The Aim of Life - The Ascent To Truth

The Ascent To Truth

The Mother

The Ascent To Truth

The Ascent To Truth

The Ascent to Truth


The Mother was born in Paris on February 21, 1878, in a very materialistic, upper middle class family. She completed a thorough education of music, painting and higher mathematics. A student of the French painter Gustave Moreau, she befriended the great Impressionist artists of the time. She later became acquainted with Max Theon, an enigmatic character with extraordinary occult powers who, for the first time, gave her a coherent explanation of the spontaneous experiences occurring since her childhood, and who taught her occultism during two long visits to his estate in Algeria.

In 1914 she visited the city of Pondicherry, which was at that time a French colony, in South India, and met Sri Aurobindo. She returned permanently to Pondicherry in 1920 via Japan and China, and when Sri Aurobindo "withdrew" from outer contact in 1926 to devote himself to the "supramental yoga", she collaborated with him and at the same time organised and developed the Ashram.

The Mother is the author of several books. Prayers and Meditations and On Education are her short but important books. She presided over the Sri Aurobindo International Centre of Education in which hundreds of students studied. The Mother herself taught classes, and her talks to the children constitute a series of nine books entitled Entretiens or Conversations. She also wrote stories and short plays which were staged under her direction. Her plays are symbolic and bring out through meaningful dialogues a profound message. The play given here. The Ascent to Truth,

The Ascent To Truth

The Ascent To Truth

provides an insight into various aims of life and their limitations. Towards the end of the play she indicates the secret of an integral aim of life and of the new world.

In 1958, eight years after Sri Aurobindo' s departure, she in turn withdrew to her room to come to terms with the problem of evolution. From 1958 to 1973, she slowly uncovered the "Great Passage" to the next species and a new mode of life in matter, and narrated her extraordinary exploration to her closest confidant, Satprem. This tremendous document of six thousand pages in thirteen volumes is called Mother's Agenda. It is a document of experimental evolution, and goes to the heart of the question of our times. For, whatever the appearances, mankind is not at the end of a civilisation but at the end of an evolutionary cycle. Are we going to find the passage to the next species or perish?

Man tries to excel himself. This is the secret of his growth, his progress, his evolution. In this continuous march, a stage comes when he is no longer satisfied with what he is. His field of enquiry widens and his search becomes intense. He wants to know the anatomy of certain phenomena that he has always accepted. He questions his faith in things that he has been told and has believed in, and asks what is true and what is untrue. Is truth just an absence of falsehood or is it an independent, dynamic reality?

It is such questioning that brings together the people in this "Drama of Life" as Mother called it. It is not given to everyone to have an intense aspiration for a rather difficult search, but there are some whose aim of life is to constantly move forward and not to stop till they have arrived at their goal, whatever it may be. The characters in the play represent people of different backgrounds, interests and age groups; but they are all united in their aim to find the Truth. They do not know what it is or what it will turn out to be when they have realised it, but they are all driven by an urge to find it.

Many people begin a search for the Truth, but not all reach their destination; for in order to reach the destination, the spirit of enquiry must continue in spite of the alluring temptations on the way. These temptations are not merely of worldly pleasures but even of the highest idealisms. All these need to be experienced and even surpassed, and it is only when one is prepared to give oneself entirely, not to an idea or an ideal, but to the ultimate Truth, that there is a possibility of finding it. The Ascent to Truth underlines the theme of complete surrender to the Divine as the key to the meaning and fulfilment of human life on earth. According to the Mother, the aim of life is integral, and it consists of knowing the supreme Divine Reality and working for its full manifestation in physical life.

The Ascent To Truth

The Ascent To Truth

The Mother

The Ascent to Truth

A Drama of Life

 in a Prologue, Seven Stages

 and an Epilogue











Prologue: In the Artist's studio, preliminary meeting.

 Seven stages of the ascent, of which the seventh is at the summit.

 Epilogue: the new world.

The Ascent To Truth

The Ascent To Truth



In the Artist's studio

Evening, at nightfall; the end of a meeting held by a small group of people

 united in a common aspiration to find the Truth.


The man of goodwill, the philanthropist.

The disillusioned man who no longer believes in the possibility

happiness on earth.

The scientist who seeks to solve the problems of Nature.

 The artist who dreams of a more beautiful ideal.

A group of three students (two boys and a girl) who have faith

 in a better life and in themselves.

Two lovers who are seeking for perfection in human love.

The ascetic who is prepared for any austerity in order to discover the Truth.

Two beings brought together by a common aspiration, and who have chosen

the Infinite because they have been chosen by the  Infinite.

The curtain rises

The Ascent To Truth

The Ascent To Truth


My dear friends, our meeting is drawing to an end and before we close and take the final resolution which will unite us in action, I must ask you once again if you have anything to add to the declarations you have already made.


Yes, I would like to state once again that I have devoted my whole life to helping humanity; for many years I have tried all known and possible methods, but none has given me satisfactory results and I am now convinced that I must find the Truth if I want to succeed in my endeavour. Yes, unless one has found the true meaning of life, how can one help men effectively? All the remedies we use are mere palliatives, not cures. Only the consciousness of Truth can save humanity.


I have suffered too much in life. I have experienced too many disillusionments, home too much injustice, seen too much misery. I no longer believe in anything. I no longer expect anything from the world or from men. My last remaining hope is to find the Truth — always supposing that it is possible to find it.


You see us together here because a common aspiration has linked our lives; but we are not bound by any carnal or even emotional ties. One single preoccupation dominates our existence: to find the Truth.

ONE OF THE LOVERS (indicating the Aspirants)

Unlike our two friends here, we two {he puts his arm around his beloved) live only by each other and for each other. Our sole ambition is to realise a perfect union, to become a single being in two bodies, one thought, one will, one breath in two breasts, one beat in two hearts that live only by their love, in their love, for their love. It is the perfect truth of love that we want to discover and live: to that we have dedicated our lives.

The Ascent To Truth

The Ascent To Truth


It does not seem to me that the Truth can be reached so easily. The path that leads to it must be difficult, steep, precipitous, full of dangers and risks, of threats and deceptive illusions. An unshakable will and nerves of steel are needed to overcome all these obstacles. I am ready for every sacrifice, every austerity, every renunciation in order to make myself worthy of the sublime goal I have set before me.

ARTIST (turning to the others)

You have nothing more to add? No. So we are all agreed: together, by uniting our efforts, we shall climb this sacred mountain that leads to the Truth. It is a difficult and arduous enterprise, but well worth the attempt, for when one reaches the summit, one can look upon the Truth and all problems must necessarily be solved.

So tomorrow we shall all meet at the foot of the mountain and together we shall begin the ascent. Good-bye.

All withdraw after saying good-bye.

The Ascent To Truth

The Ascent To Truth

Seven Stages of the Ascent

------FIRST STAGE-------

A kind of green plateau from which one has a view of the whole valley.

 From this plateau, the path which has been easy and wide so far

 suddenly narrows and winds round the spurs of the massive

 and rocky mountain rising to the left.

All arrive together, full of energy and enthusiasm. They look down on the

valley below. Then the Philanthropist calls them together with a gesture.


 Friends, I must speak to you. I have something serious to tell you.

(Silence. All listen attentively.)

Cheerfully, easily, we have climbed the mountain all together as far as this plateau from which we can look at life and better understand its problems and the cause of human suffering. Our knowledge is becoming vaster and deeper and we are nearer to finding the solution I am seeking... {Silence} But here we come to a decisive turning-point. Now the ascent will become steeper and harder and above all, we are going to cross over to the other side of the mountain where we shall no longer be able to see the valley and men. This means that I shall have to give up my work and betray my pledge to help humanity. Do not ask me to stay with you; I must leave you and return to my duty.

(He starts back on the downward path. The others look at one another in surprise and disappointment.)


Poor friend! He has gone back, vanquished by his attachment to his work, by the illusion of the outer world and its appearances. But nothing should slow us

The Ascent To Truth

The Ascent To Truth

down; let us continue on our way, without regret, without hesitation.

 They set out once more.

--------SECOND STAGE-------------

A part of the path where the slope becomes steeper and turns at right

angles, so that it is impossible to see where it goes. Below, a long, white,

very dense cloud completely isolates it from the world.

They all pass by more or less cheerfully except the Pessimist who comes

 last, dragging his feet, and sinks down on the bank by the roadside. He

 holds his head in his hands and sits there without moving. The others

 notice that he is not following them and look back. One of the Students

retraces his steps and touches him on the shoulder.


Well, well, what's the matter with you? Are you tired?

PESSIMIST (waving him away)

No, leave me, leave me alone. I have had enough! It's impossible!


But why? Come on, take heart!


No, no, I tell you I am worn out. It's a stupid and impossible venture. (Pointing to the cloud beneath their feet.) Just look at that! We are completely cut off from the world and life. Nothing, nothing is left on which we can base our understanding.

(He looks back towards the point where the path turns at right angles) And there! We can't even see where we are going! It is an absurdity or a delusion —

The Ascent To Truth

The Ascent To Truth

perhaps both! After all, there might not even be any Truth to discover. The world and life are only a dead end — a hell in which we are imprisoned. You can go on if you like, but I won't move, I refuse to be taken in!


 He buries his head in his hands once more. The Student, losing all hope

 of convincing him and not wanting to linger, leaves him to his despair

 and joins the others. They continue their climb.


-------------THIRD STAGE------

The Scientist and the Artist arrive together after the others, as if they had dropped behind while talking. They are nearing the end of their conversation.


Yes, as I was telling you, I believe we set out on this adventure a little rashly


It is true that so far our ascent seems to have been rather fruitless. Of course, we have made some very interesting observations, but these observations have not had much result.


Yes, I prefer my own methods — they are much more rational. They are based on constant experimentation and I do not take a step forward until I am sure of the validity of the previous one. Let us call our friends — I think I have something to communicate to them. (He beckons and calls to the others. They draw near and the Scientist addresses them.)

My dear friends and fellow-travellers, as we move further and further away from the world and its concrete reality, I have the growing feeling that we are behaving like children. It was revealed to us that if we climbed this precipitous

The Ascent To Truth

The Ascent To Truth

mountain whose summit no one has yet been able to scale, we would reach the Truth — and we set out without even bothering to study the way up. How do we know that we have not taken the wrong path? Where is our assurance that the result will conform to our hopes? It seems to me that we have acted with unpardonable imprudence and that our endeavour is not at all scientific. I have therefore decided, although to my great regret, since my friendly feelings towards you all remain intact, that I must stop here in order to study the problem and if possible to form some certainty about the path to follow, the right path, the one which leads to the goal.

(After a pause) Besides, I am convinced that if I can find the secret of the composition of the smallest thing in Nature, for example this humble stone on the path, I shall have found the Truth we are seeking. So I shall stay here and bid you au revoir — yes, an revoir, I hope; for perhaps you will come back to me and to scientific methods. Or else, if I find what I am looking for, I shall come to you to bring you the good news.


I too am thinking of leaving you. My reasons are not the same as those of our friend the scientist, but they are just as compelling.

During this interesting climb of ours, I have had some experiences: new beauties have been revealed to me; or rather, a new sense of beauty has taken birth in me. At the same time, I have been seized with an ardent and imperious need to express my experience in concrete forms, to cast them in Matter, so that they may serve for the education of all and especially so that the physical world may be illumined by them.

I am going to leave you, then, regretfully, and stay here until I can give form to my new impressions. When I have said all that I have to say, I shall take up the ascent again and rejoin you, wherever you are in quest of new discoveries.

Good-bye, and good luck!

All the others look at one another in some dismay. The second Student (the girl) cries out:


What do we care about these defections! Each one follows his destiny and acts according to his own nature. Nothing can turn us away from our endeavour. Let us

The Ascent To Truth

The Ascent To Truth

continue on our way, courageously, boldly, without weakening.

They all go on except the Scientist and the Artist.

---------------FOURTH STAGE--------------

The two Aspirants and the Ascetic pass by together without stopping and

 continue their ascent at a firm and steady pace.

Behind them, the two lovers, absorbed in each other, walk hand in hand,

taking no notice of the others.

Just behind them the three students arrive, visibly tired. They stop.


Well, my friends! This is what I call a climb! What a path! It goes up and up without a break — there's no time to catch your breath. I am beginning to feel tired


What! You too want to give up? That's not very sporting of you!


No, no, there's no question of giving up. But why don't we rest a while and sit down for a moment to get our breath back? My legs are hurting me. We shall climb much better after relaxing a little. Have a heart, let's sit down for a moment, only for a moment. Afterwards we shall set out with more enthusiasm. You'll see!


All right! We don't want to leave you here moping all alone. Besides, I feel rather tired too. Let's sit down together and tell each other what we have seen and leant.

The Ascent To Truth

The Ascent To Truth

SECOND STUDENT (after a moment's hesitation, she too sits down)

Well, it's only because I don't want to part company with you. But we must not stay here long. It is dangerous to linger on the way.

The Lovers look back and seeing them sitting there, continue on their -way.

--------------FIFTH STAGE-----------------

Much higher up. The path is narrower and overlooks a wide horizon.

 The valley is still hidden from sight by dense white clouds. To the left,

 just off the path, stands a small house facing the sky. The first three pass

 on without stopping. Then the Lovers arrive arm in arm,

absorbed in their mutual dream.

GIRL (noticing that they are alone)

Look, no one is left... We are alone.

What do the others matter! We don't need them — aren't we perfectly happy together?

BOY (seeing the house on the roadside)

Look, darling, look at that little house on the hillside, isolated and yet so welcoming, so intimate and yet opening onto infinite space. What more do we need? An ideal place to shelter our union. For we have realised, we two, a perfect, total union, without shadow or cloud. Let us leave the others to their climb towards a problematic Truth — we have found our own, our own truth. That is enough for us.


Yes, my love. Let us settle in this house and enjoy our love without a care for anything else.

Still arm in arm, they leave the path and go towards the house.

The Ascent To Truth

The Ascent To Truth

 The Ascent to Truth, by The Mother

The Ascent To Truth

The Ascent To Truth

The mother

The Ascent To Truth

The Ascent To Truth

----------SIXTH STAGE----------

The end of the path has become extremely narrow and stops abruptly at

 the foot of a huge rock whose sheer -wall rises towards the sky so that

 the summit is out of sight. To the left, there is a kind of small plateau at

 the far end of which a small low hut is visible. The whole scene looks

 bare and deserted. The last three climbers arrive together. But the

 Ascetic stops and halts the others with a gesture.


I have something important to communicate to you. Will you kindly listen to me, both of you? In the course of our ascent I have discovered my true being, my true Self. I have become one with the Eternal and nothing else exists for me, nothing else is necessary. All that is not That is illusory, worthless. So I consider that I have reached the end of the path. {He gestures towards the plateau on the left.) And here is a sublime and solitary spot, a place that is truly favourable to the life I shall lead from now on. I shall live here in perfect contemplation, far from earth and men, free at last from the need to live.

Without  another word, without a gesture of farewell, without looking

back, he goes straight towards the realisation of his personal goal.

 Left to themselves, the two Aspirants look at each other, moved by the

 greatness of his gesture. But they recover themselves immediately and

 the girl cries out:


No! That cannot be the Truth, the whole Truth. The universal creation cannot be merely an illusion from which one has to escape. Besides, we have not yet reached the summit of the mountain, we have not yet completed our ascent.

FIRST ASPIRANT (indicating the end of the path stopping short at the wall of rock that rises almost vertically)

The Ascent To Truth

The Ascent To Truth

But here the pathway stops. It seems that no human being has ever gone any further. To climb this sheer rock that rises before us and seems to be inaccessible, we must discover for ourselves the way to go on step by step, by our own efforts, with no other guide or help than our will and our faith. No doubt we shall have to hew our own path.


Never mind! Let us go on, ever onwards. We still have something left to find: the creation has a meaning that we have yet to discover.

They set out once more.

------------SEVENTH STAGE------------

The Summit.

The two Aspirants who have valiantly withstood every test, haul themselves up with a supreme effort to the summit, bathed in brilliant light. Everything is light except the little patch of rock on which they stand and which is hardly big enough for their feet.


The summit at last! The shining, dazzling Truth, nothing but the Truth!


Everything else has disappeared. The steps by which we so laboriously climbed to the summit have vanished.


Emptiness behind, in front, everywhere; there is only room for our feet, nothing more.

The Ascent To Truth

The Ascent To Truth


Where do we go now? What shall we do?


The Truth is here, Truth alone, all around, everywhere.


And yet to realise it we must go further. And for that another secret must be found.


Obviously, all possibility of personal effort ends here. Another power must intervene.


Grace, Grace alone can act. Grace alone can open the way for us, Grace alone can perform the miracle.

FIRST ASPIRANT (stretching his arm towards the horizon)

Look, look over there, far away, on the other side of the bottomless abyss, that peak resplendent with brilliant light, those perfect forms, that marvellous harmony, the promised land, the new earth!


Yes, that is where we must go. But how?


Since that is where we must go, the means will be given to us.

The Ascent To Truth

The Ascent To Truth


Yes, we must have faith, an absolute trust in the Grace, a total surrender to the Divine.


Yes, an absolute self-giving to the Divine Will. And since all visible paths have disappeared, we must leap forward without fear or hesitation, in complete trust.


And we shall be carried to the place where we must go.

 They leap forward.


-----------------The Realisation----------------  

A land of fairy light.


Here we are, borne upon invisible wings, by a miraculous power!

SECOND ASPIRANT (Looking all around)

What marvellous splendour! Now we have only to learn to live the new life.


Text from: The Mother, On Education,  pp. 501-516.

The Ascent To Truth

The Ascent To Truth

Painting by Rolf, Auroville

Suggestions for further reading

The Mother. Questions and Answers. Pondicherry: Centenary Edn., 7 Volumes, 1977.

Mother's Agenda. Paris: Institute for Evolutionary Research (13 Volumes).

For distribution in India: Mira Aditi Centre, Mysore.

 Satprem. Mother. 3 Volumes: I The Divine Materialism,

II The New Species,

III The Mutation of Death.

Paris: Institute for Evolutionary Research For distribution in India: Mira Aditi Centre, Mysore.

The Ascent To Truth

The Ascent To Truth

Pictures credit=

— Mayaura, Auroville: p. 13, p. 15, p. 16. p. 19. — Carlos, Auroville: p. 20, p. 166. — Rolf Lieser, Auroville: p. 124, p. 129, p. 176, p. 285, p. 317. — Olivier Barot, Auroville: p. 140, p. 148. Chughtai, N.G.M.A., New Delhi: p. 208, p. 214. — Nandalal Bose, N.G.M.A., New Delhi: p. 217.

— JMML, New Delhi: p. 268. — Sri Aurobindo Ashram Trust, Pondicherry, p. 298, p. 312.

The Ascent To Truth

The Ascent To Truth

Printed at Auroville Press



The Ascent To Truth

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