This ignorance of others is confirmed in daily life in the numerous acts of betrayal, violence, suicides and unpredictable behaviour which could not have been assessed beforehand. Any psychiatrist would narrate how a seemingly nice guy could become unexpectedly diabolical. This is because we can only form ‘by inferences, theories, observations and a certain imperfect capacity of sympathy a rough mental construction’ (Ibid) of our fellow-creatures, but that would not qualify as knowledge. ‘Knowledge can come only by conscious identity, for that is the only true knowledge, -- existence aware of itself. We know what we are so far as we are consciously aware of ourself, the rest is hidden; so also we can come really to know that which we become one in our consciousness, but only so far as we can become one with it’. (Ibid, pg.227-228).
The main obstacle is that our means of knowing others are inadequate and imperfect. We approach others through our sensory perception, ideas and emotions like love. But they all can touch only the surface and can give no inkling of what is there in the subconscious (the Freudian Unconscious), the Inconscience or in the subliminal that stands behind the surface personality. Moreover our perception of others can also be biased by our own preferential ideas, upheavals of passions and influences from our own subconscious or subliminal. Finally there is the ego which zealously guards the uniqueness of the individual and thus forms a formidable barrier to the phenomenon of ‘conscious identity’ with others.
Sri Aurobindo explains that we would ordinarily be incapable of entering into ‘conscious oneness’ with others unless we can enter the universal matrix where everything exists. This would be a great step but not the consummation. We would have then to rise up to the creative consciousness of the Supermind in the Superconscience where the harmony of the individual and the universal is preprogrammed as a creative essence. That harmony is lost in the manifestation at the cost of a differentiated individuality cut off from the rest of the existence:
‘But this conscious oneness can only be established by entering into that in which we are one with them, the universal; and the fullness of the universal exists consciently only in that which is superconscient to us, in the Supermind: for here in our normal being the greater part of it is subconscient and therefore in this normal poise of mind, life and body it cannot be possessed. The lower conscious nature is bound down to ego in all its activities, chained triply to the stake of differentiated individuality. The Supermind alone commands unity in diversity’ (Ibid, pg.228).
Date of Update:
- By Dr. Soumitra Basu