Life Divine Chapter I & II (Dec 1996) - Session I

The Life Divine is a philosophical book so we must first know what is philosophy, what is philosophical method because if we are clear about it, we shall understand how Sri Aurobindo expounds the entire theme in a philosophical method. As you know there is a distinction between science and philosophy. Science is a pursuit of knowledge by means of observation, experimentation, forming of hypothesis, verification of hypothesis and arriving at a conclusion,—a conclusion by means of deduction or induction.

There is a view that all knowledge to be true knowledge must be scientific in character therefore that which is not scientific is not knowledge, this is a very prominent view in the present day, particularly. According to this view therefore philosophy is not knowledge because it is not Science. Philosophy is not only abstract but it does not pursue knowledge. Science is a pursuit of knowledge by definition and the methods are observation, experimentation, verification of hypothesis, arriving at conclusion by deduction or induction. Since philosophy does not follow this method therefore philosophy, whatever it may be, is not knowledge.

Now as against it there is a view that science deals with answers to two questions—how and why in regard to any question that it pursues, in regard to any observed fact that it observes. It takes up any fact and says—what is it, how is it, what it is and why is it what it is. It answers these three questions—what is it, how is it, why is it. But in doing so, it never answers these three questions fully. Its methods prevent us from going to the ultimate how and why and what? So it is argued that science by its very method of pursuit raises questions of what, why and how but does not answer these three questions fully in the ultimate sense, therefore the answers that science provides are always provisional answers, they are always imperfect answers and also it leaves us into some kind of a piecemeal knowledge, it does not give us fullness of knowledge; its knowledge is piecemeal. For example Physics is a science, it tries to analyse what is matter, how does matter operate and why certain things in the material world behave in the way in which they do, but it deals only with the physical universe, it does not deal with life processes which Biology deals with. So biology answers questions only within the field of biology but the relationship between biology and physics is neither dealt with by physics nor by biology. Similarly psychology is the science of the mind, it deals with the mental phenomena but does not deal with physical phenomena, does not deal with life phenomena; therefore psychology is a scientific knowledge but limited to only the field of mind. But what is the relation between physics and psychology, neither physics deals with that question, nor psychology deals with that question. So the knowledge which is contained in various sciences is piece-meal knowledge, piece by piece, it’s limited. It does not give you the answer to the entire realm of knowledge—global, therefore it is argued that there must be a pursuit which raises fundamental questions, global questions, holistic questions, comprehensive questions and gives you answers to the ultimate what, ultimate how and ultimate why of all things taken together, that pursuit is considered to be Philosophy. So Philosophy is supposed to be a pursuit of knowledge in which you take into account all the data and then try to answer the questions of the ultimate how, ultimate why and ultimate what?

Now as against this view, it is argued that you can never have knowledge of all data, even if you try to have them, you can never have them. Therefore Philosophy is an impossible task. Therefore it is said Philosophy is either an impossible task or it is not knowledge that was the first view we considered,—Philosophy is not knowledge. Secondly even if Philosophy is pursued as knowledge such a task is impossible. Now as against this view, there is a view that it is possible to find out certain facts which are so universal that you can have a comprehensive knowledge, you can have, this is the argument on behalf of philosophers that there is a possibility of having certain facts which are so pervasive, so universal, unlikely to change therefore the moment you come to know them, you can have universal knowledge, total knowledge, comprehensive knowledge, therefore Philosophy is both possible and it is a pursuit of knowledge.

The question then arises: what are those facts which are so universal, which are so very pervasive. The answer is the following; one answer is that if you inquire into how do we know? Then we shall be able to arrive at facts which will be pervasive and universal. How do we know? How do we come to know anything? How do we know that we know and how do we know that what we know is true, is valid? If you raise these questions then the whole inquiry will be so pervasive, it will cover the whole universe and therefore you will be able to get answers which will be true fundamentally and comprehensively. This is the one approach, this is called epistemological approach. How do we know, how do we know what we know is valid or not valid? These questions are regarded as epistemological questions. And it is said that if you raise these questions then your pursuit will be fundamental, your pursuit will be comprehensive and you will be able to know everything that is to be known in the world. So in many books of philosophy begin with this question—how do we know? How do we know that we know that we know and how do we know that we know is valid or invalid? This is what is called an epistemological approach.

There is another approach according to which you can combine the knowledge of all the sciences together, combine the knowledge of matter with the knowledge of life with the knowledge of mind and combine that with the knowledge of anything else then the mind. Put all these piece-meal fields of knowledge together, combine them together and see where they can be synthesised. So it is said philosophy is possible by synthesising the knowledge of different sciences, so here the question is only of synthesis, if you synthesise all possible realms of knowledge together then you will be able to arrive at comprehensive knowledge. So this is the second approach. There are some books of Philosophy which deal with matter, life, mind and spirit and bring the data of all these sciences together and attempt to synthesise them and that is another method of philosophical knowledge of the whole. Matter inorganic, life is organic—all plants, fishes, all organisms which vibrate, even human beings, all life processes of the human being and then mind, the psychological knowledge. This is also sometimes called the cosmological approach. The first was an epistemological approach, this is called cosmological approach, you try to get the knowledge of the whole cosmos, all the domains of the cosmos, put them together and then see from above as it were and try to get a comprehensive view of things.

There is a third answer, the third answer is that there is one of the deepest questions in the human mind and if you can find an answer to the deepest question, you will have arrived at the most comprehensive and ultimate knowledge. What is that question? The question is—what should I do? This question—what should I do—if you can answer this question, first of all raise this question and then if you try to answer this question then you will have covered everything that needs to be known. This is called the ethical approach. So some of these books of philosophy they approach by the road of ethics. What should I do, this is the question. In general, I have got my life, irrespective of any life, even that is a question. Should I lead a material life, should I lead a spiritual life, why, why not? So this is the third approach, an ethical question. These are three approaches which are generally adopted one way or the other, sometimes all the three, sometimes one of them, sometimes two of them and this is the way by which philosophical questions are raised and philosophical questions are answered.

Now there is a view that none of these three approaches can really be pursued truly and fully and therefore once again, I answered on behalf of philosophy that you can raise these three questions and you can either singly or together or all combined together and can erect a philosophical knowledge. But having said it now I am putting another point of view, which is against this point of view; which says that neither of these three questions can be pursued fully at all therefore philosophy as a pursuit is impossible as a deadlock.

Now what are the reasons? What is the basis of this kind of contention? Let us first examine the epistemological approach. How do I know that I know and how do I know that what I know is valid or not valid? It is argued that even if you analyse your knowing process, your epistemological process, the answer will only give you a biased answer. Biased means one-sided or it means prejudiced, an analogy can be given. If we were born with blue spectacles then whatever you will see in the world is blue, so you will never get to know what is the world in itself because you are conditioned by the blue spectacles. Similarly, even if you find out how you know, how you know what you know and whether what you know is valid or not, it will be valid only with reference to your spectacles. It will never give you the idea; you will never be able to give an objective answer as to what the whole world is. Therefore the epistemological approach is cancelled. So even if you do that, even if you progress very far off, you will never arrive at the knowledge of the universe as it is, objectively.

Now let us come to the cosmological approach. It is argued that if you put the knowledge of different sciences together and synthesise them then you will be able to know the whole universe and you will be able to answer the ultimate how, ultimate what, ultimate why? Now against this view it is argued that there is no end of knowledge of the world, you will be always advancing from known to unknown, you will never have a complete knowledge of any domain because every domain is constantly developing; so the question of synthesis will not arise even. When you don’t have the full knowledge of any domain, where is the question of bringing them together at all? Therefore, you will never be able to get complete and comprehensive knowledge, so philosophy is impossible.

About the ethical question—what should I do or why am I here? It is argued that as a question it’s a good question that you should reflect upon this question is a good thing, everybody should think about this question. Why am I here, what should I do? But it is argued that you will never be able to arrive at any conclusive answer, it’s the very nature of things. Why? Because all knowledge is knowledge of what is. But what ought to be, can never be a matter of objective knowledge because that is never present. What ought I to do, what should I do, projection of the future and anomalous dimensions. If I simply say that I am walking now and I will continue to walk is one kind of thing but if I say I am walking today and tomorrow I ought to be motionless, completely motionless, is only a matter of imagination but not of knowledge, it’s not knowledge. At the most you can say that I would like to do this therefore I ought to be doing it but that is not knowledge. So according to this argument all knowledge is the knowledge of what is, what obtains. But what ought to be, can never be a subject matter of knowledge. For example, I know that this book exists. This book is there before you and you can know this because it exists. But what ought to be here, there is nothing here, and if I ask the question what ought to be here, can it be a matter of any knowledge, it’s not there, it was but now there is nothing here. Now if you ask the question what ought to be there it’s a matter only of speculation but not of knowledge. So this ethical query may be good, interesting but it is not a pursuit of knowledge, therefore philosophy if it is based upon ethical questioning, it can never be knowledge. So this is the argument which is levelled against the claims of philosophy.

Now we come to what I call a synthetic view of all these debates right from the beginning to the present. What ultimately do we arrive at after all this debate, what does it all amount to? Now first minimum thing that arises out of all that we have seen is that although all knowledge belongs to the domain of Science there are still some questions which are still unanswered by science therefore there must be a field where these questions which remain unanswered by Science therefore there must be a field where these questions which remain unanswered should be at least reflected upon, not with the intention of answering them but at least to mark out the questions. So the minimum programme of Philosophy would be to raise those questions which are not raised in any sciences or if they are raised they are never attempted to be considered or reflected upon. Therefore according to some people philosophy has one place, a small margin where you can raise certain questions which are not raised anywhere else. Some people say that philosophy is a no-man’s land; it’s a legal term which you know very well, it’s a no-man’s land. It does not belong to the field of science, it does not belong to a field which is empty, unoccupied, but it is a field where anybody can come and put question marks. So it is said that the philosophy, although it is impossible in its ultimate search, goal, it still has got a legitimate place where one can raise questions knowing well that answers will not be available but it is good to raise questions and to be happy with raising those questions. This is the view which very many people are inclined to agree to in the world of today. So according to them, although all knowledge to be knowledge must be scientific, since science cannot answer all the questions there must be a domain where you can raise those questions, where you can reflect upon them to the best of your ability knowing full well that these questions will never be answered. So this is one over-all summing up of all this.

The second is that although it is true that the knowledge of all the sciences will never be complete, still there is a method by which the gaps of knowledge can be filled by a very special method, which is called the philosophical method, not the scientific method by observation, experimentation, and so on. But according to this view philosophy has a legitimate process where the gaps which are left by the scientific data can be filled by a rigorous process of speculation, not speculation in an ordinary way but by a rigorous process of speculation. Just as in law as you know, when you want to prove a certain point and certain data are not available at all, evidence is not sufficiently available to prove any particular point then you adopt the method of speculation. When data are not available you speculate but speculate vigorously. You don’t speculate like a poet where you are free to speculate anything. A rose may become a book and a book may become a brook, in poetry speculation is free. But in Law speculation has to be rigorous. There has to be a rigorous system of speculation. Similarly in philosophy too it is argued that your speculation must be logical. So it is argued that by logical speculation you can fill up the gaps and therefore you can have comprehensive answers by method of rigorous speculation; so this again establishes the field of philosophy.

Finally it may be argued that the question as to what should I do? It is argued it can be answered thoroughly if I combine both these methods, raising questions and by rigorous speculation; if you combine these two together then even the question of what should I do, can be answered. Therefore the conclusion is now that philosophy has a legitimate field, it has a legitimate method and therefore a legitimate expectation to arrive at conclusions and that is the field of Philosophy as distinguished from Science. In other words it may be said that philosophy first of all raises those questions which sciences do not raise, like ultimate how and ultimate why and ultimate what? These three questions none of the sciences raise therefore philosophy has one domain to raise the question of what is ultimately real, what is the rationale of all that exists and why these things in this world happen as they do in the ultimate analysis. These three questions, which none of the sciences raise, have to be raised and that raising these questions is considered to be the domain of Philosophy.

Secondly in answering these questions you can bring the help of all the scientific knowledge with all the present gaps. But if you follow the method of rigorous speculation, logical speculation then you can fill up the gaps and you can answer these three questions and when you answer these three questions, the third question; what should I do, will also be answered. Therefore the domain of Philosophy is clearly defined before us. Raising the questions of what is ultimately true, how does the world which we see really operate and why should it operate in the way in which it operates. These three questions are fundamental questions of Philosophy. Secondly, Philosophy in answering these three questions will take help of all the scientific data and try to bridge the gaps by a rigorous method of speculation and in doing so it will also answer the third question, what shall I do? This is the field of Philosophy.

Now having seen it, we open this book and ask: what is the method that Sri Aurobindo has followed in this entire book. He has raised these three questions basically. What is ultimately true or real, what is the intrinsic reason of things as they are and what are the intrinsic processes by which the world is operating; three main questions that Sri Aurobindo raises in this book. In doing so Sri Aurobindo brings together all the possible data. Data of the field of Matter, data of the field of Life, the data of the field of the Mind, the data of the field of the Spirit and then puts them all together and wherever there are gaps by the process of the rigorous speculation, he bridges them and in doing so the basic question that arises mostly in our mind: what should I do, why am I here, that question is also raised and answered.

Now if you see that the very first chapter is entitled Human Aspiration, it raises the basic question—what is a human being and what is he all the time aspiring to do? What is he doing in answer to the question what am I here for, all human aspiration arises out of this questioning, why am I here? All human aspiration, what should I be doing? What I am doing, is it all enough or is there something more that I ought to be doing and whatever answer I give to myself, is that answer really true in the light of all the knowledge of what is really true. In the light of all the knowledge that is available with regard to the cosmos,—Matter, Life and Mind and Spirit, if so what is that answer? So this book starts with the basic philosophical question. What is that human being is aspiring to do in the world and whether his aspiration is justified or not and whether there is a possibility of fulfilment of that aspiration?

Now let us come to this very first chapter in the light of all that I have said so far. This is the sum and substance of the whole thing. It is difficult because as I told you all the three questions are intertwined, the ethical question, the cosmological question and the metaphysical question, all the three are intertwined and all the three methods are employed simultaneously that’s why the whole thing is like a huge orchestra. The whole book is actually comparable to an orchestra where hundreds of musicians are playing together, that’s why it is a difficult book. You have to find out which argument is laid or put forward from what point of view and with what intention, and how is it dealt with from what point of view? So that is why the reading becomes very complex.

So the first chapter is of that kind. I will give you the summary of the whole argument. Sri Aurobindo says that if you examine the history of the world then one thing comes out very prominently that the human race has been pursuing one great goal, the goal of the knowledge and realisation of God, Light, Freedom, Immortality. Knowledge can be only intellectual but light is more than intellectual, it’s not only heart but more than mind and heart combined together can give, he adds Bliss also.

So first of all, the very first paragraph is a compact sentence. So let us concentrate on the very first paragraph in which he only says that the whole of human history brings out one prominent fact that human being has been aspiring right from the beginning when he became awakened not when he was not awakened. When he became awakened right from that time to the present day, if you see the entire history it is situated at a point when he began to develop ethics and religion.

So if you examine the history of the world then you find right from the time when he became awakened and continuously up to the present day there has been one constant theme, the aspiration to realise God, to attain to the perfect knowledge, to have unmixed bliss, to have entire freedom from all kinds of fetters and chains and to arrive at Immortality. Now it is true that there has been a period in the history of the world that this aspiration has been not evident, where people have even rejected God, rejected Light, rejected the idea of Immortality, rejected the idea of unmixed Bliss, these are the periods of scepticism. So Sri Aurobindo is aware of it but he says that in spite of passing through sceptic periods of time mankind returns again and again to the basic theme, therefore even if you take into account sceptical periods and when you look at them as an entire period then you can say simply that this sceptical period was only a period of testing, whether this aspiration was right or wrong? And having tested it, it again comes back to aspire for God, Light, Freedom and Immortality. This is the one statement; there is an undercurrent in the statement where he says that this aspiration is also the highest which human thought can envisage. That is to say this aspiration is not only the wish of the heart, it is also something which is logically highest which can be justified, which can be found to be valid. These are the two statements which Sri Aurobindo makes in the first paragraph. One that throughout the history of the world since man became awakened to the present day, he is aspiring this and even though there have been sceptical periods they have been over passed and man comes back to this. Therefore Sri Aurobindo says the original formula of wisdom also promises to be its last. The word 'is' is very important, it doesn’t say − is the last, it promises to be the last because the whole book is actually to be still to be read before we can say it is the last. When you start the argument he says it is true that in the beginning, if you read the earliest records of wisdom, you will find this aspiration formulated very vividly and since it has been continuously coming back again and again even after the periods of scepticism, it means there is a promise in this. This is one line of thought. Second is that these four or five ideals God, Light, Freedom, Bliss and Immortality are also the highest which his intellect can envisage, his reasoning can envisage.

So both from the point of view of history and also from the logical point of view, the intellectual perception of these formulas comes out very vividly as the most important formula of human history. What is all human history doing after all? All over the world whatever may be the vicissitudes of the human life throughout the history of the world, one single theme which comes out prominently is that man has continuously aspired for God, Light, Freedom, and Immortality and this is also which his highest thought can envisage and can be convinced about, this is the first paragraph. This is now the whole chapter, now is the conclusion that now the third one that you derive. So before deriving this conclusion, he now goes through a chain of arguments, what is the first chain in the argument? He says that these are the ideals; these ideals are contradicted by our ordinary experience.

That these are the ideals which are contradicted by our ordinary experience, in ordinary experience you have no God, you have no Light, you have no Immortality and no Freedom. So if you are to go only by ordinary experience then you have to say that although man aspires for these things they will not be justified, if you go only by ordinary experience because ordinary experience contradicts them. These four goals or five goals, whatever you experience around in the world there is no God anywhere you see in the world normally, don’t experience ordinarily. You don’t experience immortality anywhere, you don’t experience light everywhere, you don’t experience freedom everywhere in ordinary experience these are contradictory, absolutely missing. So if you are to go only by ordinary experience then you will never be able to justify these aspirations, attaining them. But is this contradiction of the ordinary experience the final judge? No.

So Sri Aurobindo says that if you really examine the way in which Nature has been developing (this is from the cosmological argument) if you look at the way in which the cosmos is developing you will find a method in it, which you can observe. What is that method? That which Nature wants to affirm ultimately is first negated and then gradually that negation is negated, so that you affirm it, this is the method of Nature. So if today we say that ordinary experience contradicts God, we should not feel hesitant in aspiring for God, why? Because Nature’s method is first to present such an experience which will deny you that which is ultimately going to come about in the future, the very method of Nature is first denial and then affirmation. Is that really so? This the question further asked, is that really the method?

So in the third paragraph Sri Aurobindo gives examples and says: Look, first there was at one time only Matter on this earth and if at that time if somebody had to say that in this black unconscious regime of hard granite there will bubble out a living organism, people would have said: it is impossible. This Matter is a denial, a complete contradiction of all the possibilities of life. Life is dynamic and pulsating, Matter is inert and no locomotion by itself, therefore when Life bubbles out of Matter you could then be convinced that Nature has a method that is its opposite is brought out of its first principle in which that opposition was laid.

Similarly Life and Mind are quite opposite to each other, life is blind, life is irrational, life is wild, life is unorganised but mind is conscious, organised, it always pursues arrangement, it rejects all irrationality, it rejects all wildness and yet it is this mind which came out in the field of Life, so here was the question of opposites,—Life and Mind are opposite of each other and yet it’s the Life in which the Mind came out. Similarly, it would therefore not be impossible for us to conclude that that which is opposite to the Mind will come out of the Mind, that which is half-blind (mind is half-blind) it is half consciousness, half unconsciousness, out of that will emerge fully conscious Supramental, not mental but supramental. So out of half-blindness will emerge full light that fits in with the whole logical chain, as Sri Aurobindo says: All problems of existence are problems of harmony? Everything in the world tends towards harmonisation, harmonisation of opposites. Therefore if ordinary experience contradicts these higher ideals then that contradiction should be taken as a sign that this will be harmonised, these three paragraphs complete one set of arguments.

Now starts the fourth paragraph with a new argument but supporting all that has gone before and here Sri Aurobindo now brings out more prominently the theory of evolution. He says that modern science, modern knowledge has put forward the idea of evolution. This idea says that life emerges in matter, and mind emerges in life,—this is the theory of evolution. But Sri Aurobindo adds but modern science does not ask the question, why should life emerge in matter and why should mind emerge in life? It only describes this fact but it does not raise the more fundamental question, why should it so happen? Why should life emerge in matter and why should mind emerge in life? Can life emerge in matter if life was not at all present in matter? It was within it. Could mind have emerged in life, if mind was not present in life? So he says, therefore we may say that matter itself is veiled life, its life but veiled, life is veiled mind. Similarly now we can say that mind also is a veiled supermind. Therefore Sri Aurobindo says that it is in this logical chain of evolutionary process we can say that mind contains within itself the supermind. So man he says is the laboratory, just as the animal was the laboratory in which man was worked out, similarly man is a laboratory in which superman is being worked out, this is the end of the fourth paragraph.

Then comes the last paragraph, where having shown all this Sri Aurobindo says: that the modern mind today stands at a very important stage in which it is inclined to negate the possibility of the Supermind. Modern mind is today raising the most difficult obstacles; these two obstacles particularly are to be noted. One is the obstacle of the rationalist, materialist or even rationalists. One is the obstacle of the rationalist, the other is the obstacle of the religionist. These two words are important in this paragraph. The rationalist says that Reason is the highest and there can be nothing higher than Reason, so it puts an obstacle. Rationalists say that there can be nothing higher than Reason. Religionists say that man can worship God but for man to become divine himself, is not possible. If you examine the religionist, not religion but religionists' ideal, those who want to erect religion as a last and highest pedestal which denies anything more than religion, their only idea is that you can only worship but you cannot become but these two stand in the way. Therefore Sri Aurobindo says if you examine matter very impartially, objectively, taking into account all the facts of the universe, you can conclude particularly when you take into account the experience of some exceptional individuals in the history of the world then you can be quite convinced that we should not fear to aspire. The aspiration that has been there throughout history is fully justified. This is the last paragraph that even though these two obstacles are there these two obstacles can be rejected in the light of the experience of some of the exceptional individuals in the history of the world.

Sri Aurobindo gives the analogy of the Northern Lights. If you go to the North Pole, suddenly you will find even in the darkest night, effulgence of light. Why? Because there is a huge light behind the darkness which sometimes appears like a miracle. But that is not really a miracle because the light exists, sometimes through the darkness it appears. Similarly in the case of the human mind which is a veil through that veil, sometimes exceptional individuals bring the higher light, therefore if you make a systematic effort the veil can be broken and the highest light can be made manifest fully. Therefore the human aspiration of God, Light, Light, Freedom, Immortality is justified, this is the conclusion of the first chapter. In fact the entire book is contained in this very first chapter. The whole theme of the whole book is given in the very first chapter and the basic argument is also given in the first chapter.

In the first chapter Sri Aurobindo has proposed that the ideal of Supramental manifestation in matter is not only a perennial aspiration in human history but it is also something that logically, philosophically can be sustained, can be justified. In other words, to arrive at a point where the human body can be transformed so as to become a fit robe of the soul is an ideal which is fully justified even rationally, it can be rationally proved, it can be rationally justified. So in the first paragraph Sri Aurobindo restates this position that if our material body is to become a fit robe of the spirit which is within it then philosophically two things have to be proved. One, that Matter and Spirit are not only opposed to each other but even in some way identical with each other. In a certain sense they are identical but when you use the word identical we shall again have to define what is the meaning of identity and there the question that you raise, will have a relevance. There is some kind of identity between Matter and Spirit. There is a sense in which Spirit is superior to Matter and there is a sense in which Matter is spiritual and Spirit is material. This will be the meaning of identity. So this is the first thing that you have to prove that Matter and Spirit are in some sense identical, this is the one thing that you have to prove, where you want to establish the thesis with which we had begun. Secondly between Matter and Spirit as we see in the world there is such a big distance. There is not only Matter there is Life, not only Life there is Mind and then comes the Spirit. So since there is great distance between Matter and Spirit in our experience we have also to show that even the intermediate steps between Matter and Spirit are in some way interlinked, interconnected and they also are in some way identical. So not only Matter and Spirit are one, even Life and Spirit are one, even Mind and Spirit are one. So we have to prove two things—first that Matter and Spirit are identical, secondly we have to prove that Life and Spirit are identical, Mind and Spirit are identical. So in a certain sense you might even say that we have to show a real identity of Matter, Life, Mind and Spirit and you have to show the linkage between them.

So now if you read these two paragraphs, we shall read together and then we shall come to the third paragraph because unless this point is absolutely clear you won’t be able to go to the next paragraph. So may I request you to read the first paragraph?

The affirmation of a divine life upon earth and an immortal sense in mortal existence can have no base unless we recognise not only eternal Spirit as the inhabitant of this bodily mansion, the wearer of this mutable robe, but accept Matter of which it is made, as a fit and noble material out of which He weaves constantly His garbs, builds recurrently the unending series of His mansions.

Sri Aurobindo, The Life Divine - I: The Two Negations: The Materialist Denial

We have to show that this Matter is a fit instrument of the Spirit, woven by the Spirit, this is the first thing we have to show and then we have to come next one we have to show the identity of Matter and Spirit and then we have to show the identity of Matter, Life, Mind and Spirit. This is the second paragraph.

Nor is this, even, enough to guard us against a recoil from life in the body unless, with the Upanishads, perceiving behind their appearances the identity in essence of these two extreme terms of existence, we are able to say in the very language of those ancient writings, “Matter also is Brahman”, and to give its full value to the vigorous figure by which the physical universe is described as the external body of the Divine Being. Nor,—so far divided apparently are these two extreme terms,—is that identification convincing to the rational intellect if we refuse to recognise a series of ascending terms (Life, Mind, Supermind and the grades that link Mind to Supermind) between Spirit and Matter. Otherwise the two must appear as irreconcilable opponents bound together in an unhappy wedlock and their divorce the one reasonable solution. To identify them, to represent each in the terms of the other, becomes an artificial creation of Thought opposed to the logic of facts and possible only by an irrational mysticism.

Sri Aurobindo, The Life Divine - I: The Two Negations: The Materialist Denial

Thought here is capital because the word thought is used here as the principle of reasoning, it’s not only a thought in the ordinary sense—your thought, my thought, his thought, his thought but thought here means the principle of reasoning itself, that’s why the word thought is in capital. So these two paragraphs we might say put down what is to be proved and the rest of the book is the proof. This is only a statement of what is to be proved. We have to prove the identity of Matter and Spirit, the identity of Matter and Life, of Life and Mind, Mind and Supermind and the Spirit. This is what we have to prove. If you don’t do that then as Sri Aurobindo points out the rational intelligence will declare that these are irreconcilable opposites, they are put together here in a wedlock, artificial wedlock; divorce of them is the only solution. So therefore you have to prove that Matter and Spirit are one in essence and that Matter, Life, Mind, Supermind and Spirit are linked together with some kind of identical thread which permeates among all these. So this is to be proved. In fact this is the problem about which Sri Aurobindo has spoken in the first chapter. Now he restates it in a more elaborate manner unless you prove this aspiration will not be found to be justified. Now having reached this point I will take recourse to give you some background because now comes the real argument—the proof, which is a very long proof. The whole book may be regarded as an answer to these two paragraphs and for that purpose I will make two comments to begin with, which are very important to understand the very language of the succeeding paragraphs.

Sri Aurobindo in his argument expounds what is the nature of thought, thought with T capital—the principle of rational intelligence, the principle of rational argument, the principle of reasoning; what is the nature of it? Secondly he also expounds what is the nature of Life. In normal books of philosophy whenever there is a proof to be established they refer only to the principle of thought. But this book being an integral book, a very comprehensive book; Sri Aurobindo does not only want to satisfy rational intelligence, he also wants to satisfy the demand of Life. There is a difference between the demand of Life and the demand of Thought, you must satisfy the demand of Life therefore in the structure of the argument you will always find two lines of argument. An argument which will satisfy the thought and an argument which will satisfy the life, this is one of special particularities of the whole book, a double track of argument and ultimately showing that both of them are fully satisfied.

Now let us ask what is the demand of Life, and what is the demand of the Mind or the Thought? The demand of Life is to have unconditional satisfaction. When you can show the totality, the totality of the elements of the universe, the totality of our experience of the universe is fully harmoniously organisable and seen to be interconnected fully, the thought will not be satisfied. The nature of rational intelligence is basically the demand of harmonising relationships. We speak of thought, pure reasoning as a principle of seeking harmony of relationships. As long as you have one thing before you it cannot be a direct matter of reasoning, at least two elements are needed for reasoning to work and when it works on two elements, what does it do? It tries to relate them and relate them in a form of harmony and if there are four elements, five elements, multiple elements then thought works on all of them and tries to establish interconnections between all of them. It is only when interconnections are fully established that the picture becomes one, unified. Search for unity is the fundamental urge of thought, the demand for absolute satisfaction is the demand of life, search for unity and harmony is the demand of thought and search for absolute satisfaction, unconditional satisfaction is the search of life which includes acquisition, possession and absolute becoming, absolute being, absolute becoming. You must really experience the totality, total acquisition in your being then only you are fully satisfied. If you examine life, you will find there is a great urge in life; at a lower level it manifests in the form of friendship... (Incomplete)