The Practical Distinction Between Mind and Supermind

If we examine the mind’s process of knowing, we see that the individual first acquires perceptions through the operation of the sense organs. These perceptions are then received by the mind and, to the extent the mind has been organized through training or experience, they are filtered, classified and brought together to create patterns which then become the basis upon which the mind undertakes to build up its “knowledge” through inference, logic, analysis and synthesis. This entire process is necessarily partial and fragmented, based on ignorance, and subject to error at each step along the way. Even the greatest “knowing” of the mental consciousness is limited by the reliance on the senses and the fragmentation of the acquired knowledge into separated compartments with little, if any, ability to see the comprehensive and unified whole of which each of these elements is a part.

The supermind cures these defects, as Sri Aurobindo clarifies: “The third characteristic of the supermind arising from this difference, which brings us to the practical distinction between the two kinds of knowledge, is that it is directly truth-conscious, a divine power of immediate, inherent and spontaneous knowledge, an Idea holding luminously all realities and not depending on indications and logical or other steps from the known to the unknown like the mind which is a power of the Ignorance. The supermind contains all its knowledge in itself, is in its highest divine wisdom in eternal possession of all truth and even in its lower, limited or individualised forms has only to bring the latent truth out of itself….”

It is of course true that the mind itself is a derivative power that comes originally from the supermind, but it has been involved into the material framework and is subject to obscurity, darkness and ignorance when functioning on its own, and it is only when the individual can evolve beyond the mind that the supermind can be seen to act with its own native light and power. “All that is mental is but a partial, a modified, a suppressed or half suppressed figure of the supramental truth, a deformation or a derived and imperfect figure of its greater knowledge. The mind begins with ignorance and proceeds towards knowledge. As an actual fact, in the material universe, it appears out of an initial and universal inconscience which is really an involution of the all-conscient spirit in its own absorbed self-oblivious force of action; and it appears therefore as a part of an evolutionary process, first a vital feeling towards overt sensation, then an emergence of a vital mind capable of sensation and, evolving out of it, a mind of emotion and desire, a conscious will, a growing intelligence. And each stage is an emergence of a greater suppressed power of the secret supermind and spirit.”

Sri Aurobindo, The Synthesis of Yoga, Part Four: The Yoga of Self-Perfection, Chapter 19, The Nature of the Supermind, pp. 759-760

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