« The conditions in which men live on earth are the result of their state of consciousness. Wanting to change the conditions without changing the consciousness is a vain chimera. »
This prodigious document — 6,000 pages in 13 volumes, tape-recorded by Satprem twice a week for more than 20 years — is the account of Mother’s exploration in the body consciousness and of her discovery of a “cellular mind” capable of refashioning the nature of our bodies and the laws of the species as drastically as, one day, an infant “thinking mind” transformed the nature of the ape.
It is a veritable document of experimental evolution. A revolution in consciousness that alters the laws of the species. And that is the very question of our times, for whatever the appearances, we are not at the end of a civilization but at the end of an evolutionary cycle. Are we going to find the passage to the next species … or perish ? As scrupulously as a scientist in his laboratory, Mother goes back to the origin of Matter’s formation, to the primordial code, and there, “by chance,”stumbles upon the mechanism of death — upon the very power that changes death — and upon a “new” Energy, which curiously parallels subatomic physics. The key to Matter contains the key to death … and the key to the next species.This prodigious document – 6,000 pages in 13 volumes, is the account of Mother’s exploration in the body consciousness and of her discovery of a “cellular mind” capable of refashioning the nature of our bodies and the laws of the species as drastically as, one day, an infant “thinking mind” transformed the nature of the ape.
« This Agenda…
is my gift to those who love me…
and it’s not my intention to give them a gift without value. »
(Mother, March 13 th , 1962)
From the time of Sri Aurobindo’s departure (1950) until 1957, we have only a few notes and fragments or rare statements noted from memory. These are the only landmarks of this period, along with Mother’s Questions and Answers from her talks at the Ashram Playground. A few of these conversations have been reproduced here insofar as they mark stages of the Supramental Action.
From 1957, Mother received us twice a week in the office of Pavitra, the most senior of the French disciples, on the second floor of the main Ashram building, on some pretext of work or other. She listened to our queries, spoke to us at length of yoga, occultism, her past experiences in Algeria and in France or of her current experiences; and gradually, She opened the mind of the rebellious and materialistic Westerner that we were and made us understand the laws of the worlds, the play of forces, the working of past lives – especially this latter, which was an important factor in the difficulties with which we were struggling at that time and which periodically made us abscond. Mother would be seated in this rather medieval-looking chair with its high, carved back, her feet on a little tabouret, while we sat on the floor, on a slightly faded carpet, conquered and seduced, revolted and never satisfied – but nevertheless, very interested. Treasures, never noted down, were lost until, with the cunning of the Sioux, we succeeded in making Mother consent to the presence of a tape recorder. But even then, and for a long time thereafter, She carefully made us erase or delete in our notes all that concerned Her rather too personally – sometimes we disobeyed Her.
But finally we were able to convince Her of the value inherent in keeping a chronicle of the route. Satprem and Mother
It was only in 1958 that we began having the first tape-recorded conversations, which, properly speaking, constitute Mother’s Agenda. But even then, many of these conversations were lost or only partly noted down. Or else we considered that our own words should not figure in these notes and we carefully omitted all our questions – which was absurd. At that time, no one – neither Mother, nor ourself – knew that this was ‘the Agenda’ and that we were out to explore the ‘Great Passage.’ Only gradually did we become aware of the true nature of these meetings. Furthermore, we were constantly on the road, so much so that there are sizable gaps in the text. In fact, for seven years, Mother was patiently preparing the instrument that would be able to traverse the adventure without breaking along the way.
From 1960, the Agenda took its final shape and grew for thirteen years, until May 1973, filling thirteen volumes in all (some six thousand pages), with a change of setting in March 1962 at the time of the Great Turning in Mother’s yoga when She permanently retired to her room upstairs, as had Sri Aurobindo in 1926. The interviews then took place high up in this large room carpeted in golden wool, like a ship’s stateroom, amidst the rustling of the Copper Pod tree and the cawing of crows. Mother would sit in a low rosewood chair, her face turned towards Sri Aurobindo’s tomb, as though She were wearing down the distance separating that world from our own. Her voice had become like that of a child, one could hear her laughter. She always laughed, this Mother. And then her long silences. Until the day the disciples closed her door on us. It was May 19, 1973. We did not want to believe it. She was alone, just as we were suddenly alone. Slowly, painfully, we had to discover the why of this rupture. We understood nothing of the jealousies of the old species, we did not yet realize that they were becoming the ‘owners’ of Mother – of the Ashram, of Auroville, of Sri Aurobindo, of everything – and that the new world was going to be denatured into a new Church. There and then, they made us understand why She had pulled us from our forest, one day, and chosen as her confident an incurable rebel.
« When we have passed beyond humanity, then we shall be the Man. »
This AGENDA … One day, another species among men will pore over this fabulous document as over the tumultuous drama that must have surrounded the birth of the first man among the hostile hordes of a great, delirious Paleozoic. A first man is the dangerous contradiction of a certain simian logic, a threat to the established order that so gently ran about amid the high, indefeasible ferns – and to begin with, it does not even know that it is a man. It wonders, indeed, what it is. Even to itself it is strange, distressing. It does not even know how to climb trees any longer in its usual way – and it is terribly disturbing for all those who still climb trees in the old, millennial way. Perhaps it is even a heresy. Unless it is some cerebral disorder? A first man in his little clearing had to have a great deal of courage. Even this little clearing was no longer so sure. A first man is a perpetual question. What am I, then, in the midst of all that? And where is my law? What is the law? And what if there were no more laws? … It is terrifying. Mathematics – out of order. Astronomy and biology, too, are beginning to respond to mysterious influences. A tiny point huddled in the center of the world’s great clearing. But what is all this, what if I were ‘mad’? And then, claws all around, a lot of claws against this uncommon creature. A first man … is very much alone. He is quite unbearable for the pre-human ‘reason.’ And the surrounding tribes growled like red monkeys in the twilight of Guiana.
One day, we were like this first man in the great, stridulant night of the Oyapock. Our heart was beating with the rediscovery of a very ancient mystery – suddenly, it was absolutely new to be a man amidst the diorite cascades and the pretty red and black coral snakes slithering beneath the leaves. It was even more extraordinary to be a man than our old confirmed tribes, with their infallible equations and imprescriptible biologies, could ever have dreamed. It was an absolutely uncertain ‘quantum’ that delightfully eluded whatever one thought of it, including perhaps what even the scholars thought of it. It flowed otherwise, it felt otherwise. It lived in a kind of flawless continuity with the sap of the giant balata trees, the cry of the macaws and the scintillating water of a little fountain. It ‘understood’ in a very different way. To understand was to be in everything. Just a quiver, and one was in the skin of a little iguana in distress. The skin of the world was very vast. To be a man after rediscovering a million years was mysteriously like being something still other than man, a strange, unfinished possibility that could also be all kinds of other things. It was not in the dictionary, it was fluid and boundless – it had become a man through habit, but in truth, it was formidably virgin, as if all the old laws belonged to laggard barbarians. Then other moons began whirring through the skies to the cry of macaws at sunset, another rhythm was born that was strangely in tune with the rhythm of all, making one single flow of the world, and there we went, lightly, as if the body had never had any weight other than that of our human thought; and the stars were so near, even the giant airplanes roaring overhead seemed vain artifices beneath smiling galaxies. A man was the overwhelming Possible. He was even the great discoverer of the Possible. Never had this precarious invention had any other aim through millions of species than to discover that which surpassed his own species, perhaps the means to change his species – a light and lawless species. After rediscovering a million years in the great rhythmic night, a man was still something to be invented. It was the invention of himself, where all was not yet said.
And then, and then … a singular air, an incurable lightness, was beginning to fill his lungs. And what if we were a fable? And what are the means?
And what if this lightness itself were the means?
A great and solemn good riddance to all our barbarous solemnities.
Thus had we mused in the heart of our ancient forest while we were still hesitating between unlikely flakes of gold and a civilization that seemed to us quite toxic and obsolete, however mathematical. But other mathematics were flowing through our veins, an equation as yet unformed between this mammoth world and a little point replete with a light air and immense forebodings.
It was at this point that we met Mother, at this intersection of the anthropoid rediscovered and the ‘something’ that had set in motion this unfinished invention momentarily ensnared in a gilded machine. For nothing was finished, and nothing had been invented, really, that would instill peace and wideness in this heart of no species at all.
And what if man were not yet invented? What if he were not yet his own species?
A little white silhouette, twelve thousand miles away, solitary and frail amidst a spiritual horde which had once and for all decided that the meditating and miraculous yogi was the apogee of the species, was searching for the means, for the reality of this man who for a moment believes himself sovereign of the heavens or sovereign of a machine, but who is quite probably something completely different than his spiritual or material glories. Another, a lighter air was throbbing in that breast, unburdened of its heavens and of its prehistoric machines. Another Epic was beginning. Would Matter and Spirit meet, then, in a third PHYSIOLOGICAL position that would perhaps be at last the position of Man rediscovered, the something that had for so long fought and suffered in quest of becoming its own species? She was the great Possible at the beginning of man. Mother is our fable come true. ‘All is possible’ was her first open sesame.
Yes, She was in the midst of a spiritual ‘horde,’ for the pioneer of a new species must always fight against the best of the old: the best is the obstacle, the snare that traps us in its old golden mire. As for the worst, we know that it is the worst. But then we come to realize that the best is only the pretty muzzle of our worst, the same old beast defending itself, with all its claws out, with its sanctity or its electronic gadgets. Mother was there for something else.
‘Something else’ is ominous, perilous, disrupting – it is quite unbearable for all those who resemble the old beast. The story of the Pondicherry ‘Ashram’ is the story of an old clan ferociously clinging to its ‘spiritual’ privileges, as others clung to the muscles that had made them kings among the great apes. It is armed with all the piousness and all the reasonableness that had made logical man so ‘infallible’ among his less cerebral brothers. The spiritual brain is probably the worst obstacle to the new species, as were the muscles of the old orangutan for this fragile stranger who no longer climbed so well in the trees and sat, pensive, at the center of a little, uncertain clearing. There is nothing more pious than the old species. There is nothing more legal. Mother was searching for the path of the new species as much against all the virtues of the old as against all its vices or laws. For, in truth, ‘Something Else’ … is something else.
We landed there, one day in February 1954, having emerged from our Guianese forest and a certain number of dead-end peripluses; we had knocked upon all the doors of the old world before reaching that point of absolute impossibility where it was truly necessary to embark into something else or once and for all put a bullet through the brain of this slightly superior ape. The first thing that struck us was this exotic Notre Dame with its burning incense sticks, its effigies and its prostrations in immaculate white: a Church. We nearly jumped into the first train out that very evening, bound straight for the Himalayas, or the devil. But we remained near Mother for nineteen years. What was it, then, that could have held us there? We had not left Guiana to become a little saint in white or to enter some new religion. ‘I did not come upon earth to found an ashram; that would have been a poor aim indeed,’ She wrote in 1934. What did all this mean, then, this ‘Ashram’ that was already registered as the owner of a great spiritual business, and this fragile, little silhouette at the center of all these zealous worshippers? In truth, there is no better way to smother someone than to worship him: he chokes beneath the weight of worship, which moreover gives the worshipper claim to ownership. ‘Why do you want to worship?’ She exclaimed. ‘You have but to become! It is the laziness to become that makes one worship.’ She wanted so much to make them become this ‘something else,’ but it was far easier to worship and quiescently remain what one was. She spoke to deaf ears. She was very alone in this ‘ashram.’ Little by little, the disciples fill up the place, then they say: it is ours. It is ‘the Ashram.’ We are ‘the disciples.’ In Pondicherry as in Rome as in Mecca. ‘I do not want a religion! An end to religions!’ She exclaimed. She struggled and fought in their midst – was She therefore to leave this Earth like one more saint or yogi, buried beneath haloes, the ‘continua/rice’ of a great spiritual lineage? She was seventy- six years old when we landed there, a knife in our belt and a ready curse on our lips.
She adored defiance and did not detest irreverence.
No, She was not the ‘Mother of the Pondicherry Ashram.’ Then who was She? … We discovered Her step by step, as one discovers a forest, or rather as one fights with it, machete in hand – and then it melts, one loves, so sublime does it become. Mother grew beneath our skin like an adventure of life and death. For seven years we fought with Her. It was fascinating, detestable, powerful and sweet; we felt like screaming and biting, fleeing and always coming back: ‘Ah! You won’t catch me! If you think I came here to worship you, you’re wrong!’ And She laughed. She always laughed. We had our bellyful of adventure at last: if you go astray in the forest, you get delightfully lost yet still with the same old skin on your back, whereas here, there is nothing left to get lost in! It is no longer just a matter of getting lost – you have to CHANGE your skin. Or die. Yes, change species. Or become one more nauseating little worshipper – which was not on our program. ‘We are the enemy of our own conception of the Divine,’ She told us one day with her mischievous little smile. The whole time – or for seven years, in any event – we fought with our conception of God and the ‘spiritual life’: it was all so comfortable, for we had a supreme ‘symbol’ of it right there. She let us do as we pleased, She even opened up all kinds of little heavens in us, along with a few hells, since they go together. She even opened the door in us to a certain ‘liberation,’ which in the end was as soporific as eternity – but there was nowhere to get out: it WAS eternity. We were trapped on all sides. There was nothing left but these 4m2 of skin, the last refuge, that which we wanted to flee by way of above or below, by way of Guiana or the Himalayas. She was waiting for us just there, at the end of our spiritual or not so spiritual pirouettes. Matter was her concern. It took us seven years to understand that She was beginning there, ‘where the other yogas leave off,’ as Sri Aurobindo had already said twenty-five years earlier. It was necessary to have covered all the paths of the Spirit and all those of Matter, or in any case a large number geographically, before discovering, or even simply understanding, that ‘something else’ was really Something Else. It was not an improved Spirit nor even an improved Matter, but … it could be called ‘nothing,’ so contrary was it to all we know. For the caterpillar, a butterfly is nothing, it is not even visible and has nothing in common with caterpillar heavens nor even caterpillar matter. So there we were, trapped in an impossible adventure. One does not return from there: one must cross the bridge to the other side. Then one day in that seventh year, while we still believed in liberations and the collected Upanishads, highlighted with a few glorious visions to relieve the commonplace (which remained appallingly commonplace), while we were still considering ‘the Mother of the Ashram’ rather like some spiritual super-director (endowed, albeit, with a disarming yet ever so provocative smile, as though She were making fun of us, then loving us in secret), She told us, ‘I have the feeling that ALL we have lived, ALL we have known, ALL we have done is a perfect illusion … When I had the spiritual experience that material life is an illusion, personally I found that so marvelously beautiful and happy that it was one of the most beautiful experiences of my life, but now it is the entire spiritual structure as we have lived it that is becoming an illusion! – Not the same illusion, but an illusion far worse. And I am no baby: I have been here for forty-seven years now!’ Yes, She was eighty-three years old then. And that day, we ceased being ‘the enemy of our own conception of the Divine,’ for this entire Divine was shattered to pieces – and we met Mother, at last. This mystery we call Mother, for She never ceased being a mystery right to her ninety-fifth year, and to this day still, challenges us from the other side of a wall of invisibility and keeps us floundering fully in the mystery – with a smile. She always smiles. But the mystery is not solved.
Perhaps this AGENDA is really an endeavor to solve the mystery in the company of a certain number of fraternal iconoclasts.
Where, then, was ‘the Mother of the Ashram’ in all this? What is even ‘the Ashram,’ if not a spiritual museum of the resistances to Something Else. They were always – and still today – reciting their catechism beneath a little flag: they are the owners of the new truth. But the new truth is laughing in their faces and leaving them high and dry at the edge of their little stagnant pond. They are under the illusion that Mother and Sri Aurobindo, twenty-seven or four years after their respective departures, could keep on repeating themselves – but then they would not be Mother and Sri Aurobindo! They would be fossils. The truth is always on the move. It is with those who dare, who have courage, and above all the courage to shatter all the effigies, to de-mystify, and to go TRULY to the conquest of the new. The ‘new’ is painful, discouraging, it resembles nothing we know! We cannot hoist the flag of an unconquered country – but this is what is so marvelous: it does not yet exist. We must MAKE IT EXIST. The adventure has not been carved out: it is to be carved out. Truth is not entrapped and fossilized, ‘spiritualized’: it is to be discovered. We are in a nothing that we must force to become a something. We are in the adventure of the new species. A new species is obviously contradictory to the old species and to the little flags of the already-known. It has nothing in common with the spiritual summits of the old world, nor even with its abysms – which might be delightfully tempting for those who have had enough of the summits, but everything is the same, in black or white, it is fraternal above and below. SOMETHING ELSE is needed.
‘Are you conscious of your cells?’ She asked us a short time after the little operation of spiritual demolition She had undergone. ‘No? Well, become conscious of your cells, and you will see that it gives TERRESTRIAL results.’ To become conscious of one’s cells? … It was a far more radical operation than crossing the Maroni with a machete in hand, for after all, trees and lianas can be cut, but what cannot be so easily uncovered are the grandfather and the grandmother and the whole atavistic pack, not to mention the animal and plant and mineral layers that form a teeming humus over this single pure little cell beneath its millennial genetic program. The grandfathers and grandmothers grow back again like crabgrass, along with all the old habits of being hungry, afraid, falling ill, fearing the worst, hoping for the best, which is still the best of an old mortal habit. All this is not uprooted nor entrapped as easily as celestial ‘liberations,’ which leave the teeming humus in peace and the body to its usual decomposition. She had come to hew a path through all that. She was the Ancient One of evolution who had come to make a new cleft in the old, tedious habit of being a man. She did not like tedious repetitions, She was the adventuress par excellence – the adventuress of the earth. She was wrenching out for man the great Possible that was already beating there, in his primeval clearing, which he believed he had momentarily trapped with a few machines. She was uprooting a new Matter, free, free from the habit of inexorably being a man who repeats himself ad infinitum with a few improvements in the way of organ transplants or monetary exchanges. In fact, She was there to discover what would happen after materialism and after spiritualism, these prodigal twin brothers. Because Materialism is dying in the West for the same reason that Spiritualism is dying in the East: it is the hour of the new species. Man needs to awaken, not only from his demons but also from his gods. A new Matter, yes, like a new Spirit, yes, because we still know neither one nor the other. It is the hour when Science, like Spirituality, at the end of their roads, must discover what Matter TRULY is, for it is really there that a Spirit as yet unknown to us is to be found. It is a time when all the ‘isms’ of the old species are dying: ‘The age of Capitalism and business is drawing to its close. But the age of Communism too will pass … ‘It is the hour of a pure little cell THAT WILL HAVE TERRESTRIAL REPERCUSSIONS, infinitely more radical than all our political and scientific or spiritualistic panaceas.
This fabulous discovery is the whole story of the AGENDA. What is the passage? How is the path to the new species hewed open? … Then suddenly, there, on the other side of this old millennial habit – a habit, nothing more than a habit! – of being like a man endowed with time and space and disease: an entire geometry, perfectly implacable and ‘scientific’ and medical; on the other side … none of that at all! An illusion, a fantastic medical and scientific and genetic illusion: death does not exist, time does not exist, disease does not exist, nor do ‘scar’ and ‘far’ – another way of being IN A BODY. For so many millions of years we have lived in a habit and put our own thoughts of the world and of Matter into equations. No more laws! Matter is FREE. It can create a little lizard, a chipmunk or a parrot – but it has created enough parrots. Now it is SOMETHING ELSE … if we want it.
Mother is the story of the free Earth. Free from its spiritual and scientific parrots. Free from its little ashrams as well – for there is nothing more persistent than those particular parrots.
Day after day, for seventeen years, She sat with us to tell us of her impossible odyssey. Ah, how well we now understand why She needed such an ‘outlaw’ and an incorrigible heretic like us to comprehend a little bit of her impossible odyssey into ‘nothing.’ And how well we now understand her infinite patience with us, despite all our revolts, which ultimately were only the revolts of the old species against itself. The final revolt. ‘It is not a revolt against the British government which any one can easily do. It is, in fact, a revolt against the whole universal Nature!’ Sri Aurobindo had proclaimed fifty years earlier. She listened to our grievances, we went away and we returned. We wanted no more of it and we wanted still more. It was infernal and sublime, impossible and the sole possibility in this old, asphyxiating world. It was the only place one could go to in this barbed-wired, mechanized world, where Cincinnati is just as crowded and polluted as Hong Kong. The new species is the last free place in the general Prison. It is the last hope for the earth. How we listened to her little faltering voice that seemed to return from afar, afar, after having crossed spaces and seas of the mind to let its little drops of pure, crystalline words fall upon us, words that make you see. We listened to the future, we touched the other thing. It was incomprehensible and yet filled with another comprehension. It eluded us on all sides, and yet it was dazzlingly obvious. The ‘other species’ was really radically other, and yet it was vibrating within, absolutely recognizable, as if it were THAT we had been seeking from age to age, THAT we had been invoking through all our illuminations, one after another, in Thebes as in Eleusis as everywhere we have toiled and grieved in the skin of a man. It was for THAT we were here, for that supreme Possible in the skin of a man at last. And then her voice grew more and more frail, her breath began gasping as though She had to traverse greater and greater distances to meet us. She was so alone to beat against the walls of the old prison. Many claws were out all around. Oh, we would so quickly have cut ourself free from all this fiasco to fly away with Her into the world’s future. She was so tiny, stooped over, as if crushed beneath the ‘spiritual’ burden that all the old surrounding species kept heaping upon her. They didn’t believe, no. For them, She was ninety-five years old + so many days. Can someone become a new species all alone? They even grumbled at Her: they had had enough of this unbearable Ray that was bringing their sordid affairs into the daylight. The Ashram was slowly closing over Her. The old world wanted to make a new, golden little Church, nice and quiet. No, no one wanted TO BECOME. To worship was so much easier. And then they bury you, solemnly, and the matter is settled – the case is closed: now, no one need bother any more except to print some photographic haloes for the pilgrims to this brisk little business. But they are mistaken. The real business will take place without them, the new species will fly up in their faces – it is already flying in the face of the earth, despite all its isms in black and white; it is exploding through all the pores of this battered old earth, which has had enough of shams – whether illusory little heavens or barbarous little machines. It is the hour of the REAL Earth. It is the hour of the REAL man. We are all going there – if only we could know the path a little …
This AGENDA is not even a path: it is a light little vibration that seizes you at any turning – and then, there it is, you are IN IT. ‘Another world in the world,’ She said. One has to catch the light little vibration, one has to flow with it, in a nothing that is like the only something in the midst of this great debacle. At the beginning of things, when still nothing was FIXED, when there was not yet this habit of the pelican or the kangaroo or the chimpanzee or the XXth century biologist, there was a little pulsation that beat and beat – a delightful dizziness, a joy in the world’s great adventure; a little never-imprisoned spark that has kept on beating from species to species, but as if it were always eluding us, as if it were always over there, over there – as if it were something to become, something to be played forever as the one great game of the world; a who-knows-what that left this sprig of a pensive man in the middle of a clearing; a little ‘something’ that beats, beats, that keeps on breathing beneath every skin that has ever been put on it – like our deepest breath, our lightest air, our air of nothing – and it keeps on going, it keeps on going. We must catch the light little breath, the little pulsation of nothing. Then suddenly, on the threshold of our clearing of concrete, our head starts spinning incurably, our eyes blink into something else, and all is different, and all seems surcharged with meaning and with life, as though we had never lived until that very minute. Then we have caught the tail of the Great Possible, we are upon the wayless way, radically in the new, and we flow with the little lizard, the pelican, the big man, we flow everywhere in a world that has lost its old separating skin and its little baggage of habits. We begin seeing otherwise, feeling otherwise. We have opened the gate into an inconceivable clearing. Just a light little vibration that carries you away. Then we begin to understand how it CAN CHANGE, what the mechanism is – a light little mechanism and so miraculous that it looks like nothing. We begin feeling the wonder of a pure little cell, and that a sparkling of joy would be enough to turn the world inside out. We were living in a little thinking fishbowl, we were dying in an old, bottled habit. And then suddenly, all is different. The Earth is free! Who wants freedom?
It begins in a cell.
A pure little cell.
Mother is the joy of freedom.
August 19, 1977