Another source of complexity in actually carrying through the descent and integration of higher gradations of consciousness is the various overlapping and interacting “layers” of consciousness which respond at different speeds and with different levels of acceptance to the new consciousness trying to manifest. Sri Aurobindo points out that we have an inner being, a surface nature and an occult but nevertheless powerful direct connection to what he terms “circumconscient” consciousness which impinges on and influences the surface being in particular. The general rule is that the inner being tends to respond more quickly and completely, while the surface nature comes along more slowly. There can arise therefore a noted inner separation and difference between the awareness internally and the ability to control and change the outer nature, which is compounded then by the mass of the outer world and its influences which respond with greater difficulty and attempt to restore the old patterns on the individual whenever possible. Each gradation of consciousness as it descends goes through a similar pattern of gaining the adherence and support of the inner being, effecting a change in consciousness inwardly, extending this consciousness to the surface being, and stabilising it against the counter-influence of the circumconscient environmental consciousness of life in the world, and eventually expansion, integration and stabilisation on a general world-life level.
“There is therefore a long stage in which the inner being is sufficiently transformed but the outer is still involved in a mixed and difficult movement of imperfect change. This disparity repeats itself at each step of the ascent; for in each change the inner being follows more readily, the outer limps after, reluctant or else incompetent in spite of its aspiration and desire: this necessitates a constantly repeated labour of assumption, adaptation, orientation, a labour reproduced in new terms always but always the same in principle. But even when the outer and the inner nature of the individual are unified in a harmonised spiritual consciousness, that still more external but occult part of him in which his being mixes with the being of the outside world and through which the outside world invades his consciousness remains a field of imperfection. There is necessarily a commerce here between disparate influences: the inner spiritual influence is met by quite opposite influences strong in their control of the present world-order; the new spiritual consciousness has to bear the shock of the dominant and established unspiritualised powers of the Ignorance. This creates a difficulty which is of capital importance in all stages of the spiritual evolution and its urge towards a change of the nature.”
Sri Aurobindo, The Life Divine, Book 2, Part 2, Chapter 26, “The Ascent Towards Supermind”