Atheist—Will for Perfection

… Because I was an outright atheist: till the age of twenty, the very idea of God made me furious. Therefore I had the most solid base—no imaginings, no mystic atavism; my mother was very much an unbeliever and so was my father. So from the point of view of atavism it was very good: positivism, materialism. Only one thing: since I was very small, a will for perfection in any field whatever; a will for perfection and the sense of a limitless consciousness—no limits to one's progress or to one's power or to one's scope. And that, since I was very small. But mentally, an absolute refusal to believe in a "God": I believed only in what I could touch and see. And the whole faculty for experiences was already there (they didn't manifest because the time hadn't come). Only, the sense of a Light here (gesture above the head), which began when I was very small, I was five, along with a will for perfection. A will for perfection: oh, whatever I did always had to be the best I could do. And then, a limitless consciousness. These two things. And my return to the Divine came about through Théon's teaching, when I was told for the first time, "The Divine is within, there"(Mother strikes her breast). Then I felt at once, "Yes, this is it." Then I did all the work that's taught to find Him again; and through here (gesture to the heart centre) I went there (gesture of junction above with the Supreme). But outwardly, mentally, no religion - a horror of religions.

26 March 1966


At the age of eighteen, I remember having such an intense need in me to KNOW…. Because I was having experiences—I had all kinds of experiences—but surroundings offered me no chance to receive an intellectual knowledge, which would have given me the meaning of it all: I couldn't even speak of them. I was having experience after experience…. For years, I had experiences during the night (but I was very careful never to speak about them!)—memories about past lives, all sorts of things, but without any base of intellectual knowledge. (Of course, the advantage of this was that my experiences were not mentally contrived; they were entirely spontaneous.) But I had such a NEED in me to know! … I remember living in a house (one of those houses with a lot of apartments), and in the apartment next door were some Catholics whose faith was very… they were very convinced. And seeing all that, I remember saying to myself one day while brushing my hair, 'these people are lucky to be born into a religion and believe unquestioningly! It's so easy! You have nothing to do but believe—how simple that makes it.' I was feeling like this, and then when I realized what I was thinking (laughing), well, I gave myself a good scolding: ' Lazybones!'

To know, know, KNOW! … You see, I knew nothing, really, nothing but the things of ordinary life: external knowledge. I had learned everything I had been given to learn. I not only learned what I was taught but also what my brother was taught—higher mathematics and all that! I learned and I learned and I learned—and it was NOTHING. None of it explained anything to me—nothing. I couldn't understand a thing!

To know! ….
It was to happen to me two years later when I met someone who told me of Théon's teaching.
When I was told that the Divine was within—the teaching of the Gita, but in words understandable to a Westerner—that there was an inner Presence, that one carried the Divine within oneself, oh! … What a revelation! In a few minutes, I suddenly understood all, all, all. Understood everything. It brought the contact instantly.

29 April 1961
- The mother

Annul thyself that only God may be.        - Sri Aurobindo