Sri Aurobindo's - 'The Life Divine' - The Human Aspiration - Chapter I (2000, Super School Auroville) - Session v (13 July 2000)

The theme of this paragraph is that when you see opposition between one thing and the other, there is a contradiction between the two, it is not to be inferred that one is valid and the other invalid. This is the basic point, if there are two contradictory things it does not follow that if one is valid another is invalid, which is the normal assumption in the world. Sri Aurobindo gives a new argument that if there is an opposition between the actual and the unrealized, then the unrealized may be valid, even though it is contradictory of the actual. Sri Aurobindo gives the example of the opposition between matter and life. Supposing one of you was present in the world, on the earth, at the time when evolution had just started. Today we are here after millions of years of evolution, but supposing we were on the earth, at least one of us was present. Supposing there were, as Sri Aurobindo says, a witness, but uninstructed. That is to say one who did not know what it was all about? He was not told. Just out of curiosity he was on earth, and looking around. And only matter existed, nothing else.

You examine the characteristics of matter. Matter is inert; matter is mechanical; matter is unconscious. Even if you argue that matter is still dynamic—this knowledge came to us in the Twentieth Century—that matter, even though inert, is dynamic. It is revolving; every atom is a revolution around the nucleus. Even if you argue that matter is not inert, it is dynamic, there is still one great limitation of matter. The dynamism of matter does not grow, it moves in its own orbit, on and on and on and on. What is the difference between matter and a tree? Both are dynamic. The tree is dynamic, the atom is also dynamic. But an atom does not grow like a tree. There is something like an organism which has a different quality to it.

If somebody were to argue with you: Look, on this matter there will grow a beautiful tree, a beautiful flower will come out of it, fruits will grow. You would have argued, like the modern materialists, that the actual fact is just matter—this growth, this development, flowering, fruition all this is unrealized, this is utopia. It will never happen because matter and life are opposed to each other—matter is real, what you talk of: life, growth, is a dream. And you vainly dream—it will never happen. It is completely impossible. But if we have Sri Aurobindo's argument with us we could argue that this opposition between matter and life is a proof that nature is striving to effect a great harmony between that matter and this life.

Listen to what Sri Aurobindo says: "The accordance of active Life with a material of form in which the condition of activity itself seems to be inertia, is one problem of opposites that Nature has solved and seeks always to solve better with greater complexities..."

Let us analyse every word of this sentence. Basically, it answers our question whether matter can give rise to life which seem to be opposites of each other. But see Sri Aurobindo's description of life and see the description of matter. Sri Aurobindo says that the accordance of life in matter—this to say that the tree grows in matter, it does not grow outside matter—is also a very important thing. Accordance of life in matter, that is to say the very nature of matter is changed with the entrance of life in it. The two are joined together. There is no life on earth which can exist without matter—on the earth at least. All that is organic has to have its grounding in matter, which seems to be completely opposite to life. And yet the whole earth is such that if anybody has to live it has to be in matter. This accordance of life in matter is one of the stories of opposites which nature has accomplished already.

Now the description of matter is also very important. What is matter? Even if you grant that matter is not inert—even if you argue that matter is full of dynamism—Sri Aurobindo says that the activity itself seems to be inertia… You know the law of inertia? The scientific law of inertia is not that something is not moving. If something moves but cannot stop by itself it is called inertia. If you move once you are pushed once you go on moving on and on and on, and if you cannot stop yourself it is called inertia in physics. The definition of inertia is that you have no capacity to change the state of motion. When you are unable to change either the state of staticity or the state of motion it is called inertia. And that is the nature of matter. At one time it was thought that matter could move only if it was moved from outside. That was the law given by Newton. Newton did not know that matter already has motion within itself. This we have discovered only now in the Twentieth Century. When Newton, the great physicist, gave the laws, the first law was called the Law of Inertia. And he said that matter cannot move by itself. That is the meaning of inertia. He believed in God so he said: "God moved the first matter." And once it is in motion it moves on and on and on. And the fact that matter cannot stop by itself, it required external force to stop it or to change its direction was called the law of inertia. Matter has two kinds of inertia. First of all, it cannot move by itself, you require an outside agency to move it. And secondly, once it is in motion, matter cannot stop by itself. You require an outside force. Either you do not move by yourself or once in motion you cannot stop your motion by yourself. This incapacity is called inertia.

So, Sri Aurobindo says that matter is such a thing that the very condition of its activity is inertia. Even if you do not accept Newton's idea that first motion is given by God, even if you maintain that matter is always in motion, then Sri Aurobindo says that the very motion is of such a nature that it is always inert. By itself it cannot stop, by itself it cannot change its direction. Atomic energy constantly revolves on and on for millions of years without stopping—that is called the law of inertia.

It is in that matter whose very activity is a condition of inertia, that life, whose very nature is self-propelling force, self-directing force, is planted. The tree moves automatically towards the sunlight from within. It cannot change its direction. That is a specialty of all organic life. There is a self propelling force to determine that direction. So Sri Aurobindo uses the word, the adjective is very important, he says the accordance of active life, this word active is very important. The accordance of active life, that is to say life whose very nature is activity, not inertia but activity. "The accordance of active life with a material of form in which the condition of activity itself seems to be inertia..." The opposition is between the activity of life and the inertia of matter. These two opposites Nature has already put before you. The contradiction is resolved. The argument: if one is true the other must be false is no more true, the argument is gone by the very fact that you see this. Sri Aurobindo says this is one of the contradictions, one of the problems that nature has already resolved with harmony. This is an example of the very first sentence: "All problems of existence are essentially problems of harmony." How to bring inactivity and activity into harmony is a problem that Nature has already resolved. Sri Aurobindo says: It has been resolved considerably. Not yet fully, because Sri Aurobindo goes on in the next sentence to say: "If we are to look for a complete solution, a complete harmony then a greater result has still to come". The work which has been done so far is not yet complete. We are still in the incomplete scenario of a film. The film is still to unfold further.

What is that complete solution? His perfect solution would be "The material immortality of a fully organized mind-supporting animal body". Now you see how many elements are put forward. The present limitation of organic life is that although activity of Life is reconciled with inertia of Matter it is but temporarily. Everything that is organic in the world dies. Therefore the problem is not fully resolved yet. Can you permanently plant Life into Matter? That problem Nature has not yet solved. Every human being dies. There is a law of death as it were, as if it is a permanent law. Nature has not yet evolved such a body which can go on living on and on and on.

Of course there are many trees which live for thousands of years or even more. But even they ultimately decay; even they become hollow after some time. Even after a thousand years. So the other question is: Is it possible to create a body which is organic, which is not only organic like this but which also has a further capacity of locomotion? The tree cannot move with its roots from here to another place, whereas you and I can move from one place to the other. So we are animal bodies which have a further capacity of locomotion. You can move from one locus to the other. From one locality to the other you can walk. This is a specialty of the animal body. Both are organic: plant is organic, animal also is organic. But the difference between the two is that plants cannot have locomotion, the animal has locomotion.

Sri Aurobindo says that first of all you should have a body which is capable not only of organism but also has the capacity of locomotion. Then it should be able to support Mind. This is a very important condition. Mind coming into the body and sustaining the body for a long time is a very big problem. If you examine the history of mankind, this is called anthropological study. Anthropology means study of man, basically ancient man—logy means study, anthropo means man. If you study man you find that the original man had greater capacities than you and I possess today. Even if you go to primitive people their physical strength is very great. There are many animals such as the elephant and lion that have tremendous capacities compared to the human body. When Mind comes into the picture some of the physical capacities diminish. An ape can jump, you and I cannot jump so easily, we have to be trained, and even then it takes a long time to be a champion in jumping and that too for a short time of your life. You cannot be a champion all your life. The moment the Mind comes into the body some of its capacities are diminished. You will find that sometimes when you think of a problem and your mind is exercised tremendously, it affects your health, physical health. In any case if people worry a lot, not only thinking, but if they worry a lot the body is affected. And very often the human mind has a tendency to worry, for many reasons. Mind is a worrying mind normally, as soon as it starts working it begins to worry. And worry has a great effect, an adverse effect, upon the health of the body.

Sri Aurobindo says that the complete victory would be that you should be first of all an animal body, a body which has locomotion, also a body which has a mind, which normally disables the body in many ways. A Mind supporting animal body. And that kind of body is to be immortal, in which Life remains planted all the time in the body, in the physical... If you can achieve this then you can say: Now Nature has created an instrument in which all the problems of contradictions are resolved. Till that time contradictions are not yet resolved. As long as the body dies, the accordance of Life in Matter is not complete—it is only a temporary accord. There is no secret yet by which Life and Matter can be completely reconciled. Sri Aurobindo says: Nature is still striving. Do not worry that it will not happen. First step is already taken; this is only a proof that something can be done. Don't say that this thing is impossible. The moment we know there is a bigger problem, we always put down our hands saying: impossible, this cannot be done.

Sri Aurobindo says, if there were a witness, but uninstructed, who were to watch the world at the very beginning, he would have questioned the appearance of even a small little bubble, a little germ in water. If you were told there will be some stir in the water and germs will move about. If you had to predict as a witness you would have said: "Oh it is impossible! How can there come by itself a bubble like this with germs constantly moving, self-propelled, impossible!" Even if you saw this you would say: "Oh alright, maybe something happened". You might grant that this has happened so we can't now refuse it. But then if you were told that this little germ will one day have locomotion in a very big way: an elephant will come or a lion will come, you would say: "Oh it is impossible! How can a little thing ever grow to an elephant or a lion? Impossible!" And then if you were told that there would come about a human being who will think, who will observe, you would laugh it off. If you are told that he will be able to measure the world, not only think, he will be able to speculate, he will discuss the law of contradictions in a class one day. He will even write poetry, and a complex kind of poetry such as Savitri. He will philosophise, he will become a mystic, he will see the invisible, hear the inaudible, if you were to be told this you would have to simply laugh it off, not only that you would say: "Please stop this dream, it is impossible!" Today if we are told that there really will be a human being which is superman, all people around say it is impossible. Even today, I read out to you, an acute mind such as Russell refuses to believe that they are higher ways of knowing. It is the same argument: the contrast between the realised fact and the unrealized ideal—the contradiction between the two shows that the unrealized ideal is invalid. This argument is now brought to its own ridiculous conclusion by rendering this fact before us. So the first condition is the "accordance of active life with a material form in which the condition of activity itself seems to be inertia is one problem of opposites that Nature has solved and seeks always to solve better with greater complexities for its perfect solution would be the material immortality of a fully organized mind-supporting animal body". That would be the complete solution of the problem.

There is another problem which Nature has already solved. This is what Sri Aurobindo now describes. The second problem of opposites that Nature has solved: "The accordance of conscious mind and conscious will with a form and a life in themselves not overtly self-conscious and capable at best of a mechanical or subconscious will is another problem of opposites in which it has produced astonishing results and aims always at higher marvels;..." Now you see the opposite: accordance of Mind in Life. We are all mental beings, so for us it is a very easy thing to understand. What is the opposition between Life and Mind? Mind is conscious, there is a conscious perception, conscious thought and a conscious will. These are the things that even a small child possesses. Even a child perceives and decides to react favorably or unfavorably. If a child is given the kind of food that he expects he wills to accept it, if he finds that it is only a trick and you are not giving the food that he wants, he decides to refuse you. Even at the most elementary level there is a conscious will and a conscious thought. But Life by its nature—the life that you find in plants, even the life that we possess in our body—is not self-conscious. At least not overtly self-conscious.

There is a difference between subconscious or unconscious will and conscious will. You know that most of the activities of the human body which are organic occur without any consciousness and yet they appear to be conscious in some ways. It is kind of a miracle. If you are wounded, as soon as there is a wound the white corpuscles rush up automatically. The body wants to protect the wound and the healing process starts immediately. It is automatic. Most of the operations of the body are automatic, therefore life basically is unconscious. In that life movement there is a conscious mind. Planting of the conscious mind in an unconscious life force is a problem of opposites. How to plant the conscious mind in an unconscious life force: this is a big problem of human beings. We are constantly in a war between the unconscious life force and the conscious mind. Sometimes a good doctor may tell you to allow your body to heal itself, not interfere with your mind. When you are not well the doctor says: allow your body the real quietude don't allow your mind to work—your conscious mind—allow the life force to work itself out. Sometimes you are also injected with some kind of medicine which makes you sleep, so the mind is at rest and then unconscious mind, unconscious will, works itself out. Very often our main problem is unconscious life and conscious mind and the war between the two. Now this war is, to a great extent, healed, resolved by Nature, so that even when we are conscious, our body goes on functioning quite well. In all normal healthy human beings there is a constant harmony between the unconscious life force and the conscious mind. This is one problem of opposites that Nature has already accomplished. How to put together unconscious life force and conscious mind working together—and both working harmoniously.

This is a marvel. Sri Aurobindo says that many marvels have been manifested when these two things happen together. A small child beginning to learn a language and uttering the first clear word is a matter of delight to everybody, not only to mothers. It is a great marvel. A language is a manifestation of consciousness, of some degree of consciousness, not the highest degree, but some degree of consciousness, even self-consciousness. This accordance of the capacity to speak a language—in the present day there are many great thinkers who are specializing in the study of languages. The whole study of linguistics, as it is called, has become very prominent because people are marveling: What is language? How do we understand a language? When a child identifies the word ma with the woman beside the child—connecting the word ma and the woman, is a kind of identification, the law of identity begins to operate—how does it happen? The child applies the law of identity: the word, the sound and that object. How do the two get correlated in the mind? And it becomes automatic so fast. After some months the child speaks so many sentences, it is a great marvel. This is only the smallest marvel, many more marvels take place as the child begins to grow. Even this is not the complete story. Sri Aurobindo says, even greater complexities and greater achievements are still in the view. He says: "for there her ultimate miracle would be an animal consciousness no longer seeking but possessed of Truth and Light, with the practical omnipotence which would result from the possession of a direct and perfected knowledge." Each word is very important, you see the description of a capacity that is demanded. Let us look at each one of them. Our animal consciousness, even human consciousness, even the highest consciousness of the mind, has one great limitation: it has to make an effort to seek knowledge. Of course there are certain things regarding which you don't need to seek, you open your eyes and what is presented to you is known immediately, you don't seek, you just need to open your eyes. But still opening eyes is an effort. Even there, there is a seeking. You are listening to music which is coming from far, it is automatic you don't need to seek to hear it. But you ask a deaf man if he can do it or not. It is very difficult for him to hear, so there is an effort to be made. In any case it is true that all human beings are required to make a great effort to understand ideas—you don't understand ideas automatically, you have to make a great effort to understand ideas—there is a seeking. As you go higher and higher, greater and greater effort is needed. The modern subjects of studies have become so complex you require fifty, sixty years to get elementary notions of things in that subject. Today the subjects are so vast that if you want to enter in any subjects you have to be ready to work for fifty to sixty years. So don't be tired at all because our seeking has become so difficult, so wide, so complex. When Mother had said, to understand The Life Divine you take first, to begin with ten years training, it is absolutely true. And ten years is quite a limited time actually, it is quite fast. As we are doing now in galloping. If you do as in Super School and study The Life Divine, it takes ten years. But therefore don't close the book; the gain is that you will live in knowledge.

And then, whatever knowledge you gain, with great effort you have to retain it. How easy it is to forget! You remember certain things but as you grow more and more you find how difficult it is to retain knowledge. So first of all you seek the knowledge, then you gain the knowledge and afterwards you have to make a great effort to retain it. In the meantime new knowledge has come into the picture, so you have to rush towards the new knowledge and again integrate that knowledge with the old knowledge and there are many problems of integration. To unlearn what you have learnt earlier and to learn new things is another problem. These are the difficulties that our human consciousness faces today.

Sri Aurobindo says that these limitations Nature wants to break, break in such a way that you don't need to seek knowledge, you already possess knowledge automatically. As easily as when you open your eyes and you see things, automatically. Similarly, a time must come when you say: "I want to learn The Life Divine" . You just open the book and all the knowledge is in your mind. Today, people will simply laugh and say this is impossible. But this is what Sri Aurobindo says we have to develop in this very body, in this animal consciousness; a knowledge which is not sought after, a consciousness no longer seeking but possessed of Truth and Light. Again this word Truth is a very important one. Our present seeking of knowledge is a process of what is called trial and error. You try, then an error is committed, you learn from the error, try to eliminate it and gradually build up a knowledge which is without error. And that too with many questionings when you ask: Is it really verified, hundred times verified, are we absolutely sure? Even then there are many questions. Whereas here, Sri Aurobindo speaks of a capacity of knowledge in which truth is automatic, there will be no error at all possible. A state of consciousness — in which error can't enter. Human mind simply refuses to accept such a possibility. Is it ever possible to have a state of consciousness in which you just say, "I want to know"and knowledge comes to you, on the spot.

Once Mother was asked, when she had gone to see the sports ground of the Ashram—and they were complaining "We want to make a swimming pool but we don't know where the water is", and suddenly someone felt, let us ask the Mother. So the question was asked. "Where to find the water?" And immediately the Mother said "Here where I am standing." And they dug and there was water. There was no seeking of knowledge. It is one of the good examples where you can have physical proof. When the question was asked it was not as if she looked and sat down and said, now let me think—nothing of that kind—on the spot, she said "Here where I am standing there is water here."

For example, how has The Life Divine been written? It is not through thinking, sitting down on the armchair for hours and hours and saying what will the first sentence be and the second sentence, is there harmony or not, is it a contradiction or not. Sri Aurobindo said that he used to sit before the typewriter and with the complete silence of the mind he used just to type directly. It was not seeking and finding and all that sort of thing at all, the whole book is direct knowledge. And not only one book, he wrote seven books in this manner, simultaneously. It is a marvel of consciousness. Seven books written, at the same time simultaneously. And books such as 'The Life Divine', 'The Synthesis of Yoga', 'The Secret of the Veda', 'Essays on the Gita', 'The Foundations of Indian Culture', 'The Ideal of Human Unity', 'The Human Cycle', 'The Future Poetry'. Imagine each book, and these books written from such a quietude. The sea of knowledge pouring itself down, not seeking knowledge, but knowledge itself pouring down — as it were. And you can see how difficult it is to write two sentences. I don't think even if you try for fifty years to write two sentences of this kind you will be able to write like this.

This is our present human consciousness. But it is in this consciousness that Sri Aurobindo says, such a consciousness can be born. And that will be the real marvel, the highest marvel of consciousness. So he says: "…there her ultimate miracle would be an animal consciousness no longer seeking but possessed of Truth and Light…", and then a farther capacity which is even more amazing "…with the practical omnipotence"—it is a very great word, practical omnipotence. Wherever there is knowledge there is power. All knowledge is power, if you have a knowledge which does not seek, but which already possesses Truth and Light, the power is automatic. It will flow automatically. So, "with the practical omnipotence", practical means that all practical men will be satisfied. All those who say: we are practical, will be satisfied with this capacity. It is not only knowledge of theories and of the heavens but a practical knowledge of everything in the world, every detail. One of the things that struck all of us who used to go to the Mother was the practical omnipotence of the Mother. It is a fact seen in daily life. It was not as if you had to tell the Mother what Deepti had written to her. She may allow you to read out the letter of Deepti, but you can be sure that she already knew what was in Deepti's letter. So that sometimes when you said: "Mother I want to read out to you" and she had no time she said " Allright, you give this answer to her." Already the answer was given to her. That means she was allowing you to read a letter only as a kind of courtesy, just to give you a chance to speak to her, to tell her, to put a problem to her. But for her it was omnipotence, it was not only a question of answering a question but doing it immediately.

Once I had tremendous pain over here (abdomen), excruciating pain. I was taken to Jipmer. I was 32 years old at that time. And the doctors could not at all find what was the reason of this pain? Ultimately they decided to make surgery over this portion of the body just to find out what is wrong. This is called diagnostic surgery. They knew nothing as to what was wrong, just to find out what was wrong they said we should have surgery. Before they did it I sent word to the Mother. I had a big problem at that time, so I sent this proposal to the Mother and also the problem. The problem was: this was 12 of August 1971, and there was going to be a very big assembly of people in Delhi and I was asked to speak to that assembly on 15 of August. And I was in bed with excruciating pain. There was a tremendous pressure, a telegram had already come that I must immediately go to Delhi to address this assembly, my name was printed on the programme. This pain had come so suddenly I had not answered immediately. So I sent a word to the Mother: "I have excruciating pain. Doctors want to do diagnostic surgery and I have to attend a program in Delhi. Tell me what answer I should give." Mother said: "If you have faith, come out of the hospital at once—this was her answer to me—and prepare to go to Delhi." It was amazing. When I told the doctors that I wanted to leave the hospital they said: "Look we will not allow you to go out. You will die at once." So I said: "I want to die but let me come out of the hospital." Mother had said: "You come out of the hospital", it was finished, over. I came out of the hospital. They took my signature over a document that said "…on his own will he has decided to come out of the hospital when we have advised him not to go out." And then they said alright you may go out but don't fly, because if you fly you will die in the airplane. I went straight from the hospital to the Mother and she asked "where is the pain". So I said "Here Mother, it is an excruciating pain". She put her hand here (abdomen region) and it was like cotton, absolutely smooth, no pain at all. It was gone. The next day I flew to Delhi, I gave the lecture; I stayed for a few days and came back. This is a fact.

This is called practical omnipotence. This was a practical fact, there was a pain, you cannot think that there was no pain. It was excruciating pain and doctors were not able to see where the pain came from. But this incident is one of the important facts in my life. I am still standing before you. Doctors told me that if I flew I would die. And it did not happen, I just went there and I gave a very good lecture at that time and I came back after sometime. So here, this is one example of practical omnipotence.

"…with the practical omnipotence which should result from the possession of a direct and perfected knowledge." This word 'direct' is very important. Our present way of knowing is indirect. Our basic knowledge comes from our senses. And as you know senses only give images you cannot really touch the object, actually what touches is only the skin. You will find that there is no direct contact with anything. It is through senses that we touch the object. Senses are intermediaries. We don't know things directly except for our emotions, for example, which we know directly. Most of the knowledge which we have is through the senses. All senses are like glasses. All our knowledge is indirect. Sri Aurobindo calls it "separative indirect knowledge". It is first of all separated from the object and then you use an indirect method to get that separative knowledge to possess the object in some way or the other. So it is a separative indirect knowledge. That is our sense knowledge.

There is then separative direct knowledge. Separative direct knowledge is the knowledge of your thoughts. When you are thinking dispassionately, you can examine thoughts. You are separate from the thoughts but you don't use your senses to find out your thoughts, you know your thoughts directly.

Then you have separative direct intimate knowledge. Like your knowledge of emotions. There is a difference between knowledge of thoughts and knowledge of emotions. With regard to thoughts you can separate yourself from them, but you are intimately tied up with the emotions. Emotions are known by separative direct intimate knowledge.

And there is finally knowledge by identity. Everyone knows himself by direct identity. Knowledge of oneself: I am. That knowledge is not only through intimate contact, you are yourself that. You are one with it. The knowledge of which Sri Aurobindo speaks is a direct knowledge by identity, perfected knowledge. That is why he uses the words perfected knowledge. It is a knowledge in which there is no error. You might call it even perfect perfection—that kind of knowledge. It is only from such knowledge that omnipotence and practical omnipotence can come about. This is the miracle that Sri Aurobindo speaks of. When Sri Aurobindo speaks of Divine life on the Earth which is in contradiction with the Material life at present, it is this vision that Sri Aurobindo puts forward.

Sri Aurobindo says therefore, in the conclusion of this whole argument. "Not only, then, is the upward impulse of man towards the accordance of yet higher opposites rational in itself, but it is the only logical completion of a rule and an effort that seems to be a fundamental method of Nature and the very sense of her universal strivings." Therefore Sri Aurobindo had spoken of four things earlier in the second paragraph. These four things Sri Aurobindo has spoken of, are the highest achievements possible which have been striven after. Sri Aurobindo says that the striving for these things is a proposition which is rational and it is the only logical conclusion. If you examine, deliberately you find that this is the method of Nature. Of play with the opposites—first hiding and then recovering and revealing, and revealing to the fullest, a plenary revelation, with full omnipotence—this possibility is a rational possibility. Therefore don't say it is impossible. Because of this argument, you can see the logicality of it, the rationality of it. Many people believe that all that Sri Aurobindo has said is to be accepted on faith (which is good), but Sri Aurobindo says here it is not only to be accepted on faith, it is rational. All that has been said by Sri Aurobindo is logical, is rational. This is a rational, logical argument put forward here. And he has given so many examples: here are the opposites, here there is accordance; here are opposites they have been accorded; here are the possibilities and these are the possibilities which can be inevitably realised.

Now I shall revise the four possibilities that Sri Aurobindo has spoken of. It is a revision of the second paragraph but it is good to revise it. It is a kind of revision of the first chapter.

Sri Aurobindo has said first of all that there is a preoccupation of man from the earliest times. Preoccupation means an aspiration. There is a difference between an occupation and a preoccupation. When you occupy yourself fully in any work it is an occupation. When you go on thinking of something all the time and yet are not doing it or doing it partially, it is preoccupation. A mother is preoccupied with her child even if the child is not with her. It is a preoccupation. All her programmes are decided by her preoccupation with the child. The child is in the center. Whether she should go at this time or that time to her particular work or another work is decided by the preoccupation with the child. Whether you can leave the child at home or not, that is the first consideration before leaving the house. What is the preoccupation: my child should be safe, should be protected, should receive nourishment when the child needs it—this is the aspiration of the mother. All preoccupations are results of aspiration. The first chapter is entitled The Human Aspiration and it begins with the statement of preoccupation. What is the preoccupation of man? It is that preoccupation which will give the key to the meaning. In philosophy what is important is the discovery of the meaning and the meaning can be detected from aspiration. That is why the first chapter of The Life Divine is called The Human Aspiration because all philosophy deals with meaning and if that meaning is to be expounded you must begin with aspiration because the meaning is involved with the aspiration. Therefore the very first chapter is logically devoted to human aspiration. Sri Aurobindo's is the best philosophical beginning of a philosophical book.

Now this preoccupation of man manifests itself in so many activities which Sri Aurobindo describes in the first paragraph and I deliberately did not read them so that I can read them now. That preoccupation "manifests itself in the divination of godhead"—the word divination is very often mistaken by many people as if it is divinisation, it is not that. Divination, to divine is to guess. Divination means this preoccupation results in the conjecturing of man that there is something like Divine. People may not realise the Divine but there is at least the minimum thing, a suspicion; man suspects the presence of God. To divine is like those who divine water—they can find out where the water is. Divination is an intuitive feeling, an intuitive knowledge of the presence of a reality. So the first thing is that there is a divination of Godhead, second impulse towards perfection, third search after pure Truth and unmixed Bliss and the sense of a secret immortality. The four manifestations are the preoccupation of man throughout the history of mankind. These are the four things which are expounded in the second paragraph by Sri Aurobindo in terms of a thesis and an antithesis of which we have spoken. Where today there is the exact opposite of those four things, it is exactly in those four opposite conditions that these four great ideals have to be realised. Let us now repeat those four things: "To know, possess and be the divine being in an animal and egoistic consciousness". It is the first thing to be realised. Second: "to convert our twilit or obscure physical mentality into the plenary supramental illumination", is the second, "to build peace and a self-existent bliss where there is only a stress of transitory satisfactions besieged by physical pain and emotional suffering", and then "to establish an infinite freedom in a world which presents itself as a group of mechanical necessities, finally, to discover and realise the immortal life in a body subjected to death and constant mutation…" These are the five great miracles that Sri Aurobindo puts forward. His argument is that these five miracles are actually aspired after by man. In spite of all the things that are contrary here, man has been seeking constantly after these things. These things seem to be absolutely impossible and now Sri Aurobindo argues and shows they are not impossible, they are perfectly rational, it only means a logical conclusion of a rule of the method of Nature. So if you know the method of Nature these consequences are only inevitable.