Stages of the Realisation of the Cosmic Consciousness in Life

As the seeker focuses on the realization of cosmic oneness in life itself, he goes through various stages of experience. One stage is a form of deep sympathy, to the point where the seeker feels what others are feeling and experiences them, in some cases, in his own body. There have been anecdotes, for instance, from the Christian tradition, whereby certain deep experiences of emotional identity with the suffering of Jesus led to the formation of actual stigmata in the hands and feet. Sri Aurobindo elaborates: “In the first stage the soul is still subject to the reactions of the duality, still subject therefore to the lower Prakriti; it is depressed or hurt by the cosmic suffering, elated by the cosmic joy. We suffer the joys of others, suffer their griefs, and this oneness can be carried even into the body, as in the story of the Indian saint who, seeing a bullock tortured in the field by its cruel owner, cried out with the creature’s pain and the weal of the lash was found reproduced on his own flesh.”

This first stage represents the soul identifying with the Prakriti, with Nature. Yet another form of oneness is also possible when the soul stations itself in the freedom of Sat-Chit-Ananda yet does not abandon the world of mind-life-body. “This is achieved when the soul is free and superior to the cosmic reactions which are then felt in the life, mind and body as an inferior movement; the soul understands, accepts, sympathises, but is not overpowered or affected, so that even the mind and body learn also to accept without being overpowered or even affected except on their surface.”

Yet another step can then occur: “And the consummation of this movement is when the two spheres of existence are no longer divided and the mind, life and body grow into the spirit’s freedom from the lower or ignorant response to the cosmic touches and the subjection to the duality ceases. This does not mean insensibility to the struggles and sufferings of others, but it does mean a spiritual supremacy and freedom which enables one to understand perfectly, put the right values on things and heal from above instead of struggling from below. It does not inhibit the divine compassion and helpfulness, but it does inhibit the human and animal sorrow and suffering.”

Sri Aurobindo, The Synthesis of Yoga, Part Two: The Yoga of Integral Knowledge, Chapter 15, The Cosmic Consciousness, pp. 398-399