Sri Aurobindo has shown that the two primary methods of the traditional Yoga of knowledge each have their limitations by excluding the active life in the world and the full implementation of the mentality in life. The seeking after the Absolute requires a total abandonment of the outer life; while the attempt to bring the divine Presence into the world involves a total quiescence of the being and the mind. The integral Yoga, which seeks to transform life, not abandon it, therefore must identify a method and process that permits such a transformative action to occur.
The mind, following its normal pattern of “either/or”, sees no easy solution to this conundrum. Sri Aurobindo observes that the secret lies in the planes of consciousness that are intermediate to the two poles, the divine pole of Sat-Chit-Ananda and the human pole of Body-Life-Mind. These intermediate planes carry the consciousness of the divine while simultaneously adapting it to the needs of the mental being living in the world.
We can conceive of this something like a huge power generating station that puts out enormous amounts of electricity at levels that cannot be sustained by normal household wiring and fixtures. The power thus transmitted must go through what is know as a ‘step down transformer’ which converts the power into a level and type that can actually be received and utilized by the end-user. The intermediate planes of consciousness do something similar and thus, adapt the divine knowledge and force into terms that can have an impact on the mind and life in the body.
This provides then a possibility and the mechanism for a meaningful interchange between the two states of consciousness, and thus, a format for the experience of the Divine Consciousness by the human seeker, and the infiltration of the Divine Consciousness into human life.
“The transformation is possible because, although the divine planes are above the mental consciousness and to enter actually into them we have ordinarily to lose the mental in Samadhi, yet there are in the mental being divine planes superior to our normal mentality which reproduce the conditions of the divine plane proper, although modified by the conditions, dominant here, of mentality. All that belongs to the experience of the divine plane can there be seized, but in the mental way and in a mental form. To these planes of divine mentality it is possible for the developed human being to arise in the waking state; or it is possible for him to derive from them a stream of influences and experiences which shall eventually open to them and transform into their nature his whole waking existence. These higher mental states are the immediate sources, the large actual instruments, the inner stations of his perfection.”
Sri Aurobindo, The Synthesis of Yoga, Part Two: The Yoga of Integral Knowledge, Chapter 13, The Difficulties of the Mental Being, pp. 381-382