Margaret Woodrow Wilson to Francis B. Sayre Jr.


Margaret Woodrow Wilson to Francis B. Sayre Jr.


Wilson, Margaret Woodrow, 1886-1944




1939 April 15


Margaret A. Wilson replies to a letter from Francis B. Sayre Jr., and explains her practice of Yoga.


Eleanor Wilson McAdoo Papers, University of California, Santa Barbara


Woodrow Wilson Presidential Library & Museum


Sayre family




Dearest Francis-

     Now not only beloved nephew, but dear friend to my soul. Only one who knows how to love with his soul could have written me such a letters as the first I received here. The second was a kind and helpful ministration to my all too human heart and emotions, for it gave me news of those I love who sometimes seem so far away.
     For about twenty four hours after I received your first letter I was answering it at all times of the day and in the midst of other occupations. I decided to wait until it was possible for me to write a coherent answer, and waiting for any reason is always fatal with regard to letters for the ordinary reasons that work and other urgent matters always seem to force your attention ahead of the letter and also a mistake perhaps because the letter after a delay is apt to be less spontaneous. I am going to try to get those elusive things called words to convey to you something of what is in my soul to say to you, and trust you to perceive some of the many implications behind the words- perhaps in some directions you will perceive more than I see myself with your new-born spiritual intuition.
     I shall try as much as possible to keep away from theories and metaphysical abstractions in this letter-in future letters I may use then as convenient formulations of truth of which in some place in me that is deeper than intellect I am sure.
     First I want to asnwer directly your question- As you put it there will have to be two answers, one categorical the other an effort to tell you of those Things of which I am persuaded and which are re-orienting my whole life but which I have not yet the direct knowledge of the seer, the kind of Knowledge and Power which you received in your great moment or hours of baptism in the Spirit.
     I shall repeat your question frist, for you may not remember how you put it. There were really two questions which meant almost the same thing, I think. First Has there been an asnswer to the seeking with you? Second Have these men really testified to the living loving power of God to you? The straightforward unequivocal answer to them is No I have not. And I mean by that answer that I have not been baptised with fire that the direct unveiled Light and Knowledge and the direct touch with the Divine Power have not been given me. Perhaps I am wrong in thinking that the second question is answered in this statement- I thought you meant by it Have these men helped me to receive the Light and the Power- using the word receive as you have used it. If you mean do they seem to me to be themselves directly conscious of the living, loving power of God I can answer most emphatically, yes. They are among those who to use your own words can testify to it because they have it (You said I find that anyone can testify to it who has it- and I agree with you and find that some of the people here can so testify). In fact they are a bit impatient of abstractions or only kindly tolerant of them because they know that the human mind must do a certain amount of speculating before it can give up the search for truth in the sense of trying to find it in its own terms.
     When I was thinking about your letter during a meditation (I just could not help thinking of it even then) this is what happened to me emotionally and psychologically and I tell it to you for it might indicate certain possibilities to your mind- I mean the possibility of certain preparatory states that are dedicated life giving me all kinds of suggestions about the beauty of ordinary human relations and the "joy of life," and it was certainly not the desire of the body and vital part of us that wants adventure for the sake of excitement for I knew well that the path of Yoga while there might be adventures along the way was no child's delight in new things, because it demands too much austere endeavour for easy going adventuring and excitelment-tasting or even for sincere experimenting if a high aspiration is not back of the experimenting. No there was as you say and God bless you dear for understanding so well a demand for the Ultimate that rose from the very depths of my Being and could not be ignored. But that demand had already been partly granted by the recognition I felt in my whole being, not just in the intellect or emotions of the Truth in the Upanishads, in Ramakrishna's sayings and in Sri Aurobindo's writings and finally in the new light that these threw on Christ's sayings I found the same Truth in His life and sayings. The response was complete Francis and still is, and the essential Truth or Truths of which they all testify out of direct experience are becoming more and more clear to me in a sort of inner light of understanding that comes as a result of meditation. The only actual experiences I can speak of are still psychological but are so different from anything else that I have ever experienced except perhaps in moments when alone with Nature or during a rapturous moment in music my mind stepped aside and I felt full of some new unalterable certainty and bliss but not recognising it for what it was ascribed it to the music or the beauty of Nature- that I cannot help but feel that they are ante rooms to the inmost temple of the Lord within me.
     At least dear I can tell you this that I have started on what is called here the Path- that is the practise of certain mental disciplines called Yogic whose object is Yoga or Union with the Divine or God. They too say that we in the sense of the mind and emotions nerves and body cannot achieve this union, that it is indeed always and always there, but is not yet manifest to our outer consciousness. To that it has to be given and by that it has to be received. Yogic only helps to make possible the reception or transfusion of the Power and the Light of knowledge and the Bliss of Love and Beauty in the outer man or lower consciousness. There are in fact accroding to Sri Aurobindo and here he differs with most of the other Indian school of philosophy now in existence though not with the Upanishads and the ancinet seers who speak in them- two movements made possible by yoga. One the withdrawal of the soul from its identification swith the life of the intellect, emotions and body, the old life you call it and its rediscovery of its own true inmost or highest consciousness in which it lives and always has lived in God- then a reception in the old outer consciousness of the Light and Love and Power that the soul has discovered within itself and so to speak above Itself in the Transcendent with the result that the inner and outer become one because the inner is free and the outer has been transformed into what it has been dimly striving to be the image and expression of the inmost and most High, the Divine One.
     Of what am I persuaded? That I am in God now and He in me- that there is nothing but God, that man Nature and God are One. The new life manifests when man realises That and makes his lower members a living channel and growing manifestation of the Divine One.
     I do not think that I differ with you about some essential truths- I certainly do not if I understand you aright- It is certainly for the soul a return to the point of departure- I am persuaded that in the new life one lives consciously in God and needs to search nowhere- There are many other things I should love to write you of in this letter but I feel now that so much has been written that I want to be sure to get it to the Post Office and today is the only day for some time to come perhaps that I can be sure of the time to get to the post office where it is a long and strenuous business to get a letter dispatched. Ben King would lose his mind or want to reorganise the place tomorrow. I am doing some typing as my outward work and today my typewriter is being renovated or rather rerebooned another long process here, so that is why I have had time for so long a letter. I shall write you again in answer to your second letter about your visit with Nell. It did my heart good to hear what you had to say about her, for she is indeed Jessie's own sister. The more you get to know her the more you will realise what a beautiful and loving Being she is in both her inner and outer life expressions.
     I want to write you more about the people here. I have not yet seen Sri Aurobindo as he is in retirement and helps us by his invisible influence and his presence once in a long while. However there is One here who has fully realised God, a woman- We all call her Mother for she is indeed a divine Mother to us channel for the Divine as Mother. Never never have I been privileged to look upon such a glorious Being. That Grace has been vouchsafed me Francis and it is one of the greatest that any human being can receive for to see God manifest in another is certainly an incalculable help to realising Him in ourselves. Think what it meant to Christ's disciples to be with Him constantly. That is what it means to me to see the Mother every day, Francis.
     Your letter was so beautiful and I wonder if you know how deeply happy you made me by giving me the privilege of knowing of your own experience of God- You are among those who can testify to the Power and the Presence and you have blessed your Aunt Margaret in giving her your testimony. Also dear it helps so much to know that you understand my purpose - why I do not know but it seems to be a fact that we do for a time at least need such understanding.
     Oh Francis I thank God for what He has given you.
     With the love of my heart and the love and faith of my soul that does understand in a measure whereof you speak even though I have not yet directly experienced the ineffable Love and all-filling Power of God.

Your devoted,

Margaret A. Wilson

April fifteenth, I939.

Original Format



Sayre, Francis Bowes, 1915-2008




Wilson, Margaret Woodrow, 1886-1944, “Margaret Woodrow Wilson to Francis B. Sayre Jr.,” 1939 April 15, WWP19655, Eleanor Wilson McAdoo Collection at the University of California-Santa Barbara, Woodrow Wilson Presidential Library & Museum, Staunton, Virginia.