The Life Divine—Chapters 1-7 (New Delhi, at Shubhra Ketu Foundation) - Session 7: Revision of Chapters 1-4 (1 May 2008)

So as I said we can go rather slowly. I want to revise this because we are having a philosophical exposition of the theme of Life Divine, if it was some other exposition, we could have a very brief statement. The brief statement could be that we are here on the earth to manifest the divine consciousness in the physical life and let us work on it, and the question will be only to find out the means by which we can do it. Then our attention would be on the process by which we can do it. But since this statement ‘we are here on the earth for the manifestation of the divine consciousness in physical life’ is a philosophical statement, we have to consider, how do you know that we are here on the earth for the manifestation of the divine consciousness in physical life and how are we sure that it is so? Not only how do we know but how are we sure that this is so. Now some people might say: we are sure because we have been told by our teachers that this is so, this kind of an argument may satisfy many people but then that is not a philosophical answer. Even if it may satisfy one, or two, or many there will still be many people in the world, who would not be satisfied and we will have to converse with them in due course of time. Therefore, if you dispense with the philosophical discussion on this subject, sooner or later you will have to be engaged in philosophical discussion with others, who will demand a philosophical answer. As Sri Aurobindo says, intellectual approach can be dispensed with by some, or by many, but it cannot be dispensed with, if we are to deal with this problem on the scale of humanity; if it is only a few individuals, you can dispense with this question, but if it is question of dealing with humanity and if this message is to be given to humanity and not to x, y, z; and if we are also interested in answering this question to humanity, then intellectual approach is indispensable, it is for this reason that we have undertaken this task for ourselves to have a philosophical assurance of this proposition and in due course to empower ourselves to be able to answer this question to many others in humanity, who will ask this question. It is for this reason that we are studying The Life Divine, because The Life Divine has been written in answer to this important issue, to give to ourselves a philosophical assurance that our life here is meant for manifestation of divine consciousness in full manifestation in the direct physical consciousness. Sri Aurobindo says that the aim of this book is to give ourselves a rational assurance that divine life on the earth is indispensable, it is inevitable and that each one of us has to participate in it, and has to participate in it with deliberate co-operation, with our willing free co-operation and the sooner we do it the better it is for everyone.

We had already made a journey in this process and we have read the first four chapters and before we come to the fifth chapter, I think we need to recapitulate because the fifth chapter is one of the most difficult chapters in the book. It has a recapitulation of the first four chapters, it introduces new elements and these new elements are introduced on the supposition that the reader is well equipped to receive the new elements, which are now being introduced. So let us first of all recapitulate what we have done so far.

The first chapter is entitled Human Aspiration. You can see that this word human aspiration has three significances. One is that all philosophical thinking rests upon aspiration. This connection between philosophical thinking and aspiration is extremely important. Why Sri Aurobindo begins with human aspiration is because it’s a philosophical book and if human aspiration and philosophical thinking are inevitably connected with each other it is best to start with the particular connection. It is by human aspiration that all philosophical thinking can be justified. Why do we think philosophically at all because of aspiration? Why, because philosophical thinking is a search for meaning, the search for essential significance and significance is related to aspiration. It is because of aspiration that they are looking for significance. If there was no aspiration, there would be no looking for significance and that there would be no philosophical thinking at all. Therefore to start with human aspiration is the inevitable starting point of any philosophical work. Many books on philosophy do not start with this, they start with something else. But you cannot say that these other beginnings which are made in other philosophical works have got their inevitability. The inevitable connection with aspiration and significance being present and significance being connected with philosophical thinking, therefore a philosophical book can best be started with the statement of aspiration. Now, aspiration is to be determined; what is it that man aspires for? One could have asked the question, what does the universe aspire to? That is not the question that Sri Aurobindo asks, it could have been. What is the whole world aspiring for? Sri Aurobindo marks out only one, actually speaking the aspiration is fundamentally to be found among human beings. Even if it is present everywhere in the world, it is in human beings it becomes more manifest and it is human being whether he likes it or not making effort to satisfy his aspiration. The central point in the world is this; therefore Sri Aurobindo speaks of the human aspiration. Now that human aspiration he defines in four terms, man aspires for God, Light, Freedom, Immortality. Being a philosophical work, you have to ask: is it really true, is it an inevitable fact that man is aspiring or is it an assumption. In philosophical thinking all assumptions are to be questioned. Even if you start with a supposition in due course of time that supposition will need to be questioned and to be answered. Now Sri Aurobindo because he starts with the human aspiration, he makes sure that the very first proposition is supportable by human history. So he starts by stating that the earliest preoccupation of man in his awakened thought also seems to be the highest. If you look at the whole history of mankind he admits that this aspiration has not been constant, there are times when this aspiration ceases to be very operative, there are periods of scepticism, agnosticism, vital seeking and many other things but Sri Aurobindo says that even after those periods, short or long , human being returns back with this aspiration. Therefore there is something so fundamental in this aspiration that our whole history of mankind can be regarded as one big cry, as if man is constantly looking for God, Light, Freedom, Immortality or prominently asking, if not constantly prominently asking for it. How do you know mankind right from the beginning is doing it? So Sri Aurobindo says ‘look at the records of man’s aspiration ‒ the Veda is the earliest record of man’s aspiration and in these records we do find this aspiration writ large. How do you say it is also likely to be because Sri Aurobindo says that even now we are passing through a period of scepticism, materialism, denial of this aspiration but at the end of this journey, we find that mankind is satiated with whatever he has been doing at present but not satisfied and therefore trying to return to this primal longing. Now those who have read the history of mankind will be able to justify this statement. Those who have not read the history of mankind are not fit to study this book because it is the background that is necessary to be able to appreciate this statement. Because people who have not studied the history of mankind thoroughly well, he may not be impressed by this statement at all. A person for example who has not read Kant, may not feel so much struck by these four words which Sri Aurobindo brought out because Kant is not a very old thinker, he is one of the new thinkers, modern thinkers and he is one of the most prominent thinkers of our times and whether one agrees with Kant or not, all philosophers of today have got to take cognisance of this philosopher. And this philosopher happens to say that in the ultimate analysis there are three postulates which you cannot question or even if you question you are bound to come back to them and it says, God, Freedom, Immortality. This is his conclusion. We need not go into his whole philosophy, how he has come to this conclusion but at least from historical point of view it is fact that this great philosopher of the 19th century came to the conclusion after studying the whole gamut of knowledge, actually he is supposed to have given a tremendous book called, ‘Critique of Pure Reason’ and ‘Critique of Practical Reason’. And having examined reason in all its aspects he has come to the conclusion that there are three important aspirations of man which are unquestionable ‒ God, Freedom, Immortality. And they are not only postulates but he says they are inescapable, ultimately you have got to believe in God, you have got to believe in Freedom, you have got to believe in Immortality, and philosophically, you are bound to do it. Mind you he is the one philosopher who has given criticisms of the proofs of the existence of God. In our most recent times if there is one philosopher who has criticised the proofs of the existence of God, it is Kant. But having criticised those proofs he has got his own proof. So he could not escape it and he has concluded that we are obliged to accept the existence of God, accept the existence of freedom of man and we are obliged to accept man must be immortal. These three statements he says are inescapable.

Now it so happens that these are the three prominent words also in the Veda it so happens, it’s not something contrived. If you read the Veda you find these three words constantly appearing: God, Light, Freedom, Immortality, all the time. Now this is not a historical accident. Kant had not come to the conclusion after reading the Veda and all that and Veda had not read Kant to make this proposition. It so happens objectively speaking, if you look at the history of the world you find that the Vedic Rishis spoke of God, Light, Freedom, Immortality, whatever may be the reasons. Rishis did not enquire into pure reason and all that and came to this conclusion, modern time we are enquiring into reason critically and all that even then our conclusion has been the same. It is a very palpable fact that Sri Aurobindo says, whether we look at the remote past or we read the latest one, the aspiration of man is found to be described so vividly in a short formula: God, Light, Freedom, Immortality. Now this is the aspiration of man.

Now Sri Aurobindo says this aspiration also happens to be its last, Sri Aurobindo says ‒ it promises to be its last. That word promises, is very important, he does not say ‒ is the last, why? Because it is a philosophical statement, unless we have proof that it must be the last, it is the last; it’s only a kind of promise. Why is it that it is continuously going on in the whole history of mankind therefore it promises to be last. Of course the philosopher himself has a full reason to say it is the last but when he is expounding, he has not yet proved. Therefore, the only good word that he can use for that purpose is that it promises to be the last. As I had said the very first paragraph has got two important statements, one statement which is qualified by the word ‘seems’ and one statement which is qualified by the word ‘is’ and in philosophical terms these two words are very important. ‘Seems’ is a probability and ‘is’ is a definitive conclusion.

So I said that Sri Aurobindo in the very first paragraph uses all the statements. He says that this aspiration seems to be the last, promises to be the last but he also says is also the highest that thought can envisage. Now there is a distinction between the two. You can say a conclusion to be probable, if you have a historical argument, a historical argument cannot end in inevitability because historically nothing is inevitable. The conclusion that you derive from a historical account about the future can be only promising at the most probable, therefore as long as the historical argument is there, he uses the word seems, promises but when he comes to the question of asking that this aspiration is definitively in consonance with the highest reasoning, this connection Sri Aurobindo says is an inevitable connection in thought. I said this first statement the word ‘is’ is used is a part of ontological argument that God is the highest that thought can envisage. Ontological argument does not say that God seems to be the highest, ontological argument says that God is the highest therefore where Sri Aurobindo is taking the ontological argument he uses the word ‘is’, where he is using the historical argument he uses the word ‘seems’. The upshot of the first paragraph is only that human aspiration can best be defined in terms of God, Light, Freedom, Immortality, it is the highest that thought can envisage. Therefore as far as the intellectual thought is concerned it is inescapable, as far as historical process is concerned, it is likely that this is going to be the last. Having said it, perhaps no question may remain in the mind of a student you can simply say: now I am convinced and I must now work for the fulfilment of the aspiration but that may not be true of every student, every reader he might say: your conclusion is that this is going to happen, likely going to happen, likely to be fulfilled, how can you say it is bound to be fulfilled. This bound to be fulfilled is a farther proposition that is being proposed. The whole book is written only to show rationally that this aspiration is bound to be fulfilled. So there is still a big distance between the proposition which is made that this aspiration is likely to continue and it is bound to be fulfilled. Therefore a lot of argumentation is there, you might say the whole book is an answer to this question: how can you show, how can you demonstrate rationally that this is bound to happen.

We have to determine the steps of proving this statement. The proposition is that there is a consciousness which is called Divine consciousness. Divine is to be realised. When we say aspiration for God and we say: I am aspiring for God to be realised. So there must be an assertion that God exists. We have to prove that God exists. If God is to be manifested in bodily life then the body must exist, in other words matter must exist. I have to prove in the second stage that matter exists. If spirit has to manifest in matter then I have to further prove that matter is capable of manifesting spirit, not only matter should exist, should be capable, material nature should be such. In other words, I have to prove that there is no fundamental conflict between Spirit and Matter. If by very nature spirit is one thing and matter is quite different, if they are in constant conflict with each other then the proposition is unworkable. So I have to prove that Matter must be capable, it must not be in conflict with Spirit. Thirdly, I have also to show that Matter and Life, I want to manifest God in physical life; therefore Matter and Life also must be somehow reconcilable with each other. I have to manifest God not only in Life but physical life. Therefore there should be no conflict between God and Life, Life and Matter. Further if there is any distance between God and Life and Matter and yet I believe that God will be in Matter then if there is a distance then that distance should be coverable. If it is not coverable then my proposition cannot be true.

Now in history of thought all these propositions have been denied and that is why there is a big problem. It is said by some that God does not exist, some say Matter does not exist, some say Life and Matter are bound to be conflict with each other, for some time they can come together but not for ever because everyone dies ultimately, so matter is more powerful than life, therefore the wedding of life and matter is not possible, divorce is the only answer ultimately. According to some God exists, matter exists but they are so different, so far away from each other that this distance can’t be covered, therefore the whole idea that God can manifest in matter, in material life is impossible and there are many other intermediate denials of various kinds. So unless I meet each one of these denials, I cannot be said to have proved my thesis. Merely by saying that the human aspiration has been constant, merely on that ground I cannot say it must happen, merely by wish, it will not prove it must happen, there are many wishes in the world which don’t work in the world, so merely wish is not an argument. Even if I say that my thought cannot envisage higher than this, even if I am certain about it, the argument would be that there are many things about which thought is very certain but in life it doesn’t work. Therefore, merely to say in thought it is inevitable, it doesn’t follow that it is bound to happen in material life. Now all these arguments I must meet squarely.

Now Sri Aurobindo in the very first chapter deals with all these questions rapidly and securely in the very first chapter and there are mainly three arguments. One is that there is a complete contradiction between what is actual, and what is aspired for. Aspiration for God, Light, Freedom and Immortality is an aspiration, is an ideal. But actuality has nothing of God in it, nothing of Light in it; nothing of Immortality here and what is obtained will always remain. So you can dream but what is going to happen in the world is only what is here, this is an argument, which is put forward.

So Sri Aurobindo raises a metaphysical argument. What is a metaphysical argument? A metaphysical argument is the argument which sees the significance, being. So Sri Aurobindo says: if there is a contradiction between the actual and the ideal, you must ask the question: why is there this contradiction? Merely saying that there is a contradiction is not enough. Metaphysically, you have to answer the question: why, why is it at all that in spite of the fact that actual is only this much, why man goes mad and looks out for these things, what is the significance of this? Therefore, Sri Aurobindo says that if you look deliberately, this deliberate reason is a metaphysical reason. Reason is that which is an attempt to ask, if there is a reason behind it, after all what is rationality? Rationality is to look for reason. So you must ask the question, what is the reason for this discrepancy between the actual and the ideal? Even if I am mad in aspiring for God, I have to explain how that madness happens in the world. I have got to explain why, what is the significance of this contradiction and you have to answer this question metaphysically. No metaphysical thinker can avoid this question. If he is a real philosopher he has got to answer this question. As I have said, metaphysical thinking by its very nature is a search for significance. If you don’t ask significance, there is no metaphysical thinking at all, close the door, you say I am not going to discuss this question philosophically at all; you can say that and stop the debate. It is only because you are asking me the question; I want a rational answer to the question. Then I have a right to tell you if you are looking for a reason. You can ask why this contradiction? therefore now the debate starts. Unless I answer this question philosophically I have not answered the question. So I have called this argument essentially metaphysical argument, the statement that if you look for the deliberate reason, the word deliberate reason is the metaphysical reason, philosophical reason. So Sri Aurobindo says: we have to ask why this contradiction exists at all.

Now Sri Aurobindo answers. Now this answer is given on the basis of certain facts. Since I am explaining the structure of the argument, let me say about the word facts. In a philosophical argument there must be to start with data, facts. If there are no facts, there is no argument. Philosophy is an argument based on certain facts and while correlating the facts, you have problems and therefore an argument starts. If there are no facts at all, philosophical argument has no place, there are no facts there is no argument about it.

Now philosophical argument however is a systematic observation of facts, it is not at random. I see a stone here, I see a river here, I see five-six people around me, these are also facts but a philosophical argument observes facts in a very systematic manner. Sometimes I give the example of one of the stories of Sherlock Holmes. Sherlock Holmes says that an officer comes to his room and he has in his briefcase a certain document. He is one of the earliest persons to come in the office and his coming is noted by the peon and he notices the time he has come, and he was the earliest to come in the office. He opens his briefcase and he reads the document. He reads half, and then he has a call of nature and he goes to the bathroom, in the same room, doesn’t leave the room. He comes back and finds that the document no more exists on the table, and this is a fact. Now this fact is of such a nature that automatically the question arises how, why and who, what has happened? Now this kind of questioning is a natural questioning in which facts are presented in a systematic manner. Sherlock Holmes, when he was told about this fact, ultimately comes to the conclusion that the thief had already come to the room, maybe overnight and he had concealed himself in an almirah and kept himself standing, knowing very well the document is bound to come the next day with the officer, he will bring it, it is so secret, he won’t leave it anywhere else at all, he is bound to read in the office, he is bound to be in the office, he is bound to bring the briefcase, for a short while he is bound to go out, or he will probably go out, he is prepared to stay there the whole day in the almirah, the document is so important for him. As soon as he goes into the bathroom, he takes only a short time, the man comes out of this almirah, takes away the document and jumps out of the window and goes away. This is the conclusion that he drew out of this event then ultimately they were to find out, the whole story goes on but relevant for us is that when an argument is to be prepared it should be prepared on the basis of certain facts, which are to be systematically presented.

Now Sri Aurobindo brings forward certain facts before us, and he says, the fact is that all over the world, all problems exist and they all exist because of the contradiction, between actual and real, actual and ideal, it’s not only this problem which we are discussing, but all problems. Any problem that you look into the world is a problem, if you analyse any problem there are only two points, there’s an actual and there is an ideal, and the two are in collision with each other. So now these facts Sri Aurobindo brings forward. Now these facts that Sri Aurobindo brings forward are in the history of philosophy, important facts which have never been brought up in the philosophical world for argument, but they are very important. He draws the attention of the whole of mankind, there are certain facts which you must examine that if you analyse all the problems, you always find basically all the problems are the problems of harmony. The question of actual and ideal, not only that but there is a constant effort in arriving at harmony, this is also a fact. He points out that simply because the contradiction exists, people don’t leave the problem at that, there is a constant effort to overcome a problem. This is also a fact. He says to leave a problem unresolved is true, is alright, for a pragmatic man, who doesn’t bother, who is interested in finding out a good job and remaining where he is, he doesn’t bother whether the son is running away or not, all problems, he doesn’t bother, he says as long as I can live and have my body and soul together, now no problem. Purely pragmatic man may not inquire into any problem, but every human being as soon as he begins to feel a problem, he tries to resolve it.

Now Sri Aurobindo gives forward two important facts of a very large data; where there is an acute conflict, there is a conflict between Matter and Life. Matter and Life seem to be quite opposed to each other and yet if you look at the world, you find that all that is living, necessarily exists only in matter, all that is living, not that all that is matter is living but all that is living, is necessarily in matter, although matter and life are opposed to each other. So how has it happened, that is because Matter and Life have tried to resolve this problem, this conflict, not human being but nature itself has tried to resolve this problem and has succeeded in injecting Life into Matter? This has happened, it’s a fact, an undeniable fact.

Similarly there is conflict between Life and Mind. Life is a wild dashing into the world, not tolerant of any kind of pause, waiting, thinking, considering, weighing, finally deciding then jumping into action. There is conflict between the movement of life and the movement of mind and yet it has so happened that all mind, if it has to live on earth, has got to be in the living form. Where there is no life, the mind cannot subsist in this world. Life can subsist without the mind but the mind cannot subsist in this world. So there has been an injection of the mind successfully in life, this has happened. If so, what is impossible about God being manifest in mind, why should not God be injected into mind? If all these relations have taken place, what is wrong, if I make a statement that God can be injected into material life and mental life? So my conclusion is that if these things have happened already, it’s quite likely and if I look at the logical order of things, if there is rationality in the world, if there is logicality in the world then there should be no impossibility, nobody can argue it will never happen, this is the argument Sri Aurobindo gives, to answer this question. If somebody says, how do you prove that God will be injected into what we are now?

Now Sri Aurobindo goes farther and brings another fact, that fact is of course a kind of an explanation given of the present day of the very problem that we have just now seen, Life being injected into Matter and Mind being injected into Life. Now the present fact is that people believe they have come to the conclusion, scientifically, that life has evolved in matter and mind has evolved in life. Then Sri Aurobindo says, if life has evolved in matter, it could be only because life must be already involved in matter.

Now why this argument? Once again we come back to metaphysical questions. Anything that happens, you can answer, it has happened and this answer is alright for anybody who is not rational. A rational seeker asks the question, why? Why should it happen? If a child is told it is raining, the child will ask why it is raining. You will say, now look at the cloud, where there is cloud, rain comes, then the child becomes quiet because he has an answer, why it has happened. This is the Law of reason, you say that when I don’t want to be rational at all then it does not matter, then there is no philosophy but if you are a philosopher and if you are asking this question, you must ask why is it that Life evolves in Matter?

Sri Aurobindo says that no solution of this problem can come about, unless you go back to the first principle of explanation ‒ effect must be present in the cause. This is the fundamental principle of rational thought. The effect must be present in the cause. So Sri Aurobindo says that life evolving out of matter, rationally cannot be explained except on the ground, the ground which Vedanta has laid down that effect must be present in the cause. Now if so, Life has evolved in Matter, therefore Life must be in matter, Mind has evolved out of Life, therefore Mind must be in Life and how can you say that Mind has nothing else than Mind, can it be said it is the end of the Matter. Sri Aurobindo says: no! Why because there is an analogy between Life and Mind on one hand and Mind and something higher than the Mind, this analogy can be compared. Between Life and Mind there have been degrees of development, various forms, lower forms of animals and higher forms of animals and ultimately the highest form of animal ‒ man, has come out. So wherever there are degrees of development, you can say it can reach the climax of it, it has happened.

Now similarly, are there degrees of consciousness in human beings, are there lower human beings in thought power, middle power of thought, higher powers of thought, highest powers of thought and even going beyond thought, has it happened, answer is ‘yes’. If so, the highest powers of thought must be present in mind, therefore, if this has happened inevitably, whatever is in the cause has come out in the effect; this is bound to effect also. Therefore, what you call Light, Freedom, Immortality is nothing but a formula of Supermind. So because Supermind seems to be contained in the Mind and sometimes it has manifested from time to time in some human beings, there is nothing impossible, if it fully manifests. Now you must remember that this is called analogical argument.

An analogical argument is never conclusive but highly probable, very highly probable. It can give you a very good ground for affirmation of a very high degree of probability and unless the contrary is shown that probability can also result in union with the contrary issue, the analogical argument has this advantage. If you can show an analogy between two, three levels and therefore you can say it can happen also here, conclusion is probable, but if you cannot disprove then the conclusion that you have arrived at is much more probable, almost inevitable, at least you can’t say it cannot happen. You remember the argument was because actual and ideal are in contradiction of each other, ideal can never happen, that was the argument, therefore that argument does not stand now, this is the conclusion of the first chapter. It only says that God, Light, Freedom, Immortality from the point of human thought is inescapable. From the point of view of the method of nature in which actual and ideal are always in conflict, it shows that the ideal is always possible to manifest. And if evolution is a fact, which is also a fact, and if there is nothing against it, this is most likely to happen. This is the conclusion of the first chapter.

Sri Aurobindo says therefore, we need not fear to aspire, he does not say we must now follow completely now I have proved the whole case. If this is so, he says ‘if there are Northern lights’, that is to say, if Supermind has flickered somewhere then you can be sure there is the sun somewhere and because of the sun these Northern lights are flickering now in the Northern skies. You can be sure Supermind exists somewhere as a result of which the human mind is sometimes flickering with Supramental light and given these arguments you need not fear to aspire. This is the conclusion of the first chapter. Sri Aurobindo says, while going out of this chapter he makes two important statements. If you see this paragraph, last but one, the last five lines:

We cannot, then, bid her pause at a given stage of her evolution, nor have we the right to condemn with the religionist as perverse and presumptuous or with the rationalist as a disease or hallucination any intention she may evince or effort she may make to go beyond.

Sri Aurobindo, The Life Divine - I: The Human Aspiration

Now these two words are very important, these are the two main groups of people who are going to oppose your proposition, the religionist and the rationalist. You must understand this argument because later on this argument is expounded more thoroughly, since we are going beyond the first chapter, it is better to understand this argument in a larger canvas, so that if you come across this argument later on, we are not surprised. It is very important that Sri Aurobindo is writing rapidly, and writing rapidly at a supreme height of thought in which vistas of thought are already summarised and captured and sometimes some statements are made which may seem to be statements without argument. Now there are many statements which are really not arguments, why, because they are statements of data. Wherever there are statements of data, there are no arguments because they are data but there are some statements which seem to be without argument and there you must pause and ask, have I missed something so that I don’t see it as an argument and this is a very difficult task, very often you’ll find Sri Aurobindo making a statement. But if you have not kept track of the ground that he has covered already, you will only see the statement and you will say but this is not an argument.

Many people who read The Life Divine cursorily complain that Sri Aurobindo does not argue. I have examined this criticism quite often, when Mother said Life Divine is intellectually perfect, I have verified that it is intellectually perfect, there is not a single statement even is and seems, I have shown you he is so careful that where he cannot say is, he uses the word seems. Where he has not shown to be inevitable, he has said it is promising but where it is inevitable, he has written without mincing of the words, it is inevitable. For example Sri Aurobindo says: if you take a deliberate view of things, there is no excuse about it, he doesn’t ask for any pardon for this argument. If you are a metaphysician, you must raise this question, if you don’t you are not a metaphysician, this is the method of metaphysics. Therefore, if he raises this question, you have to understand why he raises this question. Now, similarly therefore, when you read The Life Divine, you will sometimes come across statements which you will simply say they are not data and yet statements, but kindly pause and try to see before and after, and see whether what he says is argumentatively already established. And at least I have found that always when it seems to be a mere statement in Life Divine, there are a large number of facts which are data; there are no arguments because they are data. But wherever they are not a data, it’s a real argument, it may seem to be a statement, but it’s a statement because it’s already proved and it is proved sometimes because we are not intellectually equipped ourselves, for example as I said, if you are not equipped with ontological argument then the very first statement may seem to be a statement and not an argument. When you say that this aspiration is also the highest that thought can envisage, it’s not a statement, it’s only one who knows there is an ontological argument that he will find it is an argument, it is not a statement, it’s not a statement, it’s an argument. Therefore to understand Life Divine, we must be ourselves intellectually very well equipped and all canons of intellectuality are thoroughly satisfied in this great work.

Now this statement, I am bringing it to your notice, these statements because I want to draw your attention, because later on you’ll refer to these arguments. But we must see, we have already dealt with these arguments, later on if he makes a statement and you have forgotten it, it is your fault, not the writer’s fault. So I am now bringing to your notice two arguments that there are only two basic arguments even after all this is said, two arguments still remain to be dealt with. The argument of the religionist and the argument of the rationalist—he already summarises in one or two lines, phrases. What is the essence of the argument of the religionist and what is the essence of the argument of the rationalist? Now let me expound. If you tell a religionist that on this earth a supermind, a superman will walk and will establish harmony in the world because of his walking, as he walks there will be spreading around him all harmony, where Sri Krishna appears there will be a Ras Lila automatically, but it will happen on the earth not in Vrindavana only, not in Vaikuntha only, but here on this earth, this will happen. This is what Sri Aurobindo says.

Now a religionist says, this can happen in heaven. To think that this world, this world is already perfect, that this world will be changed, there will be something new happening, now this statement is very important. A religionist says, this world was made by God in six days. The seventh day was of course a holiday, but in six days this world was made, and having made it God said: wonderful, it was wonderfully done. This world is wonderfully done. Now you say, it’s not wonderfully done, something more has to happen in this world. What will be his remark against you? We are perverse, you are proposing that something will happen which even God has not thought of making, it must be perverse or you are presumptuous, you think something more you can do, which God has not done, you are presumptuous. These will be his two words which will be used against you that either you are presumptuous, or perverse, therefore your argument will be thrown away.

Rationalist says, there is nothing higher than the intellect. Yesterday we were reading a statement of Bertrand Russell. Russell says: ‘We refuse to believe that there is anything higher than the intellect, refuse to believe, this is the very statement, this is the rationalist’ standpoint, there is nothing higher than the intellect and nothing can be higher than the intellect. He says: we do not accept that God, heaven, intuitions can come in the human mind and can work and intellectually therefore, if you examine the world, the world is nothing but Matter. You are talking of Supermind coming on the earth and walking around the earth, it’s all ephemeral, supraphysical. If you say, I am very respectful to you, I can be sure, it is a hallucination. All supra-physical things, if at all you think about them they are hallucinations. So Sri Aurobindo says that either you are a diseased person to think of it or you are having hallucination, or you are hallucinating because of your diseased mind, these two arguments will come to you all the time, throughout. Whenever you say anything, these are the two arguments which will come. And Sri Aurobindo has said, read the whole sentence:

We cannot, then, bid her pause at a given stage of her evolution, nor have we the right to condemn with the religionist as perverse and presumptuous or with the rationalist as a disease or hallucination any intention she may evince or effort she may make to go beyond.

Sri Aurobindo, The Life Divine - I: The Human Aspiration

Nor have we the right, the words are well chosen, he doesn’t say, this is bound to happen but you have no right, arguments that you have given you the right to think about it, you have no right to condemn:

We cannot, then, bid her pause at a given stage of her evolution, nor have we the right to condemn with the religionist as perverse and presumptuous or with the rationalist as a disease or hallucination any intention she may evince or effort she may make to go beyond.

Sri Aurobindo, The Life Divine - I: The Human Aspiration

You have no right now, having given these arguments, you have no right to condemn the proposition of the Supramental manifestation on the earth as perverse or presumptuous, or as a hallucination, or as a disease, his argument is already doesn’t mean that this arguments has been thwarted altogether; therefore these arguments are still to be dealt with and these are the two arguments Sri Aurobindo devotes to the next two chapters.

The argument of the religionist, religionist has a big band, one argument I gave you was one group of religion, the one group of religion, the Christian world which says God has made the world in seven days time but there are many other religions, who have different views. According to Jainism the world consists of only two principles ‒ Jiva, which is conscious, and Jada, matter, which is unconscious, only two principles. It is true that at present they are joint together, how they have been joined together, we do not know, nobody can say but they are fighting with each other, it’s a wedlock which is constantly riddled with quarrel. The best solution would be to separate out the two. Matter will remain here, Spirit will remain here and that’s the end of the matter. You will be happy alone and matter will have no quarrel with you then, it will not create any kind of karma, it will remain where it is. Now to say that this matter and spirit will join together and live harmoniously with each other and Supramental manifestation will take place in matter, you are perverse, what is this, impossible, how can it be? There are two principles ‒ matter and spirit, so there is another group of religionists, you have gone with them.

There is a third group of religionists, who say, similar to Jainism, where there are only two principles Purusha and Prakriti. There are only two principles nothing else, only Purusha and Prakriti, and Purusha is in this body, there is constant quarrel going on there, how they have come together, we know the machinery Purusha looked at Prakriti, he fell into trap, now it is bound in it and the only thing that has to be done is to come out of it, and I know how to come out of it and I give you the medicine, you do it, you will come out of it. Wedlock has taken place, it is quarrelsome, I can tell you how to get a divorce and you will permanently afterwards, you will never get into the trap because you have experienced this trouble, once you have gone through it and once you are divorced, you will never come together afterwards forever and ever and ever. Therefore to say you will manifest in this matter is out of the question, it’s presumptuous or you are perverse, or you can say this world is a sport of God, this world is a Lila. Of course there is a big trouble in this Lila; it’s only a sport of God. Take everything as a sport, if you feel troubled I have medicine for you, you just give up the physical life, all these troublesome things which are happening, withdraw from it and go at the feet of the Lord and forever and ever and remain there, no problem. This was also Lila that is also Lila. Better than this to happen here on this earth is perverse, as far as this world is concerned this is Lila, why are you worried about it, why are you saying it’s not satisfactory; it’s a Lila of God. If you don’t find it to be satisfactory, you can come out of it, it’s also Lila and that also will depend on His will. As long as he wants you to remain here, you remain here, you go to God and say that I am troubled, He may keep you here for two hundred births in the same kind of body, same kind of body or repeated births after births, after two hundred years or after two hundred births, you’ll come out of it. To say that in this world a better Lila can happen, I don’t see the possibility of it because once you go to God then you can’t come back here, then only you remain there, how can you come back to this matter, this world of difficulties. So if you say the manifestation of harmony and Ras Lila here on the earth can happen here, don’t say absolutely not, but you don’t need to, once you go to Baikuntha why should you come here and have Ras, not impossible, God can create Lila here also. But why, there is no inevitability about it, but you are saying it is inevitable; such inevitability is not a part of the Lila. This is the argument, or there is a story of Mayavada. This world is nothing but a dream, to believe that this illusion when it is switched off, which you can switch off, once you switch off there will be no illusion at all, once this illusion has come about, how and why, you don’t ask me the question, it is there. But once you come out of it, how can there be such an illusion at all? Once you are absolutely awakened then you can’t fall back into this illusion, there is no movement, the silent Self remains alone, there is nothing else in the world, therefore again you say that this world will be manifesting Supermind is perverse or presumptuous.

Question: In Mayavada the pain is an illusion and in Vaishnavism the pain is also the part of the Lila then to expect the freedom from pain is not God’s will, in a way?

Answer: In a sense ‘yes’. Some Lilavadis believe it is his will. Narsi Mehta was put into prison by the Nawab of Junagarh because he was making miracles according to many people’s reports. So Nawab called him and said that I hear that you make a lot of miracles. He said: ‘I am not making, if God is making some miracles, he must be, how can I do miracles, it’s not in my hands. “No, no, people are saying you are making miracles, make a miracle before me, '' he said. He said: “I have never made any miracles”. “That means you are deceiving people. That is even a greater offence now that you are deceiving people, people believe that you are making miracles, you are misleading them, so you should remain in jail”. So he was put into jail. Then his daughter came to meet the saint. She said: ‘I cannot see you living like this in a jail and I know that you can always do miracles, it’s a fact, I have seen so many things in your life’. He said: “I have never made any miracles”. “For my sake you just pray to Shri Krishna, he will make some miracle”. So he said: “All right, if you want me to pray to Shri Krishna, I will pray to him to make some miracle, I don’t know what miracle’”. So for the sake of his daughter, it was also Lila. He prayed to Shri Krishna and said: “my daughter wants a miracle to happen, so kindly do it.” And according to the legend or the true story, a garland which was on the idol, around the neck of the idol, it flew in the sky and came and settled itself on the neck of Narsi Mehta and thousands of people were present here and the miracle was seen by the Nawab, who fell at the feet of Narsi Mehta and the quarrel was over. After the whole event was over some disciples came and said: “how did you feel inside the prison?” So he said: “Whatever is liked by my Master, why should I not like it. I was very happy”, this is Lila. God allowed that drama to happen that Lila and he liked it, if he did not like it, how could he allow it? This is what happened to him, so this is Lila. ‘If God likes it, why should I say I don’t like it, when He wants I should be free from it, I’ll be free from it. Nothing will happen without His liking.

The argument that Sri Aurobindo gives is that God does not like the world to remain what it is. Other people say God has made it, even if it remains, let it remain, what is the problem? This argument is still to be dealt with, it’s not as if it is over, only we have no right to condemn it with the religionists. Religionists will condemn my proposition; I have proved that he has no right to condemn me that much I have gained ground in the first Chapter.

The second chapter is centred on the argument of the rationalist, who maintains that supraphysical is a hallucination. Therefore any preposition that is made in regard to the manifestation of the supra-physical in the physical is an impossibility, such a thing cannot happen. Reality is only matter, supra-physical is not real, so how can it happen, this is why it is called denial of the materialist. And what is Sri Aurobindo’s argument? The first argument of Sri Aurobindo is that the materialist's argument is a circular argument, this is in logical terms. What is a circular argument? A circular argument is that a statement is made in order to propose a proof of it but instead of giving a proof, you restate it, then this is not an argument, it is only a circular statement. What is the circularity? Matter is the only reality, this is the materialistic position? Matter is the only reality. How do you prove it? Because matter is the only thing that we can see, why is it that only matter can be seen because all seeing is done by material organs. Why are the material organs the only instruments of knowledge because matter is the only reality? This is circularity.

Second argument against materialism is that this argument is arbitrary. Now what is this arbitrary statement, an argument which is arbitrary? A statement which is made without examining other alternatives and without disclosing others, if I make a statement and remain stuck to that statement then it can be said it is arbitrary. This is the definition of arbitrary. I make a statement and that statement I make without considering all other possibilities of other statements. I could have made many statements instead I make only one statement then you can say, you have made an arbitrary statement. If I maintain this is the only statement which is possible to make, you take up one proposition without examining other possibilities, you just say this is the only possible statement.

Now let us see how materialism is arbitrary. It says, material sense organs are the only means of knowledge. You can see the statement is arbitrary; this is all that materialism says. Material sense organs are the only means of knowledge. If it was to say material sense organs are means of knowledge, fine! It is a fact, material sense organs are a means of knowledge. In order to show that material senses are the only means of knowledge, you have to disprove that there are no other means of knowledge, no other claims of means of knowledge are available, have I disproved other means of knowledge? Therefore this statement, the premise, Sri Aurobindo says, the premise of materialism is that material sense organs are the only means of knowledge and even if you speak of reason, reason can never go beyond the formula of the material sense organs, reports of the sense organs and that is the end of the argument. You have not shown there are claims that there are other means of knowledge, I have examined those means of knowledge, I have found them to be wrong, therefore this proposition is valid. You have not done it.

So Sri Aurobindo says that this statement is arbitrary and then what is Sri Aurobindo’s refutation of it? As soon as you begin to inquire other means of knowledge there are supra-sensible senses, what about those senses of knowledge? Even the physical things exist without being seen, what about that statement. You can even contradict your physical senses by use of reason. My senses tell me that sun moves around the sun, my reason tells me that the earth moves around the sun, the contrary of it. It’s a rational statement, when I examine by reason, I find that my senses are quite wrong. So senses are not the only means of knowledge. I can apply reason and come to a conclusion, a definite conclusion, it is wrong. So there are other means of knowledge, physical senses are not the only means of knowledge. According to Sri Aurobindo, third argument of Sri Aurobindo against materialism is that materialism is a vulgar argument and does not deserve to be promoted to philosophical reasoning. What is a vulgar argument? A vulgar argument is a argument of a man who is uninstructed, it’s a rustic argument, a villager who has no exposure to knowledge suddenly comes on the platform of railway and finds the engine rushing on the platform and sees piston moving up and down and he sees steam coming out of it all the time and says: ‘you see the steam is coming out because of the movement of piston, therefore piston is the cause of the steam’. It’s a vulgar statement because he does not know that piston itself is moving because of the steam power. If there was no steam power prior to the movement of piston, piston would not have moved. But for coming to that conclusion he has to go into depth. Therefore it is a vulgar argument or let us say, how it is vulgar? I see that matter exists; I see that matter exists and what is your argument, ‒ matter alone exists. Your statement is matter exists, I see matter existing, fine, no problem, but you say: no, it’s an argument, it’s a statement, it’s alright, matter exists, when you say matter alone exists, it’s an argument. So to transfer a statement into an argument is vulgarity because you are uninstructed, you cannot turn a statement into an argument. That you are seeing matter therefore how do you conclude matter alone exists, simply because you see matter. Even if you say: I don’t see anything else than matter, even then, if any claim comes and says there is something other than matter, you should sit down and say let me examine but merely because I see matter and nothing but matter therefore I say matter alone exists, it’s a vulgar argument, like many Europeans who come to India and see that India is nothing but movement of cows in the streets, I see everywhere, therefore India is nothing but this, it’s a vulgar argument. He has seen this, it is true, what he has seen but how can he say, India is nothing but this, it is a vulgar argument, rustic argument. So Sri Aurobindo says: materialism is a circular argument, it is an arbitrary argument, arbitrary statement only, not an argument, arbitrary statement or it’s a rustic argument, vulgar argument. These are the three words Sri Aurobindo has used against materialism.

So Sri Aurobindo says that when you inquire into supraphysical realities, if you employ supraphysical means of knowledge and you apply criteria of validity, strict criteria of validity, you find that supraphysical realities are sustainable. Therefore, to say that matter alone exists is not a true statement; it’s not a rational statement, not an acceptable statement. Now the only thing that remains to be shown is supra-physical means of knowledge exist and there are supra-physical facts which are verifiable. Now how do you do that? You can fully refute materialism only if you can state facts of supra-physical reality, means by which supraphysical realities can be seen and if there are evidences for it. So Sri Aurobindo says that there are evidences, there are plenty of evidences. And even now new research which is being done, which goes under the name of telepathy and telekinesis and so on, even these rudimentary facts show that there are supra-physical means of communication. You can look at these pairs of glasses, she wants to have them right now, she sends her will here and it begins to move by itself and the pair of glasses reaches her. It’s called telekinesis, ‒ the capacity to move physical objects by thought, by power of thought. It is said that Marco Polo in one of his diaries of his travels in India, has given an eye witness fact of his own perception that so many people were invited and one of the yogis, who was also invited was asked by the hosts: please show us something. So he says: I saw with my own eyes a cup which was lying on that side and drawn here and it came right up to this person simply because he asked for it. There are a number of facts of this kind which are recorded but if you really want to make a science, you can make a science of it, such a science exists. So according to this science Sri Aurobindo gives the evidence of one most important datum, there are many, many such facts but Sri Aurobindo gives a description of one important datum in which it can be shown that matter and spirit exist together, not as separate but exist together. This is the fact of cosmic consciousness. Therefore, Sri Aurobindo now gives a fact, it’s not an argument, it’s a fact, fact as evidence and therefore an argument.

Now I would like to repeat that statement of cosmic consciousness because it is very important argument also:

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. 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.

Sri Aurobindo, The Life Divine - I: The Two Negations: The Refusal of the Ascetic

Now Sri Aurobindo gives an accurate description of cosmic consciousness, one of the most important pieces of data in the building up of the total argument of The Life Divine. What is that?

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.

Sri Aurobindo, The Life Divine - I: The Two Negations: The Refusal of the Ascetic

Now this is a fact, this is not an argument, this is a fact, it’s a data. All arguments should be based upon data. Our only question is whether these data are valid or not. And Sri Aurobindo says, next sentence:

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. 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. 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.

Sri Aurobindo, The Life Divine - I: The Two Negations: The Refusal of the Ascetic

These two paragraphs are extremely important in the argument of The Life Divine. Not only is that consciousness a datum, Sri Aurobindo says that this datum can be justifiably regarded as valid, valid first of all to the consciousness which experiences it, and valid also by effects it can produce upon the physical world. Not only that but it is not one singular experience of one person, so you can say it is a hallucination of one man, it is an experience which is shared as Sri Aurobindo says, in Eastern psychology cosmic consciousness is regarded as a fact. Unless many people had that experience it can’t be regarded in science as a fact. In any case even today there are people who can have cosmic consciousness and therefore by comparing the two, or three, or four persons having the same consciousness, you can verify it. Of course you can argue that a man who has come from a village on a platform, doesn't have cosmic consciousness. Therefore it can’t be valid. In science it can be said that there are many experiences which you can have only if you become qualified, merely because I cannot share my perception of time as a fourth dimension of matter, I cannot be told that therefore my statement is not true. I can show first of all physical facts of the time being fourth dimension and secondly anybody who is prepared to study physics of the fourth dimension and the mathematics of the fourth dimension, he will also come to the same conclusion. Therefore, merely because it is not shared by all people in the world in a vulgar manner, I don’t need to say that a thing in order to be believed must be shared by all people, whether you like it or not. The validity of an experience is, first of all it must be real to myself, even real to myself means ‒ when can I say that I am not dreamy, I am seeing this now, when can I say I am not dreaming. If I can remove from my present state of consciousness all the conditions in which I know I can dream, I remove all those conditions. I rub my eyes three, four times, I make sure that I have not got up from sleep; I beat myself with a physical cane and I feel pain physically, I do all myself to prove and I know that I don’t have to deceive myself, really, I know the distinction between deceiving myself or making a statement just to make a statement to somebody else, I know it, I can make a false statement to somebody: Oh! I see Sri Krishna here. I know that statement, I can make but I also know that when I am now seeing Sri Krishna, I am not making that kind of statement. I am not trying to affect you or to or to prove to you, I am really seeing Sri Krishna. The boy in the garden, he was seeing Sri Krishna, when his teacher did not see Sri Krishna. He saw it and he was not sleepy, he was not in a dream, he was on the battlefield before everybody, all the people are around, he has brought all of them to show Sri Krishna. So he is not dreaming, all others are present, so I am myself quite sure that I am not dreaming, I am not deluding anybody, I know myself what is called my objective experience and I apply all the standards myself, to say it is really objective, that is first set.

Secondly, I can also say that there are at least three, four people in the world, not my alone person, who also have the similar experience in the same condition. What is the probability of my statement? Now Sri Aurobindo says that the cosmic consciousness is a consciousness, a fact of that kind.

Now having stated this fact, he says that we have reconciled in that experience, universal Matter and universal Supermind. Both seem to be existing and I can see both, I have reconciled Matter and Spirit in one single experience, therefore the argument that Matter and Spirit are basically fundamentally different from each other, he is disproving this experience.

Now Sri Aurobindo goes forward and he says there are Yogis, who have a cosmic consciousness but they are reporting, not only one or two of them, it is stated in the Upanishads that there is an experience which is not cosmic, it is transcendental. And in that transcendental experience, cosmic consciousness ceases. Now this experience is described in the Upanishads and Sri Aurobindo describes it here, page 22:

For at the gates of the Transcendent…

You see the accuracy of it, it’s not in the Transcendent. At the gates, because even beyond this experience there is a further experience, he is keeping a room for it.

For at the gates of the Transcendent stands that mere and perfect Spirit described in the Upanishads, luminous, pure, sustaining the world but inactive in it, without sinews of energy, without flaw of duality, without scar of division, unique, identical, free from all appearance of relation and of multiplicity,—the pure Self of the Adwaitins, the inactive Brahman, the transcendent Silence.

Sri Aurobindo, The Life Divine - I: The Two Negations: The Refusal of the Ascetic

Now this is also datum, at least on account of this particular phenomenon, this experience that a problem arises. Sri Aurobindo says that there are individuals in whose case they have passed suddenly from mind and landed into the scale of the transcendent, it has happened. Sri Aurobindo says: in his own case it has happened, his guide told him, throw away all thoughts that come to you and suddenly he passed, within three days into an experience of this kind, where that inactive Reality is found to be absolutely Silent. In cosmic consciousness there is multiplicity, all movement but here, in this there is a complete Silence, complete inactivity and in that state, if you look at the multiplicity, you will find ‒ it doesn’t exist. Sri Aurobindo himself has given, I read out that quotation from Sri Aurobindo, this also is an experience; it’s also an experience which can be verified, it is true to the one, who has experienced it and it is a state of tremendous awakening and so there is no question of dreaming. Supreme awareness and such an experience is not one solitary example, that experience was repeated by Sri Aurobindo himself in twentieth century, so it’s not only one experience somewhere which was described in the Upanishads for the first time, even there it was not for the first time described, that experience has been described so often in history of India and elsewhere also.

Now here you have to evaluate two experiences which seem to collide with each other, that is real or this is real? Cosmic consciousness is real or this transcendental experience is real? According to some this transcendental experience is the real experience and that experience is sublated (the word sublated is very important) what is sublation? An experience is said to be sublated, when it no more remains in the presence of another experience. When I wake up from my dream then I can say the dream is sublated. That is why it is said that when you enter into this transcendental consciousness, cosmic consciousness is like a dream, it is sublated. Now Sri Aurobindo confirms that such an experience, it is a fact. So Sri Aurobindo asks the question, pg no. 26:

But what then of that silent Self, inactive, pure, self-existent, self-enjoying, which presented itself to us as the abiding justification of the ascetic?

Sri Aurobindo, The Life Divine - I: Reality Omnipresent

What is the alternative experience, now Sri Aurobindo answers:

Here also harmony and not irreconcilable opposition must be the illuminative truth. The silent and the active Brahman are not different, opposite and irreconcilable entities, the one denying, the other affirming a cosmic illusion; they are one Brahman in two aspects, positive and negative, and each is necessary to the other. It is out of this Silence that the Word which creates the worlds for ever proceeds; for the Word expresses that which is self-hidden in the Silence.

Sri Aurobindo, The Life Divine - I: Reality Omnipresent

It’s an additional argument, it’s a statement taken by experience that you can have an experience where the silent self and the active self are both seen together, reconciled together, it is out of Silence the word proceeds, the Word itself proceeds from the Silence, so it is not as if two things are side by side, it’s not juxtaposition, that very self is active which is inactive, is itself active. Our understanding that activity and inactivity are opposed to each other is an analogy from our experience but valuable to that experience you find that inactivity is itself active. That’s why Sri Aurobindo says this is the fact of existence, this is also datum and therefore this datum is also permanently available in which both the experiences, in that sublated also comes back, the transcendental also comes back and that remains forever, abiding. And this experience is not only the experience of which Sri Aurobindo speaks here; it is the experience which is described in the Upanishad itself, in that very place where Sri Aurobindo describes that one, in that very sentence. If you read that sentence, I would like to read it so that it becomes very authentic.

Ishopanishad ‒ I’ll read out that very sentence in the Ishopanishad itself. The sentence itself speaks of both the statements:

स पर्यगाच्छुक्रमकायमव्रणमस्नाविरं शुद्धमपापविद्धम्‌।
कविर्मनीषी परिभूः स्वयम्भूर्याथातथ्यतोऽर्थान्‌ व्यदधात् शाश्वतीभ्यः समाभ्यः ॥

It is He that has gone abroad-That which is bright, bodiless, without scar of imperfection, without sinews, pure, unpierced by evil. The Seer, the Thinker, the One who becomes everywhere, the Self - existent has ordered objects perfectly according to their nature from years sempiternal.

ईशोपनिषद् 8

These two propositions put together show the two are not contradictory, if they are contradictory, one would cancel the other. If that stands akayam, then how can you say ‒ paribhuh? Therefore the two words are not contradictory to each other, it’s a very important question; can you club two contradictory terms together? Inactive is active, is it a self-contradiction, logically it is a very important question ‒ is inactive active, whether something is self-contradictory or not, is to be judged not merely by the words which are used but whether the words describe exactly the fact as it exists. What is important is not the words used, what is important is the fact. Now, if as a matter of fact the inactive is active, as a matter of fact the inactive is active, if the word itself proceeds from silence, can you say silence is purely silence? Word proceeds from silence, such is the nature of it, that’s why Sri Aurobindo says that logicians dismiss active, inactive together merely because two words which are contradictory to each other are put together. Therefore Sri Aurobindo says, opposition is verbal but not real, this is essential. It is true that the two words are obliged to be used. I mean why Upanishad, these Rishis why will they be obliged to write in the same sentence, it’s one sentence alone, it’s not two sentences separately, description sahpariyagat, it is He, who has gone forward, who that which is shudham, that which is absolutely silent, that which is silent has gone forward. Therefore Sri Aurobindo says: when you apply, you should be careful, you are describing a reality which is of this nature. If I say, white light consists of seven colours, this is self-contradictory. How do I know, world-wise it is self-contradictory, one white light consists of seven colours, one white light consists of seven colours is self-contradictory and I say it is wrong, it can’t be true, therefore whether the words which I am using are really self-contradictory or not, will depend upon what? Not merely by words, in words I have got to use it, I cannot avoid it as Sri Aurobindo says we have not a language which can describe this kind of reality at all. We have to find a way of expressing it. At least in Sanskrit language it was possible, the same sentence using sah and tat in the same sentence that means Sanskrit language is one in which you can use both ‘he’ and ‘it’ for the same reality, therefore you can make this statement but in English language it is not possible. ‘He’ and ‘it’ can’t be put together in the English language, it’s not allowed in the language, so what can you do about it? So merely because your language does not allow it, will it not be a fact, it is true that anything that contradicts the law of contradiction must be rejected as false ‒ granted, the question is: is it really self-contradictory? If I say white light consists of seven colours, is it really self-contradictory and this I cannot judge merely because of the words which I use. One has to go back to the Reality and see for myself. This is the important argument. Sri Aurobindo says that higher than, at the gates of the transcendent this experience stands but when I go to the transcendent itself, I see both together; not only together but word itself proceeds from the Silence. It is such a reality, like the seven colours proceeding from one ray of light, it is proceeding, what can you say, it is such a reality. So Sri Aurobindo says, that we must judge reality by what it is, and we must go back to it, therefore the datum is so important in the argument, don’t go merely by words, if this statement is not only in the Upanishad, not only here, even the Bhagavad Gita says: I am at once skhara and akshara, I am Purushottama. So even the Gita’s experience is also to be taken into account and this experience is also in the Svetasvatara Upanishad, in the Mandukya Upanishad ‒ Paratpara, it’s only para is Paratpara, Kathopanishad also says beyond all this is Purusha, beyond unmanifest it says, avaktat parah sah purushah, and beyond that Purusha there is still more. Also Kathopanishad, unmanifest is silence, beyond silence is ‘He’ ‒ Purusha, Sah, it is not tat anymore, it’s sah Purusha, it is He, the Purusha. So Kathopanishad says, Mandukya Upanishad says, Bhagavad Gita says, even the Ishopanishad says, these are all records of experiences. They are claimed to be the experiences, they are not only statements made by this Rishi, I am only copying it here. These are statements of experiences. Sri Aurobindo in the twentieth century also verifies and says: I also have the same experience and that if you follow my path I will show you that that path will also lead you to the same experience. So now let us see.

This statement is very important:

The silent and the active Brahman are not different, opposite and irreconcilable entities, the one denying, the other affirming a cosmic illusion; they are one Brahman in two aspects, positive and negative, and each is necessary to the other. It is out of this Silence that the Word which creates the worlds for ever proceeds; for the Word expresses that which is self-hidden in the Silence.

Sri Aurobindo, The Life Divine - I: Reality Omnipresent

This is also the AC current, the same current which is positive and negative and it works all the time. Even a battery requires two cells, one positive and one negative, then only it works otherwise it doesn’t work, why is it so? It is the same current, positive and negative and each is necessary to the other.

It is out of this Silence that the Word which creates the worlds for ever proceeds; for the Word expresses that which is self-hidden in the Silence. It is an eternal passivity which makes possible the perfect freedom and omnipotence of an eternal divine activity in innumerable cosmic systems. For the becomings of that activity derive their energies and their illimitable potency of variation and harmony from the impartial support of the immutable Being, its consent to this infinite fecundity of its own dynamic Nature.

Sri Aurobindo, The Life Divine - I: Reality Omnipresent

It’s also a fact, this is not heard of, this is a fact, but a fact which is extremely important for the totality of the argument. If this is so, then you can say that in the cosmic consciousness you have reconciled Matter and Spirit, in the transcendental consciousness you have reconciled the Silence and Activity, both, and therefore now you find Reality omnipresent. This is called the omnipresence of the same Reality. This Reality which is active and inactive is to be found everywhere. This is the Reality.

Now you start with this statement based upon facts, undeniable facts, if the facts are only floating facts, then you can’t give reliance to it but these are very verifiable facts. Now the conclusion follows from it, pg no. 13:

If we thus accept a positive basis for our harmony—and on what other can harmony be founded?—the various conceptual formulations of the Unknowable, each of them representing a truth beyond conception, must be understood as far as possible in their relation to each other and in their effect upon life, not separately, not exclusively, not so affirmed as to destroy or unduly diminish all other affirmations. The real Monism, the true Adwaita, is that which admits all things as the one Brahman and does not seek to bisect Its existence into two incompatible entities, an eternal Truth and an eternal Falsehood, Brahman and not-Brahman, Self and not-Self, a real Self and an unreal, yet perpetual Maya. If it be true that the Self alone exists, it must be also true that all is the Self. And if this Self, God or Brahman is no helpless state, no bounded power, no limited personality, but the self-conscient All, there must be some good and inherent reason in it for the manifestation, to discover which we must proceed on the hypothesis of some potency, some wisdom, some truth of being in all that is manifested. The discord and apparent evil of the world must in their sphere be admitted, but not accepted as our conquerors. The deepest instinct of humanity seeks always and seeks wisely wisdom as the last word of the universal manifestation, not an eternal mockery and illusion,—a secret and finally triumphant good, not an all-creative and invincible evil,—an ultimate victory and fulfilment, not the disappointed recoil of the soul from its great adventure.

Sri Aurobindo, The Life Divine - I: Reality Omnipresent

This is a philosophical questioning; there is none other possible, having shown these facts to be the facts, we start with this stand. Even then he says, can we find anything else, on what else can you find your starting point, if this is so then:

‒ the various conceptual formulations of the Unknowable..

This transcendental is, Sri Aurobindo uses the word unknowable, paratpara, the one who is Purushottama, is unknowable because this is a word which we should define to ourselves. Sri Aurobindo uses the word unknowable because first of all it is wonderful, wonder can never be known, can be admired, wonder cannot be known. If it is knowable it is not any wonder. I say I am wonderstruck. When can you say I am wonderstruck, when you can’t explain it? You don’t understand, that adbhutam, this is the word, it is wonderful. So it is not that unknowable is not in the sense it cannot be known, or cannot be experienced. You can see the wonder of seven rays coming out of one ray, it is unknowable, how does it happen that you cannot explain, not that it is not knowable. You can put a prism, the white light and you can see seven rays coming out of it, but it is unknowable. It is in that sense that Sri Aurobindo uses the word unknowable. Not that it is not knowable, not that you can’t experience it.

So Sri Aurobindo says that active which is inactive, that inactive which is active is wonderful in character, it is not self-contradictory, it’s a real unknowable. So Sri Aurobindo says:

If we thus accept a positive basis for our harmony—and on what other can harmony be founded?—the various conceptual formulations of the Unknowable, each of them representing a truth beyond conception, must be understood as far as possible in their relation to each other and in their effect upon life, not separately, not exclusively, not so affirmed as to destroy or unduly diminish all other affirmations. The real Monism, the true Adwaita, is that which admits all things as the one Brahman and does not seek to bisect Its existence into two incompatible entities, an eternal Truth and an eternal Falsehood, Brahman and not-Brahman, Self and not-Self, a real Self and an unreal, yet perpetual Maya. If it be true that the Self alone exists, it must be also true that all is the Self. And if this Self, God or Brahman is no helpless state, no bounded power, no limited personality, but the self-conscient All, there must be some good and inherent reason in it for the manifestation, to discover which we must proceed on the hypothesis of some potency, some wisdom, some truth of being in all that is manifested. The discord and apparent evil of the world must in their sphere be admitted, but not accepted as our conquerors. The deepest instinct of humanity seeks always and seeks wisely wisdom as the last word of the universal manifestation, not an eternal mockery and illusion,—a secret and finally triumphant good, not an all-creative and invincible evil,—an ultimate victory and fulfilment, not the disappointed recoil of the soul from its great adventure.

Sri Aurobindo, The Life Divine - I: Reality OmnipresentSri Aurobindo, The Life Divine - I: Reality Omnipresent

You must not make this destructive effort, if it’s yellow, it can’t be blue. Why? because it is blue, how can it be yellow? If I make such a statement, I am destroying. I am not allowed because reality is not that, how can I be allowed to destroy? Now Sri Aurobindo comes to the real position of The Life Divine,The real Monism, the true Adwaita, is that which admits all things as the one Brahman”(Ultimate Reality is One) “and does not seek to bisect Its existence into two incompatible entities, an eternal Truth and an eternal Falsehood,” (there is no such thing at all, this is a direct, when Shankracharya says: ‘Reality is one’, his position is called Advaita but he himself says this world is an illusion, he himself says, it’s not non dualism. Although that is an illusion, you have got to refer to it. As long as you have to refer to it, it is there and ultimately he says: I don’t even refer to it. Yet he used to say, I used to refer to it, now I don’t refer to it but I used to refer to it, even that statement if you make it’s already dualism. It is not a real monism.

The real Monism, the true Adwaita, is that which admits all things as the one Brahman and does not seek to bisect Its existence into two incompatible entities, an eternal Truth and an eternal Falsehood, Brahman and not-Brahman, Self and not-Self, a real Self and an unreal, yet perpetual Maya. If it be true that the Self alone exists, it must be also true that all is the Self. And if this Self, God or Brahman is no helpless state, no bounded power, no limited personality, but the self-conscient All, there must be some good and inherent reason in it for the manifestation, to discover which we must proceed on the hypothesis of some potency, some wisdom, some truth of being in all that is manifested.

Sri Aurobindo, The Life Divine - I: Reality Omnipresent

I dwell on this argument. Reality is one. Cosmic consciousness, transcendental consciousness and Supreme transcendental consciousness, if you put together these facts, you will find, it is one Reality. Therefore, all that is there must be contained in that Reality. This is the logical argument, not only that you see all things there, but it’s only one reality, all must be logically included in it. Now Sri Aurobindo says, one step farther, a hypothesis, it’s not an argument. If this self, it’s a farther elaboration of the same argument, if this self, you may call it also by the name of God, or Brahman, whatever name you give, if this self God or Brahman is no helpless state, it could be, you can argue and say, it’s a helpless state, what can I do, something happens in me which I have no control over, there is only one Reality, I am the only Reality, but something in me happens in me for which I have no control at all, it can happen. Sri Aurobindo says: if you maintain that there self is God, is Brahman and if it is not a helpless state, because its helpless state will be explained, helpless because of what, you can be helpless only if somebody else exists, who makes you helpless. So if there is only one Reality, it can’t be a helpless state, so if it is not a helpless state, no bounded power, there is nothing else. So all the power it has must be all powerful. No limited personality because can’t be limited, then what is it? If it is self-conscient all, if all is contained in it, there must be some good and inherent reason in it for the manifestation, to discover which we must proceed on the hypothesis of some potency, some wisdom, some truth of being, in all that is manifested. Now this argument is one of the most fundamental arguments of The Life Divine, these three sentences. That is to say if Matter exists the way in which it exists and seems to be so contrary to the Ultimate Reality, then instead of saying it can’t be, don’t jump, you must wait. If there is something which is disconcerting, you must find out why, what is the point, how this thing has happened, instead of saying “can’t be”. If this is the Reality and yet suffering exists in the world, don’t say therefore that Reality does not exist; only suffering exists or the suffering does not exist, don’t say that, neither. You must make an effort to discover, why it has happened, why it should happen, what is the point in it? It only invites you to inquire and this inquiry is the whole book. If it has happened, if there is something disconcerting, you must find out why and how it has happened?

..there must be some good and inherent reason in it for the manifestation, to discover which we must proceed on the hypothesis of some potency, some wisdom, some truth of being in all that is manifested. The discord and apparent evil of the world must in their sphere be admitted, but not accepted as our conquerors. The deepest instinct of humanity seeks always and seeks wisely wisdom as the last word of the universal manifestation, not an eternal mockery and illusion,—a secret and finally triumphant good, not an all-creative and invincible evil,—an ultimate victory and fulfilment, not the disappointed recoil of the soul from its great adventure.

Sri Aurobindo, The Life Divine - I: Reality Omnipresent

This is what you have to work out. This is the ultimate of the four chapters. When we say Reality is omnipresent, this is the ultimate sentence we arrive at. If there is an evil, it is not to be denied, as some people say it doesn’t exist, or to say it can’t be explained, or that somehow it is there, what can we do? God is such a lilavad, he is capable only of creating this suffering world, so he has created this suffering world. Even that answer can’t be satisfying that God was capable only of a world in which there was suffering and therefore this world has come about. Was God capable only of a suffering world, he couldn’t create a better world, you and I can create a better world, was not God capable of creating a better world. And yet if it has happened, you must be patient, you must inquire. This is the invitation of The Life Divine, the whole book. There must be some reason for it; there must be an explanation of it.

The reason why this particular question is asked so squarely as in no other metaphysical book, in every other metaphysical book this is the question, there is one answer which is given, all the world is what it is; God exists, wonderful, beautiful, omnipotent, omniscient, omni-power; this world he created out of nothing, he couldn’t have created out of himself because he is so good, how could he create out of Himself this kind of world? This is one answer, it can only satisfy; you can say I am giving an answer which is not satisfactory. This is what God himself has told me, what can I tell you more that this world I have not created, out of nothing I have created this world, so believe in it. This is one answer, the second answer is: All this God is bunkum, there is no God at all, just live in the world as it is, full of suffering and pain and no justification at all. Some children are being hounded by dogs, ultimately the children are overtaken by the hounds, they are torn apart and killed, what sin have they committed, children, innocent children, why should these hounds be after the children? If God was there, He should have said: look, these children are innocent, hounds should have been restrained by God, He should not have allowed them to be hounded, and innocent children, what kind of God are they talking of, therefore all talk of God is bunkum. World is what it is, the best you can do, whatever out of it. You talk of justice, injustice, all these are notions which you create for your internal adjustments and the world doesn’t care for it. If innocent children can be hounded and can be eaten away, what is justice in this world, doesn’t exist. World is what it is, be realistic, be practical, the world is what it is. You are suffering, you can reduce this suffering, you can take this drug, you can take wine, you can have all kinds of wildness you can do, what more can you do in this world. Or I get an answer, this world is a delirium, it’s a dream, does it really happen, can’t be happening. You can see that in none of these answers there is a real answer. Buddhism rejected God, it said if this world being what it is, how can you speak of a God, God can’t exist, can’t be there. Jainism also says the same thing, if God exists this kind of world would not be, he could have created a better world, God is not there. You want me to accept the fact that the world is what it is, Jada and Chaitan, these two are there, somehow they have come together and I can only give the medicine of divorce. These are the only answers available in the world today with regard to the world. But if Reality is omnipresent as Sri Aurobindo says these are shown to be facts of experience then which cannot be denied, they are there undeniably, then the world must have some wisdom in it, some explanation in it and that explanation we shall now turn to.