In order to facilitate our review and understanding of the poises or standpoints available to the Purusha in existence, the ancient sages have outlined 7 of them consisting of a lower hemisphere of Matter, Life and Mind, a transitional higher stage called Gnosis or Knowledge, and an upper hemisphere consisting of Existence, Consciousness and Bliss which are in act always unified; thus, some consider there to be only 5 planes of distinction rather than 7. Yet each of the 3 in the upper hemisphere still have their own unique emphasis and characteristics so looking at them as separate poises can be helpful. The soul, the Purusha, may take its basic standpoint founded in any of these seven poises.
Sri Aurobindo summarizes the essential characteristic of each of the poises of higher consciousness as follows: “The soul may dwell in the principle of infinite unity of self-existence and be aware of all consciousness, energy, delight, knowledge, will, activity as conscious form of this essential truth, Sat or Satya. It may dwell in the principle of infinite conscious energy, Tapas, and be aware of it unrolling out of self-existence the works of knowledge, will and dynamic soul-action for the enjoyment of an infinite delight of being. It may dwell in the principle of infinite self-existent delight and be aware of the divine Ananda creating out of its self-existence by its energy whatever harmony of being. In these three poises the consciousness of unity dominates; the soul lives in its awareness of eternity, universality, unity, and whatever diversity there is, is not separative, but only a multitudinous aspect of oneness. It may dwell too in the principle of supermind, in a luminous self-determining knowledge, will and action which develops some coordination of perfect delight of conscious being. In the higher gnosis unity is the basis, but it takes its joy in diversity; in lower fact of supermind diversity is the basis, but it refers back always to a conscious unity and it takes joy in unity. These ranges of consciousness are beyond our present level; they are superconscious to our normal mentality. That belongs to a lower hemisphere of being.”
Sri Aurobindo, The Synthesis of Yoga, Part Four: The Yoga of Self-Perfection, Chapter 3, The Psychology of Self-Perfection, pp. 602-603