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This book has been written to answer the unanswered questions about life. All those questions humanity has been seeking answers for, He answers in this book. Is our destiny in life a matter of fate or freewill? Do we really have freedom to act, or are our acts determined by some gods looking down on us or by our genes or our parents? That may sound like a very philosophical question, but it is practically relevant to our own lives. How often do we say or hear, “I would do that, but my husband or my boss or my friend will not allow it.” We feel that we are determined by our social conditions or personal relationships. When you came to Mother, was that act also an act of fate? Who determined it? Are all the good things you have accomplished in life, accomplishments to your credit or are they someone else’s accomplishments? Sri Aurobindo says God invented the sense of sin, so that man could improve himself, but man has outsmarted God by seeing only the sins in other people. How much do you feel you are constrained by the present circumstances of your life that prevent you from accomplishing? This book spells out very clearly the precise role of fate and free will in our lives.

The book addresses a host of other fundamental questions. Is there one God or many gods? How many Purushottamas are up there and who is really in charge? The Vedas are confusing because each rishi invokes all the other gods through his own favorite god. What is this thing we call ‘God’? Is he really the Lord and Creator or is He a silent witness sitting up there having a good time, while we suffer down here? And if he is the Lord, then why has he created the world the way it is? Some people say the world is an expression of the thoughts of God. In response Sri Aurobindo asks, “Couldn’t God have had better thoughts?” If God is all-powerful, how can we reconcile the fact that the beings he has created seem to be imperfect. If God is bliss, why is there so much suffering in the world? If God is not in charge and in control, then who or what is?

Sri Aurobindo also answers a question which I do not believe has been seriously answered by anyone before him: “How was the cosmos created?” He says the greatest mystery of life is not that there could be an infinite, all-powerful, omnipresent, all-knowing God. The greatest mystery is that, if there is such a God, how did he create a finite world full of impotent, ignorant mortal beings who do not exhibit the characteristics of God who created them? How has an omnipotent God created a world with so much incapacity? How has a God that all the traditions say is One created a world in which we all seem to be separate and divided? He answers all these questions in a language which we can understand.

He also explains the purpose and goal of the human existence and the reason why God has created the world. Buddha said that man’s goal is to escape from this cycle of births, to escape into a liberation in which individuality completely disappears. That means our ultimate goal is to not have existed in the first place! Shankara says all life is an illusion. Then why liberate ourselves, since liberation must be an illusion too? We understand the ego is not our real self, but what is our real Self? He answers that too.

This book could help science progress very far beyond its present boundaries, because it answers the questions which scientists cannot answer. A leading Indian biologist who read my paper on the future of science said that he found it fascinating. Not realizing that it was based entirely on Indian thought, in the next breath he explained, “You know, we really need much more science in India because there is still so much superstition in our country which has prevented the development of scientific knowledge.” How could I tell him at that moment that all I have written in that paper was entirely drawn from Indian spiritual knowledge, not from the Western scientific tradition? Mother and Sri Aurobindo said that the answers scientists are searching for are just on the borders of spiritual discovery, but like the biologist, with a vengeance they say, “We do not want to hear anything about that.”

The same biologist later said to me that in explaining the origin of life, there is a very difficult question that biologists have not been able to answer. The question is, in simple terms, “How has life been created?” The growth of the organism is governed by the DNA in its cells. The DNA determines which building materials are synthesized by the cell. But science does not know how all of these elements assembled to constitute the first living cell. It is like knowing how all the parts of an automobile are created, but not knowing how they are assembled to make a car. Current theory in biology is based on the premise that if you build all the parts of a car, mix them up together and go away for two million years, the chances are that when you come back a car would have assembled itself. The biologist said, “How likely is it that if you leave the parts of a car or the components of a cell together long enough, they will assemble themselves? Perhaps it could have happened once in the history of the universe!”

Any theory that requires as its hypothesis that something could have happened once in the history of the universe sounds sufficiently implausible to justify a search for alternative possibilities. Is it not better that we at least look for an alternative theory that can explain how that cell became a living cell? These are the kind of questions that scientists refuse to ask, because then they have to answer the embarrassing question, WHO is that someone who assembled the cell? These are the kinds of questions that Sri Aurobindo answers in The Life Divine.

What is the origin of mind and consciousness? There are leading thinkers today who try to convince us that all of our emotions, feelings and affections, our attachments, our patriotism and everything else are just chemical reactions taking place in our nerves. They go so far as to conclude that the creations of Shakespeare, Plato and Kalidasa are all simply chemical reactions as well.

Why is there pain? This is one of the most difficult questions for anyone to answer. If there really is a Divine, or if the Divine is Sachchidananda, where is this bliss? Why does pain come, what causes it? If we go further and say, as the Upanishads says, that ‘All is Brahman’, then how can there be a place for pain at all?

Why is there evil? If there is only One who has created everything, how can there be evil or falsehood in the world? He has written a wonderful chapter on the origins of falsehood and evil.

What is Karma? The tradition says karma is a result of our past actions, a force set in motion, and it has to work itself out. But devotees know from experience that Mother eradicates karma. What is that power of Mother? If you want to see that Mother can eradicate karma, you have to understand what karma is.

Who or what is God? According to spiritual tradition, God means different things to different people. In the Vedas they call God satyam, truth. We know God as light and as love. The Jews talked about God as a just power. God is also said to be bliss, ananda. Buddha talked about God as the ultimate reality. What is the true nature of God? How can we reconcile the fact that people have profound spiritual experiences of so many different types?

book | by Dr. Radut