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

Track Running The Human Aspiration - Track 106

I had given you earlier a sentence from the Rig Veda. I shall repeat it "nanunam asti noshwaha" It is not today nor is it tomorrow. "Kastadveda yad adbhutam". Who knows it which is wonderful? That which comes now or which is tomorrow is not the wonderful one. That which is not now is that which is wonderful, that which is – it is that which is wonderful. This is a Vedic statement, which Parmenides has put in his intellectual terms. It is the same proposition. That which is wonderful, when you think and when you admire all the time in thinking and contemplation, which you cannot escape, that is God. That is why Sri Aurobindo says, "It is also the highest that thought can envisage". Although in the previous sentences he says it "seems" historically. It seems it may be the highest, historically. But philosophically, it is the highest. This book is basically a philosophical book. Therefore you now have here a definition of philosophy.

Philosophy is the implication of the nature of thought. All philosophical thought is the implication of the nature of thought. What is thought? If you think about what is thought, then from thought itself, the statement which can come out is philosophy. And the only implication of thought is God. Therefore I call it the first and the last lesson of philosophy. It is a very short study. Philosophy is a very short study. It is only one line. "The highest that thought can envisage is God" Full stop! The first lesson and the last lesson, philosophy is over. This is all that philosophy is ultimately to tell us. And this is the very first sentence that Sri Aurobindo writes in The Life Divine.

"The earliest preoccupation of the man in his awakened thought", and as it "seems" and then he gives the reasons, why it seems. And after giving the reason he says: "Is also the highest that thought can envisage". So where it is an historical statement, Sri Aurobindo puts the word "seems" but where it is absolutely certain in the terms of thought, he uses the word "is". This is the accuracy of Sri Aurobindo. Perfect!

[In answer to a question on scepticism…]

The present state of mankind in the West, particularly, is sceptical. Sri Aurobindo says we are passing through a period of scepticism. But scepticism can survives only if you don't think sufficiently. This point is very important! You can be sceptical only so long as you don't take the trouble to think up to the end. As Sri Aurobindo says, scepticism claims to inquire but refuses to inquire. This is a special self–contradiction of scepticism. It claims to inquire, but at a certain stage he says it refuses to inquire. Then only scepticism can survives. Otherwise it cannot survive. Scepticism is not a resting place. Nobody can ultimately rest in scepticism that is certain. As philosophy can tell you, it is certain nobody can rest in scepticism. It can be a station on the way of your journey, for some time you can stay and amuse yourself with scepticism, but when you come to the crunch, both psychologically and logically, you are obliged to arrive at God. There is no other resting place. You can do whatever you like. You can doubt – it doesn't matter. It is an amusement. Go on doubting. Certainly you can doubt in many hundred ways but your thought, really, when you examine thought, it will say only one thing – God. And that is all. The highest. After doing everything that you want to do, you can somersault on the same point if you want. Or on other points if you want, but ultimately, you come to this conclusion. And that Sri Aurobindo states in his very first sentence.

If you want to play with scepticism, we shall find three–four sessions and I shall run with you in all sceptical propositions one can make. In my life I have spent five years in scepticism. But this statement is the one that remains after all that. So I can certainly say that all scepticism is an amusement. You can play. You can say I am very rationalistic, I am agnostic, I accept only what can be seen, what can be experienced; I don't accept anything else. Fine! Wonderful! Please keep up the whole enquiry, I will say don't refuse enquiry at the end. The difficulty arises when a sceptic at a given point gives up and says: "I don't want to enquire now. It may be. I don't want it. How do you know?" And that is the end of the matter. He does not enquire. He says you prove to me. You can see that the argument of the sceptic is ultimately: you prove to me. He does not want to make the enquiry himself. Tell him: Make the enquiry, go till the end! His proposition is: No, no you prove to me. Until that time I have nothing to do. When you come with your proof, then I shall see whether you are right or not. This is his majesty! So you can play the game of scepticism for ten years, fifteen years and sit in your chair and say like a judge: You come with a proof. The onus of proof is on you. But ultimately you must say, "Look my dear friend, do you want to enquire yourself? Do you want to take the trouble? Are you really keen on knowledge? If he really takes it in his hands and says: "Yes I want to enquire", then he will come to this conclusion.

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