Moreover the knowledge gained is of phenomena, not of the reality of things or of the foundations of existence. Wherever our consciousness meets what seems to be a foundation, that foundation wears the appearance of a blank,—when it is not a void,—an original state which is featureless and a multitude of consequences which are not inherent in the origin and which nothing in it seems to justify or visibly to necessitate; there is a mass of superstructure which has no clear native relation to the fundamental existence.
We have seen in the previous paragraph that as Consciousness grows there is a seeking Ignorance, struggling to attain knowledge. In this process whatever knowledge it gains pertains to phenomena of the material world only. It does not pertain to the foundations of existence.
Wherever our consciousness meets what seems to be a foundation, that foundation wears the appearance of a blank. This original state is not a void or emptiness. But it is featureless.
What comes off this original state? It is very interesting to see that we come across a multitude of consequences (all the creations in the universe) from this original state which seems to be blank. Whatever the consequences that appear are not inherent in the origin. There is nothing in that original state which seems to justify or visibility necessitate such a consequence. For example, apparently we do not find any reason for the appearance of Man on earth in the original base of Nescience.
What we see in this material universe is a mass of superstructure which has no clear native relation to the fundamental existence.
The first aspect of cosmic existence is an Infinite which is to our perception an indeterminate, if not indeterminable. In this Infinite the universe itself, whether in its aspect of Energy or its aspect of structure, appears as an indeterminate determination, a “boundless finite”,—paradoxical but necessary expressions which would seem to indicate that we are face to face with a suprarational mystery as the base of things; in that universe arise—from where?—a vast number and variety of general and particular determinates which do not appear to be warranted by anything perceptible in the nature of the Infinite, but seem to be imposed—or, it may be, self-imposed—upon it.
The first aspect of cosmic existence is an Infinite. We live in an infinite universe. This Infinite appears to us as an indeterminate. This means, we find nothing determined in the vast expanse of the Infinite. It does not mean that it is indeterminable, i.e. nothing can be determined out of it.
The universe whether in its aspect of Energy or in its aspect of structure (forms) appears as an indeterminate determination. The universe is paradoxically a “boundless finite”. Can we draw the boundaries of this universe? It appears to be boundless. Yet it is a finite within the Infinite. It is the Divine which is the Infinite. We are faced with a suprarational mystery as the base of things.
It appears mysterious to us, from where a vast number and variety of general and particular determinates (meaning general and particular forms) arise in that universe. There is nothing perceptible in the Infinite which warrants the appearance of determinates. Whatever determinates (forms) appear to be in the universe seem to be imposed or may be self-imposed upon it.
We give to the Energy which produces them the name of Nature, but the word conveys no meaning unless it is that the nature of things is what it is by virtue of a Force which arranges them according to an inherent Truth in them; but the nature of that Truth itself, the reason why these determinates are what they are is nowhere visible. It has been possible indeed for human Science to detect the process or many processes of material things, but this knowledge does not throw any light on the major question; we do not know even the rationale of the original cosmic processes, for the results do not present themselves as their necessary but only their pragmatic and actual consequence.
We call the Energy which produces various things in the universe as Nature. The nature of things are like that because there is a Force behind which arranges them according to the inherent Truth in them. Otherwise the word Nature conveys no meaning. But the nature of Truth, the reason for the determinates (all things found in the universe) to appear what they are is not visible to us.
Science could explain the process or many processes of material things. But this knowledge could not throw any light on the rationale of the original cosmic processes. We know only their pragmatic and actual consequence. But we do not know their necessary consequence. For example we know that plants exist with the help of sunlight. This is the actual consequence of sunlight. But we do not know what is the necessity of sunlight to cause the survival of the plant. We know the ‘how of’ things but we do not know the ‘why of’ things. We know that planets move in their respective orbits without collision because of gravitational force. But we do not know why they should move like that.
In the end we do not know how these determinates came into or out of the original Indeterminate or Indeterminable on which they stand forth as on a blank and flat background in the riddle of their ordered occurrence. At the origin of things we are faced with an Infinite containing a mass of unexplained finites, an Indivisible full of endless divisions, an Immutable teeming with mutations and differentiae. A cosmic paradox is the beginning of all things, a paradox without any key to its significance.
In the end we do not know how these determinates (all things in the universe) came from the original Indeterminate or Indeterminable. In their ordered occurrence which appears as a riddle to us, they stand forth as on a blank and flat background.
At the origin of things there is Infinite containing a mass of unexplained finites. We find an Indivisible full of endless divisions. We find an Immutable full of mutations and distinguishing aspects. Sri Aurobindo says a cosmic paradox without any key is the beginning of all things.
It is possible indeed to question the need of positing an Infinite which contains our formed universe, although this conception is imperatively demanded by our mind as a necessary basis to its conceptions,—for it is unable to fix or assign a limit whether in Space or Time or essential existence beyond which there is nothing or before or after which there is nothing,— although too the alternative is a Void or Nihil which can be only an abyss of the Infinite into which we refuse to look; an infinite mystic zero of Non-Existence would replace an infinite x as a necessary postulate, a basis for our seeing of all that is to us existence.
We live within the boundaries of Space and Time. We are conscious of the space and time with which we deal in our everyday life. Yet our human mind cannot fix or assign a limit to Space or Time or the essential existence. We cannot say where the Universe ends or when the Time begins or when it will end.
Therefore the assumption of an Infinite containing our universe is necessarily demanded by our mind as a necessary basis to its conceptions. Still one can ask what is the need of assuming an Infinite containing our formed universe.
If that argument is not accepted what is the alternative? There seems to be nothing beyond (the Space and Time and existence) or before or after. Therefore we can conceive of a Void or Nihil as Buddhist would conclude. But what appears to be a Void is only an abyss of the Infinite into which we refuse to look. In that case an infinite mystic zero of Non-Existence would replace an infinite x as a necessary basis of reasoning for our seeing of all that is to us existence.