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Philosophy, Logic and Yoga of Integral Transformation








ON 18TH JULY, 1995

Philosophy, Logic and Yoga of Integral Transformation

Philosophy, Logic and Yoga of Integral Transformation

Philosophy, Logic And Yoga of Integral Transformation

At the outset, it would be useful to distinguish between intellectuality and spirituality. It is by the force of intellectuality that one can become aware of one's own mental operations as distinct from one's life- operations; thought and will can disengage themselves from sensations, impulses, desires and emotional reactions, and one can become detached from them, observe and control them, sanction or cancel their functions. The distinguishing feature of intellectuality is that its operations are conceptual in character, not experiential or intuitive except that the highest concepts can be designated as rational intuitions. At the level of intellectuality, one does not yet know the secret of one's being well enough to be aware of oneself decisively and with certitude a mental being in life and body, but one has that impression and can take inwardly that position.

In the highest flights of the Reason, one can arrive at subtleties of consciousness, perceptions and conceptions of the Truth, of the Right, of the Good and Beauty, and their refinement can be so elevated and ethereal that one might be tempted to give them the name of spirituality. On the other hand, the initial experiences of the spiritual elements in us are not quite distinct from mind and from mentalised life; its movements are involved in the mind-movements, its operations seem to be mental and emotional. At this preliminary stage, the mental human being is not aware of a soul in him standing back from the mind, life and body, detaching itself, seeing and controlling and moulding their actions and formations. But as the inner evolution proceeds, this is precisely what can, must and does happen.

This evolution takes place by means of a certain decisive movement which leads to a sort of a new birth. It is a birth out of the ordinary mentalised, materialised man into higher spiritual consciousness and a greater and a diviner being. There are different ways by which one can arrive at the point of this decisive initial departure. One may come to it by one's own natural development; one may reach it through the influence of a religion or the attraction of a philosophy; one may approach it by slow illumination; or one may be led to it by a sudden touch or shock; one may push or lead to it by the pressure of outward circumstances or by an inward necessity; sometimes even a single word may break the seals of the mind, or sometimes a long period of reflection is needed; or one may arrive at it by the distant example of someone who has walked on the path, or one may arrive at it by contact and daily influence. All this depends upon the nature and circumstances of the given individual.

Philosophy, Logic and Yoga of Integral Transformation

Philosophy, Logic and Yoga of Integral Transformation

True spirituality begins with this decisive movement, and spirituality may be described as awakening to the inner reality of our being, to a spirit, self, soul which is other than our mind, life and body, and an inner aspiration to know, to feel, to be that, to enter into contact with the greater Reality beyond and pervading the Universe which inhabits also our own being, to be in communion with It, and union with It, and a turning, a conversion, a transformation of our own being as a result of the aspiration, the contact, the union, a growth or waking into a new becoming or new being, a new self, a new nature.

In the initial stages, there is the acceptance of a new spiritual idea-force and upward orientation in the being, an illumination, a turning or conversion seized on the will and the heart's aspiration, — this is the momentous act which contains as in a seed all the results that the Yoga has to give. With the growth of spirituality, certain faculties of knowledge begin to develop. These faculties are very well described symbolically or explicitly in the Veda, where distinctions are made between Ila, Saraswati, Sarama, and Daksha. Ila is the power of revelatory truth-seeing; Saraswati is the power of inspiration or truth- hearing; Sarama is the power of truth-touch or immediate seizing of significance, which is also called intuition; and Dakasha is the power of true and automatic discrimination of the orderly and exact relation of truth to truth. These faculties can perform all functions of Reason, — including the function of logical intelligence, which is to work out the right relations of things and the right relations of idea with idea, — but by their own superior processes and with steps that do not fail or falter. Each of these faculties provides certain varieties of spiritual experiences and their corresponding knowledge, emotion and power of action. It is through these faculties that one becomes gradually delivered from the operations of Ignorance and one enters into and attains to vidya which is not only jnana but also vijnana; — for it is not only the knowledge of the essence of the Spirit but also the multi-sided knowledge of various aspects, poises, statuses, and myriad functionings of the Infinite. One then gains God-knowledge, self-knowledge and world-knowledge. Varieties of spiritual experience and their unity become accessible, and as one becomes liberated from the limiting disabilities of the mind, and crosses the borders and when the golden lid of the overmind is lifted, then by the power of the supermind, scattered rays of the Sun of the Spirit are unified. We are told that one then beholds, to use the expression of the Ishopanishad, "tejo yat te rupam kalayanataman", the Lustre which is most blessed form of all. One beholds that Purusha, there and there, and can declare, So’ham asmi, He am I.

Philosophy, Logic and Yoga of Integral Transformation

Philosophy, Logic and Yoga of Integral Transformation

That the Infinite can be experienced at various levels and that there can be and there are varieties of experiences of the Infinite is affirmed and reaffirmed in the the Vedas and the Upanishads, which are the earliest records of ancient Indian spirituality. Again, both the Vedas and the Upanishads indicate methods and contents of the integration of varieties of spiritual experiences and they can be looked upon as our original treasure of integral knowledge. Both of them can be looked upon as the ancient systems of the synthesis of Yoga. In the long history of Indian thought, we start with the Vedic synthesis of the psychological being of man in its highest flights and widest rangings of knowledge, power, joy, love and glory with the cosmic existence of powers and beings of the godheads. This synthesis was expressed behind the symbols of the material Universe as also of those superior planes which are hidden from the physical sense and material mentality. The summit of this synthesis was in the experience of tad ekam or ekam sat with varied expressions, the experience of the Purusha, the Supreme Being, divine, transcendent and blissful in whose unity the increasing soul of man and the eternal divine fullness of the Cosmic godheads meet perfectly and fulfill themselves. This crowning experience of the Vedic Rishis was taken up by the Upanishads as their starting-point for a high and profound synthesis of spiritual knowledge. The Upanishadic Rishis drew together into a great harmony all that had been seen and experienced by the inspired and liberated knowers of the Eternal throughout a great and fruitful period of spiritual seeking.

But the age of the Vedas and the Upanishads was followed by the age of rationalistic speculation. And the Indian philosophers respectful of the heritage of the past, adopted a double attitude towards the Truth they sought. They recognised in the Sruti, the earlier results of inspired Revelation, an authority superior to Reason. But at the same time, they started from Reason and tested the results it gave them, holding only those conclusions to be followed which were supported by the supreme authority.

Philosophy, Logic and Yoga of Integral Transformation

Philosophy, Logic and Yoga of Integral Transformation

Their speculations tended at first to keep at the centre to the highest and profoundest experience and proceeded with the united consent of the two great authorities, Reason and Intuition. Nevertheless, natural trend of Reason to assert its own supremacy triumphed, in effect, over the theory of its subordination. This is what we witness more and more increasingly in the growth and development of numerous conflicting schools each of which founded itself in theory on the Veda and used its texts as a weapon against the others. This is because Reason proceeds by analysis and assembles its facts to form a whole but in the assemblage so formed there are opposites, anomalies and logical incompatibilities. The question was as to how these opposites, anomalies, and logical incompatibilities can be reconciled. And if we study the history of Indian Philosophy, we find that the natural course Reason took was to affirm some and to negate others which conflicted with its chosen conclusion so that it may form flawlessly logical System. Instead of determining logic by reference to Reality, Reality was sought to be determined by logic. We also see that each conflicting school of philosophy developed its own idea of logic and applied to Reality not one uniform set of ideas on relations of things or relations among concepts, but each chose its own set of ideas of logicality and applied it to defend itself and to defeat the others.

In conflicting schools of Vedanta, we find instructive illustration of the interplay between logic, and ontology and claims of shruti or spiritual experience. The most perplexing question that is set out in all these schools is that of the phenomenon of the Universe. The question that came to be debated at length was whether building of thought, experience, world of perceptions of the mental Person, the mind Purusha, is truly a self-expression, self-determination proceeding from some truth of its own spiritual being, a manifestation of that truth's dynamic possibilities or whether it is not rather creation or construction presented to him by Nature, by prakriti, and only in the sense of being infused in his personal formation of that Nature can it be said to be his own or dependent upon him; or, again, it was argued that it might be a play of a cosmic Imagination, a fantasia of the Infinite imposed upon the blank indeterminable of his own pure impersonal existence. These are the three views of creation which were debated, and an impartial evaluation of these views might as well conclude that each one of them has an equal chance of being right and that mind is incapable of definitely deciding between them. For each view is armed with its own mental logic, and each view appeals to the authority of Shruti or to some renewed spiritual intuition or experience.

Philosophy, Logic and Yoga of Integral Transformation

Philosophy, Logic and Yoga of Integral Transformation

Fortunately, the main conceptions of the earlier Vedanta have remained alive throughout the history of Indian Philosophy and efforts were made from time to time to re-combine them into some image of the old catholicity and unity of intuitional thought. In fact, even at the initial stages when different philosophical systems had begun to take their sharp positions of opposition and combat, we had the great synthesis of the Gita. The Gita started with the Vedantic synthesis and built up a harmony of the three great means and powers, Love, Knowledge, and Works through which the soul of man can directly approach and cast itself into the Eternal. At a much later date, there developed the synthesis of the Tantra and all the Puranic tradition with its richness of synthetic ideas. Admittedly, Tantra is less subtle and less spiritually profound than the Gita, but it is even more bold and more forceful than the synthesis of the Gita. For the Tantra seizes even upon the obstacles to the spiritual life and compels them to become the means for a richer spiritual conquest and enables to embrace the whole of life in its scope as the cosmic play of the Divine. In some directions, it is more immediately rich and fruitful, for it brings forward into the foreground along with the trinity of divine knowledge, divine works, and divine love, the secrets also of the Hathayoga and the Rajayoga and opens up a vast area of varieties of spiritual experience which are related to the use of the body and of mental askesis for the opening of the divine life on all its planes. It must also be admitted that each school of orthodox philosophy had sought to show that it had provided appropriate place in its integrating scheme the truths of all the other conflicting schools. And, again, much later, we had a unique example in the life of Sri Ramakrishna of a great synthesis of varieties of spiritual experience. We notice there a colossal spiritual capacity, first driving straight to the divine realisation, taking as it were, the kingdom of heaven by violence. Sri Ramakrishna seized upon one yogic method after another and extracted the substance out of it with incredible rapidity. And he returned to the heart of the whole matter, the realisation and possession of God, by the power of love, by the extension of inborn spirituality into various experiences and by the spontaneous play of intuitive knowledge. In the work of Swami Vivekananda, we find subtle and profound exposition of the synthesis of spiritual experiences that can be gained by the pursuit of Rajayoga, Karmayoga, Jnanayoga and Bhaktiyoga. And the same problem of synthesis has been taken up by Sri Aurobindo in which we find not only the re-statement of the synthesis of the Veda, the synthesis of the Upanishads, the synthesis of the Gita and all the other important elements of subsequent developments of Yoga and Philosophy but also a new blending with his own fresh discoveries whereby an integral divine life can be lived not only individually but even collectively on the earth.

Philosophy, Logic and Yoga of Integral Transformation

Philosophy, Logic and Yoga of Integral Transformation

In dealing with the problem of the synthesis of varieties of spiritual experiences, Sri Aurobindo takes up the clue of the supreme secret, paramam vacah, of the Gita, where complete surrender to the Divine in our integrality is enjoined. At one side of the highest perfection of this integrality is the status of our liberated consciousness where the true individual, the jiva, assumes its real place in supreme spiritual Nature. On the other side is the recognition of the supreme mystery of the being of the Purushottama, as the basis of integral oneness. As he points out, "It is not an exclusive impersonality of the Absolute that is the highest secret. This highest secret is the miracle of a supreme Person and apparent vast Impersonal that are one, an immutable transcendent Self of all things and a Spirit that manifests itself here at the very foundation of cosmos as an infinite and multiple personality acting everywhere, — a Self and Spirit revealed to our last, closest, profoundest experience as an illimitable Being who accepts us and takes us to him, not into a blank or featureless existence, but most positively, deeply, wonderfully into all Himself and in all the ways of his and our conscious existence. This highest experience and this largest way of seeing open a profound, moving and endless significance to our parts of nature, our knowledge, will, heart's love and adoration which is lost or diminished if we put an exclusive stress on the impersonal, because that stress supresses or minimises or does not allow of the intensest fulfilment of movements and powers that are a portion of our deepest nature, intensities and luminosities that are attached to the closest essential fibres of our self- experience."[i]

[i] Sri Aurobindo, Essays on the Gita, Vol. XIII, SABCL, p. 531        

Philosophy, Logic and Yoga of Integral Transformation

Philosophy, Logic and Yoga of Integral Transformation

Sri Aurobindo points out that the object of this highest integral experience is the supreme Reality, eternal, absolute and infinite which is indeterminable to Mind, but even then it is not incapable of determining itself. The Supreme and Eternal Infinite determines itself to our consciousness in the Universe by real truths of its being which are beyond the Universe and in it and are the very foundation of its existence. These truths present themselves to our conceptual cognition as the fundamental aspects in which we see and experience the omnipresent Reality. It is true that in themselves they are seized directly, not by intellectual understanding, but by spiritual intuition, a spiritual experience in the very substance of our consciousness, but they can also be caught at in conception by a large and plastic idea and then be expressed in some sort by a plastic speech which does not insist too much on rigid definition or limit the wideness and subtlety of the idea. This brings in the question of metaphysics and logic, and Sri Aurobindo declares that while dealing with the integrality of the Infinite, "the intellect must consent to pass out of the bounds of finite logic and accustom itself to the logic of the infinite. On this condition alone, by this way of seeing and thinking, it ceases to be paradoxical or futile to speak of the ineffable: but if we insist on applying a finite logic to the Infinite, the omnipresent Reality will escape us and we shall grasp instead an abstract shadow, a dead form petrified into speech or a hard incisive graph which speaks of the Reality but does not express it. Our way of knowing must be appropriate to that which is to be known; otherwise we achieve only a distant speculation, figure of knowledge and not veritable knowledge."[i]

In Sri Aurobindo, we find comprehensive statement of varieties of spiritual experience and their synthesis as also a comprehensive statement of the intellectual understanding of the Integral Reality and the logical tool, namely, the logic of the Infinite, which needs to be developed in order to come out of the exclusiveness of any given spiritual experience or any given logical system, which is designed to support it and defeat the claims of other spiritual experiences and the logical systems based upon those experiences.

[i] Sri Aurobindo, The Life Divine, Vol. XVIII, SABCL, page323.

Philosophy, Logic and Yoga of Integral Transformation

Philosophy, Logic and Yoga of Integral Transformation

And there is still a long and radical programme of a new and triple process of integral transformation, consisting of psychic transformation, spiritual transformation and supramental transformation. The first process is marked by the manifestation the psychic entity, of the inner fire, Agni, that burns in the heart and a governance begins from within which exposes every movement to the light of Truth and repels what is false, obscure, opposed to the divine realisation. This is followed by a free inflow of all kinds of spiritual experiences, "experience of the Self, experience of the Ishwara and the Divine Shakti, experience of cosmic consciousness, a direct touch with cosmic forces and with the occult movements of universal Nature, a psychic sympathy and unity and inner communication and interchanges of all kinds with other beings and with Nature, illuminations of the mind by knowledge, illuminations of the heart by love and devotion and spiritual joy and ecstasy, illumination of the sense and the body by higher experience, illuminations of dynamic action in the truth and largeness of a purified mind and heart and soul, the certitudes of the divine light and guidance, the joy and power of the divine force working in the will and the conduct... A psychic or, more widely speaking, a psycho-spiritual transformation of this kind would be already a vast change of our mental human nature."[i]

One of the possible results at this stage would be the turning away of the seeker from life or to Nirvana; but in the larger movement of transformation, even Nirvana could only be a stage and its consequences can be made as steps in transformation of the lower nature, apara Prakriti. And the limitations of this stage can be overcome by the intervention of the highest spiritual transformation. "This can be done, states Sri Aurobindo, "by our opening into what is above us, by an ascent of consciousness into the ranges of overmind and supramental nature in which the sense of the Self and Spirit is ever unveiled and permanent and in which the self-luminous instrumentation of the Self and Spirit is not restricted or divided in mind-nature, life-nature, body-nature... If the rift in the lid of mind is made, what happens is an opening of vision of something above us rising up towards it or a descent of its powers into our being. What we see by the opening of vision is an Infinity above us, an eternal Presence or an infinite Existence, an infinity of consciousness, infinity of bliss, boundless Self, a boundless Ecstasy. But these…. Though they can be powerfully illuminating, ecstatic or liberating, are by themselves insufficiently effective: for the full more spiritual transformation more is needed, a permanent ascension from the lower into the higher consciousness and an effectual permanent descent of the higher into the lower nature."[ii]

[i] Sri Aurobindo, The Life Divine, Vol. 19, Centenary Collection, pp. 907-909.

[ii] Sri Aurobindo, The Life Divine, pp. 913-14

Philosophy, Logic and Yoga of Integral Transformation

Philosophy, Logic and Yoga of Integral Transformation

While describing the effective consequences of this full spiritual transformation, Sri Aurobindo writes:

"A light and power, a knowledge and force are felt which first take possession of the mind and remould it, afterwards the life-part and remould that, finally of the little physical consciousness and leave it no longer little but wide and plastic and even infinite... Immortality becomes no longer a belief or an experience but a normal self-awareness; the close presence of the Divine Being, his rule of the world and of our self and natural members, his force working in us and everywhere, the peace of the infinite, the joy of the Infinite are now concrete and constant in the being; in all sights and forms one sees the Eternal, the Reality, in all sounds one hears it, in all touches feels it; there is nothing else but its forms and personalities and manifestations; the joy or adoration of the heart, the embrace of all existence, the unity of the spirit are abiding realities."[i]

But even here, even though the change made is often extraordinary, and it may even look like a total conversion, yet it is not dynamically absolute. This necessitates the descent of the supermind. As Sri Aurobindo points out: "Only the Supermind can ... descend without losing its full power of action; for its action is always intrinsic and automatic, its will and knowledge identical and the result commensurate: its nature is a self-achieving Truth-Consciousness and, if it limits itself or its working, it is by choice and intention, not by compulsion; in the limits it chooses its action and the results of its action are harmonious and inevitable... The Truth-Consciousness, finding evolutionary Nature ready, has to descend into her and enable her to liberate the supramental principle within her; so must be created the supramental and spiritual being as the first unveiled manifestation of the truth of the Self and Spirit in the material universe."[ii]

[i] Sri Aurobindo, The Life divine, Vol. 19,Centenary Collection. pp. 913-14.

[ii] Sri Aurobindo, The Life divine, Vol. 19, Centenary Collection. p. 917-18.

Philosophy, Logic and Yoga of Integral Transformation

Philosophy, Logic and Yoga of Integral Transformation

These statements only give a few glimpses of the rich variety of psychic, spiritual and supramental experiences and their transformative power. All this and much more needs to be explored and experimented upon, if the task that lies before this working Group is to be fulfilled. Even the initial efforts would prove to be extremely stimulating and would create a climate of fundamental research at the frontiers which need to be overpassed.

I am very happy that a Working Group has been organised under the Chairmanship of Dr.S.R.Bhatt and I am sure that the deliberations of this Group will not only aim at academic debate but also at the discovery of a true satisfying knowledge which can be applied to the problems of our times

Philosophy, Logic and Yoga of Integral Transformation

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