The Limitations of Exclusive Concentration for an Integral Knowledge

Sri Aurobindo has anticipated the findings of modern physics in his view that, not only is Matter a form of Energy, but that Energy is a form of Mind or Consciousness. While the understanding that Matter is Energy was gaining its footing in the early 20th Century, the idea that Energy is actually a form of Consciousness is a much more modern concept in science, which arose more or less with the development of quantum physics, string theory and other views of the universe which overturn the “old fashioned” idea that Matter is solid, substantial, fundamental and something upon which we can base our understanding of things.

Sri Aurobindo points out that it is because of an exclusive concentration on Matter that we have, by simply applying blinders to our vision of the other planes & powers of existence, enthroned Matter as the only Reality and tried to refer all knowledge to some basis in Matter.

Sri Aurobindo discuss es this limitation: “But a solution of the whole problem of existence cannot be based on an exclusive one-sided knowledge; we must know not only what Matter is and what are its processes, but what mind and life are and what are their processes, and one must know also spirit and soul and all that is behind the material surface: only then can we have a knowledge sufficiently integral for a solution of the problem. For the same reason those views of existence which arise from an exclusive or predominant preoccupation with Mind or with Life and regard Mind or Life as the sole fundamental reality, have not a sufficiently wide basis for acceptance.”

Even if we move our exclusive concentration to the pure spiritual realms, Sri Aurobindo finds that this is not sufficient: “In our view the Spirit, the Self is the fundamental reality of existence; but an exclusive concentration on this fundamental reality to the exclusion of all reality of Mind, Life or Matter except as an imposition on the Self or unsubstantial shadows cast by the Spirit might help to an independent and radical spiritual realisation but not to an integral and valid solution of the truth of cosmic and individual existence.”

Sri Aurobindo, The Life Divine, Book 2, Part 2, Chapter 15, Reality and the Integral Knowledge