The Actual Reason and the Assumed Reason

May 10, 2002

  • Sri Aurobindo wrote ‘The Life Divine’ because He realised the Divine in His Life. One may say that he did so to occupy his vacant hours in Pondicherry. One is the actual reason and any other reason may be assumed. The gap between the Real and imaginary is a measure of our ignorance.
  • Folly that assumes a relationship where none exists is the basis of superstition. Superstition is the organised emotional energy that dynamises life, individual or social.
  • When you turn on a light switch, it is not necessary for you to stand there for the bulb to burn. But when you start a car, you cannot let go of the wheel. In these two instances we know, but there are several other instances where we do not know and stand by the switch for a few minutes or for half an hour foolishly. If we foolishly let go of the wheel after starting the car, we run into trouble. Our own life abounds in umpteen instances at present. As in the Buckingham Palace where the bench that was painted green had a policeman for years to prevent people from sitting on it while the paint was wet, we are now doing things.
    1. Out of lack of understanding we do such things.
    2. Out of lack of information, we do them.
    3. When we do understand the right things, there is a hesitation to stop the activity, and even fear is there.
    4. The climax rises when there is information and understanding and there is no fear or hesitation. We do it because it has to be done! This is superstition, unpardonable rank superstition. In how many places that were created to fight superstition is it not there today? That gives us an idea of how deeply superstition is a part of our existence.
  • It is worthwhile excavating all such assumed reasons in our life and holding them up to reason so that we can create a scale of progress to get rid of them.
    Some common opinions that are right by mistake and wrong by assumption --
    • The stones in the food become kidney stones.
    • Memory is intelligence.
    • Fluency in speech is wisdom.
    • Fair complexion is beauty.
    • Rich men are wise.
    • Marriage brings affection automatically.
    • Consciousness is a function of energy.
    • A talented public speaker is an able leader.
    • Mind learns only in school.
    • Whatever is in print is a fact.
    • Statistical fact is economic truth.
    • Friends will be faithful.
    • Children will be dutiful.
    • Parents love children and are responsible for them.
    • Poverty is simplicity.
    • Urban life is civilised life.
    • Men are bold, women are timid.
    • The older the religion the richer the content.
    • Old is gold.
    • Kings were great men and wise too.
    • Science is knowledge.
    • Status symbols give status.
    • It requires intelligence to learn several languages.
    • The heart is true to the heart that it once loved.
    • The negative is to be avoided.
    • There is a hell and a heaven to which souls go after death.
    • God is a Being in heaven.
    • Eating more makes one healthy.
    • Our energy comes from our food.
    • The body grows old by age.
    • Men become wise by age.
    • Meditation is spiritual.

In an automatic machine, several functions are direct and others are indirect. In other machines which are not automated, functions are not related. The simple example of a car’s speed is variously understood rightly, wrongly and after a fashion.

The speed of the car is determined directly by the driver.

It is directly a function of the efficiency of the engine, the flow of fuel, the inflation in the types, the smooth coordination of parts, especially the transmission, the tight fitting of different parts, their lubrication and several other things.

It is not determined at all by the upholstery, the painting, the horn, the height of the driver and whether he is a right hand driver or left hand driver.

The obstruction of traffic on the road directly impinges on its speed as the velocity of the air which is invisible.

The cost of the car, its newness are thought to be related with its speed where right facts lead to wrong conclusions.

The arguments in an accident case will bring out all the possible superstitions as well as all the possible variations of human imagination with respect to the speed of the car.

In one sense, this is a subject fit for serious rational study if one desires to get at the first principles.

Equally, this can provide fun to those knowledgeable people in hearing lay opinions.

Where one overlaps another, a fertile field of creative imagination enters to do full work.

Our problem is neither the car, nor its speed, but the potentials of the human mind to create superstitions, to make them articles of faith, award them scientific status, condemn those who differ from it as irrational, to found a school of thought, to found a religion of it and draw eternal solace from it and style it heaven and all others who differ from us as inhabitants of hell.