The Mind Is Not the Sole Judge of Existence and Its Significance

Western philosophy in particular has been captured by the lure of the mental process as the touchstone of truth. Rene Descarte famously declared “I think, therefore I am.” For those who have a strongly developed mental capacity, the lure is very strong to declare the mind the arbiter of what is real and what is unreal, what is true and what is false. Taken to its extremes, this approach refuses to accept realities that cannot be measured by the mind. It also eventually tends, through the nature of mind as an analyzing tool and its predilection for black/white, either/or formulations and its reliance on abstract reasoning separated from the facts of the outer existence in some cases, to enhance its own central importance to the detriment of the fulfillment that could be expected of the other parts of the being, physical, vital, emotional, and spiritual.

It is a recognized truth of the logical intellect that it is limited by the frame within which it operates and can easily be caught up in a “closed loop” of its own making, while denying or simply failing to recognize the larger framework outside of its circle. This limitation leads to the denial of “supra-rational” truths that cannot be experienced or codified by the mental faculties.

Acknowledging these limitations, the seeker eventually must come to recognize that there are truths and realities that cannot be captured or understood by the mind, and there are levels of experience that are wider, deeper and higher than the mental framework can comprehend. Sri Aurobindo observes: “An exclusive path of abstract thought would be justified, only if the object of the Supreme Will in the universe has been nothing more than a descent into the activity of the ignorance operated by the mind as blinding instrument and jailor through false idea and sensation and an ascent into the quiescence of knowledge equally operated by the mind through correct thought as enlightening instrument and savior. But the chances are that there is an aim in the world less absurd and aimless, an impulse towards the Absolute less dry and abstract, a truth of the world more large and complex, a more richly infinite height of the Infinite.”

“The heart, the will, the life and even the body, no less than the thought, are forms of a divine Conscious-Being and indices of great significance. These too have powers by which the soul can return to its complete self-awareness or means by which it can enjoy it. The object of the Supreme Will may well be a culmination in which the whole being is intended to receive its divine satisfaction, the heights enlivening the depths, the material Inconscient revealed to itself as the Divine by the touch of the supreme Superconscience.”

Sri Aurobindo, The Synthesis of Yoga, Part Two: The Yoga of Integral Knowledge, Chapter 1, The Object of Knowledge, pp. 276-277


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