Socrates and Plato - Session 05 (23 January 2001)

I want to see that you understand all right when one does not understand? It’s a good question, no? When does one not understand? You know Mother has written very often teachers have the habit of telling children: Oh! You won’t understand, when you’ll grow up, you’ll understand not now and Mother said this is not a good answer. If you cannot explain to the children it is your fault, not the child’s fault. It means that the teacher has not really, properly made his effort, so when you say there is something which you don’t understand then I want to make an effort. So allow me to make an effort.

When does one not understand? It’s a good question, no?

First when the words are difficult, the meanings of the words are not clear, when the concepts are not clear or else when the contexts are not clear. When the words are difficult, when the meanings of words are not clear then concepts are not clear, when context is not clear and can you think of any other context in which you don’t understand. Now Torbean, even if you are sitting that far, tell me which of these reasons do you feel present when this statement—meanings are not clear, right? Meaning of the word virtue and the word knowledge, right? Meanings of these two words are not clear.

So let us now deal with these two questions. What is the meaning of virtue and what is the meaning of knowledge? I’ll first give one meaning then others can give other meanings and then try to arrive at a clear meaning. First, the meaning of the word virtue, virtue is a state of mind or it is an expression of the state of a mind. Let us take an example of a state of mind, an expression of the state of the mind. I take a state of mind which is called forgiveness and that expression of that state is to forgive. Now tell me, is the meaning of forgiveness clear? What is the meaning of forgiveness? Forgiveness is regarded as a virtue; it’s an example of a virtue,—the state of mind and then when you forgive somebody, an act of forgiveness. So the state of mind of forgiveness gives rise to an act of forgiveness, expression. Now what is forgiveness, let us understand what is forgiveness? We use these words very often but sometimes we don’t think about these words, sometimes we don’t understand the words which we use or we are not very clear. One of the best examples of the state of forgiveness is Christ on crucifixion; you have heard the story of Christ, have you? Christ was on crucifixion, he was nailed on the cross. You can see the pain when somebody or one is nailed, feet and the hands and the crown of thorns on the head. He was sentenced to death in this fashion. Why was he sentenced? You know the story of Jesus; can you tell me why he was sentenced? Because he brought a new concept namely that of love and that was not liked by many people but actual story if you read according to the story he was accused of claiming that he was the king, he had declared I am the king. He had spoken to people. I am the king. So those who did not like him because he had brought this new concept of love, they picked upon this sentence and said: Christ Jesus has declared that he is the king. Many people loved him very much; a large number of people loved him. Crowds and crowds used to come to listen to him but there were others who were threatened that their authority is being challenged and as a result they were trying to find out how Christ, how Jesus can be eliminated, this was their mental condition they wanted to get rid of Jesus, so that this new concept does not come up and their authority is not affected—this was the idea. Then they picked up this sentence that was spoken by Jesus: ‘I am the king’. Now what was wrong in saying I am the king? Suppose you say, I am the king, is there something wrong in it? So you must understand the condition in which people were living at that time, to understand why this sentence was extremely difficult to bear on the part of the authorities. When Jesus was living at that time the area where he was living—Nazareth, Jerusalem, Palestine these were parts of the Roman Empire and the Roman Empire was ruled by the Roman emperor. So only one person can claim that he is the king and that is the Roman Emperor, the only king, if anybody else says I am the king then it contradicts the power and authority of the Roman Emperor. So nobody else can claim that he is the king, surely Jesus was not the Roman Emperor and yet he said I am the king therefore his enemies made a complaint to the representative of the Roman Empire and said here is a man who is claiming that he is the king and thus he is the enemy of the Roman Emperor therefore he should be eliminated this in simple terms was the argument. And when Jesus was asked if it is true that you are claiming that you are a king, he said: ‘I’ve spoken the truth’ that was his answer. Now he was speaking not of being the king of the Roman Empire but his doctrine was: I am the son of God and the son and the father are one and the father that is God is the king of the world therefore I am the king that was the meaning that he had in his mind when he spoke these words: I am the king. So when Jesus said, I have spoken the truth before the judge, when he said these words there was of course a lot of argument, what is the truth etc., etc. but ultimately the decision that was taken was that he should be put together. He should be crucified. So he was asked to wear a crown of thorns, he was asked to carry his cross on a high altitude, he had to climb up, then the cross was fixed and Jesus was nailed. You can imagine the pain when one is nailed alive and he bled, he was bleeding, the blood ran out of his body. Now in that difficult moment he made a prayer. So imagine the condition of his consciousness, he made a prayer: Father forgive them (he spoke about those who were crucifying him) and he said: Father forgive them for they know not what they are doing, for they know not. They do not know, he himself was in a state of forgiveness. His mind was serene, he had no anger towards those who were crucifying him, on the contrary he wanted that they should be forgiven and the reason he gives is very important—for they know not what they are doing, they don’t know what they are doing therefore they deserve to be forgiven. So his understanding was that they are doing the wrong thing. It is true that they are doing a wrong thing but they are doing wrong thing because they do not know what is right; meaning thereby that if they knew what was right they wouldn’t do it. It’s an illustration of ‘virtue is knowledge’, if they knew what was right they wouldn’t do it. Now this is a state of forgiveness in which even when wrong is done to you, you want that wrong to be wiped out. That is the state of forgiveness. The state of forgiveness is a state in which there is a wish that what is wrong is wiped out, is annulled, and does not exist anymore. This is the definition of the word forgiveness, a genuine state of consciousness in which there is an utter sincerity that the wrong which has been committed is wiped out, that is the state of forgiveness. Jesus had this state constantly present in his consciousness. You have heard very often the expression ‘forget and forgive’. When you use the word forget means—whatever has happened, let it be wiped out, don’t take it into account. When you are genuinely convinced that what you have done was wrong then this stage automatically comes up in your consciousness. When somebody has been hurt genuinely because of your fault, you should not have done it, you have become angry with somebody and afterwards you realise: Oh! I should not have been angry, it was wrong on my part to have been angry then the person with whom you were angry you go to him and say: please forgive, forget and forgive. This forget is, wipe it out, wipe out what I had done to you, then it’s cleaned as it were. Forgiveness cleans up the evil, it no more exists. Just as with the coming of light, darkness disappears. Similarly with the state of forgiveness and with the act of forgiveness, if it is a genuine forgiveness then that act is wiped out. This is one of the great examples of a virtue. A virtue is a state of consciousness in which an evil is said to be wiped out. This is a good example of virtue, right? In general you may say: A virtue is a state in which hurtful untrue cannot subsist. Just as light is a state in which darkness cannot exist, therefore it is called light. Similarly virtue is a state in which anything that is hurtful, anything that is untrue, anything that is crooked, twisted cannot exist is wiped out, that is a state of virtue.

Now what is knowledge? This is another term. The word virtue you have understood now we come to the word knowledge. What is knowledge? It is also a state of consciousness, just as virtue is a state of consciousness; similarly knowledge is also a state of consciousness. A state of consciousness in which what is true is known as true that is the definition of knowledge. A state of consciousness in which what is true is known as true. Knowledge is a state of consciousness in which what is true is known to be true. Now the question is what is the truth? The simple answer is that which exists is true. The question is what does exist? The answer is all that we see around exists. Now Socrates and Plato did not accept this answer. This is the important point.

All that we see exists. This is the answer which is simple but Socrates and Plato said no. This answer is not the correct answer.

All that we see around do not fully exist; all that we see around are particulars. I see this tree which is only a particular tree that I see. If somebody says what is it that exists and I say: look this tree exists then Socrates and Plato would say it is only a partial existence, apart from the tree many other things also exist. If you say what exists, you say a tree exists. His answer is: it's only a partial answer. The tree is only a partial existence, only a particular thing that exists; it’s not the whole that exists. So Socrates and Plato said that only the totality can be said to be existing. Anything that is particular, is only partially existing, only the totality fully exists, they also used the word universal. Only the universal exists, particulars are only partially existing. Now comes a farther statement which is very important.

Now repeat this sentence—knowledge is a state of consciousness in which what is true is known to be true. What is true that which exists is true? What fully exists,—universal fully exists therefore knowledge is a state of consciousness in which the universal is known as universal. When you know a particular, Socrates and Plato said: this knowledge of a particular should not be called knowledge, it should be called opinion. Opinions are always partly true and partly false therefore opinions cannot be treated as knowledge.

Now the whole thing isn’t very clear, the whole doctrine which I now state again in the following words. (Writing on the blackboard)

This is the definition we arrived at on the verge of virtue then we have now come to the definition of knowledge. Knowledge is a state of consciousness in which the universal is known as universal…..

Virtue is a state of consciousness in which the untrue or hurtful or crooked are eliminators. Then now read the second sentence and tell me if you can understand… right here we have shown it no I repeat again I shall repeat the argument. Knowledge is a state of consciousness in which what is true is known to be true. Is that correct? I ask the question: what is true? Then the answer was that which exists is true. Right? Now the question is what is it that exists? Then I answered that all that we see exists, then I said Socrates and Plato said no. This is where the point of departure comes all that we see around according to Socrates and Plato exists partially none of these things exist fully because there are only small little things or are particulars only when you speak of the whole what exists the whole exists not this or that or that alone. Whole existence therefore the knowledge is always the knowledge of the universal. Is it clear? Therefore I am now defining knowledge as a state of consciousness in which the universal is known as universal. Right?

What we call knowledge of a particular Socrates and Plato give another word for it. It is called opinion. It's not knowledge why because opinion is partly right and partly false partly true and partly not true therefore it is called opinion. Knowledge of the particular is according to Plato and Socrates an opinion not knowledge. Knowledge can be only of that which exists and that which exists is universal therefore knowledge is a state of consciousness in which the universal is known to be universal. All right now. Now let us define this in other words. Knowledge is a state of consciousness in which the universal is so known that partiality is eliminated now you will see that this sentence and this sentence are actually identical. He said correctly, just apply your mind and see that knowledge is a state of consciousness in which the universal is so known that partiality is eliminated. This sentence and this sentence are the same Correct? No? Now let us see. Universal is known as universal that means that all that is partially true is eliminated partial means that which is not universal. Partial means that which is only partly true.

If the tree was only partial then he would not be existing fully but now he is existing fully. So how can you say my knowledge of trees is partial and not full? Is that not your question? Yes. No? Or something different? Tree would be eliminated but tree is not eliminated. This statement is not correct. Let us see now. Suppose now I tell you that something that you are not seeing, maybe the roots of the tree they are hanging down you don't see them. But I tell you as a matter of fact it is true that there are roots which are hanging down which are not seen now. If you see the universal we will also see that the tree has so many roots which are hanging down. Therefore now in your new perception a tree which is just on the ground that vision goes away is eliminated your present vision of the tree is eliminated it is true that tree is not eliminated but your vision of the tree is partially eliminated. So we shall make one correction: the universal is known so that partiality of knowledge is eliminated. All right. Is it clear? Accepted now. Now I shall continue the partiality of knowledge is equal to untrue. Partiality of knowledge is untrue, if I say that this tree is exactly as I see it it's a partial statement that is untrue. All right. Now you will see the definition of this and the definition of this exactly the same. Virtue is a state of consciousness in which untrue or hurtful or crooked is eliminated. Now I say knowledge is a state of consciousness in which the universal is so known that the partiality of knowledge is or partiality of knowledge or that it is untrue is eliminated. Right? Therefore virtue is knowledge. All right? Is it clear now? Virtue is knowledge you have to see all these statements now the reason why we were not able to understand yesterday was that all who found not stated I was making an effort to make you understand without explaining the totality and therefore you rightly said I don't understand and which was correct you can understand when the whole thing is explained step by step. All right? So congratulations to you that you did not understand and now you are able to see where the two world’s virtues are not identical. All right? Remember therefore I have said in my paper which I have written for you on Socrates that for Socrates there are two important things by virtue is men unity of worship and by knowledge is meant universality of knowledge when your knowledge is universal the state of virtue also is unified unity of knowledge and unity of virtue both are simultaneous you can be fully virtuous when you are fully in the state of universal consciousness when you are fully in the state of universal consciousness you are put in the state of virtue therefore if you really know you cannot but do the right thing the state of full knowledge is also a state of consciousness in which no wrong can take place it is spontaneous. All right? Then yesterday when I was talking to you I left you with a very important statement. Have you written down these sentences? I spoke yesterday of a one phrase which is in the Veda. That word was Kavi Kratu. Kavi means the state of knowledge and Kratu is a state of will. And I pointed out that always knowledge and will have relationship with each other and when you reach to the highest knowledge and highest will they become one the highest knowledge and the highest will become one they are one in the same state the universal knowledge that is the highest knowledge and universal will that is the highest will they are always one if you want to do the highest good universal good for the whole world you should have universal knowledge you should be universal in your consciousness so as to be able to do good for all and Socrates was speaking of this when he said virtue is knowledge what he was saying was that you should arrive at a universal state of knowledge in which the will to do good for all is automatic is simultaneous.

Now let us drag a little upon this concept in a sense I have finished what I wanted to say but in order to dig a little more we shall speak a few more words to explain this knowledge well. We shall ask what the components of knowledge are and what the components of will are. Components mean what is a component? A component is a part, any part is called a component. A human body consists of various components like the head, hands and feet these are different components of the human body similarly when you speak of knowledge what are the components of knowledge if knowledge is like a body then what are the different parts of that body and similarly will is a body what are the different parts of wealth any sensation is a part of knowledge. This is a component. Sensation is a component of knowledge. Perception is a part of knowledge. Rational inference is a part of knowledge, rational inference is a part of knowledge. Intuition is a part of knowledge. These are components of knowledge sensation perception, rational inference and intuition these are components of knowledge. Now you come to will. What are the components of will? Instinct is a component of will. Desire is a component of will, intention is a part of will is a component of will. Motive is a component of will. So let us repeat instinct, desire, intention and motive; these are all different components of will.

Now there is a hierarchy. Hierarchy means there is a gradation one above the other sensation is the lowest aspect of knowledge lowest component of knowledge higher than sensation is perception higher than perception is rational inference and higher than rational inference is intuition, and higher than intuition is universal knowledge. Now similarly instinct is the lowest on the side of will instinct is the lowest. Higher than that is desire, higher than that is intention, higher than that is motive and higher than that is universal will. Now knowledge and will become identical only at the highest level, universal knowledge and universal will.

What's the difference between intention and motive?

Is that your question also? Good then I’ll answer what is the difference between intention and motive? I ask you in the morning and I say what is your program today? Then you say I intend to go to super school this morning. I intend. Then I ask you a further question: why do you want to go to super school? You intend to go there, why do you want to go? Then the answer would be, I would like to study Socrates. So that is the motive. Motive is that which moves you, intention is always lower than motive. I intend to do this why? Because I want to study Socrates, that is the motive. But you can always go on, why do you want to study Socrates? In which case, your studying Socrates is intention. I intend to study Socrates because I want to have universal knowledge that is your motive. So whatever is higher in intention is motive that it moves you. That which takes you to the fulfilment of motive is intention, because by going to Super school you will learn Socrates therefore going to Super school is intention and studying Socrates is a motive. And then you ask further questions: why do you want to study Socrates? Then you say I intend to study Socrates because I want to universalize my consciousness. That is my motive. Clear now?

Now what Socrates is pointing out is that knowledge and virtue become one, knowledge and will become one only at the highest level. Virtue is knowledge only when virtue is at the highest level and when knowledge is at the highest level. But if you take it at the lower level then you'll find mistakes in it. So he says: if you criticize my doctrine it is only because you don't understand that to me virtue is knowledge only when virtue is at the highest level and knowledge is a highest level. So the doctrine ‘Virtue is Knowledge’ can be seen to be valid only when you go to the highest level. If you apply it in ordinary circumstances it may fall flat. So your criticism was valid only because you did not understand my words fully. You thought that I was speaking of virtue in the term of ‘a’ virtue, not universal will.

When I spoke of knowledge you thought of opinion knowledge of a particular, therefore you found fault with my doctrine. But if you have to understand that, I meant by knowledge universal knowledge and by will I meant universal state of consciousness in which all that is untrue is eliminated. The highest will and the highest knowledge they combine together. All right?

So that is our study of Socrates. We shall finish now only five or six sentences which were left yesterday. . … You read the last paragraph now.

What in effect we arrived at, virtue is not this virtue or that virtue and knowledge is not the apprehension of a particular good. What Socrates seems to be stating is that there is a state of consciousness where there is totality of knowledge which manifests spontaneously in the forms of virtues actions? Indeed this state does not belong to the moral plane, for in the moral plane we cannot speak of having attained to the totality of knowledge which is a unity of virtues.

Now here I am introducing a new word ‘moral plane’, moral plane is a plane corresponding to the mind, mental plane which is ruled by inference, rational inference. Now you will have seen in the hierarchy the gradation that I put down for you that there is first sensation, then perception, then rational inference and then intuition and then universal knowledge. Right? Similarly I put down instinct, desire, intention, and motive and then universal will. All right? So the plane of intention and motive is the moral plane. These two are corresponding when you reach the level of intention-motive; you have reached the moral plane. Just as when you reach the plane of inference you read the mental plane. So when Socrates says ‘virtue is knowledge’ that statement is not true of the mental plane or the moral plane. If you look at it only from the moral point of view or mental plane point of view then the statement is not true. At the mental level, at the moral plane, virtue is not knowledge. It is only when you go beyond, you go to the universal level of consciousness and universal level of will then only the two become one then only ‘virtue is knowledge’. Now you read again.

For in the moral plane we cannot speak of having attained to the totality of knowledge which is a unity of virtues. There the state of ‘is’ is always contrasted with what ought to be. This contrast ceases when the summum bonum or the highest good is attained in the state of spiritual illumination.

Now this word summum bonum, I’ll just speak of it for two minutes. That will be the end of this chapter. Summum bonum is a Latin word Summum is summit and bonum means bon that which is good, the highest good, the summit good, the highest of highest. Socrates speaks of this Summum bonum. He speaks of the highest good. When all virtues are united in a state of consciousness like Jesus all the virtues were united in his consciousness that is summum consciousness highest consciousness. So when he says virtue is knowledge what he says is the summit of consciousness and the summit of virtue are identical. In the moral plane or mental plane this identity doesn't exist. There is effort moving still towards a higher height when you reach the summum bonum you have reached the height, summum, summit. So when you are climbing their knowledge and virtue may not be identical there you may know the right and you may not do the right. But when you read the summum-summit then what you know to be correct is also what you will do. Indeed even in the spiritual field there are degrees and progression but the essential knowledge is there at every stage which prevents evil in will. With reference to the spiritual man therefore we can say ‘virtue is knowledge’.

Now the rest of the two paragraphs you read at home. They should be very easy now for you, you read at home and tell me tomorrow whether you understood these two paragraphs or not. All right, thank you.