The spiritual transformation of life in the material world as envisioned by Sri Aurobindo is based on the full action of the planes of consciousness above the mind transforming mind, life and body. As described in the Upanishads, beyond the mental sheath there is a “knowledge” sheath and then a “bliss sheath”. These correspond to the gnostic power of the Supermind, and then to the highest spiritual planes of Sat-Chit-Ananda, existence-consciousness-bliss. Historically most paths of spiritual development took the position that the transition of the consciousness to these higher planes could only realistically occur through abandonment of the life of the outer world, in a trance of Samadhi. The Upanishads state that these higher planes are causal and are responsible for the creation of the mental, vital and physical worlds, albeit through a process that makes each one succeedingly less conscious of its source and inherent knowledge and power.
Sri Aurobindo reminds us that even when we are not directly conscious of it, these higher planes remain active in their influence on mind, life and body. “But these are also divided from us by no unbridgeable gulf; they affect us through what are called the knowledge-sheath and the bliss-sheath, through the causal or spiritual body, and less directly through the mental body, nor are their secret powers absent from the workings of the vital and material existence. Our conscious spiritual being and our intuitive mind awaken in us as a result of the pressure of these highest worlds on the mental being in life and body.”
For most of humanity, there is little access to the causal body as they have not directed their gaze there nor made efforts to open up the hidden capacities that are active there. “But this causal body is, as we say, little developed in the majority of men and to live in it or to ascend to the supramental planes, as distinguished from corresponding sub-planes in the mental being, or still more to dwell consciously upon them is the most difficult thing of all for the human being. It can be done in the trance of Samadhi, but otherwise only by a new evolution of the capacities of the individual Purusha of which few are even willing to conceive. Yet is that the condition of the perfect self-consciousness by which alone the Purusha can possess the full conscious control of Prakriti; for there not even the mind determines, but the Spirit freely uses the lower differentiating principles as minor terms of its existence governed by the higher and reaching by them their own perfect capacity. That alone would be the perfect evolution of the involved and development of the undeveloped for which the Purusha has sought in the material universe, as if in a wager with itself, the conditions of the greatest difficulty.”
Sri Aurobindo, The Synthesis of Yoga, Part Two: The Yoga of Integral Knowledge, Chapter 19, The Planes of Our Existence, pp. 436-437