Satprem, "Neandertal Looks On"

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Neanderthal Looks On








24 April 1999


FIFTY-THREE YEARS ago to the day, I met Sri Aurobindo, I met Mother—their gaze rested on me. I was still twenty-two, just out of the death camps, I was in the ruin of everything, of my heart and soul and life. I was in revolt against everything, like an earthquake from top to bottom: it was No to men, No to life, No to the West, and goodness knows what else to the East behind different faces. Yet those Eyes looked at me as if from the depths of a millennial cata­clysm. I was like a terrible Question, devastating and devastated: Men, WHAT? The earth, WHAT? Life, life above all, WHAT? And WHAT for? It was not "philosophy" or metaphysics—it was pure physics, simple and throbbing with refusal. I don't even know if there was "something" to be suicided: it was Nothing returning to Nothing, like a world nightmare. But WHY the hell!? I was that Question, as if that sole answerless Question were what made my heart beat, what still made a man in that Ruin. I was neither materialistic nor spiritualistic, neither rightist nor leftist, neither from here nor from there. I was from nowhere, like one who sinks, a so-called man, into a coffin at the bottom of thousands of earlier coffins—"later" was like earlier.

But WHAT, and again WHAT for, all this? The Nazis had devastated me once for all, stripped me of all religion, all idea under this or that cruel or less cruel hat—and everything was perfectly cruel under this or that decoration, in the West as in the East, and in the North and in the South. Had I been a penguin, it might have made more sense. Is one a "materialist" of this or that carcass, or a "spiritualist" among orangu­tans, crowned and in a papal or Marxist garb, and after me heavens can fall—the apes' heaven, or ... WHAT again?

For fifty-three years, I have been this burning, growing, hungering question, like an earthquake that never bursts, or a Man-quake that's never done with that Ape—as if that question were my only heartbeat, the life of my life amidst all those democratic or other carcasses with their deathly Science and no less deathly religions. But on the earth, it's perfect Hell and an electronic False­hood repeated millions of times over in every language—except in penguin or canary tongue.

But fifty-three years ago today, those Eyes looked at me down to the bottom of my millen­nial abysses, to the bottom of a burning Nothing which was as if the only "something," to the bot­tom of a geological and zoological Death which was as if the first beat of Life at last, of a sentient and existent cell, a cell nameless, countryless, which was its own Science and own Knowledge —its own Power at last, without tricks and garbs around, without Kalashnikovs or papal blessings, or democratic and humanitarian blessings of no humanity. It was so wonderful to hear That One who said, "Man is a transitional being"—at last we were going to get out of this!

So, fifty-three years later, I look around myself with the eyes of an astounded child, like a first naked little cell. I look and look ... like a firstborn already millions of years old, with no tongue and no vocabulary of no man of here or there—a tongue with perhaps a song or a music in its depths, like a penguin of no Pole or a gull of age­less oceans. Or a cry for the whole earth.


I look and look...

There were those Eyes of infinite and healing softness. It was in India, apparently, but it was like the cradle of the first ages, it was the Source of all those never-healed ages. And I looked on, astounded, like a child of those ages, as a first baby stares at its mother, I looked on as if just out of the concentration camps ... and saw the Nazis right there, around and everywhere—assassins in the East as in the West, betrayals of that first simple and naked gaze, of that first cradle of men, of that first Mother. I was in India, seem­ingly, but there was no longer that Music of no tongue, that which speaks wordlessly and is heard everywhere, and answers itself everywhere like a great song of the first lives which greet the Sun and the joy of being. There were a thousand electronic and malefic tongues that repeated and repeated the words of the small next-door nazi or the big Nazi at every door, and no one thought anymore, no one felt that little simple and straight sensation anymore, there was no thought anymore but democratic and humanitarian slo­gans, bomb in hand or submachine gun on the hip, Christian or Marxist or Islamic sanctities and invaders everywhere, to the last nook of mans brain—seeming man—and gods galore, of every color, frozen in innumerable statues at every stinking crossroads of our terrifying and terrified supercities, never were there so many sanctities since the Teutonic invasions and the so-called "liberation"—but Hell is perfectly there, so too the democratic and political Prison of a thousand parties stabbing each other behind their rightist or leftist barbed wires: they have borrowed everything from the slogan-churning electronic machine, their brains are washed and corrupt, they have so many machines under their fingers, their eyes, their noses, their mouths and right to the bottom of their stomachs, so many that nothing works within anymore, not one simple little vibration, not one simple direct little gaze, not one pure little music within which sees what is and says what is. There are a thou­sand parties and not one Man in all this. There was an India, apparently, but a thousand pieces there too, and small treacheries everywhere that divide and rule and fill their democratic and humanitarian bellies, or Marxist or Christian or of God knows what devil.

What happened?

Next year, then, we will be big boys, two thou­sand years of age....

Two thousand years of WHAT?

Where did those little Nazis spring from? They were not born yesterday. And that year Zero of our "civilization"? As if we had come out of nothing to be born to WHAT? As if we had emerged from a pagan ignorance at last to be baptized to the true God, the one and only, Christ or Allah or what not. We were at last entering the "religious age"—we should rather call it the "religious cata­clysm." For Man was no more, he had lost all his millennial roots to grow suddenly in a ready-made soil raked clean for him—and his Destiny was ready-made, too, shooting straight (with a few sinful hitches and a few malignities) up to the heaven of Allah or of the great Lord of our Churches, or down to the hell of our various excommunications and fatwas, for ever and a day. It was settled, it was over—there was nothing more to be found. We were "men" for ever and a day, or devils, according to taste. A real Cata­clysm, gaping like a geological or zoological fault between two worlds. Before, there was WHAT? Nothing, obviously, or archaeological devilry and idols for our various museums and our fan­tastic tales, or prehistoric mythologies—History means Us. Us, who? And us, what? Were there still men to ask "What"? Science was soon to find everything for us and Medicine to track down and tinker with all our cells so as to tell us what they are made of and where they go back to—to the graveyard, of course, like everybody else, with a few vaccinations as a scientific bap­tism between two deaths: the death before and the death after. After, it's just like before. But what a fuss!

A religious cataclysm.

Powerful and rich, and now fitted with elec­tronics, they have organized themselves to uproot or contaminate everywhere all that might upset or contradict their sad "humanitarian" and democratic dictatorship. The two religious accomplices, deadly enemies and brothers, agreed fully on their rule—by what and whom? The Muslims, more conspicuous and fanatical, have proceeded according to their centuries-old tactics, infiltrating with their harems step by step or in conquering hordes, multiplying like rats, then declaring the place to be their "Islamic nation" from time immemorial and themselves to be persecuted by the nasty local aborigines— and they raze graves, temples, finish off the "infi­dels" when they cannot convert them. And that is it. The Christians, more subtle and sugar-coated, more moneyed too, destroy the culture of the place, abuse those "prehistoric supersti­tions" and "grotesque" idols, indoctrinate those childish souls that listen, open-mouthed, to the latest revelations—though if the mouths are no so open, they do not mind burning you at the stake either, for a few centuries, after a few purifying tortures that vie with the Gestapo's cruelties: five centuries of Inquisition is a long time compared to fifty years of Hitler. But that is not the worst, nor the most cruel, most funda­mentally cruel: it is those men uprooted from their civilization and ancestral knowledge, a true knowledge and a true civilization—the Incas knew, the Mayas knew, the sons of the Valley of the Kings knew, even the Red Indians and Alaska's Inuits, and the Greeks, and still more the Vedic Rishis.... They knew that subtle Forces move men, because they felt under their skin, a skin not so thick and without machines, because they saw with their eyes, eyes not so hypnotized, heard with their ears not so deafened, beings and gods (or demons) pulling them toward a mysterious Goal, and a music there, far away, pealing in the womb of ages—there was "some­thing" there, farther, a still unknown humanity to become or incarnate, and they wondered, they questioned, WHAT?

They were IN SEARCH.

That is the sad plague of our religious and scientific two thousand years (and that Science came to deliver us from that Religion, but the better to imprison us): there is no "WHAT?" any­more. The only "discoveries" that remain to be made are those of the West and its sick man and sick Earth. At the end of two millenniums, we are more devastated than when we came out of Hitlers concentration camps: we are right in the Death Camp, a Death of our own making.

Thus, in India, the great idol of "Indepen­dence," Pandit Nehru, head of that noxious and pestilent dynasty which has ruled over India for fifty-two years, even as I opened my eyes wide onto that other immense, unfathomable Gaze fifty-three years ago, just out of the death camps, that Nehru, just out of the perfidious British incubation, impudently declared to a flabber­gasted French writer, Alain Danielou, who had come to see him and bravely tell him his sense of wonder at India and his desire to write and tell about "Hinduism," "The object of your interest is just what we are trying to destroy."

The great betrayal of India.

They spit on their own Mother.

They deny they own culture.

Such is the will of religious and scientific West. But the Fact remains: "religions" are a modern Western fabrication. There has never been any "Hindu religion," and there may be another Science yet to be discovered. Before US, there were simply seekers of Man and of his what on this Earth.

It is the great betrayal of Man.


Little Nazis everywhere.

Thus, in the year two thousand minus one, in the East we emerge onto a "secularist" and anti-Hindu India that reviles her own history, and in the West onto the great American lord and its lackeys, with the pestilent and insane virus crossing every border. The great Invader is here. Hitler has perfectly transmigrated everywhere under Hollywood smiles and various types of headgear. He strives to convert the whole world to his financial and weapon-happy dictatorship —weapons are the big business in every language of the world, of course to defend Peace, though we have become the worlds first terrorists and even schoolboys kill one another. But where is Man in all this? But where is our first Mother in all this ? But where does our Source spring from ? Even Neanderthal man would be ashamed of what we have become.


Fifty-three years later, with seventy-six years behind me, I have no more philosophy than in my mothers womb, but I am a little more in the womb of a total Earth, with the same burning question as at the center of the increasingly quaking worlds, as if the very question and its fire were the Source itself and the heartbeat that makes what-is-there live, a "man," apparently, but looking on himself and all around with an unborn child's eyes, with millions of years behind him which were so many little creatures and so many hopes—for what? Our Neanderthal man has grown a lot, devoured so many crea­tures big and small, and "civilizations" one upon another, our twenty-year-old death-row convict has never come out of his camp or of his terrible What or his null and deadly millions of years, he has only descended a little more into the burning heart of things as if there were only ONE thing, ONE cry at the bottom of what is born and is trying to be born, and what is yet unborn but wants, so much wants to be born at last, without "God" or Devil, without pope or catechism, without garbs to cloak it or "tricks" or borders—purely and simply the little cell it IS. And that is all. In truth, that IS ALL there is in a little creature, in a rock or the rolling wave or all the galaxies, or in a great Sun burning deep down in us, which wants, so much wants to be born at last to what it IS, with its own power and own Knowledge of millions of past years that know, so much know what is waiting inside and beyond, beyond these arrogant little Neanderthal men fitted with humanitarian bombs and electronic slogans.

So, in all simplicity, I say that you are insane— you are all insane and possessed, in American, in European or in Zulu (though Zulus may know better), you are not yet Men, what are you? That is the only thing that your machines do not know.

Once you are emptied of your learned barbar­ity and nullified, flattened like Belgrade under your bombs, perhaps you will know better what a little cell was waiting for in the depths of its millions of years. Perhaps you will have walked the first step of the next species.

In May 1916, in the middle of World War I, Sri Aurobindo wrote:

"The old gods are not dead, the old ideal of domi­nant Force conquering, governing and perfecting the world is still a vital reality and has not let go its hold on the psychology of the human race. Nor is there any certainty that the present War will kill these forces and this ideal; for the war will be decided by force meeting force, by organisation tri­umphing over organisation, by the superior or at any rate the more fortunate utilisation of those very weapons which have constituted the real strength of the great aggressive [Teutonic] Power. The defeat of Germany by her own weapons would not of itself kill the spirit now incarnate in Ger­many; it might well lead merely to a new incarna­tion of it in some other race or empire, and the whole battle would then have to be fought over again. So long as the old gods are alive, the break­ing or depression of the body which they animate is a small matter, for they know well how to trans­migrate. Germany overthrew the Napoleonic spirit in France in 1813 and broke the remnants of her European supremacy in 1870; the same Germany became the incarnation of that which it had over­thrown. The phenomenon is easily capable of renewal on a more formidable scale."


One more disaster?

Or is it to compel us to find the solution?

A wild bird cries out, there on the ocean of ages.

Did we come from so far away through so many centuries and sorrows and prisons under this king or that, this pope and so many others, this prophet and all others, vanished and returned, those revolutionaries from here and there with no revolution ever, and again our blood, again our sorrows, always our death? Will this passerby with so much hope, so much despair, find what makes him cry today, cry out again as if for lost joy, for a never-rising sun, for a "nothing" which was the only thing ever found? Will this simple wild bird, which cried out on a desert beach and called goodness knows what tomorrow, find its song, its sun of always, its Secret for being—for being born at last?

We had to walk with this woeful hominid, cross this long detour of ages and arrive at the end of this little convoluted brain with its think­ing prison armed with a thousand doctrines, a thousand dogmas and ideologies upon ideolo­gies striving for a way out of his human cave— struggling with words instead of struggling with himself. And he keeps arming his own death ever more instead of digging into his own Matter ever there, ever the same, and his own never-fathomed abysses in which a first cell already quivered, a first powerful consciousness in the stone and in the algae and in the ever-waiting sands. Instead of digging into his righteous Walls and piercing a tunnel through our old pestilent species to emerge into another physical air and another terrestrial way of being.

Heavens lead us only to heavens.

But our terrible "human transition," our long detour through this rebellious Matter that resists even our bombs and tries to engulf us once again, ends on a sublime Miracle for which we were born so many times with a wild bird and a cry. Are we going to find it?








A sailor and a Breton, though born in Paris in 1923. A mem­ber of the French Resistance, Satprem was arrested by the Gestapo when he was twenty and spent a year and a half in concentration camps. Devastated, he journeyed first to Upper Egypt, then to India, where he served in the French colonial government of Pondicherry. There he discovered Sri Aurobindo and Mother. Their Message—"Man is a transitional being"— struck a deep chord. He resigned his post and left for Guiana, where he spent an adventurous year in the middle of Amazo-nian jungle, then wandered on to Brazil, Africa....

In 1953, at thirty, Satprem returned to India for good to be near Her who was in search of the secret of the passage to the "next species"—Mother, whose confidant and witness he became for some twenty years. His first essay was dedicated to Sri Aurobindo or the Adventure of Consciousness and followed a few years later by On the Way to Supermanhood. At the age of fifty, he edited and published the fabulous logbook of Mother's exploration, Mother's Agenda, in 13 volumes, while at the same time writing a trilogy—The Divine Materialism, The New Spe­cies, The Mutation of Death—followed by an essay. The Mind of the Cells.

In 1982, with his companion Sujata, Satprem withdrew completely to embark on the last adventure: the search for the "great passage" in the evolution beyond Man. In 1989, after seven years spent "digging in the body," he wrote a brief autobiographical account. The Revolt of the Earth, in which he took stock of Man's present situation. Three years later came Evolution II, a pithy record of Satprem's journey through our human and terrestrial grave: "After Man, who? But the ques­tion is: After Man, how?"

Satprem's recent book, The Tragedy of the Earth - From Sophocles to Sri Aurobindo, draws a curve from the Vedic and pre-Socratic era to our Iron Age and to Sri Aurobindo, "the revolutionary of consciousness and Evolution" who gives us the key to our transforming power in Matter.


Also by Satprem


Sri Aurobindo Or The Adventure Of Consciousness (1996)

The Veda And Human Destiny (1992)

By The Body Of The Earth Or The Sannyasin (1976)

The Great Sense / Sri Aurobindo And The Future Of

The Earth (1996) On The Way To Supermanhood (1986)




1. The Divine Materialism (1979)

2. The New Species (1983)

3. The Mutation Of Death (1987)

The Mind Of The Cells (1999) My Burning Heart (1989) The Revolt Of The Earth (1998) Evolution Ii (1992)

The Tragedy Of The Earth - From Sophocles To Sri Aurobindo (1998)


mother's agenda

1951-1973 13 volumes

Recorded by Satprem in the course of countless personal conversations with Mother, the logbook of her fabulous explo­ration in the cellular consciousness of the body. Twenty-three years of experiences which parallel some of the most recent theories of modern physics. The key to man's passage to the next species.


This book was originally published in French under the title Neanderthal Regarde © Editions Institut de Recherches evolutives, Paris, 1999. Neanderthal Looks On. English translation by Michel Danino © Institut de Recherches Evolutives, Paris, 1999.

Information addresses :

- in Asia;         mira aditi centre

62 'Sriranga', 2nd Main, 1" Cross T. K. Layout, Saraswatipuram MYSORE - 570 009, india

- in America :      institut DE recherches evolutives, canada CP41 chambly QC .L3L4B1 canada

- in Europe :       institut DE recherches evolutives 142 boulevard du Montparnasse 75014 - paris, france

First edition

Printed at Techprints, Mysore, India

ISBN 81-85137-54-4