(a project of Mirravision Trust, Financed by Auroshakti Foundation)

Chapter I
Chapter II - Part 1
Chapter II - Part 2
Chapter II - Part 3
Chapter II - Part 4
Chapter III - Part 1
Chapter III - Part 2
Chapter III - Part 3
Chapter III - Part 4
Chapter III - Part 5
Chapter III - Part 6
Chapter IV - Part 1
Chapter IV - Part 2
Chapter IV - Part 3
Chapter IV - Part 4
Chapter V-Part 1
Chapter V - Part 2
Chapter V - Part 3
Chapter V - Part 4
Chapter V - Part 5
Chapter VI - Part 1
Chapter VI - Part 2
Chapter VI - Part 3
Chapter VI - Part 4
Chapter VI - Part 5
Chapter VII - Part 1
Chapter VII - Part 2
Chapter VII - Part 3
Chapter VII - Part 4
Chapter VII - Part 5
Chapter VIII - Part 1
Chapter VIII - Part 2
Chapter VIII - Part 3
Chapter VIII - Part 4
Chapter IX - Part 1
Chapter IX - Part 2
Chapter X - Part 1
Chapter X - Part 2
Chapter X - Part 3
Chapter X - Part 4
Chapter X - Part 5
Chapter X - Part 6
Chapter XI - Part 1
Chapter XI - Part 2
Chapter XI - Part 3
Chapter XI - Part 4
Chapter XII - Part 1
Chapter XII - Part 2
Chapter XII - Part 3
Chapter XII - Part 4
Chapter XII - Part 5
Chapter XIII - Part 1
Chapter XIII - Part 2
Chapter XIV - Part 1
Chapter XIV - Part 2
Chapter XIV - Part 3
Chapter XIV - Part 4
Chapter XIV - Part 5
Chapter XV - Part 1
Chapter XV - Part 2
Chapter XV - Part 3
Chapter XV - Part 4
Chapter XV - Part 5
Chapter XV - Part 6
Chapter XV - Part 7
Chapter XV - Part 8
Chapter XV - Part 9
Chapter XVI - Part 1
Chapter XVI - Part 2
Chapter XVI - Part 3
Chapter XVI - Part 4
Chapter XVI - Part 5
Chapter XVI - Part 6
Chapter XVI - Part 7
Chapter XVI - Part 8
Chapter XVI - Part 9
Chapter XVI - Part 10
Chapter XVI - Part 11
Chapter XVI - Part 12
Chapter XVI - Part 13
Chapter XVII - Part 1
Chapter XVII - Part 2
Chapter XVII - Part 3
Chapter XVII - Part 4
Chapter XVIII - Part 1
Chapter XVIII - Part 2
Chapter XVIII - Part 3
Chapter XVIII - Part 4
Chapter XVIII - Part 5
Chapter XVIII - Part 6
Chapter XVIII - Part 7
Chapter XVIII - Part 8
Chapter XVIII - Part 9
Chapter XVIII - Part 10
Chapter XIX - Part 1
Chapter XIX - Part 2
Chapter XIX - Part 3
Chapter XIX - Part 4
Chapter XIX - Part 5
Chapter XIX - Part 6
Chapter XIX - Part 7
Chapter XX - Part 1
Chapter XX - Part 2
Chapter XX - Part 3
Chapter XX - Part 4
Chapter XX - Part 4
Chapter XXI - Part 1
Chapter XXI - Part 2
Chapter XXI - Part 3
Chapter XXI - Part 4
Chapter XXII - Part 1
Chapter XXII - Part 2
Chapter XXII - Part 3
Chapter XXII - Part 4
Chapter XXII - Part 5
Chapter XXII - Part 6
Chapter XXIII Part 1
Chapter XXIII Part 2
Chapter XXIII Part 3
Chapter XXIII Part 4
Chapter XXIII Part 5
Chapter XXIII Part 6
Chapter XXIII Part 7
Chapter XXIV Part 1
Chapter XXIV Part 2
Chapter XXIV Part 3
Chapter XXIV Part 4
Chapter XXIV Part 5
Chapter XXV Part 1
Chapter XXV Part 2
Chapter XXV Part 3
Chapter XXVI Part 1
Chapter XXVI Part 2
Chapter XXVI Part 3
Chapter XXVII Part 1
Chapter XXVII Part 2
Chapter XXVII Part 3
Chapter XXVIII Part 1
Chapter XXVIII Part 2
Chapter XXVIII Part 3
Chapter XXVIII Part 4
Chapter XXVIII Part 5
Chapter XXVIII Part 6
Chapter XXVIII Part 7
Chapter XXVIII Part 8
Book II, Chapter 1, Part I
Book II, Chapter 1, Part II
Book II, Chapter 1, Part III
Book II, Chapter 1, Part IV
Book II, Chapter 1, Part V
Book II, Chapter 2, Part I
Book II, Chapter 2, Part II
Book II, Chapter 2, Part III
Book II, Chapter 2, Part IV
Book II, Chapter 2, Part V
Book II, Chapter 2, Part VI
Book II, Chapter 2, Part VII
Book II, Chapter 2, Part VIII
Book II, Chapter 3, Part I
Book II, Chapter 3, Part II
Book II, Chapter 3, Part III
Book II, Chapter 3, Part IV
Book II, Chapter 3, Part V
Book II, Chapter 4, Part I
Book II, Chapter 4, Part II
Book II, Chapter 4, Part III
Book II, Chapter 5, Part I
Book II, Chapter 5, Part II
Book II, Chapter 5, Part III
Book II, Chapter 6, Part I
Book II, Chapter 6, Part II
Book II, Chapter 6, Part III
Book II, Chapter 7, Part I
Book II, Chapter 7, Part II
Book II, Chapter 8, Part I
Book II, Chapter 8, Part II
Book II, Chapter 9, Part I
Book II, Chapter 9, Part II
Book II, Chapter 10, Part I
Book II, Chapter 10, Part II

A Psychological Approach to Sri Aurobindo's

The Life Divine

Book II, Chapter 10, Part I

Book II

The Knowledge and the Ignorance-The Spiritual Evolution

Chapter 10

Knowledge by Identity and Separative Knowledge

Part I

There are four cognitive methods of Nature:

(a) Knowledge by Identity: This is the "original and fundamental way of knowing" (SABCL, pg.524),

(b) Knowledge by intimate direct contact: This is a knowledge associated with a secret knowledge by identity but separated from its source and thus powerful but incomplete (Ibid);

(c) Knowledge by separative direct contact: This is a knowledge by separation from the object of observation but with a direct contact as its support (Ibid); and

(d) Knowledge that is completely separative: This is a knowledge is a completely separative knowledge which relies on indirect contact, a knowledge by acquisition which is a "bringing up of the contents of a pre-existent inner awareness and knowledge". (Ibid, pg.525)

We have an illustration of knowledge by identity by a direct awareness of our own essential existence. We get a tingling of it when we are swallowed by wrath so that our whole consciousness appears to be a wave of anger. We are likewise seized by other passions like love, grief and joy. But there is also a double movement wherein a part of ourselves becomes the thought or passion and another part that follows it closely and knows it by an intimate direct contact that falls short of identification in the movement. (Ibid)

By an inner detachment, we can become the observer, witness, knower and ruler. If we are without this detachment, we do not know any movement "dominatingly and fully". (Ibid, pg.526) It is very difficult to be a witness in a state of complete identification with a movement because we live in a divided consciousness. In such a divided consciousness, "the vital part of us, -- our life nature of force and desire and passion and action, --tends to control or swallow up the mind, and the mind has to avoid this subjection and control the vital, but can only succeed in the effort by keeping itself separate; for if it identifies itself,it is lost and hurried away in the life movement". (Ibid)

But there is also possible a kind of balanced double identity (Ibid) by division with a self of thought which observes and a self of life which is carried along the movement in nature. "Here, then, in our subjective experience, we have a field of the action of consciousness in which three movements of cognition can meet together, a certain kind of knowledge by identity, a knowledge by direct contact and, dependent upon them, a separative knowledge". (Ibid)

In thought separation of the thinker and thinking is difficult as one is lost or carried in the thought current. One can review one's thought in retrospect with the help of memory or "a critical pause of corrective judgement". (Ibid, pg.526-527) However one can separate the thinker from the thought when the thinker can step back into one's mental self and be the witness, watching the thoughts in their origin and movement and through insight judge and evaluate them. "But whatever the kind of identification, it is to be noted that the knowledge of our internal movements is of a double nature, separation and direct contact: for even when we detach ourselves, this close contact is maintained; our knowledge is always based on a direct touch, on a cognition by direct awareness carrying in it a certain element of identity".(Ibid, pg.527)

The more separative attitude is due to reason; the more intimate is due to the dynamic part of mind that associates with our sensations, feelings and desires but here too the thinking mind can exercise "a separative dissociated observation"(Ibid) and control over both the dynamic part of mind and the vital or physical movement. All the movements of the physical being are controlled by us in both ways, the separative and intimate; "we feel the body and what it is doing intimately as part of us, but the mind is separate from it and can exercise a detached control over its movements". (Ibid) This gives "a certain intimacy, immediacy and directness" to our knowledge of the subjective being which is absent from the knowledge of the world around us considered as "not-self".(Ibid) In that knowledge of the world around us, no direct contact of consciousness with the object is possible and we have to rely on the sense which does not give an immediate intimate knowledge of it but "a figure of it as a first datum for knowledge". (Ibid)

We know the external world on a wholly separative basis, we cannot know other beings with the directness and intimacy with which we know, even though incompletely, ourselves. Our senses give a knowledge of the outside world but without the real intimacy, they give only an image or vibration through which we have to know it. "But there intervenes a sense-mind intuition which seizes the suggestion of the image or vibration and equates it with the object, a vital intuition which seizes the energy or figure of power of the object through another kind of vibration created by the sense contact, and an intuition of the perceptive mind which at once forms a right idea of the object from all this evidence". (Ibid, pg.528) Whatever gaps are there in the interpretation of the image are filled up by reason or the total understanding intelligence. Intuition cannot work perfectly as it is is not in direct contact with the consciousness of the object but works on a image, an indirect evidence, a sense document. Since the image or vibration is defective, the intuition gets limited and "the accuracy of our intuitional interpretive construction of the object is open to question" . (Ibid, pg.529) Man has therefore to develop his reason to make up for "the deficiencies of his sense instrumentation, the fallibility of his physical mind's perceptions and the paucity of its interpretation of its data." (Ibid)

Our world-knowledge is thus imperfect and amplified by Science. Still it remains a mass of doubts and a continual debate and enquiry. "Power has come with knowledge , but our imperfection of knowledge leaves us without any idea of the true use of the power, even of the aim towards which our utilisation of knowledge and power should be turned and made effective." (Ibid) This gets worsened due to the imperfection in our self-knowledge. "Self-knowledge and self-mastery are wanting in the user, wisdom and right will in his use of world-power and world-knowledge". (Ibid)

We have a limited knowledge of the world as our awareness is born of a separative observation --"at best a mixed knowledge-ignorance". (Ibid) We know ourselves superficially, the sources of our life and its functionings remain a mystery. This is because we are concentrated on the superficial self centered around "egocentric individualisation" (Ibid, pg.530)and ignorant of our total nature that contains the depths of self. At best we can peep through portholes and look into our inner self and we usually see little there except "a mysterious dimness". (Ibid)

However our superficial consciousness has to defend its ego-centric individualisation not only against its deeper self but also against the cosmic infinite and considers all that is not centred round its ego as the not-self. In practical terms, it has to live with the not-self and maintain some sort of communication with it. This it does through the medium of senses which provides some system of knowledge which serves an immediate purpose. But that knowledge is objective --a knowledge of the surface of things and thus limited and insecure. Its defence against the invasion of cosmic energy is also insecure and partial.

Actually one is surrounded by the not-self and penetrated almost defenselessly by its forces --its thoughts, will, passions, vital impacts and forces of myriad kinds. "Its wall of defence becomes a wall of obscuration which which prevents it from knowing all this interaction; it knows only what comes through the gates of sense or through mental perceptions of which it cannot be sure or through what it can infer or build up from its gathered sense-data; all the rest is to it a blank of nescience." (Ibid, pg.531)

Our ego presents a barrier to self-knowledge and world-knowledge and this "double wall of self-imprisonment" (Ibid) is a cause of our limited knowledge and ignorance. But this self-imprisonment is not the whole story of our life. In fact, "this constant outer ego-building is only a provisional device of the Consciousness-Force in things so that the secret individual , the spirit within, may establish a representative and instrumental formation of itself in physical nature, a provisional individualisation in the nature of the Ignorance, which is all that can at first be done in a world emerging out of a universal Inconscience." (Ibid) The more we come out of the ambit of the ego, the more we move towards an integral self-knowledge and integral world-knowledge. We have to come out of the ego-consciousness to extend and inhabit the body of the universe. "In place of its knowledge by indirect contact, or in addition to it, it must arrive at a knowledge by direct contact and proceed to a knowledge by identity." (Ibid, pg.532) We have to grow into "a boundless finite and an infinite". (Ibid)

Of the two pursuits of self-knowledge and world-knowledge, we have to first pursue self-knowledge. We have first to go to our inner being for everything outside is conditioned inside, in our occult depths and the outer being is only an antechamber. Our inspirations, intuitions, life-motives originate in our inner being which also receives the cosmic impacts. We are ordinarily ignorant of our inner self. The knowledge of the inner initiating self has to be put into the correct perspective along with the outer instrumental self so that we understand the part played by both of them. (Ibid)

Date of Update: 26-Apr-24

- By Dr. Soumitra Basu


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