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

Track Running The Human Aspiration - Track 505

"…with the practical omnipotence which should result from the possession of a direct and perfected knowledge." This word 'direct' is very important. Our present way of knowing is indirect. Our basic knowledge comes from our senses. And as you know senses only give images you cannot really touch the object, actually what touches is only the skin. You will find that there is no direct contact with anything. It is through senses that we touch the object. Senses are intermediaries. We don't know things directly excepting our emotions for example which we know directly. Most of the knowledge which we have is through the senses. All senses are like glasses. All our knowledge is indirect. Sri Aurobindo calls it "separative indirect knowledge". It is first of all separated from the object and then you use an indirect method to get that separative knowledge to possess the object in some way or the other. So it is a separative indirect knowledge. That is our sense knowledge.

There is then separative direct knowledge. Separative direct knowledge is the knowledge of your thoughts. When you are thinking dispassionately, you can examine thoughts. You are separate from the thoughts but you don't use your senses to find out your thoughts, you know your thoughts directly.

Then you have separative direct intimate knowledge. Like your knowledge of emotions. There is a difference between knowledge of thoughts and knowledge of emotions. With regard to thoughts you can separate yourself from them, but you are intimately tied up with the emotions. Emotions are known by separative direct intimate knowledge.

And there is finally knowledge by identity. Everyone knows himself by direct identity. Knowledge of oneself: I am. That knowledge is not only through intimate contact, you are yourself that. You are one with it. The knowledge of which Sri Aurobindo speaks is a direct knowledge by identity, perfected knowledge. That is why he uses the words perfected knowledge. It is a knowledge in which there is no error. You might call it even perfect perfection – that kind of knowledge. It is only from such knowledge that omnipotence and practical omnipotence can come about. This is the miracle that Sri Aurobindo speaks of. When Sri Aurobindo speaks of Divine life on the Earth which is in contradiction with the Material life at present, it is this vision that Sri Aurobindo puts forward.

Sri Aurobindo says therefore, in the conclusion of this whole argument. "Not only, then, is the upward impulse of man towards the accordance of yet higher opposites rational in itself, but it is the only logical completion of a rule and an effort that seems to be a fundamental method of Nature and the very sense of her universal strivings." Therefore Sri Aurobindo had spoken of four things earlier in the second paragraph. These four things Sri Aurobindo has spoken of, are the highest achievements possible which have been striven after. Sri Aurobindo says, that the striving for these things is a proposition which is rational and it is the only logical conclusion. If you examine, deliberately you find that this is the method of Nature. Of play with the opposites – first hiding and then recovering and revealing, and revealing to the fullest, a plenary revelation, with full omnipotence – this possibility is a rational possibility. Therefore don't say it is impossible. Because of this argument, you can see the logicality of it, the rationality of it. Many people believe that all that Sri Aurobindo has said is to be accepted on faith (which is good), but Sri Aurobindo says here it is not only to be accepted on faith, it is rational. All that has been said by Sri Aurobindo is logical, is rational. This is a rational, logical argument put forward here. And he has given so many examples: here are the opposites, here there is accordance; here are opposites they have been accorded; here are the possibilities and these are the possibilities which can be inevitably realised.

Now I shall revise the four possibilities that Sri Aurobindo has spoken of. It is a revision of the second paragraph but it is good to revise it. It is a kind of revision of the first chapter.

Sri Aurobindo has said first of all that there is a preoccupation of man from the earliest times. Preoccupation means an aspiration. There is a difference between an occupation and a preoccupation. When you occupy yourself fully in any work it is occupation. When you go on thinking of something all the time and yet are not doing it or doing it partially, it is preoccupation. A mother is preoccupied with her child even if the child is not with her. It is a preoccupation. All her programmes are decided by her preoccupation with the child. The child is in the center. Whether she should go at this time or that time to her particular work or another work is decided by the preoccupation with the child. Whether you can leave the child at home or not, that is the first consideration before leaving the house. What is the preoccupation: my child should be safe, should be protected, should received nourishment when the child needs it – this is the aspiration of the mother. All preoccupations are results of aspiration. The first chapter is entitled The Human Aspiration and it begins with the statement of preoccupation. What is the preoccupation of man? It is that preoccupation which will give the key to the meaning. In philosophy what is important is the discovery of the meaning and the meaning can be detected from aspiration. That is why the first chapter of The Life Divine is called The Human Aspiration because all philosophy deals with meaning and if that meaning is to be expounded you must begin with aspiration because the meaning is involved with the aspiration. Therefore the very first chapter is logically devoted to human aspiration. Sri Aurobindo's is the best philosophical beginning of philosophical book.

Now this preoccupation of man manifests itself in so many activities which Sri Aurobindo describes in the first paragraph and I deliberately did not read them so that I can read them now. That preoccupation "manifests itself in the divination of godhead" – the world divination is very often mistaken by many people as if it is divinisation, it is not that. Divination, to divine is to guess. Divination means this preoccupation results in the conjecturing of man that there is something like Divine. People may not realise the Divine but there is at least the minimum thing, a suspicion; man suspects the presence of God. To divine is like those who divine water – they can find out where the water is. Divination is an intuitive feeling, an intuitive knowledge of the presence of a reality. So the first thing is that there is a divination of Godhead, second impulse towards perfection, third search after pure Truth and unmixed Bliss and the sense of a secret immortality. The four manifestations are the preoccupation of man throughout the history of mankind. These are the four things which are expounded in the second paragraph by Sri Aurobindo in terms of thesis and antithesis of which we have spoken. Where today there is the exact opposite of those four things, it is exactly in those four opposite conditions that these four great ideals have to be realised. Let us now repeat those four things: "To know, possess and be the divine being in an animal and egoistic consciousness". It is the first thing to be realised. Second: "to convert our twilit or obscure physical mentality into the plenary supramental illumination", is the second, "to build peace and a self–existent bliss where there is only a stress of transitory satisfactions besieged by physical pain and emotional suffering", and then "to establish an infinite freedom in a world which presents itself as a group of mechanical necessities, finally, to discover and realise the immortal life in a body subjected to death and constant mutation…" These are the five great miracles that Sri Aurobindo puts forward. His argument is that these five miracles are actually aspired after by man. In spite of all the things that are contrary here, man has been seeking constantly after these things. These things seems to be absolutely impossible and now Sri Aurobindo argues and shows they are not impossible, they are perfectly rational, it only means a logical conclusion of a rule of the method of Nature. So if you know the method of Nature these consequences are only inevitable.

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