The Life Divine—Chapters 1-7 (New Delhi, at Shubhra Ketu Foundation) - Session 5: 25 April 2008

There is a real battle between the physical and the supraphysical and the latest trends in materialism aim at avoiding the supraphysical to the farthest possible extent. As Sri Aurobindo points out, this attempt of materialism to combat with the claims of the supraphysical has a great meaning for the advancement of mankind. Because of the fact that the world of the supraphysical is a very complex world and there are many layers of the supraphysical world and unless we make a thorough study we are likely to be caught into some kind of a realm of cloudiness, superstition, obscurantism. Therefore, it is right that materialism demands strict adherence to certain criteria of knowledge of the Truth, of validity. There have been in the past a number of instances which had sweeping effects upon the history of the earth, where the claims of the supraphysical came to be advocated so powerfully that superstitions began to rule and this rule prevented the march of truth and true knowledge. The most disconcerting history of this conflict was in Europe, when in the name of revelation, a supraphysical claim, science was greatly obstructed and there had to be a real battle between science and religion. Science in the march of time has triumphed but in the meantime science has come to be identified with materialism and this is an exaggerated distortion and that also needs to be clarified and corrected. We have to examine this question in a greater depth and we have to ask ourselves, whether the supraphysical can be examined scientifically. That is to say, by the methods of science which consist basically of observation, experimentation, formation of hypothesis and verification of hypothesis by reference to crucial data and arrival at a final conclusion, which again remains to be modifiable and needs to be verified once again in the expanding context of development of knowledge. The question is whether the supraphysical has been in the past examined from this point of view. In the West there is a great difficulty in answering this question because there is not that kind of tradition in the West, so powerfully developed as in India, namely, the tradition of Yoga.

It is only in the field of Yoga that a proper science of the supraphysical has been developed in India and has been kept alive even though there too, there have been great aberrations. In the name of Yoga a good deal of pretension has been advocated. So-called yogis have claimed powers which they don’t possess. So-called yogis have tried to influence people in the name of God’s command, when they do not have and a lot of falsehood has spread in the name of Yoga. Therefore even in the field of Yoga there has to be a farther scrutiny and a farther conditioning of verification of the Truth. And Sri Aurobindo, considering the fact that today’s mankind has to pass through the crucibles of the supraphysical, there is no alternative. If it was possible for the man of today to surpass his difficulties without passing through the world of the supraphysical, one would have avoided this great difficult task.

According to Sri Aurobindo the present stage of evolution inevitably demands the crossing of the boundaries of the physical to the supraphysical. And not only the boundaries of the supraphysical but boundaries right up to the levels of the spiritual because all that is supraphysical is not spiritual, there are different gradations of the supraphysical. Only at a very high level of supraphysical we enter into the proper field of spirituality. Even this distinction is not sufficiently recognized. It is because of that reason that Sri Aurobindo prepares in The Life Divine a very big ground for training the students, candidates in mankind, who feel the call of the highest, to pass through a very difficult testing ground. The debate between the physical and the supraphysical is not to be put under a carpet which very often is an attempt made by many. We have got to confront the debate squarely. We have to understand the criticism of the physical against the supraphysical. This debate is fundamentally on one very important issue.

First, that the supraphysical field is a field of subjectivity. The purely scientific field is a field of objectivity and that the scientific knowledge can be tested on the ground of objectivity. Of course there is a big question as to what is objectivity? And the answer is that objectivity consists of crossing the boundaries of subjective experience in a systematic manner and this systematic measure is the following: the minimum is, whether your subjective experience is also shared by another subjective experience. What I see here objectively present or what I see here outside me, whether it is also seen by you and the same object, this is the minimum standard of objectivity.

The second is the standard of measurement, whether the distance between the subject and object is properly measured and similarly the distance is measured from other subjective experiences. And whether these measures can be correlated as a result of which you determine the location of the object precisely in the totality of the objective world.

The third is calculation. Apart from measurement, whether whatever is calculated and measured can be verified in terms of larger laws of mathematics. Are there equations and do the measurements come up to the standards of equations? And that is why mathematics and objectivity are very much regarded to be co-terminus and very much supportive of each other.

A farther question is whether an error, if there is any, can be corrected and the methods of correction are obtained or not. This also is a part of the scientific method and also has to be satisfied.

And finally whether whatever knowledge is obtained can be applied in some other similar circumstances and whether consequences can be obtained, results can be obtained and whether those consequences again satisfy all these methods which we have discussed. These are the fundamental methods of science developed today. And even then, philosophers of science conclude that even then, the knowledge obtained may not be necessarily certain, knowledge may still remain probable and this probability is also admitted by the scientists in the interest of the expansion of knowledge. This in brief is the compass of scientific knowledge, its effort at arrival at objectivity, and the criteria which have been developed in terms of the testing of the knowledge which is claimed to be true, or false or erroneous or partly true, or partly false, or probable.

Now when we speak of supraphysical and when we argue that supraphysical is also real and not only that but the supraphysical is a realm much larger than the physical world and that the realities of the supraphysical world are distinguishable from one, from the other. And there is a hierarchy of the supraphysical worlds and that at the top of these hierarchies there are supreme worlds of knowledge and such big claims are being made, we have to be even more scientific than any scientist can be.

One of the most important statements of Sri Aurobindo in regard to the development of the synthesis of Yoga has been that both Sri Aurobindo and the Mother, while developing this synthesis of Yoga have applied their knowledge not merely on the basis of faith but by development of tests of that knowledge, more scrupulously that any scientist can have with regard to his field of knowledge. This is what Sri Aurobindo himself has written, so one can imagine the kind of scruple that has gone into the making of this synthesis of yoga. It is only because of this great scruple that has been utilized by Sri Aurobindo and the Mother that today we can speak more confidently and it is only then that we can speak of avoiding the great dangers that lie in the path of the supraphysical. Because Sri Aurobindo admits that the supraphysical world and supraphysical worlds when you cross through them are extremely perilous and although there are greater aids also available, the perils cannot be avoided altogether and we have to lay down strict conditions under which these perils can be safeguarded against.

There is a very important paragraph in The Life Divine, where Sri Aurobindo discusses this question of the standards of Truths, which are to be applied in regard to the supraphysical. I think there is a very important paragraph, there is a chapter called, The Order of the Worlds, in paragraph number nine, in the middle of the paragraph there is a sentence pp 771. I would like to read with you these two three paragraphs because they are extremely important from this point of view.

Sri Aurobindo first of all says that in history of the world supraphysical has been admitted right from early times of man’s development and there have been intimations from the supraphysical worlds, which have played a great role in shaping human civilization; even for example, the ten commandments which has been very powerful in Christianity and in Judaism. It is supposed to have been received by Moses on the Sinai Mountain, that Revelation, it is not something fabricated by Moses and it is claimed that he received the commandments from God for mankind. Now phenomena of this kind have played a great role in the development of humanity. Even before that there have been many other claims of experiences. Even in the story of Genesis there are so many supraphysical facts, which even today are influencing mankind in their beliefs. This whole field of the supraphysical is a tremendous field and if you really want to know the whole world, the present condition of mankind, the future of mankind, if you want to consider where we stand and what is the highest that we can do, even if you want to escape this great inquiry, we cannot escape it. This inquiry is necessary and that is why a great effort is required. If it was avoidable one need not have read The Life Divine, such a big effort it is, but it is unavoidable. Anyone who wants to know what is to be done at the highest possible level for the world, this knowledge is absolutely indispensable and that is why in this book, the fundamentals are described and the The Synthesis of Yoga detailed descriptions of the supraphysical world are described and in Savitri, for example as I said yesterday, these descriptions have been most accurately been depicted. And this knowledge is necessary and it is in that context that the battle between the physical and the supraphysical has to be rightly debated. It is not to gain victory of one over the other; it is in the very interest of knowledge and development of mankind. The destiny of mankind is at stake, it is not to win a battle of the physical against the supraphysical, or of the supraphysical against the physical. It’s a very important debate. Therefore, Sri Aurobindo says:

It is a fact that mankind almost from the beginning of its existence or so far back as history or tradition can go, has believed in the existence of other worlds and in the possibility of communication between their powers and beings and the human race. In the last rationalistic period of human thought from which we are emerging, this belief has been swept aside as an age-long superstition; all evidence or intimations of its truth have been rejected a priori as fundamentally false and undeserving of inquiry because incompatible with the axiomatic truth that only Matter and the material world and its experiences are real; all other experience purporting to be real must be either a hallucination or an imposture or a subjective result of superstitious credulity and imagination or else, if a fact, then other than what it purported to be and explicable by a physical cause: no evidence could be accepted of such a fact unless it is objective and physical in its character; even if the fact be very apparently supraphysical, it cannot be accepted as such unless it is totally unexplainable by any other imaginable hypothesis or conceivable conjecture.

This is the condition of the modern scientific mind. Now Sri Aurobindo gives arguments in order to show first of all the inadequacies of the materialistic demands of science. Then he points out how much is the Truth behind the demands of materialistic science. How much of these Truths have also to be satisfied in regard to the supraphysical world and the claims regarding the supraphysical world. And how a new science of the supraphysical can be developed and can be applied. This paragraph and next paragraph are extremely important from that point of view. In fact I had the privilege of reading out these two paragraphs to the Mother one time and she was very keen that these paragraphs should be presented to young people in the world because these two paragraphs give a very brief, this is what modern young people want, an answer which is brief and yet very precise and very pointed and something on which you can hold with precision and these two paragraphs are therefore extremely important. So I shall read out to you.

It should be evident that this demand for physically valid proof of a supraphysical fact is irrational and illogical; it is an irrelevant attitude of the physical mind which assumes that only the objective and physical is fundamentally real and puts aside all else as merely subjective.

Now Sri Aurobindo goes farther about the claims of the supraphysical and to what extent a supraphysical fact can also be tested physically. But the basic point is that if someone says there is a supraphysical world and you are asked, show me physically. If I say that there is a supraphysical world and I demand from him, show me physically, you can see the irrelevance of it. If in the very nature if what I am speaking about is supraphysical, how can I show you physically? So to make a demand for physical verification of a supraphysical is itself irrational, illogical. So that is the first point. It doesn’t mean therefore that the claim of the supraphysical is immediately conceded. A supraphysical fact you can say has to be proved supraphysically. So that demand still remains. I may not make a demand that shows me physically but I cannot say therefore the supraphysical fact requires no proof at all. The only answer is supraphysical fact needs to be proved if not by physical proof, by supraphysical proof and are there supraphysical proofs at all? This is a very important question. But before that, Sri Aurobindo says it is true that even a supraphysical fact can be proved physically. It is not entirely impossible. First:

A supraphysical fact may impinge on the physical world and produce physical results; it may even produce an effect on our physical senses and become manifest to them, but that cannot be its invariable action and most normal character or process. Ordinarily, it must produce a direct effect or a tangible impression on our mind and our life-being, which are the parts of us that are of the same order as itself, and can only indirectly and through them, if at all, influence the physical world and physical life. If it objectivises itself, it must be to a subtler sense in us and only derivatively to the out ward physical sense. This derivative objectivisation is certainly possible; if there is an association of the action of the subtle body and its sense-organisation with the action of the material body and its physical organs, then the supraphysical can become outwardly sensible to us.

This is what happens when some people can see the auras of certain individuals. Auras are in themselves supraphysical and they can be only seen not by physical senses but by supraphysical senses. Such senses also operate, people don’t believe in them but they do operate and it is true that by supraphysical senses you can take cognizance of the supraphysical facts. But it is also possible if these supraphysical senses are greatly associated in some cases even with the physical consciousness, then what is supraphysical can also be seen physically. Therefore, some people can even see supraphysical things which are ordinarily not seen by many other people. Like in the famous story of Nivedita. The young boy could see Sri Krishna everyday in the forest. His mother had told him that going to the school you have to pass through a forest and you are a very young boy and if you are afraid, your elder brother lives in the forest and you just call him and he will come and take you. So whenever he had a difficulty he did so and the elder brother did appear and took him out of the forest and therefore he had no difficulty in going from his home to the school. And one day he had the problem of milk because there was the birthday of his teacher and all the students of the school were supposed to bring some gift, and particularly some kind of milk, or something of the kind as a gift to the teacher. And the boy had a problem and he told the mother that we are very poor and I know how can you give me milk but what shall I do? Shall I ask my elder brother? So the elder brother, mother said: yes, you call him. So he called him and the elder brother gave a small little vessel in which there was a little milk and he took it and gave it to the teacher. The teacher had many good presents from so many people and the teacher went on putting all the milk together in a big vessel. And the small child, he was very afraid now as my portion is a little bit and he took it. And the teacher, of course, out of indulgence he took it because hardly it was going to make an addition to the totality of the milk and he began to pour it and pour it and pour it, it did not end. It went on and on and on, vessels after vessels were filled with that milk. And the teacher was so astonished and said what is it, from where have you got it? And he said my elder brother gave it to me. It is a beautiful story written by Sister Nivedita in the ‘Cradle Tales of Hinduism’ , a very interesting story. And then the teacher said: who is your elder brother? And he said he is with me all the time, whenever I go, whenever I call him, he comes. The teacher said let me see with you, who is your elder brother? He went to the forest and sat and the boy called out and Sri Krishna came and then the boy said here he is. The teacher said: I do not see him. So he told his elder brother that he can’t see him. What is the matter? He said: he can’t see, don't worry, you can only see me. The point is that the supraphysical can be seen even physically in a certain state of consciousness. This story may be regarded only as a fiction to be told to children, who may feel amused but it is a fact, in all spiritual experiences you can. I mean Mirabai said she saw Sri Krishna and there are many, many physical forms and they could even touch the physical forms and these are the claims of spiritual masters in fact.

So Sri Aurobindo says it is perfectly possible to have objectivisation of these experiences but it is not that only this objectivisation could be the method of proving it. In itself it is supraphysical but it can be objectivised, you can see it even physically. But that may not be the inevitable and indispensable method of proving, the proof does not lie in that, that also could be. But if you really want the proof of the supraphysical, you must have supraphysical means of verification. Actually speaking we do not ask the question what is this physical perception of an objective physical fact? Why is there a physical experience of physical reality? This question is not sufficiently debated even by scientists. It is assumed, we have physical senses and you can see the physical world. But if you ask epistemologically, why, why the physical world can be seen only by physical senses, what is the reason? What is the connection between the physical senses and the physical world? Why do I perceive the physical world? What is the physical sense? Actually speaking we know that physical sense is only an instrument, it is not the sense by itself. The eyes and ears etc are only instruments. It is like a microscope. And a microscope if you see yourself is seen through another organ but seeing takes place in the retina and even there one does not know, there is a sense, the instrument is not the sense. If the sense is absent and even if the physical organ is present, this is what we experience very often in what is called absent-minded perception. I may stand on the street in a state of great anxiety and I see people passing and I don’t notice people passing around me, my mind is absent, that is to say: the organs are open, the instruments are open but the sense is not concentrated upon it. Somebody touches me in my sleep, the instrument is there, there is the same impact as ordinarily there is the impact on my body, I do not feel it because something that is other than the skin, other than the instrument is absent. In other words there is a difference between the instrument and the sense itself and what is this sense? It’s not physical, that sense is not a physical organ. What is the sense?

It is in itself supraphysical and this is not sufficiently recognized or understood that basically sense itself is supraphysical. And even the object that we see, what is that object which I call physical? Is it really physical in itself? If you really believe the modern science that this table consists of protons and electrons and so on and that is the real reality of it and these are like hollows. Actually speaking if you take a picture of this table as it is, it is full of hollows, which I do not perceive at all. So in what sense is my perception of this table an objectively real experience. Now these questions are not at all debated by scientists. They are as it were a priori—you don’t question this is what happens, I must have this thing happening with my physical senses, whatever the sense may be, I must have this measurement, I must have this experience and that is all. But it is certainly refusal to inquire further. We must inquire, what is really the sense? That is why in India it is said that manas is a sixth sense, it is recognized in India; manas is a sense and manas is not an organ, physical organ at all. It is recognized to be the sixth sense and the powers of this sense can be cultivated as a result of which many phenomena which are not dependent on physical senses can be had. In fact, as Sri Aurobindo says, all the world is actually more than nine-tenths supraphysical, only physical is a little fret, a little margin of the supraphysical. We are all time living in a great supraphysical world, everything is supraphysical basically. Our emotions are supraphysical, feelings are supraphysical, our senses are supraphysical, our aspirations are supraphysical, our relationships are supraphysical. We live constantly in a supraphysical existence and we take pell-mell our world as it is and there is a kind of a feeling that this world is tangible only when we can touch it. But this is a demand which itself requires to be questioned. In fact you should demand a deeper demand ‒ are there supraphysical senses by means of which the supraphysical world can be touched? The proof of a supraphysical world should be based upon supraphysical perception. Can you supraphysically, by supraphysical sense can you see a supraphysical world and if you have measurements of that then you can have another science, a much better science, much more important science and that is what is absolutely necessary for us to develop.

This derivative objectivisation is certainly possible; if there is an association of the action of the subtle body and its sense-organisation with the action of the material body and its physical organs, then the supraphysical can become outwardly sensible to us. This is what happens, for example, with the faculty called second sight; it is the process of all those psychic phenomena which seem to be seen and heard by the outer senses and are not sensed inwardly through representative or interpretative or symbolic images which bear the stamp of an inner experience or have an evident character of formations in a subtle substance. There can, then, be various kinds of evidence of the existence of other planes of being and communication with them; objectivisation to the outer sense, subtle-sense contacts, mind contacts, life contacts, contacts through the subliminal in special states of consciousness exceeding our ordinary range. Our physical mind is not the whole of us nor, even though it dominates almost the whole of our surface consciousness, the best or greatest part of us; reality cannot be restricted to a sole field of this narrowness or to the dimensions known within its rigid circle.

There is a very interesting lecture that Swami Vivekananda gave in America. The whole lecture is reproduced under the title “Powers of the Mind”. It is a very interesting evidence, which he has provided from his own personal experience and example. And these facts which he has described, even today, since Swami Vivekananda has narrated them in a lecture that he has given, they need to be taken quite seriously. It is his personal experience and account of his own personal encounter and it is amazing and I cannot even today explain this particular phenomenon that he had seen with somebody whom he had gone to see along with his friends. And it was said about him that he can foretell things and he had many powers and so on.

Let me read it to you because it is a very interesting account that he himself has given and there is a need today in our present world to collect all these authentic facts and present them to the field of knowledge. It is a knowledge which sometimes for example in India for example it is left to be believed for those who want to believe and to go ahead with the physical world as it is and not to bother too much about it. But I think the time has grown very ripe, when one has to make a very serious study of this and make a real science of it and develop it further and fortunately with a lot of literature now available from Sri Aurobindo and the Mother, this would be not so difficult and also therefore to lay down the conditions and even to test so that charlatans can be exposed and you can say that people who claim falsely, even these false claims can be examined and can be exposed and that also is necessary because in the name of the supraphysical anything goes and people begin to have great experiences and great faith and afterwards they are found to be fake and then you feel you were deceived in your life.

Powers of the Mind’ delivered in Los Angeles, California. January 8, 1900.

All over the world there has been the belief in the supernatural throughout the ages. All of us have heard of extraordinary happenings, and many of us have had some personal experience of them. I would rather introduce the subject by telling you certain facts which have come within my own experience. I once heard of a man who, if any one went to him with questions in his mind, would answer them immediately; and I was also informed that he foretold events. I was curious and went to see him with a few friends. We each had something in our minds to ask, and, to avoid mistakes, we wrote down our questions and put them in our pockets. As soon as the man saw one of us, he repeated our questions and gave the answers to them. Then he wrote something on paper, which he folded up, asked me to sign on the back, and said, "Don’t look at it; put it in your pocket and keep it there till I ask for it again." And so on to each one of us. He next told us about some events that would happen to us in the future. Then he said, "Now, think of a word or a sentence, from any language you like." I thought of a long sentence from Sanskrit, a language of which he was entirely ignorant. "Now, take out the paper from your pocket," he said. The Sanskrit sentence was written there! He had written it an hour before with the remark, "In confirmation of what I have written, this man will think of this sentence." It was correct. Another of us who had been given a similar paper which he had signed and placed in his pocket, was also asked to think of a sentence. He thought of a sentence in Arabic, which it was still less possible for the man to know; it was some passage from the Koran. And my friend found this written down on the paper.

Another of us was a physician. He thought of a sentence from a German medical book. It was written on his paper.

Several days later I went to this man again, thinking possibly I had been deluded somehow before. I took other friends, and on this occasion also he came out wonderfully triumphant.

Another time I was in the city of Hyderabad in India, and I was told of a Brâhmin there who could produce numbers of things from where, nobody knew. This man was in business there; he was a respectable gentleman. And I asked him to show me his tricks. It so happened that this man had a fever, and in India there is a general belief that if a holy man puts his hand on a sick man he would be well. This Brahmin came to me and said, "Sir, put your hand on my head, so that my fever may be cured." I said, "Very good; but you show me your tricks." He promised. I put my hand on his head as desired, and later he came to fulfil his promise. He had only a strip of cloth about his loins, we took off everything else from him. I had a blanket which I gave him to wrap round himself, because it was cold, and made him sit in a corner. Twenty-five pairs of eyes were looking at him. And he said, "Now, look, write down anything you want." We all wrote down names of fruits that never grew in that country, bunches of grapes, oranges, and so on. And we gave him those bits of paper. And there came from under his blanket, bushels of grapes, oranges, and so forth, so much that if all that fruit was weighed, it would have been twice as heavy as the man. He asked us to eat the fruit. Some of us objected, thinking it was hypnotism; but the man began eating himself — so we all ate. It was all right.

As you will see Sri Aurobindo speaks of objectivisations to the outer sense ‒ subtle sense contacts, mind contacts, life contacts, contacts to the subliminal in special states of consciousness exceeding our ordinary range. Now these are different levels of experiences of the supraphysical. And, therefore, the science of the supraphysical existence is a very wide ranging science and a good study would require not merely a kind of a book opened and studying because many of these things cannot be even understood unless we have some elements of experience. Therefore, the study of the supraphysical science also requires a good deal of experience and the two things should go side by side. And it is important to observe that the study of the supraphysical, which has been best done is in the yogic science, and Yoga is conceived as a science and this Yoga demands fulfillment of a number of conditions both for the entry into the science and then continuation in that scientific field and arrival at some mastery of this great science. In the course of development a great stress is laid upon three preliminary conditions ‒ the development of the powers of concentration; secondly purification and thirdly renunciation. These three are the pre-conditions for the study of the supraphysical and it should be made very clear that unless one is prepared to undergo these three things, one should not be admitted even to the field of the supraphysical because the field of the supraphysical is a perilous field and for protecting oneself and the others from the perils of this entry, one has to take a great precaution. It is a kind of precaution that you take even with regard to physical sciences. If you enter into a laboratory of physics, or chemistry, or biology, you are required to undergo certain previous training. Anybody and everybody cannot be admitted to the laboratories and certain conditions have to be fulfilled. Even a certain attitude of the mind has to be developed. A scientist has to be impartial. Now this is a psychological condition of the study of any science; to develop impartiality and then the capacity to evaluate observations, not only by pure impartiality but also certain skills of evaluation. Thirdly, patience, a scientist has to be extremely patient. And this is not a very easy demand but a good scientist has to be very patient. A good scientist also has to be told that you might work on your field for years and years without arriving at any result and therefore not to be frustrated, if you don’t get the result. That even the spirit of competition in the field of science may be perilous, may be injurious, both to oneself as to the others; there are occasions where your competitor arrives at a discovery much earlier than you and it might frustrate you from an egoistic point of view, therefore one is advised not to be egoistic. Even for a good scientist these mental qualities are required. They may not be fulfilled by everybody but they are required. Also one requires a theoretical training, before you can enter into practical applications. And anybody and everybody cannot be allowed to do experiments unless the theoretical training has reached a certain advanced stage. Now that is true even of the physical sciences. In the supraphysical sciences the conditions have to be even more strict and that is why in India we had a great system of guru-shishya parampara. It was not a kind of a tradition for respecting and all that sort of thing but considering the perils of the development of powers and perceptions one has to be very careful and these three powers particularly, which I spoke of have to be underlined: the powers of concentration, the necessity of purification, and the readiness for renunciation. If these three qualities are not satisfied one should be told that you are not qualified.

Certain conditions have to be fulfilled particularly when you enter an experimental laboratory of this kind, these conditions are extremely important and they have to be guarded. Even when these conditions are accepted, people go haywire, even after developing at a certain level and there are all kinds of revolts; all kinds of exaggerations of egoism; the manifestations of greed and egoism and power. All these aberrations do take place and that is why we had a rule in Patanjali, for example it is said that for several years don’t do any practice excepting yama and niyama. In Jainism for example, these yamas and niyamas are all important and that is very important, it is not easy unless you are truthful, unless you are self-controlled, unless you have certain compassion for everybody, unless you are able to renounce—aparigraha, is a very difficult training in which you do not store anything for morrow, for the next day. You depend only on what you get today and do not bother about tomorrow. You have to say that the next day you will get what is necessary, it may come, it may not come but you cannot store it for tomorrow, thinking that tomorrow nobody will come and give you anything. Of course now Jainism is so widespread that nobody has to bother very much about it and there are lines of invitations for you, so it doesn’t matter. But fundamentally, the idea of aparigraha is extremely important and then the niyamas, of santosha, saucha, swadhyaya and so on, these are also very important niyamas. It is said that unless you follow these yamas and niyamas for a long time, you are not fit to enter into the field of Yoga. It is a part of the science actually; it’s a kind of a laboratory, conditions for your entry into Yoga. Very often it is so much connected with religiosity and superstition but it is not that. It is just to have a recognition of the perils of the problem and to satisfy that you are giving sufficient protection to the individual who enters into it that these yamas and niyamas have been framed. For the development of these supraphysical sciences, you have to first of all study subtle physical and that is a vast field.

Then there is what Sri Aurobindo calls subliminal, subliminal consists of the subtle physical, inner vital and inner mental. And then there is the question of the psychic consciousness, so that is a still deeper science of psychic experiences. And then there are other domains of the superconscious ‒ the domain of the Higher Mind and Illumined Mind and Intuitive Mind, Over Mind and the Supermind and these are all scientific processes that is to say, you can distinguish between the Over Mind and Supermind; you can distinguish between Intuitive Mind and Over Mind and so on. In fact a cursory study of some of the letters of Sri Aurobindo on poetry, that is very interesting, where Sri Aurobindo has commented on the poetical creations of some of his disciples, where he has even said these particular lines from the Intuitive Mind, these lines comes from Higher Mind, this is Psychic, this is overmental and so on, even with regard to some of the great poets and their poetry, Sri Aurobindo has made a remark as to what are the levels on which these poetical creations have been created.

Now unless you have a great scientific spirit and scientific scruple, you cannot arrive at this kind of clarity and precision. In other words, in Sri Aurobindo’s Records of Yoga, and Mother’s Agenda, you have so much scientific literature available for the whole science that if one can make a study, one can create, even write a manual of this science which is very important and very useful in due course of time.

Now we continue the argument, however.

If it be said that subjective experience or subtle-sense images can easily be deceptive, since we have no recognised method or standard of verification and a too great tendency to admit the extraordinary and miraculous or supernatural at its face value, this may be admitted: but error is not the prerogative of the inner subjective or subliminal parts of us, it is also an appanage of the physical mind and its objective methods and standards, and such liability to error cannot be a reason for shutting out a large and important domain of experience; it is a reason rather for scrutinising it and finding out in it its own true standards and its characteristic, appropriate and valid means of verification.

This is the argument that subjective experiences can be deceptive, there can be a lot of errors about it:

If it be said that subjective experience or subtle-sense images can easily be deceptive, since we have no recognised method or standard of verification and a too great tendency to admit the extraordinary and miraculous or supernatural at its face value, this may be admitted: but error is not the prerogative of the inner subjective or subliminal parts of us, it is also an appanage of the physical mind and its objective methods and standards, and such liability to error cannot be a reason for shutting out a large and important domain of experience; it is a reason rather for scrutinising it and finding out in it its own true standards and its characteristic, appropriate and valid means of verification.

This is a very important statement. If somebody says that subjective experiences can be very deceptive and there is a tendency to allow Truth for falsehood and falsehood for the Truth, Sri Aurobindo says that this tendency is there, it should be admitted. But then there is a cure and the cure has to be found and this is what Sri Aurobindo answers:

If it be said that subjective experience or subtle-sense images can easily be deceptive, since we have no recognised method or standard of verification and a too great tendency to admit the extraordinary and miraculous or supernatural at its face value, this may be admitted: but error is not the prerogative of the inner subjective or subliminal parts of us, it is also an appanage of the physical mind and its objective methods and standards, and such liability to error cannot be a reason for shutting out a large and important domain of experience; it is a reason rather for scrutinising it and finding out in it its own true standards and its characteristic, appropriate and valid means of verification.

This is the important condition that in order to build up a true science, one should not be afraid of the mistakes that will be committed. Errors are also in the physical sciences. Merely errors should not be the reason for shutting out the enquiry. Any enquiry creates a possibility of an error. The point is whether you develop standards and methods of verification by means of which errors can be detected; deceptions can be minimized and eliminated.

Now Sri Aurobindo’s stand point is that such standards of verification are available in the field of supraphysical sciences and this is not very widely known and that is why the great difficulty, that there are supraphysical methods of verification. If somebody says, whenever I close my eyes, I see the green colour. That means that the individual has a contact. There is no green colour around and yet when I close my eyes and I see a green colour all the time. Now is it that he is imagining, is it an after image, there is nothing green here and yet when I close my eyes, I get green colour before my eyes. Usually when you close your eyes there is darkness but somebody says I see green colour all the time. What does it mean? Then he says you know it is a very high divine light that I am seeing, green light all the time. If he makes a claim, you can say, my dear friend please wait, the green colour is not the normal colour of a divine light, a scientific statement. The green light is the green light of the vital world. When you enter the vital world, you normally have the vision of green light. Now this is a great science developed by the tantriks. Tantra is a great science of Yoga. It has developed a very strict and very scrupulous science. And when you read Sri Aurobindo’s letters on ‘Visions and Voices’, it is a wonderful chapter in The Letters on Yoga—Visions and Voices, where Sri Aurobindo has given a detailed meaning of different lights and different colours and the meanings of it, and then the figures which are seen like if you see a deer in your vision it means speed of yogic development and so on, if you see an aeroplane in your vision, what does it mean? A train if you see, you may see a cart in your vision. So there are all kinds of standards of verifications have been determined. Yogic science is a very well developed science in India. It’s only because the science has not been developed and transmitted properly that today generally mankind remains, even in India people are all bewildered. All kinds of claims are being made and everybody is passing off as a great spiritual saint and great experience has come and so on. Somebody producing a ring suddenly and saying now it is divine power. It may be only power of materialization and even a saint like Ramakrishna could not give you a ring but some other person can give a ring, like this person about whom Swami Vivekananda spoke that man was not like Sri Ramkrishna but he was able to produce grapes and fruits and so on. If you are a real yogic scientist, you will not put that man into the hierarchy of a saint, many saints may not be able to do all that others may be able to do. But there are differences and different kinds of powers and different availabilities of powers. It is because in India this knowledge has been covered up and mis-utilized that there is a lot of misunderstanding. But a time has come when this knowledge has to be manifested scientifically. So Sri Aurobindo says: “….it is a reason rather for scrutinising it and finding out in it its own true standards and its characteristic, appropriate and valid means of verification. Our subjective being is the basis of our objective experience, and it is not probable that only its physical objectivisations are true and the rest unreliable.” This sentence is one of the most important sentences. I read again. “Our subjective being is the basis of our objective experience”. This is because physical scientists always demand objective standards of truth. Now this objective standard of truth is a very good demand and we must insist upon it. And even for subjective experiences of the supraphysical, we must demand the objective standards of truth. But we must understand the rationale behind it properly.

What is the rationale? What is objective and who understands the objective? This is an important question. What is objective and who understands the objective? Who determines that the objective is objective? The answer is that it is all subjective. It is the subjective which understands what is objective. It is subjective that understands that the objective is objective. In other words our subjectivity has a very special capacity. Our subjectivity is capable inwardly to determine what is objective and what is not objective. Our subjective consciousness has within it a power to discriminate, what is purely objective and what is purely subjective. All sincere people are able to do it. The condition is of sincerity and that is a very important condition. And in yoga for example it is said that the most important element and condition that you should fulfill in Yoga, is sincerity. If you are not sincere, you are likely to exaggerate your egoism; you are likely to exaggerate the truth of your experience. You are likely to believe that what you feel, experience subjectively, you say it is right. It is your sincerity, which gives you the real value and which tells you be sure you are really objectively seeing. When I come out of my dream, sometimes the dreams are so vivid as if things are seen objectively. The kind of experience that was described by our great dramatist in Swapna Vasavdattam, Vasavadatta was seen in a dream that is what he felt, it was a dream. Actually it was not a dream, it was an objective Vasavdatta who was there and when he opened his eyes she had just slipped away. Therefore, she was not to be found. But it’s a very interesting psychological example, unless you are extremely sincere and truly in search of objectivity, you can claim subjective experience to be objective and objective to be subjective. Sometimes even if you see something objectively, oh! It is only subjective. Why? Because you are not so scrutinizing consciousness. And Sri Aurobindo says that even what scientists believe to be objective; even the objective standard is created by the subjective experience of the scientist. It is after all the subjective consciousness of the scientist which have determined that unless you have these proofs, don’t regard it to be objective. Merely because you have seen, even if you have seen in your waking consciousness, even when you have cleaned your eyes properly and seen even then don’t think what is objectively seen do not think as objective. You ask your friend, do you also see the same thing? Now this criterion, who builds up? It is the scientist himself that can be wrong, even when you see very clearly you may not be right. Ask somebody else can you see the same thing? Sometimes even when your friend says, I see it, he may not be right. Even that you have to find out whether you are seeing it or not merely because somebody says I see it, you should not say, I have seen it. Even then do not believe it, you should measure the distance between you and the object. Now all these standards have been built by the subjective consciousness of the scientist. In other words, subjective consciousness is capable of so much of sincerity that it builds up its own standards of truth. And if it can build up such standards of truth even with regard to the physical reality, why should it not be possible for the subjective consciousness to develop subjective standards of objectivity. It should be possible. If you read The Mother’s Agenda for example, the kind of scrutiny that she has of her own experiences—it’s amazing, what tremendous scruple. One has to collect so many of data to show, how scrupulous one has to be, so that subjective wish cannot be regarded as fulfillment even if you some probing effect, you should be very, very careful. You should repeat your experience once, twice, three times, five times, ten times, hundred times, thousand times. Some of the things that Sri Aurobindo has written have been verified thousands of times, not a few times. That is why Sri Aurobindo says that no scientist would have been so scrupulous in his testing as he and the Mother have been in regard to the development of this great science.

So this sentence is a very important sentence “Our subjective being is the basis of our objective experience, and it is not probable that only its physical objectivisations are true and the rest unreliable.

The subliminal consciousness, when rightly interrogated, is a witness to truth and its testimony is confirmed again and again even in the physical and the objective field; that testimony cannot, then, be disregarded when it calls our attention to things within us or to things that belong to planes or worlds of a supraphysical experience. At the same time belief by itself is not evidence of reality; it must base itself on some thing more valid before one can accept it. It is evident that the beliefs of the past are not a sufficient basis for knowledge, even though they cannot be entirely neglected: for a belief is a mental construction and may be a wrong building; it may often answer to some inner intimation and then it has a value, but, as often as not, it disfigures the intimation, usually by a translation into terms familiar to our physical and objective experience, such as that which converted the hierarchy of the planes into a physical hierarchy or geographical space-extension, turned the rarer heights of subtle substance into material heights and placed the abodes of the gods on the summits of physical mountains.

Like Shiva living on the top of the Himalayas, saying that it is this physical Himalayas and not really seeing that what is described in the Puranas as the abodes of the Gods, are supraphysical worlds and they are not to be converted into physical terms and say that he has an abode here or there. There are abodes, that is true but those abodes are not in the physical, not in the physical mountains but in the supraphysical mountains.

All truth supraphysical or physical must be founded not on mental belief alone, but on experience,—but in each case experience must be of the kind, physical, subliminal or spiritual, which is appropriate to the order of the truths into which we are empowered to enter; their validity and significance must be scrutinised, but according to their own law and by a consciousness which can enter into them and not according to the law of another domain or by a consciousness which is capable only of truths of another order; so alone can we be sure of our steps and enlarge firmly our sphere of knowledge.

These are the conditions which are to be remembered and if materialism of today has opposed the supraphysical, we have to be grateful to it, because unless the mankind has become sufficiently ripe, sufficiently purified, sufficiently scrupulous, not to jump into conclusions immediately on some flimsy experiences, unless mankind is sufficiently baked, it is not safe to enter into this field.

So we go back again to the chapter that we were reading, this was only a kind of a supplement which I thought necessary because it explains much more clearly, what Sri Aurobindo means by saying that materialism has given a great help to us, by not allowing into the supraphysical, even obstructing and even denying the supraphysical, until we are quite ready for it and this service materialism has given but now is the time to go further. This is the time where we have reached now.

I think if you take this paragraph, The Unknown is not the Unknowable, pp 13. This is the starting point of the new inquiry, when you are sufficiently trained in the physical inquiry which for the last four hundred years mankind has been trained sufficiently well, then we have to say now there is still much that remains unknown. And Sri Aurobindo says:

The Unknown is not the Unknowable; it need not remain the unknown for us, unless we choose ignorance or persist in our first limitations. For to all things that are not unknowable, all things in the universe, there correspond in that universe faculties which can take cognisance of them, and in man, the microcosm, these faculties are always existent and at a certain stage capable of development.

This is a great statement of Sri Aurobindo that you can be sure that any object of knowledge if it exists; there is also a faculty in the human consciousness which can take cognizance of it. The world is nothing but the world that is at once subjective and objective. We may not recognize it, we may not believe in it but it is a fact. That is why in Sankhya philosophy there is a state of evolution that has been described in which the physical objects, the pancha mahabhutas and tanmatras have correspondence. If there is the earth, earth can be basically touched. If there is something that can be seen, there is a sight. The visible object corresponds to the capacity of sensing. So there is a correspondence between the sense of sight and the objective vision which is available in the physical world. All the pancha mahabhutas are connected with the tanmatras and because of the tanmatras we are able to perceive the corresponding objects in the world. Now what is true in the physical world is also true in the higher supraphysical worlds. For every particular level of existence, the vital world can be seen by the vital consciousness, the mental world can be seen by the mental consciousness, psychic consciousness can see the psychic world and so on, corresponding to every world which is supraphysical, there is in us a corresponding faculty. So Sri Aurobindo says that:

For to all things that are not unknowable, all things in the universe, there correspond in that universe faculties which can take cognisance of them, and in man, the microcosm, these faculties are always existent and at a certain stage capable of development. We may choose not to develop them; where they are partially developed, we may discourage and impose on them a kind of atrophy. But, fundamentally, all possible knowledge is knowledge within the power of humanity. And since in man there is the inalienable impulse of Nature towards self-realisation, no struggle of the intellect to limit the action of our capacities within a determined area can for ever prevail.

This is the effort of the modern times which says do not enter into the supraphysical, it’s a false world, it does not exist. But man his basic urge is to know himself, self-realization. Even if you stop him, you can stop him for sometime, a time must come when he has to break open his being and really see within himself, what he is. And fortunately for seeing himself the real faculties are also present in him therefore all the levels for man’s self-realisation are available.

When we have proved Matter and realised its secret capacities, the very knowledge which has found its convenience in that temporary limitation, must cry to us, like the Vedic Restrainers, “Forth now and push forward also in other fields.”

There is the Vedic experience that there are Vritras, who are restrainers. They are ones who build dams for the waters so that waters are restrained and when you are in search of knowledge and the waters of knowledge, then Vritras come and stop your movement but it is your persistent purification, your renunciation, your concentration—these three elements, if you develop them and when yours tests are successful then these very restrainers will tell you, now we open the gates for you, you push forth. Sri Aurobindo says that the modern materialists are only Vritras of this kind. Mankind has now persisted and if your persistence is proved to be valid then even the physical scientists will come and tell you, push forth and attain to higher knowledge of the supraphysical. And Sri Aurobindo says that today mankind has reached that point of development. Sri Aurobindo in the next paragraph says:

If modern Materialism were simply an unintelligent acquiescence in the material life, the advance might be indefinitely delayed. But since its very soul is the search for Knowledge, it will be unable to cry a halt; as it reaches the barriers of sense-knowledge and of the reasoning from sense-knowledge, its very rush will carry it beyond and the rapidity and sureness with which it has embraced the visible universe is only an earnest of the energy and success which we may hope to see repeated in the conquest of what lies beyond, once the stride is taken that crosses the barrier. We see already that advance in its obscure beginnings.

Materialism itself because its search is for knowledge so it will never cry a permanent halt.

If modern Materialism were simply an unintelligent acquiescence in the material life, the advance might be indefinitely delayed. But since its very soul is the search for Knowledge, it will be unable to cry a halt; as it reaches the barriers of sense-knowledge and of the reasoning from sense-knowledge, its very rush will carry it beyond and the rapidity and sureness with which it has embraced the visible universe is only an earnest of the energy and success which we may hope to see repeated in the conquest of what lies beyond, once the stride is taken that crosses the barrier. We see already that advance in its obscure beginnings.

This is the reading of our time. That is why we stand at a very important moment where we need not fear to advance into the supraphysical realms and into the realms of Yoga. As our time is limited, I will be pardoned if I omit a few paragraphs while reading, so that at least the first 4 chapters are completed by tomorrow and I would like you to come to the paragraph which says, “what is that work and result”, in that paragraph (pp 14) we have 3rd or 4th line. “Science itself begins….” I connect what I have read so far with this sentence, it’s a direct link actually, all the remaining is a kind of elucidation, but now you come to this next point…

Science itself begins to dream of the physical conquest of death, expresses an insatiable thirst for knowledge, is working out something like a terrestrial omnipotence for humanity. Space and Time are contracting to the vanishing-point in its works, and it strives in a hundred ways to make man the master of circumstance and so lighten the fetters of causality. The idea of limit, of the impossible begins to grow a little shadowy and it appears instead that whatever man constantly wills, he must in the end be able to do; for the consciousness in the race eventually finds the means. It is not in the individual that this omnipotence expresses itself, but the collective Will of mankind that works out with the individual as a means. And yet when we look more deeply, it is not any conscious Will of the collectivity, but a superconscious Might that uses the individual as a centre and means, the collectivity as a condition and field. What is this but the God in man, the infinite Identity, the multitudinous Unity, the Omniscient, the Omnipotent, who having made man in His own image, with the ego as a centre of working, with the race, the collective Narayana, the viśvamānava as the mould and circumscription, seeks to express in them some image of the unity, omniscience, omnipotence which are the self-conception of the Divine? “That which is immortal in mortals is a God and established inwardly as an energy working out in our divine powers.” It is this vast cosmic impulse which the modern world, without quite knowing its own aim, yet serves in all its activities and labours subconsciously to fulfil.

So this is the real reading of the march of knowledge of today.

“But there is always a limit…” that is to say, with all kinds of efforts we are making, most Herculean tasks that we are performing today including space travel and so on.

But there is always a limit and an encumbrance,—the limit of the material field in the Knowledge, the encumbrance of the material machinery in the Power. But here also the latest trend is highly significant of a freer future. As the outposts of scientific Knowledge come more and more to be set on the borders that divide the material from the immaterial, so also the highest achievements of practical Science are those which tend to simplify and reduce to the vanishing-point the machinery by which the greatest effects are produced. Wireless telegraphy is Nature’s exterior sign and pretext for a new orientation. The sensible physical means for the intermediate transmission of the physical force is removed; it is only preserved at the points of impulsion and reception. Eventually even these must disappear; for when the laws and forces of the supraphysical are studied with the right starting-point, the means will infallibly be found for Mind directly to seize on the physical energy and speed it accurately upon its errand. There, once we bring ourselves to recognise it, lie the gates that open upon the enormous vistas of the future.

As long as you remain only to the material field even if you expand tremendously fast and try to bring space and time into contracting vanishing point there is still a limit.

But there is always a limit and an encumbrance,—the limit of the material field in the Knowledge, the encumbrance of the material machinery in the Power. But here also the latest trend is highly significant of a freer future. As the outposts of scientific Knowledge come more and more to be set on the borders that divide the material from the immaterial, so also the highest achievements of practical Science are those which tend to simplify and reduce to the vanishing-point the machinery by which the greatest effects are produced. Wireless telegraphy is Nature’s exterior sign and pretext for a new orientation. The sensible physical means for the intermediate transmission of the physical force is removed; it is only preserved at the points of impulsion and reception. Eventually even these must disappear; for when the laws and forces of the supraphysical are studied with the right starting-point, the means will infallibly be found for Mind directly to seize on the physical energy and speed it accurately upon its errand. There, once we bring ourselves to recognise it, lie the gates that open upon the enormous vistas of the future.

At the time when Sri Aurobindo wrote, wireless telegraphy was the last outpost of knowledge development. But even at that time Sri Aurobindo had foreseen farther developments and still farther developments which you can see here.

In the wireless telegraphy:

But there is always a limit and an encumbrance,—the limit of the material field in the Knowledge, the encumbrance of the material machinery in the Power. But here also the latest trend is highly significant of a freer future. As the outposts of scientific Knowledge come more and more to be set on the borders that divide the material from the immaterial, so also the highest achievements of practical Science are those which tend to simplify and reduce to the vanishing-point the machinery by which the greatest effects are produced. Wireless telegraphy is Nature’s exterior sign and pretext for a new orientation. The sensible physical means for the intermediate transmission of the physical force is removed; it is only preserved at the points of impulsion and reception. Eventually even these must disappear; for when the laws and forces of the supraphysical are studied with the right starting-point, the means will infallibly be found for Mind directly to seize on the physical energy and speed it accurately upon its errand. There, once we bring ourselves to recognise it, lie the gates that open upon the enormous vistas of the future.

And this is a great step that Sri Aurobindo foresees in the future.

Eventually even these must disappear; for when the laws and forces of the supraphysical are studied with the right starting-point, the means will infallibly be found for Mind directly to seize on the physical energy and speed it accurately upon its errand. There, once we bring ourselves to recognise it, lie the gates that open upon the enormous vistas of the future.

Yet even if we had full knowledge and control of the worlds immediately above Matter, there would still be a limitation and still a beyond. The last knot of our bondage is at that point where the external draws into oneness with the internal, the machinery of ego itself becomes subtilised to the vanishing-point and the law of our action is at last unity embracing and possessing multiplicity and no longer, as now, multiplicity struggling towards some figure of unity. There is the central throne of cosmic Knowledge looking out on her widest dominion; there the empire of oneself with the empire of one’s world; there the life in the eternally consummate Being and the realisation of His divine nature in our human existence.

But this is a very great height to which human consciousness is capable of reaching and this height is further expounded by Sri Aurobindo in the next chapter (pg 20) and I’ll go straight to that point before coming back again to the beginning because this is in the middle of the next chapter. It is the paragraph that begins with “The extension of our consciousness,..” that is to say we have reached a point where Sri Aurobindo speaks of the cosmic throne of knowledge, it is by extension of consciousness.

The extension of our consciousness, to be satisfying, must necessarily be an inner enlargement from the individual into the cosmic existence. For the Witness, if he exists, is not the individual embodied mind born in the world, but that cosmic Consciousness embracing the universe and appearing as an immanent Intelligence in all its works to which either world subsists eternally and really as Its own active existence or else from which it is born and into which it disappears by an act of knowledge or by an act of conscious power.

It is about this cosmic consciousness that now Sri Aurobindo describes in the next paragraph.

The possibility of a cosmic consciousness in humanity is coming slowly to be admitted in modern Psychology, like the possibility of more elastic instruments of knowledge, although still classified, even when its value and power are admitted, as a hallucination.

This paragraph is very important for two reasons.

The first is that when we enter into the world of the supraphysical there are many levels of the supraphysical which we cover from stage to stage. And in each stage there is a possibility of what is called cosmic consciousness. Cosmic consciousness is a consciousness which is not limited to our egoistic perception of things in which ego is the centre, but that centre is broken and there is a larger and larger expansion of consciousness. Now the science of cosmic consciousness is a necessary part of the new developments which are going to take place in due course of time with advancement of science; not merely physical science but science as such, quest of knowledge.

What are these different levels of cosmic consciousness and Sri Aurobindo will describe these different levels of cosmic consciousness in this paragraph. And this is one reason why this particular paragraph is so important. And secondly, our modern psychology about a hundred years ago, a book did come out with a title Cosmic Consciousness, so it had made at that time a very great powerful impression in the fields of psychology and even philosophy. It was a book which described experiences of cosmic consciousness. And psychologists had to take cognizance of it. As Sri Aurobindo says that slowly this idea of cosmic consciousness is coming to be recognized in modern psychology, even though it is still classified as a hallucination. It is not regarded as something that is valid or that can be verifiable, although in eastern consciousness, cosmic consciousness has been recognized as a psychological fact. It is the truth of Yoga's entry into cosmic consciousness has been admitted. But the remarkable fact is that even in the West where there is so much of hesitation at least as a hallucination it has been admitted that one can have a hallucinatory experience of cosmic consciousness. And in this paragraph Sri Aurobindo describes now the various levels of cosmic consciousness.

In the psychology of the East it has always been recognised as a reality and the aim of our subjective progress. The essence of the passage over to this goal is the exceeding of the limits imposed on us by the ego-sense and at least a partaking, at most an identification with the self-knowledge which broods secret in all life and in all that seems to us inanimate.

Now in this we have the description of cosmic consciousness.

Entering into that Consciousness, we may continue to dwell, like It, upon universal existence. Then we become aware,—for all our terms of consciousness and even our sensational experience begin to change,—of Matter as one existence and of bodies as its formations in which the one existence separates itself physically in the single body from itself in all others and again by physical means establishes communication between these multitudinous points of its being. Mind we experience similarly, and Life also, as the same existence one in its multiplicity, separating and reuniting itself in each domain by means appropriate to that movement. And, if we choose, we can proceed farther and, after passing through many linking stages, become aware of a supermind whose universal operation is the key to all lesser activities. Nor do we become merely conscious of this cosmic existence, but likewise conscious in it, receiving it in sensation, but also entering into it in awareness. In it we live as we lived before in the ego-sense, active, more and more in contact, even unified more and more with other minds, other lives, other bodies than the organism we call ourselves, producing effects not only on our own moral and mental being and on the subjective being of others, but even on the physical world and its events by means nearer to the divine than those possible to our egoistic capacity.

There is a full chapter in the “The Synthesis of Yoga” on Cosmic Consciousness and when you have time, I would like you to study that chapter because there is a more full description. But this is the most accurate description. It is said of Sri Ramkrishna when somebody, some animal was beaten up Sri Ramkrishna had the signs of the cords on his own physical body. This is a result of a cosmic consciousness spread out at a given moment. So that what is happening to the animal’s physical consciousness is seen physically on one’s own body. So this is one of the great marks of an advanced state of consciousness. You cannot doubt it. If you have this kind of experience, where you can contact what is happening in the other’s consciousness on a large scale. In fact universalisation of consciousness was recognized as a very important state right from the Vedic times. In fact one of the greatest achievements of the Vedic seers was to make the physical consciousness universalized. That, if you rise higher and higher, the higher levels are more easy to widen themselves. Vital being is very narrow normally; even very profound saints in their vital being can be seen to be quite narrow. In your personal relationships there are many problems and knots of personal connections, as a result of which there can be a lot of quarrels in the vital world even of saints and it is not easy for them to resolve the problems of personal relationships on account of this narrowness in one’s own vital consciousness. When you come to the mental plane it is much easier. In fact in all of us, in the mental plane we can be much wider, much more universal, quite easily. When you read a book together there is a great harmony among all of us. There is a mental harmony because of the automatic wideness which occurs in the mental consciousness. At a still higher level, the consciousness automatically becomes wider and wider and wider. Narrow nesses of all kinds are crossed more easily. But to bring down this wideness on lower and lower planes of consciousness, is a very difficult task. Even two great philosophers who are mentally very developed, if they are brought to the field of debate in the presence of people, they can be quite rigid, although when alone can be quite polite and quite accommodative of each other. Why because, here they are exhibited, there is an exhibition going on. It’s a question of connections and interconnections which are vital in character, not more mental and therefore the narrowness comes about more easily and strong positions can be taken when a debate takes place, even though in your drawing room they may be more accommodative. But when you go into a still deeper level of physical consciousness, the narrowness and egoism become very powerful.

Now to bring down cosmic consciousness even in the physical, is one of the topmost capacities and highest achievements which have been recorded in the Rig Veda. And the words which were used as Sri Aurobindo points out in one of the Vedic verses of Parashara is prithvi vitaste, prithvi the physical consciousness vitasthe; vi is the widening, universalisation, vitasthe ‒ even the physical consciousness was widened, universalized. And that according to the Vedic Rishis is the mark of the attainment of immortality because this particular verse comes in connection with the path of immortality.

So Sri Aurobindo says that according to the Vedic Rishis when the physical consciousness got universalized by the power of the cosmic consciousness of the highest coming down, the Supreme Cosmic consciousness is the Supermind. That Supreme consciousness brought down to the physical plane as a result, the physical consciousness became universalized. It may be permanent, or it may be at least temporary, but even a temporary universalisation is a tremendous achievement and Sri Aurobindo says that in the history of Yoga it was one of the highest points, or perhaps the highest point that was reached in the history of Yoga. And when a farther attempt was made to fix that universal consciousness in the physical consciousness it was found to be impossible. It is there that Mother says in the past universalisation was obtained but it could not be fixed in the physical consciousness, which Mother said that she herself took many, many years, only in 1970 she did declared ‒ it is now fixed. The universal consciousness got fixed; the supramental cosmic consciousness got fixed in the physical consciousness. It is that which is the most significant development in the history of Yoga, therefore this science of cosmic consciousness is so important. One of the great marks of a true yogi is this capacity of universalisation. It is not merely ordinary capacities of creating rings and so on; it is this universality of consciousness and to be able to dwell in that cosmic consciousness. These are the high marks of the tests and even these tests have again to be determined by criteria. And, that is why Mother speaks of the criterion of equality of consciousness, under all circumstances as a criterion. If you are truly established in universal consciousness at lower and lower levels of consciousness, you can remain equal-minded; what Sri Krishna has spoken of in the Bhagavad Gita as a test of sthitaprajna, because that was the question how to test the sthitaprajna that was the question of criterion. And Arjuna had asked the question—is there any method by which you can judge from the speech of the sthitaprajna, from the way in which he walks can these be the marks of a sthitaprajna? Sri Krishna does not answer this question directly to indicate that by speech and walking, you cannot determine whether somebody is a saint or not, or he is living in cosmic consciousness or not. But he says that the mark of it is that he has no desire, that is one test. You put any desire before him that will be a test, you can test. As Vivekananda tried to test Sri Ramkrishna by putting a coin in his cloth and it is said that when Sri Ramkrishna came to touch that cloth and immediately threw it away and said what is this? In his physical there was no temptation at all of any kind, that mastery over desire that is how Vivekananda tested his own master.

Yogic science is so greatly developed. Only we have not visited it properly. So many tests but the most important test Mother says is of equality. In what circumstances you can remain equal-minded; it is sometimes the circumstances are so troublesome, so trying; that is why one of the marks of Janaka was that he was seated in the conference of saints and debaters and he was told that his palace is burnt away and there was no effect on him at all and he continued as before, as if nothing had happened. This was the mark of sthitaprajna condition of Janaka. So when the condition of consciousness remains so unmoved, equal-minded, is not tempted, that is the test. It is the larger this cosmic consciousness the larger is your capacity but even more than that, if you can establish even beyond the cosmic consciousness and it is to that which we are turning to the consideration of transcendental consciousness.

As you can see in the first four chapters, Sri Aurobindo first of all explains how the human aspiration is for the highest and the best. You can define this highest and best in whatever way you like. Sri Aurobindo has given four terms ‒ God, Light, Freedom, Immortality. If you do not like those terms, don’t use those terms, it does not matter. If you say man wants to be omniscient and omnipotent, use those terms if you like. Like modern scientists who want to conquer the whole world, you can say that modern science is aiming at proving that the whole world can be in your hands. They want to prove that we can create a human baby that people think that only God can make, but we can make it also.

So in other words that is a mark of human aspiration. Human aspiration is to be as God is. Whatever is claimed by God, man wants to claim and he wants it—that is his aspiration.

Having said that this aspiration exists, having shown that this aspiration is rationally justifiable and this rational justification Sri Aurobindo shows on the ground of two main arguments. The method of Nature is a method of harmonization and at present that harmonization does not exist. Therefore, if what is being aimed at is supreme harmonization, it is a rational justification. Already harmonization has been achieved when life is in matter and mind is in life that harmonization has already taken place. Therefore if supramental harmonization is aimed at there is nothing unnatural about it, not unjustifiable. And second argument is the argument of evolution that if life has evolved in matter, if mind has evolved in life, what is impossible for the Supermind to evolve out of the mind. This is also justifiable. On both these grounds Sri Aurobindo said this aspiration is justifiable.

But having shown Sri Aurobindo considers this whole problem again from a larger point of view. We are presented with a larger canvas of argumentation and we are told that this ideal can be questioned from the side of the materialists and also from the side of one who holds spiritual truths to be the highest. Both these levels can put questions against what is being proposed. According to materialism, Matter alone is real. According to the spiritual man, spiritual is the only thing that is highest but Spirit can be attained only when you renounce Matter. That is his argument. Therefore, if you are proposing to have highest spiritual consciousness in the human body, in bodily existence then that can be questioned. Because of these two very important possibilities of argument, Sri Aurobindo takes us through these two negations—The Denial of the Materialist and the Refusal of the Ascetic. And in doing so Sri Aurobindo takes us step by step and saying how far the material knowledge itself has reached now, where the boundaries of material knowledge have been attained and how we can go beyond the boundaries of the physical and when we do so we reach a cosmic consciousness and what are the possibilities of judging cosmic consciousness and therefore the question of criteria of supraphysical knowledge had to be discussed, which he has discussed. And then having arrived at the supramental cosmic consciousness Sri Aurobindo says that he who has got the supramental cosmic consciousness; he has no doubt about it. He has proof of it within himself.

So Sri Aurobindo says:

Real then to the man who has had contact with it or lives in it, is this cosmic consciousness, with a greater than the physical reality; real in itself, real in its effects and works.

The supramental consciousness does not doubt itself. It is subjective, objective to such an extent that there is no possibility of doubt. It is self-validated.

And as it is thus real to the world which is its own total expression, so is the world real to it; but not as an independent existence. For in that higher and less hampered experience we perceive that consciousness and being are not different from each other, but all being is a supreme consciousness, all consciousness is self-existence, eternal in itself, real in its works and neither a dream nor an evolution.

This description of the cosmic consciousness is extremely important, particularly for a philosophical understanding. We had seen at the beginning that philosophy is primarily connected with all physical and psychological facts. Secondly, it is an attempt to determine the significance of all these facts and the essential significance. And this significance is to be decided from the point of view of the Totality that is a philosophical point of view. And in the search of Totality it may even need to go beyond all the facts that we are normally concerned with. This is the fundamental method of philosophy. Now Life Divine is supremely philosophical because it rises from step to step and at every step it takes into account physical and psychological facts as they come in our view of our search. And the most important difficult task is to describe the physical and psychological facts accurately. Many of the philosophical dilemmas, confusions, debates have arisen because our data are not accurately described. I have not read any book comparable to The Life Divine in which data of the physical and psychological facts are accurately described. This precision, this accuracy is par excellence in The Life Divine. There is no error whatsoever in the description of any state of existence. Even Matter for example, if you want to get the absolutely correct definition of Matter. Take for example in Chapter here, XXVI page 252 called ‘The Ascending Series of Substance’ where Sri Aurobindo gives an exact description of Matter. The very first paragraph. The most accurate experience of Matter that we see, the full description of Matter, Sri Aurobindo says:

If we consider what it is that most represents to us the materiality of Matter, we shall see that it is its aspects of solidity, tangibility, increasing resistance, firm response to the touch of Sense.

In these four, five words, he has given an accurate description of what you call materiality of Matter. Sri Aurobindo’s mastery of descriptions is truly amazing because whether it is the description of a flower, or a branch or of a season, or of cloud or a tree, or of a mood of tranquility, of silence, of dynamism, of hope, of despair—the sunshine of hope and the dark night of depression, in whatever condition you want to see the descriptions, most accurate descriptions you find in Sri Aurobindo. The most amazing capacity of describing, appreciating and giving the most essential point, which most accurately describes what is to be described. And therefore, there is authenticity in arriving at a real knowledge of the physical and psychological facts. And this description of Sri Aurobindo of what he has given of the cosmic consciousness in a few words, he described in a long way in The Synthesis of Yoga. But even in these few words, the whole cosmic consciousness is brought into a clear daylight as it were.

So, in this description Sri Aurobindo says, it is in the cosmic consciousness that the world is real, precisely because it exists only in consciousness. This statement, what is the proof of existence? The idea of proof itself arises only in the context of consciousness. A mountain does not demand proof of the mountain. There is no consciousness of the mountain in the mountain demanding the proof, whether it exists or not; it is only consciousness that demands a proof. And why does it demand a proof? Because it is a subjective consciousness in which somehow the objectivity is contained. This, what we distinguish as subjectivity and objectivity as if two opposite things are not really opposite. Objectivity is only a state of subjectivity seen by subjectivity as other than itself and that is the authenticity of objectivity. How do I know that objectivity is really objective? My subjectivity itself must be able to see objectivity as objectivity. Otherwise, I will never have proof of objectivity. My subjectivity must be capable of putting objectivity against itself, itself against itself and knowing itself. Sri Krishna is sure of Radha because Radha is himself Sri Krishna. And Radha is the objectivisation of Sri Krishna and Krishna knows that this is the objectivisation of Sri Krishna, only because of this identity in the difference that the real proof can be obtained.

So Sri Aurobindo says:

The world is real precisely because it exists only in consciousness; for it is a Conscious Energy one with Being that creates it. It is the existence of material form in its own right apart from the self-illumined energy which assumes the form, that would be a contradiction of the truth of things, a phantasmagoria, a nightmare, an impossible falsehood.

If a being can be created without consciousness, or if a consciousness can exist without the being that would be an illusion; but it is not so. The world is not a phantasmagoria, it’s a real manifestation of consciousness because consciousness itself is the being.

We have reached therefore a very high level of our inquiry and we have come to this high point of cosmic consciousness. Now we are about to enter into the next step having entered into cosmic consciousness, Sri Aurobindo says this is not the topmost height to which we can reach. There are still other levels of consciousness.

But this conscious Being which is the truth of the infinite supermind, is more than the universe and lives independently in Its own inexpressible infinity as well as in the cosmic harmonies.

This is a very important sentence. It is the summary of the ninth chapter of the Bhagavad Gita, where Sri Krishna says “They are in me, I am not in them. I am all of them, they are in me, I am in them, I am in them but I am not in them.” This paradoxical statement that we find in the Bhagavad Gita in the IX chapter, is expressed in metaphysical terms in these words. “This conscious being which is the truth of the infinite supermind is more than the universe and lives independently in its own inexpressible unity as well as in the cosmic harmonies.” Its capacity to live in Itself and in independent of cosmic harmonies is another state of consciousness. It is a supraphysical consciousness but in the science of the supraphysical this is one of the topmost levels at which we arrive and this is described accurately and we have got to describe that as a datum. If you want to have a philosophy, you should be true to the data and these data are to be obtained and to be harmonized with the totality of the world. You will not be able to explain the world unless this datum is admitted or the truth of it is stated, acknowledged in the light of which alone the world can be truly explained. And you find the truth cannot be explained, the world cannot be explained, if you admit this truth of existence and consciousness. This world Sri Aurobindo says:

World lives by That; That does not live by the world. And as we can enter into the cosmic consciousness and be one with all cosmic existence, so we can enter into the world-transcending consciousness and become superior to all cosmic existence. And then arises the question which first occurred to us, whether this transcendence is necessarily also a rejection. What relation has this universe to the Beyond?

This is a fact that That transcends the world. It can live without the world. This is a fact, a datum of existence is a consciousness. And therefore, the question is very powerful. This kind of experience has been experienced in Yoga.


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