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

Track Running The Human Aspiration - Track 403

Let me read out to you only two lines from Bertrand Russell. Bertrand Russell is, to my mind, a philosopher highly fixed in material intellect. He is a very good example. He is a very great thinker, not that he does not understand – all that I am talking to you he would understand quite well – and yet the consciousness is so tuned to the material intellect, so overpoweringly that he would refuse to accept anything that it is not materially visible. I am reading the last page of his book because you might say that is the sum total of all that he wants to say and the last page is very useful to illustrate what I am saying now. He says: "All this is rejected [he means all propositions regarding idealism, divinity, spirituality] by the philosophers … of my category. They confess frankly that the human intellect is unable to find conclusive answers too many questions of profound importance to mankind. But they refuse to believe that there is some higher way of knowing – it is very clear, there is no pretension about it at all – by which we can discover truths which are hidden from science and the intellect." By science he means the knowledge that can be gain by physical senses. And intellect means, an intellect which is ready to accept only the evidences of the physical senses. So he has himself defined what is the material intellect. Material intellect rejects, not only rejects but refuses to believe – the word refuses is very important – that there is some higher way of knowing by which we can discover truths hidden from science and the intellect.

A man who can write such a wonderful book – in many ways it is a wonderful book, I like it very much, I don't agree with it but I like it very much. There is a great honesty and great nobility in this philosophical writing. It does not pretend, it says very clearly what it wants to say. But here is an example when a philosopher declares: "I refuse". You may say there are many other ways of knowing and he says: "I refuse it". Now, when you refuse what can you do about it? There is no answer to refusal in this world. In one of her statements Mother said: "The problem of today in the world is Refusal – with R capital." Simply there is refusal. And this refusal has many layers. Material intellect is one layer of refusal. Vital intellect is also another layer of refusal. Mental intellect also has its own refusals. Even the pure intellect has refusals. They are in built as it were. It is only when you rise to psychic intellect, spiritual intellect that these refusals become less and less pronounced and only when you open to supramental intellect that infinite doors of knowledge are opened and there is no refusal at all, it admits everything. The totality is accepted; all doors of knowledge are opened. That is why Sri Aurobindo wants us to move towards the supramental intellect.

The vital intellect also refuses. Supposed for example I have a desire to see a film today. A simple desire. Now there are many arguments which can be put forward to me that I should not see a cinema today. All kinds of arguments can come. The vital intellect makes a very good coating over your desire and says: "Oh! You must see this film because it will educate you." And then somebody says: "But you know reading this book is also very educative. Why don't you read?" This is another evidence put forward, you want to be educated, of course cinema can educate you, but books also can educate you, so why you don't choose them? You will find the vital intellect will find this very inconvenient. It will argue that a book is of a lesser importance because a film is a visual means of knowing, a very direct way of knowing. So it creates a greater impression, something, which you will never forget. Whereas a book can be forgotten, what you see in a film, you will never forget. You will find support for your argument basically because you want to satisfy your desire to see a film. The Vital intellect goes on glossing over, making beautiful golden coating over it, so that it may seem very nice. Or let say I want to visit America, I want to move out to America and only to America. Why? Among all the nation, America is the freest nation therefore I must go to America. It is a good reason. I don't frankly admit that I want to go to America simply by desire,. I go because America is the freest country in the world, I want to experience the freest country in the world, therefore I want to go to America. And then if I put forward any other argument it becomes very inconvenient and I go on defending my argument in one way or the other. I refuse to see other arguments. If I say that if you want to really experience freedom there are many ways of experiencing freedom, it is not only visiting America that gives the experience of freedom – what is called spiritual freedom is one of the easiest and the best ways of experiencing freedom. But if somebody speaks of it one says: "Don't take me to that realm. I refuse to see that." Thus the vital intellect also refuses when basic desire is denied or attacked. And so on… Our important point just now was the material intellect.

The greatest obstruction, the greatest objection to the proposition that we should aim for the divine life comes from the material intellect. We have seen yesterday there are three steps of the argument in The Life Divine. The first step is to expound the human aspiration and to expound the content of that human aspiration, which states that every human being basically aspires for divine life, whether he admits it or not, whether he doubts it or not, whether he really ,consciously is in pursuit of it or not, this is the basic, fundamental urge in human beings. Sri Aurobindo begins by saying this is the urge which has manifested throughout the history of mankind and it promises also to be the main theme of the future. Much of the book is devoted to the exposition that human beings aspire for divine life. The second part is that this aspiration is justifiable. This aspiration, if you take into account the totality of facts of the world: all the phenomena from the point of totality, this aspiration is justified. It is rationally justified and justified also on the basis of the highest experience – in both ways. This is the second part of the whole argument. And the third part is that there is a method, there is a way which if you follow, and this aspiration can be fulfilled. As I said the last part of The Life Divine, combined with 'The Synthesis of Yoga', answers to this third aspect. There is a way by which our aspiration for divine life can be fulfilled. That aspiration when it is fulfilled doesn't need further proof because it is realised. It is a fact of your life. In the meantime you need a crutch a rational crutch which comes by rational argumentation, which is provided in The Life Divine and which also needs evidence of experience. That also is provided in this book. This is the totality of the whole argument. But at the very outset as you make the first statement that there is an aspiration for the divine life and that divine life is realisable, immediately the first objection comes from the material intellect. The material intellect says, what is realised now is the material world and this is true, this is real. The divine life is not here visible at all, physically anywhere. Therefore it contradicts the actual. The ideal is contradicted by the real. And real being real that which contradicts it is invalid, is false. This is a simple argument.

Sri Aurobindo states that for the material intellect the realised fact is contradicted by the ideal that you put forward. This contradiction proves that ideal is unreal, invalid. In stating this argument Sri Aurobindo gives a further qualification which is very important. Material intellect which takes our present organisation of consciousness as a limit of our possibilities – this is a phrase which is very important. "To the ordinary material intellect which takes its present organisation of consciousness for the limit of its possibilities…" Material intellect refuses that there can be any other way of knowing than the way of knowing that is possible for the material consciousness. I read out to you the quotation from Russell: he refuses to accept that there is any other way of knowing, that whatever we can know now is the utmost possibility of our capacities. We cannot go beyond this. It refuses to admit that you can develop other faculties, you can go higher, you can go deeper. This possibility itself is rejected. It is this material intellect which is bound to pronounce that the ideal of divine life is invalid. This is the argument: "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."

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