Dealing with the Physical Mind in the Integral Yoga

Practitioners of spiritual and religious disciplines inevitably are confronted with the habits and expectations of the physical mind in day to day life. There is a constant pressure to provide regular meals that suit the taste of the individual, comfortable surroundings to support the day to day life and provide a safe and secure shelter. There is the inevitable pressure for regularity in the regimen and the physical demands for acquisition of the food, clothing, shelter, sexual satisfaction, etc. that come with life in the world. This does not speak to the added demands of the vital nature that can lead to greed, lust, excessive hunger, etc. but to the basic needs and habits of the physical nature.

Practitioners have tried, through the centuries, many strategies to address these needs. Some try to suppress them forcefully and even use self-torture, or extreme fasting or privation in the desert as ways to school the physical nature to not put attention on these things and to thereby allow the focus on the spiritual or religious quest. These methods, however, frequently tend to accentuate the focus and difficulty and rather than solving the problem, they tend to actually embed them deeply in the day to day undertakings of the seeker. Suppression has been compared to coiling a spring, putting it under extreme pressure such that when it finds an outlet, it explodes with an increased force of action.

Others try to solve these issues by simplifying the life, in some cases by adopting the begging bowl and relying on what is received from one day to the next as the sustenance for the body. Again, much time and effort tends to be devoted to this activity.

Sri Aurobindo acknowledges that suppression tends not to work, and he thus counsels that the impulses and habitual thoughts be observed, but not focused on or accentuated; rather, to keep the focus and aspiration fixed on the spiritual dedication and bring a state of quiet and peaceful acceptance that does not get bothered by the actions of the physical nature.

Eventually, with the advent of the higher supramental force into the physical mind and physical body, the power to modify or remove these habitual patterns will come; but in the interim, it is best to focus on the path forward and minimize the attention given to the habits of the physical mind and nature.

Sri Aurobindo writes: “What you have now seen and describe in your letter is the ordinary activity of the physical mind which is full of ordinary habitual and constantly recurrent thoughts and is always busy with external objects and activities. What used to trouble you before was the vital mind which is different, — for that is always occupied with emotions, passions, desires, reactions of all kinds to the contacts of life and the behaviour of others. The physical mind also can be responsive with these things but in a different way — its nature is less that of desire than of habitual activity, small common interests, pains and pleasures. If one tries to control or suppress it, it becomes more active.”

“To deal with this mind two things are necessary, (1) not so much to try to control or fight with or suppress it as to stand back from it: one looks at it and sees what it is but refuses to follow its thoughts or run about among the objects it pursues, remaining at the back of the mind quiet and separate; (2) to practice quietude and concentration in this separateness, until the habit of quiet takes hold of the physical mind and replaces the habit of these small activities. This of course takes time and can only come by practice.”

“It is the nature of the physical mind not to believe or accept anything that is supraphysical unless it is enlightened and compelled by the light to do it. Do not identify yourself with this mind, do not consider it as yourself but only as an obscure functioning of Nature. Call down the light into it until it is compelled to believe.”

Sri Aurobindo, Integral Yoga: Sri Aurobindo’s Teaching and Method of Practice, Chapter 9, Transformation of the Nature, Transformation of the Mind, pp. 240-245

The Role, Nature and Action of the Physical Mind

If we reflect on the amount of time and focus we give to organizing and living our external physical lives, dealing with food, shelter, clothing, comforts of various sorts, entertainment, travel, family and friends, it becomes clear that a considerable part, indeed the greatest part, of our time and attention is spent on addressing the outer life. The mentality operative to undertake this focus is what Sri Aurobindo terms the ‘physical mind’ as he distinguishes it from the vital mind which focuses on fulfillment of desires, ambitions, and various vital and emotional energies, and from the mental intelligence proper which concerns itself with issues not directly related to the immediate external life, including theoretical pursuits, speculations, philosophy, religious contemplation, art and spiritual pursuits, science and higher forms of conceptualisation about the nature, purpose and functioning of the universal creation.

The physical mind does not employ these higher functions of the mentality and tends to react in a relatively straightforward and altogether transactional manner without reflection, introspection or self-examination. This may cause altercations, disputes and outbreak of fighting when someone or something gets between the individual operating from the physical mind, and its objects.

Sri Aurobindo notes: “The physical mind is that which is fixed on physical objects and happenings, sees and understands these only, and deals with them according to their own nature, but can with difficulty respond to the higher forces. Left to itself, it is sceptical of the existence of supraphysical things, of which it has no direct experience and to which it can find no clue; even when it has spiritual experiences, it forgets them easily, loses the impression and result and finds it difficult to believe. To enlighten the physical mind by the consciousness of the higher spiritual and supramental planes is one object of this yoga, just as to enlighten it by the power of the higher vital and higher mental elements of the being is the greatest part of human self-development, civilisation and culture.”

“It [the physical mind] is the instrument of understanding and ordered action on physical things. Only instead of being obscure and ignorant and fumbling as now or else guided only by an external knowledge it has to become conscious of the Divine and to act in accordance with an inner light, will and knowledge putting itself into contact and an understanding unity with the physical world.”

“Of course most men live in their physical mind and vital, except a few saints and a rather larger number of intellectuals. That is why, as it is now discovered, humanity has made little progress in the last three thousand years, except in information and material equipment. A little less cruelty and brutality perhaps, more plasticity of the intellect in the elite, a quicker habit of change in forms, that is all.”

Sri Aurobindo, Integral Yoga: Sri Aurobindo’s Teaching and Method of Practice, Chapter 9, Transformation of the Nature, Transformation of the Mind, pp. 240-245

The Need for Silence of the Thinking Mind for the Spiritual Transformation

For most people, the mind is always active with an internal commentary or dialogue running as people react to situations or try to solve various issues. As the mind is trained to undertake intellectual processes, it follows a process of logic and organisation that is used to understand and act upon things in the world. The process we call “thinking” is a step-by-step and detailed internal system that tries to work its way through what many call a “decision tree”. This process naturally focuses on a specific object, goal or problem to be solved, narrows the focus, fragments the attention to this one thing that needs to be resolved, and then creates a series of steps to move from where the mind is now to where it needs to be to find and implement a solution.

When confronted with the idea of silencing the mind, we naturally are fearful that we will either lose our ability to think and solve problems or issues; or that we will simply become dull and unable to function. At the same time, it is necessary to appreciate that the higher realms of awareness, which Sri Aurobindo calls ‘higher mind’, ‘illumined mind’, ‘overmind’ (and eventually ‘supermind’) function under an entirely different set of principles, through the presentation of a comprehensive or universal view that sees connections and inter-connections and does not narrow itself down in a single ‘train of thought’. For these to become functional it is necessary for the normal mental process to subside and stay in a status of silence, albeit, an alert, receptive silence, not a dull, distracted, dark or intoxicated state of blankness of the mind.

Sri Aurobindo writes: “The thinking mind has to learn how to be entirely silent. It is only then that true knowledge can come.”

“The turmoil of mental (intellectual) activity has also to be silenced like the vital activity of desire in order that the calm and peace may be complete. Knowledge has to come but from above. In this calm the ordinary mental activities like the ordinary vital activities become surface movements with which the silent inner self is not connected. It is the liberation necessary in order that the true knowledge and the true life-activity may replace or transform the activities of the Ignorance.”

“To think and question about an experience when it is happening is the wrong thing to do; it stops it or diminishes it. Let the experience have its full play — if it is something like this ‘new life force’ or peace or Force or anything else helpful. When it is over, you can think about it — not while it is proceeding. For these experiences are spiritual and not mental and the mind has to be quiet and not interfere.”

Sri Aurobindo, Integral Yoga: Sri Aurobindo’s Teaching and Method of Practice, Chapter 9, Transformation of the Nature, Transformation of the Mind, pp. 240-245

The Transformation of the Mind

It is typical of the mental intelligence to believe that reading and remembering something implies that we have realised the truth of what we have read. Those who have taken the time to reflect on this make it clear that ‘reading a book about swimming’ does not mean one knows how to swim! Similarly, we read all kinds of positive statements, affirmations and ideas about how to live life effectively and to the fullest and control the vital impulses that interfere with that goal, yet time and again, we either forget or find we do not know how to actually effectuate the principles and methods we have been learning. While these things are focused on the interaction of the mind with life in the physical world, it may be noted that they equally apply to spiritual seeking. Reading books about spirituality, listening to lectures about spiritual teachings, do not, in and of themselves, represent a true transformation of the mind or the life. They may help to tune the mental concentration and create an atmosphere of receptivity, but beyond that it must be recognised that realisation is not simply holding of mental conceptions, but an actual change in the way the consciousness functions in the individual.

Sri Aurobindo has elsewhere mentioned that the spiritual consciousness represents what he terms a “reversal of consciousness” from the mental process. The mind with its linear thinking, its fixed framework and rules for processing data, and its failure to look at the whole interaction as one complete system, but rather focusing on individual elements in a fragmented manner, is exactly the opposite of the way the spiritual consciousness functions. The spiritual consciousness by its nature sees the interconnections and links and the entirety of the relationships that take place in bringing about the universal manifestation. There is a sense of unity and oneness that pervades the spiritual knowledge. Knowledge in the spiritual realm comes through powers we call intuition, inspiration, the descent of Light, the receipt of a vision, etc. Thus, the spiritual consciousness, in order to act fully and effectively in the life of the seeker, needs to have a quiet and receptive intellect in place ready to subordinate its own normal process for the needs of the spiritual consciousness in its native action.

Sri Aurobindo notes: “There is no reason why one should not receive through the thinking mind, as one receives through the vital, the emotional and the body. The thinking mind is as capable of receiving as these are, and, since it has to be transformed as well as the rest, it must be trained to receive, otherwise no transformation of it could take place.”

“It is the ordinary unenlightened activity of the intellect that is an obstacle to spiritual experience, just as the ordinary unregenerated activity of the vital or the obscure stupidly obstructive consciousness of the body is an obstacle. What the sadhak has to be specially warned against in the wrong processes of the intellect is, first, any mistaking of mental ideas and impressions or intellectual conclusions for realisation; secondly, the restless activity of the mere mind which disturbs the spontaneous accuracy of psychic and spiritual experience and gives no room for the descent of the true illuminating knowledge or else deforms it as soon as it touches or even before it fully touches the human mental plane. There are also of course the usual vices of the intellect, — its leaning towards sterile doubt instead of luminous reception and calm enlightened discrimination; its arrogance claiming to judge things that are beyond it, unknown to it, too deep for it by standards drawn from its own limited experience; its attempts to explain the supraphysical by the physical or its demand for the proof of higher and occult things by the criteria proper to Matter and mind in Matter; others also too many to enumerate here. Always it is substituting its own representations and constructions and opinions for the true knowledge. But if the intellect is surrendered, open, quiet, receptive, there is no reason why it should not be a means of reception of the Light or an aid to the experience of spiritual states and to the fullness of an inner change.”

Sri Aurobindo, Integral Yoga: Sri Aurobindo’s Teaching and Method of Practice, Chapter 9, Transformation of the Nature, Transformation of the Mind, pp. 240-245

Impact of the Supramental Manifestation on Earthly Existence, Part 1

Through the use of logical reasoning the human mind can extrapolate along a straight line of development once a pattern is seen and understood. We can also combine things through the use of the faculty of imagination to spin a web of speculation about the future, building on what we already experience and the trend line that we can observe, and constructing on that foundation. The limitation of the mental framework, however, does not provide us any real insight into any processes that fall dramatically outside the factual basis we can see and know. Just a few short centuries ago, it was virtually impossible for anyone to determine that humanity would travel to the moon, or be able to do genetic recombination and gene-splicing, or that all of humanity would be tied together in a communication network for voice, image and instant communication. How then can we expect to appreciate what is possible with the advent of an entirely new power of consciousness that operates on a totally different basis of knowledge by identity compared to our constructed step by step, block by block, process of mental knowledge?

Sri Aurobindo provides an example by describing the difference between a “typal” world and an “evolutionary” world. A “typal” world is static and expresses a specific type that characterizes the action and methods of that world; to the extent that a new principle becomes active it will override the methods and actions of the prior principles. On the other hand, an “evolutionary” world is dynamic and will continue to show a range of actions, and interactions, as each evolutionary principle finds its relation and role in the complex environment of dynamic evolution. The typal world will obviously be easier to describe as it carries out the character of the principle of which it is the expression. The evolutionary world has to account for a complex interaction of potentially vastly different ways of living, seeing, knowing and acting, and the rich play of forces can lead to less clarity and more unexpected results and additional time involved in developing and stablising the unique balance that must eventually result as the forces involved find their equilibrium. We exist in an evolutionary world where the principle of Matter, the principle of Life and the principle of Mind all are active and modify the pure action of one another to the extent of the variance in their modus of operations. Adding the Supermind principle into this dynamic mix provides another element to be harmonised and worked out while maintaining the basic mechanisms of action of each of the other principles.

Sri Aurobindo writes: “… speculation on the results of the manifestation of a new supramental principle in the earth-consciousness organising itself there as mind, life and matter have already organised themselves — for that is what it comes to — is a little perilous and premature, because we must do it with the mind and the mind has not the capacity to forecast the action of what is above itself — just as a merely animal or vital perception of things could not have forecast what would be the workings of Mind and a mentalised race of beings here. The supermind is a different order of consciousness far removed from the mental — there are in fact several grades of higher consciousness between the human mind and the supramental. If the earth were not an evolutionary but a typal world, then indeed one could predict that the descent of a higher type of consciousness would swallow up or abolish the existing type. Ignorance would end and the creation in the ignorance disappear either by transmutation or by annihilation and replacement. The human mental kingdom would be transformed into the supramental; [the] vital and subhuman, if it existed in the typal world, would also be changed and become supramental. But, earth being an evolutionary world, the supramental descent is not likely to have such a devastating completeness. It would be only the establishment of a new principle of consciousness and a new order of conscious beings and this new principle would evolve its own forms and powers in the terrestrial order. Even the whole human kingdom need not and would not be transformed at once to the whole supramental extent. But at the same time the beginning of a supramental creation on earth is bound to have a powerful effect on the rest of terrestrial existence. Its first effect on mankind would be to open a way between the order of the Truth-light and the orders of the Ignorance here on earth itself, a sort of realised gradation by which it would be possible for mental man to evolve more easily and surely from the Ignorance towards the Light and, as he went, organise his existence according to these steps. For at present the grades of consciousness between mind and supermind act only as influences (the highest of them very indirect influences) on human mind and consciousness and cannot do more. This would change. An organised higher human consciousness could appear or several degrees of it, with the supermind-organised consciousness as the leader at the top influencing the others and drawing them towards itself. It is likely that as the supramental principle evolved itself the evolution would more and more take on another aspect — the Daivic nature would predominate, the Asuro-Rakshaso-Pishachic prakriti which now holds so large a place would more and more recede and lose its power. A principle of greater unity, harmony and light would emerge everywhere. It is not that the creation in the Ignorance would be altogether abolished, but it would begin to lose much of its elements of pain and falsehood and would be more a progression from lesser to higher Truth, from a lesser to a higher harmony, from a lesser to a higher Light, than the reign of chaos and struggle, of darkness and error that we now perceive.”

Sri Aurobindo, Integral Yoga: Sri Aurobindo’s Teaching and Method of Practice, The Supramental Evolution, pp. 69-75

The Process of the Supramental Manifestation and Its Integration into Life on Earth

The consciousness of Matter could not anticipate or dream of the manifestation of the Life-principle, and the vital living plant and animal consciousness could not anticipate the advent and impact of the mental consciousness. Similarly, the mental consciousness cannot truly understand nor anticipate the appearance of a being organised under a principle of consciousness so far beyond the mental, as the mental is beyond that of the plant and animal stage of consciousness. We see here on earth, however, that as a new principle manifests, the former principles are not either destroyed or utterly removed, but simply respond to the changing conditions imposed by the new principle, while continuing, more or less, subject to the new influence, their former mode of existence.

Clearly the mental principle has had a dramatic impact on both the material and life principles on earth, and clearly changes have been wrought which involve a certain amount of development, a certain amount of change and a certain amount of destruction upon the former expressions to bring about the accommodations necessary for the new principle to act in any real measure of the new powers it brings to the earth consciousness.

Sri Aurobindo observes: “Your statement about the supramental evolution is correct except that it does not follow that humanity as a whole will become supramental. What is more likely to happen is that the supramental principle will be established in the evolution by the descent just as the mental principle was established by the appearance of thinking Mind and Man in earthly life. There will be a race of supramental beings on the earth just as now there is a race of mental beings. Man himself will find a greater possibility of rising to the planes intermediary between his mind and supermind and making their powers effective in his life, which will mean a great change in humanity on earth, but it is not likely that the mental stage will disappear from the ascending ladder and, if so, the continued existence of a mental race will be necessary so as to form a stage between the vital and the supramental in the evolutionary movement of the Spirit.”

“Such a descent of higher beings as you suggest may be envisaged as a part of the process of the change. But the main part of the change will be the appearance of the supramental being and the organisation of a supramental nature here, as a mental being has appeared and a mental nature organised itself during the last stage of the evolution. I prefer nowadays not to speak of the descent of the higher beings because my experience is that it leads to a vain and often egoistic romanticism which distracts the attention from the real work, that of the realisation of the Divine and the transformation of the nature.”

Sri Aurobindo, Integral Yoga: Sri Aurobindo’s Teaching and Method of Practice, The Supramental Evolution, pp. 69-75

The Advent of the Supramental Consciousness and Its Impact on Mind, Life and Body

Every new evolutionary development of consciousness has brought with it changes in the material forms and activity of those forms to accommodate the new powers that are manifesting. It is therefore expected that as the supramental manifestation takes place, it will also bring about changes in the forms and functions to express the needs and the powers of that new consciousness. These changes do not generally take place overnight. Evolutionary development on the earth spans millions of years and, while we may expect a more speedy process as the power of expression increases (and which can be seen in the relative speed of the evolution of mind in life, or the development of the reasoning intellect in the evolution of higher mind powers, the process of Nature does not tend to occur through what might be called miraculous intervention, as Sri Aurobindo points out.

It is not possible to foresee all of the changes to be ushered in with the advent of the supramental consciousness, as the mind has its limitations and is rooted in what it can see looking backwards. It is also not advisable to try to channel the action in ways that the mind may be able to envisage, as this acts as a limiting factor in the actual manifestation. We can , in general, recognise that the type of powers that the supramental consciousness brings to bear must eventually have a transformative impact on both the anatomy and physiology of those beings intended to manifest it in the future, as well as having an influence on the interaction with the natural environment and the conditioning of earthly life to provide a more harmonious basis for life to both survive and thrive.

Sri Aurobindo notes: “The descent of the supermind is a long process, or at least a process with a long preparation, and one can only say that the work is going on sometimes with a strong pressure for completion, sometimes retarded by the things that rise from below and have to be dealt with before further progress can be made. The process is a spiritual evolutionary process, concentrated into a brief period; it could be done otherwise (by what men would regard as a miraculous intervention) only if the human mind were more flexible and less attached to its ignorance than it is. As we envisage it, it must manifest in a few first and then spread, but it is not likely to overpower the earth in a moment. It is not advisable to discuss too much what it will do and how it will do it, because these are things the supermind itself will fix, acting out of the Divine Truth in it, and the mind must not try to fix for it grooves in which it will run. Naturally, the release from subconscient ignorance and from disease, duration of life at will, and a change in the functionings of the body must be among the ultimate elements of a supramental change; but the details of these things must be left for the supramental Energy to work out according to the Truth of its own nature.”

“The descent of the supramental is an inevitable necessity in the logic of things and is therefore sure. It is because people do not understand what the supermind is or realise the significance of the emergence of consciousness in a world of inconscient Matter that they are unable to realise this inevitability. I suppose a matter-of-fact observer, if there had been one at the time of the unrelieved reign of inanimate Matter in the earth’s beginning, would have criticised any promise of the emergence of life in a world of dead earth and rock and mineral as an absurdity and a chimera; so too, afterwards he would have repeated this mistake and regarded the emergence of thought and reason in an animal world as an absurdity and a chimera. it is the same with the appearance of supermind in the stumbling mentality of this world of human consciousness and its reasoning ignorance.”

Sri Aurobindo, Integral Yoga: Sri Aurobindo’s Teaching and Method of Practice, The Supramental Evolution, pp. 69-75

Is There Any Certitude About the Supramental Manifestation Actually Taking Place?

The mind of the modern day wants to analyze facts and draw conclusions based on those facts. For centuries, the movement has been away from reliance on belief and faith to a reliance on facts and rational analysis. One need only look at the history of the rise of Western science and the disputes that occurred with the church over the centuries to understand the spirit of the recent age. We see however today a movement away from reliance on science and logic with the rise of belief-driven religious values that in many cases deny the facts in order to confirm the followers in their belief-system.

Neither of these approaches, however, helps us in directly addressing the question of the future of the supramental manifestation. From the side of science, we can interpret the systematic growth of consciousness through Matter, Life and Mind as a sequence that continues to develop and roll out through time, and thereby extrapolate the existence of, need for, and inevitability of the supramental evolutionary cycle. From the side of faith, we can evaluate the ways that Nature has of placing challenges in front of humanity which seem impossible to solve, and yet, eventually get resolved through some major development or leap forward which cannot yet be rationally and logically seen or determined.

Much of the debate about the future revolves around whether someone is inclined to see and understand the progressions of evolution, and how one interprets them, along with the way one interprets the method of Nature through this process.

We are confronted today by an evolutionary crisis and the sixth mass extinction event that scientists have been able to document through examination of the geological record. Nature is under pressure through pollution, climate change, destruction of the “food chain”, overuse and depletion of resources, destruction of habitat, increase of range of disease vectors, unequal distribution of resources and the conflicts and migration events that arise therefrom. We have mountains of waste from our way of living building up everywhere, and we are even filling up the oceans with plastic waste that gets into fish and other species that inhabit the waters, the air and the land. We have weapons of mass destruction that can destroy humanity many times over, and we have the unintended consequences of our approach to living on the earth. Clearly we either are headed towards a mass destruction or to a crisis inflection point that forces us to confront and solve this existential crisis. All our political, religious and economic solutions have reached a point of gridlock. This leaves us with, realistically, the only choice left, a development of a new power of consciousness that can resolve and harmonize these conflicting issues.

Sri Aurobindo observes: “I have already spoken about the bad conditions of the world; the usual idea of the occultists about it is that the worse they are, the more is probable the coming of an intervention or a new revelation from above. The ordinary mind cannot know — it has either to believe or disbelieve or wait and see.”

“As to whether the Divine seriously means something to happen, I believe it is intended. I know with absolute certitude that the supramental is a truth and that its advent is in the very nature of things inevitable. The question is as to the when and the how. That also is decided and predestined from somewhere above; but it is here being fought out amid a rather grim clash of conflicting forces. For in the terrestrial world the predetermined result is hidden and what we see is a whirl of possibilities and forces attempting to achieve something with the destiny of it all concealed from human eyes. This is, however, certain that a number of souls have been sent to see that it shall be now. That is the situation. My faith and will are for the now. I am speaking of course on the level of the human intelligence — mystically – rationally, as one might put it. To say more would be going beyond that line. You don’t want me to start prophesying, I suppose? As a rationalist, you can’t.”

Sri Aurobindo, Integral Yoga: Sri Aurobindo’s Teaching and Method of Practice, The Supramental Evolution, pp. 69-75

A Supramental Race as the Next Evolutionary Phase

If we understand the development of life and life-forms on earth as an expression of the evolution of consciousness, we can easily see the relationship between a new power of consciousness and the need to have forms that can hold, and express, that power effectively. Scientists frequently comment on the changes in primates that accompanied the development of man, the mental being. This included development of an opposable thumb, standing and walking upright on two legs, and increased brain size and complexity. The principle at work provides us guidance for the manifestation of a new power of consciousness, as far beyond the mental level as mind itself is beyond the purely animal expression of awareness and energy.

Each phase of development has built upon the prior stages, such that life evolved out of material forms and continues to utilize the physical form as a basis for its action. Similarly, mind evolved out of living forms and continues to exercise its action through life and body. We can expect therefore, following this progression, that the supermind will evolve out of the mental beings, and continue to utilize and operate through mind, life and body.

We consider this to represent a new phase in earth-evolution and a new race of beings, as the powers of the supramental consciousness both far exceed those of the mind and operate on somewhat different bases of action. New powers of perception and new powers of integration of the diverse and fragmented view presented by the mind are to be expected. In addition, new powers of action, potentially with a new and different modus, must also be a result of this manifestation.

We see in the development of human technology that there is an ever-increasing focus on harnessing powers of mind through a direct interaction, and humanity is beginning to experience changes in biology, physiology and trained capacities of utilization of mind and senses that point us in a new direction.

It may be expected that as the supramental power manifests further it will effectuate changes in that portion of humanity that becomes receptive to it and, over time, we will see a new more intuitive, more globally-aware, more responsive race of beings emerge that will be able to bring healing, harmony and oneness into life on the planet.

Sri Aurobindo writes: “The earth is a material field of evolution. Mind and life, supermind, Sachchidananda are in principle involved there in the earth-consciousness; but only Matter is at first organised; then life descends from the life plane and gives shape and organisation and activity to the life principle in Matter, creates the plant and animal; then mind descends from the mind plane, creating man. Now supermind is to descend so as to create a supramental race.”

Sri Aurobindo, Integral Yoga: Sri Aurobindo’s Teaching and Method of Practice, Supermind and the Earth, pp. 67-68

The Yoga of the Supermind To Transform Earthly Life

The integral yoga is not an attempt to abandon this life and achieve some realisation beyond. There is no promise of a heaven of bliss, nor an escape from the difficulties posed by matter, life and mind and their interaction in the world. Even the achievement of any result in the integral yoga is difficult as there is no “cutting of the knot” by abandoning the difficulties of the nature to achieve a transcendent experience of an abstract Absolute; rather, there is the difficult effort required to understand and address the limitations, difficulties and obstacles posed by the body, by the life-energy and its needs and desires, and the mind, with its own limitations, fixed mode of action, and inability to grasp concepts that go outside its normal frame of action. The ego-personality continues to treat the individual as someone separate and essentially grappling with the other beings and fighting or conquering the environment in order to succeed in its own life. All of this runs counter to the truth of existence, which is one of unity and interdependence.

Sri Aurobindo notes: “The supramental is not grand, aloof, cold and austere; it is not something opposed to or inconsistent with a full vital and physical manifestation; on the contrary, it carries in it the only possibility of the full fullness of the vital force and the physical life on earth. it is because it is so, because it was so revealed to me and for no other reason that I have followed after it and persevered till I came into contact with it and was able to draw down some power of it and its influence. I am concerned with the earth, not with worlds beyond for their own sake; it is a terrestrial realisation that I seek and not a flight to distant summits. All other yogas regard this life as an illusion or a passing phase; the supramental yoga alone regards it as a thing created by the Divine for a progressive manifestation and takes the fulfilment of the life and the body for its object. The supramental is simply the Truth-Consciousness and what it brings in its descent is the full truth of life, the full truth of consciousness in Matter.”

Sri Aurobindo, Integral Yoga: Sri Aurobindo’s Teaching and Method of Practice, Supermind and the Earth, pp. 67-68