The Gulf Between Sat-Chit-Ananda and the Mental Being

There is a strong psychological basis in the attitude that considers an entirely new consciousness, one that is unlimited, and infinite in its expanse and its persistence through time, one that has absolute existence, all-consciousness and unimpaired bliss, to be impossible for the human being to experience, much less reside in. The basic makeup of the mental being, small, limited, separated, weak and hindered in every direction makes it seem like a foolish notion. This has led some to posit that such a consciousness, even supposing it exists (for many deny the reality of such a notion), is not attainable and belongs to another category of being, a God or Divinity that is greater than and other than the mental being. It has led others to determine that such an experience is possible, but not with the mental being, thus leading to the attempt to shut down the mental faculties, abandon focus on the life in the world, and shift the entire consciousness to this new standpoint.

Those who have a glimpse of this other consciousness are generally overwhelmed by the experience; it cannot be codified into our language and as the Upanishad states: “The Bliss of the Eternal from which words turn back without attaining and mind also returneth baffled…” (Taittiriya Upanishad Brahmanandavalli, Chapter 9)

Sri Aurobindo observes: “There is this infinite existence; but it is quite other than the mental being who becomes aware of it, and we cannot either raise ourselves to it and become it or bring it down to ourselves so that our own experience of our being and world-being shall be that of its blissful infinity. There is this great, boundless, unconditioned consciousness and force; but our consciousness and force stands apart from it, even if within it, limited, petty, discouraged, disgusted with itself and the world, but unable to participate in that higher thing which it has seen. There is this immeasurable and unstained bliss; but our own being remains the sport of a lower Nature of pleasure and pain and dull neutral sensation incapable of its divine delight. There is this perfect Knowledge and Will; but our own remains always the mental deformed knowledge and limping will incapable of sharing in or even being in tune with that nature of Godhead. Or else so long as we live purely in an ecstatic contemplation of that vision, we are delivered from ourselves; but the moment we again turn our consciousness upon our own being we fall away from it and it disappears or becomes remote an intangible. The Divinity leaves us; the Vision vanishes; we are back again in the pettiness of our mortal existence.”

Briefly stated, if there is to be a consciousness that unifies our experience with that of Sat-Chit-Ananda, the upper hemisphere of consciousness, we need to discover a new way of knowing and experiencing that moves beyond the limitations of the mind-life-body.

Sri Aurobindo, The Synthesis of Yoga, Part Two: The Yoga of Integral Knowledge, Chapter 13, The Difficulties of the Mental Being, pp. 378-379

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