The Promise of the Future

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.

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

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