February 14, 1973
(Regarding the poor translation of Sri Aurobindo's texts in the “Auroville Gazette.” Mother had asked Satprem to check a few issues and try to rectify the situation with the collaboration of his friend Luc in Auroville. This triggered off reactions which were unmistakably... sharp.)
... But, Mother, I've seen it: all the translators, whether French, English, German or whatever, have a translator's COLOSSAL ego; the minute you touch their translation, it's as if you were ripping their little selves apart. Whether it's Y, T., CS. or any of the people I have dealt with, translators are simply not-to-be-touched This is the truth. Well, let's leave them alone. A veritable grace is needed to make them understand.
But I myself wasn't satisfied with my translations.
It's very difficult, Mother! I am well aware of it. But the minute you touch a translator, it's like touching dynamite!
(Mother laughs) Let's just leave it, then.
Yes, Mother, it's hopeless. I'll inform Auropress that your note is cancelled.1 Amen. She [the translator] will have to change from within – you have to change us all from within, that's the crux of the matter.
I think (that's what she told me) that when she finds something difficult, she'll ask me. She said, “If I have doubts, I'll ask you.”
But the trouble is, most often they have no doubts!
No, no, Mother, I say this in all humility, because I've been doing this work for... eighteen years now; and I see how many years it took me, how many blunders, and how much help Sri Aurobindo gave me until I really started getting into the proper spirit. So I have compassion for these people, I quite understand why they make mistakes. What annoys me is how they can be so sure of themselves. 'Tis a pity.
Sometimes people understand a poor translation better than a good one.
Yes, Mother, possibly!... But still, sometimes it plainly doesn't make any sense.
I can't personally read through everything, it takes too much time.
Manage with them the best you can.
Bah, bah, listen! Nothing short of a grace could do something!... For me, it means more responsibility, more complications, it means an extra load – I'm by no means looking forward to it, you know.
Well, once in a while, if it really makes no sense at all....
I think we have to be a little....
Yes, Mother, I also feel we should forget about it – people must understand from within, and that will be that.
I am hearing (through Nirod2) certain things that Sri Aurobindo said, and he says that even he contradicted himself a great number of times...
Yes, yes, Mother!
...and that, of course, the two or three different approaches are all true. So we can afford to be as... as wide as he is!
Truly speaking, his comprehension of things was very supple – very supple. Listening to certain things he said, I felt I had understood very little of what he meant. Now that I am more and more in contact with the supramental Consciousness, I see how supple -supple and complex – it is, and how it is our narrow human consciousness that sees things... (Mother draws little boxes in the air) fixed, cut and dried.
Yes, of course.
So.... we are under the mind's sway, and the mind is rigid like this (same little boxes in the air). But I see that as soon as you go beyond the mind, it's... it's like waves on the sea.
In a word, we have everything to learn. We try to understand in the mental way, so we understand nothing. We simply demarcate things (same gesture of drawing boxes), and that's what we call understanding.
When we have thoroughly put everything in boxes (same gesture), then we say we have understood!
(Mother plunges in)
1 Mother had sent a note to the Gazette to the effect that all translations of Sri Aurobindo's texts had to receive the Copyright Bureau's approval before publication.
2 Correspondence with Sri Aurobindo.