The Basic Experience of the Supramental Consciousness

A primary difference identified by Sri Aurobindo between the supramental consciousness and the normal human mentality is the experience of oneness in an infinite consciousness.  A human individual with an evolved rational awareness may accept the intellectual conception that all existence is One.  He may even, with further development, intuit a sense of oneness, or a vastness of infinity.  This remains an experience of division and fragmentation and does not carry the real internalized sense and experience of true oneness, which is the character of the supramental awareness.

Sri Aurobindo describes the supramental experience:  “it is infinite consciousness and all that is conscious and acts and moves is seen, felt, received, known, lived in as self-experience and energy of the one being; it is infinite Ananda and all that feels and is felt is seen and felt and known, received and lived in as forms of the one Ananda.  Everything else is only manifestation and circumstance of this one truth of our existence.  This is no longer merely the seeing or knowing, but the very condition of the self in all and all in the self, God in all and all in God and all seen as God, and that condition is now not a thing offered to the reflecting spiritualised mind but held and lived by an integral, always present, always active realisation in the supramental nature.”

This experience changes the nature of thought, will and impulse as well:  “There is thought here and will and sensation and everything that belongs to our nature, but it is transfigured and elevated into a higher consciousness.  All thought is here seen and experienced as a luminous body of substance, a luminous movement of force, a luminous wave of Ananda of the being; it is not an idea in the void air of mind, but experienced in the reality and as the light of a reality of the infinite being.  The will and impulsions are similarly experienced as a real power and substance of the Sat, the Chit, the Ananda of the Ishwara.  All the spiritualised sensation and emotion are experienced as pure moulds of the consciousness and Ananda.  The physical being itself is experienced as a conscious form and the vital being as an outpouring of the power and possession of the life of the spirit.”

Sri Aurobindo, The Synthesis of Yoga, Part Four: The Yoga of Self-Perfection, Chapter 21, The Gradations of the Supermind, pp. 792-793

The Mind, the Spiritual Reason and the Supermind

With the development of the spiritual reason, a very substantial new power of knowing and acting becomes available to the evolving human being.  It is easy to lead oneself to believe that this is the ultimate realisation of the supramental consciousness, yet Sri Aurobindo makes it clear that this is but a gradation on the way, not a final achievement in this regard.

The basic characteristics of mind are fragmentation, division and separation, which means that it is an instrument that starts in ignorance, tries to assemble facts and information and sense impressions and build them into some kind of coherent understanding of the world and its functioning.  It has serious and insuperable limitations based on its experience of separation from the unity and oneness of the universe.

The spiritual reason gains access to the unity and oneness, but remains something of a reflected power rather than maintaining a native basis in that oneness.  Sri Aurobindo notes:  “At the same time the spiritual reason acts mainly by the representative idea and will in the spirit, though it has a greater and more essential truth as its constant source and supporter and reference.  It is, then, a power of light of the Ishwara, but not the very self-power of his immediate presence in the being; it is his surya-shakti, not his whole atma-shakti or para sva prakrtih, that works in the spiritual reason.”

The action of the supermind in its native and complete power is something else:  “The immediate self-power begins its direct operation in the greater supermind, and that takes up all that has hitherto been realised in body, life and mind and in the intuitive being and by the spiritual reason and shapes all that has been created, all that has been gathered, turned into stuff of experience and made part of the consciousness, personality and nature by the mental being, into a highest harmony with the high infinite and universal life of the spirit. ”

“The mind can have the touch of the infinite and the universal and can reflect and even lose itself in them, but the supermind alone can enable the individual to be completely one in action with the universal and transcendent Spirit.”

 

 

Sri Aurobindo, The Synthesis of Yoga, Part Four: The Yoga of Self-Perfection, Chapter 21, The Gradations of the Supermind, pp. 791-792

The Action of the Spiritual Reason on the Lower Nature

The mind operates to receive sensations, interpret and provide direction for action to the emotional nature, the vital and nervous being and the physical instrument.  It does so within the limitations of its own fragmented and divided understanding and the reflected nature of its light.  The spiritual reason, starting from a different standpoint that is in unity with the wider truth and oneness of all existence, also acts upon these lower members, but does so from this higher standpoint, thus raising up the action of the emotions, vital being and physical body.

Sri Aurobindo describes this action:  “The spiritual reason takes also the emotions and psychic sensations, relates them to their spiritual equivalents and imparts to them the values of the higher consciousness and Ananda from which they derive and are its modifications in an inferior nature and it corrects their deformations.  It takes similarly the movements of the vital being and consciousness and relates them to the movements and imparts to them the significances of the spiritual life of the self and its power of Tapas.  It takes the physical consciousness, delivers it from its darkness and Tamas of inertia and makes it a responsive recipient and a sensitive instrument of the supramental light and power and Ananda.  It deals with life and action and knowledge like the mental will and reason, but not starting from matter, life and sense and their data and relating to them through the idea the truth of higher things, but it starts on the contrary from truth of self and spirit and relates to that through a direct spiritual experience assuming all other experience as its forms and instruments the things of mind and soul and life and sense and matter.  It commands a far vaster range than the ordinary embodied mind shut up in the prison of the physical senses and vaster too than the pure mentality, even when that is free in its own ranges and operates with the aid of the psychical mind and inner senses.  And it has that power which the mental will and reason do not possess, because they are not truly self-determined and originally determinative of things, the power of transforming the whole being in all its parts into a harmonious instrument and manifestation of the spirit.”

Sri Aurobindo, The Synthesis of Yoga, Part Four: The Yoga of Self-Perfection, Chapter 21, The Gradations of the Supermind, pg. 791

The Shift in Standpoint from Mental to Supramental Reason

It is important to understand that with the development of the supramental awareness comes an entire difference in the nature and action of the consciousness.  Some have called this a “reversal” of consciousness, or have indicated that for the yogi, day is night and night is day in relation to the ordinary mental consciousness.  These differences arise due to the standpoint from which these respective statuses start and the reference they make back to their own viewpoint of the nature of reality.

The mental consciousness is not ordinarily aware of the wholeness of all creation, and does not use that as the framework or basis for reviewing and judging facts and events. The supramental consciousness, on the other hand, starts from the standpoint of unity with the Divine and the oneness of all creation.  Clearly this implies a totally different process of knowing and a completely different result in action.

Sri Aurobindo observes:  “The essential truths of self and the spirit and the principle of things are not to the spiritual reason abstract ideas or subtle unsubstantial experiences to which it arrives by a sort of overleaping of limits, but a constant reality and the natural background of all its ideation and experience.  it does not like the mind arrive at, but discloses directly both the general and total and the particular truths of being and consciousness, of spiritual and other sensation and Ananda and of force and action,– reality and phenomenon and symbol, actuality and possibility and eventuality, that which is determined and that which determines, and all with a self-luminous evidence.  It formulates and arranges the relations of thought and thought, of force and force, of action and action and of all these with each other and throws them into a convincing and luminous harmony.  It includes the data of sense, but gives to them another meaning in the light of what is behind them, and treats them only as outermost indications: the inner truth is known to a greater sense which t already possesses.  And it is not dependent on them alone even in their own field of objects or limited by their range.  It has a spiritual sense and sensation of its own and it takes and relates to that the data too of a sixth sense, the inner mind sense.  And it takes also the illuminations and the living symbols and images familiar to the psychic experience and relates these too to the truths of the self and spirit.”

Sri Aurobindo, The Synthesis of Yoga, Part Four: The Yoga of Self-Perfection, Chapter 21, The Gradations of the Supermind, pp. 790-791

The Nature of the Supramental Reason

The human Reason is a power of the mentality that attempts to find answers, to elicit truth, from the experience, facts and impressions of the senses, subject to the analytical and cumulating power of the Reason.  This process necessarily involves serious limitations both as to the facts or impressions upon which the Reason is asked to work, and as to the inherent deficiencies of the human reason, in and of itself, based on the fragmentation and separation that is the foundation of the human mentality.  The resultant inaccuracy and error is inherent in the process.

The supramental Reason, however, starts from a different standpoint and thus can yield vastly superior, accurate results.  Sri Aurobindo observes:  “The supramental reason is of the nature of a spiritual, direct, self-luminous, self-acting will and intelligence, not mental, …, but supramental….  It acts by the same four powers as the intuitive mind, but these powers are here active in an initial fullness of body not modified by the mental stuff of the intelligence, not concerned mainly with an illumining of the mind, but at work in their own proper manner and for their own native purpose.  And of these four the discrimination here is hardly recognisable as a separate power, but is constantly inherent in the three others and is their own determination of the scope and relations of their knowledge.  There are three elevations in this reason, one in which the action of what we may call a supramental intuition gives the form and the predominant character, one in which a rapid supramental inspiration and one in which a large supramental revelation leads and imparts the general character, and each of these raises us to a more concentrated substance and a higher light, sufficiency and scope of the truth will and the truth knowledge.”

Sri Aurobindo, The Synthesis of Yoga, Part Four: The Yoga of Self-Perfection, Chapter 21, The Gradations of the Supermind, pg. 790

The Second Character of the Supramental Change of Consciousness

The proverbial statement “from the darkness to the light, and from light to greater light” describes, quite accurately, the second character of the changes that occur for the seeker with the advent of the supramental change of consciousness.  As long as the individual remains rooted in the mental consciousness, there is a foundation of darkness, limitation and confusion that circumscribes the efforts.  Once the shift of standpoint has been made so that the awareness is centered above the mind, with the first manifestation of the supramental reason, a much more powerful and direct awareness takes over.

Sri Aurobindo notes:  “The second character of the change is that the formation of the thought and will can take place now wholly on the supramental level and therefore there is initiated an entirely luminous and effective will and knowledge.  The light and the power are not indeed complete at the beginning because the supramental reason is only an elementary formulation of the supermind and because the mind and other members have yet to be changed into the mould of the supramental nature.  The mind, it is true, no longer acts as the apparent originator, formulator or judge of the thought and will or anything else, but it still acts as the transmitting channel and therefore in that degree as a recipient and to a certain extent an obstructor and qualifier in transmission of the power and light that comes from above.”

As of yet, however, there is not a complete transformation of the consciousness at all levels, so the mind, life and body, as yet unreformed, put up their obstacles to the new light and awareness, diluting it in implementation.    “He lives and sees with an ideal consciousness, but he has yet in his lower self to make it entirely practical and effective.  Otherwise he can only act with a greater or less spiritual effectiveness through an internal communication with others on the spiritual level and on the higher mental level that is most easily affected by it, but the effect is diminished and is retarded by the inferiority or lack of the integral play of the being.  This can only be remedied by the supermind taking hold of and supramentalising the mental, the vital, and the physical consciousness,–transforming them, that is to say, into moulds of the supramental nature.”

That is a further step in the process, that takes, first, a serious preparation of the lower instruments and then an opening to the higher light by these instruments and a rejection of their normal and usual way of understanding and responding.

 

 

 

 

Sri Aurobindo, The Synthesis of Yoga, Part Four: The Yoga of Self-Perfection, Chapter 21, The Gradations of the Supermind, pp. 789-790

The First Character of the Supramental Change of Consciousness

A new process begins for the seeker with the development of the intuitive mentality.  This level of conscious awareness is directly in touch with the supramental consciousness and can therefore receive the promptings and intimations from that higher level on a more direct basis than occurs in the mental consciousness.  This allows also for the action to be more precise and powerful, as there is less chance for garbling the message as well as less of the mental transcription process which distorts things to a great degree.  There is however still the mental formation that develops and which tries to translate the awareness and its implications to the lower members of the being.

Sri Aurobindo observes with regard to the new role of the mental consciousness in this process:  “In doing so it no longer wholly creates its own form for the thought and will that come down to it, but still it modifies and qualifies and limits them and imposes something of its own method.  It is still the receiver and the transmitter of the thought and will,– though not formative of them now except by a subtle influence, because it provides them or at least surrounds them with a mental stuff or a mental setting and framework and atmosphere.”

The real transition occurs with the advent of the supramental consciousness as the awareness shifts to the new standpoint and acts and reacts from there.  “When however the supramental reason develops, the Purusha rises above the mental elevation and now looks down on the whole action of mind, life, sense, body from quite another light and atmosphere, sees and knows it with quite a different vision and, because he is no longer involved in the mind, with a free and true knowledge.”

This brings about a major change in both the knowledge and the action of the being:  “But after he rises to the supramental elevation, he is delivered from the nether control and, governor of his whole nature,– essentially and initially only at first and in his highest consciousness, for the rest remains still to be transformed,– but when or in proportion as that is done, he becomes a free being and master of his mind, sense, life and body.”

Sri Aurobindo, The Synthesis of Yoga, Part Four: The Yoga of Self-Perfection, Chapter 21, The Gradations of the Supermind, pp. 788-789

The Intermediate Position Occupied by the Human Mind in Our Evolution

The characteristic status of the human being is one of predominant awareness centered in the mental consciousness.  The animal consciousness is primarily rooted in the physical mind of sensation and reaction, but the human being has the capacity, which is one of the distinguishing factors between the animal and the human, of separating from the immersion in the physical mind and observing it, distancing from it and to some degree acting upon it from another standpoint.

This other standpoint is based on the capacity of the mind to not only look down into the physical and vital consciousness but to also look up towards a higher light that is intuited if not perceived clearly and directly.  Sri Aurobindo describes this dual capacity:

“…we have attained to a certain mental elevation from which we can look down on the action of the life, sense and body, turn the higher mental light upon them, reflect, judge, use our will to modify the action of the inferior nature.  On the other hand, we look up too from that elevation more or less consciously to something above and receive from it either directly or through our subconscient or subliminal being some secret superconscient impulsion of our thought and will and other activities.  The process of this communication is veiled and obscure and men are not ordinarily aware of it except in certain highly developed natures;  but when we advance in self-knowledge, we find that all our thought and will originate from above though formed in the mind and there first overtly active.  If we release the knots of the physical mind which bind us to the brain instrument and identifies us with the bodily consciousness and can move in the pure mentality, this becomes constantly clear to the perception.”

 

 

 

Sri Aurobindo, The Synthesis of Yoga, Part Four: The Yoga of Self-Perfection, Chapter 21, The Gradations of the Supermind, pp. 787-788

Steps in the Process of Integrating the Powers of the Intuitive Mind in the Transformation of Consciousness

There can be no invariable, step-by-step development of the intuitive consciousness. Each individual’s preparation and readiness is somewhat different, and the action of the force, working from the higher levels of the knowledge-consciousness, adapts the action to meet the needs of the individual nature. There may be instances where one of the higher powers illumines the being for a specific time or purpose, and then withdraws to allow the assimilation and purification processes to develop and further prepare the ground for a more constant action. Even if there is a somewhat systematic development of the 4 primary powers of the intuitive mind, there will be the inevitable withdrawals, setbacks, dilutions, and confusions resulting from the interaction of these powers with the mental consciousness.

Sri Aurobindo describes this process: “A regular development would at first, allowing for some simultaneous manifestation of the four powers, yet create on a sufficiently extensive scale the lower suggestive and critical intuitive mind and then develop above it the inspired and the revelatory intuitive mentality. Next it would take up the two lower powers into the power and field of the inspiration and make all act as one harmony doing simultaneously the united–or, at a higher intensity, indistinguishably as one light the unified–action of the three. And last it would execute a similar movement of taking up into a fusion with the revelatory power of the intuitive gnosis.”

“As a matter of fact, in the human mind the clear process of the development is likely always to be more or less disturbed, confused and rendered irregular in its course, subjected to relapses, incomplete advances, returns upon things unaccomplished or imperfectly accomplished, owing to the constant mixture and intervention of the existing movements of the mental half-knowledge and the obstruction of the stuff of the mental ignorance.”

“In the end however a time can come when the process, so far as it is possible in the mind itself, is complete and a clear formation of a modified supramental light is possible composed of all these powers, the highest leading or absorbing into its own body the others. It is at this point, when the intuitive mind has been fully formed in the mental being and is strong enough to dominate if not yet wholly to occupy the various mental activities, that a farther step becomes possible, the lifting of the centre and level of action above the mind and the predominance of the supramental action.”

Sri Aurobindo, The Synthesis of Yoga, Part Four: The Yoga of Self-Perfection, Chapter 21, The Gradations of the Supermind, pg. 787

Two Higher Powers of the Intuitive Mentality: Their Powers and Their Limitations

The two initial powers of the intuitive mentality are not, in and of themselves, sufficient or complete in terms of their ability to transform the consciousness and move it beyond its normal reliance on the mentality. At a more advanced stage in the process, two additional higher powers come into operation. One of these Sri Aurobindo characterizes as a power of revelation; the other he characterizes as inspiration. Each has its own unique action, and it is through the combined action of the 4 together that progress in the transformation takes place. Any one of them, even the more powerful higher forms of revelation and inspiration, are limited in their ability to fully take over the normal human process of knowledge and action.

“The revelation may indeed present the reality, the identities of the thing in itself and add something of great power to the experience of the conscious being, but it may lack the embodying word, the out-bringing idea, the connected pursuit of its relations and consequences and may remain a possession in the self but not a thing communicated to and through the members. There may be the presence of the truth but not its full manifestation.”

“The inspiration may give the word of the truth and the stir of its dynamis and movement, but this is not a complete thing and sure in its effect without the full revelation of all that it bears in itself and luminously indicates and the ordering of it in its relations. The inspired intuitive mind is a mind of lightnings lighting up many things that were dark, but the light needs to be canalised and fixed into a stream of steady lustres that will be a constant power for lucidly ordered knowledge.”

“The higher gnosis by itself in its two sole powers would be a mind of spiritual splendours living too much in its own separate domain, producing perhaps invisibly its effect on the outside world, but lacking the link of a more close and ordinary communication with its more normal movements that is provided by the lower ideative action. It is the united or else the fused and unified action of the four powers that makes the complete and fully armed and equipped intuitive gnosis.”

Sri Aurobindo, The Synthesis of Yoga, Part Four: The Yoga of Self-Perfection, Chapter 21, The Gradations of the Supermind, pp. 786-787