Sri Aurobindo's - 'The Life Divine' - The Human Aspiration - Chapter I

Track Running The Human Aspiration - Track 102

Sri Aurobindo summarises, in a few words: "The earliest preoccupation of man in his awakened thought which survives", that occupation does not lie down. Every period of scepticism is followed again by the return to the same preoccupation. This is a very great reading of the history of mankind. I have spoken to you the tradition of India at length. I have not spoken sufficiently of the tradition of the West. That remains to be done. And in due course I shall come to that aspect also, because you should have both – the tradition of the East and the tradition of the West. And then you can appreciate this sentence very much. You have seen the tradition of India starting with the Veda and the constant terms in the Veda are the last four words which are written in the paragraph. God, Light, Bliss, Freedom, Immortality. The entire Veda is nothing but filled with these four or five words. God, Light, Freedom, Immortality. It is a repeated refrain. So, it is a proof, that right from the beginning man has been preoccupied with these four things. God, Light, Freedom, Immortality. If you read the Western tradition, we shall come to it in due course; you will find the same preoccupation.

Yesterday we had a very good discussion on The Odyssey and The Iliad. We were reading the story of Odysseus, the story of Iliad. And the one theme that was common was the interest of Gods in the world, the participation and intervention of Gods in the world. The whole preoccupation of these two great epics of Greece, written by Homer, is with Godhead. All Gods are recognised as immortal. In these two epics, the theme of immortality is present. There is intervention all the time of Light. There is a theme of bondage of man and freedom of man. So once again you find in these two great epics the same preoccupation: God, Light, Freedom, Immortality. This is in the earliest times.

One of the earliest thinkers in the West was Plato. And the most important element in Plato is his theory of The Good the highest according to Plato is the Good. When we study Plato we shall find out what is the meaning of The Good. According to him The Good is what you normally mean by God. There is a difference between God and Good, but in broad terms, in rough terms, by Good he means what we mean by God – the Supreme – that which is comprehensive of everything, beyond which there is nothing else. So the quest for The Good is the summation of the entire philosophy of Plato. His emphasis on immortality is so great, that Bertrand Russell – you have heard the name of Bertrand Russell perhaps, I have brought a book by him here. It is called The History of Western Philosophy. Bertrand Russell is one of the thinkers of our own times. He passed away only a few years ago at a very ripe old age, and to my mind he represents a culmination of one line of thought; not every line of thought, but one line of thought. If you run on one line which he has chalked out, he marks a culmination. He himself can be called a sceptic of a kind. He does not believe in God, Immortality, and all such things. So he marks that line of thought in which God, Immortality is banished. And yet, when writing on Plato, he has given one full chapter to Plato's Theory of Immortality. This is one of the proofs, that one of the most ancient thinkers of the world was actually occupied with the theme of immortality.

I am showing you this because as young students, you should have in your mind a real concrete understanding, that this sentence that Sri Aurobindo has written is an authentic statement. Word for word it is accurate. And this is Sri Aurobindo's specialty; every word of Sri Aurobindo is authentic, and I am saying this not because I am his disciple, but rather that I am his disciple because he is so authentic! It is the other way round! Every word of Sri Aurobindo is measured, accurate, authentic, illuminating. Sri Aurobindo said one time, in 1912 or 1914, "I want to show mankind Truth in his entirety, without any error". This was his promise to the world, before he started writing The Life Divine and other works that we are familiar with. "I want to show to people the truth without any error", and when you read Sri Aurobindo you can always keep this in mind, and try critically to examine whether this great promise is fulfilled or not, and always you will find yourself rewarded. You will find not even a single comma out of place. It is so authentic. And therefore, when he speaks of the earliest preoccupation – the Veda you know sufficiently well, of the West I am showing you one of the earliest thinkers, Plato, and his main preoccupation was his theory of immortality, a fact acknowledged by a philosopher of present times, who was himself a sceptic. He did not believe in immortality, so he does not bring it out of any partiality towards Plato. Actually he is a great critic of Plato. But Plato's emphasis on immortality is so great that he cannot escape it and so he has to give a full chapter to that aspect. Both in the Eastern tradition and in the Western tradition there is this emphasis upon immortality.

Then you examine the whole history of mankind. This is the reason why I have said that we should have one full session, or at least six sessions on world history; because I would like you to study world history in this context. If you study the whole history of mankind, it is nothing but a perpetual song of God. If you really see from above, stand above the time, the stream of time which has been running on; and if you stand like a bird, above the time, you will see the whole murmur of the river of time singing the song of God. It is nothing but a song of God. You read history, the whole occupation of man, is God. Even when you doubt, and doubt so strongly – whom? Your preoccupation is still with God! You doubt God! You cannot escape Him, even when you want to escape from Him, you doubt whom? For doubting you should be occupied with Him. The whole history of mankind is connected with God. I spoke of the ancient times – but take the Middle Ages. What are the Middle Ages? One of the main events of the Middle Ages was the Crusades. Crusades were the wars between Muslims and Christians. And both of them believe in God, but the way in which they believed, they wanted that the whole world should accept that belief. They were so concerned with their own belief of God, that they wanted all others to accept that belief and therefore the wars; terrible wars between two groups of religious people, in which, not only the religious people but kings and soldiers and men and women, all were involved in these wars. Thus the Middle Ages were nothing but a great preoccupation with God.

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