Introduction to the Gnostic Being

The review of The Life Divine has now reached a critical juncture at which point it is useful to take a moment to overview the landscape in preparation for the next stage. We are now beginning our review of the penultimate chapter, “The Gnostic Being”. Up until now Sri Aurobindo has surveyed the universal order, the role of the human individual in the large universal evolutionary process, the gradations of consciousness and the process of development of consciousness, along with its implications for a transformation of human life and the life of the world. In the final two chapters, Sri Aurobindo takes up the culmination of this process to the extent that the human intellect can envision it. The chapter we are starting now, “The Gnostic Being” takes up the characteristics and action of the individual undergoing this spiritual transformation. The final chapter “The Divine Life” shows how the spiritual, gnostic individual takes up the collective life of humanity in the world and creates a divine life upon earth.

We are thus no longer looking backward, to powers, capacities or gradations of consciousness that have existed in the past, but forward to the next stages of the individual and collective evolution of consciousness.

This creates some amount of difficulty as we try to express in terms of human conceptual capabilities, relationships, actions of consciousness and steps that necessarily go beyond human language. Sri Aurobindo points out that “Our normal perception or imagination or formulation of things spiritual and things mundane is mental, but in the gnostic change the evolution crosses a line beyond which there is a supreme and radical reversal of consciousness and the standards and forms of mental cognition are no longer sufficient: it is difficult for mental thought to understand or describe supramental nature.”

Sri Aurobindo, The Life Divine, Book 2, Part 2, Chapter 27, “The Gnostic Being”