The first chapter of The Life Divine that we are studying is like a stethoscope. You know what a stethoscope is? Every doctor carries a stethoscope. It examines the rate of respiration. Sri Aurobindo is like a doctor and he wants to examine the rate of respiration of humanity. And the first chapter is like a stethoscope. So it is called The Human Aspiration. Aspiration is the breath, is breathing. Sri Aurobindo asks what kind of breathing humanity is having? When he examines its breath he finds there is constant breathing but from time to time humanity falls sick and the breathing is no longer very sound, it is not very regular. If on the whole you want to see what is the breathing, this aspiration of mankind, it simply breathes God, Light, Freedom, Immortality. When it falls sick it becomes sceptical. Scepticism is the malady. From time to time it wonders and wanders, wanders away from its normal breathing.
Scepticism is the sign of sickness. The mood to doubt is called scepticism. To be sceptical means to have the mood to doubt. When mankind is sound in health there is no doubt in the mind. Humanity breathes quite well and breathes with God, Light, Freedom, Immortality. If you leave mankind in its normal condition when it is really breathing quite nicely, the only breath that you have is God, Light, Freedom, Immortality.
If you see human history it is very interesting. The whole human history is like the breathing of humanity. What is mankind doing all the time, what is its breathing? If you took a telescope and put your telescope on humanity's history, thousands of years, the only breath you find is God, Light, Freedom, Immortality. You take your telescope to Ancient Egypt, and you find the Pyramids coming up – it is also a breath, the breathing of Egypt –, it is a huge structure reaching out to God, Light, Freedom, Immortality. If you go to the Sumerian Cvilization, the Assyrian Civilization it is the same thing. If you go to the early times of Abraham, Moses you find the same things: God's commandments, the Ten Commandments of God. It is also breathing with God, Light, Freedom and Immortality. You go to Greece, the same thing. You hear Socrates, you hear Plato, what are they doing, what are they calling out? Again God, Light, Freedom and Immortality.
In due course we shall study Socrates and Plato particularly, and we shall hear them also on God, Light, Freedom and Immortality. Socrates, when he was taking the poison hemlock which he was given by the Athenians because he was misunderstood and he was told that he was corrupting the youth. Young people are always beloved and all want to protect youth so people said: "You are corrupting the youth therefore you take poison and die." That was the punishment given to him. But even at the death, what had he to say? "I am immortal." That is his message. "May be I am more fortunate than you are!" He said: "I am going to live with immortal people." And if you read Plato what does he say? He says: "We are all bound in a small cave. Supposing that there is a cave in which there are a lot of pillars and each one of us is tied to a pillar. Imagine that mankind is nothing but prisoners tied to small pillar, who can look only in one direction and who cannot look back. And there is sunlight behind, and in between you and the sunlight, a big crowd of people. And what do you see on the wall: only shadows." Plato says: "We are all seeing only shadows here, imprisoned in a cave, not able to turn this way or that way, looking only in one direction." But we are aspiring for what? One of the prisoners gets out of his imprisonment, turns backward and sees "My Lord – the glory of the sun" on the other side. He goes out of the cave and discovers the beautiful origin of all light and he calls out and says to everybody: "Listen, listen, here is the origin of everything. Turn backward and see Light." It is finally the same message God, Light, Freedom and Immortality.
You got to Rome you will find the same story again and again. Go to India. My Lord! India is a cathedral, a huge cathedral. And the only thing that counts is: God, Light, Freedom and Immortality. All the time there is one mantra in India.
Sri Aurobindo says, if you look at the breath of mankind with a stethoscope, the only breath you find is God, Light, Freedom, Immortality. But sometimes humanity falls sick. It is overcome by scepticism. It doubts. Is there really God; is there really Light; is there really Freedom; is there really Immortality? This is doubt. And Sri Aurobindo says that if you examine the longest period of scepticism, the longest period of doubt, at the end, once again the sickness goes away, mankind becomes healthy and again there pulsates God, Light, Freedom, Immortality. This is the constant refrain of human history.
This is the first paragraph of The Life Divine. One summary. Look at the whole history of mankind, summarize the whole history of mankind and these are the only four words that come out: God, Light, Freedom and Immortality. I think this is the new thing that we learnt the summarizing of the whole history of mankind in one paragraph.