The Life Divine—Chapters 1-7 (New Delhi, at Shubhra Ketu Foundation) - Q&A: 23 April 2008

Limits of Enquiry and Refusal to Enquire

In the morning you said that there are different schools who say we should enquire and then they stop and say we cannot. How is it that Sri Aurobindo didn't say that we cannot? Was it by some mundane means of knowledge only that he continued his enquiry or was it that because he has some extra-mundane means of knowledge? Therefore, he could continue his inquiry, otherwise he would have already stopped like the others. So it was due to extra means of knowledge which were available to him?

But it is true that, in order to inquire into the full realm of philosophies, you need to have the course to supraphysical means of knowledge. Philosophy is an intellectual inquiry, but that enquiry at a given stage has to open up to the data which are available by supraphysical means, and if that is not done, the promise of philosophy cannot be fulfilled.

So these philosophers refuse to maintain that there are any other means of knowledge. That is the problem. If they enquire, and if they want to inquire, they should say we shall enquire by whatever means we can enquire. As I read out from Bertrand Russel’s statement when he says, we admit that there are very important questions which we need to answer, but we refuse to believe that there are higher means of knowledge by means of which these questions can be answered. So what is the ground of this refusal? That is where the problem lies.

How can you ab initio say that there are no other means of knowledge? That is why in India, fortunately shabda pramana was admitted as a means of knowledge and shabda pramana is not the authority of the texts, but the authority of the statements made available to mankind through supraphysical means of knowledge. So since shabda is not in the epistemology of these thinkers, therefore, the philosophy can never be completed, and this has been the main problem throughout the history of western philosophy. Even Plato, for example, whenever he has been able to give very profound answers, it was by recourse to the tradition of Orpheus, Elusinian and Orphesian traditions, which were supraphysical. So that is why this problem lies here, if they're to say we cannot answer that is enough, quite all right, but they say we refuse to believe that there are other means. That is the main problem. How can you refuse and that is a problem. Without recourse to supraphysical means, you cannot collect all the data which are necessary for philosophy.

Sir, but isn't it that, even in Indian philosophy like Shankaracharya in the realm of maya, in case of maya, it appears to me that he has refused to investigate into the nature of maya by saying that maya cannot be enquired into:

tadev maya mayatvam tark ashanshrutam

That is what Shankara says that since it cannot be tested on arguments on tark, this is the very mayako maya. It is to my mind, refusing to enquire after a particular limit, even though Shankaracharya did believe in extra physical means. So in that case also he refuses to enquire after elimination.

You see, there is a, you might say, opportunistic position of Shankaracharya. There are many things which he admits on shabda pramana and those things he subjects also to intellectual discussion. On what ground does he say that the nature of maya cannot be subjected to intellectual inquiry, on what basis? neither of the shabda pramana. Shabda pramana doesn't say that maya cannot be subjected to enquiry by intellectual means, so on what basis did he say this?

That is to say he refused to enquire. That comes to that.

Quite right. Therefore, his answer is an opportunistic answer. He has given some reason which, for the sake of occasion, works. People won't discuss further but it looks like a very clever answer that I don't discuss because intellectually I will not be able to discuss it. Why he does not show why it cannot be discussed intellectually?

Because such is the nature of maya.

Why? How do you know that? That such is the nature of maya.

Because I have applied my mind and found that.

That is it. So he has not shown how it is applied, how he has found it, that he has not expounded. He only says I have tried, I have failed, so I don't want to discuss it with you. Now, that’s why I call it an opportunistic answer. Indian philosophers are not free from opportunism, whenever it suits them they have contrived some answer. Although they rely upon shabda pramana quite often, whenever it is convenient to them, they have contrived. Like Madhvacharya, tat tvam asi, it is an Upanishadic shabda, identity of myself with the divine, here is a statement which contradicts dualism, so there is an opportunistic answer. Tat tvam asi means you are in that not you are that, but you are in that. Now how do you bring out that meaning? Then they say: look at the grammar. Sometimes we do say the thing is in there you identify it and say it is that, it's a contrivance, purely opportunistic contrivance. There is no hard and fast rule that tat tvam asi can ever mean that you are in that, but it suits his philosophical position. So he says he has to be understood in this light.

Sir. I suppose that there is a shabda pramana in Indian tradition, which says that there are things which are beyond logic, for example naishamati sarpena.. , from Kathopanishad and if Shankar and other philosophers stop their enquiry, logical enquiry of a particular period and say well here is an authority of the scripture which says that there are things which are beyond logic and therefore we are not reasoning about it. They can say on the basis of the shabda pramana.

In science there is a problem of qualia, in qualia they say that the most basic thing cannot be expressed or explained. For example redness of red, so if somebody shows me that I know it is red, but how do I explain or express the redness of red. So they say that it is the problem of qualia, it can be known but cannot be expressed.

That is true, but this question is slightly different from this, slightly. I mean there is a point of view which is correct, but take for example a statement that the nature of reality is formless. Now formless can neither be seen nor can be conceived. It is a word, those who have experienced it, they say it is formless. Now such a statement if you say that well tell me how it is formless, you have got to say it has to be experienced. It cannot be expressed further, but I can distinguish it from form. Therefore, intellectually it can be grasped in that sense. So in the case of red you go still further, but in the case of formless you can say, by contrast to form, you can understand it, that that reality wherever there is form it is other than that. So, in the case of red you can't say it is other than the green, because even green also remains unanswered. What is green? So in the case of that qualia it is still a deeper point. Formless is not of that kind, because formless can be contrasted with the form which you and I can see. Therefore, I can have some distinguishing mark wherever there is form which is not that reality of which I am speaking, that much can be said.

When we say we can understand what do we mean because, generally, what we conceive of understanding is like I can intellectually comprehend, so I understand. So when we say we can understand formlessness. What exactly do we mean?

There is first of all understanding through a concept which has an image in it. These concepts can be understood where there is an image. When I say divine love, I can understand it to some extent, although I can say it is not human love, Sri Krishna's love is not a human love, but still it is not quite whatever that love may be, that love is not quite, it is love, it is not mercy, it's not even compassion, so it is certainly something of which you know as love, we all can have a concept of that experience of love which is not human, but that warmth of love which even though you may say it is divine, I can understand, it must have had warmth. Therefore, you can say, love is conceivable.

Take, for example, it is said, reality is ineffable. It can't be expressed, it is true, reality is ineffable, and yet you can say reality is Sachchidananda. Now these three words, sat-chit-ananda, they are words. Now that sat, what is that sat? Even that you may say I don't understand, because whatever you say, it is not sat like this. This also is existing, but that sat is not like this, but there is one idea of sat which certainly applies to us. It is that into which you knock, it is such a thing that it is inescapable. It is something that blocks you. When you experience Sachchidananda, you do know that there is something here which you can't escape, it is like supposing your bowl that is kept here and you feel the cat's presence here. It is that into which you knock. Now Sachchidananda is a reality into which you knock. It may not be like this. So when you sat it is understandable, it is conceivable, there is some experience that you can treat. It is something that is inescapable. Sachchidananda is an experience, you feel that you are knocked into it. In fact, that is the real experience of existence, once you say it exists, what does it mean? This table exists. It is darkness and I say, look, wait, take care. There is a table ahead. Now I know there is a table only when I knock into it. I cannot penetrate into it. It is there, it subsists. Now if this is a minimum concept of sat, that which is in which you knock, it arrests you, it is inescapable, you can't pass through it. It is impossible. You find, as it were, a presence.

Many mystics, for example, speak of the presence of the divine. What is that presence? It is exactly this impassable. It is surely different from there being nothing, that which is nothing is nothing. There is no experience of any kind at all. Here there is an experience of a presence which you cannot avoid. It is there wherever you turn you find my lord, he is here, he is here, he is here, he is here. That is the experience of the presence of the divine. So in any case in Sachchidananda, these three terms are terms through which we conceive that reality. Reality itself is ineffable, but these three terms in Indian philosophy are expressive of that ineffable reality.

Chit, for example, the consciousness of the divine is quite different from my understanding of consciousness, but in my experience also I do know the difference between awareness and the thing of which I am aware. This distinction, I know in my own consciousness. Therefore, I can see that if that reality is described as chit, it is something similar to my consciousness, which takes cognitions of a thing of which I am aware. It’s a cognizing quality in it. So to that extent I can say I understand what is chit. There is a capacity of cognition.

Similarly, ananda, I told you we do not know what is divine love or divine ananda, but I do know pleasure for example and I can say that well divine is not pleasure of the kind that I have when I eat ice cream. It’s not that pleasure, but there is something in the pleasure which is different from awareness, to be aware of our thing and to be pleasant about it. There’s a difference between the two. I can be aware without being pleasant, so that experience of pleasantness is certainly present in it, however rarified it may be, however, transcendent it may be, but there is something of it which I can conceive. That is why you can say ultimate reality, although ineffable can be discussed, otherwise there'll be no discussion about ultimate reality at all, and some philosophers do maintain, of which you cannot speak. You should remain silent. So you say you should not discuss philosophical matters because philosophy deals with those things which are ineffable. Then how can you discuss it? You can discuss them because reality, even though ineffable, expresses itself in some kind of experience. It’s not entirely incapable of expression. On that ground philosophy becomes possible.

That is why I can discuss whether God is omnipotent or omniscient, but how can I discuss the omniscience of god? Tell me. One thing is certain: omniscience means I am aware of everything, whatever that omniscience may mean. I have never experienced what is omniscience, but it is something in which I can take cognizance. So when I say, if God is omniscient, does he know what is going to happen tomorrow? I can raise this question quite validly. Does he know what is to happen tomorrow and if I know what is to happen tomorrow, he is not omnipotent, he can't change it tomorrow. If he is omnipotent, he should be able to change tomorrow also, but if he already knows what is to happen tomorrow, he is bound by his omniscience, therefore he's not omnipotent. I can discuss this question on this ground, on the basis of what I can understand out of it.

Therefore, philosophical objects can be discussed. In any case Sachchidananda is a great formulation by Indian philosophers, on the basis of which philosophers have been able to discuss about ultimate reality. Similarly, the definition of God as peace is understandable, God as love is understandable. If this were not understandable, philosophy should have simply said: there's no need at all of discussion. Why there is so much of difficulty about problem of evil. If you say God is love, how can there be evil in the world? Does not God know that I am now going to be attacked by evil forces and if he is truly my lover, he should be protecting me. I discuss this question quite well and therefore I said that if there is God there can't be evil, he will show that there is no God. I don't believe God as a lover. You can discuss it and theologians have a difficult time to discuss this problem because they want to see both omnipotent and love and everything. Otherwise these discussions would become futile. Right from the beginning you can say: objects of philosophy are incapable of expression.

In fact, there is a living philosopher called John Hick. He says, conflict of religions arise out of descriptions of God. According to Islam, God is just; according to christianity God is love. Therefore there's a conflict. Justice and love, they collide with each other. Therefore, christians say we don't accept islamic concept of God and vice versa. Therefore, HIck says my answer to both of them is the following. You don't know what is justice, it is ineffable, you don't know what is love, it is ineffable. Stop quarrelling, you simply say it is ineffable reality. Therefore, your conflict will cease. Now if it was so simple as that, there would have been no problem, but the problem is that it is not so easy as that, God is describable. God is not entirely ineffable, God is describable. There is, if you open the second chapter of the second volume Brahma-Purusha-Ishwara, if you open this chapter and see the second paragraph.

But although thus indeterminable to Mind, because of its absoluteness and infinity, we discover that this Supreme and Eternal Infinite determines itself to our consciousness in the universe by real and fundamental truths of its being which are beyond the universe and in it and are the very foundation of its existence. These truths present themselves to our conceptual cognition as the fundamental aspects in which we see and experience the omnipresent Reality. In themselves they are seized directly, not by intellectual understanding but by a spiritual intuition, a spiritual experience in the very substance of our consciousness; but they can also be caught at in conception by a large and plastic idea and can be expressed in some sort by a plastic speech which does not insist too much on rigid definition or limit the wideness and subtlety of the idea. In order to express this experience or this idea with any nearness a language has to be created which is at once intuitively metaphysical and revealingly poetic, admitting significant and living images as the vehicle of a close, suggestive and vivid indication,—a language such as we find hammered out into a subtle and pregnant massiveness in the Veda and the Upanishads. In the ordinary tongue of metaphysical thought we have to be content with a distant indication, an approximation by abstractions, which may still be of some service to our intellect, for it is this kind of speech which suits our method of logical and rational understanding; but if it is to be of real service, the intellect must consent to pass out of the bounds of a finite logic and accustom itself to the logic of the Infinite. On this condition alone, by this way of seeing and thinking, it ceases to be paradoxical or futile to speak of the Ineffable: but if we insist on applying a finite logic to the Infinite, the omnipresent Reality will escape us and we shall grasp instead an abstract shadow, a dead form petrified into speech or a hard incisive graph which speaks of the Reality but does not express it. Our way of knowing must be appropriate to that which is to be known; otherwise we achieve only a distant speculation, a figure of knowledge and not veritable knowledge.

Sri Aurobindo, The Life Divine - I: Brahman, Purusha, Ishwara - Maya, Prakriti, Shakti

This is actually the real position of Sri Aurobindo that it is not paradoxical to speak of the ineffable, ineffable by definition is that it cannot be spoken of, and yet philosophy is nothing but speaking about the ineffable. Why? How can you then speak of the ineffable? because there are certain large and plastic ideas about the reality which you can grasp intellectually, but while discussing you should take care that you are speaking of the ineffable. This is a position that is in between two positions. According to one position, reality can be fully described with precise terms. The other is Reality cannot be described at all. What Sri Aurobindo says is that reality can be described in large and plastic ideas, and while you discuss you should remember constantly that you are discussing something that is not ordinarily understood in the way in which you understand.

Take for example divine love. Normally I expect divine love means that one who takes care, minimum, lover is one who takes care of, nourishes me, fosters, and then I see that divine is sending me to gallows. He is present there and then I shout: where is God's love? Now what have I done? I am applying the word love to mean the same thing as a human being would look to me. I must strive that is there anything by which I can understand that God is fostering me by sending me to gallows. By being sent to the gallows, if I really try to understand, I’ll understand better.

As Sri Aurobindo cried out: O lord, why would you send me to jail? I thought I had a lot of work to do and that you will protect me and now you are sending me to jail. Of course he had no doubt that it is love, but he asks this question: what are you doing? and then the first answer he got was: wait. He waited patiently. Then Sri Krishna answered that I have told you to withdraw from activities for the moment. You did not obey them, then I love you very much, I want to tell you something which you can only hear me only if you are in solitude, and not only for five minutes but for a long time. Certain amount of time I want to spend with you and you are not willing to do it, and I love you rather very much. So I told those policemen and said you now go there and at night you go to him. Otherwise he knows law quite well, he will try to escape. At night he’ll get no other help, so you've got to take him into the police thana at night and put him into jail. I want to meet him. I want to embrace him. I want to talk to him. I want to give a great message to him.

Now, if you understand so in this sense, I should go by saying that divine is love, but by love, when you discuss with somebody, you should say: love means one who takes care. How do you know that he doesn't take care of you, it's true he's sending you to the gallows. Danton was he guillotined? Why? Because, as Sri Aurobindo says, although he was the soul of French revolution, a time came, Mahakali was doing a great destruction and he went to mahakali and said: stop stop stop stop. So Mahakali simply flung him aside, got out from here, guillotined him, finished. It was her love, you wanted revolution, I came for the revolution, I love you so much, and now you tell me to stop. You have betrayed yourself, now get out of this. I put you aside and he was guillotined. Now is that any injustice done by Kali? She came at his invitation and she was doing her great work for his sake and now he says, stop stop stop, don't do it. You are too much, for Kali it's too much.

So Sri Aurobindo has written that Danto had to be put aside because Mahakali was being stopped by him. If you understand love in that sense, you can say that love is not that love which you expect from a beloved who sits on a boat and sails in the beautiful sunshine or moonshine. It’s not that love. So, while discussing love, you must remember that you are using the word love in a plastic and that kind of understanding you should have when it baffles you, you ask yourself, am I really going to be truthful? Am I not unauthorizedly using my terms, my understanding of that ineffable, on that condition Sri Aurobindo says, on that condition philosophical speculation about reality must be held.

When you say the divine is peace, fine. Vivekananda went to America and he roared, did he oppose the peace of the divine? divine his peace and he roared in the parliament of religions. What is that peace of which he spoke? That peace is not a peace of which we understand, that if you are peaceful, you can't speak, that peace is that which is capable of remaining even when you roar, that is the meaning of peace, and that is you must understand. That’s why Sri Aurobindo says that when you use these terms, you should always keep in mind that you are not using these terms in the way in which you ordinarily use them, and yet there is justification of speech. There is a distinction between peace and noise. There is a distinction, even in the divine consciousness, but that distinction is not seizable by ordinary experience.

As Sri Aurobindo says, these words are indicative, they are not binding and this is a very important distinction. They indicate the reality, the nature of reality, but they don't bind you. Now you have said, God is infinite, fine, very good. If he is infinite, he is space, God is also space, which is all finitude everywhere. Therefore, God cannot be space, God cannot be time. Sri Aurobindo says that you are dealing with a reality which can be at once, infinite and finite. When the Dayananda Saraswati says God cannot take birth in a human body, he is using only one kind of logic. How can you say the divine cannot take birth in a human body? Actually, everyone is an Avatar in a sense because God is present everywhere, in every human body he is present. If it can be present in every body, why can he not be specially in one body?

Now this is the difficulty of people who don't use the words about God rightly. So Sri Aurobindo says, philosophical discussion is possible, is permissible. You can have philosophical speculation, provided that this condition is fulfilled, whenever you try to describe the reality you're trying to describe him in large and plastic ideas. That is why Sri Aurobindo says that this feat was committed by Upanishads and the Veda, that the terms which were hammered out by the Vedas and Upanishads are wonderful, hammering out, like the word brahma, for example.

The very word Brahman at once expresses the essence and manifestation; it's a very important word Brahma. Brahma means what the word is. The very word Brahman is essence and manifestation. The two concepts are both caught in this word, it is neither in the word God or any other. It is brahma because etymologically itself brahma means there is expansion and expansion can be of that, which is absolutely unexpanded. You can expand only which is unexpanded, so that which is the essence which is expanded is the word Brahma. Such a word has been coined in India to describe the ultimate reality, a word which has no comparison anywhere in any language, a word which exactly expresses the essence capable of manipulation. The very word itself gives you the meaning of it. The very word itself is plastic. It means essence also, it means manifestation also. It means both at the same time, the plasticity of the meaning is contained in the word Brahma.

So these words have been coined, as it were by a superb messengery of the Vedic rishis to describe the reality, and that is why in Indian philosophy, although now we are confusing all the time, Brahman Purusha Iswara, we use the terms pell mell. But if you go to the original meaning of Brahma, this is the only meaning in which you should use: Brahma is that which is essence and which manifests, expands. But by brahma is not meant ishwara. The idea of lordship is not expressed by brahma. Therefore, another world was chosen by them. The meaning of brahma, as essence as the origin of expansion is not given in the word brahma. So a third word was used: the purusa. So when you want to use the reality as the origin, then you should use the word purusha as the origin. So the word origin is indicated by the word purusha, because what is purusha? Purusha is actually, pur is a town, a field in which one dwells, the one who creates, who originates a field, in which he dwells is purusa. Now in the word brahma is only his essence and expansion, but this idea that he creates a field, originates his field and in which he can dwell. So if you want to describe that reality, how will you describe it? So what purusha was coined for that.

So you can find that these three words actually describe the reality fully. The essence which can manifest, can create a field in which it dwells and he also lords over it. Now, if you want to express all the three words, in three senses, you say the reality is Brahman-Purusha-Iswara. Then you get the full sense of the idea of reality and according to Upanishad reality is all the three, but if each one has its own specific meaning and therefore in the Upanishad, these three words are used at the right time in the right manner.

The word purusha was used in the Veda. The whole purusha sukta is a which gives you origination of the universe. That’s very important. Purusha sukta is a sukta where the divine as an originator of the universe is described, but prajapati is not used because prajapati is the lord, Iswara is the lord, but that is not purusa. Brahma is not used in the Veda, but Brahmanaspati is there. It is the power of expression that is Brahmanaspati, the lord of expression. So these words, which have been used in the Veda, are very significant words and Sri Aurobindo says that this Veda and Upanishads have hammered out very plastic words, so that you don't confuse one with the other, and you say reality is Brahman-Purusha-Iswara.

Now you can have no quarrel, because you can't say God is only the creator. Therefore many problems which derive out of creation don't apply to him because also the lord of it. All the manifestations also himself. Many problems in theology have arisen because you conceive of God only as a creator or only as the lord, but you very often in most of the religions God is not regarded as the substance of the world. He is not himself expressed in the world. He is a creator, but creates out of what, out of nothing according to christianity and islam, out of nothing, so he doesn't create out of himself. But here in the Upanishad, the word is itself an expression of the Brahmana. So many of the controversies which arise in many other philosophies do not immediately apply to this Upanishadic idea of the reality.

So Sri Aurobindo says that ineffable does not mean that you can't talk about it at all. If that was so, then all life divine can't be written at all. Finished. All the philosophical discussions take place because there are concepts in which reality can be caught. We can try to understand. Philosophy is an attempt to understand ineffable, that therefore is not absolutely understandable. That’s why Sri Aurobindo says that, although they can also be experienced, but it can't be said that it cannot be caught in the intellectual concept at all. They are not entirely like red, they can be distinguishable, there are distinguishing marks and by distinctions and by some kind of an image you can understand that and because of that reason, such huge books can be written. Otherwise this won't be possible. Otherwise, you'll take the position of Hick as I said, why do you quarrel? God cannot be expressed at all, so finished, don't discuss it and religionists will never accept that position. They will say we know God quite well. It has been revealed, God is omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent, he is love, he is justice, he is mercy, he is forgiveness. All these things are given, so we cannot say you can't describe him at all.

What is the use for an individual to discuss something which is ineffable even in plastic terms, how does it benefit an individual or how does it benefit people who actually discuss god? Is it like a good time pass?

You are walking on our path. You ask somebody: I want to go to this town, this direction or that direction, he indicates to you: this way. Does it help you? It does. That is the only use of philosophy. Philosophy is indicative. As Sri Aurobindo says also, you should take all philosophical terms as indications. When I say God is love and he can send me to the gallows, my consciousness becomes very worried, I understand I don't crumble if I’m sent to jail or to the gallows as what a grace of God, I am now sent to the gallows. I can say that my God is loving me so much.

It is said that when you read some of the great tragedies you find a great sympathy for the author, the author describes a situation and the conditions develop and the hero is in a great impasse. Can’t go this way, can't go that way, can't go this way and somebody comes and kills him. You feel how nice, the man is now completely protected from any problem now before him. He was facing an impossible problem and the solution has come. When you read tragedies, really you find the only solution for him is to now disappear from the field. This is the rasa of a drama, even in tragedy, karuna, the drama becomes karunananda and a real karunananda is this tragedy. A good tragedy is one where the reader is led to sympathise with the author in allowing the hero to be off the scene. There is no solution for the problem, he has got to disappear and then he disappears, what more can he do? Othello kills himself ultimately, what more can he do? He has murdered his wife without any fault, maybe under wrong impression, and now that impression is gone. He has been brought to the truths. How can he look upon himself? How will he live? Better he disappears from the scene altogether.

So, in the same way, philosophy when you are told God is love and when you see that God is not acting with you as if he is loving you. That is an indication to you, my dear friends, think about it. Don’t grumble, don't grudge, see, see, see what is being done for you, see how you're uplifted, how you are carried, that now he's not only accompanying you, he's carrying you on his shoulder, see see how he's carrying you. Now this message will come to you if you really have a true philosophical concept, if you are only told God is ineffable, then even this indication will not come to you. It’s of no help to you at all. God is ineffable, so when you're in difficulty, ineffable doesn't help you at all.

Why do things take time? Why does anything take time, why people go through a process and all the churning and everything has to go to do it, and then we have the philosophy to not speak with my dear friend that God is love.. so why do things take time?

But there can be three answers to this question. One is that you made a contract with God: please allow me time. So God says all right, you have wanted time, I’ll give you time, because it is true that if that contract is not there - and you say to God this very moment I want as kali came to Sri Ramakrishna on the spot. He said, if you don't manifest, I’ll kill myself right now. I want you, she came. So my first answer is that you have asked God, please give me time. I want to walk in the garden, so you kindly wait for me.

Second reason is that time is a measure for the growth, question is what do you want as a result, different fruits take different times. The mango tree does not grow very fast. Some other fruits come very fast. The worms germinate very quickly, for other species embryonic growth takes time. So it depends upon what kind of fruit is being grown. What kind of fruit, so it depends on that. It’s the second reason: the kind of fruit that you want.

The third reason is that there is an experience that is required. You know for example, we were hearing today the Jodha Akbar music. If that music was given in two minutes' time, it would not be so enjoyable, this would be only for all the harmonies and tunes to be combined together. It’s the minimum time actually, because cinema songs do not allow too much time, ultimately in three minutes the whole song is finished, but even these three minutes are all filled with all kinds of tunings. So the experience that is required there is a kind of a rhythm and rhythm is measurement of time. So if certain things are done too quickly, you won't enjoy yourself. You require some rhythm. If you want to enjoy the dance, you should start with a small tap here, tap there first of all and then gradually you come to the right tempo and then the climax, if you start with a climax, it won't give you that experience. So the intensity of experience requires time, so you might say that these are three reasons why time is required and, as I said, if you don't want time that also is possible. It’s not that it's not possible, time can be given to you if you want it, the kind of food that you want, experience that you need and the rapidity with which you want a result, all are available. In a sense you might say, time is relative. As Einstein said, time is relative, it's a truth. It is relative.

So any other question you have to say?

Going Beyond the Mind

There is one more question. As far as I have known so far: the method of sadhana, which is according to scripture, should culminate in going beyond mind because, as long as you are in the domain of mind, your experiences are limited. Going beyond mind, how to do it? I have two alternatives available to me. One is given by Patanjali yogas chitta vritti nirodha which even Sri Aurobindo experienced, but he didn't stop whereas Patanjali would have said well yogas chitta vritti nirodha is there and he would have said this is the final step. This is one thing how we can perform sadhana and go beyond mind. This is perfect. The another way was given to me by yourself, “let thy will be done” which if I concentrate on this sentence would mean eliminating my ego. Unless my ego stands, thy will cannot manifest, because his will should manifest not my will. These are the two ways that I have known so far. My question is, of course, those ways must have been there in the integral yoga and all that, but these are voluminous books; in sukta form are there any other means of transcending mind and, secondly, is transcending mind the same thing as having supermind or is there a difference between the two?

Transcending the mind has many steps. What Patanjali says yogas chitta vritti nirodha, to my mind, is not a very wise guidance. As a shastric definition it is all right, but it can't be given as a guidance. One has to be told there is first of all cultivation of a quietude of the mind, there is a difference between quietude of the mind and silencing of the mind, yogas chitta vritti nirodha is a complete silence of the mind where there is no ripple or any vibration of consciousness. There is quietude of the mind in which there is an inner freedom from restlessness. Therefore, one of the first advices is not to transcend the mind just like this, but to say be quiet. Then there is a further condition of being calm and there is a distinction in quietude and calm, remain calm. In quietude the state can be disturbed, in calmness it is not very easy to disturb you, then there is a state of peace, you may be quiet, you may be calm and yet not be peaceful, because peacefulness comes when there is harmony of your being. There is no quarrel in the parts of your being, knowledge and will may be conflicting with each other. You may be quiet, but as long as this conflict goes on, you can't be at peace with yourself. As long as you think a work is still to be done and not yet done, you can remain quiet, calm, but not peaceful, because there is still that pressure and a pull towards completion of the work. We very often said he died peacefully. That happens when all that he wants to do, he has seen, done, fulfilled. There was no pull for him. Now Nothing was left to be done. When we say I went to sleep peacefully, I have done all the work that I had to do. It is over.

I am a signal man for the train, the train has passed and my signal work is over. I go home. Now up to the next train coming, I have no work to do, I am completely at peace. What is to be done has been accomplished. So peace is a condition of a great harmony of various parts of the being.

Then silence. Why silence does not come to people so easily, because there is a pull for something to be done. People may try and say now you force yourself to be silent, but there is a pull. This is to be still done. Very often when you start really meditating, you begin to calculate what is to be done, what is not to be done, all the ideas of what is remaining to be done comes to your forefront. He says I have to give this account to this man. He had to give me this account he has not given me. When I get up after two hours, I have to do this. I have to do that planning. As a result, my mind does not become silent.

Those people like Sri Aurobindo, when he says in three days he attained silence. He had reached a point where psychologically he was absolutely satisfied that whatever he has to do he has done. It is in that condition that silence can come so quickly because to remain silent means nothing further needs to be done after that. Nothing more is to be done. There is a complete silence.

Therefore, as I said, advising somebody to be silent is not a very ordinary advice and it is very unwise also. You force upon people to sit down and even make him irresponsible. Certain things have to be done, he doesn't do and then there are problems and so on. So these questions remain, they have to be settled.

So the best thing is to tell people to learn to be quiet. First, under every circumstance, try to be quiet, don't feel disturbed, tend to be calm more and more. If you just remain quiet for a long time you don't get disturbed. Then, even if alarming news comes to you, you remain calm. About some cricketers you say he's cool. That is even an alarming condition, he is not disturbed. You take it in stride if something happens. Then be peaceful and then you find out if anything remains for you to do. When something remains to be done, do not enter into silence. It’s difficult for you to enter into silence, accomplish everything that you want to do. Then you sit down. You arrive at a point when you say, now nothing remains for me to do. I don't want to plan, I don't have to find the means of planning to be finished, how the work is to be accomplished. All this, I don't need, I simply want to have even when everything is now accomplished, still my mind is still flickering, then you can say yogas chitta vritti nirodha.

Therefore, normally one should not tell people to be silent. You can be silent. Suddenly I came, you are going to read a book and I say for three minutes be absolutely quiet that you can do, because after three minutes you are going to open your eyes. So for three minutes you can remain quiet. Such exercises you should do. Or for example, when you have contemplated on a problem and contemplated deeply on a problem. This contemplation automatically leads you to what is called a quiet experience in which silence can be had. It becomes so quiet you contemplate, and contemplate and contemplate. Mind automatically falls very, very silent, but to think that now forever it will remain silent, even psychologically it is not possible, even those people who claim to go to samadhi, they can remain in long state of samadhi, but unless one decides to leave the body in the state of samadhi, the moment you come back there is this problem of leading with your mind and therefore merely the path of silencing the mind is not enough.

Sri Aurobindo speaks of four things to be done simultaneously. First, you cultivate your mind and its faculty, exercise your mind to develop the mental capacity to fullness. Some people, who only prescribe silencing the mind, they do it prematurely without developing their mental faculties. As a result when they come back from silence, they remain as screwed in mentality as anybody else, because the mind is not cultivated. Therefore, you should, whenever you are not in silence, you try to cultivate your mind and do not complain to yourself that I am only thinking, thinking, thinking, don't worry it's a part of your perfection. You are a philosopher, as a philosopher you have got to develop your mental faculty, philosophical faculty to its utmost sharpness and Sri Aurobindo prescribes it. He says that it’s necessary. Your instrument of buddhi should be cultivated to its fullness, because, even if you attain silence, you are bound to come back sometime and the moment you come back, again your intellectual faculty will work and if it's not sharpened, you'll fall into that similar rut. So it is one thing.

Second, you should always strive to think of the highest as much as possible. So it’s the second exercise. As you develop your objects of thought, more and more universal, more and more transcendental, your entire being of thought rises very high. This is the tantric method of another way of saying you try to reach sahasrara when you constantly strive yourself to think of the highest and to remain all the time in the highest level of consciousness. Don’t be petty, don't be mean, be very generous in your heart, wide. Have trust, have trust God is there, he is looking after you, have trust. Don’t be afraid, this will happen, that will happen, what will happen. This consciousness as a result of that whole being will rise to the high level of sahasrara gradually, ultimately to be stationed in sahasrara is also a necessary part of this sadhana.

Thirdly, make your mind as obedient as possible. Normally the mind is not obedient. This is the great difficulty of the mind. Mind should be always made to be obedient, what I told you “let Thy will be done”, is actually sadhana of that kind. It’s a part of this totality, make your mind obedient, the human mind is very revolting. It wants to arrive at conclusions and wants to make oneself in the centre of things, which is good. I want to decide, you should decide, but always keep open to higher advice, and you should go to somebody saying I want your advice. I want this, it must happen, this is my will, don't go with that attitude. I want your advice. What do you say? First of all, you should go to somebody whom you think is higher than you and when you go to him, you go to him with this what is your view? What should I be doing? What is your advice, and the idea is to tell God that Thy will be done, not mine. This is the third exercise.

The fourth is to rise gradually from quietude to calmness, to peacefulness and then silence. These four things, these four steps by which you should climb. When you do all the four, then something else will happen, and that answers the other question that you raised.

That’s normally mind is a faculty by which you think we come to know. Actually, as Mother says, the mind is not the faculty of knowledge. Mind is a faculty of organisation. Mind is a faculty by which the ideas that are earned from all over are organised. Your mind is a machine of organising, but ideas are borrowed from senses, borrowed from ideas which are in the currency all around, ideas which have been cultivated by me. Now all this is like a pot in which vegetables are cast for cooking.

Mind is not the instrument of knowledge but when you do this then the ideas now begin to pour from above, which normally doesn't happen. Normally, all our ideas are gathered from sense experience or from surroundings or from speculations in which I am engaged, but when these four things begin to develop, then you begin to experience that ideas begin to pour from above. There is a level of consciousness in which knowledge already exists, that knowledge is in the form of an idea to start with, those ideas begin to flow into you. These ideas can be called intuitive mental ideas, no more rational ideas, but intuitive mental ideas. We begin to have an entry into the intuitive mind, so there is a difference between the mind and the intuitive mind. Our ordinary mind is an ideative mind where ideas are derived from sense experiences, from the environment and from my own speculations. But an intuitive idea is an idea which is coming from above and the source of which is knowledge. Here it is not knowledge. So I begin to have this idea, so this is our first experience of the intuitive mind.

This is not yet supermind, because this is only the intuitive mind. Then these ideas begin to take the form of experience. There are no more ideas, but you begin to experience. God, for example, I may begin to have an idea of God, but when these exercises are done, then I begin to experience God's love. You really feel God's embrace. That love is a palpable experience of his embrace. You really feel the experience, the identity. This is called knowledge by identity. You really feel God caressing you. You really can embrace him. You can sleep with him, you can enjoy his presence. This is the experience. It is still at a higher level. I mean it's no more an idea of God, but in the beginning it can be an idea of God. I feel God is present. I feel the idea, because God is loving me - I go to the gallows knowing that he's sending me there. I have an idea which is good, but you can also experience that he is present with you, that when you are being hanged, he is also being hanged at the same time, you can see he is with you.

So there are different forms of it which are in the Veda described as the experiences of sarama. Sarama is a faculty of experience of digging out something which is hidden and brought out before you. It’s an experience of something dug out and given to you, it is the function of sarama. Sarama is the one who finds out where the hidden cows are stolen and they are kept in their store. So there is what is called suggestive intuition. You begin to feel there, there is the truth. I knock the door exactly at the right place and there the knowledge which is secretly present I can draw out. This will happen automatically, not by your seeking. Then there is a revelation. In revelation what is to be seen, will be seen, will be revealed, there is a sight behind sight, not the physical sight, but you will see the truth. There is a sight behind the sight, drishti, drasta. That is because of Ila. Ila is the goddess of revelation, and if, at this stage you worship Ila, then this power of revelation begins to become more and more manifest. Truths are revealed that you are not able to see at once. You see within a short time, sometimes even what is called in yogic experiences, you see the knowledge written down before your eyes. This also happens, lipi, you can read before your eyes, or you get a dream in which you can read your answer through the question. It’s revealed to you in a second what you have been looking for, you've not been getting at all. You read 100 books and suddenly you knock, you go to sleep and in the dream you read exactly the right thing to be read and you get the knowledge, it's revealed. These experiences also are obtained.

Or you have inspiration. This is where Veda speaks of Saraswati, in which the right word comes out suddenly from you, like says Danto in his great exclamation, they remain the immortal words, l'audace l'audace encore l'audace, courage, courage, still courage; these are inspired words. They just come from above, the right word coming at the right moment. You are in that sense of inspiration. You have reached that level where the right word, automatically formulated words, as we know in the Vedas rishis did not compose the words, they came, as it were, formulated. That is inspiration.

Now these powers begin to develop. All of these powers are powers of knowledge. No more ideas of the ordinary human mind, the human mind can't fabricate them. These are all ideas, you may have a form of ideas, but these ideas are knowledge ideas. They are true, so when this ripens a great deal, you can say now you have become intuitive. When this happens often, your mind, mental faculties become intuitive. You are no more only a rational thinker, you become a drasta. You begin to have shruti. These faculties begin to develop, but these are trickles. When you still go higher, then there is, as Sri Aurobindo points out, there are great doors of knowledge of them, vistas of knowledge, a command and you can just open and get the knowledge. You don't have to make an effort, effortlessly any science you want to understand, you just spend a little time concentrating and knowledge is at your command.

Now this may look very magical, but as Sri Aurobindo says, I am not a philosopher, and yet he wrote this book. How did he write all this? It’s a fact. He says I did not think about it. It always comes from above. How do you get it? but he says that such vistas of knowledge open. Now Sri Aurobindo says that you multiply this kind of a capacity hundred fold and you get overmind and you multiply million-fold, it is supermind. So when Sri Aurobindo says that this capacity will be developed and there will be human beings who will automatically possess the supermind, not that they have to develop like you and me who have to struggle to get one intuitive idea, but there will be a race of human beings, who will have self-possessed knowledge and so Sri Aurobindo says that these things, once you are entered into this field, then your problem is not getting the knowledge. Your problem, then, is only to put this knowledge into all parts of being where there is resistance. Even the body itself becomes supramental, and that is the most important problem. What Sri Aurobindo and the Mother were trying to get that supramental knowledge in the atoms in the cells of the body so that even the cell becomes supranatural, the cell becomes responsive to supramental knowledge. So it's a very vast program.

So when you said is there something beyond or between mind and supermind, so these are the different levels between mind and supermind but the basic effort is this four-fold as far as we are concerned, afterwards God himself takes charge of you, so it is left to him, but from our side we have to do this much at least. Instead of merely sitting down to silence the mind, you do it from time to time, from hour to hour, but the rest of the time should be spent in all other activities, and there are quite a lot, to be obedient, mind to be obedient is a very difficult task and to cultivate the faculty of the mind to its highest is also a difficult activity and then to be all the time occupied with the highest occupation of life, to remain very occupied the highest.

So these are, if you are engaged all the 24 hours are not enough actually, and we can really be doing sadhana all the time, and these things should be told to young people, because all this will take a long time. So if young people know that all this is to be done, young people don't waste their time doing many other things in which they are simply wasting their time. They can use that time rightly and profitably. So this knowledge has to be given to India. It was there in our Indian tradition, but it has been lost.

It has been elaborated in The Synthesis of Yoga?

Yes, there is a chapter called The Intuitive Mind. You read that chapter entitled The Intuitive Mind. So these four methods have been described in great detail.

This is a new kind of yoga sutra.

Yes, that is true. You are right, absolutely. You see the yoga, the way in which yoga is being taught to our young people today is only bookish sort of thing, and people have not reconciled many ideas which are in currency. You do pranayama and some say you do yama niyama, and then you do this, pratyahara and dharana and even there you don't know what is the difference between the two and how long it takes for you to go from pratyahara and dharana, from dharana to dhyana, from dhyana to samadhi. It takes a long time, these are all long, long processes. So that is why there is a great deal of confusion in our country. This is the Vedic yoga actually. The Vedic rishis follow this path and if you read all the mantras this is the kind of shastric summary. So when we have sacrifice, prayer and all kinds of dhimahi, there are also meditations of various kinds, and contemplation on what's rising to the higher levels, it’s also a tantric sadhana, it's a tantric sadhana to rise up to sahasrara. So it is a real integrality. You bring all this together and you rise. What she was saying. Accelerate and rise up. In a sense it is true that this word meditation is not understood properly, what is meditation, what is concentration, what is contemplation, what is witnessing consciousness, what is silencing the mind. Now these words are used pell-mell. But there is a need to explain to people that each word has a specific meaning.Contemplation is not the same as meditation. Both are concentrations. And concentration can be meditative or can be contemplative. Even the word concentration, there can be many kinds of concentration. Even ashtavadhani for example, shatavadhani, are also powers of concentration. How do they achieve that? They demonstrate it. They develop these faculties. So you can’t say all this is of no use. But even if they want to explain what is concentration apart from shatavadhani, if you say now concentrate on something else, they won’t be able to. They can’t concentrate upon atman. They can concentrate upon a hundred objects but you say now you concentrate upon atman, jivatman, they won’t be able to do it. What is the object of concentration? How do you hold the object into concentration, multiplicity of objects, parts of objects, the nature of the object, all this is of very great importance in your learning of concentration and meditation. For example concentrate on the tip of your nose. How does it help you? It’s not the concentration of God or atman or anything at all. It's the concentration of the tip of your nose. What do you do, or you can say, concentrate from between eyebrows? What do you do? What happens? People go on trying and trying, they don't even know what the meaning of it is. The shastra is not known, a few propositions are made, and people are told you do this. Everything, as he said rightly, do mantra, mantra japa karo. What is mantra japa? With what part you should do? WIth what conditions you should do? What kind of life you should be leading? all this is not told. And therefore people seem to be wasting their time in this world. Fortunately, a human being is such a nice instrument that whatever he does, brings some result from that point.

Like the present system of education, however bad it is, it is producing good people ultimately, nice people, like Akhilesh and myself. It is this system of education that is producing it, but it is not to justify the present system. In a sense supposing if I say oh present system of education is absolutely kandam. I may be justified in saying that depends upon what condition in what context I am saying. Similarly, what he said is in that context, so what he said does not need to be rubbed out at all. What he said remains. At the same time, what you say also remains. It is also true what she's saying is also true, because she also has gone, and she has found all of them useful. She can't say that it is all useless, but as she said ultimately, I signed up with that vipassana retreat if, after doing all that, you say well, I remained quiet. It was very nice. I felt very relieved, with lots of tension went away from my mind. It’s all useless? No, it is all good. But then what? Ultimately you meditate for what? I must have the experience of myself, not only merely quietude and remaining nice.

A disease is aggravated by the conditions in which you normally live. You say that now I have taken to vipassana. I go to vipassana, the conditions change. Actually speaking as the Mother says all diseases are cured by faith. Now if you apply this basic principle, you can say the moment a person's faith is changed, he becomes alright. In every case it doesn't happen because faith change is not very easy.

But uncle, another thing which I found is very conducive for cure is the slowing down of the mind. That is what is the alchemy.

The faith begins to function better when the mind is quiet. So that is also true. To say that the vipassana causes it is to equate one cause with an effect which is not causally effective, but there are other conditions which obtain as a result of this, therefore this happens. So if somebody says I feel very happy, you should encourage it. Nobody’s faith should be disturbed, people should always be told if it helps you please do it and I’ll be very happy, and so instead of questioning, the point is only this: the ultimate aim of meditation has to be fixed very clearly, you see the attainment of the status of a sitthapragya. This is not disease or no disease, and all that, these are subordinate things. The important thing is: am I going to be sitthapragya of meditation and what kind of meditation. Do I become more equal minded, very large-minded, global, self-sacrificing, obedient, will these qualities come into me? Will they automatically begin to flower into me? These are the objects of meditation and then, of course, many capacities as I said, many ideas, opening up the doors of knowledge. These are a very high level of attainment. They also happen and they do come.

If these things happen by any kind of meditation, then fine. What a wonderful thing! If somebody says that I have opened up a big store of knowledge I entered there, I pick up a book. If you read Agenda of the Mother, how many times Mother says I saw Satprem in a huge library of books where he was seated and he was looking for knowledge. Now I mean if this is what happens to somebody, I’ll be very, very happy. if I do vipassana and somebody says I entered into the field, very good. There is no question of criticising one thing or the other or one thing against the other. For example, Chaitanya taught dancing, what's wrong about it, and yet, when I go to Krishna temple, ISKCON temple and people say that the better jump you make the better sadhak you are, I only laugh at it. What is this! But what Sri Chaitanya says is very right. I understand it. You should have a real bhava of that kind. You should see Sri Krishna everywhere and what a joy it is to see Sri Krishna in every field and the dance is not your effort. You have to jump because everybody said that you can jump really nicely, so your bhakti is very great!