send robots, it's not worth sending men!...
That's the point.
You see, N. has spent his time speaking ill of R. as much as he could, saying all his plans are bad and his work couldn't succeed. R. has spent his time saying, “N. has ruined all my work!” And another says, “This fellow...” and this fellow says, “That fellow...” and they are all like that! So I see in a definite way that IF the work is to be done, FIRST they have to overcome all this mean, petty humanity. They “see,” they have “ideas” (they have lots of ideas), they have ideas and they see; others see other things and have other ideas, and then, “Oh, that's worthless, my idea is the right one....” They're all like that! And my whole action is like this: a PRESSURE on them to make them abdicate their little person. Until it abdicates, the work CANNOT be done.
As a matter of fact, they seek all kinds of reasons so as not to see the true one.
We need... phew, a little air!
The body – this body – is undergoing a discipline, you know, oh, terrible.... But it doesn't complain, it's happy, it asks for it. And it sees how we are full of VERY SMALL THINGS that are ceaselessly hindering the action of the Force. Well, the first thing is to get rid of all that. We must be like this (gesture of surrender, open) and receive the Force. Then all inspirations will come, and not only inspirations but the MEANS of execution, and the TRUE THING. Otherwise...
And since not all of them are quite ready, I do what the Consciousness does: I apply the Pressure and say nothing – I wait (Mother laughs).
If you knew all that takes place, you'd find it very funny.... The whole side of agriculture, same thing; the whole side of education, same thing; everywhere the same thing.... The international side, same thing: everywhere, everywhere, Man (Mother inflates her cheeks), Man puffing himself up....
FIRST they must understand: abdicate. Then we will see.
Do I convey your message to them?
Oh, no, mon petit! Poor things, they will be terrified!
Do you think so? It would do them good.
Oh, no, no, they'll be in a tizzy. The Pressure is the best thing. Because they don't understand what you think, they don't understand what you say: they understand what they have inside their heads. They change the meaning of the words.... Like what happened with A.R.,2 remember how he took it as a personal attack.
Yes, that's true! That's true, I noticed it: they take it as a personal attack.
Exactly. But everywhere that's the difficulty: the person first. So that spoils everything.
You speak the truth objectively as you see it, and it's as if you were attacking them!
Attacking them, yes.
So we must wait and wait till they are ripe – a lot of time is wasted, you understand. It's better not to say anything: apply the Pressure. Oh, I am pitiless! (Mother laughs a lot)
So what do I do in the middle of all these people?
You can tell them that... In fact, R. spoke to me (it was the same thing with other words) and I didn't say either yes or no, I was waiting because I wanted to know how others saw the thing. So now I have seen, I see that they agree. If they can agree, the work will go faster! So there. Objections of detail don't matter because you start with one idea and end with another – you progress a lot in between. So it doesn't need discussion, it's only... Only, try to put your energies together so as to start sooner, that's all! (Mother laughs)
What's the time?
Oh, it's very late, Mother, half past eleven.
1 As a matter of fact, most of those lazy elements came back from Auroville to join those at the Ashram.
2 A. R.: a healer, thirteenth child in a family of peasants, who came to see Mother in 1969, and who was badly shaken by Satprem.