The Experience of the Progressive Development of the Intuitive Mentality

The human mentality tends to get caught up in word play and to abstract the words from the real experience. Sri Aurobindo, however, is not trying to create a philosophical or psychological system to be viewed and debated over by academics; rather, he is attempting to provide the seeker with real markers along the way of the development of actual spiritual experience. In this regard, his statements about the progressive development of the intuitive mentality are to be understood as pointing the way to the experiential state and its qualities. The positive side of the experience is described, as well as the limitations and the oscillations that take place in the spiritual growth of the individual.

“The greater spirit above the mind appears at first as a presence, a light, a power, a source, an infinite, but all that is knowable to us in it is at first an infinite identity of being, consciousness, power of consciousness, Ananda.” The human mentality, having no basis for understanding these higher states of awareness, feels overwhelmed and the experience is indescribable, and thus, not subject to specific shape or definition.

“The rest comes from it, but takes no determinate shape of thought, will or feeling above us, but only in the intuitive mind and on its level.” The normal mentality cannot truly grasp the significance of the experience, so until the intuitive mind becomes the standpoint of the observation and experience, it remains something vague and rather ambiguous to the mind. “Or we feel and are manifoldly aware of a great and infinite Purusha who is the eternally living truth of that being and presence, a great and infinite knowledge which is the potency of that light and consciousness, a great and infinite will which is the potency of that power of consciousness, a great and infinite love which is the potency of that Ananda.” We receive in the mind something of a transcription of the experience of Sat-Chit-Ananda without full comprehension or participation. “But all these potencies are only known to us in any definite manner, apart from the strong reality and effect of their essential presence, in so far as they are translated to our intuitive mental being and on its level and within its limits.”

The experience takes on another form, however, as the spiritual capacity grows and the intuitive mind becomes more stabilised in the being: “As however we progress or as we grow into a more luminous and dynamic union with that spirit or Purusha, a greater action of knowledge and will and spiritual feeling manifests and seems to organise itself above the mind and this we recognise as the true supermind and the real native play of the infinite knowledge, will and Ananda.”

At this stage, the center of consciousness shifts upwards so that the intuitive mind is the normal standpoint, with the supermind above and the normal mentality below. “The intuitive mentality then becomes a secondary and inferior movement waiting upon this higher power, responding and assenting to all its illuminations and dictates, transmitting them to the lower members, and, when they do not arrive or are not in immediate evidence, often attempting to supply its place, imitate its action and do as best it can the works of the supramental nature.”

This is analogous to the role of mind looking up toward the intuitive mind and attempting to bring down and translate the higher inspiration to the lower members.

Sri Aurobindo, The Synthesis of Yoga, Part Four: The Yoga of Self-Perfection, Chapter 21, The Gradations of the Supermind, pp. 781-782