The Limits of Mind’s Wisdom, p. 273

Opening Remarks
Passing beyond the limits of human mind of reason there are the higher levels of mind climbing further through zones of increasing luminosity. Yet a limit comes, a border that the mind cannot cross. Here its wisdom stops.

Measuring the immeasurable
The Illimitable they measured with number’s rods
And traced the last formula of limited things,
In transparent systems bodied termless truths,
The Timeless made accountable to Time
And valued the incommensurable Supreme.

The mind gives form to Truth and thereby seeks to measure out the immeasurable and to limit the Illimitable. It captures the play in time of the Timeless truths and gives a body to the Formless, Bodiless Reality. Thus it tries to tie infinite Truth into fixed formulas that attempt to bind the Supreme.

Walls of thought and speech
To park and hedge the ungrasped infinitudes
They erected absolute walls of thought and speech
And made a vacuum to hold the One.

In walls of thought and speech the mind tries to define and limit the Infinite. But since it cannot experience the One Supreme Consciousness, it declares IT to be ‘Nothing’ and ‘Nothingness.’

Empty peak
In their sight they drove towards an empty peak,
A mighty space of cold and sunlit air.

Since the Mind even in its highest reaches cannot behold the One Universal, it reaches a peak of abstraction and impersonality, vacant of Being with whom we can have a personal relationship. The mind stops at the cold Impersonal.

Cipher of the multitude
To unify their task, excluding life
Which cannot bear the nakedness of the Vast,
They made a cipher of a multitude,
In negation found the meaning of the All
And in nothingness the absolute positive.

The mind in its flight towards the Impersonal ‘Nothingness’ ends up excluding life and its manifold expressions of the One. It finds the unity of the One but misses the unity of the Many. It ends up negating creation as an illusion and rests itself in a tremendous ‘Void’. It is unable to experience what is hidden in this supreme Void and hhence calls it ‘Nothing’.

Abstract divinity
A single law simplessed the cosmic theme,
Compressing Nature into a formula;
Their titan labour made all knowledge one,
A mental algebra of the Spirit’s ways,
An abstract of the living Divinity.

The Divine is not an abstraction. He is a Being with whom we can enter into relations. This truth remains hidden and sealed to the Mind. It tries to unify all things through a single mental law, a fixed formula that can explain the entire workings of Nature. Thus approaching the Divine Being they could only enter into an abstract Spirit that worked out everything with a mathematical precision, albeit mechanically as if bound by its own rules.

Spiritual zero
Here the mind’s wisdom stopped; it felt complete;
For nothing more was left to think or know:
In a spiritual zero it sat throned
And took its vast silence for the Ineffable.

This was the summit of mental wisdom. It felt no urge to go further since everything was explained through algebra and geometry. Beyond was the Ineffable Reality that was a spiritual zero, a vast negation of all things, an empty Nothingness, a vast silence.

Closing Remarks
Thus Sri Aurobindo takes us step by step towards the summits where the Mind dominated realms end into the yet further Beyond. But the mind, even in its highest and farthest reaches cannot fathom this Beyond and takes it to be an impersonal abstraction, cold and lifeless, a state rather than a Being.

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