Four Austerities and the Four Liberations
all austerities the most difficult is the austerity of feelings
and emotions, the tapasya of love.
Indeed, in the domain of feelings, more perhaps than in
any other, man has the sense of the inevitable, the irresistible,
of a fatality that dominates him and which he cannot escape.
Love (or at least what human beings call love) is particularly
regarded as an imperious master whose caprice one cannot
elude, who strikes you according to his fancy and forces
you to obey him whether you will or not. In the name of
love the worst crimes have been perpetrated, the greatest
yet men have invented all kinds of moral and social rules
in the hope of controlling this force of love, of making
it amenable and docile. But these rules seem to have been
made only to be broken; and the restraint they impose on
its free activity merely increases its explosive power.
For it is not by rules that the movements of love can be
disciplined. Only a greater, higher and truer power of love
can subdue the uncontrollable impulses of love. Only love
can rule over love by enlightening, transforming and exalting
it. For here too, more than anywhere else, control does
not consist of suppression and abolition but of transmutation—a
sublime alchemy. This is because, of all the forces at work
in the universe, love is the most powerful, the most irresistible.
Without love the world would fall back into the chaos of
Consciousness is indeed the creatrix of the universe, but
love is its saviour. Conscious experience alone can give
a glimpse of what love is, of its purpose and process. Any
verbal transcription is necessarily a mental travesty of
something which eludes all expression in every way. Philosophers,
mystics, occultists, have all tried to define love, but
in vain. I have no pretension of succeeding where they have
failed. But I wish to state in the simplest possible terms
what in their writings takes such an abstract and complicated
form. My words will have no other aim than to lead towards
the living experience, and I wish to be able to lead even
a child to it.
Love is, in its essence, the joy of identity; it
finds its ultimate expression in the bliss of union.
Between the two lie all the phases of its universal manifestation.
At the beginning of this manifestation, in the purity of
its origin, love is composed of two movements, two complementary
poles of the urge towards complete oneness. On one hand
there is the supreme power of attraction and on the other
the irresistible need for absolute self-giving. No other
movement could have better bridged the abyss that was created
when in the individual being consciousness was separated
from its origin and became unconsciousness.
What had been projected into space had to be brought back
to itself without, however, annihilating the universe which
had thus been created. That is why love burst forth, the
irresistible power of union.
It brooded over the darkness and the inconscience; it was
scattered and fragmented in the bosom of unfathomable night.
And then began the awakening and the ascent, the slow formation
of Matter and its endless progression. It is indeed love,
in a corrupted and darkened form, that is associated with
all the impulses of physical and vital Nature, as the urge
behind all movement and all grouping, which becomes quite
perceptible in the plant kingdom. In trees and plants, it
is the need to grow in order to obtain more light, more
air, more space; in flowers, it is the offering of their
beauty and fragrance in a loving efflorescence. Then, in
animals, it is love that lies behind hunger and thirst,
the need for appropriation, expansion, procreation, in short,
behind every desire, whether conscious or not. And among
the higher species, it is in the self-sacrificing devotion
of the female to her young. This brings us quite naturally
to the human race in which, with the triumphant advent of
mental activity, this association reaches its climax, for
it has become conscious and deliberate. Indeed, as soon
as terrestrial development made it possible, Nature took
up this sublime force of love and put it at the service
of her creative work by linking and mixing it with her movement
of procreation. This association has even become so close,
so intimate, that very few human beings are illumined enough
in their consciousness to be able to dissociate these movements
from each other and experience them separately. In this
way, love has suffered every degradation; it has been debased
to the level of the beast.
From then on, too, there clearly appears in Nature's works
the will to rebuild, by steps and stages and through ever
more numerous and complex groupings, the primordial oneness.
Having made use of the power of love to bring two human
beings together to form the biune group, the origin of the
family, after having broken the narrow limits of personal
egoism, changing it into a dual egoism, Nature, with the
appearance of children, brought forth a more complex unit,
the family. And in course of time, with multifarious associations
between families, individual interchanges and mingling of
blood, larger groupings were formed: clans, tribes, castes,
classes, leading to the creation of nations. This work of
group formation proceeded simultaneously in the various
parts of the world, crystallising in the different races.
And little by little, Nature will fuse these races too in
her endeavour to build a real and material foundation for
In the consciousness of most men, all this is the outcome
of chance; they are not aware of the existence of a global
plan and take circumstances as they come, for better or
for worse according to their temperament: some are satisfied,
Among the contented, there is a certain category of people
who are perfectly adapted to Nature's ways: these are the
optimists. For them the days are brighter because of the
nights, colours are vivid because of the shadows, joy is
more intense because of suffering, pain gives a greater
charm to pleasure, illness gives health all its value; I
have even heard some of them say that they are glad to have
enemies because it made them appreciate their friends all
the more. In any case, for all these people, sexual activity
is one of the most enjoyable of occupations, satisfaction
of the palate is a delight of life that they cannot go without;
and it is quite normal to die since one is born: death puts
an end to a journey which would become tedious if it were
to last too long.
In short, they find life quite all right as it is and do
not care to know whether it has a purpose or a goal; they
do not worry about the miseries of others and do not see
any need for progress.
Never try to "convert" these people; it would
be a serious mistake. If they were unfortunate enough to
listen to you, they would lose the balance they have without
being able to find a new one. They are not ready to have
an inner life, but they are Nature's favourites; they have
a very close alliance with her, and this realisation should
not be needlessly disturbed.
To a lesser degree, and above all, in a less durable way,
there are other contented people in the world whose contentment
is due to the magic effect of love. Each time an individual
breaks the narrow limitations in which he is imprisoned
by his ego and emerges into the open air, through self-giving,
whether for the sake of another human being or his family,
his country or his faith, he finds in this self-forgetfulness
a foretaste of the marvellous delight of love, and this
gives him the impression that he has come into contact with
the Divine. But most often it is only a fleeting contact,
for in the human being love is immediately mixed with lower
egoistic movements which debase it and rob it of its power
of purity. But even if it remained pure, this contact with
the divine existence could not last for ever, for love is
only one aspect of the Divine, an aspect which here on earth
has suffered the same distortions as the others.
all these experiences are very good and useful for the ordinary
man who follows the normal way of Nature in her stumbling
march towards the future unity. But they cannot satisfy
those who want to hasten the movement, or rather, who aspire
to belong to another line of more direct and rapid movement,
to an exceptional movement that will liberate them from
ordinary mankind and its interminable march, so that they
may take part in the spiritual advance which will lead them
along the swiftest paths towards the creation of the new
race, the race that will express the supramental truth upon
earth. These rare souls must reject all forms of love between
human beings, for however beautiful and pure they may be,
they cause a kind of short-circuit and cut off the direct
connection with the Divine.
one who has known love for the Divine, all other forms of
love are obscure and too mixed with pettiness and egoism
and darkness; they are like a perpetual haggling or a struggle
for supremacy and domination, and even among the best they
are full of misunderstanding and irritability, of friction
Moreover, it is a well-known fact that one grows into the
likeness of what one loves. Therefore if you want to be
like the Divine, love Him alone. Only one who has known
the ecstasy of the exchange of love with the Divine can
know how insipid and dull and feeble any other exchange
is in comparison. And even if the most austere discipline
is required to arrive at this exchange, nothing is too hard,
too long or too severe in order to achieve it, for it surpasses
This is the marvellous state we want to realise on earth;
it is this which will have the power to transform the world
and make it a habitation worthy of the Divine Presence.
Then will pure and true love be able to incarnate in a body
that will no longer be a disguise and a veil for it. Many
a time, in order to make the discipline easier and to create
a closer and more easily perceptible intimacy, the Divine
has sought, in his highest form of love, to assume a physical
body similar in appearance to the human body; but each time,
imprisoned within the gross forms of Matter, he was able
to express only a caricature of himself. And in order to
manifest in the fullness of his perfection he waits only
for human beings to have made some indispensable progress
in their consciousness and in their bodies; for the vulgarity
of man's vanity and the stupidity of his conceit mistake
the sublime divine love, when it expresses itself in a human
form, for a sign of weakness and dependence and need.
And yet man already knows, at first obscurely, but more
and more clearly as he draws nearer to perfection, that
love alone can put an end to the suffering of the world;
only the ineffable joy of love in its essence can sweep
away from the universe the burning pain of separation. For
only in the ecstasy of the supreme union will creation discover
its purpose and its fulfilment.
That is why no effort is too arduous, no austerity too rigorous
if it can illumine, purify, perfect and transform the physical
substance so that it may no longer conceal the Divine when
he takes on an outer form in Matter. For then this marvellous
tenderness will be able to express itself freely in the
world, the divine love which has the power of changing life
into a paradise of sweet joy.
This, you will say, is the culmination, the crown of the
effort, the final victory; but what must be done in order
to achieve it? What is the path to be followed and what
are the first steps on the way?
Since we have decided to reserve love in all its
splendour for our personal relationship with the Divine,
we shall replace it in our relations with others by a total,
unvarying, constant and egoless kindness and goodwill that
will not expect any reward or gratitude or even any recognition.
However others may treat you, you will never allow yourself
to be carried away by any resentment; and in your unmixed
love for the Divine, you will leave him sole judge as to
how he is to protect you and defend you against the misunderstanding
and bad will of others.
You will await your joys and pleasures from the Divine alone.
In him alone will you seek and find help and support. He
will comfort you in all your sorrows, guide you on the path,
lift you up if you stumble, and if there are moments of
failure and exhaustion, he will take you up in his strong
arms of love and enfold you in his soothing sweetness.
To avoid any misunderstanding, I must point out here that
because of the exigencies of the language in which I am
expressing myself, I am obliged to use the masculine gender
whenever I mention the Divine. But in fact the reality of
love I speak of is above and beyond all gender, masculine
or feminine; and when it incarnates in a human body, it
does so indifferently in the body of a man or a woman according
to the needs of the work to be done.
In summary, austerity in feelings consists then of giving
up all emotional attachment, of whatever nature, whether
for a person, for the family, for the country or anything
else, in order to concentrate on an exclusive attachment
for the Divine Reality. This concentration will culminate
in an integral identification and will be instrumental to
the supramental realisation upon earth.
This leads us quite naturally to the four liberations which
will be the concrete forms of this achievement. The liberation
of the feelings will be at the same time the liberation
from suffering, in a total realisation of the supramental
mental liberation or liberation from ignorance will establish
in the being the mind of light or gnostic consciousness,
whose expression will have the creative power of the Word.
The vital liberation or liberation from desire gives the
individual will the power to identify itself perfectly and
consciously with the divine will and brings constant peace
and serenity as well as the power which results from them.
Finally, crowning all the others, comes the physical liberation
or liberation from the law of material cause and effect.
By a total self-mastery, one is no longer a slave of Nature's
laws which make men act according to subconscious or semiconscious
impulses and maintain them in the rut of ordinary life.
With this liberation one can decide in full knowledge the
path to be taken, choose the action to be accomplished and
free oneself from all blind determinism, so that nothing
is allowed to intervene in the course of one's life but
the highest will, the truest knowledge, the supramental
- The Mother