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Life Divine Chapter I & II (Dec 1996) - Track 201

In the first chapter Sri Aurobindo has proposed that the ideal of Supramental manifestation in matter is not only a perennial aspiration in human history but it is also something that logically, philosophically can be sustained, can be justified. In other words to arrive at a point where the human body can be transformed so as to become a fit robe of the soul is an ideal which is fully justified even rationally, it can be rationally proved, it can be rationally justified. So in the first paragraph Sri Aurobindo restates this position that if our material body is to become a fit robe of the spirit which is within it then philosophically two things have to be proved. One, that Matter and Spirit are not only opposed to each other but even in some way identical with each other.  In a certain sense they are identical but when you use the word identical we shall again have to define what is the meaning of identity and there the question that you raise, will have a relevance. There is some kind of identity between Matter and Spirit. There is a sense in which Spirit is superior to Matter and there is a sense in which Matter is spiritual and Spirit is material. This will be the meaning of identity. So this is the first thing that you have to prove that Matter and Spirit are in some sense are identical, this is the one thing that you have to prove, where you want to establish the thesis with which we had begun.  Secondly between Matter and Spirit as we see in the world there is such a big distance. There is not only Matter there is Life, not only Life there is Mind and then comes the Spirit. So since there is great distance between Matter and Spirit in our experience we have also to show that even the intermediate steps between Matter and Spirit are in some way interlinked, interconnected and they also are in some way identical. So not only Matter and Spirit are one, even Life and Spirit are one, even Mind and Spirit are one. So we have to prove two things – first that Matter and Spirit are identical, secondly we have to prove that Life and Spirit is identical, Mind and Spirit are identical. So in a certain sense you might say even that we have to show a real identity of Matter, Life, Mind and Spirit and you have to show the linkage between them.

So now if you read these two paragraphs, we shall read together and then we shall come to the third paragraph because unless this point is absolutely clear you won’t be able to go to the next paragraph. So may I request you to read the first paragraph?

“The affirmation of a divine life upon earth and an immortal sense in mortal existence can have no base unless we recognise not only eternal Spirit as the inhabitant of this bodily mansion, the wearer of this mutable robe, but accept Matter of which it is made, as a fit and noble material out of which He weaves constantly His garbs, builds recurrently the unending series of His mansions.”

We have to show that this Matter is a fit instrument of the Spirit, woven by the Spirit, this is the first thing we have to show and then we have to come next one we have to show the identity of Matter and Spirit and then we have to show the identity of Matter, Life, Mind and Spirit. This is the second paragraph.

“Nor is this, even, enough to guard us against a recoil from life in the body unless, with the Upanishads, perceiving behind their appearances the identity in essence of these two extreme terms of existence, we are able to say in the very language of those ancient writings, “Matter also is Brahman”, and to give its full value to the vigorous figure by which the physical universe is described as the external body of the Divine Being. Nor, – so far divided apparently are these two extreme terms, –  is that identification convincing to the rational intellect if we refuse to recognise a series of ascending terms (Life, Mind, Supermind and the grades that link Mind to Supermind) between Spirit and Matter. Otherwise the two must appear as irreconcilable opponents bound together in an unhappy wedlock and their divorce the one reasonable solution. To identify them, to represent each in the terms of the other, becomes an artificial creation of Thought opposed to the logic of facts and possible only by an irrational mysticism.”

Thought here is capital because the word thought is used here as the principle of reasoning, it’s not only a thought in the ordinary sense – your thought, my thought, his thought, his thought but thought here means the principle of reasoning itself, that’s why the word thought is in capital. So these two paragraphs we might say put down what is to be proved and the rest of the book is the proof. This is only a statement of what is to be proved. We have to prove the identity of Matter and Spirit, the identity of Matter and Life, of Life and Mind, Mind and Supermind and the Spirit. This is what we have to prove. If you don’t do that then as Sri Aurobindo points out the rational intelligence will declare that these are irreconcilable opposites, they are put together here in a wedlock, artificial wedlock; divorce of them is the only solution. So therefore you have to prove that Matter and Spirit are one in essence and that Matter, Life, Mind, Supermind and Spirit are linked together with some kind of identical thread which permeates among all these. So this is to be proved. In fact this is the problem about which Sri Aurobindo has spoken in the first chapter. Now he restates it in a more elaborate manner unless you prove this aspiration will not be found to be justified. Now having reached this point I will take recourse to give you some background because now comes the real argument – the proof, which is a very long proof. The whole book may be regarded as an answer to these two paragraphs and for that purpose I will make two comments to begin with, which are very important to understand the very language of the succeeding paragraphs.

Sri Aurobindo in his argument expounds what is the nature of thought, thought with T capital – the principle of rational intelligence, the principle of rational argument, the principle of reasoning; what is the nature of it? Secondly he also expounds what is the nature of Life. In normal books of philosophy whenever there is a proof to be established they refer only to the principle of thought. But this book being an integral book, a very comprehensive book; Sri Aurobindo does not only want to satisfy rational intelligence, he also wants to satisfy the demand of Life. There is a difference between the demand of Life and the demand of Thought, you must satisfy the demand of Life therefore in the structure of the argument you will always find two lines of argument. An argument which will satisfy the thought and an argument which will satisfy the life, this is one of special particularities of the whole book, a double track of argument and ultimately showing that both of them are fully satisfied.

Now let us ask what is the demand of Life, and what is the demand of the Mind or the Thought? The demand of Life is to have unconditional satisfaction. When you can show the totality, the totality of the elements of the universe, totality of our experience of the universe is fully harmoniously organisable and seen to be interconnected fully the thought will not be satisfied. The nature of rational intelligence is basically the demand of harmonising relationships. We speak of thought, pure reasoning as a principle of seeking harmony of relationships. As long as you have one thing before you it cannot be a direct matter of reasoning, at least two elements are needed for reasoning to work and when it works on two elements, what does it do? It tries to relate them and relate them in a form of harmony and if there are four elements, five elements, multiple elements then thought works on all of them and tries to establish interconnections between all of them. It is only when interconnections are fully established that the picture becomes one, unified. Search for unity is the fundamental urge of thought, the demand for absolute satisfaction is the demand of life, search for unity and harmony is the demand of thought and search for absolute satisfaction, unconditional satisfaction is the search of life which includes acquisition, possession and absolute becoming, absolute being, absolute becoming. You must really experience the totality, total acquisition in your being then only you are fully satisfied. If you examine the life, you will find there is a great urge in life; at a lower level it manifests in the form of friendship... Incomplete