Signs of an Emergent Spiritual Consciousness

As with each phase of the manifestation of the successive grades of consciousness, we first begin to note signs of something different than what has gone before. In some cases, these signs appear to be an extension or expansion of the existing grade of consciousness out of which the new formation is emerging. With respect to the spiritual consciousness, Sri Aurobindo describes the early signs: “a pressure of the psychic Entity on the mind, life and body to develop a true soul-action, a pressure of the Spirit or Self for liberation from the ego, from the surface ignorance, a turning of the mind and life towards some occult Reality,–preliminary experiences, partial formulations of a spiritualised mind, a spiritualised life, but no complete change, no probability of an entire unveiling of the soul or self or a radical transformation of the nature.”

Eventually, however, the full emergence of the spiritual consciousness takes place. Sri Aurobindo describes the signs thus: “one sign of it is the status or action in us of an inherent, intrinsic, self-existent consciousness which knows itself by the mere fact of being, knows all that is in itself in the same way, by identity with it, begins even to see all that to our mind seems external in the same manner, by a movement of identity or by an intrinsic direct consciousness which envelops, penetrates, enters into its object, discovers itself in the object, is aware in it of something that is not mind or life or body. There is, then, evidently a spiritual consciousness which is other than the mental, and it testifies to the existence of a spiritual being in us which is other than our surface mental personality.”

There are stages of transition as this new consciousness organises itself in the being. “But at first this consciousness may confine itself to a status of being separate from the actino of our ignorant surface nature, observing it, limiting itself to knowledge, to a seeing of things with a spiritual sense and vision of existence. For action it may still depend upon the mental, vital, bodily instruments, or it may allow them to act according to their own nature and itself remain satisfied with self-experience and self-knowledge, with an inner liberation, an eventual freedom: but it may also and usually does exercise a certain authority, governance, influence on thought, life-movement, physical action, a purifying uplifting control compelling them to move in a higher and purer truth of themselves, to obey or be an instrumentation of an influx of some diviner Power…”

Further steps of the emergence of course eventually occur, and we shall take up this topic in the next post.

Sri Aurobindo, The Life Divine, Book 2, Part 2, Chapter 24, “The Evolution of the Spiritual Man”

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The Decisive Steps of the Spiritual Evolution

The awareness of the Soul, the development of a spiritual sense that permeates and takes charge of the thoughts, words, deeds, feelings and experiences of the Mind, Life and Body is the first, the primary spiritual liberation that needs to be developed and which is actually the focus of most spiritual disciplines to date.

Sri Aurobindo takes this further however, because it is not just the “individual” spiritual realisation that he is seeking. “but self-discovery can go farther, it can even put aside all relation to form or action of Nature. For it is seen that these selves are representations of a divine Entity to which mind, life and body are only forms and instruments: we are then the Soul looking at Nature, knowing all her dynamisms in us, not by mental perception and observation, but by an intrinsic consciousness and its direct sense of things and its intimate exact vision, able therefore by its emergence to put a close control on our nature and change it. When there is a complete silence in the being, either a stillness of the whole being or a stillness behind unaffected by surface movements, then we can become aware of a Self, a spiritual substance of our being, an existence exceeding even the soul-individuality, spreading itself into universality, surpassing all dependence on any natural form or action, extending itself upward into a transcendence of which the limits are not visible. It is these liberations of the spiritual part in us which are the decisive steps of the spiritual evolution in Nature.”

Sri Aurobindo, The Life Divine, Book 2, Part 2, Chapter 24, “The Evolution of the Spiritual Man”