Om Bhur Bhuvaḥ Swaḥ
Bhargo Devasya Dhīmahi
Dhiyo Yonaḥ Prachodayāt
It is an invocation in which the highest form, the highest light of Savitri, the most blessed one—Vareñyaṃ, the most blessed light is invoked, so that we can meditate upon it, and we pray that our intellect is driven by it, is guided by it, inspired by it. Sri Aurobindo has given a new Gayatri for our age, that was the Gayatri of Vishwamitra in the Rig Veda, and Sri Aurobindo has given a new Gayatri. It is very similar to the other one, yet significantly different. “Om Tat savitur varam rūpam jyotiḥ parasya dhīmahi,’ we are meditating upon ‘varam rūpam jyotiḥ parasya' the most favoured rupa, the form, of the Supreme light of the Supreme, ‘parasya’ of the Transcendental; ‘yannaḥ satyena dīpayet', so that our whole being nah, is not only the intellect but our entire being, is illuminated ‘yannaḥ satyena dīpayet', that too illuminated by the Truth. Sri Aurobindo has not only given this Gayatri Mantra, but he has also given us a great gift; if you ask what is that ‘Tat savitur varam rūpam jyotiḥ’, what is that Supreme form of the highest light of the Supreme, it is the Life Divine. This entire body of knowledge that is here in the Life Divine is what I consider to be ‘Tat savitur varam rūpam jyotiḥ parasya’ this is how I understand the Life Divine to be. In the whole world if you go around in search of knowledge, the most blessed form of that light available to us is this light, it’s the Life Divine. The more we study this volume, the more we shall enter into this light. And the most that we need in our life is to be found in this tremendous volume.
At one time Sri Aurobindo in 1912, wrote a letter to his younger brother and he said—I want to put before mankind (I am not quoting the exact words) but he said: I want to put before mankind an expression of the truth, in which there is no error whatsoever, something that is without any error, and thereafter we find in 1914, Sri Aurobindo manifesting that light which is without error. From 1914 to 1921, Sri Aurobindo wrote a series of writings, several books he wrote simultaneously, among which this The Life Divine may be regarded to be the most principal. The other one is The Synthesis of Yoga, The Secret of the Veda, Upanishads, Essays on the Gita, The Human Cycle, The Ideal of Human Unity, and The Future Poetry. Each one having a specialised domain, but this one Life Divine stands at the top of all these works. It’s a rare opportunity where we get the time and leisure to turn to this great, which I consider to be the greatest writing of our times. When you read this book you find that this book is, as the Mother said once,—it is intellectually perfect.
Now what is that intellectual perfection is a matter for us to understand. We normally start intellectuality at a very late stage in our life. And then to think of coming to the perfection of intellectual development is also a far off cry. But there are two things to be remembered when we start this work,—it is an intellectual work. What is the meaning of an intellectual work? Every domain has its own approach. For example,Synthesis of Yoga has a domain, which is descriptive. Yoga is a scientific work, yoga is a science and science is a description of processes. Any book of science, if it is to be perfect; it has to bring out the processes of things, of phenomena, and describe them as fully as possible. Unless you get a description of a process, you won’t call it a scientific work.
Similarly, if you have a work of art, a painting for example is a work of art, what is the speciality of a work of art? It may not be a very long book on the subject, it may be even a short piece, it may be a drama, a poem, a painting. An artistic piece is basically a piece of form, unless there is a form there is no art it is the essence of it, but a form which has significance, these two words are very important—there must be significance and there must be a form. The moment you have a significant form presented to you, and we say it is an artistic presentation, is the one in which the significance of form is driven home as soon as you see it, that’s an artistic form.
A technological work is a work in which, not only the process but the detail of a process is described in which what is sought to be produced can be produced. The element of skill is prominent in any technology. So a technological work is perfect only when a process is so described that what is sought to be produced, in which the right skill is to be utilised is emphasised. Then it is a technological work, it is technologically perfect. An airplane is a technological perfection because the procedures are so arranged with each other that it can fly ultimately.
Similarly, in this context, you ask the question what is the speciality of The Life Divine,it is fundamentally a philosophical work and what is the meaning of philosophy because then only we can appreciate this work. In philosophy, we utilize our intellect. And what is intellect? An intellectual process is fundamentally a process in which you proceed from one point to the other point, by a movement of a train of ideas. Idea is the most important thing in philosophy. An ideative process, a train of ideative thought which begins with a certain starting point and which can end at another point; this ideative process is a process of thinking. But philosophy is more than mere ideative process; it is a process of ideation and articulation. Merely having an ideative process—you can think in your own mind but may not be articulated. A philosophical thinking is not only an ideative process but also there is an articulation of it. Articulation means—expression, an expression in which there are words and these words are attempted to be clarified, where the nuances of the words are all stratified to the utmost possibility, not only articulation but utmost capacity, as it were when a word is used that word carries with it its utmost capacity of expression, then these words are arranged in a systematic manner, so that this systematic exposition of the words bring out (this is the most important word)−a meaning. Unless the meaning is expressed, by the articulation of the different words and their arrangements, unless this is done, it’s not yet philosophical. But this is not all; there must be, in any philosophical statement, certain further qualifications. There must be an attempt towards totality; this is the speciality of philosophical thought. When I say a statement is scientific, it is scientific only because a process is described regarding a particular small domain, but a philosophical statement is philosophical, only if it pertains to the totality. It’s a very special kind of approach.
A philosophical statement is philosophical only if there is a reference to totality. There is a further qualification; a philosophical approach is the approach of the intellect. You can approach totality in different ways but the speciality of philosophy is, it approaches totality intellectually. The very nature of intellectuality is a train, as I said earlier of ideas running into other ideas having a starting point and a conclusion. Therefore, in a philosophical argumentation or presentation, there must be a starting point which is so described that ultimately the totality is embraced. So it’s an intellectual process of thinking and articulation as a result of which different points of view are presented and ultimately you are transported into a point of view of totality, even this is not enough in philosophy. When I speak of totality, I have already spoken a lot, that is to say—totality consists of large tracts of facts, in fact all tracks of facts. Totality is all tracks of facts and normally when we see around, all of us, there are two basic tracks of facts, there are physical facts and psychological facts, therefore philosophy must deal with the tracks of physical facts and psychological facts. So a philosophical statement is not a philosophical statement, unless it deals with the totality of facts, which are covered under two major domains—the physical facts and psychological facts and you go farther. You relate them; totality is arrived only when a relationship is established. You relate all kind of facts and while relating, you constantly try to be as total as possible, this is the speciality of philosophical thinking; because human mind cannot grasp totality at once, so as it goes on collecting the facts, there is a constant effort at totality and we ask is anything left out, is everything covered in it, are all the facts covered? And in the discovery of all the facts, something emerges and this is the speciality of philosophical thought. You arrive at a concept of essence, that is to say, you ask yourself is it possible to find out among all the facts something that is essential? This concept of essentiality is extremely important in philosophy. This question of essentiality is asked fundamentally in philosophy. Along with this idea of essentiality and connected with this is the question of—ultimate; is there something that is essential, is there something that is ultimate? It’s a search of essence, search of ultimate.
There is a farther qualification of philosophical thought, it cannot assume essence, it cannot assume ultimate. It is said philosophy is a process of thinking in which nothing is assumed. In every other thinking process presuppositions are allowed. You assume, assume this is true then the other processes can start. In philosophy there are no presuppositions allowed, you can question right up to any particular point of view that you can think of, you may try to arrive at essence but you cannot say that must be an essence, unless you are thrown back upon it, even when you do not want to assume you are led to it, unless this happens you cannot assume it. You cannot assume there must be an ultimate, ultimate may exist, may not exist. You arrive at an ultimate only if you are obliged, having cut off all presuppositions you are obliged to come to an ultimate, then only it is allowed. There is in philosophy a very important concept which is called incorrigibility. What is incorrigibility? In all processes of thinking, in all processes of articulation, in all forms, you can do better, you can correct it. In incorrigibility you arrive at a point which does not allow any correction at all, it is the final incorrigible statement. Even if you want to doubt it, the very doubt itself presupposes it—that is incorrigibility. Therefore in philosophy, you arrive at the essence, at the ultimate, only if it is found to be incorrigible, you can’t help it, it has got to be.
So, philosophical thought is an attempt to relate physical facts, psychological facts and all of them, totality of all of them, in doing so you are obliged to discover the essence and the ultimate, up to such a point that that ultimate or essence is incorrigible, arrival at the incorrigible ultimate and essence of all things in which all the things stand together, related together.
Now final point about it, still one more point: having done it, you find the significance of everything. This word “significance” is very important. Significance is the beginning of philosophy and the end of philosophy. What is the meaning of the word significance? The meaning of significance is, negatively speaking, it is not arbitrary, something is significant, but it is not arbitrary. What is something arbitrary? Arbitrary is trifle, trivial, it could be one way, it could be another way. As against it, what philosophy strives to understand is—what is the significance of anything that is in question? Unless you arrive at the conclusion of significance, you have not completed your philosophical thought. In fact the starting point of philosophy is the search of significance. In fact that is the meaning of the word—rationality. Philosophy is the highest rational process, intellectual process. Intellectuality and rationality basically is a search of reason. When we say it is a rational process, it’s a search for reason. And what’s the meaning of reason? Reason is a search for reason, in the sense it is a search for avoiding any arbitrariness. If things were all arbitrary in the world there is no ground for philosophy at all. Philosophical thought starts by asking what is the significance of it, what is the reason for it? Philosophy is basically a search of reason. It’s a rational search of reason itself. It’s the ultimate search of the reason, the final point of reason, beyond which you know there is nothing beyond it because it is the final one, you arrive at the conclusion it is the final one, and you can be sure of its finality, certainty. To derive the significance of anything, of all the facts, of any fact, any physical fact, any psychological fact,—to derive the significance of it after considering everything, without any presupposition whatsoever, arriving at the final essence and ultimate and to arrive at judgement, this is the significance of it. Any endeavour which includes all this—is philosophy.
Now this is all that is contained in The Life Divine. It’s a statement of all the physical and psychological facts, not in all their processes because that is not the fundamental purpose of philosophy but in all their essential significance, in the light of anything that may be an ultimate. Whenever we start any study our aim is to arrive at knowledge. We want to know. If at the reading of The Life Divine, if I don’t attain any knowledge at all then there is no profit out of it. The Life Divine is a supreme book of knowledge presented in intellectual terms, in philosophical terms, in which from the point of view of totality, we shall intellectually be convinced of what is most significant. To begin with today if anybody says what is most significant, we may not be able to answer this question just now, but if you read this Life Divine, then intellect should be convinced this is the highest significant thing, the most significant thing of which there is no intellectual doubt possible; this is the promise of The Life Divine. The reason why I refer to The Life Divine and why it should be presented to the whole world. It is because mankind today is extremely confused. It has come to a stage of development where it has got to find an answer to this question—what is most significant, without any doubt whatsoever. This is the real search of contemporary humanity and this is the question which is answered here in this book and that is why it is so important to turn to it.
There are two very important words used in the Bhagavad Gita—gyana na sah vigyanena sah, Sri Krishna tells Arjuna, I will give you the answer to your question in the light of knowledge, and in the light of all knowledge; totality. Now, why was Sri Krishna obliged to go to the totality of everything in order to answer a question of Arjuna on the battlefield? Because the question that he had raised was of such a nature that that was inevitable, Sri Krishna could not have answered the question in a few minutes time, it was such a question in which everything had to be told in all totality. Arjuna’s question is symbolic of mankind today. What was true of Arjuna at that time is true today of a large humanity, we all have become Arjunas today, we all are facing the question on a large scale today, that is why the significance of the Gita even today.
As Sri Aurobindo has said, the colloquy between Arjuna and Sri Krishna on the battlefield is that which will guide humanity in the future—that is the significance of that teaching. But even while commenting on the Gita Sri Aurobindo says: it is not an exposition of a solution that we are in search of. It gives the fundamental path, it gives the key but not the lock in which it can apply; that lock is now present. What was not present at that time is now present—that lock. The key that has been given is so important there that key has to be applied thoroughly, fully that is the time today in which we are and the importance of all this is that this is not optional to mankind. If it was optional, I would say you may read The Life Divine, you may not read The Life Divine, but to all young people at least I would say you must read The Life Divine, it is inevitable, it is something in which you are bound to be knocked, if you are really in search, if you really want to confront the modern time in its totality, and you are obliged to, whether you like it or not. Today you cannot escape globality, you are in a global world, you can’t say this is my country’s problem, this is that country’s problem—all problems are your problems. Humanity’s problems are your problems and we are confronted with these problems and we don't even know what are the essential problems, what is that essential problem which if you can just knock it rightly; all the doors will be opened. This is the question that is why The Life Divine is so important. And this is so important because the one instrument which humanity today on a global scale possesses is intellectuality. This is a most important fact of modern life.
There was a time when physical strength was regarded as the most important element to fight the battles. Today’s mankind does not require that physical strength, that combativeness by which you will decide the fight: it’s not the decisive force of today. Mankind today has reached the stage where, whether you like it or not, intellectuality is indispensable. It is true na tarkaen labhayah that reality is not available merely by thinking—it is true. But even that conclusion you have to reach by intellectuality and that is the significance of the intellectual stage to which we have reached today. We have reached a stage where intellectual development is inevitable.
We often ask this question today—does God exist? And the rational man of today asks, I want to know it rationally. Can you intellectually show me, prove to me that God exists, intellectually? Is there any intellectual demonstration that God exists? Is there any intellectual demonstration that life as it is now finds its true significance, intellectually to be known, is there a point by which intellectually I know, what is the significance of life philosophically can I know it, from all points of view? This is because in the life today as you go around there are multiple voices and all have come to be known, as you travel into the world today, what is the significance of life, what am I to do in life, what is the best use of my life, utmost that I can do, utmost I can achieve, highest fulfilment? These questions have got to be answered intellectually, in the light of all physical and psychological facts from the point of view of the totality of all the facts, in search of significance, in search of essential significance, in search of ultimate significance. Is there a book in which this question is answered? This is The Life Divine. What is it that at the highest level, human endeavour, human life, can strive and hope to achieve and can be achieved and can be realised and can be fulfilled.
Fortunately, such a book has been written in our own times and therefore, I advise all young people to read this book. It is the most difficult book. And I would say that if you want to have the complete fulfilment of your life, develop the capacity to read this book. If you do not have the capacity now to read this book, kindly cultivate the capacity to read this book; do not complain it is so difficult, because life is even more difficult, compared to what you have to do in life, this book is not so difficult. This is the manual of life and life is even more difficult.The Synthesis of Yogawhich is the other book of Sri Aurobindo is more difficult than this and that also I will come to you next time; saying having read this now, now you read The Synthesis of Yoga,because that is the second step. Having known what is the significance of life, having known what is the endeavour to be conducted by you, what is the process by which you can arrive at it? It is a scientific book, not a philosophical book, what is the process by which you can do it. Even that Sri Aurobindo has discovered and found out and put before us, even this great work has been accomplished by Sri Aurobindo. So I would say first read this book, then next program is The Synthesis of Yogaand then while readingThe Synthesis of Yoga, along with it I will tell you read The Human Cycle, The Ideal of Human Unity, and the last work of Sri Aurobindo is The Supramental Manifestation on the Earth, it’s a very short book about sixty pages. You read that one then you are ready for the modern times. This is the preparation if you do; you are ready for the modern times. This is where we are then our journey starts, you might say, really doing, doing starts. Fortunately, once we do this the next process is very quick, these all may be small processes, short processes, but then there is aeroplanic flight, you can fly with aeroplanic speed, even that aeroplanic speed Sri Aurobindo is prepared for already. He has prepared the airplanes, so that we can travel in them very fast. And the preparation of that airplane was done, it is also described that in thirteen volumes of the Mothers Agenda is a preparation of that airplane and if you can mount on it then there is a tremendous speed by which you can travel and you can be sure that thereafter every moment of your life is significantly conducted. So this is as a kind of a background as to why we should study The Life Divine, what is the main thrust of The Life Divine. What knowledge do we expect to gain by the study of this great work?
What is the best way of learning this book? How shall we study this work? Sri Aurobindo has made our task quite easy. Sri Aurobindo has written his book, most magnificently. First of all this book is to be read throughout the life, so in a sense you might say, you have all the time. The whole life is around us, and whenever you need to read, you can read, wherever you like you can open it, wherever you will open, it will be found to be significant. Even systematically if you want to read, even that is also very, very well done, all the steps are systematically organised. If you have a very short time to read, even that facility is also available in the book. If you have no time at all and you are about to do something and you want to read, I would simply say read the first paragraph, everything is said, everything is there. It is such a great work that everything is said in the very first paragraph. And everything is said philosophically, intellectually. All the physical facts, psychological facts all are seen totally in their essential significance and the answer is given. If you read the very first chapter, if you have got more time to read the first chapter, it is also enough. If a little more time, I would say read the first four chapters. If you have a little more time, read the first seven chapters. If you have still more time, read the next three chapters, four chapters. And then of course you will find that you have all the time because once you have entered into this field, you will find it is a lifelong companion, you cannot leave it. I began when I was 18 years old, today I am 76, but it has been my lifelong companion. It was a blessed day when I happened to read this book and therefore throughout my life I have told all young people, please read this book. This is extremely important for you, for everyone.
Today and tomorrow and in the next 3-4 days, even if I can do a little with you, you don’t need to be with me all the time because once you have started, it will be with you for all your life. I shall only begin with the first chapter and then see how far we can go forward. But even if you read the first chapter; you will have sense of completeness. So I wish to do the first chapter thoroughly, you might say almost every sentence I would like to study with you, so that what is being proposed in The Life Divine becomes intellectually convincing. And you will be able to decide for yourself, whether it is convincing or not, whether it gives you that knowledge of all physical facts and psychological facts and whether having studied all this, what is the significance of what you have to do, is satisfactorily, convincingly answered.
Let us begin with the first paragraph of this great work……..clean I will just read with you the first paragraph and then stop and then again start, and then again stop and then again start. The chapter I is entitled The Human Aspiration. I leave out the first two verses from Rig Veda; we shall read them later on.
The earliest preoccupation of man in his awakened thoughts and, as it seems, his inevitable and ultimate preoccupation,—for it survives the longest periods of scepticism and returns after every banishment,—is also the highest which his thought can envisage. It manifests itself in the divination of Godhead, the impulse towards perfection, the search after pure Truth and unmixed Bliss, the sense of a secret immortality. The ancient dawns of human knowledge have left us their witness to this constant aspiration; today we see a humanity satiated but not satisfied by victorious analysis of the externalities of Nature preparing to return to its primeval longings. The earliest formula of Wisdom promises to be its last,—God, Light, Freedom, Immortality.
Sri Aurobindo, The Life Divine - I: The Human Aspiration
As you will see this is a very complex statement and some students tell me, it is a baffling statement, an inaccessible statement, extremely difficult to penetrate into it, and I don’t debate this point but then we should strive to enter into it. Some of the most precious things are most difficult to enter into and therefore we must be very patient about knocking the door and we must be able to knock the door properly and ask ourselves, how to open the door. The very title which is given The Human Aspiration is itself a closed door. And we don’t know why Sri Aurobindo starts his greatest work with this formula—The Human Aspiration. There are many books on philosophy; and there are many ways in which philosophy has been approached in the history of thought. There is in modern days a style of philosophical writing, which is essentially what is called epistemological. Now this word epistemology is perhaps the most important word in modern philosophical writings. So I must first explain to you the word epistemology.
Epistemology is an inquiry into the definition of knowledge. What is knowledge? It’s an extremely important question because we speak of knowledge today in a very loose manner. We speak of knowledge society today. We have now a computer which is the push-button technology, by which you say knowledge is at your doors. We are told that we have been plunged today into a knowledge world, but we do not ask this question—what is knowledge? Epistemology is basically an inquiry into this question as to what is knowledge, and in that connection it is an inquiry into the means of knowledge, the methods by which we can arrive at what is called knowledge. And these means of knowledge competing among themselves, each one claiming that it gives the knowledge and examine the claims of these different means of knowledge and to determine what exactly is the knowledge, whether anyone of these claims is valid, can be upheld to be valid, and whether we can come to a conclusion finally and say—this is knowledge. There is for example what is called—sense knowledge, knowledge derived by senses, I open my eyes and the world is disclosed before me. So you might say, disclosure of the world by opening the eyes and my senses is a process of knowledge. Disclosure is the fundamental point, something is disclosed. How much is disclosed, is the second question, when I open my eyes I see all around me, it is disclosed, whether what is disclosed to my eyes, whether I put it to be really knowledge or not, is a question. Because I change my circumstance and I open my eyes and something else is disclosed before me. And again I ask the question—is that what is now disclosed is knowledge? Was that which was disclosed earlier is that knowledge and there is no end of it, and ultimately what do I know? And when shall I say I have known? I know, is one state, I have known is another state, when can I say I have known? And then there are many degrees. I believe that I know, afterwards that belief is dispelled, so it was a mistake. How do I know it was a mistake, even that is a part of knowledge? And if I was mistaken earlier, what is the guarantee that I am not mistaken now. Even that which I now claim to be knowing, I know, that also could be dispelled. How do I know this is knowledge? So there is a belief, there is a state of doubt, means of dispelling a doubt and when the doubt is dispelled, the rise of another doubt, and another doubt and so on. When can I say, I have known. What is the distinction between belief and knowledge? What is the meaning of information as compared to knowledge? Is all information knowledge? Any disclosure, is it knowledge, any disclosure? And then there are many other words in the field of knowledge.
There are states in which I say: I am now illumined, not only I have known, I am illumined. So there is a state of illumination. There are certain states to which I say: hah! That is called wisdom, you not only know you are wise! And what is the difference between disclosure, information, knowledge, illumination, wisdom? And these distinctions are made and they are all before us, so many examples of it. There are experiences of wisdom, you can go to somebody and say ‘Ah! So wise.’ How do I know that is called wisdom? Means of knowledge—what are the different means of knowledge? Senses are the first means of knowledge, it is so said, is it really true? Senses are the first means of knowledge. Some say instinct is the first instrument of knowledge, not the senses—instinct.
What is instinct and what is sense? What is the difference between the two? Then we say reason is the means of knowledge, rationality is the means of knowledge and even rationality is of different kinds. There is a scientific rationality of which I spoke earlier, which concerns itself with the processes of things. There is ethical intelligence, ethical rationality, there is philosophical rationality, aesthetic rationality; there are different kinds of rationalities. What are these different kinds of rationalities?
Then there is what is called—intuition as the instrument of knowledge. What is the difference between reason and intuition? The difference between senses, sense-knowledge and intuitive knowledge, and even in intuition there are many kinds of intuitions. There is revelation for example, the revelation as a means of knowledge, the inspiration as the means of knowledge, automatic discrimination as the means of knowledge, viveka, that is why Shankracharya wrote Vivekachudamani,—the crest jewel of discrimination.
If you examine all this is a very vast subject by itself—epistemology. And many great books of philosophy of today centre around epistemology. It is claimed you will not be able to determine conclusively, unless first of all you determine what is knowledge, before you can claim I know. You have to say what is knowledge, you have to first of all examine this question. Before you say I know, you have to examine whether you can know at all. If you cannot know at all epistemologically, the whole question of philosophical endeavour finishes right at the beginning, which claims to arrive at conclusive conclusions, can give you unquestionable, incorrigible conclusions. If it is shown to you epistemologically that knowledge is impossible, then the whole claim of philosophy is finished at the very beginning. So it is claimed that first of all you discuss epistemology before you go to philosophy.
There are today in the world of philosophy many books which proclaim that philosophy is unjustified, philosophy is not an impossible task, right from the beginning, it is something in which you should not be engaged. Since you cannot know, what is the question of all this trouble that you are taking? It is in that context, in the highest possible contexts of philosophical endeavour of the contemporary mind, we now start the greatest philosophical work with this title The Human Aspiration. And when you think about it, you will find that the human aspiration is the essential, quintessential starting point of philosophical thought. That the best starting point of philosophical work is the human aspiration.
You must have seen earlier in my definition of philosophy, in which having defined many aspects of the philosophy, I laid importance on the word—significance. Philosophy is ultimately a search for significance. What is this search for significance? The search for significance is the search for meaning. There is in the human consciousness—a sense. When you look around whether it is by instinct, or by sense-perception, or by reason, or by intuition; the most fundamental thing is, you are trying to find meaning. That is the most essential activity of a human consciousness. And if you ask further questions, why human consciousness searches for meaning, it is because there is in the human being (this is the deepest point) there is in the human being, human being can be defined, in terms of aspiration. What is most fundamental in the human being, all search, all seeking, is seeking for significance. And all search for significance is inspired, is motivated, is pumped, is impelled by aspiration. If there is no aspiration of any kind at all, you are devoid of consciousness. Even an animal, even a bird, instinctively strives, and there is something fundamental in that striving. So the most essential thing that a human being particularly has aspiration. There is in the human being an aspiration; it is something that is incorrigible. The one thing that you cannot kill in a human being is aspiration. Whatever you do, you may have any kind of somersaults in the world, go about knocking everywhere, anywhere, anything, you will come back to this aspiration. It is the most essential, most, you might say, immortal thing, something that can’t be destroyed from human consciousness, is aspiration. It’s the very starting point of the search for meaning. And if philosophy is a search for meaning, a meaning of meaning you might say, the starting point is aspiration. Even the discussion about epistemology, whether we can know or not, what is belief, what is illumination, all that has significance only in terms of aspiration. So even epistemological questions which are now supposed to be the starting point of philosophy, even these questions have a prior starting point and that is aspiration. If one can determine what is human aspiration then everything will fall in its proper place.
As I said philosophy is a search for all facts. And the fundamental urge of collecting all facts lies in aspiration. There is in the human being an irresistible urge, is the aspiration. A human being is nothing but a packet of force, striving and that striving is aspiration. If you can define this aspiration, if you can examine this aspiration, all the physical facts, all the psychological facts will come in full embrace. The best possible manner of embracing all the facts is in the embrace of aspiration. Therefore, if you want a good starting point for philosophical thinking, you should start with the understanding of what is this aspiration? If you do that, you are doing the most essential philosophical activity and this being the greatest philosophical work, it brings you straight into the most philosophical impulse of man, on the basis of which philosophy itself is rooted. The consideration of human aspiration is, you might say, the most indispensible starting point of philosophical thinking. If you do not discuss this question, philosophy cannot be discussed properly. You cannot have another optional starting point of philosophical thinking that is why I consider this starting point itself to be the quintessential philosophical starting point and you can see that because of this the entire book of philosophy, the whole book is so neatly organised because automatically entire realm of all the facts necessarily come in the sweep. Later on I shall tell you many other starting points of philosophy, I don’t want to burden you just now with so many other alternatives, many other starting points of philosophical writings can be also. But since human aspiration is itself the fundamental motive force of philosophy itself, this great philosophical work starts with this basic point—Human Aspiration.
Now while studying this book you must underline it’s a philosophical work and therefore it follows a philosophical method and I had told you earlier, what is a philosophical method—it is a procession of connecting ideas with ideas, at the starting point and coming to a conclusion. And while connecting ideas with ideas, you enlarge constantly until the totality is embraced. This is the method of philosophical thinking; you start with an idea, try to connect with other ideas and in doing so you constantly enlarge yourself and strive to arrive at totality. Now this method of arriving at totality takes the form of what is called reasoning. Philosophy is basically a methodical process of reasoning in which ideas are connected with other ideas, so as to embrace the totality and the process is itself marked by, what may be called reasoning. What is reasoning, process of reasoning? Process of reasoning has many forms, that each form may be called argument, you might say philosophy is a process of argumentation. And what is the process of argument?
In every argument there are three limbs; one limb is a statement of a fact there is no argument without a fact. The fact which is articulated in the form of an idea, that is one limb of an argument. The second limb of argument is to show the incompleteness of the fact by the presence of another fact. So unless there is an idea connected with an idea, a fact shown to be incomplete because of another fact’s presence, you are led from one to the other, you enlarge. This is the second limb of an argument. An effort to relate one fact with the other, and there is a third element; there is a judgement whether that fact is properly related to the other fact or not, this judgement is very important. An argument is an argument if ultimately there is a judgement as to whether one fact is related with the other argument, and this connection between one and the other, has two forms. Form of probability and the form of conclusivity. Whether argument is probable, or whether argument is conclusive?
A philosophical work is best illustrated, when first of all an emphasis laid upon that fact by raising it, all the facts will ultimately come into the sweep. A philosophical work is best when whatever you state demands a relationship with another fact and demands ultimately all the facts, and when one fact is related with the other with a kind of a linking thread, where the linking is shown clearly, whether it is probable or conclusive. This should be the finesse of an argument, finesse of a philosophical statement.
Now let us see, Sri Aurobindo starts with one fact, the very statement of that fact demands ultimately consideration of all the facts. This very question of human aspiration, if anybody says, tell me what actually a human being aspires? The answer cannot be given unless you take all the facts in your conclusion, it is the one essential fact, unless you see all the physical facts and psychological facts, put them all together very tightly, unless you do it, you won’t be able to answer this question about what is human aspiration. It is one fact in the embrace of which all facts can be embraced and have got to be embraced. Massiveness of thought; basically philosophical thought is a massive thought, a thought in which the whole mass of totality can be embraced.
And you will see in this chapter one entire massive, one fact which will emerge in this chapter is a one massive fact, in which all the facts are interrelated, hanging up on one important thing—human aspiration. But to begin with there is a statement of one massive movement, one massive movement in which all the movements can be summarised for the human being is the history of human aspiration. You might say that the first paragraph contains two basic arguments. A historical argument and an ontological argument, there are many forms of argument as I said. In the first paragraph you have examples of two important arguments, a historical argument and an ontological argument. A historical argument is easier to understand. An argument which is based upon historical facts, historical facts which are stated in such a way that you cannot doubt them, incorrigibly stated. And this paragraph gives you one very important historical argument. A historical argument always has this one important conclusion, the conclusion can never be conclusive. A historical argument can only give you probable conclusions, which are important, probable conclusions are not therefore something of lesser value. But that is the utmost that you can derive from historical argument. So you might say that this paragraph says first of all that if you examine the whole history of mankind, the most important element in the whole history of mankind is the history of human aspiration.
It is the history of the greatest preoccupation, like a burden you know if you are born with a big bucket on your head, what will you feel? Every one of us is born with a bucket on his head, as it were. And everyone is burdened with that bucket. And everyone therefore is struggling with that bucket. This is what Sri Aurobindo calls the earliest preoccupation. The moment you begin to think, awakened thought, the earliest preoccupation in his awakened thought, the moment you become awakened you find there is a bucket on your head, there is a big preoccupation. Now Sri Aurobindo argues that preoccupation, it seems to be also the ultimate preoccupation. The starting point of mankind’s history, it is such a preoccupation it seems the ultimate preoccupation,—it seems, mark the word—it seems, it’s probable, it does not say it must be. A historical argument does not give you a conclusive answer,—it seems. But even for seeming there is an argument. Why does it seem to be the ultimate preoccupation? So Sri Aurobindo answers that question, you go through the whole history of mankind, there is one aspiration which can tie up all the facts of the history of mankind, one constant preoccupation. Even if you try to banish that aspiration, it comes back again, reasserts itself—there is that aspiration of mankind. There are periods of history when it is thrown out, banished, no more—comes back again. That aspiration now Sri Aurobindo defines—God, Light, Freedom, Bliss and Immortality.
You might say it is an assertion, but you read the whole history, Sri Aurobindo gives you in brief words, that if you read the whole history of mankind, which is a constant effort of man, even when this aspiration is banished and people have said, ‘no more’, don’t deal with God, don’t deal with life, don’t deal with immortality, impossible,—again man comes back to it. Read the history and the most difficult part of the history is the earliest history of man because people think that these great ideas have come only now. But you read the first, the earliest preoccupation you read that is available to mankind—the Veda. There is no other text available to mankind than what is given to us in the Veda, it is a historical fact. And if you read the Veda, it is nothing but aspiration for God, Light, Freedom, Immortality. And even today the most important question for mankind is this very question. Of course in recent times it has been banished. Think no more of God, think no more of Immortality. And the recent history of 300 years, 400 years is the history of that banishment, as the result of which where do we stand today? Sri Aurobindo says mankind is satiated with it, whatever it has been searching for the last 2-300 years, it is satiated, but not satisfied, it comes back again today. What was the great aspiration in Swami Vivekananda, one of the most contemporary young men of India and the world, his only question was—Have you seen God? He was the product of the modern mind, an ardent student of logic. And he wanted only proof of whatever is to be asserted, his only question is you speak of God, can you see God, can you prove God, that was his aspiration. And look around everywhere, where there is today a real questioning, the resounding chorus among all the aspiring minds today is the search for God. Anyway, this particular search Sri Aurobindo says, he does not say conclusively is bound to be, he says it promises. Logically, historical arguments cannot be presented as conclusive.
So the first paragraph does not give you any conclusive proposition because it is a historical argument. Historical argument only gives you probabilities. But there is in this very paragraph one ontological argument, which is conclusive. Ontological argument is always conclusive and that argument is also present, although very slightly given but it is very important, and for philosophy it is very important. You see here one statement, a very short statement, ‘…is also the highest that thought can envisage’ this phrase is very important. ‘…is also the highest which thought can envisage’ that which thought can envisage is not historical. Whether in the past, or the present or the future—thought is thought. Whatever it can think at the highest is always the highest, whether it was thought at that time, or today or tomorrow. The nature of water will remain what water is always, liquid flow. Therefore if you make a statement as to what thought can think highest, is conclusive. What’s highest about the thought, you take what is thought, it is a fact of thought, what is the nature of thought, and if you analyse the nature of thought as a fact, you find that the nature of thought is definable in terms of an ontological argument. In the history of thought, ontological argument is quite well known to philosophers. What is an ontological argument?
Ontology means Reality, that is the meaning of ontology, study of ultimate Reality is ontology. Now ontological argument is the argument of thought regarding ultimate Reality, an argument which is conclusive. So the argument of the nature of thought, starting from the nature of thought, regarding ultimate Reality which is unquestionable is an ontological argument. The ontological argument simply states very easily only this much: ‘thought cannot but think of Reality as spaceless and timeless.’ This is all that the argument says. Thought ‘cannot but’ this is the important point, thought cannot but think of ultimate Reality as spaceless and timeless—this is all that ontological argument. In the history of Western philosophy one of the first persons to formulate it was Parmenides; Parmenides in the Greek thought, he formulated this argument, which is present in Plato and which became revived in Enselm, another great philosopher and became refined in Descartes, Spinoza, Leibniz. It is even today being questioned. The argument is so powerful that even if people try to doubt it and many people think that they have doubted now successfully and yet there are people who say ‘not at all this argument is irrefutable’, you cannot question it. You come right up to Sri Aurobindo and he asserts the ontological argument that is stated in this very first paragraph, ‘is also the highest that thought can envisage’. What is the highest that you can think of? God—spaceless and timeless Reality and is also the highest aspiration of man. The highest preoccupation of man is also the highest that his thought can envisage, this is the identity of the two. Man is aspiring for God, is also something that is rationally the most justifying thing, this aspiration of man for God is not irrational, it’s the highest that thought can envisage.
Now Sri Aurobindo’s crystallisation that if you read the whole history of mankind, the one fact which emerges is that there is an aspiration for God, Light, Freedom and Immortality. And it is that aspiration which is philosophically, ontologically from the highest point of view of thought, is fully justified. This is the starting point of the very write up. You know when you go to a temple, you have a big bell and massive bell, and you have first striking of a dong and if you make a big dong all the vibrations, the reverberations that come out go on, and on, and on. You have the entire movement of the temple all through your journey; similarly this paragraph is a dong, of a big bell in the temple of God. This argument that the whole aspiration of man which you can’t rub out at all, whatever you may do, it comes again and again after every banishment, is the aspiration for God. And it is that aspiration which is fully certified by ontological argument, which cannot be questioned by thought at least, rationally which can’t be questioned, you can question on many other grounds but rationally you can never question.
So you might say that the very first paragraph of The Life Divine gives before us in a massive manner the quintessence of the aspiration of man for whole history, massive history of mankind is summarised in three-four terms God, Light, Freedom, Immortality. And it says that rationally speaking, and this rational thinking is not only what Sri Aurobindo states here, it's the whole history of thought. If you examine from Parmenides to the present day, one important argument is ontological argument. You may agree with it, you may not agree with it, it does not matter, but nobody can historically deny the fact that the one greatest philosophical argument that history has manifested in regard to philosophy is the ontological argument. And according to that argument at least God is the highest that can be envisaged, unquestionably. …………
This is the basic statement in the very first paragraph; now you can read again. And you will find the statement much more meaningful than what we had started with. It states -
“The earliest preoccupation of man in his awakened thoughts and, as it seems, (I have told you to mark the word—seems, a historical argument is not conclusive argument—as it seems) his inevitable and ultimate preoccupation, (then he says why does it seem to be so, because he gives an example)—for it survives the longest periods of scepticism and returns after every banishment, (because of this reason, this is the argument. Therefore it seems is ultimate, but then comes the word ‘is’ not seems, but is)—is also the highest which his thought can envisage.” It’s an ontological argument. So this very statement contains two arguments, a historical argument and an ontological argument.
As I said, a philosophical statement should be relating one fact with the other fact by a process of reasoning and this form of reasoning can be varied. One of them is the historical argument, another is the ontological argument. There are many others which we shall come to later on but at least in this paragraph you can see clearly the linking of facts by means of historical argument and by means of ontological argument.
Now the rest of the paragraph is simply a refinement, a further explication of that aspiration. What is that aspiration? What is it that was earliest, what is it that ultimately remained, what is it that survives after every banishment? This is what Sri Aurobindo now clarifies. It manifests (that aspiration) manifests itself in the divination of Godhead, (divination of Godhead, that is to say there is deep conjecture, divination is a conjecture of a special kind, when you divine a thing, it’s an English word which actually is both a conjecture and a conjecture which says what it conjectures. When I say I divine a thing it is to say I divine God, I conjecture God, divine must be conjectured. Human beings without knowing at all, there is one conjecture of man without knowing, whenever he blindly turns around and he feels that God is there around, it’s a divination of Godhead. It is like a child, who knows there is a breast which can feed it. It is divination of the child, he cannot but… he conjectures, he doesn’t know, it conjectures, it’s a divination. There is a source of nourishment of the child. Man also is a child and he needs nourishment, all of us need nourishment. We are all as it were on the earth in search of nourishment and whether we like it or not, believe it or not, we are sure there is nourishment, there is God all around us; it’s a divination of Godhead. So, this aspiration of man because there is this divination, he wants it and he aspires for it and he wants to embrace it, and he wants to be nourished by it. So it’s a divination of godhead, the impulse towards perfection. This is another line, all humans striving, it’s a striving for perfection, human striving is never satisfied, you do whatever you like. After airplane, what more do you want to have in this world still further, travel, travel to the moon, to Jupiter, to Saturn, even that may not be satisfying, to go into galaxies after galaxies even that may not satisfy. We do not even know what more man will strive for. But this is what… there is an impulse towards perfection, the search after pure truth. In the very grain of thought this is inherent, to eliminate error and to affirm truth in very grain of thought.
All thought movement is nothing but to eliminate error and to establish the truth, it’s a constant effort of man. All progression is a progression towards a truth by elimination of error. So this search after pure truth and unmixed bliss, of course people today know very well that happiness is the ultimate justification of life but this word unmixed Bliss is very important, not happiness only but unmixed Bliss.In fact that is all that a human being ultimately wants. One thing that will satisfy, nothing more, you will have nothing more if that unmixed Blissis obtained. Mere happiness is ephemeral, disappears after some time and therefore even that is not satisfying ultimate goal.
What he seeks after is unmixed Bliss. The sense of a secret immortality, ‘I am immortal’. There is a very beautiful sentence of Danton. You know Danton was the greatest leader of the French Revolution. He was the great soul of the French Revolution, who raised the masses of people to liberate France from the tyranny of monarchy. In the turn of the revolution as he says “Revolution tends to devour its own children.” So Danton was also accused of treason. This very man who was the leader of revolution, Robespierre comes to accuse him, his own master, his own inspirer and circumstances of history were such that he was required to put Danton in the prison in the court of law and he was charged that he has committed treason, acted against the highest interest of the nation. It is he who liberated France but such was the irony of history, he was put before the court and it was known that if it is proved that he had committed treason, the only punishment was guillotine, to kill him, death was the only punishment. So one of the arguments is that Danton, when he is asked to defend himself, says that you strive that I should be guillotined but you don’t know that ‘Je suis immortel’, you don’t know ‘I am immortal’. You see the cry of the individual, the real aspiration of man. You try to destroy me, I am indestructible, ‘Je suis immortel’, ‘I am immortal’. And this secret sense of immortality is vibrating in all of us. Whether you like it or not, you want to affirm it or not, you want to question it, doesn’t matter, your aspiration, you, you being you, you cannot but seek immortality.
And Sri Aurobindo says read the Veda, the earliest preoccupation of man, highest there in earliest time, amrittatwai gatum, it is the path to immortality that was sought after in the Veda, read the Veda. It's proven right from that time even today, now we try to have longevity, why do we have so many drugs, why so much of enquiry into surgery of various kinds? Longevity, it’s the search for immortality. So Sri Aurobindo says that the human aspiration of mankind can be termed as a divination of Godhead, as a search after Truth, unmixed Bliss and a sense of secret immortality. Now Sri Aurobindo says, “The ancient dawns of human knowledge have left us their witness to this constant aspiration; (this is the argument, a kind of an evidence, an evidence is put forward that this aspiration was also the earliest, which is also now). So he says: The ancient dawns of human knowledge have left us their witness to this constant aspiration (that is why Sri Aurobindo begins with these two statements from Rig Veda, if you read the Rig Veda and you see the aspiration that is described in the Rig Veda is this aspiration. Today, now if you see the present day, right from that day to today) today we see a humanity satiated but not satisfied by victorious analysis of the externalities of Nature preparing to return to its primeval longings. We are returning again to the same, same constant search of man and therefore Sri Aurobindo says: “The earliest formula of Wisdom promises to be its last, — God, Light, Freedom, Immortality.”
So you might say that you can close the book now, this is all that Sri Aurobindo wants to say in the whole book that mankind’s aspiration is God, Light, Freedom, Immortality. And that this aspiration is philosophically the only proposition that can be justified, ontological argument is also given. So the whole argument of the book is completed in the very first paragraph, this is called the massive argument in which the whole mass is presented in a few words with premise, argumentation, conclusion, everything is given, complete.
Now if you want to read however if you have time, leisure, we shall read further. I have got leisure but we shall have leisure, no doubt. At least one full chapter I want to read with you because it will give a complete idea, the briefest idea of what the whole book contains. After having stated this… you know when you create a symphony; the mark of a symphony is in the very first movement it is complete. At the end of its completion something still can stir, a few tunes are allowed to stir and out of that a new harmony begins to be built up and again comes to an end, out of which a third harmony starts. This is the great artistic experience of a musician, also the artistic experience of a painter, it’s the same thing. All visions of artists have a massiveness of a kind in which a figure appears which contains everything. Even a dot indicates a whole, similarly having said all that is to be said in the very first paragraph, now the new strains of thought begin to arise out of it. If somebody were a musician and he were to put the first chapter into a kind of a harmony, he would have a great theme here, the first dong and then out of that strains of musical tunes coming out of it and then a new harmony being established. In a way you might say The Life Divine is one of the greatest artistic expressions of philosophical thought. It’s not only a philosophical work; it’s also a great artistic work. Sri Aurobindo was the supreme artist basically, as he says, ‘I am fundamentally a poet,’ he says, ‘I am not a philosopher, I am a poet’. And a poet is a supreme artist and therefore the whole work The Life Divine is an artistic presentation of a philosophical thought. Now you see here, how you enjoy the movement of thought. Having stated this he summarises—God, Light, Freedom, Immortality as these great ideals. These are the ideals. This very definition of ideals is important. Sri Aurobindo recognises that although these have been the aspirations, these aspirations can be described as ideals. Ideals in the sense that these are beckoning luminary stars somewhere high, they are the magnets of mankind towards which mankind is driven irresistibly, so these ideals….
Now comes what I call dialectical reasoning. I spoke of historical argument, ontological argument, now comes the dialectical argument. What is a dialectical argument? A dialectical argument is the statement of facts which are set in terms of comparison, contrast, thesis, antithesis, the contrast between truth and falsehood, contrast between validity and invalidity and out of that deriving a conclusion; this is a dialectical reasoning.
Now comes in the next paragraph a statement of a dialectical reasoning. These great ideals, these are facts, man has aspired for it but they are in direct contradiction of actualities. The actualities are in diametrical opposition to the ideals. And out of that diametrical opposition what conclusion can we derive and is that conclusion a valid conclusion, and if not, why not? This is the substance of the second paragraph. The dialectical reasoning which contrasts the ideals with the actualities derives a conclusion, questions that conclusion and arrives at a final conclusion. This is the dialectical movement of the second paragraph, let me read out.
“These persistent ideals of the race are at once the contradiction of its normal experience and the affirmation of higher and deeper experiences which are abnormal to humanity and only to be attained, in their organised entirety, by a revolutionary individual effort or an evolutionary general progression.” You see the dialectical movement, the ideal and the actual are contrasted and yet the ideal is therefore not immediately defeated because that ideal is realisable. Many individuals in the history have revolutionised themselves and in spite of all the contradictions of the actualities, by that effort that has been sustained. Now what is that contrast, ideal and the actual? These four lines which are given are the summary of the acutest contrast in the world, the most quintessential contrast, contradiction that you find in the world is now stated here. “To know, possess and be the divine being in an animal and egoistic consciousness, to convert our twilit or obscure physical mentality into the plenary supramental illumination, to build peace and a self-existent bliss where there is only a stress of transitory satisfactions besieged by physical pain and emotional suffering, to establish an infinite freedom in a world which presents itself as a group of mechanical necessities, to discover and realise the immortal life in a body subjected to death and constant mutation,—this is offered to us as the manifestation of God in Matter and the goal of Nature in her terrestrial evolution.”
These are the great contrasting facts, to know, to possess and to be, this is the highest urge of man. To know, to possess and to be, there is no greater satisfaction that man wants except this. He does not know where he can get. But his present actual condition is quite different; this is something that cannot be, this to know, to possess and be the divine being in an animal and egoistic consciousness. As long as we remain ego, we cannot know, we cannot possess, we cannot be, it’s an impossibility. And yet this is where we are and this is all the time constantly seeking for, the two contrasting facts. The most contrasting facts in the world is that this egoistic consciousness which can never be, it is that which aspires to be. Then to convert our twilight or obscure physical mentality into plenary supramental illumination, our present mentality is a physical mentality, it is twilight mentality, it isSandhya, it is neither complete darkness, nor a complete knowledge, it’s a twilight. In that twilight and even obscure consciousness, we want to have complete knowledge, that is the whole search of man to be completely illumined, without any doubt, shadow of doubt that knowledge he wants to possess, to build peace and self-existent bliss where there is only a stress of transitory satisfactions besieged by physical pain and emotional suffering this is the description of our own being, emotional suffering, besieged constantly by physical pain and even when the pleasure is there is only transitory, transitory satisfactions besieged by physical pain and emotional suffering in that temple of poverty we want to build peace and self-existent bliss to establish an infinite freedom in a world which presents itself as a group of mechanical necessities, the world is a world of mechanical necessities.
There are laws made in the world, mechanical necessities are built up, VIP car cannot be over-crossed, it’s a mechanical necessity and if you cross it the human aspiration will fly against you and will say you are breaking my right, inherent right of freedom and this is the law of freedom that establishes itself as a great revolt against mechanical necessities and it is everywhere the whole world is up against mechanical necessities, we are suffering under those mechanical necessities, we are there bound, we ourselves create those necessities, we want to be bound by them. We revolt against their revolts and yet we are revolting against those revolts, why because we are seeking infinite freedom. This is our seeking, we are seeking infinite freedom, we are the children of freedom—amritasya putrah, so to establish an infinite freedom in a world which presents itself as a group of mechanical necessities, to discover and realise the immortal life in a body subjected to death and constant mutation. We know that we are going to die and yet we don’t want it, we want to have immortality…. to discover and realise immortal life in a body subject to death and constant mutation this is offered to us as a manifestation of God in Matter and the goal of Nature in a terrestrial evolution.
Now having stated this contrast, this thesis and antithesis are presented both are in antithetical relationship, one side and the other. Now the argument —“To the ordinary material intellect which takes its present organisation of consciousness for the limit of its possibilities, the direct contradiction of the unrealised ideals with the realised fact is a final argument against their validity”. That is to say these ideals are bound to be denied, to be valid. Why? Because we take our normal stand on our material organisation of consciousness and we think it is the final. We take our present mentality to be the final mentality as if it is the final and we argue that because the actual is in direct contradiction with the ideal, therefore ideal is false, this is real, what I see is real that is a dream and never to be realised because how can it be? This is all that is going to be and this is a permanent thing here. Material intellect takes its present organisation of consciousness as the final limit, rightly or wrongly but materialistic intellect which is in us, we are all materialists basically. Because whether we like it or not our intellect is material, is bound by the material physical body. That material intellect whenever it sees an ideal, it is bound to dismiss it saying O my Lord! It’s a dream and it can never be true, invalid; and it is a final argument. Even the great spiritual people when they are on the verge of physical mortality they find physical mortality to be the real fact and all the search for immortality, amritatvam, it seems to be a dream, in imagination one has gone into it because the real fact is only this. So, to the material intellect that which is actual and now seems to be the ultimate, nothing more than this and then death is a real fact, immortality is an imagination, dream. Therefore that dream is invalid. Philosophically therefore this is the argument, that this thesis and antithesis ends in a conclusion that what is actual is real, what is ideal is unreal and therefore it cannot be valid. This is the conclusion; it’s a part of dialectical reasoning.
Now this dialectical reasoning, Sri Aurobindo goes farther and he says that this conclusion can be further invalidated. “But if we take a more deliberate view of the world’s workings, that direct opposition appears rather as part of Nature’s profoundest method and the seal of her completest sanction.” Now this statement is a very important statement, it’s a turn in the argument, philosophical argument. If we take, he doesn’t say we must take. Philosophy is not an inevitable preoccupation of man. You may become a philosopher, you may not. But if you want to be a philosopher, if you want a philosophical argument then this is the philosophical argument. “... if we take a more deliberate view”, what’s the meaning of a deliberate view?
A deliberate view of nature is that nature is not arbitrary, nothing is arbitrary. There is a meaning in it, everything has a meaning in the world that's rationality. Rationality is reasonableness, to see reasonableness everywhere. There is no cloud and yet it’s raining, it’s not possible. If it rains without a cloud, it’s not reasonable, there must be a cloud before rain takes place, it’s not arbitrary. If some child says: why is it raining, I say because there is a cloud, my child, I say it’s not arbitrarily happening, I take a deliberate view. Nothing in the world happens just arbitrarily. So if there is a contrast between this actual fact and that ideal and if you take a deliberate view of it, why is it, why is there this contrast at all? This is the question: why is there a contrast? Then you are led to inquire into the method of nature’s working. This is a new argument in a philosophical world. In philosophical thought it is a new argument. If you take a more deliberate view of Nature's methods of working, Nature’s method is philosophical, is rational movements, there is a method in it. Even if there is madness in it, there is a method in the madness. This method of Nature is a very interesting method. It’s very method, is the method of contrast, the very method of Nature’s working is to state, which only conceals very resolutely something that is very difficult to reveal, but it is precisely that which is going to be revealed that’s the method of Nature. If you examine the whole history of mankind, complete, not only mankind but the whole history of evolution, this is the method. If you examine the very method of Nature’s working—jahan inkar hai vahi ikraar hai, where there is a complete negation, there is the real agreement. Nature starts with a negation, the very method of Nature is negation as it moves on, and on, you can knock, and knock and knock, the exact opposite will reveal itself out. This argument is what I call the quintessential metaphysical argument. If there is one metaphysical argument, it is to look into the deliberate, metaphysical argument is an argument to look deliberately into the deliberate methods of Nature. And then if you knock with that argument then you will find that that ideal which is now denied by the actuality is the only thing that is going to be established. That is to metaphysical reasoning which wants to look into the very nature of the movements of Nature, the one inevitable thing is that that which is being denied is the very thing which is going to be affirmed.
In the next paragraph Sri Aurobindo enunciates this method of Nature. He establishes his method of Nature. If you are tired we will stop here. If you are not tired I will finish this third paragraph, depending upon the fatigue.
What is that method of Nature? Now Sri Aurobindo describes the very method of Nature and he starts by saying “…. all problems of existence are essentially problems of harmony”.This is the nature of all the problems, not only this contrast between actualised fact and all that but all problems. You know when I see an object, I see a garland here, my very perceptual apparatus is atomic. The rays of light which are coming from there, which are being grasped by my eyes are all atomic. But my perception is harmonic, it’s a very surprising fact. This is what modern psychology called Gestalt psychology has brought out very clearly. It is a German psychological school, which says that human apparatus tends towards gestalt. Even in the perceptual consciousness because of gestalt, I don’t see atomic perceptions. I see convergence even when the things are disparate, I see convergence. In fact the greatest artists are those who leave the two ends open, leaving the viewer to converge. This is called the great art of expression. The greatest artists don’t tell you the conclusion. They leave the propositions but in such a manner that the viewer is obliged to converge and to derive the meaning out of it. So whether it is in the field of mere perception, or in the very movement of artistic perception, in every movement of life, particularly whenever I see a problem and the contrast is always a problem, one is opposed to the other, is a problem. Sri Aurobindo says: be sure—this is the argument—whenever there is a problem there is a law which you should see in Nature. No problem is created unless there is a secret harmony somewhere. Somewhere there is a concealed harmony and there is a constant emergent drive towards that harmony:
For all problems of existence are essentially problems of harmony.
Now I will read out the whole paragraph in one stroke:
They arise from the perception of an unsolved discord and the instinct of an undiscovered agreement or unity. To rest content with an unsolved discord is possible for the practical and more animal part of man, but impossible for his fully awakened mind, and usually even his practical parts only escape from the general necessity either by shutting out the problem or by accepting a rough, utilitarian and unillumined compromise. For essentially, all Nature seeks a harmony, life and matter in their own sphere as much as mind in the arrangement of its perceptions. The greater the apparent disorder of the materials offered or the apparent disparateness, even to irreconcilable opposition, of the elements that have to be utilised, the stronger is the spur, and it drives towards a more subtle and puissant order than can normally be the result of a less difficult endeavour. The accordance of active Life with a material of form in which the condition of activity itself seems to be inertia, is one problem of opposites that Nature has solved and seeks always to solve better with greater complexities; for its perfect solution would be the material immortality of a fully organised mind-supporting animal body. The accordance of conscious mind and conscious will with a form and a life in themselves not overtly self-conscious and capable at best of a mechanical or subconscious will is another problem of opposites in which she has produced astonishing results and aims always at higher marvels; for there her ultimate miracle would be an animal consciousness no longer seeking but possessed of Truth and Light, with the practical omnipotence which would result from the possession of a direct and perfected knowledge. Not only, then, is the upward impulse of man towards the accordance of yet higher opposites rational in itself, but it is the only logical completion of a rule and an effort that seem to be a fundamental method of Nature and the very sense of her universal strivings.
I shall not read further. We shall leave it for tomorrow. It’s a very important paragraph, a very important argument and the rest of the whole book rests upon this argument, so we shall leave it here, if you have time, you think about it, if you don’t have time don’t worry about it, we shall do it tomorrow.