by Tommaso Iorco
What can the indignation of a single man do
against a whole mob of vultures?
Prometheus, what do you think of it?
You, who must have been ‘provident’ by your very name!
How can a single human being
overturn the destiny of death of his entire species,
when those whom he would wish to save are ruthlessly against him?
I feel the need to put into writing some personal reflections, which arose from the reading of a text, The End of Illusion, by a certain Mr. Luc Venet.
On 5 December 1950, Sri Aurobindo left us — without telling us his Secret. It is useless trying to explain: the “disciples” would not have understood (he Himself said so).
Mother — His adored Force and concrete Accomplishment — sets at once on his trail and, little by little, discovers that Secret, working it out in detail.
A stupendous Secret, which Mother elected to confide to the one whom she named Satprem.
Therefore, it’s not surprising that, after burying Mother, the trustees of an Institution claiming to be the sole mouthpiece of Mother and Sri Aurobindo, attempted to prevent the publication of that Treasure and to attack Satprem, an inconvenient witness of twenty-three years of exploration in the body’s consciousness of that intrepid Adventurer.
It was for one aim only — to save the recordings of the Agenda and to publish the thirteen volumes that it consists of — that Satprem, averse to all kinds of institutions, saw himself compelled to create the so-called “IRE” (‘Institute of Evolutionary Research’).
«I have been spending my life being outside of all “Institutions”, whatever they may be. I even went off into the forest because I did not want any law or any rule», he confides concisely to some friends from Auroville (Notebook of an Apocalypse, vol. I, 10.11.1975).
But fate, as we all know, is not without a sense of irony. Satprem himself fought hard to prevent the executives of the ‘Sri Aurobindo Society’ and the members of the administrative board of the ‘Sri Aurobindo Ashram’ from turning those entities, on the day following Mother’s departure, into a Church. This, despite the fact that both Sri Aurobindo and Mother never tired of emphatically stating that religions, old or new, had nothing to do with their Work of Transformation of the Earth, and that the Ashram was, at best — that is to say, when They were still present in their physical bodies — an “evolutionary laboratory” or, better yet, to quote Mother word for word, «a representation of earth’s resistance to its own transformation»; after their departure, according to what Sri Aurobindo himself wrote in a letter, an Ashram would no longer make any sense.
This is why Satprem, after establishing the IRE, found himself gripped in the suffocating tentacles of the umpteenth Institution, which, in no time at all, would strive to carve out its own slice of power, sacrificing the Ideal on the altar of opportunism. In other words, this is the plot of an old play, often depicted in the course of human history: the attempt to trap a truth within the four walls of a church and bury it among the pages of a book regarded as sacred.
As we all well know, in a few years, the people in charge of IRE mutated into a peculiar bunch of dogmatic holders of the “Truth” (some with worrisome naivety, others with shameless and pernicious arrogance). Thinking themselves equipped with the Word, they delivered judgments and pontificated, trying in every possible manner to draw Satprem’s attention, expecting honours and recognitions, and maybe even a privileged position next to him, as loyal and uncompromising “knights of Mother”, on some secluded tiny island. They often even attempted to excommunicate (using low and slanderous manipulations) those daring to threaten their reputation or their stand as delegates of the Truth.
Yet Satprem cannot be deceived so easily.
Each time he sensed the danger of sectarianism within the organization (that is, frequently enough!) he intervened forcefully in order to thwart any attempt at transforming the Revolution into a dogmatic and inconclusive Movement. He went as far as carrying out an extreme ACT OF LOVE, pulling the rug out from under the feet of all his ASPIRING SUCCESSORS, destroying the IRE from within and turning it into an utterly empty husk (which prompted Mr. Venet to wonder in a daze: «Why has this little group around Satprem been decimated, destroyed in this manner?» – from The End of Illusion). Subsequently, on 9 April 2007, Satprem collapses from exhaustion, conscious of having successfully carried out his task, but leaving unfinished his attempt to flush out a senseless death from the fabric of this so-called life of ours. Less than one month later (on 4 May 2007), the dearest Sujata — she who had told him: «Your love is the only thing that keeps me in this body, don’t you know it?» (Notebooks of an Apocalypse, vol. I, 15.6.1976) — followed him.
And lo — with a sense of timing even too predictable by its mean-spiritedness — these same former delegates of the IRE, after years of holing up and brooding on their resentments (or, to use Mr. Venet’s own words included in The End of Illusion, the whole lot «of uneasiness and frustration that had grown between us over several years») come back to the limelight to supply their version of the facts. One can’t help wondering what on earth they are seeking to gain. What is it that animates them? Is theirs perhaps an attempt at self-absolution and rehabilitation?
They were almost reported as missing, these gentlemen, but now that Satprem can reply no more, look how they leap out into the open, free to write all they please and give vent to all their resentments. At last, they can use their ink to soil him who had loved them deeply and who had much wanted to see them free from the darkness of which today they have decided to become instruments.
But, in truth, what would Satprem have answered them? And, first of all, one should wonder: would he have replied to them at all?
Not only Mother and Sri Aurobindo, but also the Buddha or Vivekananda were in the habit of not answering to the accusations of those against them. They knew that their Action would survive in spite of everything — and that those showing them bitterness would be left buried under the layer of their own wickedness. Vivekananda said in fact one day, to a friend asking him to retort forcefully to the accusations of the occasional detractor, that an elephant doesn’t easily let himself get frightened by the bray of a donkey chasing after him!
What’s more, we know that when a real friend tells us what he thinks of us, it is undoubtedly easier to get offended and shut oneself up into one’s shell, rather than question ourselves and make an attempt to leap forward in order to get beyond our narrow limits. It’s easy to act as accusers, as champions of the Truth, when others are under accusation (whether their names are Judas or Pranab). But when it’s our turn to look at ourselves against the light, it’s quite another story! We are willing to admit — because we are humble, thank God! — to being narrow-minded beings and maybe even full of purulent blisters, yet, when someone points out our gangrenous sore, even if only to heal it, we leap at his throat ready to kill him, accusing him of the most defamatory heinous actions.
Mr. Luc Venet, in his recent writing titled The End of Illusion, accuses Satprem — obviously AFTER HIS DEATH, as it well suits the cowardly — of a series of alleged infamies, like the one of appointing himself as an intermediary of Mother.
We know, however, that in reality Satprem never claimed anything, well aware of not at all being an Avatar, or a Vibhuti, in fact not even a Guru, but a simple human being among human beings. His burning sincerity caused him to embark on a path replete with obstacles and difficulties that no longer carried any human traits, relying exclusively on the help and Grace of Mother. This is, in fact, Satprem’s only strength: a keen, conscious and more and more whole surrender to the hands of Mother and Sri Aurobindo. Or, if one prefers, of the Divine.
Nor did Satprem ever seek to conceal his own human limits and faults [click here to read Satprem’s statement]; at most, he described himself as “Mother’s scribe” (something that one will find hard to deny him), whereas he who inveighs against him does so with the malice of a poor hack.
But, as they say, there is a limit of propriety in everything. As a matter of fact, to call Patrice Marot’s suicide into play and link it to Satprem, somehow or other holding him responsible (contrary to what Patrice himself clearly stated in his last existing letter to his wife [click here to read Rose Marot’s pronouncement]), leads one to believe that Mr. Luc Venet may have once and for all lost that same light of reason that he far too often avows having saved in the course of his lifetime.
Not yet satisfied, Mr. Luc Venet goes even further, saddling Satprem with a certain responsibility for the deaths of Micheline Étevenon, of Keya and of who knows how many others. Regarding the latter, who fell sick during her stay in the United States, Mr. Venet admits that he was completely unaware of Keya’s problems, and that until the end he didn’t pay her the slightest attention, completely ignoring her terrible psychophysical state — «overwhelmed by the rush of our daily activity, we were unable to see the signs of depression in her, and when we became aware of her real condition, it was already too late» (The End of Illusion). But, still in the opinion of Mr. Venet, Satprem (who was living in India) is the only one responsible for Keya’s death! It is he, this Mephistophelean strategist, who manipulated all these ingenuous and kind spirits, he who led astray these pure souls, these unaware, lost sheep, devoid of any free will and common sense, and drove them to their utter ruin. Like defenceless babes in arms, they were bewitched by a paranoid’s charisma, to whose powerful will they blindly succumbed with wretched naiveté. Mr. Venet’s account (accompanied by the chorus of plaudits of a certain Boni Menato), more than a believable accusation against Satprem, thus appears to be an act in very bad taste, a gruesome and coarse minuet of falsehoods and slanders, a sordid and surreal melodrama contrived in the desperate attempt to besmirch Satprem’s memory.
Mr. Venet’s entire account has the same odd flavour as an ambiguous confession, which betrays a certain self-admission of irresponsibility, of choices made on the wave of emotionality by an immature individual, who is torn by a constant state of indecision and is in need of a strong figure, capable of granting him confidence. This poor, helpless child, who goes by the name of Luc Venet, had sided with Satprem without even endeavouring to ascertain within himself whether this was in fact the right thing to do for himself. In this fashion, he devised a disastrous formula that led him to self-destruction, which turned out to be far more grievous than that to which poor Patrice Marot bore witness. His whole account constantly betrays something troublesome. Mr. Venet himself supplies his best psychological outline when he acknowledges in himself a state of «profound inner ambivalence, of latent schizophrenia, where a part of my being desperately endeavoured to salvage the salvageable by grasping at anything at all» (The End of Illusion).
Who on earth actually asked Mr. Venet, or anyone else, to delegate the responsibility for his own spiritual journey to Satprem? Certainly not Satprem!!! Didn’t this Mr. Venet have his own head, his own heart, his own will? Was he bewitched, under a spell, or was he lacking the ability to discriminate, which is so crucial in order to embark on any journey? And now, who is it that is keeping Messrs. Venet and Menato under a spell? Or do they consider themselves free at last of the “Satprem-Illusion” and, encouraged by the same uncompromising proselytistic spark that made them sadly famous when in charge of the IRE, are they now just as eager to help all those who are still groping in the darkness of error?
In his comments on The End of Illusion, Mr. Boni Menato basically approves of all of Mr. Luc Venet’s remarks, but he also tries to fly even higher, spreading blasts of sententious remarks. I still remember the time, several years ago, when Mr. Menato used to insult and excommunicate those who purchased Sri Aurobindo’s books published by the Ashram: according to him, one ought not to give money to the ‘Enemy’; Mother’s Agenda ought to be the only reading material, like a new Bible compared to which every other book should be sacrificed and thrown into the fire. At present, both he and Mr. Venet, who have at last recovered their wits, are accusing Satprem of having a paranoid attitude toward the Ashram and the whole world, whereas it’s obvious, from his writings and his actions, how deeply Satprem respected the hundreds of sincere Ashramites, who made up the true Ashram for him, and how, thanks to them, the Ashram itself still had a reason to exist; not to mention how carefully he always chose to differentiate these sincere individuals from the tiny group of managers and “proprietors” of the Ashram who tried to take advantage of the enterprise for some shady purposes of their own.
It would be absurd to try and rebut the slanderous statements of Messrs. Luc Venet and Boni Menato. We are struck, however, by their attempt to rummage through Mother’s Agenda and Sri Aurobindo’s letters to Dilip (both the former and the latter published thanks to the direct involvement of Sujata and Satprem), in search of some self-serving confirmation of their conjectures.
In substance, they state: “Mother and Sri Aurobindo loved all and their compassion embraced all, then why did Satprem drive us away from himself, instead of taking them as examples and behaving like them?” These poor souls do not recall, or do not know, the countless cases of persons that Mother and Sri Aurobindo had to turn away by force, including former husband Paul Richard; Sri Aurobindo’s brother (Barin Ghose); the English lady who accused Mother of being “the most dangerous woman in the world” simply because Mother had made her aware of her own inner falsehoods (precisely like what happened to Messrs. Venet and Menato!!!); the Muslim who, after living several years at the Ashram, seized by a sudden fundamentalist aversion, tried to compel by force his own brother to leave Mother and Sri Aurobindo in the name of Allah (in this case, Sri Aurobindo was even forced to have recourse to an attorney). And I merely mentioned the most sensational and renowned cases.
All things considered, it seems to me that Messrs. Venet and Menato may be projecting onto Satprem — perhaps even unconsciously — the very impulses that most likely belong instead to their own personalities.
A few years ago (to be exact, on 22 October 1999), I wrote to Satprem to report all my loathing for the bigoted, arrogant and dogmatic attitudes that the IRE’s representatives started showing as of the Nineteen Eighties. Quite unlike Mr. Luc Venet, who reveals he has fallen into some sort of morbid empathy that carries «the germ of all psychic perils» (The End of Illusion), in all my life’s choices, I have always held a firm balance between passion and reason. As I have never suffered any sort of Manicheism (whereas Mr. Venet admits more than once to having become «a little staunch Jihadist»), and as I have never put Satprem on any pedestal, but felt in him the vibration of a brotherly and genuine human being, I did not hesitate in the least to confide to him my earnest doubts regarding that creation of his named IRE, which, in my opinion, was destined to morph sooner or later into an aberrant monster. Without any hesitation, in a long letter, I compared the Ashram to the Catholic Church, and the IRE to the Protestant Church, adding that in all honesty I did not know which of the two was the worse or the more bigoted and arrogant! In particular, the Rome IRE, perhaps because of its proximity to the Vatican, or more likely because of the nature of its executives (Messrs. Boni Menato and Davide Montemurri), stood out for its arrogance, rudeness and bigotry.
Satprem’s reply (dated 22 November 1999) contains all the sweetness and the affection of a being who TRULY LOVES (quite different from the grim and cynical person that his detractors are now trying to manufacture, most likely in their own image!). It is therefore worth quoting the aforementioned letter in its entirety, given the implications contained in it and also the fact that it is absolutely on the same wavelength as the subject of these reflections of mine:
«Tommaso, frère bien cher,
Ta lettre, à Sujata et à moi, et à Micheline m’a beaucoup touché par sa sincérité, et en même temps j’ai replongé dans ce passé et cette blessure que nous avons pu te faire — c’était un temps de Bataille, de grave Bataille pour l’Avenir de la Terre, et il fallait se servir des instruments qui pouvaient ou voulaient servir ce prodigieux Message. Malheureusement, dans cette complexité humaine, les instruments suivent un temps, puis le petit ego humain se gonfle et se détruit lui-même. Ce qui est arrivé à David est une vieille histoire souvent arrivée.
Sans doute cette blessure pour toi avait son sens positif — ainsi nous marchons dans la vie, cette vie nocturne, et de blessure en blessure on se dépouille, se met à nu et s’élargit. Car cette Force Nouvelle va toujours de l’avant et veut obliger les hommes à découvrir leur propre Réalité Divine.
Je suis héreux que tu aies touché une réalité nouvelle dans ta vie, c’est une grâce.
En vérité, tout est grâce dans cette vie malheureuse, si l’on sait et peut se servir des vieux coups et de vieux obstacles pour arracher de main de l’Adversaire une victoire nouvelle et une ouverture plus grand sur et pour ce monde.
Nous sommes dans ce passage difficile de la vieille espèce qui doit changer ou disparaitre. Nous prions pour ce Changement miraculeux semé par Mère et Sri Aurobindo dans cette vieille terre rebelle, et notre meilleur moyen de servir, c’est de travailler à notre propre changement.
Je suis avec toi dans ce Merveilleux Amour qu’Ils ont semé ici.
Sujata a senti la pureté de ton cœur.
Nous sommes ensemble dans la Bataille de la Terre
This is Satprem. This is his total transparency and his uncommon sensibility. His books overflow with sympathy and love (it’s not by chance that his latest published writing, dated 6 April 2002, bears the title of The Philosophy of Love), and it will certainly not be the clumsy quill and the CRASS IGNORANCE of some ridiculous and disillusioned epigone that will succeed in erasing his memory in the many who have always seen him in the true light: not as an “intermediary” of Sri Aurobindo or a “representative” of Mother, but as a DEAR BROTHER, who totally devoted himself to the Work of Mother and Sri Aurobindo with no other demands. Not as a holy picture to be worshipped and not as a model to be emulated or an example to be followed — since each one of us is unique and possesses the prerogative of embarking on his own unique journey (assuming all its responsibilities) — but, rather, as a person who deserves the sincerest esteem and the deepest respect, as anybody with the ability to give himself with such unconditional surrender ought to deserve.
But, getting back to Mr. Luc Venet’s confession, I find it quite remarkable to observe how he allows one thing to transpire, namely his real hope that was at the foundation of his collaboration with Satprem:
«Wasn’t it, in fact, an ideal chance to get close to the true earthly Work of Mother and Sri Aurobindo, with all the hopes of personal accomplishment that such work entailed? The hope, in short, of going beyond the ordinary aspirant’s anonymity, in order to enter the magical circle of the Chosen» (The End of Illusion) [the italic typeface was added].
At long last, Mr. Venet gets to the point: by his own direct admission, this was his true ambition! But then, how could Satprem have still kept close to himself an individual who was so naively and dreadfully self-conceited?
But at this point, the discussion widens and one can’t help wondering why Satprem ever accepted such persons among his collaborators…
Here, however, we need to be very careful not to hide behind any Manichaeisms (unlike Mr. Venet, who actually admits to having done so). Human beings are not divided between “good” and “evil”. Each one of us has — in some measure and in contrast with his truest part — darker sides that need to be transformed and brought to light. Life offers Mr. Venet, as well as each one of us, marvellous (or ruthless, yet nonetheless precious) opportunities for growth. Unfortunately, it is not possible to achieve any evolution without encountering some obstacles and risks. It is up to the sincerity in each one of us to pass the test, with some help from up High, or else to linger in our inferior nature and cling to the Darkness, to the insincerity and to the most sordid ambitions of a magnified Ego.
Satprem certainly could not have known in advance whether his collaborators would succeed in surmounting their shadowy circle and then emerge in the boundless, brilliant expanse. But, since they actually offered to collaborate, life proffered each one of them a great opportunity to make a significant leap of awareness. A leap that, unfortunately, would occasionally turn into a hard fall. These are the hazards of the trade that each of us knows all too well — it never fails to happen when some perilous ambition was smouldering in hiding and the seeker lacked the courage and the strength to face it, to flush it out, to OFFER it.
It is not the first time that childish and immature individuals place their most absurd, and sometimes even the most sordid, expectations in some human being (let us call him Satprem or any other name), and when the latter disappoints them, they take refuge in a little corner and sulk in silence, exactly like so many spoiled little children, waiting for the right moment to take revenge. AND WHAT BETTER MOMENT DO THE COWARDS CHOOSE FOR THEIR REVENGE IF NOT THE TIME WHEN THE PARTY CONCERNED CAN NO LONGER RESPOND?
How could Satprem have continued sharing his work — which was carried out in a truly disinterested way, for the entire planet and for all human beings — with collaborators who were ever ready to stab him in the back at the first opportunity?
So, in the end, I close with my thanks to two very dear brothers, namely Sujata and Satprem. On behalf of all sincere seekers, I thank you both with all my heart for having unmasked the impostors before retreating behind the scenes. Left in their hands, without you, all the Work would have turned into the umpteenth intransigent, arrogant, dreadful church, with its popes, bishops and altar boys, all only too eager to catechize the New World by means of stakes and holy inquisitions!
Perhaps a certain someone will soon find himself forced to swallow his own vomit again.
10 July 2007
We leave the last word, as it is right, to Mother and Sri Aurobindo, who with their illumining answers make perfectly clear all the troubles —