Thursday, November 18, 2010

I reached Calcutta on November 17, 1973

From Paulette to "Tusar N. Mohapatra" date 18 November 2010 15:43 subject There is but That
Tusar, can you post the attachment? Thanks Paulette
There is but That
November 17 is for me the most important day of the year. It is the moment of truth. I was moved to see so many familiar faces queuing up to visit the Mother’s room. There were grown ups who, as children, used to play with my daughter; Ashramites with their hair growing grey and white; and all those anonymous ladies, without particular luster or fanfare, after twenty, thirty, even forty years still in their place, humbly serving the Divine. A sentence by the Mother came to mind: the greatest beings are the simplest ones.  How true!

All were in the same queue, – ashramites and laymen alike, Indians and Westerners, young and old, rich and poor, cultured and uncultured. In the eyes of the Guru, all are equal: devas and asuras, saints and sinners. The Guru is embracing each and all, the Grace flows freely for everyone, requiring but an open heart, and nothing more.

And I started remembering, thirty-seven years ago...  I reached Calcutta on November 17, 1973. The next morning, ‘by chance’, I came across the Sri Aurobindo Centre. I climbed the steep staircase; on the wall there was a picture of the Mother with just one sentence, stating that when one is aware of the whole world then only is one aware of the Divine. This struck me like a bolt of lightening. The general strike was over and I was on my way to the University to discuss events with students… I ended up there instead, where I was warmly welcomed by the people upstairs, nice and friendly… Suddenly everybody disappeared: they had just received news of the Mother’s passing. That photo of her, and the statement, were her last message. An adesha.

This is how I came to Pondicherry and the great adventure began. The sacred teaching was transmitted without words, absorbing the atmosphere of the early sadhaks like a sponge… I had no cycle, I walked; everything was a wonder to me. Minuscule flowers, tiny grasses peeping out from crevices. The unfathomable depths of meandering stains in all their hues on the walls of the houses or the sidewalk. Vintage buildings, mysterious and intriguing. The crows gathering for food. Even the dark blue-green dirty water stagnating at the edge of some streets, those years a frequent sight, had a mesmerizing quality, and the dark grey pigs, still roaming freely around, these too had their charm… Everything, absolutely everything was part of the same harmony and perfection, nothing was out of place. I could have spent the day in the street, stunned: wherever I turned I saw only Beauty, and Joy, and Love.

Never before had I perceived the world in its utmost perfection – not with that intensity and everlasting continuity. Yet I knew it was not ‘me’: I was just filtering as in a mirror what I absorbed via those sadhaks – some of them known to me, most others unknown –, having introjected their radiating presence. Every day I met the same people at the same place, at the same time, performing the same usual chores of ordinary life. It was precisely this repetition of the same happenings, day in and day out, that created the miracle. Never did I feel as happy as during my first months in Pondicherry. Happy with nothing more than the endless repetition, in a setting that never changed, surrounded by beings whose contagious bliss sprang from the same source – the inconspicuous nothingness of a microcosm as wide as the universe –, which created at every new day the miracle.

And I knew, without reading manuals, without attending classes (in 37 years I never attended any), that this is what an integral sadhana is about: to live the instant at the utmost, fully aware of the least infinitesimal detail, piercing as if through a laser the essence of beings and things. Then humans, animals, plants, flowers, inert matter unveil their intrinsic divinity, and there is only That, or by whatever name we choose to name It. And it can happen in Pondicherry, Rome or New York, in a forest as in the chaos of a metropolis: there is but That, the one reality.

Spiritual experiences succeeded one another, it was a torrential flow. But I never clung to any, aware that it was a beginning only, to hook me to the Path. Years later, when the external situation became increasingly difficult (not to mention now, in the midst of all this horror) what kept me going was the remembrance of what I had lived those early months, in an indissoluble continuum with the psychic being of those sadhaks. It was then revealed to me the truth of collective yoga. Flying as if pushed by the wind, soaring high – when surrounded by psychic presences; struggling for survival in a desert, in an hostile environment where the psychic being, trampled upon, recedes and whither.

Even more forceful than the samadhi states and some fundamental experiences I had over the years is the awareness that there is no need to pass into trances on top of Mount Kailash or in cave seclusion. Sacchidananda is in the instant, living by a consciousness that, as a microscope, detects the most infinitesimal detail of matter as sublime works of art, vibrates with the murmur of the wind, sparkles with the glittering of every surface of water, soars with the flight of birds, sucks nectar with the bee and the butterfly, and in every grain of sand sees but the infinite. And there are no words, and no teachings: there is only being, that moment of eternity, indissolubly one with each and all, where beings and things are intrinsically divine and all come from, and all return to the same Source. Sri Aurobindo and the Mother are That, and you and I, and the pig in the street, and the crow looking for food, and the beggar outside the Ganesh temple: there is but That.
In the everlasting awareness that I am you, and you are me, how can we kill each other, brother? Paulette

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