© Sri Aurobindo Ashram Trust

Freedom and determinism

18 August 1954

If we take the world as it is, like a chemical compound of a certain nature, with all the inevitable consequences resulting from the composition of this body, and if we think that in this composition there can enter at any moment a new element, it will necessarily change the composition of the whole, you understand? Well, it is something like that, on a greater and more complicated scale; but it is something like that.

The universe is a mass of elements which form a certain compound, and in accordance with this compound all things are organised--as in an internal organisation, you see (Mother makes a movement as of holding a globe between her hands), quite strictly. But this is not a culmination; it is something in the course of construction. And at any moment at all, through a certain kind of action, one or several new elements may be introduced into the whole, and immediately necessarily, all the internal combinations change. Well, the universe is something like that.

I am speaking of the material universe. The material universe is a concretisation of a certain aspect, a certain emanation of the Supreme. But this concretisation is progressive--and not necessarily constant, not necessarily regular, but answering to a much more subtle law of freedom.

In this compound new elements penetrate and change the whole organisation. So, this organisation which was in itself perfect and unfolding itself according to its own law, is almost suddenly changed and all the internal relations become different. So this gives the impression of something either incoherent or unexpected or of a miracle according to how one looks at the problem. And this makes for two concomitant things: a determinism which would be absolute in itself if there were not this freedom, absolute also, of the unexpected and additional in the universe. [old p. 285]I don't know if you have followed, but I have tried to express that. [new p. 285]

But how is this addition made?

Eh, this addition?...

This addition of a new element...

Yes. By the aspiration of the supreme Consciousness.

The aspiration of the supreme Consciousness?

Yes. It is at work in this world and, working in this world, for the necessity of the work, it works for a certain end, you see, to bring the darkened consciousness back to its normal state of divine consciousness. And each time in its work it meets with a new obstacle, a new thing to conquer or transform, it calls to a new Force. (Mother opens her hand.) And this new Force is like a new creation. And so, as everything has its correspondence, it may be said in the same way that each being has in its different domains--a human being--it has in its different domains a destiny which is, so to speak, absolute. But it has also the capacity, through aspiration, to enter into contact with a higher domain and introduce the action of this higher domain in these more material determinisms. And there it is still the same thing; these two things combined: a determinism which we could call "horizontal" (to make it understandable) in each domain, which is absolute, and the intervention of other domains or a much higher domain, in that determinism, which changes it completely. So, everyone at the same time is a set of determinisms which seem quite absolute, and has a total freedom to bring in the intervention of states of being or states of consciousness or forces of a higher domain; and calling these forces and bringing them into the external determinisms alters everything completely. [old p. 286]And it is only thus that things can give the impression of the unexpected, the unknown and of freedom.


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