Margaret Woodrow Wilson to Sri Aurobindo


Margaret Woodrow Wilson to Sri Aurobindo


Wilson, Margaret Woodrow, 1886-1944




1938 May 17


Margaret A. Wilson writes Sri Aurobindo with spiritual questions.


Eleanor Wilson McAdoo Papers, University of California, Santa Barbara


Woodrow Wilson Presidential Library & Museum


Religion and politics




My dear and revered Master,

     The message that came to me last Fall to from you through Mr Gupta seemed to be all that I really needed in answer to my letter to you. It made me feel free to write you freely and so it has been easy ever since to keep the psychological connection with you. It seems as unnecessary now to be assured that I am indeed your disciple however unworthy of that title I am, as it would be to be told that I am my father's daughter. Indeed the connection with you seems far more certain because of its spiritual and absolute foundation than was the relative connection with my father and mother. However I shall have to admit to moments of great fear that the connection with you can be forfeited by failure on my part to advance on the Path of Yoga, but these fears are more easily dissipated now by thinking of the Divine and remembering that you are the Divine and that the connection cannot therefore be broken, however covered over it might become at times, by the obscurities in my own natural being. I have not yet the feeling that your French disciples have of a fully conscious awareness of your presence which comes, I take it, with some degree of opening into deeper and higher planes of consciousness, or being, but the certainty that I have found the way and my Master is so strong, that it gives me at times the hope that I am more definitely started on your Path than I realize yet myself.

As to my experiences since I wrote you last, they are still altogether psychological and sensory, but here too I feel a growing certainty- that is I feel except in moments of depression that the effort I am making is bearing fruit however slowly. The mental control is increasing this year at a quicker rate than last- The struggle with my mind during the hours of concentration and meditation is on the whole decidedly less difficult and more successful, and the effects of a reasonable successful concentration is a clarity of vision and balance and sanity of feeling that is heartening. Indeed the vitalization of my whole being that seems to be, nay is, for I am sure of that much, the direct result of concentration, is so delightful that the sheer joy of living becomes almost a danger in itself. I am afraid sometimes that joy will be my undoing, by lessening the intensity of my effort. Joy seems to be quite natural to me, always has been: so now with the deepening of life in me and the recognition of its goal in Spritiual fulfilment and realization on all planes. Joy springs up with the least centering of my consciousness. I am giving you only the high lights. Of course I go into dark many many times and sometimes wonder if I have any aptness for Yoga. This in the worst terror that comes to me- all other fears seem minor, even while the present- but this one strikes at the root of my faith in the efforts I am that they are the result of the Divine urge within me toward Realization. It too can be exorcised by turning my face to the Divine and remembering will not let me go, as He is in me and I in Him. I feel constrained in connection to utter one fearful question. The messages that I have been receiving from the Mother have made me happy to the point of being struck I do not know how even to indicate to her and to you the joy that is receiving them and the gratitude. I feel at times as if I were now with the Mother and the Father, instead of just looking forward to to my Mecca: but here too fear attacks me, for with such a shower coming over me, why does not the "Divine Sprout" pierce the crust? Does it mean that I have the very thick crust that the Mother  Conversations, that makes it hard for the psychic Being to come forward? I am almost unwilling to send you this question for fear of the answer! Dear Master I shall try to keep the fear away and just let the love and gratitude remain, for it is self-evident that fear is craven and weak and of no help to aspiration. The aspiration I have- I know that- and I shall continue to pray and work for it's deepening and intensification.

The experiences I have been having in connection with concentration are revealing to a fascinating degree of the processes of the mind. I wonder whether or not I am just imagining when I say that I am conscious at times of the movement of the mind- I mean of actual sensations of movement that seem to be of the mind or at least accompany thought- also of the slowing down and sometimes cessation of this motion. I wonder if the very definite attitude that is established at moments of witnessing thought and it's rise and fall means that the discriminating will, the buddhi, has been isolated or felt as separate at those times. I should like to think so, for that would be a definite step forward would it not? That happens very often now, and then concentration or centralization in the heart is strong, sometimes so strong that I feel that the veil of the temple might part at any moment. There are still a great variety of sensory experiences, currents, sounds and so forth. I sometimes write a few sentences immediately after a meditation in order to record it accurately, as my memoury of it fails almost completely when I return to the outward life. It is hard to find words to describe psychological experiences without seeming to claim experiences of a higher type of consciousness. I notice often that the words I use are quite appropriate to mystic experience, even of a high order, and yet I cannot find any other words to describe the psychological states that I pass through in periods of concentration. Is it because we in the West have not developed a language that corresponds only to higher experience as the higher experiences are so rare here?

Should one try to make a kind of diary of ones practise? I record my experiences in mediation only once in a while, partly because of laziness and partly because when I try to bind myself to doing so, the meditation is alloyed by the desire to have something to record. When I do try to describe a comparatively unusual state of mind or indeed when I write about these things at all, I do not allow myself to at put down a single word that does not correspond to the experience as accurately possible, in order that I may count on my own truthfulness when I re-read the record. I understand therefore rather than run the risk of exaggeration. As these states are so hard to generalize about atnd report to you without going too much into detail, I have chosen one record to quote literally to you because it seems to me to apply many of my periods of concentration now. It is dated November fourth, 37.
     "Centering- Cessation- Connection, a centering of consciousness in the heart, a cessation of thought- enough to feel a connection with something within - and transformation of consciousness, a kind of substitution of one kind of consciousness for another. Also a sense of transfer, as if I had been lifted out of confusion into a clear place, something is released into a freer state. Hard to describe but definitely recognizable when it comes." Strong words that I would not dare to send to anyone less understanding than you. Sometimes I wonder if the reason that the same words apply to different states is that there is something fundamentally akin in them as when we use the outward light to describe so many different lights.

The connection which was mentioned above was often felt last summer and Fall and was as actual as making a connection with an electric current- My consciousness seemed to become a humming wire Since late winter the feeling in the central consciousness is usually more subtle. Instead of making a connection it feels more as if I had uncovered a steady flow or stream of consciousness, which I realize is always there but covered over by layers of thought. The removal of covering often feels like the passing over of clouds leaving the sky clear. Afterwards, as I said before there is an unusual clarity and sanity of mind and a vitalization of my whole being. I cannot say how long these centered moments last. I know that they do not last long but they are becoming more and more sustained on the whole. Often thought seems to play around the center as if outside, I in the center, witnessing them. Then the sustainment is longer than when thought seems absent.

In short, while I am dreadfully conscious of a very slow progress and of failure to make as much effort as I should, I feel nevertheless that I am being led inward and that I am gradually finding the way of concentration. The little discoveries I make about the technique of concentration make me begin to realize that the method does work itself out, as you have said somewhere.

The intellectual remembrance of the Yoga during outward activity is very slowly increasing too, but I never have the sense of being other than a mental being while I am using my mind outwardly. Should I be able to live inwardly and outwardly at the same moment before the psychic or other opening comes? I sometimes accuse myself of too much enjoyment of outer things, but those that give me the keenest enjoyment as, for instance, music and natural beauties, always now point to that which is behind this and which they give intimations. My aspiration is intensified by them. Will the moment come when they become a bar and must be rejected? If so will I recognize the moment?

Is it usual for it to take so long as I have taken to get even the beginnings of experience in true concentration? (I hope it is that). I suppose that in the Orient, especially in India, concentration is more natural than to us in the West- I mean concentration of the kind that gradually eliminates the movements of the sense mind rendering it quiescent, rather than what we call concentration here, which is just a focussed effort of the mind in a given outward direction. I, alas! have discovered that my mind is undisciplined in both kinds of concentration. I thought that I was a rather concentrated person until I began to observe my own mind as keenly as one do does when one starts on the path of Yoga. I have been naturally introspective all my life, but the mind has indulged in a futile kind of introspection that tends to become morbid and is as discursive and dispersed as that which it is trying to "observe." However am I right in believing that the tendency to look in rather than outward is a gift that now I can use in the right way?

This letter is not going to be long, for I feel that the way is being shown- that I do not need at this moment to ask questions, except mentally, for so much is being revealed to my understanding in mediation, and while pondering the vision that your writings have given me. The stage in which I still linger of battling with the discursive mind is one in which more and more intelligent effort is needed and there is little excuse for bothering the Master- Is that not so?

I bow down before you in gratitude and adoration.

Your humble disciple

Margaret A. Wilson

May 17 1938

Original Format



Ghose, Aurobindo, 1872-1950




Wilson, Margaret Woodrow, 1886-1944, “Margaret Woodrow Wilson to Sri Aurobindo,” 1938 May 17, WWP19643, Eleanor Wilson McAdoo Collection at the University of California-Santa Barbara, Woodrow Wilson Presidential Library & Museum, Staunton, Virginia.