It is not simply that each gradation of consciousness has to be addressed and their inter-relations worked out, but also that as the higher consciousness descends into our nature, there remains the embedded, habitual patterns and working long established in each of these prior existing forms. It might be useful to quickly review what may be a major difference between the action of the integral yoga and the action of other forms of yoga of the past with respect to this issue of ascent and descent of consciousness. In general past yogas, focused on liberation from the limitations of human nature, concentrated energy and sublimated it through various techniques to force it upwards into the higher levels. There was no major focus on transformation of the mind, life or body. Without such a transformation, the normal methodology was to simply do away with the action of the body, or to disregard it and let it “do what it pleased”. The energy, thus directed upwards, eventually could be liberated, and one would achieve a state of samadhi, or nirvana and from there, either the focus became entirely other-worldly or, as in some schools of Mahayana Buddhism, the focus was turned downward in an act of great compassion. The Integral Yoga however seeks to have a complete transformation of the mind, life and body and the life in the world. This is accomplished through the descent of consciousness from the higher gradations and their successive taking up of each of the existing actions and levels of consciousness functioning in the world, and the total revision of their characteristic method of working with the light and force of the higher consciousness taking over the direction.
This process necessarily involves dealing with the habitual life and not simply abandoning it. When a greater awareness and energy begins to act, it hits untransformed levels which try to take advantage of this new power, but for their own normal ways of seeing and acting. The process of working through each of these movements and sorting them out is the essential complexity of transformation that Sri Aurobindo points out.
We shall explore this topic further in the next post.
Sri Aurobindo, The Life Divine, Book 2, Part 2, Chapter 26, “The Ascent Towards Supermind”