This talk is based on Sri Aurobindo’s Aphorism below about the material scientists need of material proof for the soul.
JNANA 10: My soul knows that it is immortal. But you take a dead body to pieces and cry triumphantly, “Where is your soul and where is your immortality?”
The Mother’s Commentary
It has often been repeated — but except in certain cases very rarely understood — that only like knows like. If this were understood, a great deal of ignorance would vanish.
Only the soul can know the soul, and on each level of being, only the equivalent level can recognise the other. Only the Divine can know the Divine, and because we carry the Divine in ourselves we are capable of seeing Him and recognising Him. But if we try to understand something of the inner life by using our senses and external methods, the result is sure to be total failure and we shall also deceive ourselves totally.
So when you imagine that you can know the secrets of Nature and still remain in a purely physical consciousness, you are entirely deceived. And this habit of demanding concrete, material proofs before accepting the reality of something, is one of the most glaring effects of ignorance. With that attitude any fool imagines that he can sit in judgment on the highest things and deny the most profound experiences.
It is certainly not by dissecting a body which is dead because the soul has departed from it that the soul can be found. Had the soul not departed, the body would not have been dead! It is to bring home to us the absurdity of this claim that Sri Aurobindo has written this Aphorism.
It applies to all judgments of the critical mind and to all scientific methods when they would judge any but purely material phenomena.
The conclusion is always the same: the only true attitude is one of humility, of silent respect before what one does not know, and of inner aspiration to come out of one’s ignorance. One of the things which would make humanity progress most would be for it to respect what it does not know, to acknowledge willingly that it does not know and is therefore unable to judge. We constantly do just the opposite. We pass final judgments on things of which we have no knowledge whatsoever, and say in a peremptory manner, “This is possible. That is impossible,” when we do not even know what it is we are speaking of. And we put on superior airs because we doubt things of which we have never had any knowledge.
Men believe that doubt is a sign of superiority, whereas it is really a sign of inferiority.
Scepticism and doubt are two of the greatest obstacles to progress; they add presumptuousness to ignorance.
21 November 1958 (CWM:10, p. 26-27)