Thoughts and Aphorisms – Jnana – 1

The third in the series where I post an aphorism of Sri Aurobindo and my understanding of it.

Nature proceeds in tiny little steps, she loves the order and regularity of her existence. All variety she has evolved over many millenniums. What seems a surfeit of possibilities was but a series of imperceptible and tardy changes at the cellular level over thousands of years. Her revolutions are often seeded and nurtured over centuries before they bloom to sound of guns and spilling of blood.

Our focus for this post is going to be nature’s instinct to preserve, to replicate, to not change or at least not significantly. Call this inertia, lack of impulse or just ignorance; this constitutes most of nature’s set of manifestations. And where would you find most abundant example of this, in which species you ask?

Its everywhere but none as systematized as in man. The first fish to stick its head out in air, the first ape to walk upright, the first ape to use a tool, the first man to fly..all of them were geniuses. And all of them were imitated and followed by their own species. But they did it out of instinct, out of an unsaid need to do that act, rather than imitating what it saw its neighbor do. We could safely say that there was no one master fish that sniffed the first breath of air. But man is a different story. He copies because he does not wish to think. He thinks to shortcut the process of creating something, he mimics, he goes through the motions..all in the hope of achieving the same result.

Genius discovers a system; average talent stereotypes it till it is shattered by fresh genius. It is dangerous for an army to be led by veterans; for on the other side God may place Napoleon.

Though the aphorism has a military example, I find it helpful to think of this as having relevance across all contexts. Most of all in evaluating where we stand. We might not be able to evaluate whether anything is the result of average talent or genius, the opinions of society not withstanding, but we can and must ask ourselves in all that we do – Are we propagating stereotypes, making the dead past live again? Are we crafting the future?

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