When we discuss gradations of consciousness we refer to “higher consciousness” or “lower consciousness”. This is not necessarily intended to be a “value judgment” but more a scientific appraisal of the vibrational intensity and quality of the consciousness that manifests in the different gradations. Just as we have a color spectrum, and an electro-magnetic spectrum, we also have a consciousness spectrum with varying wavelengths, intensity and capacity depending on where in the spectrum a particular gradation lies.
“The gradation itself depends fundamentally upon a higher or lower substance, potency, intensity of vibrations of the being, of its self-awareness, of its delight of existence, of its force of existence. Consciousness, as we descend the scale, becomes more and more diminished and diluted,–dense indeed by its courser crudity, but while that crudity of consistence compacts the stuff of Ignorance, it admits less and less the substance of light; it becomes thin in pure substance of consciousness and reduced in power of consciousness, thin in light, thin and weak in capacity of delight; it has to resort to a grosser thickness of its diminished stuff and to a strenuous output of its obscurer force to arrive at anything, but this strenuousness of effort and labour is a sign not of strength but of weakness. As we ascend, on the contrary, a finer but far stronger and more truly and spiritually concrete substance emerges, a greater luminosity and potent stuff of consciousness, a subtler, sweeter, purer and more powerfully ecstatic energy of delight.”
The descent of higher powers or ranges of consciousness into the lower is possible “because all is fundamentally the same substance, the same consciousness, the same force, but in different forms and powers and degrees of itself: a taking up of the lower by the higher is therefore a possible and, but for our second nature of inconscience, a spiritually natural movement; what was put forth from the superior status is enveloped and taken up into its own greater being and essence.”
Sri Aurobindo, The Life Divine, Book 2, Part 2, Chapter 26, “The Ascent Towards Supermind”