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

Track Running The Human Aspiration - Track 1002

Similarly, of the experience of pain; experience of pleasure and experience of indifference through which we pass all the time, if you examine your life you will find that in three fourths of your life you are indifferent. We are basically insensitive. Examine the hours of sleep that we have. Those hours of sleep are actually hours of indifference basically, except when you have nightmares. But that is another matter. A little of the time that you have is of pleasure and the rest of the time you find of suffering. These are the three experiences that we have. But the real bliss which is constantly present, of which we are not aware, is not abolished anytime, it is there always, it is not as if this pain or pleasure or indifference are able to abolish that bliss. We are not aware of it. But there is a constant stream of bliss. It is constantly flowing, only we don't experience it because of our limitations. If pleasure, pain and indifference were able to abolish bliss they would be opposite, but they are not real opposites. The pain does not abolish the inner bliss. This is the theme of the chapters 11 and 12 of The Life Divine.

Sri Aurobindo quotes 4 lines from the Upanishads at the beginning of the Chapter 11. "For who could live or breathe if there were not this delight of existence as the ether in which we dwell?" [Taittiriya Upanishad] If we are existing, even in the most deplorable conditions, it is because there is a breath all the time hanging over us: the breath of delight. "From Delight all these beings are born, by Delight they exist and grow, to Delight they return." [Taittiriya Upanishad] This is one the most memorable statements in world history. It tells you, in whatever conditions you are, you should remember in the depth of your being there is a delight always accessible to you, always available to you. Never feel that your present condition of indifference or pleasure or pain is going to last. You just make an effort; go deep in you and you will find bliss.

Where today there is pain, suffering, indifference and pleasure, there can take place the breathing of delight. Because of this reason, the lower does not cancel the higher. The lower is able to manifest the higher. Therefore it is a paradox but not a contradiction. This is the real solution that Sri Aurobindo presents. What is contradictory is not really contradictory. It is only a paradox and a paradox can always be resolved into harmony. Therefore Sri Aurobindo says the eternal truth and the eternal paradox. It is a paradox forever because even when you attain to delight you can always turn it into pain if you want to. It is not impossible. You limit yourself and it becomes pain. You limit yourself in another way and it becomes pleasure. You limit yourself in a third way and it becomes indifference.

"Thus the eternal paradox and eternal truth of a divine life in an animal body, an immortal aspiration or reality inhabiting a mortal tenement… – our body is mortal, but in mortal body there is an undying aspiration, an immortal aspiration and also that in that mortal body the immortal reality exists – a single and universal consciousness representing itself in limited minds and divided egos". It is also a paradox: a universal and transcendent consciousness on the one hand and divided egos in our present consciousness. The two exist side–by–side as it were, not canceling, but capable of existing side by side. There is no contradiction only paradox. "… a transcendent, indefinable, timeless and spaceless Being … – on one side – … who alone renders time and space and cosmos possible, and in all these the higher truth realisable by the lower term, justify themselves to the deliberate reason … – mark the words deliberate reason. We have come across the word deliberate earlier also. As I told you, deliberate reason or a deliberate way of thinking is quintessentially metaphysical, the real metaphysical reasoning is a deliberate view, not only reason but deliberate reason. The reason which seeks for meaning and ultimately finds it – the finding is the satisfaction of deliberate reason, it is the fulfilment of deliberate reason. But the seeking is the driving force. And ultimately the driving force is fulfilled when the meaning is found. Sri Aurobindo asks the question in the beginning that the contradiction, which is found between material existence and the ideals of God, Light, Freedom and Immortality – this contradiction, if you examine it by deliberate reason you should not jump to the conclusion that it is a contradiction. Ask yourself: Is it really a contradiction? Is there a meaning is this contradiction? If you ask this question then you find an answer which is expounded in the third and fourth paragraph. In the fifth paragraph you find the answer and therefore we can say that this contradiction is really a paradox. And this paradox justifies itself to our deliberate reason, to the reason which has sought for meaning.

Now Sri Aurobindo adds two more words: "…justify themselves to the deliberate reason as well as to the persistent instinct or intuition of mankind." There are now three words which are important from philosophical point of view: deliberate reason, instinct and intuition.

Deliberate reason is something we have experienced quite thoroughly during the last ten lectures or more. Deliberate reason is driven by the search for meaning and that reason utilises various kinds of arguments – this entire exercise is the exercise of deliberate reason. Having used all these arguments our reason is now satisfied. We have found the meaning, we have found that they are not opposites, there is no contradiction, it is only a paradox and therefore it is justified.

Now Sri Aurobindo says, what is justified from the rational point of view is also justified by the instinct. What is instinct? What is the difference between the instinct and reason? In instinct there is immediacy. In reason there is a process. You have facts; you derive from the facts a conclusion. It is almost as if blindly. Blindly you touch this and touch that then compare to arrive at a picture in your mind. In instinct, you just touch and know. No more than that. All experience of pain is instinctive. Not only that but experience of pain is immediately accompanied by rejection. Automatic! There is no process; you do not say: "Now let me see, the pain has come let me receive it." As soon as there is pain there is rejection, automatically. So this instinctive rejection of pain indicates something. Why do we instinctively reject pain? Because the being has already known what happiness is and this pain is found to be opposite to it. If you did not know what happiness is, you would never reject pain. There is an ether of happiness in your being, all the time. You may not be conscious of it, but it is there already. So when something contrary happens, it is immediately rejected. "Oh no, this is not me! It can't belong to me. I don't want it. It cannot be."

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