The Yogic Trance and the Renunciation of Active Life in the World

The mind operates on a different basic plan than the pure spiritual consciousness of Sat-Chit-Ananda. The mind divides, fragments, separates and classifies. Sat-Chit-Ananda by its very nature is based on unity, harmony and the awareness of absolute Oneness. It is thus not possible for the mind in its current status to take on the consciousness of the Divine. This has led, first, to the recognition that the mind needs to be silenced or stilled in order for the consciousness to shift to the upper hemisphere. Sri Aurobindo observes: “For this reason the Raja and other systems of Yoga give a supreme importance to the state of Samadhi or Yogic trance in which the mind withdraws not only from its ordinary interests and preoccupations, but first from all consciousness of outward act and sense and being and then from all consciousness of inward mental activities. In this its inward-gathered state the mental being may have different kinds of realisation of the Supreme in itself or in various aspects or on various levels, but the ideal is to get rid of mind altogether and, going beyond mental realisation, to enter into the absolute trance in which all sign of mind or lower existence ceases. But this is a state of consciousness to which few can attain and from which not all can return.”
The problem arises, of course, in that attaining such a state of consciousness and holding onto it is in conflict with the normal functioning and waking state of activity for which the mind is intended. Eventually, the bodily life, however, can reassert its call, and the trance is broken and the seeker returns to outer mental awareness. “And when one returns to the mental consciousness, one is back again in the lower being. Therefore it has been said that complete liberation from the human birth, complete ascension from the life of the mental being is impossible until the body and the bodily life are finally cast off. The ideal upheld before the Yogin who follows this method is to renounce all desire and every least velleity of the human life, of the mental existence, to detach himself utterly from the world and, entering more and more frequently and more and more deeply into the most concentrated state of Samadhi, finally to leave the body while in that utter in-gathering of the being so that it may depart into the supreme Existence. It is also be reason of this apparent incompatibility of mind and Spirit that so many religions and systems are led to condemn the world and look forward only to a heaven beyond or else a void Nirvana or supreme featureless self-existence in the Supreme.”

Sri Aurobindo, The Synthesis of Yoga, Part Two: The Yoga of Integral Knowledge, Chapter 13, The Difficulties of the Mental Being, pp. 379-380

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