The Supramental Power of Observation

The first principal power utilized by the mental consciousness is the power of observation.  The objects of the senses are presented as data upon which the mind then sets to work in its process of analysis, correlation, reflection, memory and synthesis to achieve an understanding of what is being observed.  Mental observation however is two-dimensional and basically only sees what is presented without necessarily getting a deeper understanding of what lies behind, or the completeness of the observed phenomena, whether a form, a force, or another being.  A good example of the incompleteness of mental observation is that of the sunrise and sunset, with the obvious conclusion that the sun rotates around the earth.  A deeper understanding (which in the case of the relationship between sun and earth came much later in mankind’s evolutionary process than the acceptance of the raw data of the senses) of course tells us that the earth rotates and simultaneously rotates around the sun.

The supramental process of observation, however, is not limited to this two-dimensional view; rather it comprehends the essential nature, significance and inner reality of the object observed.  Sri Aurobindo notes:  “It sees the form, action, properties, but it is aware at the same time of the qualities or energies, guna, sakti, of which the form is a translation and it sees them not as an inference or deduction from the form or action, but feels and sees them directly in the being of the object and quite as vividly… with a subtle concreteness and fine substantiality,— as the form or sensible action.  it is aware too of the consciousness that manifests itself in quality, energy, form.  It can feel, know, observe, see forces, tendencies, impulsions, things abstract to us quite as directly and vividly as the things we now call visible and sensible.  It observes in just the same way persons and beings.  It can take as its starting-point or first indication the speech, action, outward signs, but it is not limited by or dependent on them.  It can know and feel and observe the very self and consciousness of another, can either proceed to that directly through the sign or can in its more powerful action begin with it and at once instead of seeking to know the inner being through the evidence of the outer expression, understand rather all the outer expression in the light of the inner being.  Even so, completely, the supramental being knows his own inner being and nature.  The supermind can too act with equal power and observe with direct experience what is hidden behind the physical order; it can move in other planes than the material universe.  It knows the self and reality of things by identity, by experience of oneness or contact of oneness and a vision, a seeing and realising ideation and knowledge dependent on or derived from these things, and its thought presentation of the truths of the spirit is an expression of this kind of sight and experience.”

Sri Aurobindo, The Synthesis of Yoga, Part Four: The Yoga of Self-Perfection, Chapter 23, The Supramental Instruments — Thought-process , pg. 828