The Key Role of the Supramental Consciousness In the Integral Yoga

Sri Aurobindo has identified a status of consciousness that mediates between the upper hemisphere of Existence-Consciousness-Bliss, and the lower hemisphere of Body-Life-Mind. The characteristics of the upper hemisphere are pure existence, absolute knowledge and power, and unadulterated bliss. It is absolute, eternal, and infinite. The characteristics of the lower hemisphere are fragmentation and limitation, division and the consequent ignorance, weakness and suffering. The upper is the ultimate cause and substance from which the lower is created. Between the two there is the level of consciousness which Sri Aurobindo terms the “supramental” consciousness. While maintaining the characteristics of a Truth-Consciousness, this mediating level is able to take the “undivided” and parcel it out into individual forms, beings and powers. It acts something like a step-down transformer which takes the energy generated from a major electricity generator and cuts it back to a level that the individual transmitting wires and the receiving stations can handle and utilize without burning up from the pure, unadulterated energy.

Sri Aurobindo observes: “For the supermind is a Truth-Consciousness in which the Divine Reality, fully manifested, no longer works with the instrumentation of the Ignorance; a truth of status of being which is absolute becomes dynamic in a truth of energy and activity of the being which is self-existent and perfect. Every movement there is a movement of the self-aware truth of Divine Being and every part is in entire harmony with the whole. Even the most limited and finite action is in the Truth-Consciousness a movement of the Eternal and Infinite.”

Whatever specific steps a yogic process takes in the seeker, whether through the path of knowledge, devotion or works, the initial goal is to make a conscious connection with the Divine. In the integral Yoga there is the additional aspect of both accepting the manifestation as the omnipresent reality of the Divine and becoming an instrument of its evolutionary transformation from a state of ignorance, fragmentation and limitation to a state of knowledge, power and Oneness. “But the path, whatever its point of starting, must debouch into a vaster dominion; it must proceed in the end through a totality of integrated knowledge, emotion, will of dynamic action, perfection of the being and the entire nature. In the supramental consciousness, on the level of the supramental existence this integration becomes consummate; there knowledge, will, emotion, the perfection of the self and the dynamic nature rise each to its absolute of itself and all to their perfect harmony and fusion with each other, to a divine integrality, a divine perfection.”

It is the attainment of this level of consciousness that represents the key to the integral Yoga: “An ascent into the supramental Truth not only raises our spiritual and essential consciousness to that height but brings about a descent of this Light and Truth into all our being and all our parts of nature. All then becomes part of the Divine Truth, an element and means of the supreme union and oneness; this ascent and descent must be therefore an ultimate aim of this Yoga.”

Sri Aurobindo, The Synthesis of Yoga, Part One: The Yoga of Divine Works, Chapter 13, The Supermind and the Yoga of Works, pp. 265-266

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