But is this a true record? May it not be that Time and Space so disappear merely because the existence we are regarding is a fiction of the intellect, a fantastic Nihil created by speech, which we strive to erect into a conceptual reality? We regard again that Existence-in-itself and we say, No. There is something behind the phenomenon not only infinite but indefinable. Of no phenomenon, of no totality of phenomena can we say that absolutely it is. Even if we reduce all phenomena to one fundamental, universal irreducible phenomenon of movement or energy, we get only an indefinable phenomenon. The very conception of movement carries with it the potentiality of repose and betrays itself as an activity of some existence; the very idea of energy in action carries with it the idea of energy abstaining from action; and an absolute energy not in action is simply and purely absolute existence. We have only these two alternatives, either an indefinable pure existence or an indefinable energy in action and, if the latter alone is true, without any stable base or cause, then the energy is a result and phenomenon generated by the action, the movement which alone is. We have then no Existence, or we have the Nihil of the Buddhists with existence as only an attribute of an eternal phenomenon, of Action, of Karma, of Movement. This, asserts the pure reason, leaves my perceptions unsatisfied, contradicts my fundamental seeing, and therefore cannot be. For it brings us to a last abruptly ceasing stair of an ascent which leaves the whole staircase without support, suspended in the Void.
This is a very difficult paragraph. In fact the whole chapter is one of the most difficult chapters in the history of metaphysical writing. So when we are reading this, we must know that we are at the summit of extremely difficult terrain.
The first question to answer is whether we are subject to intellectuality or not, if so, to what extent? It is true that all of us, who are living in the modern world, have some kind of intellectuality. The modern world itself has become intellectual and since we live in this modern world, we share this intellectuality. It is true that we do not share the high level of intellectuality which exists today in the world. For example, when we study the modern curriculum of studies, one of the most important elements of the curriculum is science. In fact science is in every aspect of our life, the fan that is running above our head and the air conditioner, which is blowing cool air in our room, is an application of science and technology, it is more complicated than science.
This scientific development is a result of pure intellectuality and this intellectuality began to take shape in the modern world on a large scale with the Renaissance. If you look at the history of the world you will find that the renaissance, which started in about 1492 A.D., is a cutoff date that is the 15th century. So for the last five hundred years intellectuality has taken a kind of a turn and it has been developing on larger and larger sections of humanity.
It is not as if there were no other periods in history of the world where intellectuality was not developed. Intellectuality was developed at a very high level in different civilizations. Take for example in India the time of the Mahabharata. If you study Mahabharata not merely in gross terms as we normally study, but if we study Mahabharata in detail. You will find that there is so much of intellectuality that every question of existence has been put at the level of intellectuality. Even the Bhagavad Gita, the way in which Arjuna puts the question to Sri Krishna and the length at which Sri Krishna goes to explain, what he wants to explain is highly intellectual. It is true it is not only intellectual; there is also a blend of intellectuality with experience. There is a great meeting point in the Bhagavad Gita of intellectuality and spiritual experience. Even the sentence which I spoke to you the other day from the Bhagavad Gita, ‘nasato vidhyate bhavo na bhavo vidhyate satta’—that which exists, exists and it cannot not exist and that which does not exist does not exist, it cannot really come into existence. This sentence is a result of a great height of intellectuality.
In fact in a sense you might say that while introducing this chapter, I took resort to that sentence at the very beginning by saying, first of all nothing exists and then I continued to develop the idea of existence. In other words whenever you want to approach any problem intellectually, once you start on the train of the intellectuality there is no midway station. This is the problem once you start on the train; the train itself is such that you go on and on, until you reach the highest point that is possible. There are sometimes, what we may call midway houses. You are on your train and then you get tired at a certain point of development and then you want to take rest and then you say, let us stop at midway house but this is not impossible. But the nature of intellectuality is such that once you start on it, even if you are on the midway house, something remains in you to go forward and say, ‘well, I must, even if I have to wait a little, I take a little rest’ but again I start running.
There were periods therefore, like the Mahabharata, where intellectuality was very high on every subject. If you read the Mahabharata there is a shastra, there is a science. Vidurniti for example, Vidura was the Prime Minister and he developed the political science of his times. If you read the political science of Vidura at that time and compare it with the political science of today, you will find that the questions which were raised by Vidhura were so high and so lofty, and intricacies of thinking was so great that our modern political science seems to be a child’s play in comparison, it was that height. In fact as far as political science of today is concerned, it is of recent origin and there is not much of a complication as yet. We have still not raised such important questions of political life, which we ought to. For example, what are the basic roots of the solidarity of society; this is the most fundamental question of political science. How does society remain united? Solidarity of society is the most important question of political science and yet that question has not been sufficiently raised and not answered. Yet Shri Krishna speaks in the Bhagavad Gita itself, and says that the highest ideal we should have is solidarity of society lokasangraha. From this very word, we can imagine that in those times the question as to how society can be held together was one of the most important questions which was being raised and Sri Krishna had the answer to that question, how can society be kept in a state of unity? His answer is very important and He gives his answer both in intellectual terms, and in spiritual terms.
Again if you examine the history of India, the kind of intellectual development that has gone into the making of Indian culture is amazing. It is said that India looked after three important categories of people.
People who are imbued with imagination but not highly intellectual; for these people India gave eighteen Puranas, and eighteen Upapuranas. They are full of stories and imaginations but not purely fictitious imagination based upon solid experiences of certain levels of experience. This literature itself is so vast that even if you spend the whole lifetime, you cannot complete it. It is such a huge literature, so only for one category of people India has produced so much literature. This cannot be done without a very high development of intellectuality. Even to write one Purana is a very difficult task. Even to write one story is difficult, what to talk of hundreds of stories and all meaningful stories.
Then there is a second category of people, who are highly intellectual and for these people India provided three kinds of literature, one was the literature connected with the scientific study of everyday things. Horses, for example, were regarded as a very important instrument at that time, not as much as today but at that time horse was a very important instrument of civilization. The science of horse was developed intellectually to such an extent that one could by following the science of horse breeding, you could judge whether that particular horse (by merely seeing a horse), you could judge whether that horse was capable of longevity, had the capacity of strength, had the capacity of agility and had great intelligence. Because horses also have different grades of intelligence, just as human being also have got grades. Some horses are very-very intelligent like Chetak of Pratap, or the horse of Alexander the Great. How to judge a horse, among so many horses which are before you and select the best from all these points of view, there was a science about it.
Elephant, which was also a very important instrument, how to judge an elephant that also was a big science and there were experts in this field. How many things there are in everyday life, for everything there was a tremendous effort at that time, to make everything an object of scientific study, analyze it, come to the last point in the analysis and build up from that last point to the super structure. This was the effort.
It is said there was 64 arts at that time, not only sciences of everyday life things but also the arts. In fact, women of that time were required to study as many arts as possible. She was a kind of an Aryan woman that was trained right from her childhood, into varieties of activities and artistic activities. If you read some of the descriptions, you will find that today the kind of education that we are giving to our daughters is hardly anything as compared to the kind of conception we had for the daughter’s education in those times. If you read the characters like Kadambari, Mahashweta and others, it is amazing the kind of training that was given to the Aryan woman and this was all highly intellectual.
The second was the pure sciences—medicine, surgery, mathematics, astronomy, astrology, physics, chemistry, metallurgy and several sciences which were developed up to a very high level of accomplishment. If you read Mahabharata from a point of view of metallurgy, it’s an amazing science. What kinds of weapons were made, which were used in Mahabharata and which were destroyed on a large scale, this could not be without a highly developed intellectuality.
Samkhya, Nyaya,Vaisheshika, Yoga, Purva Mimamsa, Uttara Mimamsa, of Jainism, of Buddhism, Cārvāka. These philosophies were so precise that each one of them was put in the form of an aphorism. You know intellectuality comes to a high degree of sophistication when it becomes so precise that you can state your statement in as brief a manner as possible. As long as the ideas are vague, you can be very vast and very long winding that shows that intellectuality has not reached its high pitch. It is when you can say things briefly and precisely that the height of intellectuality can be measured and there is no philosophy in the world which was developed in this aphoristic manner as you have Nyaya sutra, Vaisheshika sutra, Samkhya sutra. Every system of philosophy has Sutras, then Sutras were commented upon. There is a vast literature of commentaries and these commentaries are further commented, and they were further commented, so commentaries on commentaries, such a vast literature from an intellectual point of view. It is so prolific, so vast that even if you spend five hundred years to study what is still available, it would not be enough. What is available is a fraction of what was at one time available, but destroyed. If you study the history of India how much destruction has taken place. All that was destroyed, out of that only a fraction has remained and out of that fraction which has remained, only a fraction has been studied in the modern times, and what you know of it is only that fraction. How many manuscripts even now have remained unread? There is no time for people to read all that. There is so much available, even if you go to big libraries of India like Saraswati Library, or Banaras Library, or some very big library at Jaipur and other places, so many manuscripts are lying and they are not even read. We don’t have manpower to read or to understand, so we have only read a fraction of what is available and what is available is only a fraction of what was at one time existent in our culture.
This is the amount of intellectuality that existed in India alone. Take Plato and Aristotle in Greece, the kind of intellectual development which took place in Greece was very high. It is said that Plato reached such a height of intellectual thought that that height has never been reached again, as somebody has said that all the rest of literature in philosophy that has been written in the West can be regarded as footnotes to Plato. The entire history of the Western philosophy is nothing but footnotes to Plato.
Intellectuality although that existed at a certain stage in the history of the world, none of these histories of intellectuality can be compared with the growth and development of intellectuality of our times. You might say that the intellectual growth of the modern time is unparalleled in the history of the world. This is the specialty of the times in which you are living, during the last five hundred years not only have there been great intellectual giants but the number of such intellectual giants. If in previous times there were ten giants, today there are thousands of giants as compared to those times, this is the kind of extent. This is one point that I wanted to explain as to why we need to go into this kind of intellectual battle or intellectuality because we are living in a world, which is highly intellectual and whether you like it or not at a certain stage of your development you will face intellectual questions.
If not for your own self but for your children, the children of today are sent to the schools where the atmosphere is that of intellectual questioning and they come up with questions in their minds. Today our difficulty is that most of the teachers and parents are unable to explain to children that kind of profundity of intellectuality, which is now available in their books. Even teachers are not able to explain the kind of contents, which are now given in the books and this is only the beginning.
Take for example, recently we were reading eleven volumes of ‘History of Civilization’, by Will Durant. One man writing eleven volumes on the history of civilization of the whole world, what kind of intellectuality he must have reached to be able to grasp the history of not only one country but of all the countries of the world and expressing that history in such vibrant intellectual expressions. He and his wife are the two authors of these eleven great volumes. Even to see these eleven volumes is an intellectual feast. If this material goes down in the history books of our children, you can imagine what kind of revolution will take place in the minds of our children. When we read all this material and much more material is pouring in. The research activity which is going on in our country, in our world, is so great that every three years, the knowledge is doubling. So it is unparalleled in the history of the world—the mass of intellectual thinking and the extent of it.
Question: Will it like we are all in the field of realization, she feels that directly ….will all this intellectuality help in the direct experience of the Lord, or can the direct experience be reached even without all this intellectuality?
Answer: It can be and that is why we have to understand as teachers, as mothers, as guides, how to give a convincing answer to this question. It can be, but we should be quite sure that this is a part; there is another way of doing it because the children are in the intellectual atmosphere. How are we to convince the children that this is not the road, or this road is only one of the possible roads and that too not a sufficient road. It is a dispensable road and whether it is indispensable is also a question. Although it can be done, can you dispense with it altogether? These are very important questions and unless you pass through this you won’t have the experience of this field.
At least you should have the minimum and what we are doing is only just the minimum. You might say the bare minimum in fact our advantage is that Sri Aurobindo has given the quintessence of the highest intellectual thought. If you crystallize and further crystallize, complete distillation and the distilled thoughts, the seven pages which are there in this chapter, The Pure Existent, you might say is the distillation of thousands and thousands of pages that could be written on this subject. So that is why it is at once very difficult, extremely difficult and yet we have the advantage that if you study these seven pages and understand these seven pages, although I am quite sure that we get tired even to read one page of these seven pages. It is quite true but if you can do it, it will be like at one stroke as if there was a spring and just you sit on the spring and you have mounted to the top of the Everest,—how great is the effect and the result. This is one great boon, you might say of this.
To return to the question that you raised, missing our main concern is the Pure Existent, which we speak of in terms of God and you might say that our basic concern is to reach the Lord, and is this the method, is it necessary to read all this? The answer is that there are many other methods but if you believe that those methods are quite easy, let us have no illusions about it. Besides, it is not that this particular method that we are following is going to give you that experience either. Even the method that we are following is a part of a method which is much larger than what is given over here but that is only one method. There is a method of Jnana Yoga of which this is the part. In Jnana Yoga the important point is to have intellectual conviction of what is the truth and what is not true, intellectual conviction of what is real and what is unreal and to have a clear distinction between the real and the unreal. In Jnana Yoga, once you are convinced, this is the first step. First of all you have to be convinced that you are intellectually convinced as to what is real and what is unreal. After you get convinced it is easier to concentrate upon the real and this concentration on the real is again a very difficult task in every circumstance of life, in every movement of life, you concentrate and if you are not intellectually convinced then it becomes even more difficult.
I believe that these seven pages are so crystallized that you might say that if you really pursue these seven pages, no intellectual doubt will remain that God exists. The nature of God is described here because the question is not only the belief in God’s existence or intellectual conviction, but what kind of God exists. There are many wrong notions about God and this Chapter does not try to prove every wrong notion of God, but that which really exists, God who really exists as He is, of that God you can have an intellectual conviction. If you read these seven pages quite thoroughly, I don’t say that it is very easy to read these seven pages thoroughly. We are actually attempting to study these seven pages and we might succeed to a great extent, but as I said that even in that path of intellectual Jnana Yoga, this is only the first step. Once you are sure it makes it extremely easy afterwards to concentrate, to think of God in the way in which it is proposed here. If you really go into that movement then it takes very little afterwards to jump into the experience of Reality. Of course that also very easy does not mean really easy, but it is relatively easy, if you don’t have this and yet you concentrate and pass through the process of Jnana Yoga, You might say it is extremely difficult, almost impossible. It’s a part of the process and this is true of every intellectual yoga, it’s not only integral yoga, but even if you take Adaivtic Vedanta yoga, there also the intellectual process is tremendous.
Buddhist yoga for example. In fact if you go to Buddhist monasteries most of the time what they are doing is not experiencing what is prescribed but only intellectually discussing so that you are sure that shunya is the only answer. The whole practice of Buddhist monasteries is to prove to the mind that all the intellectual questions can be answered only when you arrive at shunya. They have developed over thousands of years, since Buddha’s time started 2500 years have passed, very strict methods of intellectual argumentation have been found and propositions are made, counter propositions are made.
These arguments, counter arguments and everything are so expounded that every line, by lane of intellectual thought that it is quite easy to arrive at the silence of the mind. Because normally when the mind is not silent, what is the reason? There are many reasons for the wavering of the mind but one of them is the intellectual doubt about the Ultimate Existence. Ultimately a time comes when you say, how do I know and that creates so much of a disbalance and wavering of consciousness that you have to arrive at a certainty before the mind becomes still, but that is one way of stilling. It’s not the only method of stilling.
Question: Human beings have a lot of problems and questions. You are tense and you try to get the answers from the people around you. But I think after reading this chapter, one doesn’t need to go to anybody. You know the answer within you and you don’t have to run around and ask people to solve your problem. You can solve it yourself.
Answer: You are quite right. This is a wonderful experience. It’s a fact that if intellectually you are sure that God exists and the kind of God that is described here, is not, bearded man living as if in the seventh heaven, but a real, pure existence.
Before I come to the next aspect of the question you must know that one of the most important elements of modern science is expounded by Einstein and his most important discovery is that whereas previously we used to speak about space and time. He said we have now to speak of space-time, this is one of the great discoveries he has made. This is one of the highest points of scientific thought, not philosophical thought. Normally we have two strands in our perception of things meaning thereby that perception of space, much of which we can see physically, which you can even measure by inches and feet and kilometers and time, which we don’t see, as we see space. Nobody sees time, we only experience time mentally, whereas space we can measure physically. But time is not physically seen by us, it is only mentally conceived and time is measured in movement of events. So many events are occurring and when we think of this unfolding of events, we become aware of time. There was a time, when we used to think that time is something. If it is 12:15 now here, it is 12:15 all over Delhi. There is one time which is uniform for the whole of Delhi, or at least for the whole of India, or at least those portions of India which come under this particular level of the spread of the sun. In other words you could say that simultaneously, when I am talking to you a train is passing through Delhi simultaneously at the same time. So many cars are speeding past on the roads of Delhi simultaneously.
Einstein was thinking of space and time at the highest point; he concluded that the notion of simultaneity is wrong. There is no such thing as simultaneity in time. For each point of space there is a specific time. The time is not something like a cloud hanging over a large area of space, for every point of space there is a specific time, which is peculiar to that space. This is regarded as one of the most important ideas, which if not today, tomorrow your children in classes 4-5 they will start studying because this idea is now one of the highest points reached at the highest level of scientific thought. Twenty years ago, I saw a book which attempted to make pictures for children’s books. It’s not an ordinary book for adults to show them how space and time are related to each other in the way in which Einstein has seen it, so that for every space there is a dimension of time.
In fact the effect of what Einstein has said is that space is to our consciousness three dimensional that is to say there is length, breadth and depth. These are the three dimensions of space of which we are aware normally and this is peculiar to our consciousness. A small creature like a bug may not have a three dimensional view of space at all. It only sees perhaps one dimension or two dimensions. Our senses are so located that we can see these three things at the same time. Even in art for example, we know that actually depth is seen by a certain device, otherwise, it is only two dimensional and attempts are being made to give you instruments by which you can even on the screen of cinema, where you can have three dimensional experience of what is presented on two dimensions.
If there is time for every space then it is the fourth dimension, so modern science speaks of four dimensional space-time continuums, this is the expression in modern science. The world as a whole is a four dimensional space-time continuum, not space and time, but space-time. It is a space-time continuum, but four dimensional. So in this book for children, which I had seen twenty years ago, where objects were shown with a dimension of time, which you don’t see physically and according to Einstein time is physical, it’s not merely as we think normally. We don’t see physically, time, but actually time is physical, time is connected with speed and speed is a physical event, so space-time continuum, how to present to the children. In any case our children when they go to the level of B.Sc. and M.Sc. They are required to study this. If they take science as a specialization they are required to study this but a time will come, when the knowledge will still expand further, so that what is being taught at the level of B.Sc. will be taught at the lower levels of education and that will still come down further. The age in which we are living is so highly intellectual that if the modern generation is not trained in a high level of intellectuality, we will be unfit to live in the modern times. We won’t be able to adjust ourselves with the modern times and here lies a very big danger for civilization. It intellectually develops to such an extent like this and since intellectual domain is so vast and the lanes and by-lanes of intellectual thought are so multitudinous, millions of ways of thinking of which you are not even aware but as you start reading intellectual books, you will see hundreds and millions of ways of thinking and points of views. And if humanity is sunk into this huge network of millions of ways of thinking then the question of experiencing will be so much postponed. You will be only lying all the time in the field of abstraction and greater abstraction; it will be a great danger.
Human beings will be highly abstract and the capacities of dealing with the concrete and experience will be so limited, it is one of the great dangers of civilization that is going to come up. Already, we see that our children when they are studying, if they are really studying they become so abstract. We are obliged to give them such abstractions. Even in a subject like commerce, for example, how much mathematics is involved, how much graphs are involved, the curves of the graphs and understanding of the graphs. Actual concrete realities are separate but understanding through graphs and through mathematical formulas, how much abstraction has come in our thinking. It is true that most of the children forget about it, but if they are really studying it truly, and ultimately, gradually this burden is going to come upon him in a very large way. It is going to be a kind of a consciousness which will be highly abstract and when the intellectual consciousness becomes very abstract there is a great danger that its capacity to deal with the concrete becomes diminished. In humanity once you develop one capacity, the other capacities becomes diminished. To develop all the capacities equally is a very difficult task.
To make a philosopher a story writer is very difficult, to make a story writer, a philosopher is very difficult. Some of course can be, but once you develop on one line, it is very difficult to be another. To put a philosopher on a political throne in the present time is very dangerous because he may not be able to understand the concrete problems of mankind at all. His mind is so abstract that he is not able to read the concreteness of life. Of course the ideal would be that you should be able to do it but merely being intellectual you cannot achieve that ideal at all. That is impossible. Something more is to be done after doing intellectuality, something more is to be done to be able to reach that harmony.
At that time you were asked the question—if there are millions of ways of thinking, are there any ways by which this can be abridged? Are there any ways in which you can distill all the different ways of thinking and arrive at the most minimum, most essential, which can be mastered. My answer is seven pages of this book. It is as if we have visualized so many ways of thinking, any way of thinking you take, ultimately when you reduce to a minimum, most essential, to what do you arrive at the question on Existence? In these seven pages you have all the essential elements, therefore, if you read these seven pages, you don’t need to go through millions of ways of thinking on these subjects, it is kind of a summary, of summary, of summary, the most distilled element. Therefore you might say that intellectually this is perfect. It is because of this reason, that I venture even to speak all this before all my friends.
If this chapter did not exist, I may tell from my autobiographical level that at one time when I studied philosophy I had reached the conclusion that when I grow up and become adult, (I started studying philosophy at the age of fifteen by the age of eighteen I had read quite a lot of it and I came to the conclusion that when I become an adult about 25, 30, 40) I will tell the world do not teach philosophy to anybody. That was the conclusion to which I had reached because there is no conclusion. Intellectual speculation is so wide and there are so many alternative ways of thinking that you can never be sure that what is really and ultimately true and if you don’t have that conclusion then what are you to do with it. It’s all useless thinking. So, I had come to the conclusion that I will advise everybody to stop philosophy altogether. It was at that time that I came to read The Life Divine, and when I read this chapter particularly, I was completely satisfied. I said, now if I have a chance to tell anybody that if you want to read the most intricate intellectuality on the subject of existence, I will simply say please read these seven pages. You don’t need to read anything else, of course these seven pages contain a lot, which require a lot of background, maybe a hundred pages or thousand pages as a background, quite possible, but even this can be summarized. What I am doing with you is a kind of an impossible task, to summarize the summaries of so many levels of thinking.
I have read this chapter in about two hours at that time. When I first studied this chapter, I was so satisfied and my experience was that I immediately attained to a complete stillness of thought, after reading it. My mind was completely quiet, I was convinced God exists and it was such a great relief. Shantam siddhati mannah, the mind sits silent; this is an expression which I expressed to myself at that time it was in 1950.
This is only a part of the answer to your question, not a full answer but let me continue, since it is a very important question. I don’t mind taking time on this. I would like to say first of all that considering the intellectual climate in which you are living, it would be a very good thing for most of the people of the world to understand what intellect is, what are the methods of intellectual thought and how intellect has millions of ways of thinking and how they can be summarized most quintessentially and arrive at a most convincing conclusion. If this can be done, it will be a great benefit to everybody and yet this is not indispensable. If you don’t do this, it is not as if you can’t achieve God; there are many other methods of attaining God. If Shri Ramakrishna could live in God consciousness being entirely illiterate or almost illiterate, surely you don’t need to study all this, at all. There is a way of knowing God but for that, first of all there is one great need and this I am expounding on the method of devotion, which many people say that it is a very easy method. It is true in a certain sense it is an easier method but to certain mentality and particularly the mentality the age in which we are living this is a very difficult method. This is perhaps an easier method than that method for most of us, who live in the world of intellectual age because first of all in the method of devotion the most important is faith. You should have an utter faith that God exists. Secondly, you should be really like a child, utterly like a child, like an infant, an infant who does not even think whether mother exists or not. In its consciousness mother is not even questionable, there is not even a thinking proposition, whether mother exists or not. It’s taken for granted to such an extent that the moment it cries, it knows there is an answer, so you have to be like a small child, absolutely like a child. As Christ has said that it is only if you become like a child that you can enter into the kingdom of God and that is entirely true. Even among children there are two types of children of which Sri Ramakrishna speaks—the cat’s child and the monkey’s child. And of these two you have to be really like the cat child. The monkey’s child has at least to make an effort to catch at the breast of his mother but the cat takes her child in its own mouth and carries it, so the child has to do nothing. It simply carries and it is true that God is really like that basically. In fact if you look at God really, if you ask the real experience of God, you will really find that God is really like a cat mother, we are all in the mouth of God, already. Only we don’t realize, therefore, we have problems, otherwise if you really know that we are in the mouth of God all the time, whether we know it or not, we are already there. In a certain sense you might even say, if you don’t do anything at all, you will be looked after. It is a fact just that the cat’s child has to do nothing, it will be looked after. But tell me, how easy is it to do nothing? It is one of the most difficult things to do nothing but the moment you start doing, remember you have deviated. You have really arrived at the point of really doing nothing, absolutely—don’t think, don’t act, don’t move.
It is said, one disciple went to Sai Baba of Shirdi and said, tell me, what am I to do? He wanted to do sadhana, so, he said tell me what am I to do? His answer was: ‘nothing’. And that was an extremely difficult task, to do nothing. This is a real reality, God has a big mouth, in whose mouth we are all located and God is moving and we are being taken by him, wherever he wants to take us. We have to have faith, a living faith. We have to be like a child, we have to be like a cat’s child, which is absolutely sure that God is moving with us and we simply have to do nothing at all. Now if you can do it. You don’t need to read this at all.
Question: Doing nothing would be doing nothing, or would it be doing everything but without anybody?
Answer: Really nothing.
Comment:Except to know that you are the kitten in the cat’s mouth?
Even that you have to forget because the moment you, you are right actually. If you reach that level consciously, you know consciousness is plunged into consciousness. Even that what you call consciousness is no more the consciousness, so that awareness is plunged to awareness. In that awareness you have to be aware that you are carried by God. If you have that you don’t need to read all this at all.
The extent to which we can do this even in little ways, it’s a tremendous help. Sri Ramakrishna’s example very often is taken that he was almost illiterate but he was like a cat’s child. It is because of this and this was certainly a method and afterwards, when he had attained he spoke words which even the highest intellectual could not understand, so that is another side. Vivekananda represents the intellectual questioning of the highest science. In fact the conquest of Vivekananda by Sri Ramakrishna was a real conquest. Vivekananda had rejected all the so-called pundits of his time and said that all of them talk of God, but the moment he put the question, have you seen God? Nobody could answer this question. It was only Sri Ramakrishna who could say, ‘yes I see him and I can see him more vividly than I see you.’ The capacity to answer this question is one of the greatest events of modern India, of the modern world that intellectual heights which could not arrive at a conclusion by the contact of this spiritual light which burst from that experience is capable of answering this highest intellectual question.
When you rise from here, you arrive at a point and when you reach the climax, when you begin to pour the knowledge that knowledge again is of such a nature, for example, he said God is both formless and form. For him it was a simple proposition and this is a proposition which is very vividly made in this chapter of seven pages. God is both form and formless, but intellectually how are you to understand it?
As Sri Aurobindo has said that we arrive at a point, which intellectually is untranslatable. We fall into contradiction when we try to understand it, but these were the terms which Sri Ramakrishna used quite easily, as if it was a daily experience. For him there was nothing mysterious about it, nothing contradictory about it. If you start with this and if you can attain to it then this path is entirely dispensable, there is no need whatsoever to pursue this path.
There is also the path of Karma Yoga, where you don’t need to have that cat’s child consciousness of doing nothing at all. On the contrary, answers your bursting of energy of doing something, all the time go on doing. Those who are active like all of us, who can’t even remain quiet for one minute, for them karma yoga may be regarded as the easiest method. But even in that method the effort is as great the method which is involved here in the intellectual understanding. What is the difficulty there? The first difficulty of that path is that you do the action, but do not be bound by the results. This is the very first wisdom of Karma Yoga. There are other greater wisdoms but this is the most elementary wisdom. How many of us can act without being involved in the consequences. In fact we might say if we have nothing to attain, no result then we don’t do anything at all. Our normal condition of consciousness is such that we do all activities only to produce certain results and if you are told that do not think of consequences, do not get involved in consequences then what remains for us to do? So, the very first step of Karma Yoga is a very difficult task.
The second step is even more difficult; that you do the action, realizing that you are not the doer of action. First was only connected with your doer-ship. You do action but you do not involve yourself in the consequences. The second is you do the action but realize that you are not the doer of action, this is even a greater difficulty and the third step is even more difficult. You open upwards, know that you are not the doer, do not be involved in the consequences and the third thing is that you open yourself to, from where action is really proceeding. Action we believe normally is proceeding from our ideas, our imaginations, our desires for consequences and so on. This is what we think is the origin of our action, but when you know that you are not to be involved in the consequences, when you know that you are not the doer of action then you are able to open up. Even this proposition becomes possible, when you know this then you open up. This opening is a very difficult task. You just open and when you open, you will find a tremendous force of action proceeding and just vibrating and going through you. It’s like electricity. Electric wire in which electricity is passing has an origin. That origin is able to pass through electricity only because of the opening of the electric wire. If an electric wire had no opening, electricity would not pass through it. Similarly there is an action of which we have today no imagination; no idea at all, but there is action. A tremendous flow of action is what Sri Aurobindo speaks of in the very first paragraph of this chapter, where eons of activities, myriads of things, a stupendous movement, a stupendous energy which is already flowing. You just open up and that energy will flow, that is the highest stage of Karma yoga. When you open up, that whole energy will flow. As Sri Aurobindo says,—what is a flute? It is only a channel through which the wind blows and it is the One, who really blows the wind, Who makes the tune? Flute doesn’t make a tune. So the whole life is designed by the one who plays the flute, the flute player. That is why Sri Krishna’s picture is so wonderful that he is the flute player and we are only flutes and even these flutes are not we, they are made, fabricated by him. He is the fabricator, he is the wind and he is the blower.
This method is also available, if you follow this, this is again not necessary but again once you have reached that point then the whole thing can even flow from you. If he so desires, the entire Life Divine can flow through you without any effort on your part, it’s quite possible. As Sri Aurobindo himself has said I am not a philosopher, he wrote all this with a completely silent mind. It was a flow of knowledge going straight on the typewriter. This is the specialty of this knowledge that it is not a knowledge, which has been intellectually thought out. It is the knowledge which has flowed from the supreme origin, who knows what is to be said and to whom it is said, to whom it is addressed. This is certainly addressed to somebody; there is no doubt about it. It has just flown at this age, it knows very well what this age is, what kind of questions will be asked, what is the quest? Certain sections of humanity are bound to ask these questions, which are answered here, in the way in which they are answered and this has been done. This being the background in either case there is going to be as great a difficulty, as a difficulty you face here, whether you follow the process of devotion, or the process of action, or the process of knowledge, you are bound to arrive at a stupendous difficulty somewhere as much as we have here in this chapter.
Now we have to make a choice, do you want to have this or not. This is at least one process, I do not say that this is the only process, not at all, but I would again go one step farther that is why this is dispensable. In a certain sense this is indispensable, if you want to be an ideal personality which the modern world requires. If it is a question of your own realizing God, coming into contact with him the moment you touch him by any other method, others will be added to you. Even this knowledge will come to you automatically.
As far as your individual question is concerned this is dispensable, but if you want to be an ideal person for the world that is now coming up in the present age then every one of us will be required to become a teacher. Everyone, whether you like it or not, this is the one message which should be written on the sky for everybody that everyone today will be required to become a teacher. If you don’t become a teacher, it is at your peril. Your life will not be lived as happily as you will be able to live if you will become a teacher. You may not be appointed as a teacher in a school, but as a mother, as a counselor, as a friend, as a worker in any field, you are required to be a teacher and as a teacher you will be required to meet different kinds of personalities and some of them will be intellectual. So, in your dealing with those people you will be required to have that intellectual equipment by which you will be able to deal with those people, who would constitute one portion of the totality of the people with whom you would have to deal with. Therefore, this intellectual equipment in that sense is indispensable. This is from the futuristic point of view. It is true that just now, many of us are not required to do all this because we are still in the transition, but the time is running so fast that within twenty years, we will be required to do this. The movement is so fast and twenty years are not very far off, so to be prepared for what is to happen to us twenty years hence, if we can do this, it will be very useful. If not to your children, your grandchildren are bound to be with you and when you will have to deal with your grandchildren these questions will become quite prominent by that time because the movement is very fast.
Today we are already speaking of the alienation of children. One of the most important problems of parents today is the alienation of children because the world in which the children are living today is beyond the control of anybody. Even children are not in control of that world, parents are not in control of that world, teachers are not in control of that world. None, it is as if the world is moving and every one of us is obliged to salute that world, as it comes up. Who can control television? Even those who prepare television films can't produce all the films, they can only produce a few. It is the whole totality which is working on the totality in which none can control anybody else. So, it is a world which is as it were made so impersonal that nobody has control over it. The only thing by which you can really make your children closer to you is by the power of knowledge. It is when you are very knowledgeable, when you are able to answer the deepest questions.
So this is the time where we are now. In these times, if you really want to help your children then everybody is required to have a very great equipment, intellectual, emotional, dynamic,—Karma, Jnana, Bhakti, all the three have to be developed, whether you like it or not. It’s not left to humanity to decide, whether I want it or not. If you do not, it is a big machine that has gone forward now and if you don’t do it, you are just thrown out and you will stand crying in the world. But if you want to remain alive, participate, work actively, contribute to it, or at least even to vibrate like the flute then these achievements, these equipment are absolutely necessary. And yet these equipment should not make you proud because as I told you in all the three methods the only condition of achievement is absolutely to be like a child, or to be really opening up, or to completely still your mind.
Either still the mind in which there is no pride possible; or you become a child as in Bhakti yoga; if there is no pride or you open yourself completely in which the question of egoism does not arise at all. The question of egoism is automatically out, so we have to reach a stage of getting ourselves equipped and yet not feeling proud at all. Because if there is pride, neither of these three equipments are possible, so it is in that stage of consciousness at that level that we all are involved.
Maybe that in our own present life without all this integral perfection, we may be able to pull through this life, although, we may say that many problems will certainly be faced by you and very often we won’t be able to answer them. But may be that we may pull through, but when you have to tell your children to be equipped then you have to tell them, ‘look, my dear children you are now going on the wings, which are flying at a very great speed and if you want to be capable of withstanding the tremendous flow of winds all over then this kind of equipment is necessary. If you think that you are leading a life, which is what it is now and you will be able to carry through your life, do not have illusions.
One day, one person came to ask the Mother a question: ‘is it necessary to compel anybody to learn?’ Because it might be assumed that from what I am talking, I am talking of imposing upon children a big program of learning and teaching. So, when this question was put to the Mother, the Mother said: ‘you have no right to impose knowledge upon anybody; if somebody chooses to remain ignorant he has a right to remain ignorant but tell him. If a child says that I don’t want to learn this, I don’t want to do this, I don’t want to do that, make it very clear to the child that look, you are free not to be get equipped with all that I would like to present to you, but if you do not get equipped have no illusions that being ignorant and yet to be able to face the world, which is going to come before you, is impossible. Make a choice after this, decide that you don’t want to face the world; you don’t want to be anything in this world, you don’t want to be able to confront the world. Make a choice, you don’t want to remain ignorant and I will not impose it on you, but if you want it then this is the consequence; now you choose between the two. There are two alternatives, either be equipped in such a way that you will be able to confront the world properly, rightly, majestically, royally, or you remain like a kind of a little thing, like a peg in the machine and you will be crushed all the time by machine and then you will all the time cry—cry against yourself, against the world, against everything, you have to make a choice.
It is in that context that the present generation of young people and the present youth is quite a long youth from the age of fifteen to the age of seventy; is youth in the modern times isn’t it, the modern youth is a quite a long definition. At one time, it was only between fifteen and thirty-five but now it is fifteen to seventy. If the longevity is getting longer and longer in any case after the age of seventy, you are required to work youthfully. It is even today, if you can’t work youthfully up to the age of seventy, you cannot really bear the burden of life, responsibilities are so great that you have to plan that at least up to the age of seventy, you will be able to work so vigorously as a young man of thirty five will do that is definition of today. At least to the people between the ages of fifteen to seventy, I would say that this kind of equipment is very necessary, so, now you make a decision. We can’t escape reading all this. In fact before starting it, I had asked you this question, do we really want to go through this? It is highly intellectual, it is very difficult and still somehow we were led into it, doesn’t matter, let us see how it is.
When you taste it, it is like tasting what you are feeling, is it necessary at all, why go through this at all? So, even now it is an open choice for all of us. If you say, well not necessary, we can close this line of thinking, line of development. We can start something else, or we can close down completely. We are completely free or else we go through this since we have come up to this point. Why not take the further trouble, it may take one month, two months and only seven pages. It is not much at all, only seven pages and what a boon if you read these seven pages, you are absolutely sure of what is written here, what tremendous equipment you have, so I am sure that you all will choose that we shall go through this.
Question: You mentioned today’s generation and when we talk about Mahabharata times, to say that we are moving at a much faster pace of living today as compared to then.
Answer: Yes, undoubtedly to bring all the chariots to Kurukshetra took many months. Today if you start somewhere within five hours it can have a Kurukshetra. This is a speed today very fast.
“But is this a true record? May it not be that Time and Space so disappear merely because the existence we are regarding is a fiction of the intellect, a fantastic Nihil created by speech, which we strive to erect into a conceptual reality? We regard again that Existence-in-itself and we say, No. There is something behind the phenomenon not only infinite but indefinable. Of no phenomenon, of no totality of phenomena can we say that absolutely it is. Even if we reduce all phenomena to one fundamental, universal irreducible phenomenon of movement or energy, we get only an indefinable phenomenon. The very conception of movement carries with it the potentiality of repose and betrays itself as an activity of some existence; the very idea of energy in action carries with it the idea of energy abstaining from action; and an absolute energy not in action is simply and purely absolute existence. We have only these two alternatives, either an indefinable pure existence or an indefinable energy in action and, if the latter alone is true, without any stable base or cause, then the energy is a result and phenomenon generated by the action, the movement which alone is. We have then no Existence, or we have the Nihil of the Buddhists with existence as only an attribute of an eternal phenomenon, of Action, of Karma, of Movement. This, asserts the pure reason, leaves my perceptions unsatisfied, contradicts my fundamental seeing, and therefore cannot be. For it brings us to a last abruptly ceasing stair of an ascent which leaves the whole staircase without support, suspended in the Void.”