Reversal of Consciousness

We live immersed in a consciousness of fragmentation, division and separation. We are generally fixated on these separations and we interact with the world as if it is made up of numerous separate and divided beings and forms, and as if we are independent of them and able to thereby decide and act as separate beings ourselves. This is more or less like “not seeing the forest for the trees”.

Western psychologists have identified two sides to the brain, the “left brain” which is primarily involved with analysis, and the “right brain’ which sees “gestalt” or what we may call the “big picture” or pattern. Due to the nature of our technological society we have developed a strong pattern of left brain interaction at the expense of the right brain.

An integrated viewpoint would include the analytical powers of the left brain, while keeping those powers in context and balanced with a right brain overview.

The ancient texts on Yoga, including the teaching set forth in the Bhagavad Gita, also identifies two different standpoints for consciousness, which they call the lower and the higher. The lower consciousness corresponds to the fragmented view that modern scientists call “left brain”, while the higher generally corresponds to the identification of “right brain” that can see everything as a whole, within a context of Oneness. The Upanishads speak of a tree of creation that has its roots above and its branches below, symbolizing the standpoint of Oneness as the foundation for all the differentiation of forms we find here in the lower nature.

It is this standpoint that results from the reorientation of the focus from downward and outward to inward and upward. Sri Aurobindo describes it thus: “It is a reversal of the whole view, experience, knowledge, values, seeings of earth-bound creatures. This life of the dualities which is to them their day, their waking, their consciousness, their bright condition of activity and knowledge, is to him a night, a troubled sleep and darkness of the soul; that higher being which is to them a night, a sleep in wich all knowledge and will cease, is to the self-mastering sage his waking, his luminous day of true being, knowledge and power….For while they are filled with the troubling sense of ego and mine and thine, he is one with the one Self in all and has no ‘I’ or ‘mine’….He attains to the great peace and is not bewildered by the shows of things; he has extinguished his individual ego in the One, lives in that unity and, ….can attain to extinction of the Brahman….the great immergence of the separate personal self into the vast reality of the one infinite impersonal Existence.”

Sri Aurobindo, Essays on the Gita, First Series, Chapter 10, The Yoga of the Intelligent Will, pp. 96-97,

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