The Nature of the Subliminal Self

Having described the subconscient, Sri Aurobindo next takes up a review of the subliminal self so that we can understand the differences between the two. “But the subliminal self has not at all this subconscious character: it is in full possession of a mind, a life-force, a clear subtle-physical sense of things. It has the same capacities as our waking being, a subtle sense and perception, a comprehensive extended memory and an intensive selecting intelligence, will, self-consciousness; but even though the same in kind, they are wider, more developed, more sovereign. And it has other capacities which exceed those of our mortal mind because of a power of direct awareness of the being, whether acting in itself or turned upon its object, which arrives more swiftly at knowledge, more swiftly at effectivity of will, more deeply at understanding and satisfaction of impulse. Our surface mind is hardly a true mentality, so involved, bound, hampered, conditioned is it by the body and bodily life and the limitations of the nerve-system and the physical organs. But the subliminal self has a true mentality superior to these limitations; it exceeds the physical mind and physical organs although it is aware of them and their works and is, indeed, in a large degree their cause or creator.”

The subliminal keeps most of its action behind the veil, and is thus mostly unseen or hidden from our surface mentality. And it has the ability to connect with the universal forces and widen itself to such a degree that it has a much broader scope for knowledge and action than our bound surface self. As we move our attention inwards toward this subliminal self we find initially a lot of confusion occasioned by the inter-mixing and ignorant interpretations provided where the surface understanding begins to meet the subliminal, but as we push through to deeper levels, this confusion abates and we can gain a standpoint that is much more clear and lucid than anything we have worked with heretofore on the surface of our being.

Sri Aurobindo, The Life Divine, Book 2, Part I, Chapter 11, The Boundaries of the Ignorance

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