Audios & Videos

Sri Aurobindo and The Veda - Track 603

‘Nothing exists’ if you really think about it, you find that you are actually saying nothing. If I say ‘nothing exists’ it means that you are conceiving nothing and conceiving nothing is impossible. All conception is conception about ‘existence’, therefore the one thing that you can conceive is existence. This is the new formulation of the ontological argument, only one sentence which may not even seem like an argument because in an argument there are steps – first step, second step, third step like in the case of Anselm’s argument. It was first a definition of God and then second was the argument and then the conclusion, but in this statement which I am proposing there is no step. It only says this thing – ‘Existence without quantity, quality, relation, and modality is not only what can be conceived but is the only thing that can be conceived’ this is the only argument. If you feel that this argument does not click in your mind it means I would ask you to think again on this because there is the subtlety in the argument and it is only when you think again and again that you will see that this is the perception of the reason.

You remember once I started by saying what is reason and in that process of reasoning, of showing what is reason. I told you that reason is nothing but a capacity to conceptualize. This is the definition I have given you; reason is nothing but a capacity to conceptualize. Where there is no conceptualization there is no reasoning. It may be only sense experience or intuitive experience but no conceptualization. Reasoning is the middle point. Middle point between sense experience and intuitive experience, in between is the field of the reason, which is the field of conception. If you can touch and see a thing, you don’t need to conceive.

So reason is the middle zone of our consciousness. On the lower zone is sense experience, the higher zone is the zone of intuitive experience. The intuitive experience is also called in our Indian philosophy ‘aparoksha anubhuti’, pratyaksha is that which you see directly by your eyes. Pratyaksha, aksha means eyes that which is before your eyes is Pratyaksha. Paroksha is that which is not before your eyes but which you can conceive, therefore conceptual knowledge is called paroksha gyana, pratyaksha is that which is experienced by senses. That which is conceived is paroksha that is the proper action of reason. When you can conceptualize by reason you can see something, you do not see with your eyes but you can yet see by your reason. When you see only the smoke on the hill and you can conceive that there is a fire, you are not perceiving it with the eyes but perceiving with conception, conceptually. You are not seeing fire directly but you are quite sure ‘yatra yatra dhuma tatra tatra wahni’ where ever there is smoke there is fire. Therefore, although you are not seeing the fire your reasoning tells you that there must be fire, there is no question of there maybe, or there may not be, when reason perceives, it perceives definitely with certainty.

Question: Is science within this purview of reasoning?

Answer:Yes, that is to say science has two levels the pratyaksha and paroksha but the element of  pratyaksha is very predominant in science. In philosophy the role of reason is more predominant. Metaphysics is philosophy; in metaphysics you have paroksha gyana. Pratyaksha is a starting point of metaphysics but you arrive at paroksha gyana but paroksha gyana which is certain. There is a reason in us which can see directly that is the meaning of proof. Proof is a rational proposition which cannot be doubted that is called a proof, for example geometry.

The specialty of metaphysics lies in the fact that it takes you to the realm of pure reason and shows you what the reason can perceive. In other words what reason can conceive because the perception of reason is only through conception, but what it perceives, it perceives definitely. When you are able to perceive through conception which you cannot doubt, it is called real paroksha gyana, it is gyana, it is not a thing of doubt. You may not see the fire physically but you are sure there must be fire that is your rational perception. Your reason perceives the fire through conception, not see with eyes, but with your conception you are absolutely sure there must be fire. There is a higher level where you go beyond conception and beyond the sense perception and you can still perceive, it is neither pratyaksha nor paroksha, but it is aparoksha. It is not paroksha and therefore it is called aproksha anubhuti gyana, it is a higher intuitive experience when the mind is silenced. The mind is at a stage where there is a distinction between the knower and the known. This is the specialty of all mental knowledge, you are the subject and all that is known is an object, wherever mind operates this distinction is paramount. There is always the distinction between … the knower and the object the known, but if the mind is silenced then something else happens. The subject and the object become identical, in that identity you have the experience because basically all experience is nothing but an experience identity. Even sense experience is to some extent some kind of identity. All experiences, of all kinds have behind somewhere this identity but when it is nothing but identity. In sense experience there is more than identity, experience is also separative experience, therefore it is not a pure identity. When I see the statue I don’t become the statue myself but there is a stage of consciousness where the mind is still then there is pure experience of identity and in that stage there is no doubt at all because the object is yourself, therefore it cannot be doubted. When I eat the sweet, I cannot doubt its sweetness because it is  a very much an experience by identity of some kind, it’s not entire identity, but it is a great deal of identity between the sweet that is been eaten and myself, therefore, I cannot doubt it.