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”