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