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Sri Aurobindo's - 'The Life Divine' - The Human Aspiration - Chapter I - The Human Aspiration - Track 304

In our Ashram School — this is a parenthesis — we started an experiment in which we said all education must take place in a condition of silence. Be absolutely silent, because it is the silent mind which can receive the knowledge, a fact which is true. So, in our experiments we decided there would be no lectures, because lectures are opposite to silence. Everybody should be absolutely silent — they could read, they could contemplate, meditate — but no lectures. Or if the teacher wanted to communicate something he wrote it down and gave that written note to the student and the student read it quietly. If the students had a question to ask they were advised — speak whisperingly. No noise, just whispers. All this was very fine, it was a good experiment — I am only telling you how the human mind works. After a few years of experimenting, not a few years, let us say one or two years, there was a feeling that this was not working very well. And then some other experiments were made and after three, four years those who were advocating complete silence, I myself heard them advocating: “Il faut parler, il faut parler, il faut parler.” Just the opposite — antithesis. Talking was now advocated, and talk and talk and talk is needed if students have to be stimulated; they have to be made enthusiastic. And how do you do this? You talk to the students again and again and again. It would be a new outburst of curiosity and knowledge will spread. This was antithesis. And those who were advocating furiously the first gospel of silence began equally furiously now the gospel of “parler”. Speaking, you must talk. And then came the synthesis afterwards. I think what is called the free progress system is actually a combination of silence and talking. That is why I am allowed to talk to you, otherwise I would be out. So the idea is that you talk, but talk in such a way that silence is not disturbed or is rather encouraged, which is a very difficult synthesis. And there should be rhythms of silence and talking, rhythm of personal reflection and acting — it is a synthesis. It is only an example to show how our system of education evolved dialectically from one extreme to the other and then to a synthesis.

This is because the world, as a whole, follows this rhythm. Superconscience, the very first step, produced inconscience. Because of that movement, when inconscience begins to develop it manifests also sets of phenomena little by little — this is what we call evolution. Evolution is nothing but a gradual unfolding of the inconscience. Little by little out of sleep, when you awake your eyes are not fully open. Little by little they open up and gradually we begin to stir and then we become slightly awake and then more awake and then fully awake. This is what is called the process of evolution. It is because of this process of evolution that there is an answer to the theory of the dialectical movement. And that is why in philosophy it has become one of the major movements of thought and in argumentation this movement is followed, not always but very often. It is one of the good ways of awaking the human mind, so that human mind moves from one set of facts and goes to the other and gradually opens up and then synthesizes and arrives at a conclusion which is really real.

This is the movement of the second line in the second paragraph of The Life Divine. You will see in the very first sentence of this paragraph Sri Aurobindo says “These persistent ideals” — that is the ideals of God, Light, Freedom, Immortality — “are at once contradicted and affirmed”. This is the dialectical movement. “Are at once contradicted and affirmed”. Contradicted by ordinary experience, because in ordinary experience we only get matter — you don’t see God Light, Freedom, Immortality at all. You only see matter. When you open your eyes from sleep you cannot even bear the light, you want to close your eyes immediately. Similarly, your first movement is to be confined to the ordinary experience. And in that ordinary experience if somebody speaks to you of God, Light, Freedom, Immortality you will simply shake it off. “Oh! Nothing of that kind, I see nothing yet. Where is God, Light, Freedom, Immortality? All is dark, all is matter!”

When you move forward, further, then you begin to have another experience. As Sri Aurobindo says: “It is affirmed…” these ideals are affirmed by deeper and higher experiences. First there is a negation and then there is an affirmation. Now this affirmation takes a lot of time, it is a gradual movement and Sri Aurobindo uses the words “in its organized entirety”, these words are very important “organized entirety”. Even if you want to affirm these ideals of God, Light, Freedom, Immortality, since it is a long way from inconscience to That, even if you have glimpses in the beginning, these experiences don’t come in their fullness, in their organized manner. You can come to this organized totality of higher experiences only by two methods — either by revolutionary individual effort or the evolutionary that is gradual movement of general progression of mankind. This is what we had done last time. I only repeat it just to reaffirm what we had done.—