The ordinary human consciousness begins with an awareness of body, life and mind as a separate entity, an ego-personality that perceives and experiences itself as separate from other beings, forms and forces in the universe. We can look out upon the world and see that we are small and that the world and its innumerable creatures is unimaginably larger and more complex than we can truly comprehend from our ego-based awareness. We look out to the planets and the stars and can try to imagine the immensity of the infinite space and uncounted galaxies in the universe with their billions of stars and planets, but this remains a limited and fragmented view of the whole. This is the sign that we are still rooted in the ordinary human consciousness as our basis.
Sri Aurobindo observes that the gnostic consciousness is founded in, based upon and regards everything from the standpoint of the Infinite. This represents a total reversal of consciousness, whereby the infinite is the reality and the finite forms, beings and individuations represent incidents or details of that larger infinite. “In this state of consciousness the infinite becomes to us the primal, the actual reality, the one thing immediately and sensibly true. It becomes impossible for us to think of or realise the finite apart from our fundamental sense of the infinite, in which alone the finite can live, can form itself, can have any reality or duration. So long as this finite mind and body are to our consciousness the first fact of our existence and the foundation of all our thinking, feeling and willing and so long as things finite are the normal reality from which we can rise occasionally, or even frequently, to an idea and sense of the infinite, we are still very far away from the gnosis.”
We try to imagine the infinite and it is always connected to an extension in space; but this is not the complete experience of the infinite consciousness: “But this infinite is not only an infinite of pervasion or of extension in which everything forms and happens. Behind that immeasurable extension the gnostic consciousness is always aware of a spaceless inner infinite.”
“There is opened to us an illimitable existence which we feel as if it were an infinity above us to which we attempt to rise and an infinity around us into which we strive to dissolve our separate existence. Afterwards we widen into it and rise into it; we break out of the ego into its largeness and are that for ever. If this liberation is achieved, its power can take, if so we will, increasing possession of our lower being also until even our lowest and perversest activities are refashioned into the truth of the Vijnana.”
Sri Aurobindo, The Synthesis of Yoga, Part Two: The Yoga of Integral Knowledge, Chapter 23, The Conditions of Attainment to the Gnosis, pg. 472