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object:2.1.5.1 - Study of Works of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother
book class:On Education
class:chapter
subject class:Education
author class:The Mother

2 Nov 1959

Sweet Mother, how should one read your books and the books of Sri Aurobindo so that they might enter into our consciousness instead of being understood only by the mind?

To read my books is not difficult because they are written in the simplest language, almost the spoken language. To draw profit from them, it is enough to read with attention and concentration and an attitude of inner goodwill with the desire to receive and to live what is taught.

To read what Sri Aurobindo writes is more difficult because the expression is highly intellectual and the language is much more literary and philosophic. The brain needs a preparation to be able truly to understand and generally a preparation takes time, unless one is specially gifted with an innate intuitive faculty.

In any case, I advise always to read a little at a time, keeping the mind as tranquil as one can, without making an effort to understand, but keeping the head as silent as possible, and letting the force contained in what one reads enter deep within. This force received in the calm and the silence will do its work of light and, if needed, will create in the brain the necessary cells for the understanding. Thus, when one re-reads the same thing some months later, one perceives that the thought expressed has become much more clear and close, and even sometimes altogether familiar.

It is preferable to read regularly, a little every day, and at a fixed hour if possible; this facilitates the brain-receptivity.

2 November 1959
***
23 May 1960

Sweet Mother, with what attitude should I read Sri Aurobindos books when they are difficult and when I do not understand? Savitri, The Life Divine, for example.

Read a little at a time, read again and again until you have understood.

23 May 1960
***
14 Oct 1967

What is the true method for studying Sri Aurobindos works?

The true method is to read a little at a time, with concentration, keeping the mind as silent as possible, without actively trying to understand, but turned upwards, in silence, and aspiring for the light. Understanding will come little by little.

And later, in one or two years, you will read the same thing again and then you will know that the first contact had been vague and incomplete, and that true understanding comes later, after having tried to put it into practice.

14 October 1967
***
4 Jul 1969

You came to earth to learn to know yourself.

Read Sri Aurobindos books and look carefully within yourself as deeply as you can.

4 July 1969
***
1972

This year, Sri Aurobindos centenary year, tell us how we, the teachers and students of the school, can serve Sri Aurobindo.

First of all read what Sri Aurobindo has written on education. Then you will have to find a way to put it into practice.

1972
***
30 Jan 1972

Sri Aurobindo came upon the earth to announce the manifestation of the supramental world and not merely did he announce this manifestation but embodied also in part the supramental force and showed by example what one must do to prepare oneself for manifesting it. The best thing we can do is to study all that he has told us and endeavour to follow his example and prepare ourselves for the new manifestation.

This gives life its real sense and will help us to overcome all obstacles.

Let us live for the new creation and we shall grow stronger and stronger by remaining young and progressive.

30 January 1972
***
13 Nov 1970

For Sri Aurobindos centenary, what is the best offering that I can personally make to Sri Aurobindo?

Offer him your mind in all sincerity.

13 November 1970
***
3 Feb 1972

To be able to offer my mind to Sri Aurobindo in all sincerity, is it not very necessary to develop a great power of concentration? Will you tell me by what method I could cultivate this precious faculty?

Fix a time when you can be quiet every day.

Take one of Sri Aurobindos books. Read a sentence or two. Then remain silent and concentrated to understand the deeper meaning. Try to concentrate deeply enough to obtain mental silence and begin again daily until you obtain a result.

Naturally you should not fall asleep.

3 February 1972
***
25 Oct 1972

If one reads Sri Aurobindo carefully one finds the answers to all that one wants to know.

25 October 1972
***

By studying carefully what Sri Aurobindo has said on all subjects one can easily reach a complete knowledge of the things of this world.
***

Mother, how can one become wise?

Read Sri Aurobindo.
***

It is not by books that Sri Aurobindo ought to be studied but by subjectswhat he has said on the Divine, on Unity, on religion, on evolution, on education, on self-perfection, on supermind, etc., etc.
***

Is the [English] Board right in taking it for granted that in the school course of English studies Sri Aurobindos and Mothers works should be included?

Yes.
***

Is it preferable to choose entire books or selections from different works?

For the school, selections are better.
***

Should any extract be chosen from works on Yoga?

Very simple things as in Elements of Yoga.
***

In what way should these books or extracts be used for the study of English? Should they be explained or only read through? Specially, if Mother approves of works on Yoga, how should these be studied?

Not from the Yoga point of view.
***

Should these extracts be prepared by each individual teacher1 according to the needs of the class, subject to the approval of the Board (in consultation with the University Board)?

Or should the Board undertake to draw up (in consultation with the University Board) a graded selection from the extracts recommended by the individual teachers?

No, because it would not be plastic enough.
***

There are five periods a week allotted to English in each class. Should a period or periods out of these be given entirely to Sri Aurobindos and Mothers works?

Yes.
***

Should an additional period or periods be given for this purpose?

No.
***

Is there any limit of language level below which these works should not be given in class? If so, which of the English groups need not be included?

It depends entirely on the capacities of the students.

  Mother underlined these words and commented "Yes" in the margin.

***
25 Oct 1959

Note to the Professors of the Higher Course

The Mother has suggested the following procedure for the study of Sri Aurobindos works in the Higher Course.

(1) The teacher first presents a subject and gives the necessary elements of information to the students.

(2) Next, he gives to the students, without comments, the most significant passage (or passages) from Sri Aurobindo, relevant to the subject, and asks them to read and ponder over the same.

(3) The students are then requested to express orally at the next class or in a short essay what they have understood and the conclusions they have reached.

25 October 1959
***
10 Nov 1959

Regarding (1) above: Is it the Mothers intention that while presenting the subject, the teacher should do so without reading anything from Sri Aurobindos book?

Surely the teacher can read to the students passages from Sri Aurobindo whenever he finds it useful.

Regarding (2): Should the teacher, after presenting the subject, only point out the relevant passages from the book to the students, but not himself read any of them in the class? Could he ask the students to read these passages in the class itself, if there is time? Or should they be asked to read at home only?

He may read them himself, ask the students to read them aloud or silently, in the class or at home; it depends on the time and circumstances. The important thing is that Sri Aurobindos writings should not be chewed and presented to the students as a semi-digested food. The teacher may give all the elements of appreciation but the students should have the direct contact, the joy of illumination. The teacher should be careful not to interpose himself as a screen between the mind of the student and the great consciousness of Sri Aurobindo.

Regarding (3): Is it the Mothers wish that the students should be asked to express orally or in writing what they have understood in a class at every next class? If a topic or a chapter takes more than one class to complete, could they be asked to express themselves when the topic or chapter is completed?

This is naturally left to the teacher.

There are certain subjects which have been prescribed for study as introduction to the chief task of studying Sri Aurobindos works. Instead of teaching these subjects separately before taking up Sri Aurobindos book, can the teachers teach them simultaneously, explaining the relevant ideas from them while presenting the given subject in Sri Aurobindos book?

You may do as you prefer, but as told above, care must always be taken that Sri Aurobindo comes to the students after they have received the necessary information and preparation, but with all his freshness and power.

While teaching a particular book of Sri Aurobindo, can the teacher include some selections from other works of Sri Aurobindo containing his views on the subjects under study? Similarly, can the teacher include selections from the Mothers writings as well?

Why hesitate and limit yourself? You may surely quote other books of Sri Aurobindo or the Mother.1

10 November 1959

  A spoken comment of the Mother which was noted from memory by a sadhak and approved by the Mother for publication.

***
31 Mar 1967

(The outline of a study project On the Spiritual History of India was read to the Mother. She commented:)

No! It wont do. It is not to be done that way. You should begin with a big BANG!

You were trying to show the continuity of history, with Sri Aurobindo as the outcome, the culmination. It is false entirely.

Sri Aurobindo does not belong to history; he is outside and beyond history.

Till the birth of Sri Aurobindo, religions and spiritualities were always centred on past figures, and they were showing as the goal the negation of life upon earth. So, you had a choice between two alternatives: either

a life in this world with its round of petty pleasures and pains, joys and sufferings, threatened by hell if you were not behaving properly, or

an escape into another world, heaven, nirvana, moksha.

Between these two there is nothing much to choose, they are equally bad.

Sri Aurobindo has told us that this was a fundamental mistake which accounts for the weakness and degradation of India. Buddhism, Jainism, Illusionism were sufficient to sap all energy out of the country.

True, India is the only place in the world which is still aware that something else than Matter exists. The other countries have quite forgotten it: Europe, America and elsewhere. That is why she still has a message to preserve and deliver to the world. But at present she is splashing and floundering in the muddle.

Sri Aurobindo has shown that the truth does not lie in running away from earthly life but in remaining in it, to transform it, divinise it, so that the Divine can manifest HERE, in this PHYSICAL WORLD.

You should say all this at the first sitting. You should be square and frank like that! (With her hands Mother makes a big square sign on the table.)

Then, when this is told, strongly, squarely, and there is no doubt about itand then onlyyou can go on and amuse them with the history of religions and religious or spiritual leaders.

Thenand then onlyyou will be able to show the seed of weakness and falsehood that they have harboured and proclaimed.

Thenand then onlyyou will be able to discern, from time to time, from place to place, an intuition that something else is possible; in the Vedas, for instance (the injunction to descend deep into the cave of the Panis); in the Tantras also a little light is burning.1

31 March 1967

  A spoken comment of the Mother which was noted from memory by a sadhak and approved by the Mother for publication.

***
2 Apr 1967

Sri Aurobindo does not belong to the past nor to history.

Sri Aurobindo is the Future advancing towards its realisation.

Thus we must shelter the eternal youth required for a speedy advance, in order not to become laggards on the way.

2 April 1967
***
1967
Dec

About the proposal of not making any subject compulsory,1 X said that we should ask Mother if this could apply to the study of Sri Aurobindos teaching also.

Yes.

He said that when the Higher Course was instituted some years back, it was Mothers chief intention that all the students should have a sufficient understanding of Sri Aurobindos teachings and it was She who had made the Common Course compulsory for that purpose. Our Education Centre is primarily intended to impart and imbibe Sri Aurobindos teachings, so how can their study be kept optional? In fact, it would be very strange to suppose that any student of our Centre would not be interested in studying Sri Aurobindos works. And if he is not, how can he be expected to be a student of our Centre?

Yes, to those who want to learn in school but not for those who wish to study alone.

November 1967

  "The choice of a subject for study should be freely made by each student, and it should reflect a real and serious quest of the student."

  (Proposal 1: see page 176)

***
27 Jul 1959

It has been suggested that it is desirable that the Mothers talks and other important articles in the Bulletin which are primarily meant for the children of the Education Centre may be read out and explained to them in the class. For that purpose it is suggested that one or two periods in a month may be allotted to this subject. As to the language in which these classes should be taken we pray to the Mother to decide.

If you want to use my articles or conversations, you should do it in French.

27 July 1959
***
4 Mar 1966

Sri Aurobindo should be read in English, and I should be read in French.

4 March 1966
***
7 Oct 1967

You have said that it would take one or two years to understand Sri Aurobindo. So are the teachers justified in asking us questions (on the texts of Sri Aurobindo studied in class)?

I said it would take years to understand properly. But if you are intelligent you can understand something immediately; and the teacher wants to assess your degree of intelligence.

7 October 1967
***
7 Mar 1969

The nature of my work is such that I have constantly to go on reading and writing and thinkingwith the result that I live mostly in my mind. This constant preoccupation in mental activity stands in the way of the opening of the psychic centre. It has also made my life very dry and top-heavy. You have said in the Bulletin that this sort of constant mental activity is not good for receiving the New Consciousness that is now manifesting. But, then, if the work that I have to do demands it, how can I help it?

You seem to forget that Sri Aurobindo wrote for so many years the whole of the Arya1 in perfect mental silence leaving the inspiration from above to go through and manifest through his hands on the typewriter.

7 March 1969

  A monthly review (1914-1921) in which Sri Aurobindo's major prose works first appeared.

***
16 Nov 1972

It is indeed a very good idea to study the Arya. The little you can understand by yourself is better and more effective than an ocean of explanation from another.
***

You may profitably teach biology. And at the same time continue your study of Sri Aurobindo.

It is better to do what you do thoroughly and most seriously, than to multiply your occupations.

To be a good teacher is not easy; but it is very interesting and a good opportunity to develop oneself.

As for reading the works of Sri Aurobindo, it opens the door of the future to us.

16 November 1972
***
9 Mar 1941

All that we read, study or learn seems to be a heap of falsehood compared to Sri Aurobindos writings. Then why waste time on them?

I suppose it is only as a gymnastic for the mind!
***

My beloved Mother, I want to follow a systematic course of metaphysics and ethics. I am also thinking of reading The Life Divine.

If you read metaphysics and ethics, you must do it just as mental gymnastics to give a little exercise to your brain, but never lose sight of the fact that this is not a source of knowledge and that it is not in this way that one can get knowledge. Naturally, this does not hold good for The Life Divine.
***

It seems to me that apart from the work at the Building Service, if you feel like studying, it would be more worthwhile to read Sri Aurobindos books seriously and carefully without rushing. That will help you more than anything else for your sadhana.

9 March 1941
***
11 Mar 1941

Which of Sri Aurobindos books should I start with?

The Life Divine.

My blessings.

11 March 1941
***
31 Oct 1942

(The Mother wrote out the following programme for a study group.)

1) Prayer (Sri Aurobindo, Mothergrant us your help in our endeavour to understand your teaching.)

2) Reading of Sri Aurobindos book.

3) A moment of silence.

4) One question can be put by whoever wants to put a question on what has been read.

5) Answer to the question.

6) No general discussion.

This is not the meeting of a group but simply a class for studying Sri Aurobindos books.

31 October 1942
***



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