Bringing Light to the Subconscient

Sri Aurobindo takes a different tack on understanding and revealing the action of the subconscient than we see in much of Western psychology. Psychologists starting with Freud have tried to understand the subconscient by dredging it up, bringing it all to the surface and there exposing all the mass of reactions, habits, mechanical responses, impulses, instincts and the complexes associated with them. Unfortunately, the conscious being is not really in a position to sort all of this out and they therefore wind up mostly wallowing in it, struggling against things without the understanding or the power to change them.

Sri Aurobindo’s approach is different: “A descent into the subconscient would not help us to explore this region, for it would plunge us into incoherence or into sleep or a dull trance or a comatose torpor. A mental scrutiny or insight can give us some indirect and constructive idea of these hidden activities; but it is only by drawing back into the subliminal or by ascending into the superconscient and from there looking down or extending ourselves into these obscure depths that we can become directly and totally aware and in control of the secrets of our subconscient physical, vital and mental nature. This awareness, this control are of the utmost importance.” The subconscient “sustains and reinforces all in us that clings most and refuses to change, our mechanical recurrences of unintelligent thought, our persistent obstinacies of feeling, sensation, impulse, propensity, our uncontrolled fixities of character. The animal in us,–the infernal also,–has its lair of retreat in the dense jungle of the subconscience. To penetrate there, to bring in light and establish a control, is indispensable for the completeness of any higher life, for any integral transformation of the nature.”

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

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