Like yours, my story begins with an impulse of childlike enthusiasm, followed by a surrender of all personal considerations.
At the beginning of 1976, a relatively recent resident of Auroville, I had received “by chance” a bundle of mimeographed letters, then circulating in Auroville. I learned that “threats” were being leveled at Satprem by certain Ashram authorities concerning the original manuscripts of Mother’s Agenda which he kept in his house in Nandanam.
Without thinking, I rushed to offer him my support against the “enemy,” as vague for me as if all this were simply a work of fiction, but in fact very real and material for him, made up of real faces and people. Unknown to me, I was about to enter a world of internecine quarrels among certain Ashram members. Satprem, because of his personality and previous stances, was cast in a starring role. But I did not care about the “historical” reality. I disregarded all contingencies. It was imperative for me to side with the underdog, the alleged victim; even if in doing so I was sacrificing reason and reflection upon the altar of spontaneity.
Thus, I began a new life. I had chosen my camp, as it were. In my eagerness and naiveté, I subscribed to a past that was completely foreign to me, and eagerly began to endorse a psychological profile that was not mine. Henceforth, there would be “pros” and “cons”, “blacks” and “whites,” but no halftones. And, above all, no wavering. For in fact, my existence had become amazingly plain and simple. I was embarking on the path already mapped out by Satprem. In a split-second I had willingly handed over to someone else the job of understanding and interpreting the world about me. I had agreed to immerse myself body and soul into a prearranged universe. And my commitment had to be free of all personal reservations. Such was the price I would have to pay to gain access to the world of responsibilities and to exchange my youthful hesitations for a strong-minded certitude, even though that strength would not be really mine. The child in me would be comfortable. For I would thus be endowed with a new life, proud to be relieved of my infantile cocoon. I would be “responsible” at last.
Or so I thought. For, in actual fact, I had already, if unknowingly, entered the cage of illusions.
I believed I had grown up by committing to an “adult” stance. I had a “real cause” to defend fiercely against numberless (and often faceless) enemies. “Enemies” seemed a prerequisite in order to be taken seriously. Enemies helped to define who you were; they enhanced your state of being.
In retrospect, I see now that none of this had anything to do with me. I was not getting any closer to myself by taking such a “radical” position. In reality, without my knowing it, I had internalized Satprem’s own internal world. My initial movement of adherence and uncontrolled empathy led me to identify with Satprem’s inner reality. I now felt as he felt, thought as he thought, saw through his eyes.
It was a perfect working arrangement and a win-win situation. I covered the field in my borrowed seven-league boots; he gained a helper who would spare no effort. In the ensuing years, to varying degrees, I saw the same phenomenon of identification affect all who had an extended working relationship with Satprem. Although the practical, day-to-day benefits of such a situation seemed inestimable, it is obvious that the extreme empathy which I felt also carried the perils of total psychic dependence — as future events would unfortunately more than demonstrate.
Why do human beings often feel such a need to seek support outside themselves in order to give significance to their life? Why must we seek to offload the burden of finding the full meaning of our incarnation onto an outsider, be it a person or an organization? Do we not contain everything within ourselves? The question and its answer? The problem and its solution, like two chicks in the same egg? For a time, it is no doubt easier to leave the matter in someone else’s hands. But this is just putting off the day of reckoning. A time will come when we are alone face to face with ourselves.
But for the moment, these queries were mere inner murmurs, vague intuitions awaiting their time to burst into the open and declare themselves.