The Position and Role of the Mind of Light in the Evolution of Consciousness

The complexity and detailed organisation of the material world, the atomic structure, the forces of the electro-magnetic spectrum, gravity, and the mathematical precision of the world, the laws of Nature, the interrelationships of beings to create a unified world of existence, all speaks to a vast, powerful and dominant intelligence at work in the universe, even at levels where we do not see anything but what appears to be an inconscient, dense material existence. Sri Aurobindo puts this into the context of an involution of consciousness into Matter and its subsequent gradual evolution and self-revelation as the universe expresses Life in Matter, Mind in Life, and, eventually, Supermind in Mind. The Mind of Light occupies an intermediate phase between Mind and Supermind, having still the basic functioning of the mental consciousness to a great degree, but now seeing, responding to and acting upon the light and knowledge that the higher planes of consciousness provide. The importance of the mind of light cannot be ignored, as we face today the apparently impossible issues created by our exclusive reliance on our imperfect mentality in a world of desire and dense materiality. If humanity is going to solve these problems, we must achieve a new standpoint that sees the unity of existence, understands the complex inter-relationships, and acts from that standpoint to create harmony and balance in the world. The transition to the Mind of Light represents that first hope for our survival, as well as the continued growth of our conscious existence and expression of our spiritual purpose.

Sri Aurobindo writes: “Even in the material world which seems to us a world of ignorance, a world of the workings of a blind and inconscient Force starting from inconscience and proceeding through Ignorance and reaching with difficulty towards an imperfect Light and Knowledge, there is still a secret Truth in things which arranges all, guides towards the Self many contrary powers of being and rises towards its own heights where it can manifest its own highest truth and fulfill the secret purpose of the universe. Even this material world of existence is built upon a pattern of the truth in things which we call Law of Nature, a truth from which we climb to a greater truth until we emerge in the Light of the Supreme. This world is not really created by a blind force of Nature: even in the Inconscient the presence of the supreme Truth is at work; there is a seeing Power behind it which acts infallibly and the steps of the Ignorance itself are guided even when they seem to stumble; for, what we call the Ignorance is a cloaked Knowledge, a Knowledge at work in a body not its own but moving towards its own supreme self-discovery. This Knowledge is the covert Supermind which is the support of the creation and is leading all towards itself and guides behind this multitude of minds and creatures and objects which seem each to be following its own law of nature; in this vast and apparently confused mass of existence there is a law, a one truth of being, a guiding and fulfilling purpose of the world-existence. The Supermind is veiled here and does not work according to its characteristic law of being and self-knowledge, but without it nothing could reach its aim. A world governed by an ignorant mind would soon drift into a chaos; it could not in fact come into existence or remain in existence unless supported by the secret Omniscience of which it is the cover; a world governed by a blind inconscient force might repeat constantly the same mechanical workings but it would mean nothing and arrive nowhere. This could not be the cause of an evolution that creates life out of Matter, out of life mind, and a gradation of planes of Matter, Life and Mind culminating in the emergence of Supermind. The secret truth that emerges in Supermind has been there all the time, but now it manifests itself and the truth in things and the meaning of our existence.”

“It is in this series of the order of existence and as the last word of the lower hemisphere of being, the first word of the higher hemisphere that we have to look at the Mind of Light and see what is its nature and the powers which characterise it and which it uses for its self-manifestation and workings, its connection with Supermind and its consequences and possibilities for the life of a new humanity.”

Sri Aurobindo, The Mind of Light, Supermind and Mind of Light, pp. 96-97

Transitional Gradations of Consciousness Between Supermind and Mind

We recognize gradations in consciousness in plant and animal life up through the human being, including gradations of mental power. At the same time, even within a general stage or gradation, we recognise that certain individuals may exhibit different ways of knowing or powers of action, albeit on the same general evolutionary level. At the upper rungs of any particular gradation, we see a fading of the boundary lines as more of the power of the next stage begins to make itself obvious, and we see isolated examples of entirely new developments starting to show themselves as the transition takes place. Each full transition involves a change in the basis of knowing and acting. Life brings an enhanced mechanism of sensation and response/reaction beyond what we see in Matter. Mind brings a new mechanism of knowing not seen in the pure Life stage.

It should be, therefore, no great leap of understanding, to see that at the highest rungs of the mental evolution there would be various gradations that would go from the higher mind functions all the way up to a supramental form of consciousness, and that each of these gradations would take on, successively, various elements of and powers of the succeeding gradation. We may also expect that the next stage of the evolution of consciousness would start from and utilize an entirely different basis than the current mental level. Sri Aurobindo terms this the shift from a consciousness rooted in Ignorance to one based in Knowledge.

Since the evolution takes place based on powers of consciousness that have been involved through various step-down transitions from Supermind to Matter, it is also clear that the variances we can identify occur in both directions as stages of the involution successively distance the self-conscious awareness from the completeness and entirety of the truth, light and full power of existence.

Sri Aurobindo notes: “Still, again there will be a difference between the superhuman and the human, a difference in nature and power but a difference especially in the access and way of admission to the Truth-Consciousness and its activities: there may indeed be two orders of its truth, direct and half-direct, immediate and near or even only a reception at a distance. But this we must consider afterwards; at present it is sufficient to mark certain differences in the descending order of gnostic mind which culminates here. We may say that there is a higher hemisphere of our being in which Mind luminous and aware of its workings still lives in the Light and can be seen as a subordinate power of the Supermind; it is still an agent of the Truth-Consciousness, a gnostic power that has not descended into the mental ignorance; it is capable of a mental gnosis that preserves its connection with the superior light and acts by its power. This is the character of Overmind in its own plane and of all the powers that are dependent on the Overmind: the Supermind works there but at one remove, as if in something that it has put forth from itself but which is no longer entirely itself but is still a delegate of the Truth and invested with its authority. We are moving towards a transitional border beyond which lies the possibility of the Ignorance, but the Ignorance is not yet here. In the order of the evolutionary descent we stand in the Mind of Light on that border and a step downward can carry us beyond it into the beginnings of an ignorance which still bears on its face something of the luminosity that it is leaving behind it. On the other hand, in the ascending order of the evolution we reach a transition in which we see the light, are turned towards it, reflected in our consciousness and one further step carries us into the domain of the Light. The Truth becomes visible and audible to us and we are in immediate communication with its messages and illuminations and can grow into it and be made one with its substance. Thus there is a succession of ranges of consciousness which we can speak of as Mind but which belongs practically to the higher hemisphere although in their ontological station they are within the domain of the lower hemisphere. For the whole of being is a connected totality and there is in it no abrupt passage from the principle of Truth and Light into their opposite. The creative truth of things works and can work infallibly even in the Inconscient: the Spirit is there in Matter and it has made a series of steps by which it can travel from it to its own heights in an uninterrupted line of gradations: the depths are linked to the heights and the Law of the one Truth creates and works everywhere.”

Sri Aurobindo, The Mind of Light, Supermind and Mind of Light, pp. 95-96

Shifting from an Ignorance-Based to a Knowledge-Based Mentality

Sri Aurobindo describes a transitional process from our current state of mentality, based in ignorance, groping around in darkness to find truth and light, to a new status based in knowledge, sourced from the supramental realm that sees the oneness and the multiplicity for what they are and their relations to one another. There can be two separate lines of development. The first is the expansion and development of the mind to a wider, fuller, more powerful and light-filled instrument of the supermind; the second is the development of beings who have the “native” action of the supermind in all its fullness of power and knowledge. Both of these are likely to be part of the transitional phase and will provide the links between our present status and that future reality of existence.

Sri Aurobindo writes: “A new humanity means for us the appearance, the development of a type or race of mental beings whose principle of mentality would be no longer a mind in the Ignorance seeking for knowledge but even in its knowledge bound to the Ignorance, a seeker after Light but not its natural possessor, open to the Light but not an inhabitant of the Light, not yet a perfected instrument, truth-conscious and delivered out of the Ignorance. Instead, it would be possessed already of what could be called a mind of Light, a mind capable of living in the truth, capable of being truth-conscious and manifesting in its life a direct in place of an indirect knowledge. Its mentality would be an instrument of the Light and no longer of the Ignorance. At its highest it would be capable of passing into the supermind and from the new race would be recruited the race of supramental beings who would appear as the leaders of the evolution in earth-nature. Even, the highest manifestations of a mind of Light would be an instrumentality of the supermind, a part of it or a projection from it, a stepping beyond humanity into the superhumanity of the supramental principle. Above all, its possession would enable the human being to rise beyond the normalities of his present thinking, feeling and being into those highest powers of the mind in its self-exceedings which intervene between our mentality and supermind and can be regarded as steps leading towards the greater and more luminous principle. This advance like others in the evolution might not be reached and would naturally not be reached at one bound, but from the very beginning it would be inevitable: the pressure of the supermind creating from above out of itself the mind of Light would compel this certainty of the eventual outcome. The first gleamings of the new Light would carry in themselves the seed of its highest flamings; even in the first beginnings the certainty of their topmost powers would be there; for this is the constant story of each evolutionary emergence: the principle of its highest perfection lies concealed in the involution which precedes and necessitates the evolution of the secret principle.”

Sri Aurobindo, The Mind of Light, Mind of Light, pp. 89-90

The Supramental Manifestation Makes a Divine Life Possible

With all of its impressive powers, the mind has been unable to even remotely approach the creation of a divine life on earth. We make progress in our technology and create labor-saving devices, enhanced material comforts and advancements in medicine, but none of these things bring us any closer to a solution. On the contrary, the standpoint of the separate individual and the fragmented view of reality that come with the mental view have created unintended consequences that are poisoning the planet, disrupting the natural balance, radically changing the climate, and causing untold misery as we fight over resources and ideologies that arise from different viewpoints about the meaning of life and how to organize it. We may call this “the best of times and the worst of times” to paraphrase Charles Dickens. We have comfort, we have enjoyment of entertainment, we have the access to new medical options that extend life and help comfort us through our illnesses and injuries. We have the ability to communicate and travel throughout the world. We can offset cold weather or warm with heating and air conditioning. We have a bounty of food and drinks never before imaginable. And yet, we are in the midst of one of the largest, if not the absolute largest, species “die off” in earth’s history, we are on the brink of planetary destruction, or at least the destruction of a livable planet, and we are quickly heading to a situation where enormous masses of our ever-growing population are suffering from hunger, ravaged by disease, unable to get basic food, water and shelter, and are set upon by warfare and disruption so that mass migrations are spawned, which in themselves breed resistance from those living in lands that are the recipients of the refugees.

To speak of a divine life in such an environment seems incredulous, but Sri Aurobindo has provided the key to the mystery. We are not going to achieve unity, peace, harmony and balance through the divided, separated, fragmented consciousness of the Mind-Life-Body, and the ego-standpoint that accompanies their action. What is needed is the manifestation of a new consciousness that starts from the view and standpoint of unity, what we may call the “divine standpoint” and which then understands and sees the relevance, position and balance in our interactive existence on earth. All life is one, and once we begin to see and act from this standpoint, we can begin to create a divine existence where all are respected and treated as part of the larger, indivisible whole that is the earthly life.

Sri Aurobindo writes: “The manifestation of a supramental truth-consciousness is therefore the capital reality that will make the divine life possible. It is when all the movements of thought, impulse and action are governed and directed by a self-existent and luminously automatic truth-consciousness and our whole nature comes to be constituted by it and made of its stuff tht the life divine will be complete and absolute. Even as it is, in reality though not in the appearance of things, it is a secret self-existent knowledge and truth that is working to manifest itself in the creation here. The Divine is already there immanent within us, ourselves are that in our inmost reality and it is this reality that we have to manifest; it is that which constitutes the urge towards the divine living and makes necessary the creation of the life divine even in this material existence.”

Sri Aurobindo, The Mind of Light, Supermind and the Life Divine, pg. 65

The Role of Sports in a Spiritual Institution

Usually when we consider a spiritual institution, we think of a monastery, or an Ashram or some other place of retreat that engages either in meditation, concentration, focused study, or some form of prayer or songs of praise to the Divine. Usually the places are austere, quiet and concentrated, except for any outlet in song or voiced prayer at prescribed times. The spiritual seekers who reside there do tend to have daily chores as part of the community, and these are to be done with quiet devotion, but the aim is more otherworldly than focused on accomplishing, building or developing the physical capabilities or an active and dynamic community life.

Given the transformational aim of Sri Aurobindo’s yoga, it is not surprise that the Sri Aurobindo Ashram, a community of spiritual seekers in South India, does not specifically follow the framework of the traditional spiritual centre. The Ashram features many activities and units, as well as a school for children and an extensive physical education program for both individual and group activities including sports for all members. The Ashram has men and women, and children of all ages and thus, has to fully address the issues of life, albeit with a spiritual focus and centre around which to organize the activities.

Sri Aurobindo notes: “A divine life in the world or an institution having that for its aim and purpose cannot be or cannot remain something outside or entirely shut away from the life of ordinary men in the world or unconcerned with the mundane existence; it has to do the work of the Divine in the world and not a work outside or separate from it. The life of the ancient Rishis in their Ashramas had such a connection; they were creators, educators, guides of men and the life of the Indian people in ancient times was largely developed and directed by their shaping influence. The life and activities involved in the new endeavour are not identical but they too must be an action upon the world and a new creation in it. It must have contacts and connections with it and activities which take their place in the general life and whose initial or primary objects may not seem to differ from those of the same activities in the outside world.”

The Sri Aurobindo Ashram also established a school for the children of the members, teaching a robust curriculum, including a serious and organized sports effort. “It has been questioned by some what place sports can have in an Ashram created for spiritual seekers and what connection there can be between spirituality and sports. The first answer lies in what I have already written about the connections of an institution of this kind with the activities of the general life of men and what I have indicated [previously] as to the utility such a training can have for the life of a nation and its benefit for the international life. Another answer can occur to us if we look beyond first objects and turn to the aspiration for a total perfection including the perfection of the body.”

Sri Aurobindo, The Mind of Light, The Perfection of the Body, pp.. 32-33

The Role of Sports and Physical Culture in Education and Personal and National Development, Part 2

The value of sports and games for individual development of both their physical capabilities and their vital, emotional and mental skills is the first aspect that we focus on; yet, the principles of cooperation and good will in the process are valuable in bringing about cohesion, mutuality and harmony in the society as well.

Sri Aurobindo notes: “These qualities have their value for life in general and not only for sport, but the help that sport can give to their development is direct and invaluable. If they could be made more common not only in the life of the individual but in the national life and in the international where at the present day the opposite tendencies have become too rampant, existence in this troubled world of ours would be smoother and might open to a greater chance of concord and amity of which it stands very much in need.”

Leadership skills, and the ability to have people work together, are another important aspect of team sports. “Innumerable are the activities in life, especially in national life, in which leadership and obedience to leadership in combined action are necessary for success, victory in combat or fulfillment of a purpose. The role of the leader, the captain, the power and skill of his leadership, his ability to command the confidence and ready obedience of his followers is of the utmost importance in all kinds of combined action or enterprise; but few can develop these things without having learned themselves to obey and to act as one mind or as one body with others. This strictness of training, this habit of discipline and obedience is not inconsistent with individual freedom; it is often the necessary condition for its right use, just as order is not inconsistent with liberty but rather the condition for the right use of liberty and even for its preservation and survival. … In spiritual things also the same rule holds; a sadhak who disregarded the guidance of the Guru and preferred the untrained inspirations of the novice could hardly escape the stumbles or even the disasters which so often lie thick around the path to spiritual realisation.”

“…even the highest and completest education of the mind is not enough without the education of the body.”

Sri Aurobindo concludes that the value of the qualities developed through sports are essential for the national life: “The nation which possesses them in the highest degree is likely to be the strongest for victory, success and greatness, but also for the contribution it can make towards the bringing about of unity and a more harmonious world order towards which we look as our hope for humanity’s future.”

The Sri Aurobindo Ashram itself acts as an example of the balance needed to develop an integral approach to human existence, with physical education and sports an essential part of the programme for all age groups from young children through adulthood.

Sri Aurobindo, The Mind of Light, Message, pp.. 25-28

The Life Divine by Sri Aurobindo, authorized U.S. edition

Life Divine – U.S. Edition
by Sri Aurobindo – Ghose, Sri Aurobindo

The Life Divine explores for the Modern mind the great streams of Indian metaphysical thought, reconciling the truths behind each and from this synthesis extends in terms of consciousness the concept of evolution. The unfolding of Earth’s and man’s spiritual destiny is illuminated, pointing the way to a Divine Life on Earth.

Image may contain: 1 person, text that says 'THE Life Divine The Life Divine explores for the modern mind the great streams of Indian metaphysica thought, reconciling the truths behind each and from this synthesis extends in terms of consciousness the concept of evolution. The unfolding of Earth's and man's spiritual destiny is illuminated pointing the way to Divine life on Earth. Sri Aurobindo The Life Divine LOTUS PRESS SriAurobindo ITEM 990277 990282 ISBN: 978-0-9415-2461-2978-0-9415-246-9'

Ordering of Posts from Yesterday and Today

i was working on both posts and inadvertently posted today’s post yesterday and yesterday’s post today.  So you will see the final post for the Aitareya Upanishad showing up sequentially after the first post for the Prashna Upanishad in the sequential listings.  Sorry for any possible confusion that was involved.