Mind, Life and Matter represent a lower hemisphere of being that is actually a reflex of the higher hemisphere of Sat-Chit-Ananda, Existence, Consciousness-Force and Bliss or Delight of existence. The Supermind, as Sri Aurobindo terms the Gnosis or Vijnana in the ancient terminology, acts as an instrumental power to translate the intention and essential nature of the upper hemisphere into the terms of existence in the lower hemisphere. The Supermind retains its knowledge of the unity found in the higher terms, yet is able to create forms that appear to be separate and divided for the play of the divine manifestation and carrying out the divine intention. It holds within its awareness both the truth of unity and the truth of the multiplicity.
Sri Aurobindo advises that there are two ways this conversion to the levels of Mind, Life and Matter can take place. One way is a direct manifestation that retains its awareness of unity; the other way “forgets” its essential unity and acts as if it is a totally independent and separate being. Sri Aurobindo calls this a veiling process of the consciousness to permit this quasi-independent action. Ultimately there remains always the unity behind, but when veiled, the consciousness loses its awareness of this unity.
“This lower being begins where a veil falls between soul and nature, between spirit in supermind and spirit in mind, life and body. Where this veil has not fallen, these instrumental powers are not what they are in us, but an enlightened part of the unified action of supermind and spirit.”
We can see the differences that arise between the aware and the unaware formations of Mind: “Mind gets to an independent idea of its own action when it forgets to refer back to the light from which it derives and becomes absorbed in the possibilities of its own separative process and enjoyment. The soul when it dwells in the principle of mind, not yet subject to but user of life and body, knows itself as a mental being working out its mental life and forces and images, bodies of the subtle mental substance, according to its individual knowledge, will and dynamis modified by its relation to other similar beings and powers in the universal mind. When it dwells in the principle of life, it knows itself as a being of the universal life working out action and consciousness by its desires under similar modifying conditions proper to a universal life-soul whose action is through many individual life-beings. When it dwells in the principle of matter, it knows itself as a consciousness of matter acting under a similar law of the energy of material being.”
The standpoint taken by the mind either bases itself in the unifying knowledge, where it recognizes itself as “…a soul of mind, a soul of life, a soul of body viewing and acting in or acted upon by its nature.., or in apparent ignorance, where “…it knows itself as an ego identified with nature of mind, of life or of body, a creation of Nature. But the native tendency of material being leads towards an absorption of the soul’s energy in the act of formation and material movement and a consequent self-oblivion of the conscious being. The material universe begins from an apparent inconscience.”
Sri Aurobindo, The Synthesis of Yoga, Part Four: The Yoga of Self-Perfection, Chapter 3, The Psychology of Self-Perfection, pp. 603-604