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

Track Running The Human Aspiration - Track 105

Question: Is imagination not a thought?

All imagination, you examine imaginations – you can imagine only that which exists. Not here, it may exist somewhere. "Your face is like a moon" Your face exists, the moon exists. It is an imagination but only because thought can capture only what exists!

Question: One can imagine that immortality does not exist. This is a thought. Yet it actually exists!

These are just words. Thought that has no meaning in it. Every thought to be a thought has a meaning. Otherwise it is not a thought. They are only words. Like abracadabra. Thought, to be a thought, we must really think it. It must have a meaning and the meaning can be derived only from that which exists. In any case Parmenides says that you can be sure of only one thing. Existence. That which is not you cannot know, it is impossible. There he does not say it may be impossible or probably impossible. That is impossible. He makes a categorical statement. It is certain and that is a metaphysical point. When you arrive at a metaphysical thinking, there is no may be or may not be. Historically you may have statements that are may be – may not be. Metaphysically the proposition must end in pure categorical statement. And this is what is here. Parmenides is absolutely certain.

Now if you define God as that which exists thoroughly, then you can say that the highest that the thought can envisage is God. So Sri Aurobindo says, that which thought can envisage is the highest. And it is marked by a categorical statement. Not may be or may not be. Not "probable", not "promises". "It is also the highest that the thought can envisage". It is regarding the Godhead. God, Immortality, these are all the words that basically mean the same. God is immortal, God is Light, God is Freedom – God, Light, Freedom, Immortality. These four terms mean that which exists thoroughly. Without any compromise whatsoever. It is perfect in existence. Therefore for thought, it is the highest that the thought can envisage.

And I am giving you a statement from Parmenides. This is a statement that until today has been a puzzle for philosophers. As with what you said, such arguments have been put forward again and again, and again and again. They have been answered; people feel dissatisfied even when answered, some new propositions are made… In this very book, Russell has given an argument to disprove Parmenides. But when you read it, again you feel, no, no, Bertrand Russell has not been able to answer. I shall read out his last paragraph, Bertrand Russell's own argument.

After discussing Parmenides he says "Parmenides may refute me in the following manner". Then he gives in what manner. Then he adds "I will not attempt to meet this argument now". That means the proposition is so solid. This was written by Parmenides in which year? He lived in 450 BC. Now see how many years have passed since then and how many people have tried to understand it, dispute it, answer it and answer again and answer again, and now this is the last sentence written in the twentieth century by Bertrand Russell: "I will not attempt to meet this argument now". Why? He says, "Because it requires a discussion of memory". He says that unless you discuss what memory is, you cannot discuss this question. He says, "It requires a discussion of memory which is a difficult subject. I have put the argument here to remind the reader, that philosophical theories, if they are important, can generally be revived in a new form, after being refuted as originally stated. Refutations are seldom final. In the most cases they are a prelude to further refinements." This is the final conclusion of the chapter.

This is a very powerful argument. An argument you can arrive at only when you have gone into the depth of thought, again and again and again and again, and this Sri Aurobindo puts in the very first sentence here. "It is the highest which the thought can envisage". God is the highest which the thought can envisage, you cannot escape it.

Now I shall give you one more sentence. It is an elucidation of this very sentence from Parmenides:

"How could it come into being? If it came into being, it is not; nor is it if it is going to be in the future. Thus is becoming extinguished and passing away not to be heard of The thing that can be thought and that for the sake of which the thought exists is the same; for you cannot find thought without something that is as to which it is uttered."

Now you think about it for today. I will not discuss this today. It is the same thing that is written in the first two lines. It is the elucidation of the same thing. It only says that that which exists is the highest that thought can envisage. That which exists thoroughly, that which does not come into being now or tomorrow is that which is the highest which the thought can envisage.–

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