November 13, 2005

On Bergson

I have not read him [Bergson] sufficiently to pronounce. So far as I know, he seems to have some perception of the dynamic creative intuition involved in Life, but none of the truly supra-rational intuition above. If so, his Intuition which he takes to be the sole secret of things is only a secondary manifestation of something transcendent which is itself only the "rays of the Sun".
No, it [Bergson's "élan vital"] is not the supramental. But Bergson's "intuition" seems to be a Life Intuition which is of course the supramental fragmented and modified to act as a Knowledge in "Life-in-Matter". I can't say definitively yet, but that is the impression it gave me.
He [Bergson] sees Consciousness (Chit) not in its essential truth but as a creative Force = a sort of transcendent Life-Energy descending into Matter and acting there.
[Élan Vital:] Not Sachchidananda but Chit-shakti in the disguise of Pranashakti. Bergson is, I believe, a vitalist (as opposed to a materialist on one side and an idealist on the other) with a strong perception of Time (in Upanishadic times they speculated whether Time was not the Brahman and some schools held that idea). So for him Brahman = Consciousness-Force = Time-Force = Life-Force. But the last two he sees vividly while the first which is the real thing behind creation he sees very dimly.
Instinct and intuition as described by him [Bergson] are vital, but it is possible to develop a corresponding mental intuition, and that is probably what he suggests — and which depends not on thought but a sort of mental direct contact with things. This is not exactly mysticism, though it is a first step towards it.
I suppose Bergson must already know what the "mystics" say about the matter and has put his own interpretation or value upon it. So he would not at all be impressed by your suggestion. He would say, "I know all about that already."
SRI AUROBINDO, Letters on Yoga,
Volume 1, Section Four, REASON, SCIENCE AND YOGA

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