The Gnosis Is Viewed as the Eternal

Sri Aurobindo translates Taittiriya Upanishad, Bhriguvalli, Chapter 5: “He knew Knowledge for the Eternal.  For from Knowledge alone, it appeareth, are these creatures born and being born they live by Knowledge and to Knowledge they go hence and return.  And when he had known this, he came again to Varuna his father and said, ‘Lord, teach me the Eternal.’ But his father said to him, ‘By askesis do thou seek to know the Eternal, for concentration of force is the Eternal.’  He concentrated himself in thought and by the energy of his brooding”

The term translated here as ‘Knowledge’ is vijnana.  Sri Aurobindo describes it thus in The Synthesis of Yoga, Chapter 22: “The gnosis, the Vijnana is not only this concentrated consciousness of the infinite Essence; it is also and at the same time an infinite knowledge of the myriad play of the Infinite. It contains all ideation (not mental but supramental), but it is not limited by ideation, for it far exceeds all ideative movement. Nor is the gnostic ideation in its character an intellectual thinking; it is not what we call the reason, not a concentrated intelligence. For the reason is mental in its methods, mental in its acquisitions, mental in its basis, but the ideative method of the gnosis is self-luminous, supramental, its yield of thought-light spontaneous, not proceeding by acquisition, its thought-basis a rendering of conscious identities, not a translation of the impressions born of indirect contacts. There is a relation and even a sort of broken identity between the two forms of thought; for one proceeds covertly from other. Mind is born from that which is beyond mind. But they act on different planes and reverse each other’s process.”

Everywhere we look in the universe, we find an extremely precise and detailed working out of the elements of creation.  At the sub-atomic level, incredible amounts of energy are held in balance to create matter.  Life involves intricate inter-relationships and symbiotic balance.  For instance, plants breathe in carbon dioxide and breathe out oxygen, while animals (including human beings) breathe in the excreted oxygen of plants and breathe out the carbon dioxide the plants require.  If we turn our attention outwards, we see suns and planets, along with trillions of stars and hundreds of millions of galaxies that comprise the universe and we see at each level, strict mathematical relationships that play out in the creative process, such as the golden ratio.  No human mind can encompass this level of complexity, detail and vast magnitude.  This is a level of creation that can only be encompassed by a vast, universal consciousness.  This is what is intended by the “Knowledge” referenced here.  Sri Aurobindo calls this the supramental level which maintains its hold on the Oneness, while concurrently developing the forms and processes to manifest the multiplicity.

This level occupies a tier above that of matter, life and mind, but it is not yet the final level of consciousness, which encompasses both the manifest and the unmanifest, so we see the disciple once again approach the teacher and ask for knowledge of the Eternal.  And once again, he is directed to undertake concentration of conscious thought or force, tapasya.

Sri Aurobindo, The Upanishads,  Taittiriya Upanishad, Bhriguvalli, pp.275-281, M. P. Pandit, Upanishads: Gateways of Knowledge, pp. 169-182