The Transitional Stage of Shifting from the Outer Surface Consciousness to the Inner Consciousness

At a certain stage of spiritual development, seekers tend to go through a phase where the world, its actions, objects, goals and results seem to be an illusion. The philosophical path of Mayavada resulted from just such an insight and experience. The seeker sees that everything is transitory and ephemeral in nature, that the objects of our desires and the fruits of our actions all crumble into dust and are not permanent. Everything changes and dies. There is nothing one can hold onto in the world that is not subject to death and dissolution. Buddhism has also clearly enunciated a similar position in the exposition of the four noble truths, which, when contemplated, are intended to liberate the individual from attachment to the world.

Mayavada did not arise from some abstract reasoning process, but from an experience of the transitory nature of existence. Sri Aurobindo has added his insight to show that this is part of a process of moving the consciousness inwards from the surface being, and at a certain stage the feeling and experience makes the outer world seem unreal. This temporary stage allows the development of non-attachment to the objects of the world, and thereby provides an opening for the inner connection to be developed. At a later stage, this new standpoint can provide the guidance to the outer nature and manage the transformation process.

Sri Aurobindo writes: “The condition in which all movements become superficial and empty with no connection with the soul is a stage in the withdrawal from the surface consciousness to the inner consciousness. When one goes into the inner consciousness, it is felt as a calm, pure existence without any movement, but eternally tranquil, unmoved and separate from the outer nature. This comes as a result of detaching oneself from the movements, standing back from them and is a very important movement of the sadhana. The first result of it is an entire quietude but afterwards that quietude begins (without the quietude ceasing) to fill with the psychic and other inner movements which create a true inner and spiritual life behind the outer life and nature. it is then easier to govern and change the latter.”

Sri Aurobindo, Integral Yoga: Sri Aurobindo’s Teaching and Method of Practice, Chapter 7, Experiences and Realisations, The Witness Consciousness, pp. 179-181

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.