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

Track Running The Human Aspiration - Track 307

In the Ramayana, imagine the mood of king Dashrath when he announced that Rama would be crowned the next morning. What a tremendous happiness spread over the whole town. But in a small corner of the big palace one of the queens, began to stir in an opposite manner and soon made a demand – this stark demand – that Rama should be exiled. And when the father who was so happy, his happiness had no bounds, was asked he sank completely into torpor. Our satisfactions are "besieged by physical pain and emotional suffering."

"To establish an infinite freedom in a world which presents itself as a group of mechanical necessities." Our life is a life of necessities, we are obliged to eat, it is a necessity, no? The minimum necessity is that we are obliged to sleep. We cannot be free from sleep, even if you want to keep awake forever and ever and ever, you cannot, we are necessitated to sleep, we are necessitated to eat, we are necessitated to physical movement, necessitated to breathe. Our whole life is nothing but – if you don't agree with the theory of necessities you can say it is nine–tenth of your life that is a necessity – may be one–tenth is where we have some freedom of movement. I can decide whether I shall move my arm this way or I shall not move my arm. This kind of freedom I certainly have but otherwise our life is full of necessities. And yet human beings aspire for freedom. And what kind of freedom? Sri Aurobindo says: "to establish an infinite freedom". The complete freedom of Shiva's dance. He could decide whether he would dance in one way or the other or other or other, choosing from infinite ways of dancing. Or he will dance all the dances at the same time, even for that he has the freedom. He can at the same time dance in a million ways – such a freedom. And it is that freedom which is available at the other pole of our existence. "To establish an infinite freedom in a world which presents itself as a group of mechanical necessities."

Now the last term. We have covered God, Light, Bliss, Freedom, and then the last term is Immortality. "To discover and realize the immortal life in a body subjected to death and constant mutation." Our life is subject to death or at least to change all the time. To find immortal life and that too in a body. This is a sharp contrast between the state of immortality and the state of mortality.

The one set of facts, set against another set of facts exactly the opposite of each other. Thesis and antithesis. It is to bring about that light in these conditions. To live that Divine life in a life which is animal; to establish that light in a state of darkness or half awakeness, a twilight consciousness; to establish that bliss where there is only a partial satisfaction besieged by physical pain and emotional suffering. It is this Sri Aurobindo says "This is offered to us as the manifestation of God in matter and the goal of Nature in a terrestrial evolution." Evolution – that is an important word.

All these opposites have come about because of inconscience. Because of the inconscience there is a gradual movement and that gradual movement is what we call evolution. And if we want to see this evolution moving forward towards what is the goal, then this is what Sri Aurobindo says, "This is offered to us as the manifestation of God in matter and the goal of nature in a terrestrial evolution." This is the definition of the Divine life, which is the title of the whole book. The formula of the Divine life is: To know, possess and be the Divine being, … to convert into a plenary supramental illumination; … to build peace and a self–existence bliss; … to establish an infinite freedom; and to realize the immortal life. These are the words to define the Divine life: the Life Divine.

The entire question of the book, in fact the whole book has three steps to its basic argument – I use the word argument because it is a philosophical book. It says first, it asserts that there is a human aspiration. This human aspiration wants the Divine Life. All human beings, whether they like it or not, whether they want it or not, whether they are conscious of it or not, every human being is seeking the Divine Life. This is Sri Aurobindo's affirmation. It is the first argument. If you don't agree with it, there is the argument here. The whole book is an argument. If somebody says no, no, no, the human being doesn't seek Divine Life at all, then this book is meant to answer that question. Is it really true that human beings are seeking the Divine Life? Sri Aurobindo's answer is that this is the real human aspiration. And he has defined it in clear terms. Very often people who do not read this book quite well say, "Oh Sri Aurobindo does not define terms". It is one of the criticisms made by many people. Because people when they write philosophical books, first of all state words and then define them. People then say that this is called an accurate, polished, exalted philosophical book. My answer is, please be patient. Sri Aurobindo defines every possible term in The Life Divine. Whenever you find a term is not defined it is only your impatience. At the right time every word is defined and with a full definition and a perfect definition. I can tell you this because I have been reading this book for the last fifty years. I can say it is verified by me. And I am telling you also – The Life Divine is the title of the book and Sri Aurobindo defines this term in the very second paragraph of the book. We don't have to wait more, because in the very first paragraph Sri Aurobindo only puts a proposition that human beings have aspired for Divine Life. By the time you finish that sentence immediately Sri Aurobindo defines this term. There is no delay at all. As soon as he finishes the first proposition that human beings are full of aspiration for the Divine Life, Sri Aurobindo defines this Divine Life. This is the first step of the argument: what is Divine Life. So he defines Divine Life. And the statement that all human being are in search of the Divine Life is the first step of the argument which can be questioned. Sri Aurobindo allows this questioning and the major part of the book is allowing this questioning and answering it. We shall see how he himself questions and how he answers it.

The second argument, the second step of The Life Divine is to tell human beings that this aspiration is fully justified. That is to say, you look at the whole world, you look at all aspects of facts, taking into account the totality – to perceive totality is the basic function of philosophy. You remember in the very beginning we have defined philosophy. Anandamayi will tell us if in her definition the word totality is a part of it. If it is not you have to change the definition.

Philosophy must deal with the totality of facts of all domains. Right. Have you used the word in your definition?

"Philosophy is a quest for knowledge pertaining to all domains, including the quest for perfection both individual and collective, which results in the formulation of an idea/ideas pertaining to the totality which includes all that we see and experience or think of, and beyond that which may, may not exist, in search of the presence or absence of the meaning of all, beyond all and all particulars."

That is right. First all domains, and then totality.

Sri Aurobindo shows the totality of facts. If you consider the totality of facts, then even rationally, even if you use only your reason, because reason is not something to be thrown out entirely, reason has some great glories, and one of the glories of reason is, it always demands from you totality. That is the great glory of reason. It may not be able to grasp all at once but its tendency is first towards totality. Therefore even rationally you go entirely step by step – if you don't see all the facts simultaneously don't worry, Sri Aurobindo will show you domain after domain. The whole book is nothing but showing you the world, domain after domain. That is why this book is a book of knowledge. Open The Life Divine, if you want the totality of knowledge in all its domains. In the one sweep as it were, Sri Aurobindo has given all the domains, in one book. It is a very great specialty of this book. I have never seen a book in the world which deals with totality, with all the domains of existence and gives you verifiable knowledge. Verifiable knowledge, not only beliefs. Therefore the Reason can be completely satisfied.

So this is the second argument. If you consider all the facts, then you will find that this aspiration is justified. Sri Aurobindo says, "Do not fear to aspire for Divine Life." This is the assurance of the whole book. And finally, the thrust of the argument is, that if this is what we should aspire for how shall we achieve it, how shall we realize it, how shall we fulfill it? What is the process by which you can fulfill it. The last portion of The Life Divine is entirely given to this task – how shall we fulfill, by what means the Divine life can be realized? This book combined with The Synthesis of Yoga gives a complete answer to the third question – how shall we realize the Divine Life on the earth?

We shall deal with the last portion of the second paragraph tomorrow.–

We use cookies in this webiste to support its technical features, analyze its performance and enhance your user experience. To find out more please read our privacy policy.