Some Stages of Realisation of the Fundamental Spiritual Experience

We start from the basic human mental standpoint in our spiritual quest, with the limitations and confusion that are inherent in that standpoint. It is therefore to be anticipated and expected that the growing realisation of the Omnipresent Reality, in all its myriad aspects and with all the innumerable threads that make up that experience, will come in stages, and may encompass certain aspects while others fill in, modify and uplift the initial realisation as time goes by. Sri Aurobindo outlines three fundamental realisations, of which the first one starts from the individual standpoint.

Sri Aurobindo provides some insight to the process: “I see perhaps or feel in myself or as myself first the eternal Presence and afterwards only can extend the vision and sense of this greater self of mine to all creatures. I then see the world in me or as one with me. I perceive the universe as a scene in my being; the play of its processes as a movement of forms and souls and forces in my cosmic spirit; I meet myself and none else everywhere.” He cautions that this is not to follow the erroneous notion of the enlarged ego that can proceed from a touch of experience that raises up an as yet unrefined or unpurified vital nature. Rather, “…always my greater Self is felt by me either as an impersonal Vastness or an essential Person containing yet, beyond itself, all personalities or as both those together; but in any case, whether Impersonal or illimitable Personal, or both together, it is an ego-exceeding Infinite.”

The process may start from the nexus that one recognizes as the individual Self, but cannot be limited there; rather it must expand out to encompass the entire universal creation and the Transcendent beyond the creation. “But if the narrow instrumental ego does not begin to merge in this Self as soon as it is seen, if the smaller external mind-constructed I refuses to disappear into that greater permanent uncreated spiritual I, then my realisation is either not genuine or radically imperfect. There is somewhere in me an egoistic obstacle; some part of my nature has opposed a self-regarding and self-preserving denial to the all-swallowing truth of the Spirit.”

Sri Aurobindo, The Synthesis of Yoga, Part One: The Yoga of Divine Works, Chapter 4, The Sacrifice, The Triune Path and the Lord of the Sacrifice, pp. 107-108