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Rediscovering the Substantial Truths of Life

The whole tendency of development of an individualistic age of mankind goes back to the one dominant need of rediscovering the substantial truths of life, thought and action. For these have been overlaid by the falsehood of conventional standards no longer alive to the truth of ideas from which their conventions started. The need of a developing humanity, moreover, is not always to return to old ideas. Its need is to effect a larger fulfilment in which, if the old is taken up, it must be transformed and exceeded. For the underlying truth of things is constant and eternal, but its mental figures, its life forms, its physical embodiments call constantly for growth and change.

When East Meets West: Universal and Individual

Throughout the East the subjective Asiatic mind is being driven to adapt itself to the need for changed values of life and thought. What it did not do from within, has come on to it as a necessity from without and this externality has carried with it immense advantages as well as great dangers. A revolutionary reconstruction of religion, philosophy, science, art and society is the ultimate outcome.

It proceeds at first by the light of the individual mind and reason, by its demand on life and experience of life; but it must go from the individual to the universal. Of the universe we are a part; in all but our deepest layer we are the subject; a small cell in the tremendous organic mass: our substance is drawn from its substance and by the law of life the law of our life is governed.

Discovering the Subjective Secret of Ourselves

In Europe and in modern times this substance has taken the form of physical science, by the laws of the physical universe and the economic and sociological conditions of human life. Yet our economic state and social institutions are themselves governed by our psychological demand on the possibilities, circumstances, and tendencies created by the relation between the mind and soul of humanity in its life and body. Therefore we must go deeper and discover the subjective secret of ourselves and our surroundings.

This we may attempt to do for a time through the power of critical and analytical reason, but not for long. For in our study of ourselves we cannot but come face to face with the soul in ourselves and the soul in the world, Aurobindo maintains, and find it to be an entry so profound and complex, so full of hidden secrets that intellectual reason proves to be a fumbling seeker; it is analytical only of superficialities. More and more we need to live within our souls and act out of such rather than floundering on the surfaces. In this process the rationalistic ideal begins to subject itself to intuitional knowledge and a deeper self-awareness; the utilitarian standard gives way to the aspiration toward self-consciousness and self-realization.

Deepened Subjectivism and Self-consciousness

The art, music and literature of the world, always a sure index of the vital tendencies of the age, have also undergone a profoundly deepened subjectivism, the great objective art and literature of the past no longer commanding the mind of our age. Often, however, they describe the malady of life rather than its health and power. At the same time, in the practical dealing with life there are progressive tendencies which take their inspiration from profounder subjectivism, in, for example, new ideas about education – bringing out a child's intellectual and moral capacities. Such subjectivism, in fact, is a return to the lost knowledge of the ancients. First deepening man's inner experience, restoring self-knowledge to our race, it must end by revolutionizing our social and collective powers of self-expression. Yet, the nascent subjectivism preparative of the new age has shown itself not so much in the relations of individuals or in tendencies of social development, which are still largely rationalistic and materialistic, but in the new collective self-consciousness of man: the discovery of the nation-soul.

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