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The Ascent towards Supermind, Part II, Chapter XXVI - The Ascent towards Supermind 403

Where you begin to enter into this pure mind, you are bordering the Higher Mind. Let us try to see some of the distinct and clear ideas of the pure mind so that if you experience some of them and we become aware of them, we shall be able to appreciate better, the higher planes of the consciousness. One example that Socrates used to give is to lead the individual to define. He used to say that if you define a word properly, you will get a distinct and clear idea of the thing in question. One of the exercises of pure mind is the exercise of defining. There is a famous story about Socrates, a friend of his called Archibiadis once went to Delphi from Athens, he use to live in Athens, but he went to Delphi another town in ancient Greece. Delphi was famous for one very important thing namely the Oracle. There used to be a temple and the priest of the temple used to be always a very cultivated mystic, cultivated spiritual leader, and the priest used to be reputed for always answering questions correctly. If anybody had any doubt in ancient Greece then one used to visit Delphi and used to go to the oracle, put a question and obtain an answer and settle the doubt. This friend of Socrates went to Delphi and he asked a question: ‘Who is the wisest man” and Delphi Oracle answered, − Socrates. The answer given by the Oracle was that Socrates is the wisest man. He was very pleased because he was the friend of Socrates and to find from Oracle this testimony that Socrates was the wisest man, he became very happy. When he returned to Athens he called upon Socrates and said: ‘look, you are the wisest man.’ Socrates was shocked; he said that ‘it’s not true’. He said but the Oracle has declared that you are the wisest. So, Socrates without being puffed up or anything of the kind, on the contrary he said, ‘For once Oracle has made a mistake, I know myself that I am so ignorant, how can I be wisest that is impossible.’ So he said: ‘I want to prove that Oracle can sometimes be mistaken, I shall now prove it by showing that there are wiser men than myself. He took upon him a task of interrogating all the wise people in Athens. He went from one person to the other, he went to the poets, to the writers, to the statesmen, all those teachers, sophists, various kinds of people who were claiming that they are really wise people and whom Socrates believed they were really wise. One after the other he went to every one of them and ultimately found not that he was wiser anybody else, he came to the conclusion that all of them are as ignorant as himself. But they believed that they were wise, but I am ignorant and I know that I am ignorant, therefore, I am wiser than them, so he could not disprove the Oracle. This is his famous statement, ‘I am wisest because I know that I am ignorant.’

One of the methods he used in his interrogation was the method of definitions Let us take one example, he went to one of the very renowned philosophers of his time, who used to be respected and he used to believe that he was even wiser than people believed him to be that was his own personal opinion. Socrates went to him with a great respect and said: ‘Sir I want to know what is Virtue? That philosopher said: ‘what a simple question, − benevolence is virtue don’t you understand, generosity is virtue, gratitude is virtue, courage is virtue. Socrates said: ‘you must pardon me because I am very poor in formulating my questions. Maybe that I have not made my question so clear to you, my question is not what are virtues, my question is what is virtue?’ The man was incapable of understanding the distinction between the true virtue and virtues. What are virtues and what is virtue? He could not understand the distinction. He again repeated, he said: ‘All right, if you want one virtue, generosity is a virtue. Again he had to say: ‘I am not asking you to give an example of a virtue, my question is what is it by virtue of which virtues are virtues that is my question.’ This was beyond the depth of this man, he couldn’t answer this question. This is the way in which he used to ask definitions and these definitions are purely activities of pure mind.

How will you define a virtue, you make yourself this exercise and you will understand a real exercise of the pure mind. You will understand what is pure mind. Let us take another example; you see two objects, bring two flowers here. You will see that each flower is different from other flower in some respect, but they are all similar flowers. Socrates used to say that how do you know that they are similar and he used to answer by saying that because we are seeing something which you have not seen physically. You know what is identity by virtue of that knowledge you know they are similar. Identity, you don’t see anywhere, what you are seeing are only similarities, you cannot see identity. You don’t say that this flower is exactly identical with that, but unless you know identity, you will not say what is similar.

By what means do you see the identity? Not physically, physical mind doesn’t see identity, vital mind doesn’t see identity and identity is seen by the pure mind. The pure mind seizes what it is to be flower basically, what it is to be a flower of this species. The identity of the species is seen not by physical terms, physicality always sees similarities. Here is a group of horses, each horse is different from the other horse, but they all belong to one species called the horse. Which is not physically seen, the identity of horseness is not seen physically, it is mentally seen. Mind has a kind of a sense, it’s a light.