Gradations of the Higher Levels of Consciousness

The action of the desire-soul of man, combined with the limited and fragmented experience of the mind, leads many to take the first experiences of a higher level of conscious awareness, in whatever form it may arrive, as something both extraordinary and final. Thus there are those who get some touch of the spirit who believe they have suddenly achieved the supramental realisation! Sri Aurobindo makes the point that these first touches, no matter how powerful and definitive they may seem, are still just stages along the path of increasing enlightenment, and they should not lead to a cessation of effort or any thought that the goal has been achieved. He also provides detailed differentiation between some of these gradations so that the seeker will have a reference point to understand what is taking place.

One of the first stages of the action of supermind, stepped-down into the frame of the intuitive mentality, he calls “divine reason”. “It is as this divine reason that the supermind itself at the beginning may manifest its action and then, when it has changed the mind into its own image, it descends and takes the place of the ordinary intelligence and reason. Meanwhile a higher supramental power of a much greater character has been revealing itself above which takes the supreme lead of the divine action in the being. The divine reason is of a more limited character because, although not of the mental stamp and although an operation of the direct truth and knowledge, it is a delegated power for a range of purposes greater in light, but still to a certain extent analogous to those of the ordinary human will and reason; it is in the yet greater supermind that there comes the direct, altogether revealed and immediate action of the Ishwara in the human being. These distinctions between the intuitive mind, the divine reason and the greater supermind, and others within these gradations themselves, have to be made because eventually they become of great importance. At first the mind takes all that comes from beyond it without distinction as the sufficient spiritual illumination and accepts even initial states and first enlightenments as a finality, but afterwards it finds that to rest here would be to rest in a partial realisation and that one has to go on heightening and enlarging till at least there is reached a certain completeness of divine breadth and stature.”

Sri Aurobindo, The Synthesis of Yoga, Part Four: The Yoga of Self-Perfection, Chapter 21, The Gradations of the Supermind, pp. 782-783