First Meeting with Sri Aurobindo

...When I first began to work (not with Théon personally but with an acquaintance of his in France, a boy who was a friend of my brother), well, I had a series of visions (I knew nothing about India, mind you, nothing, just as most Europeans know nothing about it: 'a country full of people with certain customs and religions, a confused and hazy history, where a lot of "extraordinary things" are said to have happened.' I knew nothing.) Well in several of these visions I saw Sri Aurobindo just as he looked physically, but glorified; that is, the same man I would see on my first visit, almost thin, with that golden-bronze hue and rather sharp profile, an unruly beard and long hair, dressed in a dhoti with one end of it thrown over his shoulder, arms and chest bare, and bare feet. At the time I thought it was 'vision attire!' I mean I really knew nothing about India; I had never seen Indians dressed in the Indian way.

Well, I saw him. I experienced what were at once symbolic visions and spiritual FACTS: absolutely decisive spiritual experiences and facts of meeting and having a united perception of the Work to be accomplished. And in these visions I did something I had never done physically: I prostrated before him in the Hindu manner. All this without any comprehension in the little brain (I mean I really didn't know what I was doing or how I was doing it - nothing at all). I did it, and at the same time the outer being was asking, 'What is all this?'

I wrote the vision down (or perhaps that was later on) but I never spoke of it to anyone (one does not talk about such things, naturally). But my impression was that it was premonitory, that one day something like it would happen. And it remained in the background of the consciousness, nor active, but constantly present.

As for Théon, he was European and wore a long purple robe that wasn't at all like the one in my vision. (I'm not sure, but I think he was either Polish or Russian, but more probably Russian, of Jewish descent, and that he was forced to leave his country; he never said anything about this to anyone, it's only an impression). When I saw him I recognised him as a being of great power. And he bore a certain likeness to Sri Aurobindo: Théon was about the same size (not a tall man, of medium height) and thin, slim, with quite a similar profile. But when I met Théon I saw (or rather I felt) that he was not the man I saw in my vision because …he did not have that vibration. Yet it was he who first taught me things, and I went and worked at Tlemcen for two years in a row. But this other thing was always there in the background of the consciousness.

Then when Richard came here he met Sri Aurobindo (he was haunted by the idea of meeting the 'Master', the Guru, the 'Great Teacher'). Sri Aurobindo was in hiding, seeing no one, but when Richard insisted, he met him, and Richard returned with a photograph. It was one of those early photos, with nothing in it. It was empty, the remnants of the political man, not at all resembling what I had seen—I didn't recognize him. 'It's strange', I said to myself, 'that's not it' (for I saw only his external appearance, there was no inner contact). But still, I was curious to meet him. At any rate, I can't say that when I saw this photograph I felt, 'He's the one!' Not at all. He impressed me as being a very interesting man, but no more.

I came here…. But something in me wanted to meet Sri Aurobindo all alone the first time. Richard went to him in the morning and I had an appointment for the afternoon. He was living in the house that's now part of the second dormitory, the old Guest House. I climbed up the stairway and he was standing there, waiting for me at the top of the stairs….EXACTLY my vision! Dressed the same way, in the same position, in profile, his head held high. He turned his head towards me…and I saw in his eyes that it was He. The two things clicked (gesture of instantaneous shock), the inner experience immediately became one with the outer experience and there was fusion—the decisive shock.

But this was merely the beginning of my vision. Only after a series of experiences—a ten months' sojourn in Pondicherry, five years of separation, then the return to Pondicherry and the meeting in the same house and in the same way - did the END of the vision occur…. I was standing just beside him. My head wasn't exactly on his shoulder, but where his shoulder was (I don't know how to explain it - physically there was hardly any contact). We were standing side by side like that, gazing out through the open window, and then TOGETHER, at exactly the same moment, we felt, 'Now the Realization will be accomplished. I felt the Thing descending massively within me, with the same certainty I had felt in my vision. From that moment on there was nothing to say - no words, nothing. We knew it was THAT.

But between these two meetings he participated in a whole series of experiences, experiences of gradually growing awareness. This is partly noted in Prayers and Meditations (I have cut out all the personal segments). But there was one experience I didn't speak of there (that is, I didn't describe it, I put only the conclusion)—the experience where I say 'Since the man refused….' I was offering participation in the universal work and the new creation and the man didn't want it, he refused, and so I now offer it to God….

I don't know, I'm putting it poorly, but this experience was concrete to the point of being physical. It happened in a Japanese country-house where we were living, near a lake. There was a whole series of circumstances, events, all kinds of things—a long, long story, like a novel. But one day I was alone in meditation (I have never had very profound meditations, only concentrations of consciousness - Mother makes an abrupt gesture showing a sudden ingathering of the entire being); and I was seeing…. You know that I had taken on the conversion of the Lord of Falsehood: I tried to do it through an emanation incarnated in a physical being, and the greatest effort was made during those four years in Japan. The four years were coming to an end with an absolute inner certainty that there was nothing to be done - that it was impossible, impossible to do this way. There was nothing to be done. And I was intensely concentrated asking the Lord, 'Well, I made You a vow to do this, I had said, "Even if it's necessary to descend into hell to do it…." Now tell me, what must I do? …' The Power was plainly there: suddenly everything in me became still; the whole external being was completely immobilized and I had a vision of the Supreme…more beautiful than that of the Gita. A vision of the Supreme. And this vision literally gathered me into its arms; it turned towards West, towards India, and offered me—and there at the other end I saw Sri Aurobindo. It was… I felt it physically. I saw, saw—my eyes were closed but I saw (twice I have had this vision of the Supreme—once here, much later—but this was the first time)… ineffable. It was as if this Immensity had reduced itself to a rather gigantic Being who lifted me up like a wisp of straw and offered me. Not a word, nothing else, only that.
Then everything vanished.

The next day we began preparing to return to India.
It was after this vision, when I returned from Japan, that this meeting with Sri Aurobindo took place, along with the certainty that the Mission would be accomplished.

20 December 1961
- The Mother

Annul thyself that only God may be.        - Sri Aurobindo