September 10, 2006

A mystic life is so much more valuable

The Life Divine itself is not devoted solely to the metaphysics and mystic psychology viewed as underpinning the prediction of divine life, but also treats this ‘‘existential’’ question. Aurobindo surveys a wide range of popularly held values and criticizes them. The thrust of his considerations is to urge that a mystic or ‘‘inner’’ life is essential to an individual’s greatest welfare and happiness as well as to be potentially his or her greatest service to society as a whole. Aurobindo’s advocacy of a mystic life is thus a complex argument, involving an appeal to one’s moral sensibility and sense of societal good as well as to personal gain.
But it seems to me that the heart of his case is to urge a Pascalian ‘‘bet-on-God’’ attitude in regard to the value of mystic experiences such as his. Perhaps I should not call this appeal ‘‘Pascalian’’ because he has no hellish consequences for those who fail to take up the ‘‘faith.’’ Yet nevertheless the argument centers on prudence and self-interest in regard to uncertain possibilities.
He urges that the likelihood that a mystic experience might put one in a conscious connection with Brahman, allow one to participate in the ‘‘Bliss’’ of Brahman, and fulfill glorious potentialities of one’s own individual nature—with the existence of Brahman and the real possibilityof such fulfillment attested, he says, by his and others’ mystic reports—makes mystic experience worth betting on, experimenting with, by taking up a mystic path. He considers a mystic life so much more valuable than a non-mystic one, so much more ‘‘ideal,’’ that he urges us to take the chance. Sri Aurobindo’s Pascalian argument AUROBINDO'S PHILOSOPHY OF BRAHMAN by Stephen H. Phillips

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