We are on the second paragraph, the last few lines.
To the ordinary material intellect which takes its present organisation of consciousness for the limit of its possibilities, the direct contradiction of the unrealised ideals with the realised fact is a final argument against their validity.
Sri Aurobindo, The Life Divine - I: The Human Aspiration
It is a short but difficult sentence. So let us understand the few words which are used here. First of all, it speaks "of the ordinary material intellect". If you read Sri Aurobindo you will find the word intellect being prefaced by certain adjectives. Sri Aurobindo speaks here of the material intellect, elsewhere he speaks of the vital intellect and he speaks also in terms of pure intellect. You might say there is intellectual intellect, pure intellect, then psychic intellect or spiritual intellect and there is also supramental intellect. The word intellect is used by Sri Aurobindo in many senses. Whenever the intellect is at the service of this or that then that becomes an adjective. If my intellect is at the service of my desires it is vital intellect. If my intellect is at the service of the psychic consciousness it is psychic intellect. If my intellect is at the service of the spirit it is spiritual intellect. If it is at the service of the Supermind it is supramental intellect. If it is at the service of matter, material consciousness, it is material intellect. Sri Aurobindo speaks here of the material intellect.
What is material intellect? It is an intellect which subserves, which is at the service of sensations and perceptions which are received through senses. It is at the service of the evidence of the senses. All that I receive from my senses is taken as a standard; anything that does not fall within the evidence of senses is so to say avoided, rejected, in any case not admitted. Sri Aurobindo speaks here only of that intellect. The intellect which is at the service of the senses will be inclined to argue that if there is a contradiction between the facts which are realised, which are there on the ground, and the facts which are not yet realised, which are ideals, which have to be brought down on the physical ground, if there is a contradiction between the two, then the material intellect will accept only what is realised and declare that what is not realised is invalid. It is not accepted as true. This is the tendency of the material intellect. If you look at human psychology you will find this psychology expressing itself very often in remarks such as: "Oh! You are not working on the ground. What do you know? You are dreaming, it is alright you go on dreaming, it has no value for me." This is the usual argument that you find very often in our ordinary life. Sometimes an idealist is told: "You are utopian". Utopian means, dreaming of ideals which can never be realised on the earth. Some people take pride in saying: "You know I am practical. You may be a good thinker; you may be a good teacher… I am a practical man, and for me practicality is the only thing that matters".
The first mark of the material intellect is that it takes into account that which is available to us through senses and tends to regard only that to be real. To admit something through the senses is alright but it goes one step further, it admits the evidence of the senses and then declares that only that which is received from the senses is valid and that all else is invalid. This is the tendency of the material intellect. Further, material intellect is repetitive; it goes on repeating again and again and again… And thirdly it is mechanical. Mechanical is something opposed to organic, it is something that drives on and on and on but in the same groove, it does not change the groove. It is like a record which stops at a given point in its movement and goes on producing the same sound again and again. It is purely mechanical.
There is a great merit in material intellect: whenever you want to repeat something, whenever you want to establish something it is extremely important. Whenever you want to establish something fundamentally it fixes the mind onto something. This is why many people who are clever at advertising go on repeating the same advertisement again and again, even if you know that people have read it a hundred times and somebody might argue: "Why are you now advertising? Everybody knows about it." But you want to fix it in the mind of the people, so that even in unconscious dreams it is repeated in the mind. Very often you wonder: Why does everybody know about Coca Cola? But it is repeated everywhere, you find the same advertisement all over. The advertisers know the power of the material intellect. When you can repeat the same thing,—even when people get tired of it, even if they demand something new, the same thing is repeated—and the effect of this is it is fixed in the mind of the people. Wherever you want something to be fixed go on repeating. At a higher level of consciousness this is also the truth of the japa. Go on repeating the mantra all the time, all the time, all the time, it gets fixed in the consciousness.
Everything in the world has a meaning and value therefore one should not condemn material intellect, but one must understand its value and also its limitations. The material intellect admits the evidence of the senses, that is its value, its utility, its function. It fixes the consciousness, that is its utility and function. Both are salutary. But then it goes one step farther, it refuses to open to any other evidence, this is a limitation and you must guard against it. So long as you demand a physical proof, the demand is perfectly alright. But therefore to demand it and to say that it is the only proof I accept, there can be no other proof at all—that is arrogance. How do you know there is no other evidence at all?
The materialist very often says: "Show me God", and when he says: "Show me God" he means, show me physically. "I believe God if he is there, physically." So long as he demands there is no problem. Then when you say: "Look my friend God, by its very nature is invisible. If by nature he is invisible there is a problem." Then you say: "My dear friend, you have not understood my answer. I would show you physically if he was physical in character, but if by nature he is not visible and then you tell me: show me physically, it only means you don't understand what I mean." Then he says: "I don't accept anything else." That means that he is refusing to admit that there can be invisible but yet real things. Some of the great thinkers fall into this trap because they are so much fixed in their physical mentality.
Mother had said for example: People will demand physical transformation in terms of what the physical will look like, but she said that is not the real thing. That will come, but it is the last thing to happen. The physical transformation is the transformation in the subtle physical which is not visible physically, which is real but not physically perceptible. If something happens there; as a consequence something will happen in the pure physical. Now if you refuse to accept it, it means it is because of the tremendous power of the material intellect.
Material intellect should realise. It has to be taught that its demand is accepted, is welcome but it should not be so arrogant as to pronounce that there is no other evidence admissible. There is a lot of evidence in the world, many kinds of evidence. I may look grim physically and yet I may be very cheerful in my heart. This is true of every one of us, very often we may seem very grim but in our hearts there is bumping enthusiasm. If this is a fact then it means that physically I may not seem to be very enthusiastic but the fact is that I am really enthusiastic so how is the reality of my enthusiasm to be seen. If you ask that only if I go on laughing aloud that I will agree that you are enthusiastic. If you believe that is the only way of judging whether I am enthusiastic or not it will be wrong because I can be enthusiastic even when my face may seem very grim. This is a fact which everybody knows then the demand that you must be physically manifesting everything that you feel inwardly is a wrong demand. But such is the condition of… in fact I will say of all of us. Because every one of us has got this material intellect and everyone has got this arrogance. Even so called theists, those who believed in God tremendously, in their life at a given moment, when the material intellect becomes very powerful, even for a short time, may protest: "Where is that God?" They may be lecturing on God and yet in their own life at a given moment this contradiction appears because all of us are subject to that power of material intellect. Some others are psychologically so tuned that the moment you try to bring any evidence which is not physical in character they simply turn away. Do not see at all.
Let me read out to you only two lines from Bertrand Russell. Bertrand Russell is, to my mind, a philosopher highly fixed in material intellect. He is a very good example. He is a very great thinker, not that he does not understand—all that I am talking to you he would understand quite well—and yet the consciousness is so tuned to the material intellect, so overpoweringly that he would refuse to accept anything that is not materially visible. I am reading the last page of his book because you might say that is the sum total of all that he wants to say and the last page is very useful to illustrate what I am saying now. He says: "All this is rejected [he means all propositions regarding idealism, divinity, spirituality] by the philosophers … of my category. They confess frankly that the human intellect is unable to find conclusive answers to many questions of profound importance to mankind. But they refuse to believe that there is some higher way of knowing—it is very clear, there is no pretension about it at all—by which we can discover truths which are hidden from science and the intellect." By science he means the knowledge that can be gained by physical senses. And intellect means, an intellect which is ready to accept only the evidence of the physical senses. So he has himself defined what is the material intellect. Material intellect rejects, not only rejects but refuses to believe—the word refuses is very important—that there is some higher way of knowing by which we can discover truths hidden from science and the intellect.
A man who can write such a wonderful book—in many ways it is a wonderful book, I like it very much, I don't agree with it but I like it very much. There is a great honesty and great nobility in this philosophical writing. It does not pretend, it says very clearly what it wants to say. But here is an example when a philosopher declares: "I refuse". You may say there are many other ways of knowing and he says: "I refuse it". Now, when you refuse, what can you do about it? There is no answer to refusal in this world. In one of her statements Mother said: "The problem of today in the world is Refusal—with R capital." Simply there is refusal. And this refusal has many layers. Material intellect is one layer of refusal. Vital intellect is also another layer of refusal. Mental intellect also has its own refusals. Even the pure intellect has refusals. They are inbuilt as it were. It is only when you rise to psychic intellect, spiritual intellect that these refusals become less and less pronounced and only when you open to supramental intellect that infinite doors of knowledge are opened and there is no refusal at all, it admits everything. The totality is accepted; all doors of knowledge are opened. That is why Sri Aurobindo wants us to move towards the supramental intellect.
The vital intellect also refuses. Suppose for example I have a desire to see a film today. A simple desire. Now there are many arguments which can be put forward to me that I should not see a cinema today. All kinds of arguments can come. The vital intellect makes a very good coating over your desire and says: "Oh! You must see this film because it will educate you." And then somebody says: "But you know reading this book is also very educative. Why don't you read?" This is another evidence put forward, you want to be educated, of course cinema can educate you, but books also can educate you, so why don't you choose them? You will find the vital intellect will find this very inconvenient. It will argue that a book is of lesser importance because a film is a visual means of knowing, a very direct way of knowing. So it creates a greater impression, something, which you will never forget. Whereas a book can be forgotten, what you see in a film, you will never forget. You will find support for your argument basically because you want to satisfy your desire to see a film. The Vital intellect goes on glossing over, making a beautiful golden coating over it, so that it may seem very nice. Or let's say I want to visit America, I want to move out to America and only to America. Why? Among all the nations, America is the freest nation therefore I must go to America. It is a good reason. I don't frankly admit that I want to go to America simply by desire. I go because America is the freest country in the world. I want to experience the freest country in the world, therefore I want to go to America. And then if I put forward any other argument it becomes very inconvenient and I go on defending my argument in one way or the other. I refuse to see other arguments. If I say that if you want to really experience freedom there are many ways of experiencing freedom, it is not only visiting America that gives the experience of freedom—what is called spiritual freedom is one of the easiest and the best ways of experiencing freedom. But if somebody speaks of it one says: "Don't take me to that realm. I refuse to see that." Thus the vital intellect also refuses when basic desire is denied or attacked. And so on… Our important point just now was the material intellect.
The greatest obstruction, the greatest objection to the proposition that we should aim for divine life comes from the material intellect. We have seen yesterday there are three steps of the argument in The Life Divine. The first step is to expound the human aspiration and to expound the content of that human aspiration, which states that every human being basically aspires for divine life, whether he admits it or not, whether he doubts it or not, whether he really ,consciously is in pursuit of it or not, this is the basic, fundamental urge in human beings. Sri Aurobindo begins by saying this is the urge which has manifested throughout the history of mankind and it promises also to be the main theme of the future. Much of the book is devoted to the exposition that human beings aspire for divine life. The second part is that this aspiration is justifiable. This aspiration, if you take into account the totality of facts of the world: all the phenomena from the point of totality, this aspiration is justified. It is rationally justified and justified also on the basis of the highest experience—in both ways. This is the second part of the whole argument. And the third part is that there is a method, there is a way which if you follow, and this aspiration can be fulfilled. As I said, the last part of The Life Divine, combined with 'The Synthesis of Yoga', answers this third aspect. There is a way by which our aspiration for divine life can be fulfilled. That aspiration when it is fulfilled doesn't need further proof because it is realised. It is a fact of your life. In the meantime you need a crutch, a rational crutch which comes by rational argumentation, which is provided in The Life Divine and which also needs evidence of experience. That also is provided in this book. This is the totality of the whole argument. But at the very outset as you make the first statement that there is an aspiration for the divine life and that divine life is realisable, immediately the first objection comes from the material intellect. The material intellect says, what is realised now is the material world and this is true, this is real. The divine life is not visible here at all, physically anywhere. Therefore it contradicts the actual. The ideal is contradicted by the real. And real being real that which contradicts it is invalid, is false. This is a simple argument.
Sri Aurobindo states that for the material intellect the realised fact is contradicted by the ideal that you put forward. This contradiction proves that ideal is unreal, invalid. In stating this argument Sri Aurobindo gives a further qualification which is very important. Material intellect which takes our present organisation of consciousness as a limit of our possibilities—this is a phrase which is very important. "To the ordinary material intellect which takes its present organisation of consciousness for the limit of its possibilities…" Material intellect refuses that there can be any other way of knowing than the way of knowing that is possible for the material consciousness. I read out to you the quotation from Russell: he refuses to accept that there is any other way of knowing, that whatever we can know now is the utmost possibility of our capacities. We cannot go beyond this. It refuses to admit that you can develop other faculties, you can go higher, you can go deeper. This possibility itself is rejected. It is this material intellect which is bound to pronounce that the ideal of divine life is invalid. This is the argument: "
To the ordinary material intellect which takes its present organisation of consciousness for the limit of its possibilities, the direct contradiction of the unrealised ideals with the realised fact is a final argument against their validity.
Sri Aurobindo, The Life Divine - I: The Human Aspiration
Now comes Sri Aurobindo's answer to this argument. In the history of thought this formulation is a very original formulation to this question. So we should study these two lines because they are very important.
But if we take a more deliberate view of the world’s workings, that direct opposition appears rather as part of Nature’s profoundest method and the seal of her completest sanction.
Sri Aurobindo, The Life Divine - I: The Human Aspiration
It is a very difficult sentence. So we shall dwell a little on these lines. The last lines of the paragraph are very very important lines.
What we mean by philosophical argument is illustrated in these particular lines. What is the nature of philosophical argument? You remember we spoke of logical argument, of epistemological argument; we spoke of historical argument, of dialectical argument and now we have another form of argument. We might say the most essential philosophical argument. The argument which is the heart of all philosophy. You remember that while defining philosophy we had underlined one very important word: philosophy is a quest …
"Philosophy is a quest for knowledge pertaining to all domains, including the quest for perfection both individual and collective, which results in the formulation of an idea/ideas pertaining to the totality which includes all that we see and experience or think of, and beyond that which may, may not exist, in search of the presence or absence of the meaning of all, beyond all and all particulars."
In the last phrase there is a very important word: the meaning. There are all kind of quests in the world. If there is one quest which distinguishes itself from all others it is the quest for meaning. No other domain looks for meaning as much as philosophy. It is the heart of philosophy. Philosophy starts with the quest which would embrace all domains of knowledge, all facts can be put together. But even if you have all the facts before you it will still not be philosophy if you miss out the question: what is the meaning of all this. You may know all the facts but if you have not enquired into what the meaning is, it is not philosophy. Science can give you all the facts, each science may give you knowledge of a given domain but if you put all the sciences together you may still not get the meaning of all the facts. This requires a very special quest.
Philosophy points out that the human being is not satisfied merely with the quest of knowledge of facts; there is something in human beings which looks for something else. And that is the quest of meaning. Of course philosophy even questions this: there may be meaning, there may not be meaning. But you can announce there is no meaning only after making an enquiry into meaning. You cannot at the outset say there is no meaning and there is no question of discovering the meaning. It is only when you enquire whether there is a meaning, that you may come to the conclusion there is no meaning. You may say that everything is idiotic in the world but only after enquiring whether it is really idiotic? Therefore the most essential philosophical argument is connected with what we may call a decision to enquire with the assumption that there is a meaning. Just grant that there is a meaning, afterward you may come to the conclusion there is no meaning. So a real philosophical argument starts by stating that there may be a meaning in all that you are seeing. Sri Aurobindo uses the words: "But if we take a more deliberate view…" the word deliberate is very important … "but if we take a more deliberate view of [nature's] world's workings" you are enquiring as to whether there is any meaning. You take a deliberate view, is there any meaning why nature is producing contradictions. We saw last time that the highest dialectical arguments present to you a thesis, an antithesis and a synthesis which again produces thesis, antithesis and so on.
Having stated it you should ask the question why does it happen? Is there a meaning in this kind of movement? Why is there an opposition at all between the actual and the ideal? Why is the ideal not the actual? Is there any sense in it? Is there any meaning in it? Sri Aurobindo says that if you take a deliberate view of the world's workings then you will find "that direct opposition appears rather as part of Nature's profoundest method and the seal of her completest sanction." This opposition that you find is a part of Nature's method, and its profoundest method. Nature is so omnipotent, it has such a tremendous capacity that it can hide its Truth completely, not abolish it because that is impossible—Nature can never abolish the Truth but it can hide it and hide it completely. Nature has many methods of manifesting but one of the profoundest way by which Nature can manifest is to hide itself completely. Whatever Truth, whatever Light is there in the world in the Life and the Supreme, that Light can hide completely and it can manifest after all kinds of oppositions. Therefore the world is full of a manifestation that appears to have a lot of contraries, oppositions and contradictions. So whenever you see contradictions do not withdraw. Mere presence of contradiction—if you declare therefore invalid, mark of an invalidity you are making a mistake. If you know how Nature is working in the world where you find an opposition, be aware that there is something, some message to be taken out of it. If you really look for a meaning, it has a meaning.
And if somebody opposes you very much do not be worried, do not be afraid. There is something ringing there all the time which wants to awaken you, there is some light in it which is hidden and it is an invitation to uncover it.
Sri Aurobindo says that if you win a debate you have actually lost a chance, because in a debate you can win only when your point of view succeeds and the opponent's point of view is defeated. This can happen only when the opposition's point of view is thrown out. You have not learnt out of it. If you learn out of it nobody is defeated, everybody succeeds. If you win a debate it means that the opposition's point of view is not grasped, you have not undertaken a sufficient enquiry to see where the Truth lies in the opposition. And once you bring it out even the opposition is your friend. It is no more the opposition. Sri Aurobindo says in the same vein: "Who is your enemy? The one who takes you to the embrace of the beloved." If you want a complete embrace with the beloved, remember that there is an enemy who will take you to him. Sri Aurobindo was taken to the prison by the British, as their enemy, but when he went to the jail, even though Sri Aurobindo initially asked: "Hast thou forsaken me? What is it? You had promised me that you would protect me, and yet you took me to jail?" But it was in the jail that Sri Aurobindo had one of his greatest realisations. He embraced the Supreme Lord in the jail.
This is the method of Nature. And Sri Aurobindo says merely because the real and the ideal are in contradiction with each other, don't pronounce that the ideal is unreal. It is the method of Nature. Once you know Nature's method this argument will have no basis. This way of arguing against materialism is a novel way of argument. In the history of the world, I tell you, I have not come across a method by which materialism is rejected or is thrown out of the court. This is a new forum, that if you understand Nature's method, there is a meaning in it. And that meaning is to work by opposition. To hide everything and to manifest only a little, so that what is hidden and what is manifested look very opposite to each other. Completely opposed to each other. But that is a sign that you have to look deeper. It is the profoundest method of Nature and her completest seal of sanction. It is certain. When you want something very deeply… (You make an experiment.) What you need the most and you make a demand to Nature; you will find there is no answer at first. In the present system of Nature, as we are now—when Supermind will manifest fully it will not be so, but at present, as long as there is this: Nature hiding the Truth, you go to the topmost of your aspiration and you will find that in its present method, Nature's first answer is NO.
In Savitri, Aswhapati moved upwards and even when he reached the Supreme Mother and asked for the boon The Mother said: "Why do you want it? Everything will be transformed in its own time." So there was a refusal, even there, there was a refusal. It is only when he insisted: "But I want it." The insistence was there and there was a boon, there was a response. Therefore if somebody says: No do not take it for granted, Nature does not want, God does not want, don't accept that at all. Everything has to be examined very profoundly, make sure that what you are demanding is really your sincere demand. Make sure of that. And if the answer is no, persist still. The method of Nature is that it always says no at first and then gradually by the pressure of your demand, your sincerity, what is hidden is broken and what is unrealised is realised. So this last line is one of the most important arguments in the history of philosophy. And I have not found this kind of an argument formulated so far except in 'The Life Divine'.
"But if we take a more deliberate view of the world's workings…" as I told you it is a purely philosophical argument which looks for meaning. If you take meaning as a criterion of philosophical thinking then this is that kind of statement which embodies that movement of argument. "But if we take a more deliberate view of the world's workings, that direct opposition appears rather as part of Nature's profoundest method and the seal of her completest sanction."
In the next paragraph Sri Aurobindo gives examples of this and the series of examples that Sri Aurobindo gives is prefaced by a most wonderful sentence, one of the most memorable sentences in 'The Life Divine' where Sri Aurobindo says: "For all problems of existence are essentially problems of harmony."
We all admit that there are problems in the world and Sri Aurobindo says if there are problems there must be a meaning as to why there are problems. Again it is a philosophical argument. Any argument which looks for meaning is a quintessential philosophical argument. If there are problems—which nobody refuses, everybody admits the existence of problems—you ask why problems exist at all? Sri Aurobindo says, they exist because there is a search for harmony and a real possibility of harmony and inevitability of harmony. It is only for this reason that problems exist. That is why Sri Aurobindo does not ask anyone to run away from the problem. If problems exist, the problems are meant to be resolved. Because it is in the problems that the secret of harmony is contained. So, if there is a contradiction between the realised facts and the unrealised facts it is a problem; and we must treat it as a problem, not run away from it. Try to ask why there is this contradiction.
Sri Aurobindo answers this question by giving examples. "They arise from the perception of an unsolved discord and the instinct of an undiscovered agreement or unity." Again it is a very short sentence but which deserves half an hour to contemplate. "They arise from the perception of an unsolved discord and the instinct of an undiscovered agreement or unity." Read again. "They arise from the perception of an unsolved discord and the instinct of an undiscovered agreement or unity." First of all you perceive. Whenever there is a problem you perceive that things do not fit into each other. There is a problem if in the field of our perception or thinking or experience there are at least two elements. Whenever there is a problem you can be sure that there are at least two elements which are in the field. As long as I perceive only one object and don't compare it with any other there is no problem. What I see I see and that is the end of the matter. Whether what I see is a dream or not arises only because there is a dreamless perception and there is a dream perception, thus I can ask the question whether what I see now is in my waking consciousness, am I seeing it in my dream consciousness or really seeing it. It is only because very often, even in my dream, I feel I am really seeing. Therefore it can be asked, whether when I feel now that I am seeing really, is it really a fact that I am seeing. It is only when there are two experiences which are to be compared that there is a problem. So first of all always see that every problem has in it at least two elements.
Now you see that these two elements do not fit with each other, that is the presence of the problem. A problem arises only when there is a perception of two things not fitting with each other easily. Then there is a puzzle. Sri Aurobindo says: It is a perception of an unsolved discord. There are two things which are not fitting with each other. It is an unsolved discord. But that is not enough; by itself it does not create a problem. The perception of an unsolved discord should be accompanied with an instinct in you. Why do you feel unhappy when there is a discord? It could be quite possible for human beings to say: "Problems are problems. Don't worry. Discord will remain." But when do you feel unhappy about a problem? Only when you feel inwardly that there must be a possibility of an agreement. There is an instinct of an undiscovered agreement or unity. You feel inwardly that this problem is a painful problem and you are not satisfied. Otherwise you could say problems are problems, in the world there are so many problems, and you go ahead. It is what many people are doing. For them it is not a problem. Problem is a problem only when it hurts you and it hurts you because there is in your being a possibility or a perception that there is something which has to be found out. Students of mathematics when they have some problem to be resolved, once it is on their mind cannot even sleep because it goes on and on and they feel there must be something which they are missing. It is a constant search. It is because you feel there must be some element you have not touched.
Sri Aurobindo's definition of problems is: "They arise from the perception of an unsolved discord and the instinct of an undiscovered agreement or unity." It is a perfect definition of problems. Then Sri Aurobindo says: "To rest content with an unsolved discord is possible for the practical and more animal part of man…" All those who brush aside problems can do so because they are practical. The tendency is to say: "I am practical" don't bother me about problems. "I only look into this: is it possible or not. If it is not I throw it away." Or to an animal part. An animal part means that which wants to go to sleep as soon as possible, which does not want to exercise intelligence. If there is a discord you can forget about it only if you are practical or you are an animal man, a beastly man. "But impossible for its fully awakened mind…" If you are fully awakened you can never rest contented with any problem hanging over you, you constantly strive to resolve this problem. Something should be done. It is imperative psychologically for you to go on. This is why humanity has been constantly driving itself. If you look at the history of the world… There is one very nice sentence in one of the books of Economics: "All the world is at work." And if you ask the question why should people be at work? There is a driving force in mankind which is not satisfied with what it is now. It wants something still further; it wants to go on and on and on. It is impossible to rest until the problems are resolved. And even then, when the problems are resolved it will be the question of manifestation of happiness and further happiness and further happiness. That is why the whole world is moving onwards. And even its practical parts will not be allowed to be satisfied. Its practical parts only "escape from the general necessity either by shutting out the problem or by accepting a rough utilitarian and unillumined compromise."
You see here the psychology which works very often when you go to a manager with a problem or also to an apprentice teacher who wants to answer the question as soon as possible. He solves the problem but by some kind of a device, some kind of a compromise. You can either shut out the problem saying: "I don't want to hear the problem. It is enough!" Very practical men when you go to them with a problem simply answer: " It is too much for me, I don't want to hear the problem." Or you find some kind of a compromise: "You are happy? All right, now don't ask for more." This is how many people try to solve the problems. But it is not a solution. Either you shut out the problem or you try to make a compromise. It is only by these ways that you try to forget the discord. But if you really want to solve the problem you cannot be satisfied with that. Why? Because, "essentially all Nature seeks a harmony. Life and Matter in their own sphere as much as Mind in the arrangement of its perceptions."
You know each one of the sentences is basically so difficult that we should never try to go fast. We should rest with every sentence. The desire to finish the chapter as soon as possible should be restrained. There is no hurry actually; we can spend five days finishing this chapter. But let every line be understood as much as possible.
"…all Nature seeks a harmony." By Nature we mean first of all three terms: Matter, Life and Mind. In all Nature, whether it is Material Nature or Vital Nature or Mental Nature is a constant seeking for harmony. As far as the mind is concerned it is very easy for us to see because we just have to look at our minds. The mind can never remain content when it perceives two contradictory ideas sitting in it at the same time. When two statements which are contradictory of each other are settled in your mind you won't get sleep. It will constantly work until the contradiction is resolved. This is a psychological fact, a natural fact. It is why Sri Aurobindo says, "…all Nature seeks a harmony."
Even in perceptions: you go to an exhibition and see so many things and suppose somebody asks you what you saw in the exhibition? Immediately your mind will start arranging all your observations, all your impressions. If you simply say, "I saw this and I saw that" you will not feel satisfied—you will feel that I am just giving an idiotic description of what I have seen. If I really want to give a description of what I have seen I should organize my perceptions, put them in some kind of categories, that I perceive pictures of beauty, pictures of meaning, I saw pictures of puzzles. You will categorize them and put them in one basket, all of them harmonious with each other.
There are many ways of organizing. There is a school of psychology which is called Gestalt psychology. It is a psychological method which tells you how you observe things, how you act. If I want to go out now in my movements from here to there, a lot of organisation will take place. I will not go in that direction, I will go in this direction. There is already an organisation. If I go out and my car is not in this direction I will not go in this direction. Even in ordinary movements my movements will be harmonious. My movements are harmonious with the end which I have in view. To harmonise my movements with a purpose, with an end is automatic. We are able to see a film even when we know that each image in the film is divided by small intervals. But we are able to see it because our tendency is to harmonise. Because our perceptual faculty is such that one image is harmonised by our own faculty of perception with the next image. Because of this psychological fact we are able to see a film. If we were unable to do this exercise we should see only slides. Slides we see them as one divided from the other because the distance between one and the other is so great our perceptual faculty is not able to join them together. The natural tendency of the eye is to try as much as possible to bridge the gap, automatically whenever there is a gap. If you show one curve which is half here and another curve which is half on that side you will try to bring these two together. Automatically. This is called gestalt. Gestalt means that which constitutes a form, a harmonious form. This is true of all psychological operations basically. As I told you if there is a contradiction in your mind you will not rest until the contradiction is resolved. When five thoughts are given and they look separate from each other you try to combine them and see what are the differences between the five, what is the harmony between them.
So, all Nature is a movement towards harmony whether it is in Matter or in Life or in Mind. What we spoke of Mind, which is easier for us to observe, is also true of Matter. We now see that in Matter evidently as we go into the quantum a tremendous organisation. Small nucleus and something revolving round and round and round. What a tremendous organisation! And if you break this organisation as in the atomic bomb—immense energy comes out, as it were, in revolt. But again, even in that energy movement the same rotation is manifested. In every organic movement you will find the same kind of organisation, the same movement towards harmony. The tree—the whole law of the tree: the trunk and the roots and the branchings and the flowering and the fruition. There is a tremendous harmony in the whole movement and there is a rhythm. If you break it the whole organisation is lost. And you try somewhere else and again the same rhythm begins to manifest itself.
Now comes Sri Aurobindo's very important sentence:
The greater the apparent disorder of the materials offered or the apparent disparateness, even to irreconcilable opposition, of the elements that have to be utilised, the stronger is the spur, and it drives towards a more subtle and puissant order than can normally be the result of a less difficult endeavour.
Sri Aurobindo, The Life Divine - I: The Human Aspiration
The greater the discord presented to you, the greater is the spur to arrive at a harmony. Whatever elements are offered to you and if there is a great disorder then you will find that you will set about the whole task of putting everything in order. A slight disorder you can even ignore. You enter into a room and everything is at sixes and sevens. Your spur to put everything in order will be greater than if the things were not in so much disorder. The greater the discord that you perceive, the greater is the impulse in you to put things into order. And you will find that when natural disorder is presented to you there are so many elements in the discord that when you try to bring them out into order, the ultimate result would be something unimaginable. The kind of harmony, the kind of design that you will see will be tremendously different from what you have even conceived earlier.
This argument is very important. The greater the contradiction between Matter and Spirit, the greater the contradiction between the realised facts and the unrealised ideal, the greater the opposition between the two, the greater is the spur. Therefore greater is the certainty that there is a very great design which is being worked out. Some unimaginable perfection is being worked out. This is to answer the question with which we started. Material intellect says that because there is a contradiction between the realised facts and the unrealised ideal therefore the unrealised ideal is invalid. Sri Aurobindo answers that if there is a contradiction, and the contradiction is very sharp, then instead of saying it is invalid there is a greater harmony which is in view and it invites you to work very hard to find it out. If you find that an invisible reality is presented to you which contradicts what is visible to you, don't refuse to go forward, find out how to reconcile the visible and the invisible. Don't refuse as Bertrand Russell. As I told you he says: "We refuse to accept that there is any other way of knowing than the way of science and intellect." There could be many other ways.
This is only the elucidation of that sentence. If you look into the methods of Nature deliberately then you find that this opposition is the very method of Nature. Sri Aurobindo now gives examples.