Mirra (or Mira) Alfassa was born in Paris in 1878, of a Turkish Jewish father, Moïse Maurice Alfassa (5 July 1843 - 13 September 1918), and an Egyptian Jewish mother, Mathilde Ismalun (26 August 1857 - 9 December 1944). She had an elder brother named Mattéo Mathieu Maurice Alfassa (13 July 1876 - 12 August 1942) who held numerous important French governmental posts in Africa. The family migrated to France the year before she was born. For the first eight years of her life she lived at 62 Boulevard Haussmann in Paris.
Alfassa describes experiences she had as a child in Paris. She says that at age five she realised she did not belong in this world, and her sadhana (spiritual discipline) began then. She claims that she would lapse into bliss and go into a trance sometimes when she was placed in an easy chair or during a meal, much to the annoyance of her mother, who regarded this behaviour as a social embarrassment.
Between eleven and thirteen, she claims, a series of psychic and spiritual experiences revealed to her the existence of God, and man's possibility of uniting with Him. At age 12 she was practicing occultism and claimed to be travelling out of her body.
One of the experiences she claims she had, at the age of 13 for nearly a year every night, was of going out of her body and rising straight above the city --
“I used to see myself clad in a magnificent golden robe...and as I rose higher, the robe would stretch...to form a kind of immense roof over the city. Then I would see men, women, children...coming out from every side; they would gather under the outspread robe, begging for help, telling their miseries... In reply, the robe... would extend towards each one of them individually, and as soon as they had touched it they were comforted or healed, and went back to their bodies happier and stronger... Nothing seemed more beautiful to me.... and all the activities of the day seemed dull and colourless... beside this activity of the night...”
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