An Integral Change of Consciousness

Sri Aurobindo observes: “For our means and ways of knowledge and action must necessarily be according to the nature of our consciousness and it is the consciousness that must radically change if we are to command and not only be occasionally visited by that higher power of knowledge.”

The entire process of knowing undergoes a complete change with the advent of the divine standpoint and the light of that higher consciousness, overcoming the halting, step-by-step and limited process of knowledge of the mind. The awareness, no longer bound by or limited by the physical senses, and the mind, no longer bound by the sequential, logical step-by-step inferential process of the mind, now has a new range, scope and power of action. “It takes up all our present means of knowledge immensely extended, active and effective where they are now debarred, blind, infructuous, and turns them into a high and intense perceptive activity of the Vijnana. Thus it takes up our sense action and illumines it even in its ordinary field so that we get a true sense of things. But also it enables the mind-sense to have a direct perception of the inner as well as the outer phenomenon, to feel and receive or perceive, for instance, the thoughts, feelings, sensations, the nervous reactions of the object on which it is turned.”

Sri Aurobindo distinguishes between the process of “samyama” which is a form of mental concentration and identification with the object as described by Patanjali in his approach to Raja Yoga, and the direct awareness and inner knowledge native to the higher gnostic levels of consciousness.

“It uses the subtle senses as well as the physical and saves them from their errors. It gives us the knowledge, the experience of planes of existence other than the material to which our ordinary mentality is ignorantly attached and it enlarges the world for us. It transforms similarly the sensations and gives them their full intensity as well as their full holding-power; for in our normal mentality the full intensity is impossible because the power to hold and sustain vibrations beyond a certain point is denied to it, mind and body would both break under the shock or the prolonged strain. It takes up too the element of knowledge in our feelings and emotions,–for our feelings too contain a power of knowledge and a power of effectuation which we do not recognise and do not properly develop,–and delivers them at the same time from their limitations and from their errors and perversions. For in all things the gnosis is the Truth, the Right, the highest Law…”

Sri Aurobindo, The Synthesis of Yoga, Part Two: The Yoga of Integral Knowledge, Chapter 23, The Conditions of Attainment to the Gnosis, pp. 472-474