Aim of Life - IV
There is a flow of energy in the world. Then many questions can be raised. First, what is the nature of this energy? Is it a conscious energy or unconscious energy? And this is itself a very important issue. When you look at the universe around us everything, there seems to be around us unconscious energy. Even you might say there is inert energy, inert in the sense that once it is in motion in one direction, it won't change unless you push it from other side. Newton’s law of motion that it is inert, not that it is not moving or that if it is moving, it goes on in the same direction unless it is resisted by some other energy or it is pushed from other directions, then it may change direction. Otherwise, it remains the same way. But when you come to life energy, then its nature changes, it is not the same as energy which is flowing in matter and when you come to human being, the energy changes against nature. There is a conscious energy and there are phenomena of sensations, perceptions and ideation and will and affection, all kinds of manifestations of consciousness are to be found.
To take advantage of a natural situation is a task of the educator.
Life happens spontaneously, but education is a deliberate attempt. There’s a difference between things happening in life automatically, an educator is a deliberate innovator of what happens automatically, and that is where the teacher’s genius comes into the picture.
Shankaracharya’s philosophy says this vast energy that you are seeing is an illusion. It doesn't exist. That is his view. That is how it is so striking that that which seems to be so palpable all the time impinging upon us, and he says all this is illusion. The only thing that exists is silence, not energy when he says brahman is real and the world is a lie. That is his basic proposition: Brahma satyam, jagat mithya. Jagat means all that is moving. When I see a snake in a rope, there’s a rope – and I say: oh! it’s an illusion: it’s not tucha, it is not something not existing at all. There is a rope that exists on which something is superimposed, so, according to Shankara, all the movement that you are seeing is simply superimposed upon quietude. What exists is only quietude.
How Shankaracharya establishes his theme that this world is an illusion, but anyway, as a question you can put it.
His central philosophy has been expounded in a brief formula, “Brahma satyam jaganmithya jivo brahmaiva naparah”. Brahman alone is real, the universe is unreal, and the individual soul is no other than the Brahman.
To understand his concept, often an analogy of the difference between the waking state and the dream state is helpful. When we are dreaming, the dream seems real, but on waking, we realize its vanity and the dream vanishes.
Similarly, when an individual has experienced the Reality, the Truth, the Absolute in Its transcendence, then this world of phenomenon, you, me, our own separate identity and self, lose all reality in the Real.
In his famous treatise “Vivekachudamani” [verse 565] he gives his famous analogy of a jar, which when broken, the space enclosed by the jar becomes absolutely the vast, limitless space. All limitation of individuality is destroyed. Similarly, the knower of Brahman becomes what he really is − i.e. the Brahman.
Can you ever doubt that this world is full of energy, can you doubt it? Can you question it? And then, as I said, the question would be: what is the nature of that energy, inert energy? Is it a vibrant energy, organic energy, mental energy? There is also at a higher level spiritual energy, so there are many levels of this energy and the question is: what, then, is the nature of energy in itself? When you see the energy having so many strands in it and a deeper question arises, what is the deepest nature of energy which manifests itself in so many forms? Is it originally unconscious and gradually becomes conscious? from where then consciousness arises, if it was not there already? In it and these questions are difficult to answer, is there any impulsion starting point which makes energy move or is it by nature always moving? If so, why does it get arrested somewhere? Does it and if it is arrested, who moves it forward? These are a few questions and there is another set of questions: does energy move in a haphazard manner, or does it move in a regulated manner? There’s another aspect of the question: now there are many things which you see are haphazard, and yet there are many things which are not haphazard. The orbit of the earth is not haphazard. It moves according to certain regulations. Planetary movement is also regulated. You can even calculate, you can even predict. There seems to be a kind of an operation of a law.
Actually Newton himself argued that there must be god who gave the first push (to this energy). The point is that there is a difference between matter and life, and the laws of matter and laws of life are different, and yet they are not very different, and what is this difference from where, very often in our thinking we do not know how to distinguish between matter and life. Similarly, we don't know how to distinguish in life and mind, so that is a very deep question. In fact, most of the philosophers failed to do that. So I put the question only for the sake of raising question in the mind of the child, so gradually it ripens.
Let the children think what is the exact difference between matter and life, where exactly the first amoeba differ from water.
Water is matter, amoeba takes birth in water. How do you distinguish between that? Why is amoeba not water? What is it that makes it different and distinct? It is that point in which even biology teacher should be asked this question, and you should involve the biology teacher into the debate and a psychology teacher shall be brought into the picture later on when you want to make a distinction between a fish and a dog.
Yes, you are right, it is very true, and that is why this kind of subject “aim of life” becomes very, very interesting and children begin to become more global in their consciousness.
So it’s a very beautiful sentence Sri Aurobindo says that if you look at the world by itself – and if you just want to describe the world as it is, you can describe it as a movement of self-organizing chance. It’s a very beautiful word: self-organizing chance. There is so much of indirection as he writes indirection. There is a chance, everything happens, it happens and yet it happens, self-organizing, it yet organizes itself and creates the designs and directions why? Why does it? So why does it create designs? This is the mystery.
But if I can explain the same thing by the operation of intelligence, by the operation of design and law, then it will also stand a particular chance of being very right. Chance theory cannot reject theory of law because it has to say yes, even if laws exist by chance, law does exist.
It is only when you examine theories of evolution in a detailed manner, then you discover that this world is not built by chance. Ultimately, it is not easy to prove or disprove unless you grow very deeply, so that is why children are to be brought gradually over here to this point that these two theories, the operation of chance and law and chance theory can be always right, and yet the rival theory law ultimately succeeds because when you probe deeply into the human consciousness, then you find that all that seems to be regular seems to be intelligible. It’s not by chance. But you have to go to the deep level of thought and then, when you go to the deep level of thought, there are two important facts which emerge.
The one important fact that emerges is the fact of the individual. This individual, each one of us, is a mystery. The more you examine this individual, the more mysteries begin to reveal themselves. The greatest mystery is individual relating itself or himself or self, with the universe, a conscious, individual consciously relating himself with the universe.
This object has no choice of relating itself to anything, it’s simply a lying there, but here in the individual, there is something like a choice and he can move and not only that.
Anyways the analysis of the individual is a very important aspect. The whole discussion of ‘aim of life’ rests on what is individual, the mystery of the individual, because it is he who asked the question: what is the aim of life, and yet the individual is hardly understood. We don't analyze individual at all. What is his mysterious being here sitting in the whole world, is he himself individual alone? His nature of individual is necessary to be a world individual, because when I say my decision, I have decided, what do you mean? Is it really true that anybody decides only alone?
They are all questions. That is where the real individual is to be seen, and how is it, for example, this is a very interesting doctrine of Kant that individual, if it goes straight into his being, he finds he is free, because the most important element in every true individual is a concept: what I ought to do. You analyze the individual, the most significant thing is not what I’m doing or what I can do but what I ought to do. Aim of life is a direct question about this. When I say what should be my aim, it comes from this basic point: what I ought to do. This idea of ought is very peculiar to the individual.
What is the new light? It is the concept of ought. In this concept of ought you discover another fact, I discovered a universal law.
This knowledge of the individual of the universal is a very peculiar phenomenon to be observed. There is a connection between the individual and the universal, which is seen more accurately when you come to this idea of ought. What is this connection, the individual and universal? What is the connection between the two? How am I connected with you, and you can see, for example, that a very simple doctrine ‒ do not do unto others what you do not want others to do unto you ‒ how does it arise this idea?
So, in fact it is at this point I wanted to raise the main theme of this book when you ask the aim of life, it arises at this point. Every individual reaches a point where ‘ought’ consciousness begins to develop or consciousness, and then I ask the question: what ought to be my aim of life?
This is the important part: unless the aim of life, you cannot decide priorities. This is why this subject is so important, and this is the subject which is really eliminated from our whole education, and these are question which requires a lot of thinking. If this was a subject which you could decide very easily, I would not cry about it. Why am I so critical of the colonial system of education is that this most important question is simply eliminated from our curriculum. This is a question which takes years and years to build up. It’s not a question of only a one dialogue you make. It can't be finished in one dialogue, and this is how we shall see now. I’m developing your subject. This is the starting point of the subject. This is only preface.
Everybody in the world is out of focus.
We are all capable of laser action, all of us, but we are not able to act because we are all the time out of focus to get exactly in the focus and to be doing exactly what you ought to do. And you should be doing and you are doing. “Ought” and “is” become absolutely identical. That is a point to be reached for everybody and everybody seeks that point.
Only thing that will make you really happy is when “ought” and “is” are combined together, laser action exactly on the spot, and that can come only when you've thought deeply about the aim of life. Till that time you are all the time you may be anything in the world, you may feel very happy about being whatever you are, but you'll be again out of focus.
Why should therefore aim of life is so important. You must determine, every individual has to be focused. Where will we focus? What is my position? My station is duties, my station which is appropriate for me, considering what I am considering, what ought to be my goal and how I should be moving, at what speed I should be moving.
Now this question is very important, very difficult, because search for the aim of life requires a very vast knowledge. You must know what are you, what is the universe, how you can be related to the universe. There are multiple ways by which you can be related to the universe that we are very complex in our nature.
Now why is it total panorama? Answer is: if you learn the whole history of the world and not many people have read the whole history of the world and if you inquire very deeply into the whole history of the world, you will find that there are only four alternative aims of life, like a scientific study, it’s not a haphazard study, so any aim of life that people speak about you can put under one of these four categories. It’s a very good tool of discussing the problem of aim of life.
Whatever people have thought of the aim of life can all be summarized into one of these four aims. I can say this confidently, because Sri Aurobindo made such a tremendous study of the history of the world. It was one person in the world history who knew history very well, it is Sri Aurobindo. And having done that study, he has given us a summary now. That is why we have such beneficiaries. Otherwise, this problem is very difficult to study, but today you can study the subject scientifically with scientific precision.
Supracosmic, that is to say, according to this view, an individual should be able to go above the cosmos, not only world, not only earth, whole cosmos and beyond that there is a reality and that reality you should be able to realize. This is the supra cosmic aim, that every individual according to this view, should aim at crossing the borders of the universe.
It is said that supracosmic view of life can be understood with one word:
atha brahma jigyasa
Jigyasa is a burning jigyasa. I must know. Then you go to your teachers. That is the Upanishadic state; atha brahma jigyasa is the starting point.
Cosmic terrestrial view ‒ what does it mean? It is a view that you should aim to confine yourself to this earth. There is here one full chapter called ‘Life’s Philosophy’ by Jawaharlal Nehru.
So then comes the third one, the supraterrestrial view. What is the supraterrestrial view? that above this earth, (terrestrial means earth, this earth,) there is another territory, other than this terrestrial, another world, which is not terrestrial, but a world. There are people who believe that there is swarga, paradise, that this earth is only a temporary sojourn. If you do good actions, you'll get passport to stay in paradise forever and ever in life. It’s also a view of many, many people. In fact, almost all the religions speak of this aim. Father, take me to heaven: it’s not supracosmic. Take me to heaven, it is also a world, but it is a heaven of god. It’s not supracosmic, it’s not beyond all cosmos, all worlds, that is supracosmic. This is supraterrestrial. There is a world above the terrestrial.
Islam, for example, is a supraterrestrial view of life, that you are here on this earth and during this time of your earth, if you give allegiance to Allah, after all this is all a field of suffering and success, failure and all that.
So the same thing Vaikuntha is in India. If you go on with doing good things and remember Sri Krishna and Vishnu and worship him you'll be lifted, Garuda will come at the time of your passing. You’ll sit on the Garuda and be taken to Vaikuntha and be there all the time eternally happy, you'll be liberated from this cycle of birth and death.
Such is the supraterrestrial view of life. It is the same way in almost all religion, I said almost all religions, even Hinduism gives you supraterrestrial aim of life. Only Hinduism gives many others also, but supraterrestrial view of life is very prominent in Hinduism also.
According to Hinduism nark is a temporary sojourn. But ultimately you go to Vaikuntha. Yes, there are many others, yes, but highest supraterrestrial will be Vaikuntha.
And then comes the last one, fourth, which is called integral view of life. Integral view integralises all the three views. It says that you can fulfill yourself on the earth only if you can travel to higher worlds and if you get established in the supracosmic and then having reached the supracosmic, you can look into the world and remain on these worlds as a free being, you can work on this earth, but as a colonist from the realm of immortality, jivan mukta, you are on this earth free and when you are free, when you are moving, you exist simultaneously on the earth in the heaven and in the supracosmic simultaneously, and only when you do that your action on the earth can be effective. Till that time you may say: Oh I want to do this, I have to concentrate only on that, you won't be able to fulfill it.
You are rooted in supracosmic, hooked there, then you can swim anywhere and effectively. That’s the important point. You cannot do your action properly, so laser action is possible only then, only if supracosmic is attained and then only the laser beam will flow from there and exactly at the right point of action it will be acted.
It’s a very important action point, we should be on the earth, to run away from the earth is a mistake, but while being on the earth, you should be able to connect yourself with the supracosmic passing through the supraterrestrial and then from there you bring the light and that light which comes from above will be effective, and what you want to do on the earth can be effective only then.
Sri Krishna says I am the top supracosmic. If you read the ninth chapter of the Gita, you get a complete view of the Purushottama where he says I am supreme. They are all in me, but I am not in them, very contradictory statement. They are in me, but I am not in them and yet I am in them, it’s a very interesting statement he makes. There is something which is really transcendental, supracosmic and no cosmos can contain him.
I asked this question to the Mother one day in 1971, please tell me what is the aim of life, what is the aim of teaching and learning, and why are we here in this physical body. These are three supreme questions as far as I am concerned and that is why I have taken these three subjects with you. What is the aim of life? What is the aim of learning and teaching? And why are we here on this world in physical body. What is this physical body and why are we here in this physical body so, when I ask this question I myself thought of an answer like many arrogant children who know that they know the answers already even before asking the question. I had written down my own answer to these three questions and she was a very kind teacher when I read out to her this answer like all good teacher they encourage the children and said yes, yes she said and then she added one word. It’s a prudent answer, she didn’t say it’s a correct answer. It’s a prudent answer, so I said no, but I want the real answer not the prudent answer so she said all write give me a piece of paper I will write on that. This is the answer –I would like to distribute everybody which the Mother wrote for me and when she wrote to me she said this is to be given to the people so, it is as it as it were on that day she knew as if I will be coming to you one day and I will be coming and giving to you. You know she was a Rishi, she could see far into the future. I had never thought myself that I will be able of going out of Pondicherry at that time and I never thought that I will be coming to you one day and I will be speaking to you, but when she gave me she said this is to be given to the people, so I am sure that you were all in her mind and she wanted me to give this to you and so I am giving it to you and I will read out to you. ‘There is a divine will that wants to manifest itself in physical life. Our aim is to discover that divine will and to work for its manifestation in physical life.’ It’s a very short sentence, but as you know just Einstein gave his own theory in a short formula E = MC2. All that he wanted to say was in a short formula. Similarly, here also everything that needs to be answered in regard to aim of life, purpose of education and the meaning of physical life all that is given here in the short formula, therefore in your exploration if you find that the word divine has not yet appeared in your exploration think that your exploration is still incomplete.