A Letter to Robert McDermott Regarding the Supramental & Integral Yoga

[Robert McDermott is president emeritus of CIIS, author of The Essential Aurobindo, & program chair of CIIS's 'Philosophy, Cosmology, and Consciousness' department.]

Hi again Robert, It was I who sent you several books of Patrizia's way back when. I believe my contact information came with them. I never heard from you and I have always wondered why I got no response and what happened to those books. I believe I requested that if you did not want to read them that they make their way to the CIIS library. I hope they did. Anyhow, I have approached CIIS in various ways (including through you) to try to open up a dialogue about her work, because I thought it would be appropriate for a school based on Sri Aurobindo's Integral Yoga to discuss a body of work that adds incredible depth and dimensions and new significance to the teachings of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother. I actually offered to teach a course at CIIS on the subject because I do have a master’s degree in Education and Curriculum development and I am one of the folks on the planet who is fairly knowledgeable about what it is Ms. Norelli-Bachelet has introduced in terms of the Supramental Descent. But alas no friendly doors seemed to open.

Then in 2007 CIIS co-hosted, co-organized and promoted the AUM conference concerning the Integral Yoga of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother held at the Institute of Noetic Sciences that was billed as an effort to ‘identify, heal, and clear unconscious divisions and blockages; foster deep listening, mutual learning, and the cross-pollination of knowledge streams; expand boundaries, build bridges of trust and collaboration; develop a more integrated, effective, and applied sense of the term “integral”.’ Not only was no representative of Patrizia’s yogic knowledge invited to sit on a panel at the event (I would have been the likely candidate as I live in Marin County, close to both CIIS and IONS), but as far as I can gather, the only reference to her work were derogatory remarks by Lynda Lester ‒ a member of Auroconf and of the AUM Continuity Committee. In a panel discussion entitled, “Facing the Challenge of Fundamentalism and other Shadow Issues in the Ongoing Evolution of Integral Yoga”, Lester portrayed Patrizia and those who acknowledge the importance of her Supramental yoga ‘a small but aggressive group’ of fundamentalists ‘who are into esoteric numerology’; and there was conveniently no one invited to the panel to discuss/challenge the prevailing bias and ignorance on these matters. [See Lester's remarks in Collaborations, p. 22]

So it has been frustrating and deeply disappointing, to say the least, that no one at CIIS has wanted to open up classes or dialogue about Patrizia's 40 plus years of Supramental and Integral Yoga. One would think that if CIIS were true to its original mission, that its faculty, directors and associates would go out of their way to invite Patrizia, or those knowledgeable of her work, to discuss her position and her teachings. But that has not happened. Rather the CIIS community has reflected a yawning DISINTEREST. If you understood Patrizia's teachings and how essentially and absolutely important they are in terms of the Supramental Descent and Integral Gnosis, you would understand how such disinterest puts CIIS in a hypocritical position ‒  i.e. promoting the idea of Integrality and such, but having little real connection to Sri Aurobindo's Integral yogic vision and consciousness-force. I realize more clearly now from your latest emails that you really do not understand Patrizia's teachings at all and so naturally you have not been in a position to see the extensive damage ALREADY DONE over the past four decades by those who have distorted the Mother's Temple vision and by those who have chosen to bar or slant any mention of Patrizia's teachings on their Integral Yoga sites, curriculums and in their discussions about Sri Aurobindo and the Mother.

When I traveled to Pondicherry for the first time in January of 2000, within the first hour of my arrival I took a self-guided tour of the Sri Aurobindo Ashram Visitor's Center which led me in chronological order through pictures and blurbs about the lives of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother. The tour ended with portraits of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother in their old age and at that moment, while standing there at the END of the line, I was literally struck with the realization that their work was far from being done, and there was a third stage of the Supramental Descent to be carried out. I saw that a third picture was missing from the wall! I simultaneously realized the immense and epic difficulty that this third person/stage would have in overcoming the calcified story/religion that had already been created around Sri Aurobindo and the Mother. I sat in the courtyard and cried as if someone in my family had just died. All this was completely unexpected. I had no previous judgments or thoughts about the yoga having become calcified or stagnant, or about a third stage of the descent until that moment. I spent two weeks in Pondicherry, which sadly felt to me more like a tourist destination centered around the tombs of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother than a place of serious and living yoga.

Then I moved on, by complete 'chance', to Kodaikanal. There I had some of the clearest revelations and most powerful spiritual experiences of my life, having no idea whatsoever that Patrizia Norelli-Bachelet existed or that she lived a few miles from where I was staying. When I arrived back in the USA a few months later, in San Francisco I found her book The Gnostic Circle on my sister's bookshelf. As I read it, it was astoundingly clear to me that the third stage of the descent was already in motion, and had been since the early 1970s, and true to my experience in Pondicherry, this ‘third’ had been thoroughly shut out of the Aurobindonian story. I knew that recognizing and experiencing the Supramental consciousness-force of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother in the work of Patrizia Norelli-Bachelet meant that I was bound to be something of a whistle-blower, drawing attention to the lie in the story of the Supramental Descent/Yoga that was being told in Pondicherry, Auroville and across the world. I am happily not a person who could simply sit on such game-changing information or continue on with my life/yoga as if nothing monumental had happened.

Predictably, those who want their organizations and mindsets to continue on, undisturbed by this new and/or incriminating information, have labeled me ‒ along with anyone who recognizes Patrizia's yogic lineage ‒ as a deluded cultish fanatic. Nonetheless, I attempt in my own ways to expose the lie that the Supramental Descent ended with Sri Aurobindo and the Mother and to expose the lie that the Auroville temple is a faithful representation of the Mother's Supramental Vision for Her Temple ... mostly by attempting to bring greater exposure to the Supramental Gnosis that has streamed in through Patrizia's being for decades. It is impossible to expose the Gnosis without exposing the lies; and therefore it is impossible to discuss what I have learned of the Supramental Yoga without challenging or upsetting those who do not at all agree with what I have found to be true. But that is just how it is; and I know that these things will be duly sorted out in time, with the help of the Supramental Shakti and whoever She compels to stand up and discuss and debate the Supramental Knowledge as it has been presented. One thing that has become quite clear to me in the past decade is that arriving at the Truth of Sri Aurobindo's lineage and consciousness-force in the world is not a democratic process or a popularity contest.

I have sent you books and articles over the years, hoping you might be interested in the important issues at hand, or that you might somehow invite or encourage discussion of the topic of the continuing Supramental Descent at CIIS. I do understand now, from what you have written Robert Wilkinson, that you are not personally interested in the topic of the Supramental Descent at all ... which actually surprises me due to your position at CIIS, your authorship of The Essential Aurobindo, and the talk you are giving today on the 14th of August 2011 on ‘The Significance of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother’ (billed as a celebration of Sri Aurobindo’s 139th birthday). But even putting personal interest aside, I believe those such as yourself who do somehow influence CIIS's philosophies and activities should make a sincere effort to incorporate the topic of the Supramental Gnosis and its most recent developments into CIIS's curriculum/field. Otherwise, CIIS’s connection to Sri Aurobindo continues to become ever more tenuous, inconsequential and disingenuous.

Please let me know if, in the spirit of open and honest debate, you are willing for your recent emails to Robert and your response to Patrizia’s email to be published on the PNB Questions and Answers blog, along with their own responses.

Warm Regards,
Lori Tompkins
San Anselmo, CA


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