The Static and Dynamic Aspects of the Higher Spiritual Self

When the seeker initially passes the limits imposed by the body-life-mind complex and the ego personality, the experience can be one that is totally disorienting, raising fear and a shrinking back within the limits of the outer being. This is the experience of the boundary where the ego must lose its definition as the consciousness ascends into a wideness and power far beyond that of the individual personality. It may, however, be that the first touch of the wide peace, and silence of the infinite consciousness descends into the being and the mind, emotions and life energies are flooded with this new experience and there is simply no thought of the ego or its desires or wishes. Either way, the consciousness, in order to experience the Self, must transcend the ego, and this experience, as Sri Aurobindo explains, can be static or dynamic. The static form is basically a change in standpoint of awareness. The dynamic form becomes an action of the cosmic manifesting power into the world through the instrumentality of the individual nexus that is the mind-life-body the seeker inhabits and utilizes.

Many traditional paths of yoga define the goal as the achievement of this higher Self and the dissolution of the link between the outer being and the transcendent existence. This is by definition, the static realisation of the Self. In such cases, the outer world is treated as an illusion or a distraction or a lesser reality and should be dispensed with to the extent possible, with one-pointed focus on the unification of the consciousness with the Self.

Sri Aurobindo observes: “For the highest spiritual Self is not even behind our personality and bodily existence but is above it and altogether exceeds it. The highest of the inner centres is in the head, just as the deepest is the heart; but the centre which opens directly to the Self is above the head, altogether outside the physical body, in what is called the subtle body, suksma sarira. This Self has two aspects and the results of realising it correspond to these two aspects. One is static, a condition of wide peace, freedom, silence: the silent Self is unaffected by any action or experience; it impartially supports them but does not seem to originate them at all, rather to stand back detached or unconcerned, udasina. The other aspect is dynamic and that is experienced as a cosmic Self or Spirit which not only supports but originates and contains the whole cosmic action — not only that part of it which concerns our physical selves but also all that is beyond it — this world and all other worlds, the supraphysical as well as the physical ranges of the universe. Moreover, we feel the Self as one in all; but also we feel it as above all, transcendent, surpassing all individual birth or cosmic existence. To get into the universal Self — one in all — is to be liberated from ego; ego either becomes a small instrumental circumstance in the consciousness or even disappears from our consciousness altogether. That is the extinction or Nirvana of the ego. To get into the transcendent self above all makes us capable of transcending altogether even cosmic consciousness and action — it can be the way to that complete liberation from the world-existence which is called also extinction, laya, moksha, nirvana.

Sri Aurobindo, Integral Yoga: Sri Aurobindo’s Teaching and Method of Practice, Chapter 8, The Triple Transformation: Psychic, Spiritual and Supramental, The Spiritual Transformation, pp. 209-229

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