The Gnostic Consciousness and the Bliss of the Infinite

The gnostic consciousness has, metaphorically, one foot in the infinite consciousness of Sat-Chit-Ananda and the other foot in the consciousness of differentiation and the creation of distinctions that eventually, in the level consisting of mind-life-body, becomes division and fragmentation. The gnostic consciousness does not lose its awareness of and grounding in the infinite unity; yet it is charged with creating the vast number of forms and forces that appear to be different from one another for the purposes of the manifestation. Sri Aurobindo explains in detail: “In the gnosis the soul is aware of its infinity and lives in it, yet it lives also in a working centre for the individual play of the Infinite. It realises its identity with all existences, but it keeps a distinction without difference by which it can have also the contact with with them in a certain diverseness. This is that distinction for the joy of contact which in the mind becomes not only difference, but in its self-experience division from our other selves, in its spiritual being a sense of loss of self one with us in others and a reaching after the felicity it has forfeited, in life a compromise between egoistic self-absorption and a blind seeking out for the lost oneness. In its infinite consciousness, the gnostic soul creates a sort of voluntary limitation for its own wisdom-purposes; it has even its particular luminous aura of being in which it moves, although beyond that it enters into all things and identifies itself with all being and all existences.”

Sri Aurobindo observes that the Ananda, the next plane beyond the gnostic plane, has a different standpoint and modus of its awareness: “In the Ananda all is reversed, the centre disappears. In the bliss nature there is no centre, nor any voluntary or imposed circumference, but all is, all are one equal being, one identical spirit. The bliss soul finds and feels itself everywhere….” “All other selves are entirely its own selves, in action as well as in essence. The joy of contact in diverse oneness becomes altogether the joy of absolute identity in innumerable oneness. Existence is no longer formulated in the terms of the Knowledge, because the known and knowledge and the knower are wholly one self here and, since all possesses all in an intimate identity beyond the closest closeness, there is no need of what we call knowledge. All the consciousness is of the bliss of the Infinite, all pwoer is power of the bliss of the Infinite, all forms and activities are forms and activities of the bliss of the Infinite. In this absolute truth of tis being the eternal soul of Ananda lives, here deformed by contrary phenomena, there brought back and transfigured into their reality.”

Sri Aurobindo, The Synthesis of Yoga, Part Two: The Yoga of Integral Knowledge, Chapter 24, Gnosis and Ananda, pp. 484-485