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

Track Running The Human Aspiration - Track 401

We are on the second paragraph, the last few lines.

"To the ordinary material intellect which takes its present organisation of consciousness for the limit of its possibilities, the direct contradiction of the unrealised ideals with the realised fact is a final argument against their validity."

It is a short sentence but a difficult sentence. So let us understand the few words which are used here. First of all, it speaks "of the ordinary material intellect". If you read Sri Aurobindo you will find the word intellect being prefaced by certain adjectives. Sri Aurobindo speaks here of the material intellect, elsewhere he speaks of the vital intellect and he speaks also in terms of pure intellect. You might say there is intellectual intellect, pure intellect, then psychic intellect or spiritual intellect and there is also supramental intellect. The word intellect is used by Sri Aurobindo in many senses. Whenever the intellect is at the service of this or that then that becomes adjective. If my intellect is at the service of my desires it is vital intellect. If my intellect is at the service of the psychic consciousness it is psychic intellect. If my intellect is at the service of the spirit it is spiritual intellect. If it is at the service of the Supermind it is supramental intellect. If it is at the service of matter, material consciousness, it is material intellect. Sri Aurobindo speaks here of the material intellect.

What is material intellect? It is an intellect which subserves, which is at the service of sensations and perceptions which are received through senses. It is at the service of the evidence of the senses. All that I receive from my senses is taken as a standard; anything that does not fall within the evidence of senses is so to say avoided, rejected, in any case not admitted. Sri Aurobindo speaks here only of that intellect. The intellect which is at the service of the senses will be inclined to argue that if there is a contradiction between the facts which are realised, which are there on the ground, and the facts which are not yet realised, which are ideals, which have to be brought down on the physical ground, if there is a contradiction between the two, then the material intellect will accept only what is realised and declare that what is not realised is invalid. It is not accepted as true. This is the tendency of the material intellect. If you look at human psychology you will find this psychology expressing itself very often in remarks such as: "Oh! You are not working on the ground. What do you know? You are dreaming, it is alright you go on dreaming, it has no value for me." This is the usual argument that you find very often in our ordinary life. Sometimes an idealist is told: "You are utopian". Utopian means, dreaming of ideals which can never been realised on the earth. Some people take pride in saying: "You know I am practical. You may be a good thinker; you may be a good teacher… I am a practical man, and for me practicality is the only things that matters".

The first mark of the material intellect is that it takes into account that which is available to us through senses and tends to regard only that to be real. To admit something through the senses is alright but it goes, one step further, it admits the evidence of the senses and then declares that only that which is received from the senses is valid and that all else is invalid. This is the tendency of the material intellect. Further, material intellect is repetitive; it goes on repeating again and again and again… And thirdly it is mechanical. Mechanical is something opposed to organic, it is something that drives on and on and on but in the same groove, it does not change the groove. It is like a record which stops at a given point in its movement and goes on producing the same sound again and again. It is purely mechanical.

There is a great merit in material intellect: whenever you want to repeat something, whenever you want to establish something it is extremely important. Whenever you want to establish something fundamentally it fixes the mind onto something. This is why many people who are clever at advertisement go on repeating the same advertisement again and again, even if you know that people have read it hundred times and somebody might argue: "Why are you now advertising? Everybody knows about it." But you want to fix it in the mind of the people, so that even in unconscious dreams it is repeated in the mind. Very often you wonder: Why does everybody know about Coca Cola? But it is repeated everywhere, you find the same advertisement all over. The advertisers know the power of the material intellect. When you can repeat the same thing, – even when people get tired of it, even if they demand something new, the same thing is repeated – and the effect of this is it is fixed in the mind of the people. Wherever you want something to be fixed go on repeating. At a higher level of consciousness this is also the truth of the japa. Go on repeating the mantra all the time, all the time, all the time, it gets fixed in the consciousness.

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