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

Track Running The Human Aspiration - Track 701

"We speak of the evolution of Life in Matter, the evolution of Mind in Matter; but evolution is a word which merely states the phenomenon without explaining it. For there seems to be no reason why Life should evolve out of material elements or Mind out of living forms, unless we accept the Vedantic solution that Life is already involved in Matter and Mind in Life because in essence Matter is already a form of veiled Life, Life a form of veiled Consciousness."

This is a very important sentence. We should read it twice, so the words begin to vibrate more concretely.

You remember the question Sri Aurobindo raised in the previous sentence – this is an answer. Sri Aurobindo says: "evolution is a word which merely states the phenomenon without explaining it." I spoke yesterday of explanation and I said that it usually takes two forms. In terms of causality or in terms of teleology. It comes from the Greek word "telios" which means "purpose", ultimate goal, ultimate end, ultimate aim.

Aristotle, the Greek philosopher said that to explain any event you should look for four things. I am now going to expound the whole theory in some detail. If you make a chair, the chair is a product. It is an effect, produced out of many antecedent things, many things that happened before. So the chair is a product or an effect. For any effect, according to Aristotle, there should be four causes. By a combination of four causes an effect is produced.

There must be, first of all, the material of the chair. If the chair is wooden, without wood you could not make a chair. So wood is the cause but the Material Cause of the chair. Then there must be an Efficient Cause. There must be a carpenter who makes efficient use of his labour, a skillful use of his labour. Unless he works on wood the chair would not be produced. So the labour that is used to make an effect is called Efficient Cause. The there is a Formal Cause. Unless the carpenter has an idea of the kind of form the chair must have in his mind, he cannot shape the wood according to the chair's shape. Isn't it? It is called the formal cause. Every effect has a form and that form must be in the mind of the shaper, of the maker, that is called the formal cause. And then there is a Final Cause. The Final Cause is the purpose for which the chair is made. That is the telios. If you are making a chair there must be a purpose for which the chair is made. So that is the Final Cause. All the labour is taken for what purpose ultimately? To enable a person to sit comfortably. It is that which is the driving force of everything. If a carpenter brings wood, he gives a shape, he puts in his labour, for what: for the purpose of creating something which will be useful to individuals or to the users.

It is when you explain anything in terms of these four together, only then, he said, have you explained. If there is evolution you should ask these four questions. If anything emerges, Life in Matter or Mind in Life, you must ask these questions: what is the Material Cause, what it the Efficient Cause, then what is the Formal Cause and what is the Final Cause? Only when you give all the four answers can you say you have explained evolution?

If you can find out these four causes then you can say you have answered the question: what is evolution?

Now we go further is this particular line, Sri Aurobindo says:

"For there seems to be no reason why Life should evolve out of material elements or Mind out of living forms, unless we accept the Vedantic solution that Life is already involved in Matter and Mind in Life because in essence Matter is a form of veiled Life, Life a form of veiled Consciousness."

There are many new words and we need to investigate them to understand the argument fully. First of all there is the word Vedantic solution, which is a new word – Vedanta. What is Vedanta? And what is the Vedantic solution?

You have already heard from me a few talks on Veda. I have not yet taken you to Vedanta as I had intended at one time – I will fulfill this one day because I want to take you from Veda to Vedanta but I am waiting for a good moment. You know, when you are making an excursion if you go on only on one line, the journey becomes tedious, but if you have reached a certain point and say – let us now move in another way and take a winding path and see the beautiful forest on the left side, a beautiful lake on the right side, and later you come back on the main line of your development and you go further. I am doing something of that kind, because then you total understanding will be much vaster and you will appreciate thing much better.

So after talking to you about the Veda I stopped a little and I branched out into so many things, a survey of the whole world, a world of knowledge, defining philosophy, science and art and so many things. And then we started this chapter on The Life Divine and now I come upon a very important word: Vedanta from which I can return to the earlier line of development from Veda to Vedanta. Still I won't take you to Vedanta just now; I will only give you an indication. There will be a time when I will give you six talks on the Vedanta because it is a very important subject, not only in India but in the whole world. Vedanta is one of the very powerful currents of thought. This entire book, The Live Divine is also called Vedanta, and I will tell you why. This subject is so important that at present I will only give a little introduction but I will prepare you for a time when we go into the details of Vedanta.

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