The Consciousness of Time for the Mind of Ignorance

Having described the 3 conditions or stages of development of the mental consciousness in the human evolutionary movement, Sri Aurobindo now proceeds to link each of these stages to a different relationship to and awareness of the movement of Time.  The mind of ignorance is the normal action of mind for most people, most of the time.  It is a mind that seeks after knowledge and tries to piece together facts, inferences and the promptings of past experience to achieve some kind of understanding of the world.  It starts from ignorance and tries to move toward a form of knowledge.  This mind, which is framed and limited in its scope, does not have a direct perception and awareness of the past, present and future as one continuum; rather, it lives in the present, uses imperfect memory to recall the past, and can only speculate about the future.

Sri Aurobindo describes the relation between this mind of ignorance and the consciousness of Time as follows:  “At first man in the mind of ignorance can neither live in the infinite time consciousness nor command any direct and real power of the triple time knowledge.   The mind of ignorance lives, not in the indivisible continuity of time, but successively in each moment.  It has a vague sense of the continuity of self and of an essential continuity of experience, a sense of which the source is the deeper self within us, but as it does not live in that self, also it does not live in a true time continuity, but only uses this vague but still insistent awareness as a background, support and assurance in what would otherwise be to it a constant baseless flux of its being.  In its practical action its only support other than its station in the present is the line left behind by the past and preserved in memory, the mass of impressions deposited by previous experience and, for the future, an assurance of the regularity of experience and a power of uncertain forecast founded partly upon repeated experience and well-founded inference and partly on imaginative construction and conjecture.  The mind of ignorance relies on a certain foundation or element of relative or moral certainties, but for the rest a dealing with probabilities and possibilities is its chief resource.”

Sri Aurobindo, The Synthesis of Yoga, Part Four: The Yoga of Self-Perfection, Chapter 25, Towards the Supramental Time Vision , pp. 856-857