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

Track Running The Human Aspiration - Track 1004

There was an experience of Sri Aurobindo where he was placed in a jail, by the British in 1908. If you look at the jail and Sri Aurobindo himself has described the cell in which he was living. You imagine the hot summer because he was taken to the jail in the month of May. That cell was a very small cell, only a little room where he could sleep. There was one bowl given to him and one blanket. This is all that he was gifted by the British. He lived in that cell for one year. Sri Aurobindo has humouristically described the bowl. What kind of bowl it was. He said it was like a bureaucrat. A bureaucrat can be used for all kind of functions. In India a bureaucrat can be in charge of law and order, he can be in charge of railways, he can be in charge of accounts, he can be in charge of justice, he can be in charge of postage, wherever you put him a bureaucrat is able to do the activity you assign to him. Sri Aurobindo said that this bowl was used for drinking water, it was also used for eating food, it was also used for evacuation, and this particular bowl was used for everything. Then he said that his particular room had no flooring at all, it was simply a kind of soil, and under the intense heat, red ants used to come out of the ground. How do you avoid red ants? You have a room which you cannot leave, there is tremendous heat, the only cloth piece that you have is a blanket which is also hot and red ants are coming out. The only result would be that you would be bitten by the red ants, and so red ants were biting Sri Aurobindo.

This was the time when he realised Sri Krishna all around him. He himself has written that all around I saw only Sri Krishna smiling, a tremendous delight. Not only delight to the eyes, but even the ants he said which were biting were felt as experiences of joy. He transformed these terrible bites into delight.

In 1938 when Sri Aurobindo fell in his room in the Ashram in Pondicherry and broke the thigh bone, normally it produces tremendous pain, but that pain was turned by Sri Aurobindo to great delight.

These are facts, not merely thinking that pain becoming pleasure or happiness, not that, you can really turn it into that. This possibility Sri Aurobindo has seen, has experienced, therefore Sri Aurobindo has written all this. These are not speculations; they are based upon direct experiences. What is pleasant can become painful, what is painful can become pleasant, what is temporarily pleasant can become a delight forever. These are the possibilities of our consciousness. Therefore it is a paradox not a contradiction. You can turn them into their opposites.

This whole argument that we have studied is from the point of view of deliberate reason. Sri Aurobindo says that instinctively also it is the same conclusion, intuitively also. Now he comes to intuition. What is intuition?

Instinct and intuition are both similar to each other excepting in one characteristic. Instinct is immediate, intuition also is immediate but while instinct is predominantly active – all instincts manifest themselves into action; intuition is predominantly self–conscious, luminous. All intuitions are self–aware. Instincts are not self–aware, they are not aware of themselves. There is some awareness but very slight. Mostly it is action. When I am hungry there is an instinct to eat. When there is a hunger your instinct takes you immediately food. Very often you are not even aware that you are hungry and yet when you get the food immediately you want to eat it. Babies don't know that they are hungry, they cry but they don't know that it is by appetite or hunger. They simply are looking for food. Therefore as soon as the food is given immediately there is silence. It is instinctive. Instinct is primarily active, only secondarily luminous. Intuition is primarily luminous, secondarily active. That is the only difference between instinct in intuition.

If you open Chapter 8, page 65. The instinct is subconscient, intuition is superconscious. "The master–word of the subconscient is Life, the master–word of the superconscient is Light. In the subconscient knowledge or consciousness is involved in action, for action is the essence of Life. [Action is predominant.] In the superconscient action re–enters into Light and no longer contains involved knowledge but is itself contained in a supreme consciousness. Intuitional knowledge is that which is common between them and the foundation of intuitional knowledge is conscious or effective identity between that which knows and that which is known; it is that state of common self–existence in which the knower and the known are one through knowledge. But in the subconscient the intuition manifests itself in the action, in effectivity, and the knowledge or conscious identity is either entirely or more or less concealed in the action. In the superconscient, on the contrary, Light being the law and the principle, the intuition manifests itself in its true nature as knowledge emerging out of conscious identity, and effectivity of action is rather the accompaniment or necessary consequent and no longer masks as the primary fact."

Sri Aurobindo distinguishes between instinct and intuition. Both are actually the same. When intuition manifests itself in life it is instinct. When intuition manifests itself in something higher in you it is intuition, it is luminous it is light principle.

In the lower, it manifests mainly as activity, as action – awareness is very subordinate. In the intuition proper knowledge or light is predominant – action is subordinate. Basically it is the same force. If you put it below your carpet it is instinct, if you put it above your carpet it is intuition. The carpet is only reason. Above the carpet is intuitive light. Below the carpet is instinctive light. In between is the carpet that is what we call reason.

Sri Aurobindo wants to prove now the theme at all the three levels: instinctively proved, rationally proved, intuitively proved. For all the three accounts you have complete proofs. Sri Aurobindo says, this eternal paradox and eternal truth is justified on the level of deliberate reason, on the level of instinct and also on the level of intuition. So whichever way you try to find out the truth – this is the truth that you find.

This is one of the important elements of The Life Divine. Throughout the whole book Sri Aurobindo will prove whatever he wants to prove on three levels: on the level of deliberate reason, on the level of instinct, on the level of intuition. It is a triple proof all the time. Therefore The Life Divine gives you complete satisfaction. All the three elements are satisfied: it is rational satisfaction, instinctive satisfaction, intuitive satisfaction. That is the mark of the truth. When the truth is really true on all the three planes it is justified. With this argument Sri Aurobindo has completely proved on all these levels the human aspiration for a Divine Life. Now the rest of the chapter is only further comments.

"Thus the eternal paradox and eternal truth of a divine life in an animal body, an immortal aspiration or reality inhabiting a mortal tenement, a single and universal consciousness representing itself in limited minds and divided egos, a transcendent, indefinable, timeless and spaceless Being 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 as well as to the persistent instinct or intuition of mankind."

This is the conclusion the rest is peripheral.

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