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

Track Running The Human Aspiration - Track 406

Sri Aurobindo answers this question by giving examples. "They arise from the perception of an unsolved discord and the instinct of an undiscovered agreement or unity." Again it is a very short sentence but which deserves half an hour to contemplate. "They arise from the perception of an unsolved discord and the instinct of an undiscovered agreement or unity." Read again. "They arise from the perception of an unsolved discord and the instinct of an undiscovered agreement or unity." First of all you perceive. Whenever there is a problem you perceive that things do not fit into each other. There is a problem if in the field of our perception or thinking or experience there are at least two elements. Whenever there is a problem you can be sure that there is at least two elements which are in the field. As long as I perceive only one object and don't compare it with any other there is no problem. What I see I see and that is the end of the matter. Whether what I see is a dream or not arises only because there is a dreamless perception and there is a dream perception, thus I can ask the question whether what I see now is in my waking consciousness, am I seeing it in my dream consciousness or really seeing it. It is only because very often, even in my dream, I feel I am seeing really. Therefore it can be asked, whether when I feel now that I am seeing really, is it really a fact that I am seeing. It is only when there are two experiences which are to be compared that there is a problem. So first of all always see that every problem has in it at least two elements.

Now you see that these two elements do not fit with each other that is the presence of the problem. A problem arises only when there is a perception of two things not fitting with each other easily. Then there is a puzzle. Sri Aurobindo says: It is a perception of an unsolved discord. There are two things which are not fitting with each other. It is an unsolved discord. But that is not enough; by itself it does not create a problem. The perception of an unsolved discord should be accompanied with an instinct in you. Why do you feel unhappy when there is a discord? It could be quite possible for human beings to say: "Problems are problems. Don't worry. Discord will remain." But when do you feel unhappy about a problem? Only when you feel inwardly that there must be a possibility of an agreement. There is an instinct of an undiscovered agreement or unity. You feel inwardly that this problem is a painful problem and you are not satisfied. Otherwise you could say problems are problems, in the world there are so many problems, and you go ahead. It is what many people are doing. For them it is not a problem. Problem is a problem only when it hurts you and it hurts you because there is in your being a possibility or a perception that there is something which has to be found out. Students of mathematics when they have some problem to be resolved, once it is on their mind cannot even sleep because it goes on and on and they feel there must be something which they are missing. It is a constant search. It is because you feel there must be some element you have not touched.

Sri Aurobindo's definition of problems is: "They arise from the perception of an unsolved discord and the instinct of an undiscovered agreement or unity." It is a perfect definition of problems. Then Sri Aurobindo says: "To rest content with an unsolved discord is possible for the practical and more animal part of man…" All those who brush aside problems can do so because they are practical. The tendency is to say: "I am practical" don't bother me about problems. "I only look into this: is it possible or not. If it is not I throw it away." Or to an animal part. An animal part means that which wants to go to sleep as soon as possible, which does not want to exercise intelligence. If there is a discord you can forget about it only if you are practical or you are an animal man, a beastly man. "But impossible for its fully awakened mind…" If you are fully awakened you can never rest contented with any problem hanging over you, you constantly strive to resolve this problem. Something should be done. It is imperative psychologically for you to go on. This is why humanity has been constantly driving itself. If you look at the history of the world… There is one very nice sentence in one of the books of Economics: "All the world is at work." And if you ask the question why should people be at work? There is a driving force in mankind which is not satisfied with what it is now. It wants something still further; it wants to go on and on and on. It is impossible to rest until the problems are resolved. And even then, when the problems are resolved it will be the question of manifestation of happiness and further happiness and further happiness. That is why the whole world is moving onwards. And even its practical parts will not be allowed to be satisfied. Its practical parts only "escape from the general necessity either by shutting out the problem or by accepting a rough utilitarian and unillumined compromise."

You see here the psychology which works very often when you go to a manager with a problem or also to an apprentice teacher who wants to answer the question as soon as possible. He solves the problem but by some kind of a device, some kind of a compromise. You can either shut out the problem saying: "I don't want to hear problem. It is enough!" Very practical men when you go to them with a problem simply answer: " It is too much for me I don't want to hear the problem." Or you find some kind of a compromise: "You are happy? All right, now don't ask for more." This is how many people try to solve the problems. But it is not a solution. Either you shut out the problem or you try to make a compromise. It is only by these ways that you try to forget the discord. But if really you want to solve the problem you cannot be satisfied with that. Why? Because, "essentially all Nature seeks a harmony. Life and Matter in their own sphere as much as Mind in the arrangement of its perceptions."

You know each one of the sentences is basically so difficult that we should never try to go fast. We should rest with every sentence. The desire to finish the chapter as soon as possible should be restrained. There is no hurry actually; we can spend five days in finishing this chapter. But let every line be understood as much as possible.

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