Humanity: Today & Tomorrow|May 14, 2014 4:03 AM| by:

Machinery and Logical Intelligence – Part II


And then comes literature – I shall speak particularly of poetry. Here, not only has the logical intelligence created a confusion, but it has also sacrificed even the common sense. We shall try to explain this observation with the help of an example. Let us take the case of the Ramayana. We will have to restore the original Ramayana – now, even before doing that, it is necessary to prove that there existed the entire epic called the Ramayana and that it was written by a single person. What do we require for this? What is needed is to collect all the manuscripts on the Ramayana wherever they are available in any country. Next, we have to see what we can make out of them after collecting, checking and arranging the internal evidences, that is, the facts mentioned in the manuscripts, distinct (or indistinct). Apart from the internal evidences, we will have to see what is available from the external evidences, that is, whether there are any references in other books and documents or in folklores or legends. Keeping before us these two evidences, we have to take up some parts of them for comparison and then we will have to decide, we will have to examine whether the Ramayana was written by one person or not, if so, how much of it was written by one person and how much by others. But the point is that in spite of all these planned procedures the proof that ensues from them does not appear to be totally satisfactory or convincing. We find before our very eyes that this type of higher criticism fails to affirm the existence of the poet called Homar and that it considers Iliad as nothing but a collection of ballads scattered here and there over many ages; further, there was no Shakespeare, Shakespeare was no one else than Lord Becon. This sounds like the story of the great physician who proved by comparing the symptoms with the laws of medical science that the living patient was indeed dead. Or we can call to mind the story of the physician depicted by Moliere who exclaimed wide-eyed: “The patient dies without the permission of the physician – what an unmedical proposition!” Such obvious facts are also at times denied by theories or the sastras.

Be that as it may, what we want to say is that the logical intelligence is destroying the taste, the sense of humour – in common parlance, the connoisseurship in literature (not only in literature, but in all domains). We do not recognise Valmiki by the style of Valmiki, we cannot single out a poet or differentiate between two poets from the Roman hand imprinted in poetry. We want to recognise man with the help of a yardstick, that is to say, by measuring the circumference of his head, placing a foot-rule upon his nose, calculating the area of his forehead, surveying the length, width and breadth of his hands and feet. We take resort to physiognomy in order to know the identity of a man. However, even if we do not accept that there is no truth in physiognomy, let us not forget the fact that a man can be known and that the depths of his heart can be fathomed by a mere look, by a single glance at him and it is to this fact that we want to draw our attention.

The main defect of the logical intelligence lies in the fact that in order to understand a thing, it first breaks it into pieces and then collecting and collating those pieces it arrives at a form and thereafter it wants to seize it. It cannot have an integral look at the whole thing. To express it in terms of logical intelligence itself, we can say that the logical intelligence wants to proceed gradually from the particular to the general. This is because the very property of the logical intelligence is that it can hold only one thing and not two things together at a time – ‘eka samaye cobhoyanavadharanam‘ (nor can it be in both states at the same time), adding one with another it arrives at two. It is the particular which is particularly true to it, the general is for it only a means to bind together some particulars, it is not so much a living truth, it is only an abstraction. But the disconcerting fact is that the world is not a sum-total of the particulars only, the infinite is not merely the aggregate of the finites – all the particulars are continuously disappearing into a ceaseless motion (Bergson; sarvam prana ejati – All this universe of motion moves in the Prana); not only that, all the particulars have been one in a general oneness without a second. Therefore, in order to understand and seize a thing, we may start from this ekam [oneness]; it is from this ekam, this soul or this permanent Self that we can move towards various external phenomenal things, from this motion, rhythm and life towards immobility, measure and matter. In other words, as there is a way to move from the particular to the general—the way of the logical intelligence, so also there is a way to move from the general to the particular—which is the Intuitive Method, the way of direct realisation, the process of samyama.

Now, what is the process of this direct knowledge or of samyama? There are three modes or levels of this process. First, dharand [concentration] i.e. the mind – not only the mind, but also the citta [the general stuff of mental consciousness], which is the base of the mind, the intelligence and all the modes of the mental conscious­ness, have to be focused on and fastened to the object to be known and realised – desabandhacittasya dharand (dharand is fastening the citta to one spot). In other words, the first thing needed is resolve – even at the beginning of the ritualistic worship of our deities, we are to make this resolve.

Secondly, dhyana [meditation], i.e., the entire citta, all the currents of the citta have to be pointed to and kept absorbed in the object – tatrapratyaikatanata dhyanam (the continuation of the effort at one pointedness is dhyana). Thirdly, samadhi [trance] i.e. the citta plunges into the object in such a manner that its familiar outer form as though disappears, while only the substance of the object, its real essence alone shines forth – tadeva vastu matra nirvasam svarupa sunyamiba samadhih (in samadhi the citta loses its own nature, as it were, and shines as the object alone). These three powers constitute the power of samyama trayamekatra samyamah (the three together is known as samyama). It is through samyama that indubitable knowledge can be acquired – tajjayat prajnalokah (by mastery thereof, superior knowledge of the objective world is obtained). In whatever field it may be, not only in the metaphysical or the spiritual field but in worldly or material field as well, one can apply this power of samyama and acquire a variety of knowledge concerning these fields – tasya bhumisu viniyogah (its application is to the varied objective states) [of the citta]. One has to be united with the indwelling spirit of the object and one must plunge into one’s own self in order to seize the spirit of the object.

As a bee completely absorbs itself in the flower and as it becomes motionless and mute when immersed in drinking honey, so also the mind and intelligence have to quieten their own restlessness and agitation so that the inner Self, the Purusha alone may continue to relish the rasa, the sap of truth. The first requirement is to sow the seeds of resolve in the field of the mind and citta after cleansing them thoroughly; next, to germinate them by the force of meditation and by the heat of the inner being’s askesis and finally, to sprout them into leaves, flowers and fruits. With the help of mind and intelligence alone one can reach the external body only, the golden vessel of the truth only; if one wants to seize the true nature of a thing, one has to embrace its inner self with one’s own inner self. And if one seizes, realises the true nature of a thing, one does not find it particularly difficult to seize, to realise its forms of expression. The saying – tasmin vijnate sarvam vijnatam (That being known, all is known) is not a hyperbole, it is but a natural expression.

There are two modes of knowledge: reflection [vicara] and discrimination [viveka]. Our fault is that we make reflection all in all and leave discrimination aside and let it perish. But it is discrimination that is the foundation of knowledge, it is a faculty very close to the source of knowledge, whereas reflection is the secondary faculty of knowledge. We can describe the difference between reflection and discrimination in three phases. Firstly, discrimination is self-evident, but reflection is not self-evident – na tatsvabhasam (but not to itself, as it is not self-illuminating). We use very often the English word ‘conscience’ to denote discrimination in Bengali; in Sanskrit, though the philosophical sense of discrimina­tion is not that, still there is a remarkable similarity between these two things. Conscience is that faculty which expresses spontaneously and without any deliberation what is dharma [righteousness] and what is adharma [unrighteousness], what is virtue and what is vice, what is good and what is evil. Likewise, discrimination too declares spontaneously, without any deliberation, what is right and what is wrong, what is truth and what is falsehood. Discrimination is the faculty of a direct identity, and it is for this reason that the second difference between discrimination and reflection presents itself thus: there is no sequence, that is, step by step move­ment in discrimination (akramam – without sequence), but reflection proceeds by following a sequence, grasping one thing after another – because, we have already said that reflection cannot hold two things at a time.

The Western philosophy mentions two things called Mediate and Immediate Knowledge; we will say, reflection is Mediate Knowledge – it cannot move without the help of a mediator, and discrimination is Immediate Knowledge, neutral and unsupported. To grasp or to understand a thing, reflection takes resort to many other things, moves slowly in a round-about way; it cannot say decisively at the outset about the final goal or the conclusion; it cannot see, at least for the moment, anything more than the goal or conclusion that it has succeeded in grasping for the time being. On the other hand, discrimination can enter directly the heart of a thing, it does not have to depend on any other thing – in the words of the Upanishads, as the arrow hits the target, the knowledge of discrimination too goes in the same manner to the thing to be known, gets to it and merges with it – saravat tanmayo bhavet (one must be absorbed into That as an arrow is lost in its target). The third difference between reflection and discrimination is that reflection gives the sense of a part – the same form of knowledge of one thing at a particular moment; but in discrimination we get the sense of the whole – the knowledge of various forms of one thing or of many things at a particular moment. The knowledge of discrimina­tion is the synthesis and union of ‘one-many-and-manifold’ – Sarvavisayam sarvatha visayam kramenceti vivekajam jnanam (freed from the notion of succession in time one just gazes at all things at all times. This is called the state of discriminative knowledge).

Reflection does not discover the truth; it is discrimi­nation that discovers the truth, reflection comes later to explain the ‘why’ of it, the ‘how’ of it, to collect evidence for it. Discrimination is like the theorem of geometry, while reflection is its demonstration – Q.E.D. (quod erat demonstrandum – which had to be proved). Reflection is not useless, it has its utility. But its utility is felt only at that moment when discrimination upholds reflection from behind. It is when reflection makes the discrimination visible giving it an external form, arranging and dressing it up properly that it can take a firm decision, set a realisable goal and purpose. Reflection becomes effective only when it can establish itself in the physical and make evident to others what is subtle and self-evident in discrimination. Otherwise, reflection becomes a jugglery at argumentation or a play of words—a repetitive turning of the mind—andhenaiva niyamand yathandhdh iike – blind men led by one who is himself blind).

Now, the point is that we understand the thing called reflection, we see its existence in man – but where is discrimination? If a thing exists, it exists everywhere, under all circumstances. We find reflection everywhere in all circumstances, but why don’t we find discrimination? If discrimination is a faculty or a property of man, it must be there in the natural and general play of man’s mind. But as we say to God: ‘Verily thou art a god that the animal is sharp, alert, unsceptical and correct within the limits of its requirements. On the other hand, the mental sheath in man yearns to be established in the Gnostic sheath overcoming the predominance of his vital sheath. The ‘self in man does not want to do anything in self-oblivious ignorance like the ‘self of the animal. Man wants to become conscious and awaken not only the feelings but the sense of the feelings as well and thereby widen and diversify his field of consciousness. Here lies the difference between animal and man. Reflection is a means to awaken self-consciousness in the natural sense-perceptions – but it is a means only. Discrimination is another means and not only that, it is discrimination that is the real and true means. Reflection builds a discord between the soul and the body, between the sense and the object, because the first step of self-awareness to know oneself, to recognise the soul, is this discord, this antithesis, this knowledge of difference between Purusha and Prakriti, this negation – neti, neti. But this discord, antithesis, knowledge of division are not final – after the knowledge of division, even within the knowledge of division, there is an intimate knowledge of unity and within the truth of diversity where there was or is only the truth of antithesis, there is established or there already exists a truth of unity. At first, we see the separate truth of each thing, the truth of one thing standing in opposition to that of another – this is the field of reflection and argumentation; then we find that the truth of each thing rests as it is, united in oneness with one other – this is the function of discrimination.
Reflection separates man fully from the animal, while discrimination helps him.

Reflection represents and suppresses the natural spontaneous feeling, it only examines this feeling by cutting it into pieces, while in discrimination that natural feeling reappears wholly after being transformed. What is spontaneous feeling in ordinary consciousness is discrimination in self-consciousness. Therefore, when we say that man should not be a slave of reflection and argumentation, that he should awaken, sharpen his spontaneous feeling, then it does not mean that man has to revert to the animal level, it only means that the instinctive feeling of the inferior creature has to be awakened. In other words, he must be made self-conscious, he must turn this feeling into a higher faculty, i.e. into discrimination. We say here ‘must be’, but as a matter of fact, it is this very thing that is taking place. We have already stated that by nature man moves under the impulse of an instinctive feeling and discrimination, reflection wants to present this very feeling in a mature and orderly manner. There is a still subtler faculty of knowledge even above discrimination, even within discrimination – this is called the Divine Vision or Revelation or Kaivalya Jnana – Knowledge of Aloneness (Patanjali says that discrimination is the state that precedes kaivalya) – but there is no need to dwell upon it here.

In man there are at different levels faculties that are involved one in another. In fact, man’s knowledge moves gradually from the innermost cavern to the outer. But the inner levels of knowledge remain involved. In the process of evolution the more we ascend the more the inner faculties are evolved. In the animal-like physical man mainly the sense-perception is awakened and manifested, whereas in the civilised, educated and cultured man we find a preponderance of reflection and logical intelligence. Those who are endowed with talent, have in them the discrimination, the divine vision which is far above the logical intelligence. Excepting in the talented, this hidden subtle faculty has not developed amongst common people because they have not reflected the light of their own consciousness on this faculty, they have not concentrated on it, they have not cultured it – they rely more on the logical intelligence and it is by this logical intelligence that they try to suppress it. At a particular stage of evolution, by virtue of the spirit of the age, the autocracy of reflection and argumentation has, therefore, been established.

We were talking about machinery in the beginning. In the modern world, in the field of mind and heart, reflection and argumentation have gained prominence over discriminating sight; it is for this reason and it is in the same manner that machines hold sway over human sense-organs in the external field of work. There is an inextricable cause-and-effect relationship between these two pairs – the relation that exists between the logical faculty and discrimination is the same as between machines and sense-organs. The straight-forward vision of discrimination and the instinctive feeling of the senses move hand in hand, while the orderly sequence, the methodical arrangement of the logical intelligence and the rigid states of the machinery go hand in hand. The knowledge that discrimination imparts contains an integrality, an entirety, a kind of wideness and intimacy, a sense of joy, while the knowledge imparted by the logical intelligence is partial, fragmentary – it is formal. What the conscious organs of action create contains a tree, vivid and beautiful movement of life; and what the machines create is clipped, made according to measure to a degree, like a bare skeleton – as if the one is a pic­ture and the other a geometric figure.

Man has a necessity of the reflective intelligence, there is also no such compulsion that the machines too have to be dispensed with lock stock and barrel. But if the reflective intelligence becomes the master of the faculty of which it should be the follower, if the machines transgress their creator and swallow him, then the kind of loss or misfortune that befalls man is all that we were talking about.

Nolini Kanta Gupta

(Nolini Kanta Gupta was a revolutionary, linguist, scholar, critic, poet, philosopher and a man of deep spiritual realisation. Author of nearly 60 books he was a Trustee of Sri Aurobindo Ashram.)