Limitations of the Mental Power of Thought

In order to get a sense of the power of the Illumined Mind it is useful to compare it to the action of our normal human mentality. In order to do this, we must examine the thought process itself. For most people the action of thought is a verbalisation in a logical sequential manner on a subject or theme in our minds. Essentially we are turning our insight or knowledge into a thought-form consisting of language-symbols. Many people will even say at times that there is so much noise around them that “they cannot hear themselves think.”

Sri Aurobindo describes this process and its implications and compares it to the process of the Illumined Mind as follows: “In its form of verbal thought, it can almost be described as a concession made by Knowledge to the Ignorance, because that Ignorance is incapable of making truth wholly lucid and intelligible to itself in all its extent and manifold implications except through the clarifying precision of significant sounds; it cannot do without this device to give ideas an exact outline and an expressive body. But it is evident that this is a device, a machinery; thought in itself, in its origin on the higher levels of consciousness, is a perception, a cognitive seizing of the object or of some truth of things which is a power but still a minor and secondary result of spiritual vision, a comparatively external and superficial regard of the self upon the self, the subject upon itself or something of itself as object: for all there is a diversity and multiplicity of the self. In mind there is a surface response of perception to the contact of an observed or discovered object, fact or truth and a consequent conceptual formulation of it; but in the spiritual ight there is a deeper perceptive response from the very substance of consciousness and a comprehending formulation in that substance, an exact figure or revelatory ideograph in the stuff of the being,–nothing more, no verbal representation is needed for the precision and completeness of this thought-knowledge. Thought creates a representative image of Truth; it offers that to the mind as a means of holding Truth and making it an object of knowledge; but the body itself of Truth is caught and exactly held in the sunlight of a deeper spiritual sight to which the representative figure created by thought is secondary and derivative, powerful for communication of knowledge, but not indispensable for reception or possession of knowledge.”

“The Illumined Mind does not work primarily by thought, but by vision; thought is here only a subordinate movement expressive of sight.”
Sri Aurobindo, The Life Divine, Book 2, Part 2, Chapter 26, “The Ascent Towards Supermind”