The Yogic Consciousness Is Not Simply an Expanded Mental Consciousness

The ability to exercise the powers of logic, reason, perception and memory, all core powers of the mental consciousness, is what generally is regarded as distinguishing between average capacities and extraordinary or genius level capabilities. In the outer world, in the social order, this view obviously has its relevance. We look up to those with noticeable expanded mental capacity generally and seek them out as researchers, pioneers, leaders and decision-makers. It is thus easy to understand why there may then be confusion about the spiritual consciousness and the yogic practices needed to achieve it.

Sri Aurobindo observes: “This greater consciousness, this higher existence are not an enlightened or illumined mentality supported by a greater dynamic energy or supporting a purer moral life and character. Their superiority to the ordinary human consciousness is not in degree but in kind and essence. Three is a change not merely of the surface or instrumental manner of our being but of its very foundation and dynamic principle.”

Those who take up the Yogic practice recognize that there is a state of awareness that transcends the normal mental-vital-physical awareness of our normal human existence. This state of awareness is characterized by a sense of something that is vast, silent, immobile, and yet creative of the entire manifested existence. “Yogic knowledge seeks to enter into a secret consciousness beyond mind which is only occultly here, concealed at the base of all existence. For it is that consciousness alone that truly knows and only by its possession can we possess God and rightly know the world and its real nature and secret forces.”

The Yogin sees the world, not as the real and sole existence, but as a manifestation of the Spirit. Thus, the mental understanding, the perceptions of the senses that focus on the outer world are not the true basis of knowledge. “The knowledge which the senses and intellectual reasoning from the data of the senses can bring us, is not true knowledge; it is a science of appearances. And even appearances cannot be properly known unless we know first the Reality of which they are images. This Reality is their self and there is one self of all; when that is seized, all other things can then be known in their truth and no longer as now only in their appearance.”

The Yogin seeks “that which being known, all is known.”

Sri Aurobindo, The Synthesis of Yoga, Part Two: The Yoga of Integral Knowledge, Chapter 2, The Status of Knowledge, pg. 287