You know, last time we spoke of force into which the multiplicity of objects in the world can be reduced and I said that Sankhyan philosophy had made this great contribution in showing that all the multiplicity of objects in the world are nothing but manifestations of one single force. It is a kind of Advaita not the ultimate Advaita but Advaita at least of objects of the world. So how matter that we see can be reduced to water, how water can be reduced to fire, how fire can be reduced to air and how air can be reduced to ether or akasha or space and how that can be reduced to the original force. A force which can remain in two conditions either at rest or in movement, but the same force. Having reached this point a question can be asked as to whether force itself can be reduced to anything else. If matter, water, fire, air sky or space can be all reduced to one force, can force be reduced to anything farther and actually we had seen already earlier in the earlier chapter that all force which is in movement can be reduced to pure Existent and we can repeat that argument so that the argument is settled once again more properly. How movement can be reduced to the pure Existent. We had said that all movement of force is reducible to time and space. Now all time and space is successive according to our ordinary experience. All time experience is successive—past, present and future are distinguishable in the movement of time, but all succession implies a very curious kind of paradox. There is an element of continuity in succession and there is an element of discontinuity, element of division. The very word succession implies a division. Distinction between that which has gone, that which is now and that will be in the future, that division is implied in the concept of succession and yet there is something like a continuity. If somebody pinches me here just for a little while it makes not much effect on me, but if it continues on and on and on the pinch gets intensified. Now in this movement there is continuity because of continuity that pinch becomes intensive. If it was only discontinuous then the pressure of the pinch of one minute is gone then the pressure of a second pinch will start afresh then the intensity will not increase. It is because although there is succession there is continuity. So all succession implies a paradox of discontinuity and continuity. Now how can we explain this paradox? How can be there such a thing which is discontinuous and yet continuous, you might say it’s a miracle. How can this be possible? Is there something behind it which can explain this. You are obliged to look behind only when there is a problem. If there is no problem you never look behind because successive movement implies this kind of a problem which would reconcile continuity and non-continuity, so you are obliged to look behind it. Then you observe that there is something like non-successive extension, that is to say that you realize that there is an extension which is not successive. I have given the example of a small insect walking on the branch of a tree. Now to that little thing crossing from one point to the other is a long process, a successive long movement, but to our consciousness which is larger, which can take the whole branch into one whole there is no succession, there is extension but there is no succession in it. You can look at the whole thing, whole segment at one stroke as it were, so there is something like a non-successive extension on the basis of which you can then explain the successive movement, so you therefore realize that there is a kind of non-successive space and non-successive time behind successive movement of time and space and then we had gone farther. All extension implies a ground and that ground must be beyond extension. If it is only itself an extension then that extension requires a further ground, therefore that which is a ground must be beyond extension. That which is beyond extension which is non-successive is the pure Existent. The ground of non-successive extension is the pure existent. All extension is nothing but a moment of force, so we have three steps of the argument—successive space and time, non-successive space and time and spaceless and timeless pure Existent. All space and time disappear. Now the force that is active is therefore reducible to that pure Existent. First is the successive time and space, behind it is non-successive time and space and behind it is a timeless and spaceless pure Existent.
In the ninth chapter we had these three main steps of the argument. This does not mean that the pure existent is opposed to force. It does not mean that the timeless and spaceless is opposed to space and time. It only means that that which is spaceless and timeless is capable of space and time. The pure Existent is a potent self existent, not impotent self existent. It is existent which is capable of force, if it was impotent it would have been incapable of a force. It would mean as if a God who is impotent. It is by the virtue of the force that God’s potency is regarded as potent. God is capable, God has a potency. Now this question of pure existent which is also force or which contains force seems to minimize as self-contradiction, a pure existent which is timeless and spaceless and a force which moves in time and space—non-successive or successive. How can there be a pure existent which is also force at the same time. This is the question which is often raised. There is a Vedic concept of adhbhuta, adhbhuta means wonderful. In the Veda it is said that the reality is adhbhuta, is wonderful.
Once I have spoken to you of the statement made by Indra to Agastya, in which Indra describes the Supreme Reality and there Indra says that it is neither today nor tomorrow that is to say it is spaceless and timeless.
न नूनम् अस्ति नो श्वः कस् तद् वेद यद् अद्भुतम् |
अन्यस्य चित्तम् अभि संचरेण्यम् उताधीतं वि नश्यति ||
*na nūnam asti no śvaḥ kas tad veda yad adbhutam |*
anyasya cittam abhi saṃcareṇyam utādhītaṃ vi naśyati ||
It is neither today nor tomorrow. Nanoonam asti, it is not here, not now. Nashwah, it is spaceless and timeless. Kastadvedati, who can know it? Who knows it? Yad adhbhutam, it is wonderful. It is neither today nor tomorrow. Who knows it? It is wonderful, why wonderful because the second statement says anyasya chittam abhi sancharenyam. It is movable. It is itself timeless and spaceless. Immovable and yet it is movable abhi sancharenyam, it is that in which movement takes place. It is one without the second, there is only one reality and yet it is anyasya chittam. It has a movement in another’s consciousness, anyasya chittam. Utadhitam, when you try to reflect upon it, vinashyati it disappears. It is elusive. It is so wonderful that when you try to understand it you can’t understand it.
In fact everything in this world is of that nature. The trunk of the elephant has got quite different kinds of legs, pillar-like legs. How can the same elephant which has got the trunk, so mobile, has got almost immobile like legs. It is the same elephant. Where does that pliability, flexibility of the trunk disappear when it comes to the feet, to the legs. The hugeness of the elephant and the smallness of its eyes, what a great contrast in the same, same elephant where the big become small and small becomes big. Where does the smallness ends and where the bigness begins. In this way if you look at anything in the world—where does my arm begin in this body, where exactly does it begin, where exactly is the dividing point—there is none and yet it is different. At the point of beginning you can’t decide this is the beginning. Afterwards you can say this is distinguishable from the whole body. At the point of beginning it doesn’t begin, such is the wonder of the world. It is the same which is different such is the nature of the Reality, therefore how does a pure existent and the force, where does the force begin from the pure Existent? Is it different from the pure Existent, if it is different then there is a very big question. The pure Existent is infinite, this also is another concept that we had discussed that pure existent is infinite. Infinite includes everything, there is nothing outside it. If therefore there is a force, it can’t be outside the pure existent that is why in our Indian thoughts which admits pure Existent and the Force as not different from each other speaks of it in two terms. It is one with the pure Existent, it is inherent in the pure Existent. It is one because there is only one Reality, therefore all that is there must be that yet that reality is not a monotone, a monotone is that which has only one colour, devoid of potency devoid of any colour, therefore it has a different switch inherent in it. The force which is one with the pure Existent and the force which is different from the pure Existent in a certain sense is one but also inherent in it.
The Veda describes ultimate Reality in the language of a bull that is the great vision which has been described in the Veda. The Reality is imaged as a bull, but bull that is prishni, prishni means multicoloured. That bull is one but that bull itself is multicoloured. This is the wonder of it being one it is capable of multicolour. It’s a multicoloured bird for example a huge bird which is multicoloured. In religious terms, all that I have spoken is philosophical terms, but in religious terms we have a concept of Shiva and Kali. Shiva is the pure Existent, Kali is the Force. Now Shiva and Kali are not two different things. It is not as if Shiva is one and Kali is another. Shiva and Kali are one and the same and Kali is inherent in Shiva, so at the root of the whole universe lies this miracle, this wonder, a reality which is one, which has within itself, which is itself and which has within itself, you have to use two terms at the same time and that is the wonder of it, which is one with the force and which has force inherent in it. You have seen the image of ardhanareeshwara. This is only an image where half the body of Shiva which is male and becomes female. Where does it transform itself into a female, the other half ardhanareeshwara is half is ishwara, the other is nari. It is same one same Shiva. Sri Aurobindo says that this concept is so rational that it is impossible to reject it. Now the question is how do you say it is rational. This concept of wonder, that concept which is paradoxical, how can you say that that concept is rational? The answer is, it would be irrational to say that pure existent being one and there being no other than the one, the force is something else. It will be irrational if you first say that reality is one pure existent, infinite and there is nothing else than that having said it if you say now that force is other than that, it would be irrational, therefore it will be rational to say that all that is there that is force, even that force is that pure existent and still if you see the difference in it, it will be rational to say that that reality is not monotone. The very nature of reality need not be monotone. It will wrong to say it must be monotone, incapable of multicolours, a pure existent which is incompetent. A pure existent which is supreme and then to say it is incompetent, it would be irrational to suppose so, therefore however difficult it might seem to your perception and it is difficult that is why it is said it is wonderful. There is no hiding the fact that there is a mystery and that there is a paradox and yet you are obliged to state it.
It is somewhat like a modern physicist who was asked the question− what is the ultimate of matter? When you go on examining matter, you ultimately arrive at an atom and then you ask a question what is atom and you break it, and you find in that small atom a full solar system—a nucleus, around which electrons are constantly rotating. One atom contains a whole solar system and as they now go on exploring they find hundreds of such things inside the little thing.
Not only that but now when they come to the ultimate this is where they are grappling with the problem. They found that what they called matter which seemed to be of the nature of particles, something solid, something that has magnitude. They found that that magnitude can be broken and when that is broken, it becomes energy. And energy is not of the nature of particles and they find it is energy that becomes a particle and a particle that has broken becomes energy, so its nature is that of a particle which is a wave. Particles normally would imply incapacity of a wave. It would cease to be a particle the moment it becomes a wave and the wave would be something opposed to the particle, so if you ask this question what is this ultimate atom. If you describe it as a particle it is not true, if you describe it as a wave, it is not true. It is a particle-wave you might say. It is like self existent which has a force of energy. Such is the nature of the world that is the adhbhuta.
In fact everything in this world has this kind of wonder in it; therefore the whole world is regarded as adhbhuta in the Vedanta. In the Veda there was a concept of divine maya, it’s like a magic you might say. The reality is magical, not therefore illogical or irrational. Why is it that the electricity has a positive charge and negative charge and without these two opposites electricity won’t function and where does the negative end, and where does the positive start? How the two co-exist, such is the nature of reality. Reality is of paradoxical nature. Now this is a very major standpoint which has been described in this chapter. The relationship between pure existent and force, force is the one with pure existent, force is inherent in the pure existent. Now having stated that this is the nature of reality, having first reduced all the multiplicity of objects into one force; having reduced that force into a pure existent, we now have a more comprehensive statement that the pure existent is that with which force is identical and in which force is inherent. This is the clear statement of the wonder that is Reality. Having stated this there are two questions which can be raised—How does the force act? And why does the force act? Now how is an easier question to answer, how does the force act? The answer is the force acts in a twofold manner. It acts by assuming a poise of rest or it takes the poise of movement. It’s a twofold nature of force. How it acts. It either takes the poise of rest or it takes the poise of movement. Rest and motion are the two fundamental modes of action of the force and the whole nature is nothing but an illustration of this twofold movement. Force at rest, force in movement. The second question is why does it go into rest? Why does it put forward itself in movement? This is a more difficult question to answer. If we were to say that there is no question why, the nature of force is such that sometimes it can take rest and sometimes it can move forward− such is the nature of force. So, the question why it rests and why it goes into motion does not arise, this is the one possible answer to this question, but if it is one with pure existent, if the force is one with the pure existent as we already said it is one. If it is inherent in the pure existent then the question may arise. We may ask the question− has pure existent anything to do with its double movement of force and if so, what role has it and in that role does the question why arise? Is force independent, although inherent in the pure existent, is it still independent of the pure existent as far as the action is concerned. If it is independent we are negating the sole-ness of the pure existent. The pure existent is the only reality then the movement of the force cannot be independent of the pure Existent. There is of course one theory in the tradition of India, which wants to show that although this is inherent in the pure existent, movement or not to be in movement is a sole decision of the force. Logically it’s inconsistent, but there is a theory, this is the theory of a certain line of Tantric thought in India which says that force Kali does the whole world, manifests the whole world. When she wants she withdraws from the world and Shiva is only an observer of all that Kali does, but evidently this is an irrational theory. Having granted there is only one pure existent, one without the second, that all that is there must be incapable of independence, therefore we come to the conclusion that the force for its movement or for its rest must be under the control of the pure existent. Now if it is under the control of the pure existent, if Kali is subordinate to Shiva, although inherent in Shiva, although one with Shiva then the question can be raised why is it that Shiva permits the force to move or not to move. If Shiva is capable of controlling then you can ask the question why, it controls in this fashion, is there a purpose? This question can be raised only if Kali and Shiva are conscious, because all idea of purpose is connected with consciousness. If there is a tap which is unconscious, if there is water in it which is unconscious then when the tap opens, water pours itself down, when it is closed then the water does not move out.
You don’t ask the question why does it move out or why does it not move out, both are unconscious, therefore why there should be a movement or there should not be a movement, this question has a relevance only if there is consciousness in the pure existent and therefore also in the force, which is one with it and which is inherent in it. We can therefore put this question only first of all, if you prove that it is conscious. So, before answering the question why, we are now obliged to face a more fundamental question. Is pure existent, is a force which is acting, Is it conscious? It is only that if we can prove it is that we can then ask the question why does it move, or does it go into rest, so let us now concentrate upon this question. Is this pure existent and the force which is inherent in it and one with it, is it conscious? In fact, this whole chapter is written for concentrating upon this question. All that we have said so far is preliminary. We have now come to the real issue of this chapter. You will see that the title of the chapter is ‘Conscious Force’, so the whole theme of this chapter is to discuss whether the force which is acting and which is under the control of the pure existent− is it conscious or unconscious?
Now let us therefore pause a little and look at the world once again and if you look at the world you find that the large portion of the world or in fact overwhelming the large portion of the world is unconscious. If you look at the whole universe, at least to our experience we find all the heavenly bodies moving on and on and on, we see the whole earth spinning fast and we see the lands which are stretching out on the earth, the waters which are rolling in this world, the air that is blowing, in all this phenomena there is a mute, blind, uncommunicative, simple unconsciousness, only in one corner, the human corner in this vast universe we are a small corner. Our humanity is only a little speck. In that little speck we find the bubbling of consciousness. It is true there is a phenomenon called consciousness, it is true. You cannot deny it. To deny it would require consciousness. You can deny the presence of consciousness only through an act of consciousness, therefore the presence of consciousness is undeniable, so if anybody says there is no consciousness at all, he is saying something which he does not know what he is saying. It makes no meaning because even when he says it, he says it with the help of consciousness, he can’t say it without help of consciousness. So that there is consciousness is a fact, but there is only one corner. Then the question arises − what is the nature of this consciousness? Now on this question there has been a lot of debate. The Sankhya philosophy of what we spoke earlier asked this question: what is consciousness? It tried its utmost to reduce this consciousness to unconscious movement of force. It tried its best to show that this consciousness is nothing but translation of something that is in unconscious matter or unconscious prakriti, but could not do it. Sankhya could not reduce consciousness to an origin which is unconscious. Now modern materialism studying the same problem is struggling to prove that consciousness is nothing but a development of matter, which is unconscious. What Sankhyan in the ancient time in India tried to do and failed, modern materialism is once again trying the same thing, trying to show that consciousness is nothing but a development of unconscious matter. One cannot say whether materialism has succeeded or not succeeded. We might say it is struggling, although it speaks the language as if it has solved the problem although it is struggling to answer the question. It normally speaks a language as if it has found the answer by saying that consciousness is nothing but a development of matter.
Now how does it try to show that consciousness is nothing but a development of matter? It does it by two important methods. First argument is look where is the phenomenon of consciousness? Just see more closely to consciousness and you will find it is nearest to physical organs. When the physical organs are in operation, consciousness is generated; therefore consciousness is the result of the movement of the physical organs. This is the first argument. The second argument is ultimate reality is matter; therefore, everything in the world must be derived from ultimate Reality. Since consciousness is there in the world it must be ultimately derivable from matter. Let us repeat these two arguments. If you look at the phenomenon of consciousness from the closest quarters, you find that all consciousness is operating nearest to the physical organs, not only nearest but seems to be generated from the physical organs. This is the first argument. Second argument is that ultimate reality is matter, therefore anything in the world must be derivable from the ultimate reality, therefore if consciousness is the phenomenon in the world it must be derived from matter. These are the two arguments on which the whole case of materialism rests. Now these two arguments are very important because today a large portion of humanity holds materialist philosophy in one way or the other. There is a big wave of materialistic thought in the world and this wave has two very important companions− one is that under this philosophy it is very easy to advocate the aim of life which seeks only pleasure. Since pleasure is very pleasant and seeking of pleasure and justification for seeking for pleasure is very pleasant. There is an immediate attraction towards materialism. If you can justify the seeking of pleasure under the basis of materialism then materialism becomes a very pleasant theory. This is a big attraction of materialism in the world.
Now what is the argument of materialism in regard to pleasure, this is the argument. From dust everybody arises, to dust you return. It is only during a small brief period between dust to dust that we have consciousness. In this consciousness there are two great phenomena of pleasure and pain, where pleasure is pleasant, agreeable, desirable, which you automatically desire. Then it follows that if you have to choose between pleasure and pain, why should you not choose pleasure. Because whether you choose pleasure and pain the ultimate result is dust, therefore why should you not choose pleasure, therefore choose pleasure. This is the argument of the materialist, if the choice between pleasure and pain were to make a difference afterwards, instead of becoming dust you have to become something else then one can have an argument that yes, you choose pain between pleasure and pain. But in either case the ultimate result is only matter, dust then why should you not during this brief period that is given to you. Why should you choose pain at all? Reject pain all together, or reduce it if you can’t reject it all together. Reduce it to the minimum, maximise as much pleasure as possible, snatch as much pleasure as possible from this brief period, why not because it’s so pleasant. Now this is a great companion of materialism. Mind you logically, you could also argue that ultimately if you have choice between pleasure and pain and both are to reduce into dust, there is nothing illogical if you choose pain. If somebody says that ultimately even by pain I will go to dust, by pleasure I will go to dust it is true I like pleasure very much but what is illogical about choosing pain, nothing is illogical both are equally possible, both can be chosen. In either case you will go to dust, so why not choose pain also. One can argue that way also, but it doesn’t please human beings. It’s a question of having pleasure in it; therefore you can say that a human being is attracted towards materialism. Therefore, there is an automatic choice in favour of materialism because of this reason. Not necessarily logical, but which is not illogical either. Therefore, this companion of materialism has a great hold upon humanity today. Now this hold has become much greater because of another reason that the methods of seeking pleasure in today’s world have become much easier than they were in the previous times. The duration of pleasure today can be made as long as you like as never before. This is a special time in which we are living and therefore the hold of materialism being so strong. You just enter into a room and you can switch on a television. It is so easy as that and have any kind of pleasant scenario as you like. You can choose it. The whole night you can watch it. No problem. You are no more dependent upon the visit of a dancer to your house. She has to return. Akbar never had this kind of pleasure in spite of being the emperor of this great country. As a domestic servant today, who can switch on the television for the whole night and watch it and there is no problem at all, so the method of seeking pleasure today is so easy and the duration can be as long as you want, within only a few limitations. Because of these two reasons materialism has become very powerful.
There is a second reason materialism is very easy to prove. You don’t need to go through a great exercise of the kind that you are going through. What a difficult exercise that we had to go through, to watch the whole world to reduce it to space and time, which is successive then to see non-successive then to see the pure existent, to see the paradoxes and then to reconcile them and then to see the wonder of it. All these are very difficult procedures.
Materialism is as easy as kicking a football. Who can deny the reality of a football when you kick it? You can just kick it and show that it is matter. If you want to show pure existent which is spaceless and timeless can you show it like a football? Whereas matter can be shown as easily as you can show a football, by kicking it. It is so easy to prove materialism, as Sri Aurobindo says the materialist has an easier field and its success is immediate. You can just show the successful argument of materialism− what is it? You open your eyes and you see matter everywhere. So, when materialism is philosophically so easy to prove, when materialism is so pleasant because it gives justification for seeking pleasures which are now so easy to obtain and the duration of which can be very long. These two companions of materialism reinforce materialism. Reinforce those two arguments which I have given you − that consciousness emerges nearest to physical organs and secondly that matter is ultimate reality therefore consciousness is derivable from matter,− these two arguments. Now in this scenario, if somebody wants to even argue with a materialist, the materialist simply says why do you trouble me. I have just now told you my argument. I also advise you to enjoy the world, why do you bother about anything else. Therefore, any kind of argumentation with a materialist becomes difficult. He has no time for it because he feels impatient. I have told you to prove the existence of matter is as easy as kicking a football. If you go further I have also shown you that all consciousness of which we are talking is nothing but nearest to physical organs and they are physical in character so consciousness is nothing but generated from the physical organs. Having done this, why do you take away my time in discussing anything further.
Against this position, Sri Aurobindo says that materialist is committing a rustic error. Mark the words that Sri Aurobindo used “materialist is committing a rustic error”. Rustic is one who is a villager, uncultured and who is easily tired when you want him to do some difficult work. Rustic normally does not want to do much work, much labour who is easily tired. Rustic is normally a tamasic. Imagine a rustic being brought to a railway station where he see a huge train at the top of which is an engine and he goes watching at the engine and he finds that when the piston moves the steam is coming out and seeing this again and again he proclaims that the cause of the steam is the piston. When the piston moves the steam comes out, the piston stops there is no steam coming out. Now if you had to tell him look my friend this is not true, piston is not the cause of the steam, steam is the cause of a piston. He will simply laugh at you and say my dear friend this is not true don’t you see when the piston moves, the steam comes out and when the piston does not move there is no steam, what is the cause of the steam? Then you can tell him look my dear friend there are deeper things, but the rustic says, look I have no time for all these deeper things. I have seen very clearly here, I have shown you this is what is happening, what are deeper things? Besides, the train is so beautiful, the engine is so beautiful, and the ride is so beautiful. Why do you want to take me away from all this pleasure and engage me in a kind of conversational dialogue where you say the deeper things—such is the condition of a materialistic. He is a rustic who sees a phenomenon which you cannot deny, which is so convincing. It is near the physical organ when they move and consciousness emerges. It’s a fact. Now if you tell him, look my dear friend it is the other way round. It is the consciousness which moves the physical organ not the other way round. He says it’s not true. You close all your physical organs, is that consciousness? Nothing. You go to sleep, there is no consciousness. All the organs are finished, so where is the question there is no argument possible. Now if you say go behind, go inward, there are deeper things. Your intention is very good. You want rustic to be educated, you want him to learn that there is a whole mechanics behind it, that there is first of all the huge store of coal that you have to fill up, in the engine. Huge store of water that you will have to fill up in it then the water has to be boiled to a very high degree, then the steam comes out of it and that steam forces the piston to move up and down. Now all these are deeper things which you have to explain, but that takes time, but if you are searching for the truth and nothing but the truth then ultimately you have got to prevail upon the materialist that he has got to find time to go deeper. And you must make this effort because both you and he are going to ultimately gain out of it. If it was only a kind of a dialogue which had not much meaning then it’s a different matter.
If you can go really deeper and arrive at quite a different conclusion then bigger consequences are going to follow. Maybe that after seeking for pleasure you are at present thinking that you are going to rest. May be that ultimately as a result of deeper enquiry after having pleasure, after bearing the pain, you may be able to arrive at greater ecstasy which you will miss out completely, if you don’t take this trouble that there is possibility of greater ecstasy which you can never have if you really remain only at this point standing on the platform and watching that the piston is the steam and not taking the trouble of going into the engine and seeing the inner mechanism. If you don’t take the trouble then the ultimate result is that you will miss out the great ecstasy which is awaiting every one of us, so the question is whether you want ecstasy or whether you want dust after having all the pleasure that you can have. You can have ecstasy here, you can ecstasy after, both. This is the choice and since this choice is much better, if you can ultimately show it, then this whole effort is worth doing it. This is the point which has to be made to the materialist. It is only then that the materialist might even give a kind of a hearing to you. That is basically a kind of refusal, even to hear you because of the argument that I have just now advanced. Therefore, Sri Aurobindo has spoken of the denial of the materialist. The materialist simply denies, there is an automatic refusal to listen to you and we need to prove that there is greater thing to be achieved. If you can show that there is not matter as ultimate reality but consciousness is ultimate, and that consciousness is capable of infinities of intensities and with these infinities of intensities you can have correspondingly infinities of delight. That is in the Tattiriya Upanishad we have a description of delight. There is one full section on delight and says what kind of delight the Brahman, the pure existent possesses, immeasurable delight that is the great contribution of the Upanishad it has described that delight. One day when we shall have time we should refer to this section of delight in the Tattiriya Upanishad. It is at this point that we have to have a dialogue with the materialist. Now it is this dialogue we shall have next time, It’s a long dialogue. If it was a short dialogue I would have finished by now, but I want to do it in detail because this is one of the major problems of the world today and this dialogue is very important. Every step of the dialogue is very interesting, so we have to take this dialogue very seriously. It will require one hour by itself, so we shall take it up next time.