Aim of Life - Aim of Life (Discussion with Jaipuria School Teachers - 2008, Sukhdev Vihar, Delhi)

Shall we begin now. This book was conceived because of the fact that the most important theme of education is to settle the aim of life. As I said yesterday, this is a subject which has been omitted completely from our purview in the world of education. Therefore, it is best that in some way, this theme is highlighted in good schools everywhere.

Now the question is how to spread this book among the students. Yesterday, you showed a very good demonstration of how children, when you ask them the question, they are able to respond, some of them quite adequately at their age, and it is based on such responses that you can build up a true study of the problem: What am I here on this earth? and what am I here for on this earth? And the greatest philosophers and the wisest people of the world have reflected on this subject, have discovered some very important answers that boy, whose paper you read out yesterday. I think he had come up with very important statements and he had raised some questions which are extremely penetrating and the fact that such questions do arise even in the minds of young children implies that in our culture in the background, there is a good deal of quest and there is a good deal of concern about not only the quest but also concern.

The child asks three four very important questions. He referred to the theories of salvation and he asked a question: how do you know there is a salvation at all? What is the meaning of salvation? This is also another question that he raised: How do we know that there is anything like life after death? The boy pointed out that we are only a body of chemical reactions and it is a certain span during which it vibrates and then there is a cycle of birth, growth and death, and then what remains thereafter and all the answers which are being given, they all can be questioned. The only important knowledge we have is only a human being walking about and breathing and doing certain things and then dying.

It is only in the concept of energy that he found some kind of continuity and he found that energy, however, is everywhere, and that is of course, a huge powerhouse, and it is that which is all the time there and which is also vibrating in us. So if energy is named as god, he has no objection, because it is there everywhere, and then he feels that energy coincides with all that is described about god, that is everywhere, so energy is also everywhere. It is omnipotent. Energy is also omnipotent in the world. If you find everything is being created by energy, it is omnipresent, and some of these concepts of god are applicable to energy. He even said I breathe and there is energy coming out. So I live in energy. I live in god. That also can be asserted.

I think these questions should be raised quite squarely. The question that this boy has raised since you have already somebody writing like this. It can be a good starting point in the school itself because yeah, because this is a very important paper that you have with you and it can be a starting point. You can even flash it in the school in a very prominent manner and raise all the questions that have been raised very neatly, because the boy has written quite logically, all that he has written there is a logical flow in his writing and all the questions are relevant.

He asks who knows and how do you know that? What is the proof, apart from the flow of energy, which is everywhere, he said, nothing is proof. This is the only thing that is proved that there is a flow of energy in the world. You can start with this. This is the only statement that you can make. There is a flow of energy in the world. Then many questions can be raised. First, what is the nature of this energy? Is it a conscious energy or unconscious energy? And this is itself a very important issue. When you look at the universe around us everything, there seems to be around us unconscious energy. Even you might say there is inert energy, inert in the sense that once it is in motion in one direction, it won't change unless you push it from other side. Newton’s law of motion that it is inert, not that it is not moving or that if it is moving, it goes on in the same direction unless it is resisted by some other energy or it is pushed from other directions, then it may change direction. Otherwise, it remains the same way. But when you come to life energy, then its nature changes, it is not the same as energy which is flowing in matter and when you come to human being, the energy changes against nature. There is a conscious energy and there are phenomena of sensations, perceptions and ideation and will and affection, all kinds of manifestations of consciousness are to be found.

Now all these questions can be raised, so you have a very good starting point in this essay. All good teaching takes up its root in something that happens automatically, spontaneously in a given situation. Since a young boy has written these questions, it creates a lot of interest among other children and it becomes a matter of peer’s engagement with the question. And then, if you put counter questions and allow the questions to be answered by students, that will be a very good idea. I don't know if you've got a wallpaper or not, but if you have a wallpaper, then this particular essay can be highlighted in big letters so that everybody happens to read these questions.

These questions are very interesting because you can say that such and such a boy has raised these questions and invite answers from these children. That is one of the ways, I mean you can think of many other ways, but it’s my suggestion that one of the ways by which, since a boy in the school has written there is a topical interest and one of the best principles of education is to take advantage of that which happens spontaneously, it becomes an incident in the life of students, and then others also get collected around that thing that has happened and from there it now depends upon the teachers how to trigger it off further. To take advantage of a natural situation is a task of the educator.

Life happens spontaneously, but education is a deliberate attempt. There’s a difference between things happening in life automatically, an educator is a deliberate innovator of what happens automatically, and that is where the teacher’s genius comes into the picture. So one of the ways by which you can make it a living vibration of this very question. Since it’s a very young boy who has written it, it is matter of interest to all the students of the school, even the advanced school children. They will feel that a child of this age has raised this question, it’s very interesting, it can be given to everybody in the in the school such a thing, as this can be even small printed note can be given to all the children of the school that so and so has raised this question and let everybody answer this question and that you invite, as a teacher of this aim of life, you can invite answers from anybody who volunteers to answer and then it can trigger off a lot of discussion on the subject in the whole school, and there are many deep questions about it which can ultimately come up. The whole idea of aim of life can be built only on this thing, which has happened.

I was very happy to read this question. The answer that you collected the other day and presented - and I thought this is a very living instrument by which you can raise up this question, and even today we can start discussing these questions, because these questions need to be answered and we should have also ourselves very good answers in our own mind, as I said this question: what is the nature of this energy? A child says that it is undoubted that there is a vast energy. Is there anybody who can question it that there is a vastness and it’s also a big question.

Shankaracharya’s philosophy says this vast energy that you are seeing is an illusion. It doesn't exist. That is his view. That is how it is so striking that that which seems to be so palpable all the time impinging upon us, and he says all this is illusion. The only thing that exists is silence, not energy when he says brahman is real and the world is a lie. That is his basic proposition. Brahma satyam, jagat mithya. Jagat means all that is moving. The very word jagat itself is very etymologically appropriate; gam, gachati is to go, to move, gamana, and “ja” re-emphasizes, because “ja” and “ga” in Sanskrit have great connection. It is why jagrati also has the same meaning, that is to say, jagrati actually means that which is gamma. It becomes emphasized. You become awakened in your movement, so jagat is a movement of energy which is speedy and becomes even more speedy. That is why in Ishopanishad also jagatyam jagat - it is in the very first verse:

ईशा वास्यमिदं सर्वं यत्किञ्च जगत्यां जगत्‌।
तेन त्यक्तेन भुञ्जीथा मा गृधः कस्यस्विद्धनम्‌ ॥

All this is for habitation by the Lord, whatsoever is individual universe of movement in the universal motion. By that renounced thou shouldst enjoy; lust not after any man's possession.

Isha Upanishad 1.1

That whole जगत्यां जगत्‌ according to Shankara is an illusion. There is a distinction in Shankara between illusion that is hallucination and tucha which doesn't exist at all. When I see a snake in a rope, there’s a rope - and I say: oh it’s an illusion: it’s not tucha, it is not something not existing at all. There is a rope that exists on which something is superimposed, so, according to Shankara, all the movement that you are seeing is simply superimposed upon quietude. What exists is only quietude. That is his whole view.

Now this is a very metaphysically very powerful statement which you need not give to children, because it requires a lot of thinking about it. How Shankaracharya establishes his theme that this world is an illusion, but anyway, as a question you can put it. Can you ever doubt that this world is full of energy, can you doubt it? Can you question it? And then, as I said, the question would be: what is the nature of that energy, inert energy? Is it a vibrant energy, organic energy, mental energy? There is also at a higher level spiritual energy, so there are many levels of this energy and the question is: what, then, is the nature of energy in itself? When you see the energy having so many strands in it and a deeper question arises, what is the deepest nature of energy which manifests itself in so many forms? Is it originally unconscious and gradually becomes conscious? from where then consciousness arises, if it was not there already? In it and these questions are difficult to answer, but these questions do arise and this boy has raised some of these questions and it can be a very good starting point for putting children into serious thinking about this.

And then he put another question, he put this question yesterday: is there any impulsion starting point which makes energy move or is it by nature always moving? If so, why does it get arrested somewhere? Does it and if it is arrested, who moves it forward? These are a few questions and there is another set of questions: does energy move in a haphazard manner, or does it move in a regulated manner? There’s another aspect of the question: now there are many things which you see are haphazard, and yet there are many things which are not haphazard. The orbit of the earth is not haphazard. It moves according to certain regulations. Planetary movement is also regulated. You can even calculate, you can even predict. There seems to be a kind of an operation of a law.

For example, in the same material or object you can't have two material objects. If a car is moving on the road at the same place another car cannot move, why? Why should it be so? Such is the nature of matter, it does not allow something else to come into it. It can't be displaced unless the whole thing is displaced. Another can come, but not inside it. Why is it so? If such was not the nature of matter, the car movement in the world would have been impossible. How do accidents occur when one car is moving and the other car thrusts itself into it and they cannot sustain.

On the other hand, very very subtle matter would move within matter and there would be no accident if matter had become so pliable and there is a car, the other car is coming through that car and moves ahead, it’s because of the grossness.

What is the nature of grossness? That is the whole point. Right? So you can raise this question: gross matter, subtle matter and the laws of subtle matter and the laws of the gross matter. But are there other laws? The question was: does it happen haphazard or is there something which is operating as a fundamental resistance to anything else.

The child had raised the question about energy and god.. matter can be there along with energy..

No, you take an energy movement, pure energy, electricity energy. If there is one current, can the other current enter into it at the same place in the same time, can in one electricity current can another current enter at the same time in the same place?

That would be wave motion.

Yes, wave motion. That is a very fundamental law. Why should it be so? Therefore, this idea of law is very important. This energy is not moving just like that moving. This world presents a tremendous operation of law and from where has his law come? Why should it be so what the child says: We see birth, growth and death, that’s law. Why should it be so? Why? Why should it be like this? It is so it is all right, but why?

We say nature’s law.

No, but it’s quite alright, nature’s law means why, what is nature? We do not know the laws of energy.

Actually Newton himself argued that there must be god who gave the first push (to this energy). The point is that there is a difference between matter and life, and the laws of matter and laws of life are different, and yet they are not very different, and what is this difference from where, very often in our thinking we do not know how to distinguish between matter and life. Similarly, we don't know how to distinguish in life and mind, so that is a very deep question. In fact, most of the philosophers failed to do that. So I put the question only for the sake of raising question in the mind of the child, so gradually it ripens.

So anyway we have to start only questioning, that is all. Let there be a lot of thinking in the school among the children and try to find out. We need not give an answer immediately. Let the children think what is the exact difference between matter and life, where exactly the first amoeba differs from water.

Water is matter, amoeba takes birth in water. How do you distinguish between that? Why is amoeba not water? What is it that makes it different and distinct? It is that point in which even biology teacher should be asked this question, and you should involve the biology teacher into the debate and a psychology teacher shall be brought into the picture later on when you want to make a distinction between a fish and a dog.

Dog has some kind of intelligence which the fish does not have. What kind of intelligence does the dog represent? And even among animals are different kinds of intelligence and which are inherent, you don't need to train. It’s also very interesting that there are certain things: a dog, for example, the quality of faithfulness is automatic in the dog. You domesticate a dog and you domesticate any other animal. The faith that you find in the dog automatically is remarkable, which is not present in a cow or in a buffalo or a tiger. It won't happen. So what is that?

Actually Aristotle at one time he wrote a long, long essay on the subject to distinguish between different animals and their intelligence. It’s a tremendous study and very often these studies are hardly raised at all in our school because we don't have the time and our syllabus does not permit us to look into this question. But it’s a very surprising question: what is the difference and how do the differences arise and how they are maintained?

Certain, for example, the horse, its tendency to run is irresistible, the same thing you can't say about the cat, you can't say about the dog, but the horse wants to run all the time. What is this it loves to run, and that is why people found a horse to be a very good instrument for running, it likes to run and run and run and run and run. So what is that quality? Why? Why should it love to run by itself? We don't love to run all the time. We are also intelligent beings like horses, but we don't like to run all the time like a horse.

Dolphin, for example, why dolphin is what it is? It’s a very interesting question: why dolphins are by nature protective, kind, helpful; fishes have nothing. This kind doesn't exist at all in the fishes. Horses can feel the coming storm 40 miles away. It’s also a fact. You start riding a horse, and if there is a storm 40 miles away, the horse will not run, you just whip it, it will just come back. Why? He perceives far off things which you and I cannot perceive. Why dogs are capable of identifying what is a speciality all skeptics, they use dogs, all their scepticism stops but dogs, they identify exactly where exactly the thief is, and it is so much proved that the police people maintain dogs and their squadron of dogs. They have and they develop them.

And then you come to human psychology, how different it is and what is human psychology? What are the capacities of human consciousness, and then there also we find the kind of human consciousness, how much we were examining yesterday the book I told you about: the singularity is near. This is a book which gives you the measure of the highest level of intelligence that is developed today, and it says that this intelligence has reached a point of singularity, not exactly, it is near—the singularity.

So let me give you this document, which I have with me which she has prepared. This document is taken from this book. When you have time, you do have a look at it because I found it to be very useful.

I find that the evolution of life, though it is in the curriculum, but it needs a wider understanding.

Yes, it’s a miracle.

And the interdisciplinary issues which we have raised that need to be discussed more rather than the scientific aspect.

Yes, you are right, it is very true, and that is why this kind of subject “aim of life” becomes very, very interesting and children begin to become more global in their consciousness. So this page for example, it speaks of six epochs of the development of consciousness, of energy, intelligence and where we have reached now, you see there are very good graphs. If you open page number two, it gives you six epochs in one diagram, it’s a very, very interesting diagram. We want to take this diagram. I found it to be extremely interesting. Here the universe wakes up. This is where we are now and then we move forward.

So when it says it works through indirection, it is also a loaded statement. It believes that it is by chance it happens, indirection. No but direction is created by what happens automatically, by chance. It’s not inherent, and you cast a question: how does it happen? Why should not go on in indirection all the time?

So it’s a very beautiful sentence Sri Aurobindo says that if you look at the world by itself - and if you just want to describe the world as it is, you can describe it as a movement of self-organizing chance. It’s a very beautiful word: self-organizing chance. There is so much of indirection as he writes indirection. There is a chance, everything happens, it happens and yet it happens, self-organizing, it yet organizes itself and creates the designs and directions why? Why does it? So why does it create designs? This is the mystery.

So when anybody says that what we can prove in the world is only energy and people say, that is the final point I’ve reached the last point, actually it is a starting point. To say that we see energy everywhere is a starting point. Good. You have arrived at a statement which you can legitimately make, and you say it’s an indubitable statement. There is energy at work, it raises many questions. What is the nature of this energy? How does it work> Is there a design in it? Is there a law in it?

And we do find in this world both freak and design, both, and if you really want to use one word by which both of things can be combined together is self-organizing chance. And therefore there are two views. One is which says that chance does not exist at all, another says there is no law at all. Even what you call law is also a chance movement. It happens, chance.

There was also an argument that you have Shakespeare writing his drama. Can you write it by chance? If everything is by chance? Can you write Shakespeare’s drama by chance and the answer of the chances is: why not? You put 2 million computers, allow them to work at random, it’s quite possible that a drama will come out of it. How can you say it will not? How do it will not you put 2 million computers, allow them to work at random all together in some kind of interaction and drama may come out, since nobody has done it as a theory, you can say, it may happen. Who knows.

And that is what their argument is - that even Shakespeare’s drama is nothing, but by chance some cells in the brain of Shakespeare began to move in a particular manner. Why? Happens. Some reactions took place somewhere and his cells were again stimulated in a particular manner. As a result of which he wrote Julius Caesar, you just see that it came out.

You cannot refute it. You see. The point is that chance theory cannot be refuted. If chance is the ruler, anything can happen by chance. Even what you call design is by chance it is happening. Chance theory is a comprehensive theory which has one answer for everything that it is happening by chance. The only refutation is that, if you are right, it is by chance that you are right. That is the argument, and therefore you cannot say that I am absolutely right. You are right, you are right by chance.

In other words, an idea of truth does not accept chance. That is the whole idea. The truth idea does not accept chance, but then the other way also this argument that if you can explain everything in terms of law, even what is called chance, if you can explain in terms of law, then chance theory can be set aside. This is a one theory, but why should you accept that theory? If that is the only theory by which everything can be explained, then I have got no other alternative, although it may be by chance right. But if I can explain the same thing by the operation of intelligence, by the operation of design and law, then it will also stand a particular chance of being very right. Chance theory cannot reject theory of law because it has to say yes, even if laws exist by chance, law does exist. So these are the last points of thought.

It is only when you examine theories of evolution in a detailed manner, then you discover that this world is not built by chance. Ultimately, it is not easy to prove or disprove unless you grow very deeply, so that is why children are to be brought gradually over here to this point that these two theories, the operation of chance and law and chance theory can be always right, and yet the rival theory law ultimately succeeds because when you probe deeply into the human consciousness, then you find that all that seems to be regular seems to be intelligible. It’s not by chance. But you have to go to the deep level of thought and then, when you go to the deep level of thought, there are two important facts which emerge.

The one important fact that emerges is the fact of the individual. This individual, each one of us, is a mystery. The more you examine this individual, the more mysteries begin to reveal themselves. The greatest mystery is individual relating itself or himself or self, with the universe, a conscious, individual consciously relating himself with the universe. This is a very difficult phenomena. An object lying here is a part of the universe, but this part does not know that it is a part of the universe, but this individual, it can look around. It knows it is only a part. There are many other things here in the world, multiplicity all around, it’s not enough, I can relate myself to that. I can pick up, I can possess, I can enjoy, I can have hundreds of relations with anything in the world.

More importantly, I find that there is in me a very important phenomenon of choice. Whether this object will come into my possession or not depends upon my choice. It will remain here only, but if I choose to take it, it will come in my possession. So what is it that moves this spectacle from here to here? my choice. What is the nature of this choice? How does it arise in this world? It’s a very mysterious question: what is this choice at all? This object has no choice of relating itself to anything, it’s simply a lying there, but here in the individual, there is something like a choice and he can move and not only that.

But if you read a story of Othello and Desdemona, this question of choice becomes extremely interesting in their phenomenon. Othello asks the question: where is the handkerchief? It raises a question in the mind of Desdemona and she is in search. She knows where it is and she opens her cupboard and finds it is not there. For the first time she discovers that it is not there and she is herself perplexed and at the moments she has to answer. She can choose how to answer that question and how will she answer that question and she said: oh, it is not here. You see how Shakespeare develops that dramatic moment, it is very interesting. Othello knows where the handkerchief is because he has seen it. Iago has shown it. She doesn't know, and yet it is supposed to be in her possession, it is not there, and now this man Othello is in a position of knowledge which she doesn't have, as a result of which he can twist the questions according to the knowledge that he possesses and can put into trouble the interlocutor and the answerer. So Desdemona is perplexed and she’s not able to answer the question .

So here also is chance that plays an important role.

Now, does it? That is the whole point. It is a very interesting question. Then the question is: why does Othello not think on the right direction. Here this woman is innocent. He could have though very sympathetically, he thinks only in one direction because Iago has told him that she loves that man and the most precious gift she has given away to that man, the handkerchief. So he goes only on that track. Why? Because sympathetically he could have thought that Iago himself has taken it away from here, only he knows the story, he’s making up a story. Why does he not think in that way at all? why? But he doesn't?

This is the question: why does he not think? Afterwards once she is dead and when he repents, why does he repent? Because he knows he could have thought otherwise. This is the important point. Why does he repent because he knows that he could have, and why did he not? This is where individual is caught.

So anyway, this is an important fact. Analysis of the individual, which is in our schools, colleges, people do not bother about. in literature sometimes some of these stories are told a little and then it is never pursued. So Shakespeare is a great teacher because of this reason that once you've seen Othello, then men even in future will be very sympathetic towards their wives. It’s a fact. After seeing Othello, if you really see the drama, it can resolve many problems in the lives of human beings.

Anyways the analysis of the individual is a very important aspect. The whole discussion of aim of life rests on what is individual, the mystery of the individual, because it is he who asked the question: what is the aim of life, and yet the individual is hardly understood. We don't analyze individual at all. What is his mysterious being here sitting in the whole world, is he himself individual alone? His nature of individual is necessary to be a world individual, because when I say my decision, I have decided, what do you mean? Is it really true that anybody decides only alone? No Iago is standing in the way. Yes, I say I have decided. Both are true. I mean there are battery of things all around all the time, there are things impinging upon myself and yet I know I can resist all those, I can rise above them. I can look above them. Is it possible?

They are all questions. That is where the real individual is to be seen, and how is it, for example, this is a very interesting doctrine of Kant that individual, if it goes straight into his being, he finds he is free, because the most important element in every true individual is a concept: what I ought to do. You analyze the individual, the most significant thing is not what I’m doing or what I can do but what I ought to do. Aim of life is a direct question about this. When I say what should be my aim, it comes from this basic point: what ought to do. This idea of ought is very peculiar to the individual.

This is not particular to any other animal in the world. What I ought, it is only in the human being that this question is raised. Very often we say that difference between man and animal is rationality. It’s not really true, more than that is this concept of ought. It is only in human beings, that the question of ought arrives. Why Othello repents, because he says I ought not to have done it. If he really believes that he was obliged to do it, there’s no repentance. His repentance arises out of the fact that he understands, he realizes in his belief: I ought not to have done it and then he cannot see this, therefore he kills himself. What injustice I have done. I cannot no more bear it that I was capable of doing otherwise, I could not do it and he cannot see that condition, what a horrible man I am, unable to see himself now in the new light.

What is the new light? It is the concept of ought. In this concept of ought you discover another fact, I discovered a universal law. I ought not to be prejudiced. He killed Desdemona because he was apt to become prejudiced and when he said I ought not to have killed her means that I ought not to have been prejudiced and then you say nobody should be prejudiced. It’s a universal law. Nobody should be prejudiced and I tell him also, don't be prejudiced. I was prejudiced at one time, but I tell you my dear brother, don't be prejudiced and that’s the whole idea of Shakespeare writing the drama. When you see it, you say you also ought not to do it. You are also apt to have this condition. You ought not to have. You discover in your own being what is true of all. It’s a kind of a trigger, you go within yourself, and you find in your own self and operation which you find is true of everybody.

What is this magic, this individual and all these people, whom I don't even know, but I can say that you also are not to be prejudiced. How do I know it? This knowledge of the individual of the universal is a very peculiar phenomenon to be observed. There is a connection between the individual and the universal, which is seen more accurately when you come to this idea of ought. What is this connection, the individual and universal? What is the connection between the two? How am I connected with you, and you can see, for example, that a very simple doctrine— do not do unto others what you do not want others to do unto you—how does it arise this idea? How is it that I, as an individual, put myself in relation with others in this fashion that I’m holding your hand, is one thing, but I go further. I expect from you to do to do something to me. Why should I expect that? Why should I do that? How does it arise? You explain this phenomena. Does it happen by chance?

The whole civilization of man is based on this. What is the civilized map who understands the pain of the others, pira parayi jane and I want that the pain should be reduced, eliminated. This individual and universal, the connection between the two and the balancement of the truth, how do I relate myself with the universe? It Is the most difficult problem of human life? How should I be with you and there are many questions which arise, multiple questions. According to some, I should regard everybody as equal, and yet I see inequality everywhere. Even fingers are not equal, mountains are not rivers, rivers are not deserts. Everywhere you see inequality and no two human beings are equal, and yet I say I must treat everybody equally. From where this idea arises? That you are superior, you must know you are superior, a parent can't say, my child, I am exactly like you, I must tell the child, I understand you want to touch the fire. I know my dear child, you should not touch it. You do not know therefore I don't say I don't know, I’m not equal in that matter. I can guide you. I can tell you, don't do this do that. Why? Because I’m superior to you. So shall I take the superior stance? Should I take inferior stance against others? Why not? Many people treat the doctrine of humility? Be humble, be humble, be humble: what kind of humility? What does it mean? So humility is also a doctrine I mean. Why should you not be humble, and god is everywhere, so why should I not be humble before you?

God is everywhere..

That is true, but the problem is how to explain to the child. What you say is true. The question is how to explain to the child because this argument is quite right. God is everywhere, he should be humble to me also. I know I’m god. Therefore the perceiving god being present, how do you see god present everywhere? It’s very easy to say: god is everywhere, he’s like the young man saying energy is everywhere, but then, when you ask the question, what is the nature of energy? Conscious, unconscious? More developed, less developed? Volitional, free? When you come to all these questions, then it becomes more difficult, and that is where the whole problem lies.

So, in fact it is at this point I wanted to raise the main theme of this book when you ask the aim of life, it arises at this point. Every individual reaches a point where ought consciousness begins to develop or consciousness, and then I ask the question: what ought to be my aim and there is no ready-made answer to this question if there was a ready-made answer, but there’s no ready-made answer to what ought to be the aim: how do you decide what is the important aim? There are people who used to tell me at one time: you don't know your priorities.

Somebody invites me and I tell him I have no time, sorry. I would like to come, but I don't have that time, because something else is occupying me, that thing I cannot avoid because of my priorities, so that person tells me you don't know your priorities and is it true? There was a friend of mine. This was an actual example in my life. There was a conference of philosophers and the president of the conference invited me to attend the conference and I had said I would like to come and I had almost decided to go to the conference. I received a call at that time from Auroville, with which I am associated for a long time, and there was a problem of somebody there. He was not getting visa from foreign country. He was coming and said: please help me in getting a visa. I could meet the concerned officer only at the time of the conference. I had a choice to make, whether I should go to the conference or shall I try to help my friend in getting the visa and it didn't take time for me to decide, and I said over to my president, I’m sorry, I will not be able to attend the conference because I have an urgent call from a friend. He was so unhappy. He said you don't know your priorities. From his point of view, he is quite right because he wanted me to be the key speaker and thousand people from all over the world were coming, and what a great opportunity was given me to present my talents before the best people of the world. How much famous I would have been at one stroke and this talking to somebody for visa of somebody, a trite trivial thing to do, what’s the urgency? What is this priority? So he told me you don't know your priorities.

Of course this did not affect me, because I knew my priorities quite well. But such kind of a statement could rattle you. Is it really true that I have lost a great chance? It is quite possible that if I have to give a lecture there, then maybe that some people would have been so affected by speech, that they would invited me to Washington and said why don't you give a lecture there and then to move about the whole world and to be able to influence a large world, why not? I lost! I had no priorities, my loss.

Things come to the point of knowing your priorities.

Yes, I know that is why that depends on the knowledge of the aim of life. This is the important part: unless the aim of life, you cannot decide priorities. This is why this subject is so important, and this is the subject which is really eliminated from our whole education, and these are question which requires a lot of thinking. If this was a subject which you could decide very easily, I would not cry about it. Why am I so critical of the colonial system of education is that this most important question is simply eliminated from our curriculum. This is a question which takes years and years to build up. It’s not a question of only a one dialogue you make. It can't be finished in one dialogue, and this is how we shall see now. I’m developing your subject. This is the starting point of the subject. This is only preface.

What is it that you require to think so much on this, and what is the need of being very scientific about it? It is something on which people have to think a lot. What is the aim of life for which this what I’m here now, if I know properly what is my aim of life, I can build myself in that direction. I can find opportunity. I can deal with other people in the right direction. I can deal with other people in the right manner depending upon what is my aim. I am talking to all of you today morning. I could be sitting today in planning commission talking to some of the officers there. Is that so important s my talking to you? Some people might say: yes, that is much more important, you are influencing planning commission people.

Now how do I decide whether there is more important or here talking to a few teachers here of the Lucknow school coming to me and discussing with me, this is so important as my talking with chairman of the planning commission, deputy chairman of the planning commission, which I could have at this time, both are possible. I can direct my life in such a manner that I could be discussing certain important questions within the planning commission, which is also important. It is because my aim of life determines, I believe from the point of my aim of life. My being with you is more important than anything else in the world for me as far as I’m concerned.

At present, for example, I have no alternative, which is more important to be performed than my talking to you. It’s a fact of my life therefore when I am sitting with you, I am sitting with you wholly, my whole being is present with you as if for me only you exist, nothing else exists in the world. Such an importance is being attributed to my consciousness. Why? Because, if you are sure of your aim of life, the rhythm of your life, the how the life has to be developed, then this what is now is for me the most important moment of my life, and this way I can make every moment of my life. Most important, if I know my priority and therefore I can derive from my life the best and optimum that I can capable of and after all, all management is what? to take out more optimum result out of every optimum situation. And how do I do it unless I know the aim of life and if you do not know, you do not know how much energy is wasted by everybody in the world.

Somebody told me once when I was a boy: Kireet in this world, everybody is out of focus. It was a very interesting statement. Everybody in the world is out of focus, where he is, he doesn't want to remain there. He wants to go out of it, where he is, he feels, my lord I’m not exactly adequate, I’m not exactly where I have to be, anyway I’m here. I go on doing it because I have nothing else to do, cannot do otherwise, but my attention is somewhere else.

Director General of UNESCO was a good friend of mine at one time and whenever he came to that day, so whenever he came to Delhi, he used to meet me, and I used to meet him and how many people used to say: Dr Joshi, can you make me meet Director General of UNESCO. And I used to have many friends, I used to take them. It was a great illustration that many people well placed in their life, they came to meet Director General of UNESCO. Only for one reason by chance, Director General of UNESCO will find you suitable to become assistant director general of UNESCO, by chance, that is to say he wanted to move out of his present condition and was looking for getting that position. And that’s why he was struggling to meet. He was out of focus. Where he is, he was not occupied there. He was looking elsewhere and this is what we are doing all the time in our life. We are all out of focus and because of being out of focus, we don't have laser action. Laser action is the concentration of rays of light on a particular point.

We are all capable of laser action, all of us, but we are not able to act because we are all the time out of focus to get exactly in the focus and to be doing exactly what you ought to do. And you should be doing and you are doing. “Ought” and “is” become absolutely identical. That is a point to be reached for everybody and everybody seeks that point.

Actually, when somebody says I seek happiness, where does happiness lie? When “ought” and “is” become identical. When that is happening, nothing which is more happier than this, when you ought to do something and you are doing it exactly at that very moment, nothing else you can do at that time you are happiest, it is neither success nor failure nor senses, nor any kind of Intelligence nor awards, nothing at all. Only thing that will make you really happy is when “ought” and “is” are combined together, laser action exactly on the spot, and that can come only when you've thought deeply about the aim of life. Till that time you are all the time you may be anything in the world, you may feel very happy about being whatever you are, but you'll be again out of focus.

It is quite possible that one of you may get the lottery of 10 million rupees at this moment and you will begin to think how shall I invest this money, so you are out of focus now, understanding aim of life, discussing this question is of no interest. Investment of 10 million rupees is immediately your focus. Now it may not be really your focus, need of focus. You need not be bothered about it, but it happens. We are all the time being driven away from your focus and we do not remain in focus.

You cannot say like very famous story of Janaka, he was talking to Yagnavalkya and he was told your palace is on fire, it’s turning into ashes. He continued the dialogue with Yagnavalkya. He was not at all troubled because talking to Yagnavalkya was a laser point. Whether palace is burnt or not, it was not his focal point. It was the important thing for him to dialogue with Yagnavalkya, then to be taking care of his palace and to put firemen immediately into action. This was his laser point. He knew what is exactly what he wants.

Why should therefore aim of life is so important. You must determine, every individual has to be focused. Where will we focus? What is my position? My station is duties, my station which is appropriate for me, considering what I am considering, what ought to be my goal and how I should be moving, at what speed I should be moving. Therefore, at any moment, I am exactly at the right point where I ought to be. This is the demand on all of us, and this can be done first of all, only when I know my aim and that’s why it is the most important subject, other subjects I may be physicists or not it doesn't matter. I may become mathematician or it’s not a different matter, but what I am to be focused at a given point and every point and progressive manner, so that I am exactly at the right place in the right manner.

Now this question is very important, very difficult, because search for the aim of life requires a very vast knowledge. You must know what are you, what is the universe, how you can be related to the universe. There are multiple ways by which you can be related to the universe that we are very complex in our nature. This also is a very important point. Every one of us is complex and this complexity, unless you realize it and know it, you won't know the way in which you can relate yourself with other people and the world.

There are therefore many people who have thought over the problem of the aim of life. Unless you study them quite scientifically, systematically, that takes a lot of time. Merely to say, I like the question of meaning of life very much is a good starting point, but don't think therefore, now you only need to be nourished, say, good, good, very fine, continue and now turn to mathematics, turn to physics, it’s not enough! This is a good starting point. If you are interested in this question, good. But if you have to realize, as a teacher, the child may not know, but the teacher should know, the good starting point on which a big edifice is built up.

It is more difficult to study aim of life than to study physics, chemistry or biology, more difficult, and you have to be very, very accurate in your study. It’s not haphazard, it’s a very serious subject. Now this book is a man at this stage of question. Now you will see that in this book, I have basically given the summary of the whole thing in the first four-five pages, if you study this first four or five pages where I have described four aims of life. It gives you total panorama of all that you need to think about this particular question, total panorama.

Now why is it total panorama? Answer is: if you learn the whole history of the world and not many people have read the whole history of the world and if you inquire very deeply into the whole history of the world, you will find that there are only four alternative aims of life, like a scientific study, it’s not a haphazard study, so any aim of life that people speak about you can put under one of these four categories. It’s a very good tool of discussing the problem of aim of life.

Whatever people have thought of the aim of life can all be summarized into one of these four aims. I can say this confidently, because Sri Aurobindo made such a tremendous study of the history of the world. It was one person in the world history who knew history very well, it is Sri Aurobindo. And having done that study, he has given us a summary now. That is why we have such beneficiaries. Otherwise, this problem is very difficult to study, but today you can study the subject scientifically with scientific precision.

There are basically four aims of life and all other so-called aims can be summarized into one of these four, so you will see that in the beginning itself I have given four aims of life: one is supracosmic aim of life, supraterrestrial aim of life, cosmic aim of life, an integral aim of life. Therefore, you see, for example, this is an overview. The very first is supracosmic. I had asked the painter, Majora, she’s the painter of this painting, which you have seen here, make a good painting of supracosmic view of life, and she gave me this one.

Supracosmic, that is to say, according to this view, an individual should be able to go above the cosmos, not only world, not only earth, whole cosmos and beyond that there is a reality and that reality you should be able to realize. This is the supra cosmic aim, that every individual according to this view, should aim at crossing the borders of the universe.

Yeah, beautiful: how do you do that? What is that reality? Does it exist? It’s very interesting questions. Immediately these questions arise. Now you can see how difficult it is as a subject, no? Why is it not in the curriculum, the most important question and how long it takes?

Can you share something.. (how do you know that supracosmic reality)?

I’m not focused on it now. I will. You are not focused either, when you are focused on it I will answer it. It is easy to ask a question, but all questions are not worthy of answer at that moment. I can always ask this question because the answer is not answerable in a dialogue. This is a question which we can raise in a state of the Upanishad. This word Upanishad is a very interesting world. Upanishad has got three words in it. One is sad. Second is ni, and third is sad, to sit. That is the meaning, sidati is to sit. Sad is to sit. Ni means closely. Up is very, very close.

This question is to be answered and first of all, question and answer when you sit closely, very very closely, then you can ask this question. That is why I say Upanishadic situation should arise in life and you can ask this question.

You see this painting. What is the specialty of this painting? That’s right, how close it is. It is Upanishad, near, very, very near, right. So listen, it’s very close.

From what point of view will you decide whether it is close?

If you feel it, it is so close, do you feel it, but quite true, but a good viewer is one who enters into the artist’s mind. Who is a good viewer? A good viewer is one who goes into the heart of the art. What does artists want to convey? Unless you do this, you're not a good viewer of art.

We are all art teachers. Basically, it means that you should be able to go to the most intimate places of your being whispering into the ears of the teacher. When Shakuntala fell in love with Dushyant, what happened? She was not able to see him. He was a king who had just come on a visit, her friends are around her, and she said I can't remain without seeing him. This is the confession she makes to the friends. What is that closeness tell me? She feels the need of meeting Dushyant right now, intensity of the need to meet him, and she can't meet him and she must meet him. What is that intimacy when you can tell your friend, I want to meet, that is the status of the Upanishadic state when you come very close to somebody who is a dearest friend, who will know, who is worthy of your secrets and who can do something about it. Only they are in the meeting of Dushyant afterwards because of these friends.

So I’m only giving an example which is much easier to grasp. There are moments when you have tremendous pain, you can't even utter your pain, because pain is so great, and somebody comes and says what is the matter, now tell me the intimacy and the stress under which you will utter one word, what is the state of your consciousness at that time intensity, which you can only whisper into somebody. It is said that supracosmic view of life can be understood with one word:

atha brahma jigyasa

This is the starting point. Jigyasa means the intensity to learn, to know. Atha means now, atha means something has already gone, then only the word comes otherwise atha doesn't come.

Now your question which you raised to me, why did you raise the question? There was a question for a long time in your life, and you heard this question and you came closer then I said no, you are not close enough. Atha that at that time it was not there. Now, as you are listening to me, you are coming closer and closer and closer. When you intensify it, it will become really atha brahma jigyasa. Now is the real jigyasa of Brahman. It is the point where you are whispering your intensity. You know you can psychologically you can whisper your inquiry only when it is intensest. You cannot live without it. I must know. When you come to that stage, I must know, fire is burning, you can't remain without the knowledge. Jigyasa is a burning jigyasa. I must know. Then you go to your teachers. That is the Upanishadic state, atha brahma jigyasa is the starting point. All right.

This is atha brahma jigyasa. Our Indian culture is so deep. It has found out when exactly you should answer a question, when you say atha brahma jigyasa, you should arrive at that point. I am now keen to know, there’s so much of burning fire in me. I must know.

This supracosmic aim of life, as I said, is very easy to explain: beyond the universe there is a reality and aim of life is to know that reality and to say that the only point on which you can be really focused is only this. You try to focus anywhere in the world, you won't remain focused. The laser point will come only when you go to supracosmic reality. This is the view. It says that there is a reality beyond the whole cosmos, and you cannot find your ultimate satisfaction of focus anywhere in the cosmos, it is only when you go beyond and touch it. That is what is called in epistemology as the object of knowledge. They are all objects of knowledge, but there is THE object of knowledge. These are objects, multiplicity, but there is THE object of knowledge.

In the morning you were asking about Prashana Upanishad, and I said Prashana Upanishad deals with the question: what is it knowing which everything can be known? What is it knowing which everything can be known, and that is the question. What is it? It is THAT object, that is THE object of knowledge. Supracosmic is THE object. Having known which everything can be known, this is a discovery made by some great sages and they said: all my friends, you are all striving and striving without knowing and so much dissatisfied discontented. Nothing satisfies you, I’ll tell you one thing which will satisfy you is supracosmic reality. Therefore, O my friends, you strive for That.

What is that supracosmic reality? What is the nature of it? How do we come to know it? That was your question. How do we know it? These questions also require a lot of answers, a long long answer in life. So this is one view, and if there are many people in the world who speak of what is the aim of life, they say this is the aim, other people say no, no, aim is cosmic terrestrial. You'll find in this book, there are examples of each one of them. That’s why this book is interesting.

Cosmic terrestrial view—what does it mean? It is a view that you should aim to confine yourself to this earth. There is here one full chapter called life’s philosophy by Jawaharlal Nehru. You can find the chapter? good. This is the example of somebody whose aim of life was cosmic terrestrial. Now he has one sentence here. It’s a very important sentence, read it:

Essentially, I am interested, in this world, in this life, not in some other world or a future life. [no supracosmic, nothing] Whether there is such a thing as a soul, or whether there is a survival after death or not, I do not know; and, important as these questions are, they do not trouble me in the least.

, The Aim of Life: Life’s Philosophy

To you and to me they may trouble very much, not only in the least but in the highest degree, but Nehru says that do not trouble me in the least. This is the cosmic terrestrial view.

The environment in which I have grown up takes the soul (or rather the atma) and a future life, the Karma theory of cause and effect, and reincarnation for granted. I have been affected by this and so, in a sense, I am favourably disposed towards these assumptions. There might be a soul which survives the physical death of the body, and a theory of cause and effect governing life's actions seems reasonable, though it leads to obvious difficulties when one thinks of the ultimate cause. Presuming a soul, there appears to be some logic also in the theory of reincarnation.

But I do not believe in any of these or other theories and assumptions as a matter of religious faith. They are just intellectual speculations in an unknown region about which we know next to nothing. They do not affect my life, and whether they were proved right or wrong subsequently, they would make little difference to me.

, The Aim of Life: Life’s Philosophy

He’s a very serious man, one of the great leaders of the world. He says supracosmic, all that whether it is true or false, it doesn't make any difference to my life, this life, this world. So there are many people like him in the world who think in this way. Why do they think? Our students should scientifically study, were those people wrong and only Nehru is right or Nehru is wrong and they are right? How? It requires a very serious thinking.

So then comes the third one, the supraterrestrial view. What is the supraterrestrial view? that above this earth, (terrestrial means earth, this earth,) there is another territory, other than this terrestrial, another world, which is not terrestrial, but a world. There are people who believe that there is swarga, paradise, that this earth is only a temporary sojourn. If you do good actions, you'll get passport to stay in paradise forever and ever in life. It’s also a view of many many people. In fact, almost all the religions speak of this aim. Father, take me to heaven: it’s not supracosmic. Take me to heaven, it is also a world, but it is a heaven of god. It’s not supracosmic, it’s not beyond all cosmos, all worlds, that is supracosmic. This is supraterrestrial. There is a world above the terrestrial.

Islam, for example, is a supraterrestrial view of life, that you are here on this earth and during this time of your earth, if you give allegiance to allah, after all this is all field of suffering and success, failure and all that. But if you want unending pleasure and joy, you can have it, five times namaz, fasting in one month in a year, go to Macca, give allegiance all the Quranic injunctions, you follow. You will be fit to go to heaven and remain there forever and ever and ever and ever. It is the aim of life. You should aim only at this. This is what you should be doing, throughout your life you do this, you will reach that point.

There is no talk of transformation and the living in this language?

There is a conduct, follow this conduct, very strict actually, you should not hear music, for example, no dancing, no enjoyment of all these kinds here on the earth. Very austere life you should lead a pious life, have rosary all the time, remember Allah all the time. That’s why Muslims have a rosary all the time, all the time and very serious. They are sincere people and follow the commandment which is given in the Quran and the Hadith.

So the same thing Vaikuntha is in India. If you go on with doing good things and remember Sri Krishna and Vishnu and worship him you'll be lifted, Garuda will come at the time of your passing. You’ll sit on the Garuda and be taken to Vaikuntha and be there all the time eternally happy, you'll be liberated from this cycle of birth and death.

Such is the supraterrestrial view of life. It is the same way in almost all religion, I said almost all religions, even Hinduism gives you supraterrestrial aim of life. Only Hinduism gives many others also, but supraterrestrial view of life is very prominent in Hinduism also.

According to Hinduism nark is a temporary sojourn. But ultimately you go to Vaikuntha. Yes, there are many others, yes, but highest supraterrestrial will be Vaikuntha.

Also Chrisitians is the same thing.

Also same thing: heaven.

Uncle, so Vaishnava is then parallel to Islam?

Exactly yes. Only the ways are different, paths are different. Vaikuntha you can reach if you remember Sri Krishna and Vishnu all the time and do his bhakti and puja and then be very particular about your bath and about your fasts and all the ceremonies that you do and you will go to Vaikuntha. Ultimately, it may take many births, that’s a main difference between Christianity and Hinduism. In Islam also there’s only one birth and everything will be decided in one birth. In Hinduism your many births before you come to this point a long, long sojourn on the earth and then you go up there.

And then comes the last one, fourth, which is called integral view of life. Integral view integralises all the three views. It says that you can fulfill yourself on the earth only if you can travel to higher worlds and if you get established in the supracosmic and then having reached the supracosmic, you can look into the world and remain on these worlds as a free being, you can work on this earth, but as a colonist from the realm of immortality, jivan mukta, you are on this earth free and when you are free, when you are moving, you exist simultaneously on the earth in the heaven and in the supracosmic simultaneously, and only when you do that your action on the earth can be effective. Till that time you may say: Oh I want to do this, I have to concentrate only on that, you won't be able to fulfill it.

You are rooted in supracosmic, hooked there, then you can swim anywhere and effectively. That’s the important point. You cannot do your action properly, so laser action is possible only then, only if supracosmic is attained and then only the laser beam will flow from there and exactly at the right point of action it will be acted.

That is Gita’s view. It is Arjuna fighting in the battlefields is a cosmic, is terrestrial, on the earth he has to fight and Sri Krishna says this is the spot where you should be concentrated upon. If you go away from the field you won't be fulfilled, even if you decide to run away you will come back. I know that because your fulfillment lies here on this earth. As for me now, my liberation is in talking to you here on this place, fixed here laser action. Here this is possible only when you are absolutely certain that there is nothing else, but this is why arjuna was successful in the action, because it’s a laser action.

Had he understood that this earth is an illusion?

No, that is what he tried to do. He argued that this world is useless. Yes, he would have never been able to do it. It’s quite true. Zindagi sapna nahi hai, this life is not a dream. It’s a very important action point, we should be on the earth, to run away from the earth is a mistake, but while being on the earth, you should be able to connect yourself with the supracosmic passing through the supraterrestrial and then from there you bring the light and that light which comes from above will be effective, and what you want to do on the earth can be effective only then.

Sri Krishna says I am the top supracosmic. If you read the ninth chapter of the Gita, you get a complete view of the Purushottama where he says I am supreme. They are all in me, but I am not in them, very contradictory statement. They are in me, but I am not in them and yet I am in them, it’s a very interesting statement he makes. There is something which is really transcendental, supracosmic and no cosmos can contain him. Sometimes it is said that the supreme is avashishta, is a remainder, remainder of the whole. Whatever is there, you minus it out, and what remains is the supreme, supreme is a remainder, avashishta, sometimes in a very ordinary condition ucchishta, when you're eaten, when you put down certain things which you don't touch, it’s all ucchishta, why? Because it is given to god. It is remainder. So when you reach the remainder and when you act from there and then your action will be perfect action. There'll be no hurry. In your action and no lethargy, perfect combination of the right speed of your action. You will see in teaching also your teaching becomes best when you are neither in a great hurry, nor you are lethargic ,exact measure that is needed for giving education.

The mother gave a very beautiful sentence: you should do your work as quickly as possible, but as perfectly as possible. Now, if you combine perfection and quickness together, you'll get the right optimum speed. It is like Vyasa telling Ganesha, you write and Ganesha said, my speed of writing is very great, so you should give dictation incessantly, so Vyasa knew it’s a difficult thing to give all the time incessantly, so he said I agree provided you understand everything that I tell you.

You should understand all that. I tell you that at that speed I will tell you so neither too quick nor lethargic. Your exact optimum. I think I’ll stop on the subject today, because it is enough to say that these are the four and you read any one of them and will be able to put into one of these four. And then you have to ask yourself: leave students to decide what do they want in their life. But after studying this to decide that: oh, I have decided now. This is what you may call an unscientific approach to life. A scientific approach is, when you have seen all the alternative possibilities: weighed them all and seen your ought and then equate yourself, where you fit in. So unless you do this exercise, you won't be able to be happy in life. When you've done this, then there is a real fulfillment of life. So that is why the importance of this subject. All right, good.