Gradations of Consciousness Beyond the Mind

The human mentality is an expression of consciousness that is still based in the Ignorance as it functions as if it is divided from the universal consciousness and acts within strict limits, trying to piece together “facts” and “concepts” to try to fit together into some kind of consistent pattern. Its essential characteristic is analytical rather than synthetic; it divides rather than unifies in its basic outlook.

Sri Aurobindo points out that despite variations due to individual circumstances, the ascent into the higher spheres of consciousness involves a series of steps or gradations that represent qualitative differences in the experience and power of consciousness that is at work. These gradations he terms Higher Mind, Illumined Mind and Intuition, Overmind and Supermind. Once the consciousness ascends into any of these grades, there is a transition to a unifying basis rather than a dividing basis. “All these degrees are gnostic in their principle and power; for even at the first we begin to pass from a consciousness based on an original Inconscience and acting in a general Ignorance or in a mixed Knowledge-Ignorance to a consciousness based on a secret self-existent Knowledge and first acted upon and inspired by that light and power and then itself changed into that substance and using entirely this new instrumentation.”

Sri Aurobindo goes on further to point out that these are not simply instrumentalities of consciousness but actual new gradations of consciousness which have their entirely own characteristic texture and working, what he calls “energy-substance of the Spirit.” This can be understood in the context of viewing the electro-magnetic spectrum and its vibrational variances as one ascends that spectrum. The spectrum of consciousness takes on a greater luminosity and inclusiveness as one ascends to the higher ranges and infuses a character of being able to “see” or “know” that is not built up by assembling pieces arduously through a constructive process, nor by deconstructing units into component pieces. These levels share a basic characteristic that they can both see the “whole” and the “parts” simultaneously in an harmonious pattern and view.

“When the powers of any grade descend completely into us, it is not only our thought and knowledge that are affected,–the substance and very grain of our being and consciousness, all its states and activities are touched and penetrated and can be remoulded and wholly transmuted. Each stage of this ascent is therefore a general, if not a total, conversion of the being into a new light and power of a greater existence.”

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

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Turning from the Spiritual to the Supramental Transformation

As was discussed in the previous post, the idea of “opening the chakras” is one that has a lot of vital attraction, and that process is of course necessary and helpful to the transformational process; however, it does not provide any complete solution. “But even this larger mentalisation and vitalisation from within is still an inferior illumination: it can lessen but it does not get rid of the Ignorance; it assails and compels to recede but it does not overcome the powers and forces that maintain the subtle and secret rule of the Inconscience. The spiritual forces acting through this larger mentalisation and vitalisation can bring in a higher light, strength and joy; but the full spiritualisation, the completest new integration of consciousness, is at this stage still impossible.”

The opening of the inner centres permits the action of more powerful consciousness and force to influence and work through the various parts of the being, but it still needs the direction of the soul, the psychic change, to ensure that this greater knowledge and energy gets put to the right use, as well as to keep the being turned toward the spiritual purpose and thus, receptive to the spiritual transformation that needs to occur.

“…when the spiritualisation begins and, as its greater results manifest themselves,–silence of the mind, the admission of our being into the cosmic consciousness, the Nirvana of the little ego in the sense of universal self, the contact with the Divine Reality,–the interventions of the higher dynamis and our openness to them can increase, they can assume a fuller, more direct, more characteristic power of their working, and this progression continues until some complete and mature action of them is possible. It is then that the turning of the spiritual towards the supramental transformation commences; for the heightening of the consciousness to higher and higher planes builds in us the gradation of the ascent to Supermind, that difficult and supreme passage.”

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