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Socrates and Plato - Track 1502

I have decided this time to take up another subject which perhaps we can conclude during the next few 45 minutes or so. I have distributed one paper to you today in which I have done something which is Platonic not Plato but something which is Platonic in character. Any attempt to conceive universals, any attempt to relate universals to particulars involves a Platonic exercise. Now you can apply it many ways this Platonic exercise, Plato himself wrote considerably on this subject in many exercises, for example at one time he tried to relate Truth, Beauty and Goodness. Truth is universal Beauty is universal, Goodness is universal these are three universals and then he tried to combine these three universals into a still larger universal which he called The Good not goodness but The Good, the supreme universal, the highest universal in which all universals can be summed up. This also is another exercise you can do whenever you have time; you can try to relate Truth and Beauty and Goodness. Can there be truth without goodness, ask this question, can there be goodness without beauty? Answer will be yes and no. ultimately you’ll see that Truth is Beauty and Beauty is Truth, this is one of the conclusions that you can arrive at, when you reflect very deeply and similarly you will find Truth is the same as Goodness and Goodness is the same as Truth so you can reflect this is also a Platonic exercise. Can you be truthful without being just, it is question relating truth and justice, justice is also universal, justice is also universal, can you be truthful without being just, can you be truthful without being courageous, can you be truthful without being courageous, without being heroic? Then there are questions about what is physical beauty and what is the beauty of the soul and what is common between the two? So there are levels of beauties and correlation of all of them this also is a Platonic exercise. You relate one universal with another universal, you relate one universal with one particular and try to comprehend and enlarge yourself this whole exercise is Platonic in character.

Now a similar exercise I am now putting before you. I have taken three important words – illumination, heroism and harmony. Now why have I chosen these three words? First it is simply because these are three very important words; many words can be chosen I have chosen these three that is one reason. Second reason is that our whole institute is working on a very big theme we have got fifty researchers at least in Auroville who are working with me on a project of research and they have chosen this subject to define and to illustrate these three words – illumination, heroism and harmony for the last few months we are working on it. So I thought since we are also budding philosophers now we should also have some experience of participating in this programme, maybe after a year you will yourself begin to write on this subject. There is a very important chapter that Sri Aurobindo has written in The Life Divine, it is called The Problem of Life. This is a subject which people very often speak of, life is a problem, what is life, life is a problem and Sri Aurobindo asks the question: what is the problem of life? So his answer is that when there is a division between consciousness and movement when the two do not coalesce then the problem of life arise, when there is division between consciousness and movement, between consciousness and will. You examine yourself and you’ll find there are currents of will and currents of knowledge, currents of consciousness. When the two do not harmonise then there is a problem. If they harmonise the problem ceases then entire problem of life can be resolved if you can arrive at a point where knowledge and will are in harmony with each other.  Later on we shall discuss this question in detail; I am only answering a question very briefly. Then Sri Aurobindo asks the question: How to harmonise it, how the harmonisation between knowledge and will can occur and his answer is there are three powers by which this harmony can be brought about. If you increase in illumination, if you increase in heroism and if you increase in harmony then by repeated and continuous process of development you will arrive at a point where there is a harmony between knowledge and will and when that is arrived at life is not dissolved but life is made immortal. there is a continuous process without interruption of disintegration. It is for this reason that we have chosen this themes because these three are proposed by Sri Aurobindo to be the alchemy by which the problem of life can be resolved therefore we have asked this question: What is illumination, what is heroism, what is harmony? Now you will see all the three things you cannot perceive. Illumination cannot be perceived by physical eyes. Heroism you cannot perceive by physical eyes. Harmony you cannot perceive by physical eyes. It’s like Platonic statement – similarity, universality and existence cannot be perceived but can be conceived, similarly these are three other examples which are not perceived but which can be conceived, they can be experienced but not physically. So there is a perception, there is experience, there is conception and these three things can be both conceived and experienced. They are very difficult words and what I have written here is only first draft because I wanted to do exercise with all of you. If I make a full finished exercise then you may be led to think that this is final and you may be obstructed in your exploration. I want to keep it open so that you have full opportunity of correcting it. in your exercise you are aware that these are incomplete statements, there are defects in this. Now it is by your thinking that you may arrive at better statements and more complete statements that is how education should be, isn’t it? By exploring you overcome the deficiencies and arrive at a clarity or better clarity then what was before. So I am only presenting to you three what may be called tentative statements which need to be refined, defined further.

So let us see now first, you will see that what is stated here may not look very    straight either but let us see how it is and then tell me how you find it. I am stating first. Illumination is ignition of inner light in which meaning and value of substance and life movement are seized, understood, comprehended, held and possessed. I’ll stop here although there is a coma but I’ll stop here at this moment, we shall read again. As I told you philosophic statements need to be read and studied again and again and again. You should spend at least three hours on any good paragraph of philosophical writing, never be in a hurry when you read philosophy. Novels can be read very fast, accounts can be read very fast but philosophy if you read very fast it means that you do not understand, philosophy must be always pursued slowly. Only after five years of intense reflection of philosophy can you be enabled to read philosophy fast. If any student says: Well! I have read the book, philosophical book, do not trust it. Unless a person has done philosophy for three, four years seriously, you can’t read a book of philosophy just like that. You must be very patient. Sri Aurobindo has sad: One of the defects of thinking is to try to arrive at a conclusion as soon as possible. This is a defect of the mind, mind is impatient. You put a question and immediately it wants to arrive at a conclusion and then do away with it, problem is over. This is an enemy of the real quest of the Truth, real quest of the truth is slow, sure, step by step, gradual and as you move forward in philosophical reflection – illumination will take place. You can experience illumination only when a word or a concept is held before you and gradually you grope about it. First you move around and then gradually you’ll find you are entering into the concept or the object and when you enter into the object there are many stages of entering into the object. You must have seen many animals moving round and round the object which they want to devourer. First of all they take rounds and then gradually pick into the object. Similar is our case when we try to understand a word or a concept in the object. You go round and round and then suddenly you will be able to find that you will be able to enter into the object or concept and then first you seize, seize upon it, then you comprehend. There is difference in understanding and comprehending. there is for example an object is put above you and you look upon it, you are standing below the object therefore when you grasp it, it is understanding. You are standing below, isn’t it? You are understanding, it is quite different when you stand above the object and grasp it. You’ll find when you are above the object your grasp is much greater. The same object when you stand below it and try to understand it, try to grasp it; it is a very laborious, very difficult, very partial but when you stand above it, your perception of the object will be comprehension, the object will be comprehended, all sides are covered in your vision.

So first there is a seizure of the object then there is understanding of it then there is over standing or comprehension of it then you are able to hold it and then you can possess it. Merely to keep an object away from you is one kind of understanding but when you have it in your own hands, possess it, it’s a greater mastery over it.