Man is a microcosm in which all grades of existence are repeated on a minute scale. His nature reaches up to the Absolute on the one hand, and down to the animal and the plant worlds on the other.
Although it is bound up with matter and occupied with the care of a particular body, the soul derives its life from the universal intelligence (Chit). The material of thought comes to man from Jfqjp sensations of the physical organism, and consequently he is apt to be enslaved by the animal appetites. He is subject to undefined instincts, which are derived from the nature he has in common with plants and animals. ‘
Yet man is capable of becoming a philosopher, a spectator of all time and existence and of rising beyond the life of intelligence into immediate contact with the Divine. Thus man is a sort of amphibious being who belongs to both worlds ; he can climb to the highest—the Divine—or sink to the lowest.
There are two worlds—the sensible and the intelligible. The sensible world can be apprehended only by sense and opinion. Plato holds that pure reason cannot apprehend the sensible world; only a ‘ spurious reason ’ can apprehend it. Aristotle, too, distinguishes the sensible world which is the region of science, and the intelligible world, the region of contemplation. Science here means all demonstrable knowledge.
The sphere peculiar to man is the region midway between sense and pure intelligence. He takes cognisance of the ideas which come from the Divine, but the middle region in which he functions is that of discursive reason, which , receives contributions from both the highest and the lowest spheres. The senses send images of transient matter ; but he must use discrimination and adopt reason if he wants to be happy, and contact the Divine.
Through the exercise of the discursive reason, if he rejects the images of the material world, man receives the light of the intuitive reason.
The ordinary man, if he is discriminative, is identified with the discursive reason, and he is not yet aware of the highest, the Divine. He is conscious of himself in his finite individuality ; he regards himself as a particular physical organism, to the care of which he is devoted. As such, he is not aware of his divine nature, and cannot realise that material objects are mere appearances, and that he has his root in the eternal.
Subjected to the conditions of time and space, he is now imprisoned in his individual life. His love of his empirical self takes the form of a desire to assert himself against all others, and to prevail over them in the struggle for existence, He desires to gain for himself’ the ‘greatest satisfaction he ‘ can for his sensual appetites, or his earthly ambition.
Why has man fallen from his original, divine state?
It is his self-will—the will to live for himself alone—that has imprisoned him in the body. It is this self-seeking which confines him to a finite form of existence ; his identification with the animal nature has separated him from the divine nature, and the sense of ‘ mine ’ and ‘ thine ’ hides the truth from him.
Thus, the soul chooses the unrest of time in place of the peace of eternity. This audacious self-will separates the son from his divine Father, and makes him forgetful of his spiritual nature. Torn away and exiled from the spiritual kingdom, he lives in the foreign land of desires, and is unhappy.
Man, in ignorance of his divine origin, honours everything but himself and squanders all his wonder, reverence
The rational faculty used in the process of logic, etc. The discursive reason is so called to distinguish it from the higher faculty of the human mind, called intuitive reason. The former arrives at Truth only indirectly, by analysing, inferring and so on. The latter cognises Truth directly, as it is.
It is the instrument of so-called “ inspiration ” and of spiritual revelation. and affection on shadows. The more he forgets God, the more he loves the world of mere appearances. In seeking to save his finite life, he has lost the life eternal. Yet, his universal nature is not extinguished, and he can re-ascend to the infinitude of God, through contemplation and abnegation, of his self-will. ..
Discursive reason derives its power from the intuitive reason. When the distinction between the subject and object is transcended, and only pure contemplative consciousness is left, man realises God in his own being and becomes a philosopher. Aristotle, in his De Anima, calls this state the ideal reality, which is beyond all change.
Man must discover and must rest himself in the light which is the life of discursive reason, and which, says Aristotle, is reality. We transcend the differences between the Self and the non-Self, and enter the world of pure light and harmony, recognising the intuitive unity of all things in the Divine, the Absolute. We must leave all that is of the lowest region, if we would aspire to the highest.
Above both the worlds of sense and intelligence is One, the Absolute, not a synthesis of matter, form, activity and intelligence, but transcending them all. Aristotle defined the One as pure contemplative activity and yet the beginning, the end, the first and final cause of the universe.