Photographer:Simon | Norman in performance Photographer:The flyer of Norman reads Satprem | Courtesy:

Satprem’s My Burning Heart: A Reading by Norman

The cosy hall of the Centre D’Art in Citadines resounded with the booming voice of Norman as he read from Satprem’s My Burning Man. Norman’s characteristically enthusiastic hand gestures took his audience through Satprem’s journey into spirituality. A journey marked by a frenzied quest to become one with the long lost feeling of expansiveness that Satprem had once experienced at sea as a sailor boy. The feeling of no longer being ‘I’. It was an experience that led him to feel constrained by anything that existed inside walls–the Jesuit school that he was sent to as much as a temple or a mosque. A betrayal by a fellow member of the French Resistance led to his imprisonment in a concentration camp. The soul crushing horror of the experience led him to find that space where the abuser and the abused are the same–the space where all else melted away and what left was just human essence, a feeling of invincibility. In this he found his joy, which then eluded him as soon as he was free of the confines of the camp. Soon he visited Pondicherry and the ashram of Sri Aurobindo, whom he found to be a great philosopher. Here he found a few fleeting minutes of divine bliss as Sri Aurobindo’s gaze opened up in him that door that fills. It was homecoming for him! However, he did not pursue the idea of staying at the ashram as to him, ashrams meant confinement. He had more journeying laid out vast before him. Through an adventure that began in the jungles of Cayenne, through mica mines in Brazil, selling dictionaries in Dakar to losing and finding himself among the elements in Africa, he found himself back in Pondicherry, thirsty for his inner being. The only thing that soothed his fear of ashrams was the memory Mother’s gaze! The gaze that was so different from that of Sri Aurobindo’s in that it was not something that led above to the realm of pure bliss! Instead, it was a gaze that plunged into the flesh like a sword and filled one with love. And hence, began his foray into the mystical and using the body to get there. Among the audience were noted academicians, environmentalists, and students of art, literature and drama. Listen to the audio and revel in the man’s journey!

Norman Clifford Bowler is a British actor whose repertoire spans the genres of history, drama, and adventure. He has spent several years in Auroville and is actively engaged in adult education and development work in the surrounding villages. Amateur artists performing in the township find in him a stalwart director and guide.

The above video is a promo of the presentation. Please use the audio file for the full lecture.



  • swar

    Just a small correction : Satprem didn’t sell dictionaries in Dhaka (Bangladesh) but probably in Dakar, Senegal.

    • Andrea

      Thanks Swar to pointing out this error. The text it’s rectified.