The Ultimate Way of Integral Self-Perfection

Through systematic and disciplined effort, the seeker can quiet the mental processes and thereby create a ground for reflection of a higher light of knowledge into the human mentality. This reflected consciousness however remains within the limitations of the mental framework and does not have therefore the power to become Master of Nature, Ishwara. Sri Aurobindo describes this experience: “Knowledge in the mentality is enlightened by his consciousness; he is the mental knower; but he finds that this is not a real knowledge, but only a partial seeking and partial finding, a derivative uncertain reflection and narrow utilisation for action from a greater light beyond which is the real knowledge.”

The standpoint must be shifted above the mentality in order to acquire and act from this basis of real knowledge. “This light is the self-awareness and all-awareness of Spirit.”

“But for participation in an effective all-awareness with this essential self-awareness as the soul of its action he must rise to supermind. To be lord of his being, he must be knower of self and Nature…. Partially this may be done on a higher level of mind where it responds directly to supermind, but really and completely this perfection belongs not to the mental being, but to the ideal or knowledge Soul, vijnanamaya purusha. To draw up the mental into the greater knowledge being and that into the Bliss-Self of the spirit, anandamaya purusha, is the uttermost way of this perfection.”

This is the path traced out in the Taittiriya Upanishad as the student Bhrigu undertakes “concentration of conscious-force” (tapas) in order to understand the Eternal. After traversing the levels of knowledge possible in body, life and mind, he is able to move his awareness first to the knowledge level and later to the bliss level of awareness, and this then represented the ultimate way of attainment of knowledge and understanding. The result, as the Upanishad states: “Who knoweth, getteth his firm base, he becometh the master of food and its eater, great in progeny, great in cattle, great in the splendour of holiness, great in glory.” (Sri Aurobindo, The Upanishads, Taittiriya Upanishad, Bhriguvalli, ch. 6, pg. 278) In other words, the seeker who attains to this standpoint of consciousness gains mastery in the world of manifestation of body, life and mind, as he has now identified himself with the ultimate spiritual consciousness.

Sri Aurobindo, The Synthesis of Yoga, Part Four: The Yoga of Self-Perfection, Chapter 4, The Perfection of the Mental Being, pp. 611-612