Opening to the Action of the 1000-Petal Lotus Above the Physical Mind

Sri Aurobindo identifies yet another methodology for supporting the effort of transition from a mental to a supramental standpoint for the consciousness and the action of the nature. The ancient Indian system describing the “chakras” or energy centers in the subtle body that act as nexus points for receiving and expressing the various forms of energy, physical, vital, emotional or mental, set forth 7 primary chakras or “lotuses” with the lowest one expressing the base physical energy and the highest, situated at the top of the head, representing the purest and most powerful forms of mental energy for the human being.

“The highest organised centre of our embodied being and of its action in the body is the supreme mental centre figured by the yogic symbol of the thousand-petalled lotus, sahasradala, and it is at its top and summit that there is the direct communication with the supramental levels.”

Because of this link, it becomes potentially feasible to access the supramental levels. “It is then possible to adopt a different and a more direct method, not to refer all our thought and action to the Lord secret in the heart-lotus but to the veiled truth of the Divinity above the mind and to receive all by a sort of descent from above, a descent of which we become not only spiritually but physically conscious. The Siddhi or full accomplishment of this movement can only come when we are able to lift the centre of thought and conscious action above the physical brain and feel it going on in the subtle body. If we can feel ourselves thinking no longer with the brain but from above and outside the head in the subtle body, that is a sure physical sign of a release from the limitations of the physical mind, and though this will not be complete at once nor of itself bring the supramental action, for the subtle body is mental and not supramental, still it is a subtle and pure mentality and makes an easier communication with the supramental centres.”

“It will be easier to discern rapidly the higher planes of the true supramental being and call down their power to effect the desired transformation and to refer all the lower action to the superior power and light that it may reject and eliminate, purify and transform and select among them its right material for the Truth that has to be organised within us. This opening up of a higher level and of higher and higher planes of it and the consequent re-formation of our whole consciousness and its action into their mould and into the substance of their power and luminous capacity is found in practice to be the greater part of the natural method used by the divine Shakti.”

Sri Aurobindo, The Synthesis of Yoga, Part Four: The Yoga of Self-Perfection, Chapter 20, The Intuitive Mind, pp. 774-775

Advantages and Limitations of the Way of Bhakti for the Supramental Transformation of Consciousness

Each major path of Yoga relies on a different capacity within the human being and thus, is based on some truth of the nature and can achieve very powerful results when followed consistently. The way of the devotee relies on referring all that happens, all reactions and all actions to the Divine within, in the deepest spiritual center in the heart, and acting from the inspiration that eventuates. The Bhakta does not work to achieve a silence of the mind as we see in the Yoga of knowledge, nor unity with the unmoving Absolute with its advantages and disadvantages for the transformative effort envisioned by the integral Yoga. Yet this method has a much closer relation to the active nature and thus, can lead to types of progress that are missing from the path of the spiritual renunciate focused on the silencing of the mental process.

Sri Aurobindo observes: “It is natural to them to reject the intellect and its action and to listen for the voice, wait for the impulsion or the command, the adesa, obey only the idea and will and power of the Lord within them, the divine Self and Purusha in the heart of the creature…. This is a movement which must tend more and more to intuitivise the whole nature, for the ideas, the will, the impulsions, the feelings which come from the secret Purusha in the heart are of the direct intuitive character…. The secret Self within us is an intuitive self and this intuitive self is seated in every centre of our being, the physical, the nervous, the emotional, the volitional, the conceptual or cognitive and the higher more directly spiritual centres. And in each part of our being it exercises a secret intuitive initiation of our activities which is received and represented imperfectly by our outer mind and converted into the movements of the ignorance in the external action of these parts of our nature. The heart o emotional centre of the thinking desire-mind is the strongest in the ordinary man, gathers up or at least affects the presentation of things to the consciousness and is the capital of the system. It is from there that the Lord seated in the heart of all creatures turns them mounted on the machine of Nature by the Maya of the mental ignorance. It is possible then by referring back all the initiation of our action to this secret intuitive Self and Spirit, the ever-present Godhead within us, and replacing by its influences the initiations of our personal and mental nature to get back from the inferior external thought and action to another, internal and intuitive, of a highly spiritualised chacacter.”

The downside comes from a potential for narrowness and limitation in terms of the capacity for higher action beyond the mind, as this approach deepens, but does not necessarily lift up the higher powers of the mind to exceed themselves. “Nevertheless the result of this movement cannot be complete, because the heart is not the highest centre of our being, is not supramental nor directly moved from the supramental sources. An intuitive thought and action directed from it may be very luminous and intense but is likely to be limited, even narrow in its intensity, mixed with a lower emotional action and at the best excited and troubled, rendered unbalanced or exaggerated by a miraculous or abnormal character in its action or at least in many of its accomplishments which is injurious to the harmonised perfection of the being. The aim of our effort at perfection must be to make the spiritual and supramental action no longer a miracle, even if a frequent or constant miracle, or only a luminous intervention of a greater than our natural power, but normal to the being and the very nature and law of all its process.”

Sri Aurobindo, The Synthesis of Yoga, Part Four: The Yoga of Self-Perfection, Chapter 20, The Intuitive Mind, pp. 773-774

The Advantages and Limitations of Silencing the Mind As a Method for the Supramental Manifestation

Recognizing the obstacle to the development of the intuition (and eventually the supramental ranges of consciousness) created by the mental consciousness, the seeker may undertake a discipline to quiet the mind and create a basis of stillness, with the idea that once the obstacle is removed, the supramental consciousness can move into the vacuum that has been left. There is no doubt that such a discipline has a great power and benefit compared to the normal outward-facing mental consciousness with is always jumping and reacting to all manner of sense impressions or vital or mental suggestions and thus, is unable to focus on and consciously assimilate a higher knowledge. the Yoga of knowledge uses this method primarily and the realisations thus attained can put the seeker in touch with the Absolute, the Unmanifest and the Infinite consciousness in a poise of stillness. And yet, this method does not bring about the transformational change to the active consciousness. The seeker has some deep inner experience while entranced or withdrawn, but upon returning to the awareness of the world and its forms, forces and beings, the normal processes of body, life and mind tend to take over and handle the reactions.

Sri Aurobindo notes: “It is the calm and still mind much more readily and with a much greater purity than the mind in agitation and action that opens to the Infinite, reflects the Spirit, becomes full of the Self and awaits like a consecrated and purified temple the unveiling of the Lord of all our being and nature. It is true also that the freedom of this silence gives a possibility of a larger play of the intuitive being and admits with less obstruction and turmoil of mental groping and seizing the great intuitions, inspirations, revelations which emerge from within or descend from above. it is therefore an immense gain if we can acquire the capacity of always being able at will to command an absolute tranquility and silence of the mind free from any necessity of mental thought or movement and disturbance and, based in that silence, allow thought and will and feeling to happen in us only when the Shakti wills it and when it is needful for the divine purpose. It becomes easier then to change the manner and character of the thought and will and feeling.”

The advantages are obvious. At the same time, there remain limitations: “Nevertheless it is not the fact that by this method the supramental light will immediately replace the lower mind and reflective reason. When the inner action proceeds after the silence, even if it be then a more predominatingly intuitive thought and movement, the old powers will yet interfere, if not from within, then by a hundred suggestions from without, and an inferior mentality will mix in, will question or obstruct or will try to lay hold on the greater movement and to lower or darken or distort or minimise it in the process.”

This implies that the one line of action, on its own, is insufficient. “Therefore the necessity of a process of elimination or transformation of the inferior mentality remains always imperative,–or perhaps both at once, an elimination of all that is native to the lower being, its disfiguring accidents, its depreciations of value, its distortions of substance and all else that the greater truth cannot harbour, and a transformation of the essential things our mind derives from the supermind and spirit but represents in the manner of the mental ignorance.”

Sri Aurobindo, The Synthesis of Yoga, Part Four: The Yoga of Self-Perfection, Chapter 20, The Intuitive Mind, pp. 772-773

Intuition and the Mental Process

The transition to a supramental consciousness from the mental level involves both a transitional phase and some transitional stages. The first step is for the mind to become receptive to input from a higher level of awareness, preparatory to shifting the entire action upward. The intuition is able to seize on thoughts, ideas or inspirations that lie outside the normal framework of the reasoning intellect, and is thus recognized as a power for achieving this first step of bringing the higher awareness to bear, at least to some degree, within the normal human framework of consciousness.

Sri Aurobindo observes: “The reason understands itself, but not what is beyond it,–of that it can only make a general figure or representation; the supermind alone can discern the method of its own workings. The power of intuition acts in us at present for the most part in a covert manner secret and involved in or mostly veiled by the action of the reason and the normal intelligence; so far as it emerges into a clear separate action, it is still occasional, partial, fragmentary and of an intermittent character. It casts a sudden light, it makes a luminous suggestion or it throws out a solitary brilliant clue or scatters a small number of isolated or related intuitions, lustrous discriminations, inspirations or revelations, and it leaves the reason, will, mental sense or intelligence to do what each can or pleases with this seed of succour that has come to them from the depths or the heights of our being.”

Because the intuition represents the action of a higher power rather than being a native power of the mental framework of the reasoning intelligence, it is hampered in the power and scope of its action by the impediments imposed by the habitual mental process. “The mental powers immediately proceed to lay hold on these things and to manipulate and utilise them for our mental or vital purposes, to adapt them to the forms of the inferior knowledge, to coat them up in or infiltrate them with the mental stuff and suggestion, often altering their truth in the process and always limiting their potential force of enlightenment by these accretions and by this subdual to the exigencies of the inferior agent, and almost always they make at once too little and too much of them, too little by not allowing them time to settle and extend their full power for illumination, too much by insisting on them or rather on the form into which the mentality casts them to the exclusion of the larger truth that the more consistent use of the intuitive faculty might have given. Thus the intuition intervening in the ordinary mental operations acts in lightning flashes that make lustrous a space of truth, but is not a steady sunlight illumining securely the whole reach and kingdom of our thought and will and feeling and action.”

Sri Aurobindo, The Synthesis of Yoga, Part Four: The Yoga of Self-Perfection, Chapter 20, The Intuitive Mind, pp. 771-772

Issues for the Development of Supermind in the Human Being

The transition from Mind to Supermind is an evolutionary leap that represents a change in quality and power of consciousness that has occurred in the past, in different degrees, from Matter to the evolution of Life, and in Life to the evolution of Mind. Each of these changes brought about radical and unprecedented transformations in the nature and action of the universal creation as it brought forth the next phase of unfolding of the involved consciousness. As with each prior stage, the transformation does not occur overnight, easily or without serious issues arising and consequences to be worked out.

Sri Aurobindo notes: “He has not merely to uncover the hidden sun of the supermind in the subliminal cavern of his secret being or remove the cloud of his mental ignorance from its face in the spiritual skies so that it shall at once shine out in all its glory. His task is much more complex and difficult because he is an evolutionary being and by the evolution of Nature of which he is a part he has been constituted with an inferior kind of knowledge, and this inferior, this mental power of knowledge forms by its persistent customary action an obstacle to a new formation greater than its own nature. A limited mental intelligence enlightening a limited mind of sense and the capacity not always well used of a considerable extension of it by the use of the reason are the powers by which he is at present distinguished from all other terrestrial creatures.”

Through long experience, the human being relies on these existing powers of the mind, and has confidence, whether misplaced or not, in his ability to sort through the sense impressions, organize them and apply logic and reason to determine appropriate responses to the situations of life. It is therefore a difficult leap of faith for someone to try to shift to a different basis for knowledge and action that is essentially foreign to the normal mode of mentality to which he is accustomed.

“If the animal mind were called upon to leave consciently the safe ground of sense impulse, sense understanding and instinct for the perilous adventure of a reasoning intelligence, it might well turn back alarmed and unwilling from the effort. The human mind would here be called upon to make a still greater change and, although self-conscious and adventurous in the circle of its possibility, might well hold this to be beyond the circle and reject the adventure. In fact the change is only possible if there is first a spiritual development on our present level of consciousness and it can only be undertaken securely when the mind hsa become aware of the greater self within, enamoured of the Infinite and confident of the presence and guidance of the Divine and his Shakti.”

Sri Aurobindo, The Synthesis of Yoga, Part Four: The Yoga of Self-Perfection, Chapter 20, The Intuitive Mind, pp. 769-771

The Nature of the Manifestation of Supermind in the Human Being

Eventually the question arises as to how the supermind actually acts when it manifests in the human individual. This requires first at least a general concept of the action of the supermind in its native status, and what changes it undergoes in its action to fit itself into the more limited forms of mind-life-body. The universal manifestation begins with a self-existent awareness, Sat-Chit-Ananda, Existence-Consciousness-Bliss in its Absolute status. When the movement towards unrolling the universal creation through Time and Space takes place, this self-existent awareness undertakes to create apparent separate forms which, while still part of one indivisible whole, take different standpoints and act from knowledge limited to those standpoints, whether as inconscient Matter, arising Life or various stages of awareness of Mind. After involving the knowledge and power of this self-existent consciousness into the depths of apparent inconscience, the evolution begins to manifest the play of forms with ever-increasing powers of awareness and self-awareness. At a certain stage, the evolution brings forth the supramental manifestation.

Sri Aurobindo observes: “The original nature of supermind is the self-conscience and all-conscience of the Infinite, of the universal Spirit and Self in things, organising on the foundation and according to the character of a direct self-knowledge its own wisdom and effective omnipotence for the unfolding and the regulated action of the universe and of all things in the universe. … As it knows itself, so too it knows all things–for all are only becomings of itself–directly, totally and from within outward, spontaneously in detail and arrangement, each thing in the truth of itself and its nature and in its relation to all other things.”

“The organising supermind of a divine being in the universe would be a delegation of this omnipotence and omniscience for the purpose and within the scope of his own action and nature and of all that comes into its province.”

“The supermind in an individual would be a similar delegation on whatever scale and within whatever province. But while in the god this would be a direct and an immediate delegation of a power illimitable in itself and limited only in action, but otherwise unaltered in operation, natural to the being and full and free always, in man any emergence of the supermind must be a gradual and at first an imperfect creation and to his customary mind the activity of an exceptional and supernormal will and knowledge.”

Sri Aurobindo, The Synthesis of Yoga, Part Four: The Yoga of Self-Perfection, Chapter 20, The Intuitive Mind, pg. 769