Overcoming Mind and Its Limitations In the Seeking For the Eternal

The next stage in Bhrigu’s understanding of the Eternal is his exploration of the mind as the basis of creation. This stage has been arrived at both in the Upanishads and in Western philosophy. Rene Descarte’s famous prescription “Cogito, ergo sum” (I think, therefore I am) identifies the stage where the human seeker begins to recognize that what we perceive in the outer world is reflected through the sense organs and interpreted by the mind. At this point, it is easy to conclude that the mind is the reality, and the outer world a creation of the mind (not necessarily actually physically real, either as we see in various offshoots of this stage of understanding. Bhrigu came to the conclusion: “For from mind alone, it appeareth, are these creatures born and being born they live by mind, and to mind they go hence and return.” Once again his father Varuna expressed that his understanding was not yet perfected by sending him back with the advice: “By askesis do thou seek to know the Eternal, for concentration in thought is the Eternal.”

Sri Aurobindo observes: “And yet Mind also, our mentality, our thinking, understanding part, is not our Self, is not That, not the end or the beginning; it is a half-light thrown from the Infinite. The experience of Mind as the creator of forms and things and of these forms and things existing in the Mind only, the thin subtle basis of idealism, is also a delusion, a half-view taken for the whole, a pale refracted light idealised as the burning body of the sun and its splendour. This idealist vision also does not arrive at the essence of being, does not even touch it but only an inferior mode of Nature.”

The yoga of knowledge actually understands the limitations of mind, life and body and, in the traditional path, seeks to systematically eliminate all the importunities and distractions of the mind, vital energy and body to achieve a state of Oneness of consciousness with the unmoving, silent, infinite, Absolute. In so doing, it essentially “cuts the knot” to get to the state of silent Oneness, and this then represents its limitation. “The highest truth, the integral self-knowledge is not to be gained by this self-blinded leap into the Absolute but by a patient transit beyond the mind into the Truth-Consciousness where the Infinite can be known, felt, seen, experienced in all the fullness of its unending riches. And there we discover this Self that we are to be not only a static tenuous vacant Atman but a great dynamic Spirit individual, universal and transcendent. That Self and Spirit cannot be expressed by the mind’s abstract generalisations; all the inspired descriptions of the seers and mystics cannot exhaust its contents and its splendours.”

Sri Aurobindo, The Synthesis of Yoga, Part Two: The Yoga of Integral Knowledge, Chapter 1, The Object of Knowledge, pp. 281-282