Sunday, June 01, 2008

Sri Aurobindo described the ultimate as ‘Conscious Force’

Leibniz—A Talk by Asok Kumar Ray
from Science, Culture and Integral Yoga™ by RY Deshpande

Leibniz was well-acquainted with the philosophies of Descartes, Gassendi, Malbranche, and Spinoza. Descartes thought that mind and matter are unrelated and independent of each other, and that in a living creature mind acts on the body through the medium of what he called ‘vital spirits’. Malbranche and Gieulincx (both of them pupils of Descartes) rejected the idea of vital spirits, and maintained that the mind and the body were only providentially parallel.

Gieulincx supplied the famous analogy of the two clocks: By looking at a clock and hearing another, we may find that whenever one is marking four, the other is striking four, and we may conclude that the two clocks are interconnected. But actually they are parallel only through an outside cause. The clock-paradigm caught, as we shall see later, the imagination of Leibniz also. Spinoza said that neither is mind material (as held by the materialists), nor is matter mental (as held by the idealists); they are the two aspects of one and the same thing. Spinoza said that the ultimate reality is one. He was a monist: in fact, a pantheist, holding the view that God is the only reality and that this world is the creation of God out of himself. Spinoza’s monism was thus dialectical in nature, in the sense that consciousness and matter according to him, were two aspects of one and the same ultimate. Spinoza said that the ultimate reality can think and has extension in space.

We intend here, at the cost of a digression, to say that the Spinozistic viewpoint of the ‘dialectical’ oneness of the ultimate matches perfectly well with the viewpoint of the Nasadiya Sukta of the Rigveda where it was said that the one who was covered by a paltry sheath energized himself and expanded himself. It may be recalled that Sri Aurobindo described the ultimate as ‘Conscious Force’ which clearly shows that he was aware of the extra-consciousness part of reality, which according to him (and according to modern science), is more force-like than matter-like in its depth. Now, while we fully agree about the double aspect of the ultimate one, we do not think that the ultimate in its own being is extended in space. To have extension in space means to be plural and limited. Both are unimaginable about the ultimate in its own self. We would like to think that space itself is a creation. It is a creation immediately prior to or concomitant with the creation of physical objects in space. It may be mentioned that this is precisely what the Rishi of the Prashna Upanishad says in his explanation of the sixteen features of the ultimate…

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