Appreciating the Difference Between the Gnosis and the Intuitive Mind

The human individual who is able to experience or even develop the power of the intuitive mind on a consistent basis, will believe that this more powerful action represents the Vijnana or Gnosis consciousness. It is virtually impossible for anyone rooted in the standpoint of the mind to understand the qualitative differences that separate even the highest mental development from the true gnostic consciousness.

Sri Aurobindo observes that even formulating language to describe the differences is virtually impossible and he chooses to use the imagery developed by the ancient Vedic sages to try to give us a sense of the vast gulf between the intuitive mind and the true gnostic level of consciousness:

“The difference, not easy to define except by symbols, may be expressed if we take the Vedic image in which the Sun represents the gnosis and the sky, mid-air and earth, the mentality, vitality, physicality of man and of the universe. Living on the earth, climbing into the mid-air or even winging in the sky, the mental being, the manomayapurusha, would still live in the rays of the sun and not in its bodily light. And in those rays he would see things not as they are but as reflected in his organ of vision, deformed by its faults or limited in their truth by its restrictions. But the vijnanamayapurusha lives in the Sun itself, in the very body and blaze of the true light; he knows this light to be his own self-luminous being and he sees the whole truth of the lower triplicity and each thing that is in it. He sees it not by reflection in a mental organ of vision, but with the Sun of gnosis itself as his eye,–for the Sun, says the Veda, is the eye of the gods. The mental being, even in the intuitive mind, can perceive the truth only by a brilliant reflection or limited communication and subject to the restrictions and the inferior capacity of the mental vision; but the supramental being sees it by the gnosis itself, from the very centre and outwelling fount of the truth, in its very form and by its own spontaneous and self-illumining process. For the Vijnana is a direct and divine as opposed to an indirect and human knowledge.”

Sri Aurobindo, The Synthesis of Yoga, Part Two: The Yoga of Integral Knowledge, Chapter 22, Vijnana or Gnosis, pg. 462

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