Friday, April 17, 2009

I was, of course, boorishly admonished by Sujata

Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "Destroying obsession in which Satprem lived at the...": Hello Readers, instead of this computer translation full of mistakes, you can read the author's own excellent translation here: Posted by Anonymous to Aurora Mirabilis at 10:45 AM, April 17, 2009 La Fin de l’Illusion Le danger des intermédiaires
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Then I had another strange dream, maybe as a continuation, or a further turn of the screw, of the dream of the red piece of meat mentioned earlier. I found myself in a huge underground cave, closed on all sides, whose walls were made of a strange, salt-like, translucent substance, soft to the touch. Satprem, alone in this cave, was sitting cross-legged on the bare ground, deep in concentration. Raising my head, I could see that the cave’s ceiling, though bereft of any opening to the open air, supported, as it were, the entire world above — our physical world. On closer examination, I noticed that bits of this translucent substance were being chipped away from the walls of the cave as Satprem continued his concentration. He was hollowing out the cave as the Indians of the Orinoco River hollow out a tree trunk to make their pirogue! For Heaven’s sake, I thought, if the ceiling wall that supports the world becomes too thin, everything will collapse inward! Just as I understood the enormity of what was in store — the collapse of the world — I found myself in the open air, face to face with Satprem. He had a little amused sparkle in the eye and, as he understood I had understood, he simply said: “This is the ONLY solution.”

I do not believe that a single man, be it Satprem, can destroy the world. But ten years before the New York Twin Towers and the way terrorists attacks have become a feature of everyday life in the present world, this dream at least points to the destructive obsession of Satprem’s consciousness at the time. Not only was I a prominent potential target in view of my alleged acts of treason, but after me (as I would later discover), everything was to follow: Michel and Nicole, who replaced me, were subjected to the worst accusations and expelled from the Nilgiris; Patrice was to follow suit one or two years later, returning home to France to commit suicide.

Nothing and no one escaped his destructive compulsion, neither the people who had been close to him and had served his designs, nor the human race as a whole, with which he still had to share this earth. A few years ago, a visiting guest asked him somewhat rhetorically: “What would you do if you were Master of the world?” Satprem’s face suddenly grew tense and, making a fist, he replied instantly: “I would crush everything!”

Yet I want to believe that Sri Aurobindo and Mother did not make the effort and sacrifice of incarnating once again to spend painstaking years in trying, with a few human samples, to show the passage to another terrestrial consciousness, only for this earth to end up in Satprem’s closed fist. Otherwise, what is the sense of their efforts, the sense of the thousands of letters Sri Aurobindo wrote at night, since the days were no longer enough, to affirm that Something Else is possible, here and now? Just as he, day after day incarnated “love for all and faith for all”, so also Mother lavished the same care, the same concentration, the same challenge with her smile, with her thousands of daily footsteps, to tip ever so slightly the days’ tedium toward that Something Else. I want to believe that their efforts have flowered, at least in a few, and that the seed is planted in a few consciousnesses, beneath the hard crust of stereotypes, unbeknownst to dissenters and assenters alike.

And then how can one close his fist on anything or anyone when he has known That?
If it were needed, another “misunderstanding” with Satprem illustrates this incipient violence. This is the incident about “India’s Rebirth.” Michel had collected texts where Sri Aurobindo spoke of India and her destiny, principally excerpts of the “Bande Mataram,” the weekly journal Sri Aurobindo published in Calcutta during his revolutionary years, prior to the trial of the Alipore Bomb Case. This compilation had been printed in India in a book whose title, “India’s Rebirth,” was placed on the cover above the name of Sri Aurobindo and a map of India before the partition. Susie and I were surprised to receive a printed copy of this book, and even more surprised to discover that the name of the American Institute was printed inside as the official distributor of the book in the United States, for we had never been told about this new book project which had been entirely put together in the Nilgiris. But the greatest shocking surprise of all was to discover the header topping the front cover in black, bold print: “Out of the Ruins of the West…,” followed below by the actual title, “India’s Rebirth.” In other words, Sri Aurobindo, whose name appeared as the book’s sole author was supposed to endorse the central thesis, expressed on the cover, that India’s rebirth would be founded on the ruins of the West…

This, I felt, was to push Sri Aurobindo’s revolutionary thinking to the limit, and even beyond the limit. Sri Aurobindo and Ben-Laden as fellow-thinkers? I could not get used to the idea. Since I knew Sujata to be directly behind this publication, I took my pen, again, to draft a careful and respectful telegram, in which I argued that that unfortunate header conveyed a wrong idea about India and her aspiration, as well as about Sri Aurobindo, who had never displayed in his writing such a fervent inclination for the destruction of the West, etc. I did not even mention what headache it would be for us to present such a book cover for sale in American bookstores! The whole scheme was incredibly surreal, to be polite and stay outside any clinical diagnosis.
I was, of course, boorishly admonished by Sujata:

Don’t you see what stares you in the face? You seem to be living in a chest of drawers, Luc. Does living in a drawer qualify you to critisize [sic] the sightings of another who happens to live in open air? Nobody need ‘aspire’ for the ruin of the West. It is already in ruins… [What] with gun-toting children, with homosexuals and lesbians… Are petrodollars the final aim of Evolution? If you think that the summit of Evolution is where the Western civilisation has led mankind then I’ll ask you to think again… that is, if the grey cells have retained their original colour and have not turned black, losing their ability to reflect the light… For your information, the line ‘Out of the ruins of the West,’ to which you seem to object, is Satprem’s contribution to the book.

Words had completely lost their meaning. We were on two planets belonging to different constellations. When I spoke of the interpretation of words and the sometimes unfortunate association they triggered in a reader’s mind, I received hot-tempered, indiscriminate tirades deprived of any nuance. How could the refined elegance, the wonderful subtlety of Sri Aurobindo’s thoughts be mixed with this fundamentalist caricature? Was this the meaning of my dream with the blood-dripping meat? Were they trying to force Sri Aurobindo into a carnivorous skin?

The confusion worsened when the Ashram Trustees found out about the existence of the book, whose material was composed to a great extent of texts under the Ashram copyrights. Not only had Sujata not found it necessary to ask permission before using these texts, as it is customary and fitting to do, but she had even printed, in place of the usual notice acknowledging copyrights of the work’s owner, a note stating that these texts belonged “to all the lovers of India”, thereby opening the copyrights to the whole world…

The Ashram could not remain indifferent. They filed a court case for infringement of copyrights in the Madras High Court, requesting from the judge an immediate stay-order banning all sales of the book. As official distributors in the United States, we had become co-defendant in the case, because we were co-responsible for Sujata’s singular generosity. We were summoned to Madras to plead a case in which we felt absolutely foreign. To put an end to the legal tangle, I decided to legally disassociate the American Institute from this entire publication project, which Satprem did not fail, later, to stigmatize as another proof of my duplicity. next: The Last Straw Patrice The Cage The Agenda Satprem The Tragedy America The Sledge Hammer The Malaise First Turn of the Screw Caught Red-Handed Violence The Last Straw The Explosion Clearing up and Summing up Back to English

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