Recognising the Gradations of Consciousness Above the Mind

There are a series of gradations of consciousness between the mental level where we generally function once we reach the normal level of mentalised humanity, and the Supramental Consciousness. Sri Aurobindo terms these grades “overmental” to define their intermediate status. As with the entire evolution of consciousness, we see generally a gradual incremental expression of consciousness inching towards the next major level, even if, in the final step, there is a qualitative and quantitative leap to make the final transition. Thus, at the level of physical matter, we see the appearance of metals and crystals which clearly embody a more advanced physical consciousness than raw rock. We see a gradation of plant life from single-celled simple organisms up to highly complex plants with developed responsiveness and adaptability. In the animal kingdom likewise there are simple animals and eventually highly complex, intelligent and responsive animal species. This same type of gradation process occurs as the mental being becomes more and more refined and begins to respond more effectively to the influence, and eventually the influx, of levels of consciousness beyond the mind.

“There are above us, we have seen, successive states, levels or graded powers of being overtopping our normal mind, hidden in our own superconscient parts, higher ranges of Mind, degrees of spiritual consciousness and experience; without there there would be no links, no helpful intervening spaces to make the immense ascension possible. It is indeed from these higher sources that the secret spiritual Power acts upon the being and by its pressure brings about the psychic transformation or the spiritual change; but in the early stages of our growth this action is not apparent, it remains occult and unseizable. At first what is necessary is that the pure touch of the spiritual force must intervene in mental nature: that awakening pressure must stamp itself upon mind and heart and life and give them their upward orientation; a subtle light or a great transmuting power must purify, refine and unlift their motions and suffuse them with a higher consciousness that does not belong to their own normal capacity and character. This can be done from within by an invisible action through the psychic entity and the psychic personality; a consciously felt descent from above is not indispensable.”

In the next post we shall continue to explore the methods of accessing these higher gradations of consciousness beyond the mind.

Sri Aurobindo, The Life Divine, Book 2, Part 2, Chapter 26, “The Ascent Towards Supermind”