There has been for quite some time a demand that we should concentrate on ‘The Life Divine’, the magnum opus of Sri Aurobindo. If you want to take it up, it has to be taken up with great care and resolution. It has to be done in a very systematic manner and with a long–range idea that it is to be a programme of considerable time. We should not expect it to finish, once you start it in a few lectures. It has not to be studied in a manner which would only give us a superficial acquaintance. I have very often felt that Auroville should be a nursery of talents, capacities and powers of communication, whereby works of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother could be studied in their amplitude, in their fullness and there should be a continuous stream, so that teachers, students study all these works in a co–operative, collaborative manner. The work like ‘The Life Divine’ is a very difficult work. Some of the best experts in the world have come to the conclusion after having reading a few chapters, that the book is very difficult.
Many of the people, who are qualified to study it, have not gone through it thoroughly. There are ideas which are incomprehensible. Even the scheme of the book is not easily seizeable. On the other hand there are a good number of scholars in the world who have studied ‘The Life Divine’ quite thoroughly well and they have proclaimed that this work is a great synthesis of the east and the west. Intellectually, it has been rated so high, that hardly any other work is comparable to it.
Mother herself, has said in the ‘Agenda’, that ‘The Life Divine’ and ‘The Synthesis of Yoga’ are intellectually perfect and this word ‘perfect’ is really perfect. If you examine ‘The Life Divine’ from the technical point of view, from the point of view of the arrangement of ideas, arrangement of data, physical, psychological and the method of exposition, you can say that it is truly perfect. Those who have made a study of philosophy particularly, which involves technicalities of philosophical understanding, philosophical exposition, philosophical argumentation; they are bound to conclude that this work, by applying all canons of criticism, is perfect.
Mother has herself had said at one time in Auroville, to study ‘The Life Divine’, you require ten years of preparation and this will give us a measure as to what kind of time we should devote to this great work. Why should we not? Ten years as compared to the amount of knowledge which is contained here, is a very short period. At least, there should be few people, who should take it up in that light, to be to be ready to study it for ten years. I have the assurance from a few people in Auroville, that they are prepared and that gives me a very great enthusiasm and I feel that it as an effort worth making. I thought that to begin a series of work–shops, not a work–shops but a series of work–shops because this is what I intend to have, if you really want to study. It should be done in an atmosphere of a work–shop, in a serious, dedicated attitude, putting into it all the work that it demands. There are some people who are reading with me ‘The Life Divine’, they are giving 7–8 hrs daily of study, apart from 1–2 hrs with me periodically. This is the level at which I would like, by some students in Auroville, to take it up. It is a fact that most of you are very busy with a number of activities and it may not be possible to give that much time, one can give a great deal of time. We shall see later on, as we proceed further as to how this programme can be developed.
In the first place I would like to raise a question, what is the relevance of the study of ‘The Life Divine’ in Auroville? One easy answer is, what I have already given, that answer is that, Auroville is supposed to be a place where the vision of Sri Aurobindo is attempted to be given a concrete shape. Since ‘The Life Divine’ is one of the major works of Sri Aurobindo, it would naturally follow that a good knowledge of this major work is wide–spread in Auroville; this would be one answer to this question. But there is another question and which is connected to this important point. It arises from the fact that ‘The Life Divine’ is fundamentally a philosophical work and there is in the programme of Auroville, a very important statement of the Mother, that we are here to do research through experience of the Supreme Truth. This is our programme. This word ‘experience’ is very important, the word ‘Supreme Truth’ is very important and both this terms have to be viewed against the background of that. Fundamentally, ‘The Life Divine’ is a philosophical work. When we say that it is a philosophical work, we need to understand that essentially it is an intellectual work.
Many people might legitimately argue that intellectual approach does not necessarily go well with the experiential approach. Intellect is a process of abstraction; intellectual thinking takes you to the realm of abstractions, takes you away from the concreteness, and takes you to the world of ideas and words taking you away from substance and possession, penetration of the substance. An experience means penetration and possession, therefore, a serious question can arise and must arise and we should raise this question at the very outset, as to why we should undertake such an exercise, which will involve an intellectual process of abstraction. Would it not hurt the basic programme of Auroville, which is experiential in character?
The answer is neither ‘yes’ nor ‘no’, the first answer is that those who are already experiential, those who have already developed capacities of experience, capacities of perception of the inner truth and who feel that they are already moving in that direction, for them this study may not be altogether necessary. I say altogether, it may be necessary even for them, but it can be dispensed with.