Debashish Banerji
AUM 2005
Port Townsend Conf. Ctr., WA
Fri. 10 June, 2005

The theme of this conference is the promise of the future; so let us start with a namaskar from the present to the future. When this conference was formulated, in the mind of Richard Carlson, he had certain pressing objectives in mind. And we started an email forum to discuss some of these; and at this conference it is hoped that some of these objectives, issues, debates will come to surface in the minds of all the people here, and we take back with us something that fertilizes our lives and our sadhana, our yoga, our engagement with the world, our orientation towards the future.

Somewhere in her prayers and meditations, the Mother had written:

"A new light will break upon the world, upon the Earth, a new world will be born, the things that were promised will be fulfilled."

On the 24th of April, 1956, she reiterated this message in a new form. She said:

"A new light breaks upon the Earth, a new world is born, the things that were promised are fulfilled."

Of course the Mother was referring to the event that occurred on the 29th of February, 1956, an occult event that she called "the manifestation of the supramental on Earth." What are we to make of this statement, this promise that "has been fulfilled?" And what are we to make of the meaning of the future that we all strive to gain some sort of insight into, some kind of orientation towards, in the light of the Mother's statement?
Some people asked the Mother, "What were the promises that were fulfilled?" And she said:

"Don't you know? All traditions have spoken about this. This is the hope, the aspiration, the dream of humanity that there will come a time when perfection will be achieved on earth."

Yes indeed, many traditions have spoken about this. Buddhism waits for the coming of Maitreya, the future Buddha who will create a perfect world. St. John's gospel predicts the arrival of the perfect Kingdom of Heaven on Earth. And the Initiates, the faithful, the followers believe that by following, by being faithful, by being initiated, they are somehow privy to this coming, that it will come of its own. That it will come, and they will be there in the Ark, the ship that will suddenly one day alight upon the other shore, and the world will be perfect for them.

In Religious Studies departments throughout the United States of America, they have coined a term for this: it is called Millenarianism. It means 'waiting for the Divine Millennium,' whichever Millennium it may be [laughter]. Some turning of an age that will suddenly part the curtains, and the future will spill into our lives. But do we have any place for consciousness in this? Is it just a waiting of the faithful? Or is there something to be done, something to prepare? Today in America, there is a growing New Age movement. The New Age Movement believes that we have moved into a new age, the Age of Aquarius. Everything is changing, the Spirit is close to us, and all we have to do is in some ways to tailor the surface of our lives, become vegetarians, do yoga of the physical kind, have a smattering of ecological discourse in our everyday lives, and we will be part of the New Age. A day has arrived in the calendar that marks the astrological shift called the Age of Aquarius.

Are we to be satisfied with this? Are the promises that are fulfilled an astrologism? Is it just the turning of the page of some calendar? Or is the future, which is in some sense the present, now, today, to be experienced in consciousness as a present-future? And what does that mean?

These are some of the questions I hope we carry with us, that can be stimulated by this conference, and that we really internalize — not only in our minds, but in our feelings, in our will, and in our actions. We come into this world, and we are already on a number of trajectories. There are a number of clocks that are ticking as soon as we arrive. These are not just individual, subjective clocks. These are given clocks, clocks that expand to include the world. And in some sense, when we talk of the future, all over the world today, we are talking of a single calendar, which we use in our home, our offices. It is the calendar of what is called "the Common Era."

The Common Era, it's a new name, to disguise the earlier name [laughter] which pins its origin at the birth of Christ. Today we don't want to call it that because this calendar has spilled its religious intent, and in any case the religious intent was not the real intent, it was another intent. The religious intent was a convenience for a secular intent. But it is a single clock, a clock, whenever it ticks from, that includes us all. And this clock is another ship that is taking us to a certain destination. What is happening in the captain's cabin is not so easy to know, perhaps an occult hijacking is in process. And that change, or that determination of the movement of the ship, is also something that I hope we will bring into our thoughts, understandings, and our actions.

The Common Era is a term that makes sense today, in a global age, all over the world, because of a process, that has been named in various ways by various thinkers, but one particular German thinker, Heidegger, has given it a very appropriate name. He has called it "the Europeanization of the world." Today, maybe it's a little anachronistic to talk of Europeanization, but nevertheless, this is where this movement begins. The time period of its beginning is hazy; it is sometime in the 16th or 17th century, and it begins with a change of faith. It is not a loss of faith, as people usually believe, it is a change of faith. There is a shift from what is known as the Middle Ages in Europe, the ages of darkness and superstition, but at the same time of belief and faith, to an age which turns from the notion of a transcendental God determining our lives through its elect church, to a notion of a direct contact with some principle that from then on is assumed to be the goal of our endeavors - and this principle is 'Reason.'

The change in faith that occurs is because it is suddenly realized that there is no need to turn to some kind of a priesthood to interpret the word of God, because the word of God is everywhere around us. It is in Nature, it is in our lives, it is around us, it is in the stars, it is a patterning, it is an order, it is a causation that has intelligence to it. The intuition of an intelligent universe marks the shift in the age of the Common Era. The world has Reason.

But the shift from that understanding to the hubris of Man, who believes that with his Reason he can match the Reason of God, that in some sense we can use our minds, our intelligence, to become equal to the intelligence that is distributed so perfectly around us, is the beginning of what is called the Enlightenment. It is not a conspiracy, it is not a school of elect who begin this process of thinking, it is a variety of thinkers, a variety of approaches.

But perhaps from our point of view, looking back, it is a conspiracy. It is an occult conspiracy. It is the spirit of the Age, the Zeitgeist, that chooses to bring about a change in Time, and a change in our relationship with experience, a change in our fundamental experience. It launches us into a new world. It launches us into the world in which we are today, a world that is continuing to be with us and is taking us towards its own future. It is the most obvious future that people all over the world are faced with. It begins with the glorious, noble idea of Omniscience - man will know all things by engaging with knowledge everywhere, using his mind.

And in this process, there is an immediate division between Man and his world. I use the word "Man" advisedly, because who is the subject of this investigation becomes one of the major debates that has pursued us through all these centuries. And to start with, it is Western, White Men who is the subject of this objectification of the world, of this turning of the world into a object of study, of investigation, of the yielding up of the reason of its existence.

And somehow, though made in the name of humanity everywhere and for all time, made in the name of a knowledge that will enlighten us, a reason that will liberate us, because, once we know fully we will be free, it has yet persisted through all these centuries in maintaining its stance, its question, on "Who is that Man, for whom, in whose name this inquiry is conducted?" That somehow the voyages of discovery, the movements all over the world, have been done in the name of Science, because Western White Man has brought his civilization to the hapless peoples, yellow, brown, and black [and red!], who somehow are less human than the subject of this inquiry - brought a civilization, and has felt justified in exploiting, using, treating as fodder, treating as condition-able, these other peoples of the world.

This movement very soon shows its other face, that indeed, it is not a Will to Knowledge, but a Will to Power that drives the will to Knowledge. A will to power that is less noble than what it makes itself to be, that turns itself on the world, exploits its resources, turns itself on the peoples of the world, and wherever it finds weakness, exploits it, in the name of Science. So perhaps Omnipotence, rather than Omniscience, is the watchword of this ship, a kind of coming to absolute power.

A variety of critiques have been launched against this, but this is the world that persists, its machinery becoming ubiquitous and more and more invisible with time. Its markets spread all over the world, homogenizing everybody, everything, creating desire - because indeed, to persist in its trajectory, to create surplus, to create markets where that surplus can be off-loaded, to draw on people who will willingly give their bodies, minds, feelings, lives to its purpose, it needs to create desire.

The production of desire in the modern world, is indeed one of the primary machineries, prime machineries, of this trajectory in which we find ourselves from our birth, which is leading in a certain direction - which had foreseen, many, many centuries before the Mother's statement - the globalization of the world, the unification of the world, the homogenization of the world, and the bringing of Reason to all human beings.

But this Reason, where does it reside? Have we arrived at Omniscience, have we arrived at Omnipotence, or is there someone, anyone, any human being who has arrived at these things? Who is the Subject of this? Is there any individual that can claim to be the possessor of these gains, today, in this late stage of the Enlightenment's trajectory?

Or are these gains in some way resident in some occult power that has become materialized, that in some sense has become pure Machinery, pure Circulation, to which people, whatever position they may occupy, wherever they may be, are both subject and object, objects of its will, created in its shapes, bound by its laws, forced by its hand?

Is this the future, or is there another future, another future that coexists with this? There has been a sudden multitude of voices that comes to us from the mid 20th Century, that hold out a hopeful view of the globalization of the world, of the unifying technologies, of the sudden spurt of integration of our technological world, which is beyond our control, that is leading us. Is it perhaps that we have been opened up, willy-nilly, to experiences that would not be possible to us, that even as we suffer the standardization of the Enlightenment, what opens up in us is a new consciousness, a new spirituality, a new spirituality which is a new materiality, an intuition of the Spirit in Matter, of united, or unified, Matter?

Is it possible that certain experiences are being prepared in us, even as we are plowed under by the machines that are preparing this global age? This is a question to ask, a question that I hope will pursue us, follow us, through this conference and beyond it. I draw attention to the fact that the Mother was keenly aware of the possible misconstruction of her Promise, of the "things that were promised which are [now] fulfilled." She tells us time and again,

"This is not the time for rest and complacency, this is the time to be heroic."

We are not called to be the initiates of an order that will catch us just by dint of the fact of being initiates. Perhaps in 1969, the Mother gave a New Year message. She said:

"Blessed are those that take a leap towards the future."

Again the question arises, what is this future? This is, among the other late messages of the Mother, a very enigmatic message. What is the future, what is the blessing, and what is the leap?

This future can be named by us, but named only through the vocabulary of Sri Aurobindo, named from the dictionary of Sri Aurobindo. We can call this future "the Life Divine." Or the Divine Life, if you would have it simply, without Sri Aurobindo's inversion.

But what is the Divine Life? Again, using his terminology, we can call it "an integrality of being and experience." And this is not an individual integrality, it is a total integrality, an integrality which is global, and therefore takes in its scope the integral body of humanity. The Divine Life is not led by one human being, the Divine Life is a social context. What are the conditions that make this social context possible? Is it an unquestioning acceptance of what happens around us, what we find ourselves in, what determines our world for us? Or is it an openness to the world that we are being called upon to create, to co-create? Because it is already here among us. Is it an invitation, an invitation to understand and to participate?

What is the Blessing? Is it perhaps Mother's way of saying that it is easy to conform, it is easy to be one with whatever choices are given to us by that which is creating us, determining us, but that if we choose to open ourselves, not merely in essence, but in nature, not only in nature, but in action, to open those parts of our Will, of our destiny, to a higher truth, a greater law of world becoming, that maybe her Blessing is with us? Maybe that difficult enterprise, that seems so impossible, of going against the grain of the prevalent forces that structure the world, has been given that special sanction, guidance and Grace? How can we know, if we haven't even tried?

It is that which we need to bring into the Yoga. Sri Aurobindo and the Mother have given us two collective contexts. They have given us Pondicherry, the Ashram, and they have given us Auroville. These are collective contexts for the carrying out of the Integral Yoga, social contexts. They are not immune to technology; in fact technology is fully represented there. They are as much a part of this global world as New York, Los Angeles, or Tokyo. But they offer different conditions for the flowering of technology.

And it is perhaps these different conditions that open up for us those different experiences — experiences of the Spirit in Matter, of the Oneness that is organizing matter today, as a form of consciousness. What are those conditions and how do they differ internally and externally, psychologically and materially from the conditions of our modern cities? Can we make those conditions possible in our lives? Can we take the steps towards that? To answer that question, we have to first ask the question - Do we feel the imperative for that? Do we feel the danger of its opposite? Has our aspiration made itself detailed enough? Has it included in itself enough of the integrality of being? Or is our aspiration partial, does it stop somewhere, where it believes "This is the inward life, and that is all that's needed?"

And finally, to ask the question about the "Leap" - "Blessed are those who take a leap towards the future." What is that leap? What does it imply? What gives us the motor power to achieve it? And where does it lead us? The first thing to realize in Mother's statement is a fundamental sense of the word "future" that is directed toward the idea of the leap. The "future" is a discontinuity from the present, the future is not the present extending itself. The future is not the Enlightenment that knows from the very beginning what it will achieve, even though its effects are unpredictable.

Just as Life appeared in Matter, Mind appeared in Life, and at each stage there was a discontinuity in consciousness - we still carry in ourselves the scar, the mark, of that discontinuity. Our lack of integration is the mark of that discontinuity. So too, a discontinuity faces us today, the discontinuity of the future. In a radical sense, the future is not coextensive with the present; and the only attitude we can have towards the future is a radical openness to the transcendent.

Our aspiration proceeds from the present. What returns to it from above is an increasingly, progressively clarifying vision and an integration of our own aspiration. The aspiration clarifies, it becomes more detailed, it knows what it's about. There is a progress to aspiration. But there is another side  as the engine of aspiration and Grace propels us forward, there is required in us one other necessary component  and that is the surrender to the future, the receptivity to that which has not come into being, that which invites us.

And to remember at all times that we are not the creators of this future but that the future is creating us in its image. "A divine perfection is moulding us in its own image"  Sri Aurobindo's words. But until we can aspire for that and hold that openness to the radically Other, to the Transcendent, we cannot reach there, that Day will not dawn on us, the present will always remain present and the future, which is already here, the promise which is already fulfilled - that the Mother has given us - will remain beckoning without our participation.

I hope this forms the scope of some of the ideas which we take up in this AUM and with that I will take your leave.

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Transcribed by
Ron Anastasia
Marina del Rey, CA, USA
(rjon@vzavenue.net)