A Supreme Sense Behind the Senses, Part 2: Vibration and the Fivefold Operation of Conscious-Force in Manifestation

To be able to understand the relation between the supramental consciousness, with its inherent knowledge and power of effectuation, it is important to recognize that the entire universal creation is one continuum of energy from the most subtle to the most gross forms of Matter.  Modern science has recognized that Matter is in reality a dense form of energy.  Now scientists are discovering that energy is actually a form of consciousness, and that just as energy is considered infinite and unable to be created or destroyed, so consciousness pervades and permeates the entire creation.

Sri Aurobindo observes:  “Everything begins with vibration or movement, the original ksobha or disturbance.  If there is no movement of the conscious being, it can only know its own pure static existence.  Without vibration or movement of being in consciousness there can be no act of knowledge and therefore no sense; without vibration or movement of being in force there can be no object of sense.  Movement of conscious being as knowledge becoming sensible of itself as movement of force, in other words the knowledge separating itself from its own working to watch that and take it into itself again by feeling, — this is the basis of universal Sanjnana. … I can known nothing except what I myself am; if I know others, it is because they also are myself, because my self has assumed these apparently alien presentations as well as that which is nearest to my own mental centre.  All sensation, all action of sense is thus the same in essence whether external or internal, physical or psychical.”

“But this vibration of conscious being is presented to itself by various forms of sense which answer to the successive operations of movement in its assumption of form.  For first we have intensity of vibration creating regular rhythm which is the basis or constituent of all creative formation; secondly, contact or intermiscence of the movements of conscious being which constitute the rhythm; thirdly, definition of the grouping of movements which are in contact, their shape; fourthly, the constant welling up of the essential force to support in its continuity the movement that has been thus defined; fifthly, the actual enforcement and compression of the force in its own movement which maintains the form that has been assumed.  In Matter these five constituent operations are said by the Sankhyas to represent themselves as five elemental conditions of substance, the etheric, atmospheric, igneous, liquid and solid; and the rhythm of vibration is seen by them as sabda, sound, the basis of hearing, the intermiscence as contact, the basis of touch, the definition as shape, the basis of sight, the upflow of force as rasa, sap, the basis of taste and the discharge of the atomic compression as gandha, odour, the basis of smell.  It is true that this is only predicated of pure or subtle Matter; the physical matter of our world being a mixed operation of force, these five elemental states are not found there separately except in a very modified form.  But all these are only the physical workings or symbols.  Essentially all formation, to the most subtle and most beyond our senses such as form of mind, form of character, form of soul, amount when scrutinised to this fivefold operation of conscious-force in movement.”

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