Uncompromising Change of Consciousness is Required

The supramental transformation represents a radical change in consciousness, moving us out of the sphere of the Ignorance as embodied in Matter, Life and Mind, and into the sphere of the Knowledge, which has its source in the original Existence-Consciousness-Delight of Existence. There must be a reversal of viewpoint, a change of core perception that represents a 180 degree difference from the normal mental view.

For ages humans have awakened to the “sun rising in the east, and setting in the west”. This perception was the basis of the philosophical viewpoint that placed the earth at the center of the universe and had the sun rotating around it. At a certain point in our mental development we recognised that in fact, the sun is not rotating around the earth, but rather, it is the opposite that is truly taking place.

We can get a far glimpse of the kind of qualitative change that needs to occur in consciousness with this understanding, in order to recognise that the supramental consciousness, based in Oneness, Harmony and Unity must become the foundation of our experience.

For this to occur, it is not sufficient to have small, incremental modifications to the mental viewpoint. This approach cannot possibly usher in the kind of total reversal of consciousness required.

Sri Aurobindo points out “But the supreme Grace will act only in the conditions of the Light and the Truth; it will not act in conditions laid upon it by the Falsehood and the Ignorance. For if it were to yield to the demands of the Falsehood, it would defeat its own purpose.”

Sri Aurobindo,

Powers Needed for Achievement of Yogic Goal

The first chapter of The Mother is clearly intended for someone who aspires to practice and succeed in the practice of the integral yoga and the supramental transformation. It sets forth the expectations, not for “a little progress” but for realisation.

Tibetan Yoga has a famous practitioner by the name of Milarepa, who determined that he would do “whatever it takes” to achieve realisation in one lifetime. Some individuals feel that call and have that determination. This first chapter is for such individuals. But even those who do not feel that specific call, but who still want to understand the principles and start on the way, would do well to understand and take heed of Sri Aurobindo’s guidelines here:

“There are two powers that alone can effect in their conjunction the great and difficult thing which is the aim of our endeavour, a fixed and unfailing aspiration that calls from below and a supreme Grace from above that answers.”

It seems simple. But working this out in detail is where the difficulty lies. The principle of an aspiration from below is essentially the pressure of the seed pushing to break out and spring to life in harmony with the warmth and radiation of the sun that creates the conditions of the seed’s germination.

It is useful to understand that nothing can manifest from Matter that is not already involved in Matter. The involution takes place from the highest planes of Existence-Consciousness-Bliss and the native power of those planes responds as the evolutionary process gets underway.

It is the conjunction of the evolutionary developing consciousness, and its “aspiration”, together with a corresponding response from the native planes of the supramental consciousness, that can carry out the development that is the next stage of the evolution of consciousness.

Sri Aurobindo,

Introduction to The Mother

Sri Aurobindo’s book The Mother is a highly concentrated and powerful guide to spirituality and yoga. Consisting of just six chapters, it provides inspiration and direction of the highest order and for many it acts as a lifelong companion on the journey. The sixth chapter, which describes the Four Powers of the Mother is frequently called the Matri Upanishad and can rightfully take its place with those more ancient inspired texts.

In Indian philosophy, the Mother represents shakti , the power and energy of creation.

All page number citations in the following review are based on the U.S. edition of The Mother published by Lotus Press, EAN: 978-0-9415-2479-7

Sri Aurobindo, The Mother

Conclusions

In the first chapter of The Life Divine, Sri Aurobindo sets forth the basic aspiration of mankind, the seeking for “God, Light, Freedom, Immortality.”

The path to achievement of these aspirations is through a systematic evolution of consciousness, and a reversal of the viewpoint, based in the Ignorance, that sees the world as fragmented and separate to achieve a consciousness of unity, harmony and Oneness.

In the final chapter, Sri Aurobindo sets forth his conclusion that a divine life on earth is possible, and that it can and will come about through the continuation of the evolutionary process that has led, successively, to the evolution of Matter, Life and Mind.

The process of Nature is to create the ultimate tension of contradiction to force the next stage of progress to manifest. We are faced today with an evolutionary crisis that cannot be solved by application of mental, vital or physical solutions. The complexity of the systems, and the order of magnitude of the inter-relationships take the issues far beyond the faculties of mind, even at their highest.

When we add to this the complexity of opposing viewpoints, the diversity of opinions and dogmas that abound, we have a formula for gridlock. We see that taking place all over the world today. Real problems cannot be addressed, much less solved, while we remain locked into the fragmented and limited consciousness of mind, driven by conflicting desires and demands of the vital and physical aspects of our lives.

Thus, it is time for the development and expression of the next evolutionary level, the supramental level. It is only the supramental manifestation on earth that can solve our present crisis.

The Richness of the Evolution in the Knowledge

Most of us are wedded to the sense that enjoyment of life and richness of experience are inseparably linked to the play of the dualities. We believe and find our satisfaction in the mixture of darkness and light, joy and pain, beauty and ugliness, and the challenges attendant on meeting and overcoming the difficulties that arise. We frequently express the sentiment that life in “heaven” may be “dull” because it does not have any of these challenges or the play of the dualities. This viewpoint however is based solely on an extrapolation of our mental and vital experience of the ego, and does not necessarily stand up when we approach life from the position of the gnostic being, expressing Oneness that nevertheless has an infinite Multiplicity that it manifests.

Sri Aurobindo describes a different experience: “The evolution in the Knowledge would be a more beautiful and glorious manifestation with more vistas ever unfolding themselves and more intensive in all ways than any evolution could be in the Ignorance. The delight of the Spirit is ever new, the forms of beauty it takes innumerable, its godhead ever young and the taste of delight, rasa, of the Infinite eternal and inexhaustible. The gnostic manifestation of life would be more full and fruitful and its interest more vivid than the creative interest of the Ignorance; it would be a greater and happier constant miracle.”

“Our evolution in the Ignorance with its chequered joy and pain of self-discovery and world-discovery, its half-fulfilments, its constant finding and missing, is only our first state. It must lead inevitably towards an evolution in the Knowledge, a self-finding and self-unfolding of the Spirit, a self-revelation of the Divinity in things in that true power of itself in Nature which is to us still a Supernature.”

And that represents the manifestation of the ultimate destiny, the creation of a divine life on earth. The dream of a “kingdom of heaven on earth” is only possible through the evolution of consciousness beyond the level of the mind. Sri Aurobindo has provided us the solution to the riddle of our lives. He has gone beyond the contradictions and the dualities to a place where they are united as aspects of One Reality, unified, harmonious, complete.

Sri Aurobindo, The Life Divine, Book 2, Part 2, Chapter 28, “The Divine Life”, pp. 1068-1070

The One True Supermanhood

“A life of gnostic beings carrying the evolution to a higher supramental status might fitly be characterised as a divine life; for it would be a life in the Divine, a lofe of the beginnings of a spiritual divine light and power and joy manifested in material nature.” Sri Aurobindo describes for us the vision of the development of the “superman”, which does not at all reflect the images of the past attempts to envision the advent of such a being or race. Humanity has tended to describe or manifest what essentially amounts to an enormous aggrandisement of the ego, whether based in the mental, the vital or the physical, whenever it has attempted to create a status of being that exceeds the human limits.

Sri Aurobindo specifically warns against this type of approach: “But this must not be confused with past and present ideas of supermanhood; for supermanhood in the mental idea consists of an overtopping of the normal human level, not in kind but in degree of the same kind, by an enlarged personality, a magnified and exaggerated ego, an increased power of mind, an increased power of vital force, a refined or dense and massigve exaggeration of the forces of the human Ignorance; it carries also, commonly implied in it, the idea of a forceful domination over humanity by the superman. That would meana supermanhood of the Nietzschean type; it might be at its worst the reign of the “blonde beast” or the dark beast or of any and every beast, a return to barbaric strength and ruthlessness and force: but this would be no evolution, it would be a reversion to an old strenuous barbarism.”

Sri Aurobindo points out that these, and other similar aggrandisements of the ego are not the solution. Written decades before the rise of the Third Reich, we find here a warning that was unfortunately not heeded.

Sri Aurobindo’s vision is quite different: “But what has to emerge is something much more difficult and much more simple; it is a self-realised being, a building of the spiritual self, an intensity and urge of the soul and the deliverance and sovereignty of its light and power and beauty,–not an egoistic supermanhood seizing on a mental and vital domination over humanity, but the sovereignty of the Spirit over its instruments, its possession of itself and its possession of life in the power of the spirit, a new consciousness in which humanity itself shall find its own self-exceeding and self-fulfilment by the revelation of the divinity that is striving for birth within it. This is the sole true supermanhood and the one real possibility of a step forward in evolutionary Nature.”

Sri Aurobindo, The Life Divine, Book 2, Part 2, Chapter 28, “The Divine Life”, pp. 1067-1068

Gnostic Consciousness Transcends Rigid Mental Rules for Living

As long as we remain fixed in the mental framework, we tend to create judgments and rules for everything we do that are founded on the limited and fragmented understanding that the mental power possesses. The advent of a new wider, more expansive, more unifying and comprehensive consciousness obviously will overturn or at least dramatically alter these rules in virtually every sphere of living.

An example used by Sri Aurobindo relates to the principle and practice of spirituality itself. We have ingrained in us the idea that to focus on spiritual realisation it is necessary to avoid, limit or abandon the things of the world and the life of the world, and that “ascetic bareness” is the rule to be followed. Sri Aurobindo points out that while there may be times and stages where such a discipline may help the individual overcome the overpowering forces of desire and ego, this cannot be the ultimate solution.

“The one rule of the gnostic life would be the self-expression of the Spirit, the will of the Divine Being; that will, that self-expression could manifest through extreme simplicity or through extreme complexity and opulence or in their natural balance,–for beauty and plenitude, a hidden sweetness and laughter in things, a sunshine and gladness of life are also powers and expressions of the Spirit. In all directions the Spirit within determining the law of the nature would determine the frame of the life and its detail and circumstance. In all there would be the same plastic principle; a rigid standarisation, however necessary for the mind’s arrangement of things, could not be the law of the spiritual life. A great diversity and liberty of self-expression baed on an underlying unity might well become manifest; but everywhere there would be harmony and truth of order.”

Sri Aurobindo, The Life Divine, Book 2, Part 2, Chapter 28, “The Divine Life”, pp. 1066-1067