The Three Errors of the Logical Mind In Judging the Eternal

The human mind when confronted with the ultimate issues of existence wants to find a way to avoid the entire problem, confine itself to its daily round of cares and activities and dismiss the reality of the experience, or the reality underpinning the experience, of the Eternal.

Sri Aurobindo describes the issues thus: “Yet is there here a triple error, the error of making an unbridgeable gulf between the Absolute and the relative, the error of making too simple and rigid and extending too far the law of contradictions and the error of conceiving in terms of Time the genesis of things which have their origin and first habitat in the Eternal.”

it is so much simpler to deny the greater realities, to set up an absolute separation between human and divine, to turn everything into “black and white” when in fact, Reality goes far beyond the limits of logical reasoning and thus cannot be captured in these black and white terms.

It is this trenchant logic of division that in fact leads to the two extremes with which we began this examination of the human aspiration: the materialist denial and the refusal of the ascetic. Each in their own way is guilty of trying to judge the Eternal in this kind of black and white way, creating a duality between Eternal and Temporal, between Reality and Illusion, between God and man, that in fact does not and cannot actually exist.

When confronted with logical contradictions, the human mind simply chooses one side or the other without seriously attempting to resolve these contradictions in the larger synthesis to which they must inevitably belong. For the material mind, wedded to the life we experience in the world, this means simply to deny access or meaning to the spiritual seeking, to deny any reality beyond what we see, experience and accept here; while for the spiritual mind, it means treating the world as an illusion and the only solution being to cut through this illusory existence and lose oneself in the ultimate unity of the transcendent.

The ultimate underlying error here, of course, is the attempt to judge the Eternal using the limited and partial powers of the human intellect. As Sri Aurobindo points out elsewhere: “When we have gone beyond all knowings, then we shall have Knowledge. The intellect is the helper, the intellect is the bar.”

reference: Sri Aurobindo, The Life Divine, Book 2, Part I, Chapter 3, The Eternal and the Individual, pp. 374-375 and Thoughts and Glimpses

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