Sachchidananda 'The Life Divine' Book I,Ch.9, 10, 11, 12 - Track 202

All concepts, you take any concept you will find Sri Aurobindo writing one line, − that existence is not only one of the things that can be conceived, but existence is the only thing that can be conceived. There is a distinction between the two statements ‘existence is not one of the several thing that can be conceived but existence is the only thing that can be conceived’. In other words the content of all the concepts, you take any concept one fundamental thing that must be in the concept is the existence. It may have something else but this element is a one common element in all the concepts.

This is the statement, which I am making which will require rethinking and rethinking. It’s an argument, which very often gives you a sense of surprise, particularly when you will think again about, nothing exists, and that existence is the only thing that can be conceived. These two statements you keep in your consciousness and by repeated reflection on this, you can arrive at a true understanding. So you reflect on these two statements ‘Nothing exists’ and ‘Existence is not only one of the things that can be conceived but is the only thing that can be conceived’ You might say that this statement is the heart and soul of this chapter number 9.

If you ask a question rationally, as I told you, we are at present in the field of the intellectual rational thinking. In the field of rationality the one thing that reason, as soon as it tries to conceive, it does only one thing – the conception of existence. There is a concept of existence. Let us consider, what is existence? The first statement we made was that only thing that can be conceived is existence. We analyze further and ask ourselves, what is existence?

To understand this concept of existence, I will give you a story of a debate, which has been going on in the history of thought regarding the proof of the existence of God. The debate is about the existence of God, therefore there is naturally the debate on the question of existence, so this is one of the best ways of understanding the content of the idea of existence. This question was very important both in the west and in the east, all people who have been concerned about intellectual development have raised this question – can you intellectually prove the existence of God? It is true that many people have claimed that you can experience God, you can see God face to face, you can talk to him, you can come into contact with him, you can feel him but many people say,” well that may be possible for some mystics and some very advanced spiritual people but when we are not in that stage, is it still possible for us to be sure that God exists. When you have experience of God of course you will never doubt it. There is no question about it but we who do not have that experience, can we have at all this experience at least at the intellectual level so that we can be sure that God exists. 

This question is very important because in India at least there was a very strong view that even those people who are at the lower level of consciousness and for whom the travel to spiritual experience, is a very long work of travel, it is very useful, if they simply hear the sentence ‘God exists’. Mere hearing, once you hear that ‘God exists’, you can no more be what you were before hearing this sentence because once you hear the statement, you have to react to it. This is what happens always, when you hear something, you react to it, when you react you have to ask whether what you heard is right or wrong. To prove that it is wrong is very difficult; to prove that it is right is also very difficult because God who is mentioned in that statement is supposed to be invisible. If God was something which can be seen, the question can be settled very soon after hearing it, you take something there and you show here it is and the matter is over but God being invisible how do you deal with this statement, God exists, you just hear it simply, you know no other exercise of spiritual development, intellectual development, nothing. You just hear the words, God exists, and the moment you hear these words immediately there has to be a reaction and the reaction is to show whether it is true, or it is not true and since God is invisible it is very difficult either to show that it is true, or to show that it is not true. The moment this question arises in your mind even if you do not like, you are tied up with God because you have got to deal with this statement. All the time the consciousness will go on asking is it true or is it not true, how to know whether it is true or not. In other words your consciousness gets oriented towards God.

Those who have experience of God they feel that one of the ways of helping people, who are at the lower level of consciousness is to orient them towards God in some way or the other because once you have oriented means you have a direction. Normally all human beings are moving without direction, helter-skelter, they do not know where to move. In that condition at least one thing by which human beings can be oriented towards God, about who are sure, God exists, for them there is no problem but for those who are moving helter-skelter in this world, if they are to be oriented then they found out that this is the best ways of orienting them towards God, just simply say ‘God exists’. This is what is called shruti.