Western psychology has generally delved extensively into the subconscious ranges of awareness, starting with Freud and Jung, and continuing into the modern day. The entire field of psychoanalysis is based on opening up and making conscious these realms of apparent unconsciousness in our psychological makeup. Much less effort has been made in the West, however, to explore and develop the superconscious poises of consciousness, those planes where new powers of knowledge, light and understanding are native and immediate. This field of superconscious awareness has been the primary subject and focus for those who practice Yoga.
We see people who are obviously brilliant in their understanding, who have a developed intuitive capacity, and are inspired in their vision, and we believe this is simply a manifestation of some type of purely mental capacity. However, it soon becomes obvious to the practitioner of Yoga that these powers actually represent another level of conscious existence and when they filter into our mental framework, they illuminate, guide and inspire. At the same time, the mental capacity is limited and thus, tends to water down the inspiration or try to fit it into a pre-determined mental mould, and thus, much of the power is lost. These are issues that Yoga seeks to clarify and sort out.
Sri Aurobindo explains: “There is above the mind, as the old Vedic sages discovered, a Truth-plane, a plane of self-luminous, self-effective Idea, which can be turned in light and force upon our mind, reason, sentiments, impulses, sensations and use and control them in the sense of the real Truth of things just as we turn our mental reason and will upon our sense-experience and animal nature to use and control them in the sense of our rational and moral perceptions.”
The initial levels above the mind are characterized by the ability to unite and illuminate without strain, as opposed to the mental level which tends to divide, confuse and fragment. Because there are a series of planes, the consciousness active on each plane becomes successively more powerful and unified, until the seeker attains the level of pure consciousness, Chit, “…the elemental origin and primal completeness of all this varied consciousness which is here used for various formation and experience. There will and knowledge and sensation and all the rest of our faculties, powers, modes of experience are not merely harmonious, concomitant, unifed, but are one being of consciousness and one power of consciousness. It is this Chit which modifies itself so as to become on the Truth-plane the supermind, on the mental plane the mental reason, will, emotion, sensation, on the lower planes the vital or physical instincts, impulses, habits of an obscure force not in superficially conscious possession of itself. All is Chit because all is Sat; all is various movement of the original Consciousness because all is various movement of the original Being.”
Sri Aurobindo, The Synthesis of Yoga, Part Two: The Yoga of Integral Knowledge, Chapter 12, The Realisation of Sachchidananda, pp. 372-373