Integral Yoga: Sri Aurobindo’s Teaching and Method of Practice — Introduction

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“All life is yoga”. While many believe that yoga is a series of physical exercises, or consists of specific practices taken up as part of one’s daily life, Sri Aurobindo set forth an entirely different understanding and methodology which seeks to take up every aspect of our life and existence, to bring conscious self-aware attention to every movement, feeling, emotion and thought that we experience. As we take up this yogic practice, we begin to understand that each of the paths of yoga that have heretofore been popularized focuses on a particular aspect or side of human life. Those who take up the practice of one or another of these paths are addressing a particular need or concentration, in many cases to the exclusion of other, equally essential, aspects of human life. One of the results of this exclusive concentration can be the abandonment of the normal worldly life. Another is the pigeonholing of the practice into a small segment of one’s activities, while the normal life goes on unchanged. In both of these cases, most of our existence is left untouched and unchanged.

Why practice yoga in the first place? Sri Aurobindo describes the evolution of consciousness, the limitations of our current stage in that process, and the potentiality of the human being, with self-aware and directed action, to participate in the development and manifestation of the next phase of evolutionary development. This focused action is the practice of what he terms an “integral yoga”, meaning that it takes up all of life and every aspect of human existence. Yoga is a form of applied psychology, where certain movements of consciousness work to unravel the complex and tangled actions and reactions of life, and provide coherence in the direction of greater consciousness aligned with the larger significance of the universal manifestation. Western scientists would consider this to be a separation of “signal” from background “noise” in our lives, to accentuate and emphasize the power of the signal.

The current volume explores the philosophy and principles of the integral yoga, provides clarity for how it compares to the traditional paths of yoga, and then takes up the actual implementations for the physical, vital, emotional, mental, and psychic and spiritual aspects of our human existence. As a background, Sri Aurobindo went into an intense concentrated state of his yogic practice from the mid-1920’s through 1950. During the 1930’s a number of disciples came and joined the Sri Aurobindo Ashram. Sri Aurobindo corresponded with them to reply to their specific inquiries and needs. While he cautioned that advice he provided to one person for a specific situation might not necessarily apply to another in a different situation, certain major thematic views emerged which have been carefully organized and compiled in the current text.

The editors note: “This compilation consists of letters by Sri Aurobindo on various aspects of his spiritual teaching and method of yogic practice. Parts 1 to 4 deal mainly with the philosophical and psychological foundations of the teaching. Parts 5 to 11 with the method of practice, and Part 12 with elements of both. Sri Aurobindo called his system the ‘Integral Yoga’ because it proposed ‘a union (yoga) in all parts of our being with the Divine and a consequent transmutation of all their now jarring elements into the harmony of a higher divine consciousness and existence.’. “

Sri Aurobindo calls us to what he terms an “adventure of consciousness”. The current text is intended to aid in our understanding and exploration of consciousness and the entire significance of our life and human development. Humanity is struggling today with the consequences, both intended and unintended, of the development and expression of the mental consciousness. The limitations of the mental view, which remains very much in service to the physical needs and vital desires of the material and life gradations of consciousness, have pushed humanity to an existential crisis, with the earth in the throes of the sixth mass extinction, and the balance of life now placed fully at risk. The solution cannot come through technology, mental ideas or the wide variety of competing ideologies that each focus on one aspect without taking it account the complexity of life and existence. It must come through the development of a new expression of consciousness, a consciousness of oneness and interconnection, that brings a new and deeper level of harmony to all existence. Sri Aurobindo holds that self-aware human beings can consciously participate in this evolutionary process, and it is the practice of the integral yoga to help bring about this solution to the current crises.

Sri Aurobindo, Integral Yoga: Sri Aurobindo’s Teaching and Method of Practice, Introduction

Sri Aurobindo’s and Related Writings on Apple iTunes for IPhone and IPad:

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Sri Aurobindo’s and Related Writings on Apple iTunes for IPhone and IPad:

We continue to add more titles to this list on an ongoing basis, so please check back regularly for additional titles.  We also supply a large number of titles for Amazon Kindle and Google Play which are listed separately.  Below find the links to the e-book versions available at this time on Apple iTunes:

By Sri Aurobindo:

Bases of Yoga                                      Bases of Yoga

 Essays on the Gita                              Essays on the Gita

 The Mother                                        The Mother

 Savitri: A Legend and a Symbol         Savitri: A Legend and a Symbol

 By The Mother:

 Commentaries on the Dhammapada  Commentaries on the Dhammapada

 By Sri M. P. Pandit:

 An Early Chapter in The Mother’s Life   Early Chapter in The Mother’s Life

 Art of Living                                        Art of Living

 Bases of Tantra Sadhana                   Bases of Tantra Sadhana

 Commentaries on Sri Aurobindo’s Thought, V. 1  Commentaries Sri Aurobindo’s Thought, V. 1

 Dhyana                                               Dhyana

 Heart of Sadhana                               Heart of Sadhana

 How Do I Proceed?                             How Do I Proceed?

 Introducing The Life Divine               Introducing The Life Divine

 Introducing Savitri                             Introducing Savitri

 Japa                                                    Japa

Kundalini Yoga                                   Kundalini Yoga

Readings in Savitri, V. 1                     Readings in Savitri, V. 1

 Readings in Savitri, V. 2                     Readings in Savitri, V. 2

 Readings in Savitri, V. 3                     Readings in Savitri, V. 3

 Readings in Savitri, V. 4                     Readings in Savitri, V. 4

 Readings in Savitri, V. 5                     Readings in Savitri, V. 5

 Readings in Savitri, V. 7                     Readings in Savitri, V. 7

 Readings in Savitri, V. 8                     Readings in Savitri, V. 8

Readings in Savitri, V. 9                     Readings in Savitri, V. 9

 Sri Aurobindo and His Yoga               Sri Aurobindo and His Yoga

 A Summary of Savitri                         A Summary of Savitri

 Talks on The Life Divine, V. 1             Talks on The Life Divine, V. 1

 Teachings of Sri Aurobindo               Teachings of Sri Aurobindo

Thoughts on the Gita                         Thoughts on the Gita

 By Santosh Krinsky:

Readings in Sri Aurobindo’s The Life Divine, Vol. 1  Readings in Sri Aurobindo’s Life Divine,V. 1

Readings in Sri Aurobindo’s The Life Divine, Vol. 2 Readings in Sri Aurobindo’s Life Divine, V. 2

Readings in Sri Aurobindo’s The Life Divine, Vol. 3 Readings in Sri Aurobindo’s Life Divine, V. 3

Readings in The Mother by Sri Aurobindo:               Readings in The Mother by Sri Aurobindo

Readings in Sri Aurobindo’s Rebirth and Karma:   Readings in Sri Aurobindo’s Rebirth &  Karma

Readings in Sri Aurobindo’s Essays on the Gita,V.1 Readings in Sri Aurobindo’s Essays on the Gita, V.1

Readings in Sri Aurobindo’s Essays on the Gita, V. 2 Readings in Sri Aurobindo’s Essays on the Gita, V.2

Readings in Sri Aurobindo’s The Synthesis of Yoga, V. 1  Readings in Sri Aurobindo’s Synthesis of Yoga, V. 1

Readings in Sri Aurobindo’s The Synthesis of Yoga, V. 2  Readings in Sri Aurobindo’s Synthesis of Yoga, V. 2

Readings in Sri Aurobindo’s The Synthesis of Yoga, V. 3  Readings in Sri Aurobindo’s Synthesis of Yoga, V. 3

 By Rand Hicks:

A Savitri Dictionary                            A Savitri Dictionary

Rev. 6/11/17

Sri Aurobindo’s Writings Available as E-Books for Amazon Kindle Readers or App

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The Amazon Kindle is perhaps the most popular e-book reader in the world, and the APP works on desktop computers, laptops, android phones, tablets etc. The APP can be downloaded free from Amazon.com We are systematically making Sri Aurobindo’s writings available for the Kindle App and Readers. Here are a few of them, with more links to be provided soon:

Bhagavad Gita and Its Message Bhagavad Gita and Its Message
Dictionary of Sri Aurobindo’s Yoga (compiled by M P Pandit) Dictionary of Sri Aurobindo’s Yoga
Essays on the Gita Essays on the Gita
The Future Evolution of Man The Future Evolution of Man
Hidden Forces of Life (compiled by AS Dalal from writings of Sri Aurobindo and The Mother Hidden Forces of Life
The Human Cycle: The Psychology of Social Development The Human Cycle: The Psychology of Social Development
The Ideal of Human Unity The Ideal of Human Unity
Integral Yoga: Sri Aurobindo’s Teaching and Method of Practice Integral Yoga
The Life Divine The Life Divine
Looking from Within (compiled by AS Dalal from writings of Sri Aurobindo and The Mother Looking from Within
The Mind of Light The Mind of Light (The Supramental Manifestation on Earth)
The Mother The Mother
Our Many Selves (compiled by AS Dalal from writings of Sri Aurobindo and The Mother Our Many Selves
Powers Within (compiled by AS Dalal from writings of Sri Aurobindo and The Mother Powers Within
The Psychic Being (compiled by AS Dalal from writings of Sri Aurobindo and The Mother Psychic Being
Rebirth and Karma Rebirth and Karma
Savitri: A Legend and a Symbol Savitri: A Legend and a Symbol
Secret of the Veda Secret of the Veda
Sri Aurobindo on the Tantra (compiled by M P Pandit) Sri Aurobindo on the Tantra
The Synthesis of Yoga The Synthesis of Yoga
The Upanishads The Upanishads
Vedic Symbolism (compiled by M P Pandit) Vedic Symbolism
Yoga of Sleep and Dreams (compiled by AS Dalal from writings of Sri Aurobindo and The Mother Yoga of Sleep and Dreams

By Sri M P Pandit:
Sri Aurobindo and His Yoga Sri Aurobindo and His Yoga
Teaching of Sri Aurobindo Teaching of Sri Aurobindo

SRI AUROBINDO’S BOOKS NOW AVAILABLE ON GOOGLE PLAY AS E-BOOKS:

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The Mother THE MOTHER
Bases of Yoga BASES OF YOGA
Essays on the Gita ESSAYS ON THE GITA
The Human Cycle: Psychology of Social Development The Human Cycle: The Psychology of Social Development
Ideal of Human Unity IDEAL OF HUMAN UNITY
The Life Divine THE LIFE DIVINE
The Mind of Light THE MIND OF LIGHT
Savitri: A Legend and a Symbol  Savitri: A Legend and a Symbol
Sri Aurobindo on the Tantra SRI AUROBINDO ON THE TANTRA
The Synthesis of Yoga THE SYNTHESIS OF YOGA

For Android Phones, Tablets, and E-Readers

Sri Aurobindo Studies

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Sri Aurobindo’s integral yoga has enormous implications for the time we find ourselves in.  As we systematically destroy the basis of life on the planet, and wall off one another through ultimate fragmentation, we are left with the stark contrast of choosing between survival and destruction, life and death, growth or decline.  Sri Aurobindo recognizes the necessity of the individual within the context of the collectivity, universality and the transcendent consciousness of Oneness.  The individual is the nexus or hub of the evolutionary urge, but not separate from nor at the expense of the life of the cosmic whole.

We post the daily blog entries also to our facebook page:  www.facebook.com/sriaurobindoswritings

We also have a daily twitter feed on Sri Aurobindo’s studies at www.twitter.com/santoshk1

We have systematically worked our way through The Life Divine as well as The Mother , Essays on the Gita and Rebirth and Karma, The Synthesis of Yoga, The Ideal of Human Unity and The Human Cycle: The Psychology of Social Development  The newest posts appear near the top.  If you want to start at the beginning, go to the oldest post and roll forward until you reach the final posts as of today.

Another option is to “search” for the chapter you would like to study and see all posts relating to that chapter. You may have to ask for “older posts” once you have the search results if you are looking for one of the earlier chapters.

We have separated the posts relating to each book into their own folder as an additional organisational tool.

Similarly you can use the search box to find specific concepts, terms or issues you are interested in. The results will show all posts that address those concepts or terms. You may have to click on “older posts” to find all the references here as well.

The next book we are taking up is The Upanshads by Sri Aurobindo, following a similar format to that we have utilised for The Life Divine , The Mother, Essays on the Gita and Rebirth and Karma, The Synthesis of Yoga, The Ideal of Human Unity and The Human Cycle: Psychology of Social Development.

You may also want to visit our information site for Sri Aurobindo at Sri-Aurobindo.Com

Sri Aurobindo’s major writings are published in the US by Lotus Press.

The systematic studies on this blog have also been published as self-standing books by Lotus Press and are available in both printed formats and as e-books. There are 3 volumes encompassing Readings in Sri Aurobindo’s The Life Divine, 2 volumes encompassing Readings in Sri Aurobindo’s Essays on the Gita, as well as 1 volume for Readings in The Mother by Sri Aurobindo, and Readings in Sri Aurobindo’s Rebirth and Karma., and 4 volumes  for the Readings in Sri Aurobindo’s The Synthesis of Yoga as well as Readings in Sri Aurobindo’s The Ideal of Human Unity and Readings in Sri Aurobindo’s The Human Cycle, Readings in Sri Aurobindo’s The Future Evolution of Man.  .You can find the Readings series at Lotus Press

Many of the major writings of Sri Aurobindo are now also accessible on the Amazon Kindle Platform as well as Apple itunes, google play, kobo, and Barnes & Noble nook as well.  Kindle e-book reader program is also available for PC, Laptop, iPad, Blackberry, Android, iPhone and many other platforms from Amazon without charge. You can find the current list of titles available by going to http://www.amazon.com , go to the “kindle store” and type in “Aurobindo” New titles are being added as they can be made ready. Many of the major books are already accessible by the Kindle Reader.  You can follow a similar procedure for the other platforms we now support for Sri Aurobindo’s writings, I-tunes, Barnes & Noble, Google Play, and KOBO.

Brief Overview of the Evolution of Consciousness

To appreciate Sri Aurobindo’s view that realization of the Supreme is the starting point, not the ending point of the practice of yoga, it is necessary to appreciate several concepts. The first is that, as the Upanishads hold, there is “one without a second”. This implies a unified consciousness that is not divided into separate beings as we tend to see things from our mental viewpoint. There is no “other”; rather, all that exists is that One Being. The second is “All this is the Brahman.” Rather than treat the world as purely a dream or an illusion to be escaped, this Upanishad dictum makes it clear that Brahman, the Supreme Divine, is not something to be discovered or experienced elsewhere, but rather, right here in life.

Sri Aurobindo then raises the question about the apparent disconnect between the human mental experience of fragmentation and separation and the consciousness of the divine unity. If all this is the One, why do we experience our existence as ostensibly separate beings in a seemingly hostile world?

By examining the process of evolution, Sri Aurobindo identified a series of stages or phases of development of Life out of Matter and Mind out of Life. Each one represented an extension of consciousness in its active manifestation in the world. In order for this to occur, the one consciousness must be present and involved in Matter. The sequential rolling out can be likened to the sequence in time of a motion picture revealing successive stages in a film as one observes. The entire film was there all the time, but is revealed in stages. Without pushing this analogy too far, one can at least get a glimpse of the concept of successive evolutionary stages revealing higher planes of consciousness over Time. Clearly the current mental level, with all its limitations and imperfections, cannot be the final stage of this process, and therefore, Sri Aurobindo points to a next phase which he calls the supramental manifestation.

Sri Aurobindo notes: “Sri Aurobindo’s teaching states that this One Being and Consciousness is involved here in Matter. Evolution is the method by which it liberates itself; consciousness appears in what seems to be inconscient, and once having appeared is self-impelled to grow higher and higher and at the same time to enlarge and develop towards a greater and greater perfection. Life is the first step of this release of consciousness; mind is the second; but the evolution does not finish with mind, it awaits a release into something greater, a consciousness which is spiritual and supramental. The next step of the evolution must be towards the development of Supermind and Spirit as the dominant power in the conscious being. For only then will the involved Divinity in things release itself entirely and it become possible for life to manifest perfection.”

Sri Aurobindo, Integral Yoga: Sri Aurobindo’s Teaching and Method of Practice, Introduction, pg. 3

The Foundation of Sri Aurobindo’s Teaching

The long legacy of the Yogic tradition is founded on the recognition that there is a greater Reality that exists, that the human individual is a participant, in fact a part of that reality, and that it is possible through the practices of yoga, including various psychological and psycho-physical forms of discipline, to refocus the attention away from the day to day activities of the world and toward the greater reality. In essence, any yogic path has this as a primary aim, even if, as in Sri Aurobindo’s integral yoga, there are further realisations and actions that arise once such a shift in standpoint has been accomplished.

Albert Einstein stated: “We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.” It is a basic premise of yoga that the seeker must move beyond the limitations of the physical, vital and mental personality and processes in order to achieve realisation. Every path and method of yoga latches onto one or another of the basic levers of human existence to concentrate and uplift the consciousness, eventually to transcend the human limitations. For Sri Aurobindo, this is not the end, but the beginning of a much more difficult and slow process of bringing the new standpoint into realisation in the active being and thereby transforming our relationship to each other, to society, and to our world-environment.

The Transcendent aspect, therefore, is a first foundation and pre-condition of anything further that will be accomplished in the evolutionary development of consciousness on earth.

Sri Aurobindo observes: “The teaching of Sri Aurobindo starts from that of the ancient sages of India that behind the appearances of the universe there is the Reality of a Being and Consciousness, a Self of all things, one and eternal. All beings are united in that One Self and Spirit but divided by a certain separativity of consciousness, a ignorance of their true Self and Reality in the mind, life and body. It is possible by a certain psychological discipline to remove this veil of separative consciousness and become aware of the true Self, the Divinity within us and all.”

Sri Aurobindo, Integral Yoga: Sri Aurobindo’s Teaching and Method of Practice, Introduction, pg. 3

The Spiritual Revolution

Humanity is facing a crisis of existential proportions. Climate change, pollution, income inequality, access to fresh water and food, and the consequences that lead to mass migration, war, and increased risk of pandemic disease vectors all are forcing us to confront our entire way of looking at and thinking about life. We look for solutions through science and technology, through research into the material forces of the universe, through a moral revolution, through religious conversion, or through intellectual plans and ideas, ideologies and creeds for living. Yet we are locked in a nexus of increasingly difficult problems amid unprecedented gridlock as our opposing ideas clash and no one is prepared to give in or find a common ground direction.

A central issue becomes evident through all of this travail; namely, that we look at our lives and the world we live in from the standpoint of our individual egoistic desires and without a true sense of the oneness and interdependence that actually ties all of us together. From this standpoint we try to solve our problems through exercise of power and various attempts to control others to live according to our own preconceived ideas or direction. We treat the world as something external to us, to be seized and exploited for our own comfort or enjoyment, without concern for the needs and balance of Nature and the other beings who share the planet with us, beyond the very specific benefits we share with those who are considered family, friends, immediate community or who share an ideology or faith with us. We actively separate ourselves from others on the basis of various characteristics, skin color, gender identification, racial or ethnic backgrounds, economic systems or religious beliefs, etc. All of this is the function of our mental, vital and physical experience and background thus far in the evolution of consciousness on the planet.

We are surrounded today by crises of an ever-increasing magnitude and they are now overlapping one another as our limitations and standpoint create more disharmony and dislocations. The solution is not to be found in a new ideology, a new philosophy, a new religion, a new economic system, or a new technology. We have had our industrial revolution and our technology revolution and yet the imbalances have only become greater, as these are essentially attempts at solution by the mind acting from our normal vital standpoint. What is required is a radical change in our standpoint based on a new and different experience of our lives. Instead of focusing on the differences and the separation from one another, we need to see and experience our lives as elements of an essential oneness and interdependence. Such a transformation comes about through what Sri Aurobindo calls a spiritual revolution.

Sri Aurobindo writes: “The changes we see in the world today are intellectual, moral, physical in their ideal and intention: the spiritual revolution waits for its hour and throws up meanwhile its waves here and there. Until it comes the sense of the others cannot be understood and till then all interpretations of present happenings and forecast of man’s future are vain things. For its nature, power, event are that which will determine the next cycle of our humanity.”

Sri Aurobindo, Integral Yoga: Sri Aurobindo’s Teaching and Method of Practice, Inspirational Quote, pg. 1

The Mind of Light: Summary and Conclusions

Is it our destiny to create a divine life on earth? When we look around at the world today, we see innumerable problems, crises and contradictions that provoke many to feel utterly hopeless. Everywhere people have experienced the pain, the challenges, the aggressive opposition of ideas, ideologies, religions, creeds, movements and expressions. Some have given up and determined to simply live for today, “eat, drink and be merry” they say, as they abandon the thought that there is any purpose to their existence or to the universal existence itself. Others believe that this world is simply a world of trial and that our true destiny lies in some heaven, or hell, after we die. We have competing political systems, competing economic systems, competing religious beliefs, and within all of this, there lies the promptings of desire and the conflict over resources, their allocation and use, and the consequences of their use, or misuse in relation to the environment and the planet. Scientists now tell us we are in the midst of the sixth species extinction event, an event on such a scale as it dwarfs those that came before it. Meanwhile we are actively polluting the environment and changing the climate with consequences that we are beginning to see, but have not yet fully comprehended or begun to act seriously upon. Our physical, vital and mental standpoint does not give us any realistic way out of this crisis and we see therefore only recriminations, gridlock and the inevitable consequences of suffering, war, pestilence, mass migrations and related consequences.

Sri Aurobindo, however, sees a deeper significance, a thread of meaning that weaves through all these issues and events and provides a meaning to existence, a significance to our lives and a context for the disruptions we see all around us. This significance is an evolution of consciousness that, over a vast scale of Time, has brought forth Life from what appeared to be dead, inconscient Matter, and eventually brought forth Mind from what appeared to be the pure reactions of desire and fear that govern the lower animal existence. He sees that this evolution of consciousness is not yet completed and that the limitations and weaknesses of Matter, Life and Mind lead to the type of confusion and chaos that reigns in our world today. He recognises that in fact it is a basic principle of Nature that evolutionary transitions are fraught with crises as a new principle is born to help resolve the crisis existing at the prior level.

All of these evolutionary changes take time. What is different today is that through our application of the limited vision and understanding of the Mind, we are not only becoming more self-aware, but we are also manipulating Matter and Life in ways that are disastrous and wholly destructive. We do not appear to have the time needed for the full emergence of the supramental consciousness that marks the transition to the next full phase of the evolutionary cycle. This is where the advent of transitional gradations, such as the mind of Light come into play. Even a relatively small modicum of the Light and Knowledge and Power of the supramental consciousness can help us achieve sufficient balance in our existence and with our environment to overcome the worst dangers of the current planetary existential crisis. The mind of Light occupies a position that is achievable for humanity in the relative near term to provide us a new standpoint which will ameliorate the most serious of the existential concerns, and thus provide the time for the evolution of the next full evolutionary stage of the Supermind.

Humanity tends to only make substantive changes under the pressure of crisis and extremity. We thus can both seek, and find, that there is a powerful movement toward spiritual growth, widening of consciousness, awakening of a sense of our oneness and interdependence with the rest of the beings that share the environment with us. We also see an increasing awareness of the galaxies and universes beyond us, and we see an awakening to the universal creation and its apparent significance. Thus, we stand on the brink of an emergence of a new phase in our conscious existence, this time aided by our self-awareness and our deep inner aspiration to achieve meaning in our lives.

Sri Aurobindo, The Mind of Light, Summary and Conclusions

The Position and Role of the Mind of Light in the Evolution of Consciousness

The complexity and detailed organisation of the material world, the atomic structure, the forces of the electro-magnetic spectrum, gravity, and the mathematical precision of the world, the laws of Nature, the interrelationships of beings to create a unified world of existence, all speaks to a vast, powerful and dominant intelligence at work in the universe, even at levels where we do not see anything but what appears to be an inconscient, dense material existence. Sri Aurobindo puts this into the context of an involution of consciousness into Matter and its subsequent gradual evolution and self-revelation as the universe expresses Life in Matter, Mind in Life, and, eventually, Supermind in Mind. The Mind of Light occupies an intermediate phase between Mind and Supermind, having still the basic functioning of the mental consciousness to a great degree, but now seeing, responding to and acting upon the light and knowledge that the higher planes of consciousness provide. The importance of the mind of light cannot be ignored, as we face today the apparently impossible issues created by our exclusive reliance on our imperfect mentality in a world of desire and dense materiality. If humanity is going to solve these problems, we must achieve a new standpoint that sees the unity of existence, understands the complex inter-relationships, and acts from that standpoint to create harmony and balance in the world. The transition to the Mind of Light represents that first hope for our survival, as well as the continued growth of our conscious existence and expression of our spiritual purpose.

Sri Aurobindo writes: “Even in the material world which seems to us a world of ignorance, a world of the workings of a blind and inconscient Force starting from inconscience and proceeding through Ignorance and reaching with difficulty towards an imperfect Light and Knowledge, there is still a secret Truth in things which arranges all, guides towards the Self many contrary powers of being and rises towards its own heights where it can manifest its own highest truth and fulfill the secret purpose of the universe. Even this material world of existence is built upon a pattern of the truth in things which we call Law of Nature, a truth from which we climb to a greater truth until we emerge in the Light of the Supreme. This world is not really created by a blind force of Nature: even in the Inconscient the presence of the supreme Truth is at work; there is a seeing Power behind it which acts infallibly and the steps of the Ignorance itself are guided even when they seem to stumble; for, what we call the Ignorance is a cloaked Knowledge, a Knowledge at work in a body not its own but moving towards its own supreme self-discovery. This Knowledge is the covert Supermind which is the support of the creation and is leading all towards itself and guides behind this multitude of minds and creatures and objects which seem each to be following its own law of nature; in this vast and apparently confused mass of existence there is a law, a one truth of being, a guiding and fulfilling purpose of the world-existence. The Supermind is veiled here and does not work according to its characteristic law of being and self-knowledge, but without it nothing could reach its aim. A world governed by an ignorant mind would soon drift into a chaos; it could not in fact come into existence or remain in existence unless supported by the secret Omniscience of which it is the cover; a world governed by a blind inconscient force might repeat constantly the same mechanical workings but it would mean nothing and arrive nowhere. This could not be the cause of an evolution that creates life out of Matter, out of life mind, and a gradation of planes of Matter, Life and Mind culminating in the emergence of Supermind. The secret truth that emerges in Supermind has been there all the time, but now it manifests itself and the truth in things and the meaning of our existence.”

“It is in this series of the order of existence and as the last word of the lower hemisphere of being, the first word of the higher hemisphere that we have to look at the Mind of Light and see what is its nature and the powers which characterise it and which it uses for its self-manifestation and workings, its connection with Supermind and its consequences and possibilities for the life of a new humanity.”

Sri Aurobindo, The Mind of Light, Supermind and Mind of Light, pp. 96-97

Transitional Gradations of Consciousness Between Supermind and Mind

We recognize gradations in consciousness in plant and animal life up through the human being, including gradations of mental power. At the same time, even within a general stage or gradation, we recognise that certain individuals may exhibit different ways of knowing or powers of action, albeit on the same general evolutionary level. At the upper rungs of any particular gradation, we see a fading of the boundary lines as more of the power of the next stage begins to make itself obvious, and we see isolated examples of entirely new developments starting to show themselves as the transition takes place. Each full transition involves a change in the basis of knowing and acting. Life brings an enhanced mechanism of sensation and response/reaction beyond what we see in Matter. Mind brings a new mechanism of knowing not seen in the pure Life stage.

It should be, therefore, no great leap of understanding, to see that at the highest rungs of the mental evolution there would be various gradations that would go from the higher mind functions all the way up to a supramental form of consciousness, and that each of these gradations would take on, successively, various elements of and powers of the succeeding gradation. We may also expect that the next stage of the evolution of consciousness would start from and utilize an entirely different basis than the current mental level. Sri Aurobindo terms this the shift from a consciousness rooted in Ignorance to one based in Knowledge.

Since the evolution takes place based on powers of consciousness that have been involved through various step-down transitions from Supermind to Matter, it is also clear that the variances we can identify occur in both directions as stages of the involution successively distance the self-conscious awareness from the completeness and entirety of the truth, light and full power of existence.

Sri Aurobindo notes: “Still, again there will be a difference between the superhuman and the human, a difference in nature and power but a difference especially in the access and way of admission to the Truth-Consciousness and its activities: there may indeed be two orders of its truth, direct and half-direct, immediate and near or even only a reception at a distance. But this we must consider afterwards; at present it is sufficient to mark certain differences in the descending order of gnostic mind which culminates here. We may say that there is a higher hemisphere of our being in which Mind luminous and aware of its workings still lives in the Light and can be seen as a subordinate power of the Supermind; it is still an agent of the Truth-Consciousness, a gnostic power that has not descended into the mental ignorance; it is capable of a mental gnosis that preserves its connection with the superior light and acts by its power. This is the character of Overmind in its own plane and of all the powers that are dependent on the Overmind: the Supermind works there but at one remove, as if in something that it has put forth from itself but which is no longer entirely itself but is still a delegate of the Truth and invested with its authority. We are moving towards a transitional border beyond which lies the possibility of the Ignorance, but the Ignorance is not yet here. In the order of the evolutionary descent we stand in the Mind of Light on that border and a step downward can carry us beyond it into the beginnings of an ignorance which still bears on its face something of the luminosity that it is leaving behind it. On the other hand, in the ascending order of the evolution we reach a transition in which we see the light, are turned towards it, reflected in our consciousness and one further step carries us into the domain of the Light. The Truth becomes visible and audible to us and we are in immediate communication with its messages and illuminations and can grow into it and be made one with its substance. Thus there is a succession of ranges of consciousness which we can speak of as Mind but which belongs practically to the higher hemisphere although in their ontological station they are within the domain of the lower hemisphere. For the whole of being is a connected totality and there is in it no abrupt passage from the principle of Truth and Light into their opposite. The creative truth of things works and can work infallibly even in the Inconscient: the Spirit is there in Matter and it has made a series of steps by which it can travel from it to its own heights in an uninterrupted line of gradations: the depths are linked to the heights and the Law of the one Truth creates and works everywhere.”

Sri Aurobindo, The Mind of Light, Supermind and Mind of Light, pp. 95-96

Transition to a Mind of Light and Its Implications for Human Existence

The shift from the mental standpoint to the supramental standpoint, from a limited, fragmented and error-prone seeking for knowledge, to a consciousness that lives in the full illumination of Knowledge is not something that takes place instantaneously and completely like flipping on a light switch. There is in the evolutionary process on earth, a long series of stages of development, and the transition from mind to supermind also includes a series of stages that Sri Aurobindo has identified and defined. Even a relatively small shift, however, yields dramatic results in terms of benefit to the life of humanity and the balance of the world-environment. The shift to a “mind of Light” brings with it a new way of seeing that takes into account the wholistic balance between the individual and the world, sees the unity of all creation, and recognises the need to achieve harmony in relations between people, and the natural environment of which we are a part and on which we depend. While the mind of Light does not yet represent the complete knowledge and power of the supermind unveiled and active, it provides illumination sufficient for humanity to begin to solve many of the imminent crises that threaten our existence at this time.

Sri Aurobindo observes: “Still there is an increasing self-limitation which begins even with Overmind: Overmind is separated by only a luminous border on the full light and power of the supramental Truth and it still commands direct access to all that Supermind can give it. There is a further limitation or change of characteristic action at each step downwards from Overmind to Intuition, from Intuition to Illumined Mind, from Illumined Mind to what I have called the Higher Mind: the Mind of Light is a transitional passage by which we can pass from supermind and superhumanity to an illumined humanity. For the new humanity will be capable of at least a partly divinised way of seeing and living because it will live in the light and in knowledge and not in the obscuration of the Ignorance.”

Sri Aurobindo, The Mind of Light, Supermind and Mind of Light, pp. 94-95

The Essential Characteristics of the Mind of Light

The mind of Light represents a fundamental shift in the status and standpoint of consciousness in the individual. Mind operates in a fragmented, isolated manner and is locked into its limited framework. It is thus a power based in Ignorance. The mind of Light is a power of knowledge, based in the supramental consciousness and being, and thus, is not bound by the limitations that plague the mental function.

Sri Aurobindo makes several additional points worth noting here. First is that the consciousness is not a machinery of some inanimate Nature, but the active manifesting role of the divine Being. Second, the supermind does not need to display all its knowledge at every point at all times, but can modulate and withhold behind the scenes the knowledge that underlies the current action. One can consider this to be something akin to a “step down transformer” that takes the high voltage intensity of power being transmitted and siphons off part of it to distribute it where needed and in the amounts required, so that it can become useful for a specific purpose or need. The intervening gradations between Supermind and Mind represent stages of this “step-down” process to apply just the right amounts of knowledge and power to the specific need of the specific being, circumstance and event that is at play at that moment.

Sri Aurobindo writes: “The Truth-Consciousness is not only a power of knowledge; it is a being of consciousness and knowledge, a luminous many-sided dynamis and play of the omniscient Spirit; in it there can be a spiritual feeling, a spiritual sensation, a spiritual essentiality of substance that knows and reveals, that acts and manifests in an omniscience which is one with omnipotence. In Mind this Truth-Consciousness and these workings of the Truth-Consciousness can be there and even though it limits itself in Mind and has a subordinate or an indirect working, its action can be essentially the same. There can even be a hidden immediacy which hints at the presence of something absolute and is evidence of the same omnipotence and omniscience. In the Mind of Light when it becomes full-orbed this character of the Truth reveals itself though in a garb that is transparent even when it seems to cover: for this too is a truth-consciousness and a self-power of knowledge. This too proceeds from the Supermind and depends upon it even though it is limited and subordinate. What we have called specifically the Mind of Light is indeed the last of a series of descending planes of consciousness in which the Supermind veils itself by a self-chosen limitation or modification of its self-manifesting activities, but its essential character remains the same: there is in it an action of light, of truth, of knowledge in which inconscience, ignorance and error claim no place. It proceeds from knowledge to knowledge; we have not yet crossed over the borders of the truth-conscious into ignorance. The methods also are those of a self-luminous knowing and seeing and feeling and a self-fulfilling action within its own borders; there is no need to seek for something missing, no fumbling, no hesitation: all is still a gnostic action of a gnostic power and principle. There has been a descent from full Supermind into Mind, but this Mind though a self-limited is not yet an agnostic consciousness unsure of itself or unsure of its workings; there is still a comprehending or an apprehending consciousness which goes straight to its object and does not miss its mark or have to hunt for it in the dark or in insufficient light: it sees, knows, puts its hand immediately on things of self and things of Nature. We have passed into Mind but Mind has still not broken its inherent connection with the supramental principle.”

Sri Aurobindo, The Mind of Light, Supermind and Mind of Light, pp. 93-94

The Involution and Evolution of the Supramental Consciousness

As we delve deeper into the world of matter and life, it becomes obvious that there is an involved consciousness at work that creates forms and beings and activities far beyond what our best application of mental power can provide. Scientists and engineers now look closely at the forms of nature to design technology and products that can solve human needs or concerns. The involved consciousness is apparently far more capable than the mind as can be seen from examples of science studying and mimicking solutions already found by nature. Some examples include the development of adhesives that work in damp environments, courtesy of the adherence capability of mussels which can withstand pressure from ocean tides, or development of wing and rotor designs that take advantage of the aerodynamic qualities of birds, such as owls. Velcro was invented by someone studying the ability of burs of certain plants to adhere to clothing.

This involved consciousness is capable of holding back self-awareness and self-aware control of these forms at the material and vital levels, while slowly bringing forth more and more powers of consciousness as the mind develops. At some point as we become aware of the involved consciousness, and as we push the limits of our mental capabilities, we become receptive to the supramental truth-consciousness which creates all these forms in a symbiotic, and inter-dependent harmony while maintaining its awareness of the inherent oneness of the entire creation.

The intervening gradation between mind and supermind, which Sri Aurobindo terms the “mind of Light”, and which itself has various stages of evolutionary development, begins to shift the consciousness from one of ignorance seeking for and struggling to attain knowledge, to one that exists in a consciousness of truth and does not have to struggle for the understanding of the larger picture or the place of each element in the creation. Or as the ancient scripture holds “from darkness to light, from light to greater light.”

Sri Aurobindo notes: “The essential character of Supermind is a Truth-Consciousness which knows by its own inherent right of nature, by its own light; it has not to arrive at knowledge but possess it. It may indeed, especially in its evolutionary action, keep knowledge behind its apparent consciousness and bring it forward as if from behind the veil; but even then this veil is only an appearance and does not really exist: the knowledge was alwys there, the consciousness its possessor and present revealer. This too is only in the evolutionary play and on the supramental plane itself the consciousness lives always in an immediacy of knowledge and acts by a direct immediacy of knowledge. In Mind as we see it here the action is very different; it starts from an apparent absence of knowledge, a seeming ignorance or nescience, even, in material Nature, from an inconscience in which any kind of knowing does not seem at all to exist. It reaches knowledge or the action of knowledge by steps which are not at all immediate but rather knowledge at first seems utterly impossible and foreign to the very substance of this Matter. Yet, in the blindness of Matter itself there are signs of a concealed consciousness which in its hidden fundamental being sees and has the power to act according to its vision and even by an infallible immediacy which is inherent in its nature. This is the same Truth that is apparent in Supermind but is here involved and seems not to be. The Mind of Light is a subordinate action of Supermind, dependent upon it even when not apparently springing direct from it, in which the secret of this connection becomes evident and palpable.”

Sri Aurobindo, The Mind of Light, Supermind and Mind of Light, pg. 93