The Nature and Action of the Supermind in Mind, Life and Body

The change of standpoint from the human standpoint to the divine standpoint necessarily brings in the question of how the divine standpoint relates to the universal and individual forms in the manifestation, and this in terms brings up the question of the gnosis or vijnana, as it is called in the Upanishads, and referred to by Sri Aurobindo as the supramental consciousness.

The supramental consciousness is a direct action of the spiritual reality in its unrolling of its manifestation in forms. Sri Aurobindo describes its nature and compares it, for our reference, to the limited actions of the mental consciousness: “Supermind is spiritual consciousness acting as a self-luminous knowledge, will, sense, aesthesis, energy, self-creative and unveiling power of its own delight and being. Mind is the action of the same powers, but limited and only very indirectly and partially illumined. Supermind lives in unity though it plays with diversity; mind lives in a separative action of diversity, though it may open to unity. Mind is not only capable of ignorance, but, because it acts always partially and by limitation, it works characteristically as a power of ignorance: it may even and it does forget itself in a complete inconscience, or nescience, awaken from it to the ignorance of a partial knowledge and move from the ignorance towards a complete knowledge,–that is its natural action in the human being,–but it can never have by itself a complete knowledge. Supermind is incapable of real ignorance; even if it puts full knowledge behind it in the limitation of a particular working, yet all its working refers back to what it has put behind it and all is instinct with self-illumination; even if it involves itself in material nescience, it yet does there accurately the works of a perfect will and knowledge.”

Supermind is the actual power behind the incredible organization of material nature, the precision and complexity of which we are discovering as science explores and uncovers the secrets of atomic structure and the universe and all its interactive and inter-dependent elements. It is the actual power behind instinct that guides animals to undertake specific precise actions without formal training or education of any sort; and it acts at the mental level in the higher forms of illumination such as intuition or inspiration. Supermind acts as something of a ‘step-down transformer” so that the native force of the spiritual reality can express itself precisely within the limitations set for each plane of existence, Matter, Life, and Mind.

“Supermind or gnosis is the characteristic, illumined, significant action of spirit in its own native reality.”

Sri Aurobindo, The Synthesis of Yoga, Part Four: The Yoga of Self-Perfection, Chapter 3, The Psychology of Self-Perfection, pg. 599

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