The Three Intuitions of the Mental Purusha in Spiritual Development

Sri Aurobindo describes three intuitions that the mental Purusha experiences, and which provide a foundation for the spiritual development. These three validate a greater reality than the surface being on the level of the individual, the universal and the spiritual and supramental levels. As the seeker internalizes these intuitions, he begins to experience the meaning in a very real sense, and this pushes forward the transformational process which shifts his viewpoint from the external material view to the internal and spiritual view.

The first intuition is that of the witness consciousness: “Witness Purusha is a pure consciousness who watches Nature and sees it as an action reflected upon the consciousness and enlightened by that consciousness, but in itself other than it. To mental Purusha, Nature is only an action, a complex action of discriminating and combining thought, of will, of sense, of emotion, of temperament and character, of ego feeling, which works upon a foundation of vital impulses, needs and cravings in the conditions imposed by the physical body.” At a certain stage, the seeker becomes aware that the Witness is not bound by this outer action and can eventually direct and control the outer action.

The second intuition is a recognition that the individual awareness is part of a much larger whole, most of which is outside the immediate range of perception. The individual is impacted by this larger universal action and consciousness, even if only subliminally. C.G. Jung developed an entire psychological understanding based on gaining conscious awareness of the “collective unconscious” as he called it. Sri Aurobindo observes: “By this intuition he stands upon the threshold of a subliminal self with a more extended possibility than this superficial mentality opens to his self-knowledge.”

“A last and greatest intuition is an inner awareness of something which he more essentially is, something as high above mind as mind is above the physical life and body. This inner awareness is his intuition of his supramental and spiritual being.”

Sri Aurobindo, The Synthesis of Yoga, Part Four: The Yoga of Self-Perfection, Chapter 4, The Perfection of the Mental Being, pp. 607-608