30 Dec 2010

Lives of Sri Aurobindo - page 253

In this short note, we cover another distortion in this book which no one seems to have caught.

This is the passage on page 253:
During their three month stay, Mirra underwent a profound inner development, but this was due more to Theon’s wife that to Theon himself.  Madame Theon was `a marvellous woman from the point of view of experience,’ although her intellect was rather ordinary.  Theon, on the other hand, had comparatively little experience, but an encyclopedic knowledge of things occult.  A few lines from him was enough to inspire his wife to write pages and pages of what today might be called channeled writings.  But these revelations, according to one French critic, were `written in such a bizarre manner that even the most cultivated men (unless they were themselves `Cosmic’) quickly abandoned the attempt to read them.’ Mirra was aware of the deficiencies of Madame Theon’s writing, but felt that this extraordinary woman was in contact with genuine sources of knowledge.( page 253)
In this passage, Peter Heehs, via the opinions of some French critic, has effectively dismantled Madame Theon's revelations.  Did the Mother actually think Madame Theon's writing was deficient ?  Let us go back to the primary source, which in this case is the Agenda.
Theon's wife dictated it in English while she was in trance. Another English lady who was there claimed to know French like a Frenchman. 'Myself, I never use a dictionary,' she would say, 'I don't need a dictionary.' But then she would turn out such translations! She made all the classic mistakes of English words that mustn't be translated like that. Then it was sent to me in Paris for correcting. It was literally impossible. (Agenda, Oct 22 1960)
So the deficiency was in the French translation, which was being undertaken without the use of a dictionary.  There was nothing wrong with Madama Theon's revelations.  So much for meticulous scholarship...
Rule of thumb while reading the book: Every negative remark in this book conceals a wealth of positive information.  One must be prepared to go back to the primary sources to uncover the distortions.



  1. >>Every negative remark in this book conceals a wealth of positive information.>>

    Positive information--where? May I request you to please elaborate? Thanks.

  2. > Positive information--where?

    It is not clear from this book what the Mother learnt from the Theons since there are so many active omissions. You would have to read Sujata Nahar's Mirra the Occultist to see the positive side of the interaction. The following passage is from chapter 2 of the book:

    "By that time Mirra had read every available scrap of the Cosmic Philosophy. "Theon called it 'The Tradition'." She drank and she drank at this fount of knowledge. It seemed to her that she had long thirsted for something which was now being given to her in abundance. And she just could not get enough of it.

    "You know," said Mother to Satprem, "the 'Cosmic' had quite an interesting action in my life. I was completely against 'God.' The European notion of God was utterly repulsive to me." She added picturesquely, "You see, the idea of God sitting placidly in his heaven, then creating the world, and next look­ing pleasurably at it, and later telling you, 'How well done it is!' 'Oh,' I said, 1 won't have that monster!' And naturally, at the same time, that prevented me from having any experience. But with the 'Cosmic Teaching' about the inner god — Theon's key idea was this: the inner god (Mother touched her breast), the one who is inside each of us — ''brrf!" She made a gesture as if walls crumbled. "The experience was stunning. I am very grateful to him for it. That was the means; by following his instructions and seeking within my being, behind the solar plexus, I found. I found it, I had an experience... an absolutely convincing experience.

    "I had this experience before I came here. I had the experience before coming, before knowing Sri Aurobindo. So it was as though three-fourths of the work were done.... I didn't have the mental knowl­edge — my mental knowledge was nothing remarkable — but it's not necessary to the experience. If you are sincere, you get the experience without thinking — you don't need to think. But you have to be sincere.""