The ideal centre


by Nolini Kanta Gupta 
T nce when the Mother was asked by a group of disciples
 to give permission and blessings for opening a centre, she said in
answer: "To open a centre is not sufficient in itself. It must be the pure
hearth of perfect sincerity, in a total consecration to the Divine." This
is the first motto or mantra that should be inscribed upon the tablet of
the inner constitution of every group organization. It states the basic
spirit, the true inspiration that should initiate the work and guide it
through. The second mantra is embodied in these lines of Sri Aurobindo:
"Love the Mother: always behave as if She was looking at you, for indeed
She is always present." These are words that should be kept bright and
blazing in the heart of each and every one. It gives the source and origin
of the inspiration, the single fount of all movements collective and
individual. And the third mantra not less living or urgent has been given
by the Mother: "Let us work as we pray, for indeed work is the body's best
prayer to the Divine."

Here we learn of the way, the process that is to be followed, the skill, as
it were, for realizing the goal.  And for a final comprehension and
direction we are to remember these words of Sri Aurobindo:  "All problems
of existence are essentially problems of harmony."

Tn life, which is necessarily corporate life (a centre essentially means a
training and a realization in corporate life) the first and last necessity
is harmony, that is to say, understanding and union among the members of
the corporate life. That is a self-evident truth understood and accepted by
one and all. But the crux of the matter is how to achieve the harmony. It
can be achieved only on a higher level of being and consciousness. On the
lower ordinary level there can be only a compromise, an unstable balance,
an uncertain counterpoising of diverse and divergent elements. Also, it
must be noted, the higher and deeper the consciousness, the wider and more
comprehensive, the more the harmony becomes natural, spontaneous,
faultless, perfect: and on the highest level the harmony becomes not merely
union but indivisible unity.

That is the goal towards which a dedicated centre, that is
 to say, a spiritually aspiring group should move and labor. And
that is also the primary work, the first and foremost for which the centre
stands as a field. And this work can be done and has to be achieved through
the discipline enunciated in just the previous-our third mantra-the
fundamental attitude with which the work has to be done. It is said there
that the work, consecrated work or service is the prayer of the body.
Mind's prayer is expressed in words, body's prayer in works. Work is the
prayer in dynamic and concrete form, it is the utterance of the physical,
material life, one's adoration, one's adhesion to the ideal, the deity one

Tork or service expressing harmonization needs to be based, as I have said,
upon a higher and higher consciousness. Work done as prayer is the best
means of effecting as ascent in consciousness. This is the lesson that each
individual of a centre must learn from the very outset and ever afterwards.
S/he must always try to rise in consciousness, reach another higher status
of being and from there let the work flow, as it were, from a spontaneous
spring. As one rises in consciousness and being, naturally and inevitably
this consciousness widens and one feels spontaneous kinship and union with
all others. Work or service is then only a dynamic means of achieving and
realizing the sense of perfect unity of oneself with all other selves.
Work is not meant to show or express one's capacity or skillfulness or
cleverness, nor is it a mere mechanical execution of outward acts
performing certain duties, however conscientiously or meticulously.  It is
indeed a ritual of prayer and self-dedication, adhesion and surrender of
the most dynamic and material parts of our being-the most unresponsive and
insensible elements-to the One Divine Will.

And this brings us to the major, the cardinal mantra which Sri Aurobindo
gives about the constant and living presence of the Mother. The very core
of a centre is this Presence. A centre grows and can grow perfectly only
around the Mother's Presence and Consciousness. As the ideal for the
individual is to be conscious of one's central inner being and relate all
parts and all movements to that central reality, organize oneself in
perfect harmony around this core, even so a group-centre has to organize
itself in perfect harmony around the central reality of the Mother: only so
can it grow and grow harmoniously.  Indeed a group, that is to say, a
centre, like the individual can successfully grow into a living and
harmonious dynamic Truth only when it has in its consciousness at every
moment and in every movement of its life the never-failing Presence of the
Divine Mother, for thus only a centre can become a divine embodiment and
incarnation of the Supreme Mother for the expression and realization of her
truth upon the earth.

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