How does one write about Sri Aurobindo and The Mother? “It's a complex issue,” says Georges Van Vrekhem, author of six books on Sri Aurobindo and The Mother. “The first question an author has to ask himself is if he has anything original or worthwhile to write about. There is so much rehash of themes one can find better in the works of Sri Aurobindo and The Mother themselves.
“Another question is: from what perspective does one write? Sri Aurobindo and The Mother are my life, and more than my life. If I am here, it is because I have been brought here by Them. So I write as a student of Sri Aurobindo and The Mother. My study is an endless journey of exploration, going from discovery to discovery. It is a constant dialogue with Sri Aurobindo and The Mother's words, and with the interesting and knowledgeable people who are the authors of the other books I read. Particularly reading Sri Aurobindo and The Mother, I can never know something definitively, for the next page or book may open a quite new, unexpected view, even when I have read the passage many times before. What I write is what I believe I see and know at the moment of writing. Everybody is welcome to have a different opinion and to correct me if I have been wrong.
“A third question is: what kind of public does one want to address? The public one has in mind will determine the choice and arrangement of the subject matter, and the tone one adopts. Most of my books are written for people interested in Sri Aurobindo and The Mother, for Aurobindians, although I am amazed that Beyond Man and other books of mine have spread far outside that circle.
“Actually it has taken many years before some people, who knew me from the time of my arrival in the Ashram and later in Auroville, accepted that a fellow like me might have something worth writing. I have been hurt by the fanatical attitude of a group of Aurovilians who treated me like a leper because they disagreed with a few phrases or sentences in Beyond Man. Likewise, I was hurt because Overman is not for sale in the Sri Aurobindo Ashram as there seem to be objections against the term ‘overman'. I cannot understand how somebody who prides himself or herself on being a disciple of Sri Aurobindo and The Mother can become a fanatic and insult or hurt others who see things differently. An Aurobindian should have the largest encompassing mind in the world, while being in his yoga one-pointed and totally surrendered.”
Georges reflects a moment. “It has been said and written that I am not a historian. It has never been my intention to be a historian in the sense of a person who studies past events and personalities from a materialistic, positivist, academic standpoint. Anything connected even from afar with the paranormal, with spirituality or mysticism – or other matters many academics have never tasted – is automatically blackballed by them. Then how can a historian of this kind have any understanding of what thousands of years of Eastern tradition, research and experience represent? How can he approach great historical beings like the Rishis, Krishna , Vyasa, the Buddha, Meister Eckhart, or the countless anonymous realized beings who have concentrated their lifelong effort on reaching and exploring a higher, greater life?
How can his mind be open to the evolutionary vision of Sri Aurobindo? “Can a positivist academic convince another positivist academic of things spiritual? I would say ‘yes' in the exceptional circumstance that such a positivist academic has a living soul, perhaps without being aware of it. This is why one should always be cautious about condemning things with which one does not agree, for the Force may use them in ways our mind cannot foresee. But on the whole I think trying to convince academics in an academic way is a vain exercise, because their ‘mental formations' are fixed. Changing their mind would mean changing their career and their whole life.
“To me a fact is a fact. And I am grateful for the biographical information which has been gathered about the lives of Sri Aurobindo and The Mother. Now Sri Aurobindo would no longer have to write a book to contradict the false rumours about him. But scientists and philosophers also tell you that facts are only understandable in a context. How could I write about the external, physical lives of Sri Aurobindo and The Mother, and leave the reality inside and behind out of the question? Does writing about that ‘real reality' make me a ‘hagiographer'? There is a line between mindless adulation and a search for the truth, taking reality into account on its various levels.
“Sri Aurobindo called his own method ‘spiritual realism'. Matter, the vital and the mind, as well as the spiritual levels and the supermind, are realities. If there are people who prefer to remain stuck in the one-dimensionality of matter – Wilber's ‘flatland' – that is their choice. I try to write for intelligent people as an intelligent, dedicated student. My subject is the vision and realization of Sri Aurobindo and The Mother. I have experienced certain aspects proving the existence of the spiritual worlds, and I find in Sri Aurobindo and The Mother a coherent philosophy which explains it all to me, and a guidance which allows me to put it into practice to the extent of my limited capacities. People on the same frequency, knowingly or instinctively, may read my writings if they have the time and the inclination. If not, they should read or do something else, in agreement with the need of their soul.”
(Georges van Vrekhem is the author of many books on Sri Aurobindo and The Mother. He was awarded the Sri Aurobinbo Puraskar 2006 for his writings on Sri Aurobindo and The Mother by the Government of West Bengal .)