A Supreme Sense Behind the Senses, Part 1

The human mind utilizes the senses to acquire information about the external world.  It then tries to comprehend the data it has acquired into meaningful patterns on which it can act.  It builds from fragments to try to understand the whole.  It does not have, as a native capacity, the knowledge of the whole, the oneness, the unity; this capacity, called Vijnana in the Upanishads, is reserved in its fullness for the supramental consciousness which starts from oneness and uses the data of the senses, but only within the context of its wider knowledge.  The questions then arise as to whether the mind can gain data without use of the physical senses, and then, whether the supermind has capacities of knowledge of the specific manifested details and power to control them without necessarily relying on the senses (Ajnana).

Sri Aurobindo notes:  “If we suppose a supreme consciousness, master of the world, which really conducts behind the veil all the operations the mental gods attribute to themselves, it will be obvious that that consciousness will be the entire Knower and Lord.  The basis of its action or government of the world will be the perfect, original and all-possessing Vijnana and Ajnana.  It will comprehend all things in its energy of conscious knowledge, control all things in its energy of conscious power.  These energies will be the spontaneous inherent action of its conscious being creative and possessive of the forms of the universe.”

“The Upanishads declare that the Mind in us is infinite; it knows not only what has been seen but what has not been seen, not only what has been heard but what has not been heard, not only what has been discriminated by the thought but what has not been discriminated by the thought.”

Sri Aurobindo, The Upanishads, Kena Upanishad and analysis, pg. 102, 142-155

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6 thoughts on “A Supreme Sense Behind the Senses, Part 1

  1. In pursuit of knowledge without senses, just mind, how can we differentiate between the dream or thought and Reality. Infact, does Sri Aurobindo defines, at some point, what reality is? Because that definition can be taken as premise with which we can understand if the perception of mind beyond senses is real or unreal. ?!

    • If reality is defined by perception, then it also means it is subjective because perception varies by perceiver. Thus, even if everyone you know has same perception, your reality can still be unreal for someone else whom you do not know yet. Thus, your thought is your reality and it materializes into your actions. Do let me know in case of further pondering question.

  2. The current series of blog posts relates to the description of the insights and experiences of the Rishis who created the Upanishads, in particular, the Kena Upanishad. They based their understanding on spiritual experience. There are experiences where the “self-evident nature” of the reality overwhelms the mind’s doubts, and at the same time, it fits within what a logical understanding of the creation of the universe and the evolution of consciousness within the universe would yield. Many individuals for instance have reported out of body experiences under certain circumstances. One can question whether it is “real” or not, but when one is an observer of one’s own body from a point floating 8 feet or 10 feet above the body, and can observe persons around the body and interacting with it in its non-responsive state, it is not a matter of debate for that individual that it occurred. To the extent that the non-responsive person later “wakes up” and is able to describe factually to the other individuals exactly what they were doing and saying, it gains a level of objectivity. Obviously trying to fit something that exists “beyond” the mind into a mental framework is essentially impossible and thus, much of what sages, yogis and teachers try to do is to prepare the student with the tools needed to quiet the mind and the vital reactions of desire, create a reflective mental space that is able to receive intuitions, inspirations, etc. and at the same time not try to treat them as absolute truths without further confirmation, testing and experience. That is why Sri Aurobindo and the Mother had always recommended not “grabbing” at realisations or experiences, as the influx of desire can distort the truth of the experience. In the end, as with any other examination of our world and existence, a good deal of trial and error, correlation and experience is needed to sift out truth from distortion.

  3. For those unaware of Rishis, I read that similar out-of-body experience like factually seeing own body and other persons beside, were reported by theosophists like Annie Besant too. After all, spiritualism is beyond religion.

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