Experiences of the Descent of the Higher Consciousness into the Lower Nature

The ascent of the consciousness to higher levels beyond the mind is only part of the process of transformation. The descent of that consciousness, and its permanent integration into the action of mind, life and body is the other necessary step. “This experience of descent can take place as a result of the other two movements or automatically before either has happened, through a sudden rift in the lid or a percolation, a downpour or an influx. A light descends and touches or envelops or penetrates the lower being, the mind, the life or the body; or a presence or a power or a stream of knowledge pours in waves or currents, or there is a flood of bliss or a sudden ecstasy; the contact with the superconscient has been established.”

The repeated occurrence of such descents eventually leads to the normalisation of this new force of consciousness working to illuminate what was obscure, providing knowledge that was previously hidden. “For a knowledge from above begins to descend, frequently, constantly, then uninterruptedly, and to manifest in the mind’s quietude or silence; intuitions and inspirations, revelations born of a greater sight, a higher truth and wisdom, enter into the being, a luminous intuitive discrimination works which dispels all darkness of understanding or dazzling confusions, puts all in order; a new consciousness begins to form, the mind of a high wide self-existent thinking knowledge or an illumined or an intuitive or an overmental consciousness with new forces of thought or sight and a greater power of direct spiritual realisation which is more than thought or sight, a greater becoming in the spiritual substance of our present being; the heart and the sense become subtle, intense, large to embrace all existence, to see God, to feel and hear and touch the Eternal, to make a deeper and closer unity of self and the world in a transcendent realisation.”

Sri Aurobindo characterises this as “an invasion by the Infinite.”

Sri Aurobindo, The Life Divine, Book 2, Part 2, Chapter 25, “The Triple Transformation”

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Experiences of the Superconscient Levels of Consciousness

As the barrier between the mental level and the overmental and higher levels of consciousness begins to ease, there are essentially two categories of experiences that the seeker can have of the action of that higher consciousness. The first is the experience of the higher states in and of themselves by an ascension of the consciousness. The second is the influence of those higher states on the lower mind, life and body through a descent of consciousness from the higher realms. We shall in this post focus on the first, the ascension, and how it is experienced. Sri Aurobindo discusses the characteristic actions to put the experiences in perspective for the practitioner: “What we see by the opening of vision is an Infinity above us, an eternal Presence or an infinite Existence, an infinity of consciousness, an infinity of bliss,–a boundless Self, a boundless Light, a boundless Power, a boundless Ecstasy.”

When these first openings come, the surface nature may not be able to immediately respond to them, and may therefore fall into a state that is similar to sleep or trance of the waking consciousness. One knows something special or unusual has occurred, but one does not have a mental transcription of it. Later on, as the experience normalises, one is able to move the conscious awareness to these new levels and begin to experience them in a waking, conscious state. “But when this power begins to awake and act, when mind becomes by degrees conscious in what was to it superconscient, then there begins a knowledge and experience of superior planes of existence. The experience is in accord with that which is brought to us by the first opening of vision: the mind rises into a higher plane of pure Self, silent, tranquil, illimitable; or it rises into regions of Light or of Felicity, or into planes where it feels an infinite Power or a divine Presence or experiences the contact of a divine Love or Beauty or the atmosphere of a wider and greater and luminous Knowledge.”

Sri Aurobindo points out that over time, the connection and ascent can be made at will and can become more or less constant as the link to these new levels of consciousness becomes more or less permanent. These experiences aid the seeker in the evolutionary development, but are not, in and of themselves, sufficient to accomplish the complete transformation of the lower nature. For that, the corresponding descent needs to occur. We shall take up that topic in the next post.

Sri Aurobindo, The Life Divine, Book 2, Part 2, Chapter 25, “The Triple Transformation”