The Advantages and Limitations of Silencing the Mind As a Method for the Supramental Manifestation

Recognizing the obstacle to the development of the intuition (and eventually the supramental ranges of consciousness) created by the mental consciousness, the seeker may undertake a discipline to quiet the mind and create a basis of stillness, with the idea that once the obstacle is removed, the supramental consciousness can move into the vacuum that has been left. There is no doubt that such a discipline has a great power and benefit compared to the normal outward-facing mental consciousness with is always jumping and reacting to all manner of sense impressions or vital or mental suggestions and thus, is unable to focus on and consciously assimilate a higher knowledge. the Yoga of knowledge uses this method primarily and the realisations thus attained can put the seeker in touch with the Absolute, the Unmanifest and the Infinite consciousness in a poise of stillness. And yet, this method does not bring about the transformational change to the active consciousness. The seeker has some deep inner experience while entranced or withdrawn, but upon returning to the awareness of the world and its forms, forces and beings, the normal processes of body, life and mind tend to take over and handle the reactions.

Sri Aurobindo notes: “It is the calm and still mind much more readily and with a much greater purity than the mind in agitation and action that opens to the Infinite, reflects the Spirit, becomes full of the Self and awaits like a consecrated and purified temple the unveiling of the Lord of all our being and nature. It is true also that the freedom of this silence gives a possibility of a larger play of the intuitive being and admits with less obstruction and turmoil of mental groping and seizing the great intuitions, inspirations, revelations which emerge from within or descend from above. it is therefore an immense gain if we can acquire the capacity of always being able at will to command an absolute tranquility and silence of the mind free from any necessity of mental thought or movement and disturbance and, based in that silence, allow thought and will and feeling to happen in us only when the Shakti wills it and when it is needful for the divine purpose. It becomes easier then to change the manner and character of the thought and will and feeling.”

The advantages are obvious. At the same time, there remain limitations: “Nevertheless it is not the fact that by this method the supramental light will immediately replace the lower mind and reflective reason. When the inner action proceeds after the silence, even if it be then a more predominatingly intuitive thought and movement, the old powers will yet interfere, if not from within, then by a hundred suggestions from without, and an inferior mentality will mix in, will question or obstruct or will try to lay hold on the greater movement and to lower or darken or distort or minimise it in the process.”

This implies that the one line of action, on its own, is insufficient. “Therefore the necessity of a process of elimination or transformation of the inferior mentality remains always imperative,–or perhaps both at once, an elimination of all that is native to the lower being, its disfiguring accidents, its depreciations of value, its distortions of substance and all else that the greater truth cannot harbour, and a transformation of the essential things our mind derives from the supermind and spirit but represents in the manner of the mental ignorance.”

Sri Aurobindo, The Synthesis of Yoga, Part Four: The Yoga of Self-Perfection, Chapter 20, The Intuitive Mind, pp. 772-773