aurobindo.tele

aurobindo.tele - Chapterl Divine Reality ‘ i pantheism It...

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Unformatted text preview: Chapterl Divine Reality ‘ ' ' . i pantheism. It introduces a speculative ‘problem of evil’ namely, and leaves us wondering why the perfectionof the absolute should require just such particular hideous forms of life as darken the day for our human imaginations. If they were forced on it by something alien, and to ‘overcome’ them the absolute had still to keep hold of them, we could understand its feeling of triumph, the we, so far as we were ourselves among the elements overcome, could acquiesce but sullenly in the resultant situation, and would never just have chosen it as the most rational one conceivable. But the absolute is represented as a being without en- vironment, upon which nothing alien can be forced, and which has spontaneously chosen from within to give itself the spectacle of all that evil rather than a spectacle with less evil in it. Its perfection is represented as the source of things, and yet the first effectof that perfec— tion is the tremendous imperfection of all finite experience. In whatever sense the word ‘ra- tionality’ may be taken, it is vain to contend that the impression made on our finite minds by such a way of representing things is altogether rational. Theologians have felt its irrational- ity acutely, and the ‘fall,’ the predestination and the election which the situation involves have given them more trouble than anything else in their attempt to pantheize Christianity. The whole business remains a puzzle, both intellectually and morally. " A Modern Indian Mystic Metaphysics From The Life Divine by Sri Aurobindo, 1973 Aioobindo (18724950) was a leading Indian nationalist at the beginning of the twentieth century who became a yogin and spiritual leader as well as a philosopher crafting a mod- ern worldview that draws on. science as well as positions of classical Indian thelsm. Born in Calcutta, Aurobindo spent fourteen years in England from age seven until graduating from King’s College; Cambridge University. Returning to India, he immersed himself in Indian culture, learning Sanskrit and several modern Indian languages. Aurobindo became a nationalist politician opposed to continued British colonialism and rule. and used the editorial columns of the neWspaper; Bande Mataram (“Hail to Mother India”), to call rather- unreservedly for open rebellion. Arrested on charges of sedition and then “waging wan” he spent a year in prison before being acquitted in a spectacular trial in 1909. Still harassed by British authorities, he retreated to the French colony of Pondicherry, in South India, retired from politics, and wrote voluminously while practicing meditation and yoga. Aurobindo intends his metaphysics to reflect both science and religion and to integrate several concerns of philosophy into a single vision. He understands the fimdamental na— ture of matter to include an “evolutionary nisus” or urge that insures the emergence ofin— dividuals capable of mystical experience through which the supreme reality, Brahman (= God), is revealed. _ BrahmanHin essence perfect Being, Consciousness—Will, and Bliss or Valuew-invo- lures, or contracts, aspects of itser so that cerfalnfiniie possibilities can emerge, a process mer, and leaves us wondering particular hideous forms of life forced on it by something alien, f them, we could understand its mong the elements overcome, vould never just have chosen it resented as a being without en- hich has spontaneously chosen than a spectacle with less evil in rct the first effect of that perfec- ln whatcVer sense the word ‘ra- ion made on our finite minds by iolcgians have felt its irrational- 311 which the situation involves .tempt to pantheize Christianity. .d morally. detaphysics It the beginning of the twentieth Is a philosopher crafting a mod— of classical Indian theism. Born 'rotn age seven until graduating 9 India, he hntnersed himself in Indian languages. Aurobindo 'itish colonialism and rule, and am ( “Hail to Mother India”), to it charges of sedition and then guided in a 'spectacular trial in 'ated to the French colony of te voluminously while practicing nee and religion and to integrate nderstands the fitndamental no- that insures the emergence of in- 't the Supreme reality, Brahman -Will, and Bliss or'Valtte—invo- issihilities can emerge, a process “- “ ? A Modern Indian Mystic Metaphysics that has an cater limit in the "inconscient” energies of matter But Brahman (i.e., God) cannot create an, entirely insentient world since God is constrained by the metaphysical law ex nihilo nihil fit ( f'tzotlting from nothing“) to create out of God’s own nature of Con- scioitsness and Bliss. (Such emanationism, we noted above, is crucial to most Indian the— lsm——as ivell as to Neoplatdnism in the West.) Thus this warld is destined to evolve sentient material beings and eventually a divine life conceived as a society where many have a rather direct experience of Brahman. ' The selection excerpted is from Anrobindo's principal work of philosophy, The Life Divine (a text running more than a thousand pages). Several broad theories are presented as candidate explanations of the cosmos: Chance, Necessity, a theism with an extracosmic Creator, and, finally, Anrobindo’s own view of a theism where God is immanent in cre- ation. The Indian metaphysician finds faults with each of the views except the last, thus paving the way for its acceptance. (His reasoning anticipates our discussion of the argu- meat from design. with selections from David Hume and M. A. Corey anderzirgmnents for a Divine Reality.) In this excerpt, Antobindo does not discuss what he sees as the most crit- ical considerations supporting his view of the preeminent reality of Brahman. These are mystical occurrences. His task. here is rather to survey potential broad explanations of the cosmos as revealed through common sense experience and as interpreted by science. (Sev- eral selections under Mysticism address the thesis that mystical experiences provide evia dence for God or a spiritual reality like Aarohindo’s Brahman.) We know also that certain combinations of certain invisible atomic'infinitesimals pro— duce or Occasion new" and visible determinations quite different in nature, quality and power from the constituent infinitesimals; but we fail to discover, for instance, howr a fixed fermula for the combination of oxygen and hydrogen comes to determine the appearance of water which is evidently something more than a combination of gases, at new creation, a new form of substance, a material manifestation of a quite new character. We see that a seed develops into a tree, we follow the line of the process of production and we utilise it; but we do not discover how a tree can grow out of a seed, how the life and form of the tree come to be implied in the substance or energy of the seed or, if that be rather the fact, how the seed can develop into a tree. We know that gene's and chromosomes are the cause of hereditary transmissions, not only of physical but of psychological variations; but we do not discover how psychological characteristics can be contained and transmitted in this in— conscient material vehicle. We do not see or kuow,lbut it is expounded to us as a cogent account of Nature—precess, that a play of electrons, of atoms and their resultant molecules, of cells, glands, chemical secretions and physiological processes manages by their activity on the nerves and brain of a Shakespeare er a Plato to produce or could be perhaps the dy- namic occasion for the production of a Hamlet or a Symposium or a Republic; but we fail to discover or appreciate how such material movements could have composed or necessi— tated the composition of these highest points of thought and literature: the divergence here of the determinants and the determination becomes so wide that We are no longer able to follow the process, much less understand or utilise. These formulae of Science may be pragmatically ‘correct and infallible, they may govern the practical how of Nature’s processes, but they do not disclose the intrinsic how or why; rather they have the air of the 105 Chapter 1 Divine Reality formulae of a cosmic Magician, precise, irresistible, automatically s‘hccessful each in its field, but their rationale is fundamentally unintelligible. _ I There is more to petplex us. . . . What is the rationale of the determination, what is its original truth or its significance? What 'compels or impeis this exuberant play of varying possibilities which seem to have no aim or meaning unless it be the beauty or delight of creation? A Mind, a seeking and curious inventive Thought, a hidden determining Will .might be there, but there is no trace of it in the first and fundamental appearance of mater- ial Nature. 7 I r : , A first possible explanation points to a self—organising dynamic Chance that is at work,—a paradox necessitated by the appearance of inevitable order on one side, of unac— countable freak and fantasy on the other side of the cosmic phenomenon we call Nature. An incOn'Scient and inconsequent Force, we may say, that acts at random and creates this or that by a general chance without any determining principle,~——determinations coming in only as the result of a persistent repetition of the same rhythm of action and succeeding be- cause only this repetitive rhythm 'could succeed in keeping things in beingfiuthis is the en- ergy of Nature. But this implies that somewhere in the origin of things there is a boundless Possibility or a womb of innumerable possibilities that are manifested out of it by the orig- inal Energy,-——-an incalc‘ulable Inconscient which 'we find some embarrassment in calling either an Existence or a Non—Existence; for without some such origin and basis the appear— ance and the action of the Energy is unintelligible. Yet an opposite aspect of the nature of the cosmic phenomenon as we see it appears to forbid the the01y of a random action gen- erating a persistent order. There is too much of an iron insistence on order, on a law basing the possibilities. Onerwould be justified rather in supposing that there is an inherent im: pe'rative Truth cf things unseen by us, but a Truth capable of manifold manifestation, throwing out a multitude of possibilities and variants of itself-which the creative Energy by its action turns into so many realised actualities. This brings us to a second explanation,— a mechanical necessity in things, its workings recognisable by us as So many mechanical laws of Nature;»--the necessity, we might say, of some such secret inherent Truth of things . . . governing automatically the processes we observe in action in the universe. But a the- ory of mechanical Necessity by itself does not elucidate. the free play of the endless unac- countable variations which are visible in the evolution: there must be behind the Necessity or in it a law of unity associated with a coexistent but dependent law of ‘muitipiicity, both insisting on manifestation; but the unity of what, the multiplicity of what? Mechanical Ne— cessity can give no answer. Again the emergence of consciousness out of the Inconscient is a stumbling—block‘in the way of this theory; for it is a phenomenon which can have no place in all—pervading truth of inconscient mechanical Necessity. if there is a necessity which compels the emergence, it can be only this, that there is already a consciousness concealed in the Inconscient, waiting for evolution and when all is ready breaking out from its prison of apparent Nescience. . . . This opens the way for other explanations which make Consciousness the creator of this world out of an apparent original Inconscience. A Mind, a Will seems to have imag- ined and organiseduhe universe, but it has veiled itself behind its Creation; its first erection has been this screen of an inconscicnt Energy and a material form of substance, at once a lly saccessful each in its determination, what is its xuberant play of varying 5 the beauty or delight of hidden determining Will ntal appearance of mater— ynamic Chance that is at rder on one side, of unac- znomenon we call Nature. random and creates this or determinations coming in action and succeeding be- ;s in being—this is the en- things there is a boundless fested out of it by the orig— : embarrassment in calling arigin and basis the appear- -site aspect of the nature of ry of a random action gen- :e on order, on a law basing rat there is an inherent im- if manifold manifestation, hich the creative Energy by to a second explanation,—H ' us as so many mechanical :ret inherent Truth of things it in the universe. But a the- ee play of the endless unac- 1ust be behind the Necessity ent law of multiplicity, both ity of what? Mechanical Ne‘ mess out of the Inconscient is omenon which can have no :ssity. If there is a necessity : is already a consciousness 111 is ready breaking out from Consciousness the creator of , a Will seems to have imag- 1 its creation; its first erection , form of substance, at once a A Modern Indian Mystic Metaphysics disguise of its presence and a plastic creative basis on which it could work as an artisan uses for his production of forms and patterns a dumb and obedient material. All these things we see around us are then the thoughts of an extracosmic Divinity, a Being with an omnipotent and omniscient Mind and Will, who is responsible for the mathematical law of the physical universe, for its artistry of beauty, for its strange play of samenesses and vari— ations, of concordances and discords, of combining and intermingling opposites, for the drama of consciousness struggling to exist and seeking to affirm itself in an inconscieut universal order. The fact that this Divinity is invisible to us, undiscoverable by our mind and senses, offers no difficulty, since self—evidence or direct sign of an extracosrnic Creator could not be expected in a cosmos which is void of his presence: the patent signals every— where of the works of an Intelligence, of law, design, formula, adaptation of means to end, constant and inexhaustible invention, fantasy even but restrained by an ordering Reason might be considered sufficient proof of this origin of things. Or if this Creator is not en- tirely supracosmic, but is also immanent in his works, even then there need be no other sign of him—except indeed to some consciousness evolving in this inconscient world, but only when its evolution reached a point at which it could become aware of the indwelling Presence. The intervention of this evolving consciousness would not be a difficulty, since -- there would be no contradiction of the basic nature of things in its appearance; an omnipo— tent Mind could easily infuse something of itself into its creatures. One difficulty remains; it is the arbitrary nature of the creation, the incomprehensibility of its purpose, the crude meaninglessness of its law of unnecessary ignorance, strife and suffering, its ending with— out denouement or issue. A play? But why this stamp of so many undivine elements and characters in the play of One whose nature must be supposed to be divine? To the sugges- tion that what we see worked out in the world is the thoughts of God, the retort can be made that ,God could well have had better thoughts and the best thought of all would have been to refrain frOm the creation of an unhappy and unintelligible universe. All theistic ex- , planatious of existence starting from an extracosmic Deity stumble over this difficulty and can only evade it; it would disappear only if the Creator were, even though exceeding the creation, yet immanent in it, himself in some sort both the player and the play, an Infinite _‘ casting infinite possibilities into the set form of an evolutionary cosmic order. On that hypothesis, there must be behind the action of the material Energy a secret in— olved Consciousness, cosmic, infinite, building up through the action of that frontal En- r'gy its means of an evolutionary manifestation, a creation out of itself in the boundless Inite of the material universe. The apparent inconscience of the material Energy would be u indispensable condition for the structure of the material world-substance in which this onsciousness intends to involve itself so that it may grow by evolution out of its apparent .pposite; for without some such device a complete involution would be impossible. If here is such a creation by the Infinite out of itself, it must be the manifestation, in a mate- :aldisguise, of truths or powers of its own being: the forms or vehicles of these truths or Divers would be the basic general or fundamental deterniinates we see in Nature; the par- tcular determinates, which otherwise are unaccountable variations that have emerged tom the vague general stuff in which they originate, would be the appropriate forms hicles of the possibilities that the truths or powers residing in these fundamentals re within them. The principle of.free variation of possibilities natural to an infinite 105 Chapter l Divine Reality Consciousness would be the explanation of the aspect of inconscient Chance of which We are aware in the workings of Naturerwinconscient only in appearance and so appearing because of the complete involution in Matter, because of the veil with which the secret Consciousness has disguised its presence. The principle of truths, real powers of the Infi- nite imperativer fulfilling themselves would be the explanation of the opposite aspectsfof a mechanical Necessity which We see in Nature,—mechanical in appearance only and' so appearing because of the same veil of Inconscience. It would then be perfectly intelligible why the Inconscient does its works with a constant principle of mathematical architecture, of design, of effective arrangement of numbers, of adaptation of means to ends, of inex— haustible device and invention, one might almost say, a constant experimental skill and an automatism of purpose. The appearance of consciousness out of an apparent Inconscience would also be no longer inexplicable. I . All the unexplained processes of Nature would find their meaning and their place if this hypothesis proved to be tenable. . . . There would be no difficulty either in-under« standing on this principle how infinitesimals of a material character like the gene and the chromosome can carry in them psychological elements to be transmitted to the physical form that has to emerge from the human seed; it would be at bottom on the same principle in the objectivity of Matter as that which we find our subjective experiencewfor we see that the subconscient physical carries in he mental psychological content, impressions of past events, habits, fixed mental and vital formations, fixed forms of character, and sends them up by an occult process to the waking consciousness, thus originating or influencing many activities of our nature. On the same basis there would be no difficulty in understanding why the physiological functionings of the body help to determine the mind’s psychological actions: for the body is not mere unconscious Matter: it is a structure of a secretly conscious Energy that has taken . form in‘it. Itself occultly conscious, it is, at the same time, the vehicle of expression of an overt Consciousness that has emerged and is self—aware in our physical energy—substance. The body’s functionings are anecessary machinery or instrumentation for the movements of this mental Inhabitant; it is only by setting the corporeal instrument in motion that the Con— scious Being emerging, evolving in it can transmit its mind formations, will formations and turn them into a physical manifestation of itself in Matter. The capacity, the processes of the instrument must to a certain extent reshape the mind formations in their transition from men- tal shape into physical expression; its workings are necessary and must exercise their influ- ence before that expression can become actual. The bodily instrument may even in some directions dominate its user; it may too by a force of habit suggest or create involuntary reacr tions of the consciousness inhabiting it before the working Mind and Will can control or in- terfere. All this is possible because the body has a “subconscient” consciousness of its own which counts in our total self—expression; even, if we look at this outer instrumentation only, we can conclude that body determines mind, but this is only a minor truth and the major Truth is that mind determines body. In this view a still deeper Truth becomes conceivable; a spiritual entity ensouling the substance that veils it is the original determinant of both mind and body. On the otherside, in the opposite order of process,——that by which the mind can transmit’its ideas and commands to the body, can train it to be an instrument for new action, can even so impress it with its habitual demands or orders that the physical instinct carries ve n rct f i- of so )le re, :x- an ice 3 if 81‘- the. Process Metaphysics and Christian Theology them out automatically even when the mind is no longer consciously willing them, those also more unusual but well attested by which to an extraordinary and hardly iimitable extent the mind can loam to determine the reactions of the body even to the oven‘iding of its normal law or conditions of action,——-these and other otherwise unaccountable aspects of the relation be- tween these two elements of our being become easily understandable: for it is the secret con- sciousness in the living matter that receives from its greater companion; it is this in the body that in its own involved and occult fashion perceives or feels the demand on it and obeys the emerged or evolved consciousness which presides over the body. Finally, the conception of a divine Mind and Will creating the cosmos becomes justifiable, while at the same time the perplexing elements in it which our reasoning mentality refuses to ascribe to an arbitrary fiat of the Creator, find their explanation as inevitable phenomena of a Consciousness emerging with difficulty out of its Opposite~but with the mission to override these contrary phenom— ena and manifest by a slow and difficult evolution its greater reality and true nature 107 ...
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aurobindo.tele - Chapterl Divine Reality ‘ i pantheism It...

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