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Chapter 14: The Infinitesimal and the Cosmic

Perhaps you may also find this a little difficult to understand, so you can understand it in this way: a painter creates a painting on a canvas - he creates the painting with colors, but the painting is not just the colors. Those same colors become something else in the hands of a Picasso; those same colors become something else in the hands of a Van Gogh. You might use the same colors and it will not create anything. Even if you use costlier paints and put more color on the canvas and a Picasso throws only an ordinary color on the canvas, his painting will become something extraordinary. A painting is not just a sum total of its colors, it is something more than that. It manifests through colors, but it is not just the colors. A poem manifests through words, but it is not just the words. A veena player is plucking the strings of his veena, but the music is not just a plucking of strings. Anybody can pluck strings, but it will not create music. In the musician’s touch there is an inner harmony; in his touch there is a quality that is more than just plucking a string.

There is another music hidden behind the music that you hear. That hidden music is manifesting through this music, but it is not the sum of it. “Sum” means that whatsoever is in the parts, it will be the same when they are all added up. When a thing is more than the sum of the parts, it means that what was not there in the parts is there in the sum of the parts. When a sum is more than the sum total of its parts, then an organic unity is born. Many times it happens that people are unable to differentiate between the two - and if you are unable to do that then a very precious dimension of life will be lost. You cannot see the difference, so you are able to understand the first thing but not the second thing.

Suppose my body is cut into parts and then when you put all the parts back together and prop me up again.. Or if the engine of a motor car is opened and each piece is taken out and then put back in again: then you will know the difference, that the engine of the motor car was only a sum total of parts. You can dismantle it, put it back together again and the engine will start running again. But if you dismember a man’s body and put it back together again exactly the way it was before, nothing will restart. Something has been lost - what was more than the sum total of parts is what has been lost.

This means that only what is a sum total of its parts can be understood through analysis. That which is more than the sum total of its parts can never be understood through analysis. This is why it happens many times that someone who is very good at grammar cannot understand poetry, because he knows only the sum. He knows the rules of language, the mathematics of the language - he knows it all - but there is something else also which although it manifests through language, is beyond the rules. It is foreign to mathematics, it is not part of any system. It manifests within a system, but it comes, it descends, from beyond the system. That will be missed. This is why the more a linguist knows a language, the more difficult it will become for him to understand poetry. The understanding of poetry demands that you open to another dimension. That dimension is the understanding that life is not a sum total of parts, it is more than the sum total and that “more” only becomes apparent in the sum total. If you destroy the sum total, it too will disappear.

It is this profound truth that is being declared in this sutra. The sage says:

I am the infinitesimal and the cosmic.

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