Socrates and Plato - Track 1201

(Now anything that appears is what is presented…)You begin to inquire what is it? You will find it disappears that is how this statement is correct that’s the mark of appearance. The moment something is given to you and you inquire what is it? There is some time gap, isn’t it? Appearance and you ask the question where is it, what is it? That which was there it disappears, why? Because everything in the world is in a flux, if you look at this fan it is running now. You try to fix and ask what is it? Before you even ask and finish your question what was there earlier has disappeared, something else has come up, the scene that you are seeing now at this moment before you have finished your question it has changed. Now this is of course visibly running fast but the world as it is does not seem to be running so fast therefore my statement does not seem to be so very correct but you actually ask the question truly, you’ll find that this is the situation, this is so. Let us take a piece of matter this is a piece of matter, when I touch it I feel resistance, I feel it to be solid but actually when you try to see what it is you will find that it consists of very small atoms. It is nothing but conglomeration of atoms. Now these atoms if you still see more clearly each atom will be found to be in constant motion. If you ask physicists (physicist – one who knows the science of matter) if you ask him he will say that every atom is something electric in character there is energy which is spinning fast. Every atom has a nucleus and has something orbiting around it, it’s a play between proton and electron and electrons are constantly in flux. Now as a result, you do not see actually see this flux, you feel this is very stable but when you examine you’ll find that it is in a constant flux, moving even faster than even the fan is moving. You don’t see actually here so this solidity is only in appearance not reality the solidity that you see is only an appearance, it’s not what is really there. Actually if you see the atoms which really are there it’s in a constant flux and there is so much of hollowness. Here I feel to be really solid but actually in the atomic movement if you see the atoms really flying it is quite in a flux and they are flying so fast, every moment your vision of it before you even try to fix it, it is gone. You are in the next phase and the moment you try to catch it, it is in the next phase, it is moving so fast, it vanishes even before you touch it, catch it.

A very nice sentence of Sri Aurobindo describing this, if you open chapter number IX in The Life Divine, page number 73, towards the end of that page there is a sentence: “There is nothing there that is stable. All that appears to be stationary is only a block of movement, a formulation of energy at work which so affects our consciousness that it seems to be still, (it is something like the fan if it runs very fast you will find it is still. So because energy is moving so fast it seems to be still. Actually it is moving extremely fast)somewhat as the earth seems to us to be still, somewhat as a train in which we are travelling seems to be still in the midst of a rushing landscape.” If you are seated in the train and if you see outside you will feel that the outside is running and you are stationary although actually speaking it’s the other way round, your train is moving, landscape is the same it doesn’t move but you feel that you are stationary and the landscape is running fast. This is the condition in which we are with regard to everything that we see in the world. We have therefore the beginning, the moment you begin to think in this fashion, you begin to see what is real; you begin to be a metaphysician that is a mark of philosophy. The heart of philosophy is metaphysical thinking which examines what appears and you ask: is it really what it appears to be or is it something else.

Now Plato concluded: whole world not only this object or that object but the entire world is in a constant flux, constantly moving. It’s like a river; you watch a river what happens? You cannot step into the same river twice, we think we step into the same river but if you really examine you never step twice in the same river because water has flown away, isn’t that so? Water is constantly flowing so how can you enter into the same water twice. This was a famous sentence of a philosopher called Heraclitus. Heraclitus was much before Plato and he had mentioned ‘You cannot enter or step into the same river twice’ the moment you step once the river has flown away, it has gone, new waters have come. According to Plato the whole world is like that river, constantly in flux and before you can pronounce ‘yes, this’ it has gone you cannot catch it, you cannot even say it is, can’t even say it is not because it was there. Therefore Plato says all that appears at the most you can describe as it is, it is not and that which is not how can you know? You remember Parmenides. I had given you famous sentence of Parmenides; you remember that sentence long, long ago. You cannot even conceive what is not that is impossible; you cannot even conceive what is not that is impossible because that is impossible because it is not there how can you conceive even. So that which is not cannot be conceived. Now anything that you see if it is in a flux, constantly changing the moment you try to fix it and see what it is, it is gone, so how will you describe it, in what way can you say it is. So Plato conscious of the fact that at least for a moment it appeared before you, he said you have got to say it is and the next moment you say it is not. SO he described the world as that which is, it is not, is, is not. Now that which is not cannot be known what can be known is that which is. Now this world which is, which is not, you can’t say can’t be known, you can’t say it can be known because it is , it is not. So he said it can’t be called knowledge he said it can only be called opinion. He made a distinction between knowledge and opinion. Knowledge is of that which is that which is, which is not is only an object of opinion. Now having arrived at this conclusion he says that if this world were the only thing in the world then it would be only a world of appearance but now let us see his argument. In order that there is an appearance there must be something which appears. Let us repeat this argument: In order that there is an appearance which is which is not there must be something which appears. If there was nothing at all it would not even appear. So behind appearance there must be something which appears the appearance by itself is, is not but that which is behind the movement, behind this flux there must be something which is. This is a small argument but a very important argument in philosophy this will be your companion for years and years and years this argument, keep it with you, reflect on it, meditate on it. It’s a very simple argument but it’s something on which you can contemplate on and the more you contemplate the more the sense of wonder will arise in your consciousness. if you later wonder as you reflect on it you feel you are on the right track. You repeat this argument again in your mind the world as it is given to us is in a flux. I am repeating the same argument. The world as it is given to us is in a state of a flux, it is fluctuating, constantly moving, there is a movement even then that which seems to be stable is actually moving as I gave you the example of the table which may seem to be stable but if you analyse it is full of atoms and all atoms are in a constant movement of electricity. Everything in the world is in a constant flux and this flux can be described only as something which is, which is not this is the only way in which you can describe, before you grasp it, it is already over, finished, it is gone, it’s in a flux. Everything in the world is so mobile that the moment you try to get it and fix and see what it is, it is gone, it has vanished. Some poet might say even it is gone even before it is born, it is so much in mobility that it is gone even before it is born, it is so fast, it vanishes before it is caught, it vanishes before it is born you might say. This is the first statement.

Now second statement but in order that there is this movement and there is this appearance there must be something which appears. Now this is the step of the argument which has to be examined, which has to be reflected upon. If there was nothing then even appearance would not have come about, nothing does not exist, if it does not exist it does not even appear even for a moment therefore there must be something. Now in order that there is something must be if it must be it must be permanent. Only that which is, which does not become is not, is only that which is. If it becomes is not it is not therefore the conclusion is that behind the movement there is something which is, now that which is permanent and that according to Plato is Reality, is real. The world is an appearance but that which is behind it is real.