Overcoming Our Psychological Ignorance

We believe ourselves to be this surface conscious being because of a sense of continuity within and an active surface memory that reinforces this sense of continuity. This limitation of our awareness to the surface consciousness is what Sri Aurobindo calls our “psychological ignorance”. He points out that this surface being is not the entirety of our existence. “Behind it is an occult existence and energy of our secret being without which the superficial consciousness and activity could not have existed or acted.” The surface consciousness is strictly limited and keeps us within its tight realm of activity, except in those moments when, in a sudden inspiration or intuition, we gain some small access to the wider Reality of awareness far beyond our normal scope. “But these occasional visitations cannot enlarge us far beyond our present capacities, are not enough to revolutionise our status. That can only be done if we can bring into it the higher undeveloped lights and powers potential in our being and get them consciously and normally into play; for this we must be able to draw freely from those ranges of our being to which they are native but which are at present subconscient or rather secretly intraconscient and circumconscient or else superconscient to us. Or,–the yet more that is also possible,–we must enter into these inner and higher parts of ourselves by an inward plunge or disciplined penetration and bring back with us to the surface their secrets. Or, achieving a still more radical change of our consciousness, we must learn to live within and no longer on the surface and be and act from the inner depths and from a soul that has become sovereign over the nature.”

Sri Aurobindo, The Life Divine, Book 2, Part 2, Chapter 19, “Out of the Sevenfold Ignorance towards the Sevenfold Knowledge.”