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

Track Running The Human Aspiration - Track 1203

Now we have a very important statement in the form of a comment. As I said Sri Aurobindo has proved that the aspiration for God, Light, Freedom and Immortality is justified on three grounds, –– on the ground of reason, on the ground of instincts and on the ground of intuition. On all the three grounds this aspiration is justified. It is already proved.

Now what comes is only a comment: "Attempts are sometimes made to have done finally with questionings which have so often been declared insoluble by logical thought and to persuade men to limit their mental activities to the practical and immediate problems of their material existence in the universe; but such evasions are never permanent in their effect." We shall dwell upon this very important statement.

You remember I had read out to you many days ago a statement from a book of Bertrand Russell. I had with me a book called The History of Western Philosophy by Bertrand Russell. I had read out to you a sentence. I paraphrase that sentence because I don't have the exact quotation. While declaring his own philosophy and the philosophy of his own friends, he said: "We acknowledge that there are many problems which we cannot answer but we refuse to believe that there is any other higher method of knowledge by which you can answer these questions." In other words it is a paraphrase of what Sri Aurobindo has written here. Attempts are being made to stop all questionings, to do away finally with all questionings. What Russell ultimately says is: "We know there are many problems, but they cannot be solved." So his conclusion is: "Therefore remain bound to the insolubility of problems – and deal with all that you can deal with, with your limitations. We refuse to believe that there are other means of knowing by which you can solve the problems." His gospel is: deal with the problems of the immediate world as they come to you, never have the ambition that you can ever solve these problems? Some practical problems here and there you can solve, they don't require higher means of knowledge? But some questions they only remain as questions – we cannot answer them. Bertrand Russell says in effect: "Do not go beyond a certain level of questioning. Some questions will be found never to have an answer. They are logically insoluble. And there is no other method". If something is logically insoluble and if at the same time there is another method of knowing then you may find a solution. But he says: "No, we refuse to believe". You see the dogmatism, how strongly it comes about. "We refuse to believe that there is another method of knowledge."

They appear to be opposed to all obscurantism. What is obscurantism? It comes from the word obscure. Obscure means unclear. That which is unclear is obscure. Obscure is opposite to clarity. So those who believe in clarity always criticize and say: "Oh! This is obscure." Whenever there is something which is presented to them which is not very clear they say: "It is obscure". And if you believe in obscure things then they say: "You are obscurantist. You believe that which is obscure. You never try to clarify to yourself." So people such as Russell and others believe that they are devotees of clarity. And people who believe in such things as Spirit, God, which is all obscure, are obscurantist. But when they say: "We refuse to believe" what does it means? "We refuse to believe means you take shelter in the view that it is obscure. So while they condemn others as obscurantist, they themselves are obscurantist. They advocate inquiry but they refuse to inquire completely themselves.

Sri Aurobindo refers to this particular tendency in the modern times. Whenever you speak of God, Light, Freedom, Immortality these people will come to you and say: "Oh you are obscure! What is God? Unclear, What is Life? Unclear. What is Freedom? Unclear. What is Immortality? Unclear, and yet you believe in it, therefore you are obscurantist." But what about you? They will admit we also find that it is not easily understandable. But we refuse to believe that there is another way of making it clear. How do you refuse, on what ground do you refuse? Have you tried? Without trying to find other means of knowledge they declare in advance: "We refuse to believe that there is another method of knowing." It is this attitude which is very prevalent in the world today. You come across this attitude as soon as you will move out of this classroom? Immediately. They will condemn you as obscurantist without realizing that in doing so they are themselves obscurantist, because they refuse even to enquire.

Sri Aurobindo says: "Attempts are sometimes made to have done finally with questionings which have so often been declared insoluble by logical thought and to persuade men to limit their mental activities to the practical and immediate problems of their material existence in the universe". They ask you not to rise into questions of which there is no answer possible. They say you ask questions on which you have an answer. "…But such evasions are never permanent in their effect." If you try to remain in this refusal you will find that gradually you will be bound to cross the limits of this. Sri Aurobindo says: "Mankind returns from them…" As you move forward humanity returns from this kind of denial with a more vehement impulse of inquiry.

We now begin to question Bertrand Russell and others: "My dear friends you have simply refused to enquire. Let us enquire." So there is a fresh impulse to enquire and with a fresh impulse to enquire this attempt of denial is crushed. And then there is a more violent hunger for immediate solution. When you deny to enquire for sometime it may work because it is a very soothing thing for some time when some people say "Don't bother, don't ask many questions." You can go to sleep which is very nice for some time." But it is only for a short time. A time will come when the questions will bombard you in fact with a tremendous vehemence. Not only vehemence but they demand immediate answers. They come with an immediate necessity for an answer. Take for example a question of a father and a mother and a child. The child is told sometimes do this; don't do that, etcetera, etcetera… This is the normal case, all parents have the habit of telling children do this, don't do that. Then the child goes into revolt and says: "Now don't tell me anything!" At night the father has told the child: "Be moderate in eating don't be a glutton, don't eat too much" But the child has done it. The father has been told by the child: "Don't tell me anything, I want to eat, I will eat." At night he wakes up with a tremendous pain in the stomach and then what does he do? He wants an immediate solution. He had stopped the questioning, he had done very well what he wanted to do, he has gone to sleep nicely and in the middle of night there is a tremendous pain and he wants an immediate solution. He cannot wait because pain is so great, he wants an immediate solution. Such is the condition of humanity today.

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