Conclusions

Sri Aurobindo notes:  “Truth of philosophy is of a merely theoretical value unless it can be lived, and we have therefore tried in The Synthesis of Yoga to arrive at a synthetical view of the principles and methods of the various lines of spiritual self-discipline and the way in which they can lead to an integral divine life in the human existence.”

When most people take up a book about Yoga, they expect to have a specific line of practice outlined for them to follow.  Sri Aurobindo has, however, taken a radically different approach.  He appreciates that each form or practice of Yoga has its basis in some aspect of the being, and speaks to some part of the Nature.  Thus, while an individual may find a particular path to be useful for progress, it may turn out that at some point, another aspect of the nature needs to be taken up:  this may require a different approach.  Therefore, Sri Aurobindo prefers to set down the principles and major lines of action while providing an overview of the major paths of Yoga, their primary modes of action and the results that can be expected along each of those lines.

Sri Aurobindo also sets forth a different objective than the specific lines of Yoga would propose.   The goal of the Integral Yoga is not simply the liberation of the individual from the round of birth and death, nor the liberation from suffering, nor even the attainment of Oneness with the Absolute in an inactive, silent, formless existence.  He recognizes that all existence is the manifestation of the Divine, and therefore, there is nowhere to escape from and nowhere to escape to!  It is incumbent upon the seeker of the integral Yoga, therefore, to attain liberation from the bondage of the limitations of mind, life and body in order to effectuate the intention of the Divine in the world through the transformation of Nature with the evolutionary development of the supramental consciousness.

Sri Aurobindo recognizes that all life is a secret Yoga of Nature, evolving higher forms of conscious awareness from the inconscience of material existence, through the vital manifestation, the development of the mental awareness, and eventually the manifestation of the supermind in life.  This Yoga of Nature takes long aeons.  It is one of the objectives of the integral Yoga to bring about these transformations much more quickly through the conscious and focused participation of the individuals who awaken to this potentiality.

The effort required is all-embracing and must eventually grapple with all parts of the being, all habitual patterns developed over long millenia in the earth-nature, and all resistance caused by mental formations that have been accepted without question as they have taken shape over time.  This leads to the exposition of his own unique contribution to the science of Yoga in the “yoga of self-perfection”.

The Synthesis of Yoga is Sri Aurobindo’s major exposition of the practice of yoga.  With its wide perspective and all-embracing vision, it can aid the practice of any seeker of spiritual realisation.

“Intellectual, volitional, ethical, emotional, aesthetic and physical training and improvement are all so much to the good, but they are only in the end a constant movement in a circle without any last delivering and illumining aim, unless they arrive at a point when they can open themselves to the power and presence of the Spirit and admit its direct workings. This direct working effects a conversion of the whole being which is the indispensable condition of our real perfection. To grow into the truth and power of the Spirit and by the direct action of that power to be made a fit channel of its self-expression, — a living of man in the Divine and a divine living of the Spirit in humanity, — will therefore be the principle and the whole object of an integral Yoga of self-perfection.”  (pg. 592)

Sri Aurobindo, The Synthesis of Yoga

 

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The Ultimate Knowledge of the Three Times Comes With the Supramental Realisation

The development of the intuitive mind, with all its light and power, and its ability to see past, present and future to a far greater degree than the normal human mentality, is still only a transitional phase in the ultimate evolutionary objective towards development of the supramental consciousness in all its fullness.  It remains subject to strict limitations that can only be lifted by the shift in standpoint that accompanies the supramental transformation.

Sri Aurobindo discusses the transitional phase and steps involved, as the supramental action takes on a larger role in the human mentality:  “There is then a double action of the intuitive mind aware of, open to and referring its knowledge constantly to the light above it for support and confirmation and of that light itself creating a highest mind of knowledge, — really the supramental action itself in a more and more transformed stuff of mind and a less and less insistent subjection to mental conditions.  There is thus formed a lesser supramental action, a mind of knowledge tending always to change into the true supermind of knowledge.  The mind of ignorance is more and more definitely excluded, its place taken by the mind of self-forgetful knowledge, illumined by the intuition, and the intuition itself more perfectly organised becomes capable of answering to a larger and larger call upon it.  The increasing mind of knowledge acts as an intermediary power and, as it forms itself, it works upon the other, transforms or replaces it and compels the farther change which effects the transition from mind to supermind.  It is here that a change begins to take place in the time-consciousness and time-knowledge which finds its base and complete reality and significance only on the supramental levels.  It is therefore in relation to the truth of supermind that its workings can be more effectively elucidated: for the mind of knowledge is only a projection and a last step in the ascent towards the supramental nature.”

 

Sri Aurobindo, The Synthesis of Yoga, Part Four: The Yoga of Self-Perfection, Chapter 25, Towards the Supramental Time Vision , pp. 871-872

Limitations of the Time-Knowledge of the Intuitive Mind

The time knowledge acquired by the intuitive mind is not the complete supramental knowledge of the “three times” *trikaladrishti”, but rather a limited functioning that still relies on focus either backwards, forwards or horizontally in a sequential manner.  There is no immediate and complete “knowledge by identity” but rather, this takes the form of a knowledge that is latent and restored to the seeker through attention when this capacity has been developed.

Sri Aurobindo therefore describes the limitations and concerns related to the use of this faculty: “It will always lean chiefly on the succession of present moments as a foundation for its steps and successions of knowledge, however far it may range backward or forward,– it will move in the stream of Time even in its higher revelatory action and not see the movement from above or in the stabilities of eternal time with their large ranges of vision, and therefore it will always be bound to a secondary and limited action and to a certain dilution, qualification and relativity in its activities.  Moreover, its knowing will be not a possession in itself but a reception of knowledge.  It will at most create in the place of the mind of ignorance a mind of self-forgetful knowledge constantly reminded and illumined from a latent self-awareness and all-awareness.  The range, the extent, the normal lines of action of the knowledge will vary according to the development, but it can never be free from very strong limitations.  And this limitation will give a tendency to the still environing or subconsciously subsisting mind of ignorance to reassert itself, to rush in or up, acting where the intuitive knowledge refuses or is unable to act and bringing in with it again its confusion and mixture and error.”

Avoidance of the development and exercise of this power can protect from the dilution and error that may occur, but for a yoga of self-perfection, the absolute limitation of these developments represents a restriction of the growth.  The seeker must therefore be cognizant of these issues and recognize the potentially mixed and relative action that will occur in this obviously transitional stage of conscious evolution between the human mental functioning and the supramental action.

Sri Aurobindo, The Synthesis of Yoga, Part Four: The Yoga of Self-Perfection, Chapter 25, Towards the Supramental Time Vision , pp. 870-871

Developing a Remarkable Power of Time-Knowledge

Modern physics talks about innumerable possible lines of development into the future, which narrow down to an actual choice made to determine the direction and next steps.  The development of the understanding of concepts such as quantum mechanics and string theory, the idea of multiple universes each representing a different “choice” from the latent possibilities as they are turned into actualities, all are various ways of seeing and understanding the nature of Time and Causality in our existence.

Sri Aurobindo anticipated and described this process in the Synthesis of Yoga’s final chapter, long before science and modern philosophy took up this thread and began to seriously consider the meaning of our existence from the starting point of the laws of space, time and causality.  His view however, was not intended to be one of dry philosophy or scientific examination, but was based on the development of capacities and powers within the human individual through a process of a change of standpoint of consciousness from the human mentality to the higher plane of causal knowledge, which he called the supramental, from which an wholistic view of existence becomes accessible.

“It is possible, however, to develop a mind of luminous inspiration which will be more at home among the greater potentialities of the time movement, see more easily distant things and at the same time take up into itself, into its more brilliant, wide and powerful light, the intuitive knowledge of actualities.  This inspired mind will see things in the light of the world’s larger potentialities and note the stream of actuality as a selection and result from the mass of forceful possibles.  It will be liable, however, if it is not attended with a sufficient revelatory knowledge of imperatives, to a hesitation or suspension of determining view as between various potential lines of the movement or even to a movement away from the line of eventual actuality and following another not yet applicable sequence.  The aid of imperative revelations from above will help to diminish this limitation, but here again there will be the difficulty of an inferior power dealing with the materials given to it from the treasury of a higher light and force.  But it is possible to develop too a mind of luminous revelation which taking into itself the two inferior movements sees what is determined behind the play of potentialities and actualities and observes these latter as its means of deploying its imperative decisions.  An intuitive mind thus constituted and aided by an active psychic consciousness may be in command of a very remarkable power of time knowledge.”

 

Sri Aurobindo, The Synthesis of Yoga, Part Four: The Yoga of Self-Perfection, Chapter 25, Towards the Supramental Time Vision , pp. 869-870

The Limitations of the Intuitive Mind in Understanding the Past, Present and Future

The action of the intuitive mind as it views past, present and future is necessarily limited and circumscribed by a number of factors.  This action of consciousness is still bound within the framework of the existing actualities that come within its range, and there is therefore a serious limitation in projecting the vision backward or forward in time, due to the constant development and insertion of powers, forces, and actions that carry out the greater will of the universal manifestation, exceeding or modifying radically the situation.  This is where the play of potentialities or imperatives come into operation to effect changes in the actualities of the moment.  The further one tries to extrapolate or see along a particular line of actual development with the intuitive mind, the more likely it is that error must creep in and deflect the vision of the true situation.

Sri Aurobindo describes the issue:  “…it can see only what will arrive in the undisturbed process of the actualities and its vision no longer applies if some unforeseen rush of forces or intervening power comes down from regions of a larger potentiality altering the complex of conditions, and this is a thing that constantly happens in the action of forces in the time movement.  It may help itself by the reception of inspirations that illumine to it these potentialities and of imperative revelations that indicate what is decisive in them and its sequences and by these two powers correct the limitations of the intuitive mind of actuality.  But the capacity of this first intuitive action to deal with these greater sources of vision is never quite perfect, as must always be the case with an inferior power in its treatment of the materials given to it from a greater consciousness.  A considerable limitation of vision by its stress on the stream of immediate actualities must be always its character.”

Sri Aurobindo, The Synthesis of Yoga, Part Four: The Yoga of Self-Perfection, Chapter 25, Towards the Supramental Time Vision , pg. 869

The Intuitive Mind and the Vision of the Actualities of the Movement of Time

Sri Aurobindo identifies three aspects or levels of the action of the intuitive mind in relation to the unfolding of things and events through Time.  These are, first, the actual line of development and the unfolding result thereof; second, possibilities that can evolve or influence the action or result; and third, what he calls “imperatives” which operate to create the needed result through the concatenation of forces, people, actions and the pressures of the manifestation in the field of circumstance.

The normal mentality can observe and make projections of likely future events, but these are based on the building up of observations, past experience, and the application of logic or speculation to this basis.  It is however, unable to actually “see” and is therefore subject to error when “unforeseen” circumstances intervene.

Sri Aurobindo describes the vision-process of the intuitive mind observing the actualities of the unfolding reality of the manifestation:  “There is first a primary intuitive action developed which sees principally the stream of successive actualities in time, even as the ordinary mind, but with an immediate directness of truth and spontaneous accuracy of which the ordinary mind is not capable.  It sees them first by a perception, a thought action, a thought sense, a thought vision, which at once detects the forces at work on persons and things, the thoughts, intentions, impulsions, energies, influences in and around them, those already formulated in them and those in process of formation, those too that are coming or about to come into or upon them from the environment or from secret sources invisible to the normal mind, distinguishes by a rapid intuitive analysis free from seeking or labour or by a synthetic total view the complex of these forces, discerns the effective from the ineffective or partly effective and sees too the result that is to emerge.  This is the integral process of the intuitive vision of actualities, but there are others that are less complete in their character.  For there may be developed a power of seeing the result without any previous or simultaneous perception of the forces at work or the latter may be seen only afterwards and the result alone leap at once and first into the knowledge.  On the other hand, there may be a partial or complete perception of the complex of forces, but an incertitude of the definitive result or only a slowly arrive or relative certitude.  These are stages in the development of the capacity for a total and unified vision of actualities.”

Sri Aurobindo, The Synthesis of Yoga, Part Four: The Yoga of Self-Perfection, Chapter 25, Towards the Supramental Time Vision , pp. 868-869

The Nature of Mind and the Transitions to the Intuitive Mind

The human mentality is based on a fragmented and isolated view that must acquire and assemble information, facts, impressions, etc. and then use the assembled picture to speculate or infer about what preceded the current situation in the past, and what will follow in the future.  The intuitive mentality is connected to the universal consciousness, and can receive images and information that tie together the individual elements into a more complete picture, which can encompass the three times.  The method of working of the human mentality is based on an arduous process of collection, sorting, and interpretation, and is thus very intensive in its operations, keeping the mind actively at work to try to understand the truth of any situation it views.  The method of working of the intuitive mentality, on the other hand, is best accomplished through a receptive silence in the mind.  The transition, therefore, must necessarily involve steps to desist from the normal mental process and prepare for a new way of receiving knowledge.

Sri Aurobindo extrapolates:  “A transformation is possible because the intuitive mind has to do the same work and cover the same field, but with a different handling of the materials and another light upon their significance.  An exclusion is possible because all is really contained in the truth consciousness above and a silencing of the mind of ignorance and a pregnant receptivity is not beyond our compass in which the intuitions descending from the truth-consciousness can be received with a subtle or strong exactitude and all the materials of the knowledge seen in their right place and true proportion.  As a matter of practice it will be found that both methods are used alternatively or together to effect the transition from the one kind of mentality to the other.”

Sri Aurobindo, The Synthesis of Yoga, Part Four: The Yoga of Self-Perfection, Chapter 25, Towards the Supramental Time Vision , pp. 867-868