Spiritualizing the Mind Through a Form of Waking Samadhi

The attempt to raise up the mind to the higher levels of consciousness is made virtually impossible by the different nature of the mind from the consciousness known as Sat-Chit-Ananda. Those who seek to attain the higher region thus are left to abandon the mind and actions that are dependent on it, such as an active life in the world. The alternative approach takes the position that the higher spiritual consciousness can descend and spiritualise the mind. The difficulty with this approach is the same one faced by those who seek to ascend with the mind; namely, the varying nature of the mind’s characteristic action and that of the higher levels of consciousness. Nevertheless, as we saw in the first instance, so in this one, a result can be attained. Sri Aurobindo describes the nature of this attempt: “This may be done and primarily must be done by the mind’s power of reflecting that which it knows, relates to its own consciousness, contemplates. For the mind is really a reflector and a medium and none of its activities originate in themselves, none exist per se. Ordinarily the mind reflects the status of mortal nature and the activities of the Force which works under the conditions of the material universe. But if it becomes clear, passive, pure, by the renunciation of these activities and of the characteristic ideas and outlook of mental nature, then as in a clear mirror or like the sky in clear water which is without ripple and unruffled by the winds, the divine is reflected.”

The limitation of this approach is that it requires a silencing and stilling of the mind-stuff, a condition attained through constant practice and through renunciation of the active life in the world, once again. “If it becomes active, it falls back into the disturbance of the mortal nature and reflects that and no longer the divine. For this reason an absolute quietism and a cessation first of all outer action and then of all inner movement is the ideal ordinarily proposed; here too, for the follower of the path of knowledge, there must be a sort of waking Samadhi. Whatever action is unavoidable, must be a purely superficial working of the organs of perception and motor action in which the quiescent mind takes eventually no part and from which it seeks no result or profit.”

Elsewhere, Sri Aurobindo describes the process of silencing the mind, which was his early introduction to the practice of Yoga. He was able to observe the thoughts entering from outside and through a process of rejection or disallowance of them, he was able to bring the mind to the silent state. This state may be necessary at some stage for the seeker to bring about the possibility of a new force working in the consciousness, but it clearly cannot meet the entire call of the seeker of the integral Yoga, as it remains limited in quiescence and inaction.

Sri Aurobindo, The Synthesis of Yoga, Part Two: The Yoga of Integral Knowledge, Chapter 13, The Difficulties of the Mental Being, pp. 380-381