INSTITUTE FOR INTEGRAL YOGA PSYCHOLOGY

(a project of Mirravision Trust, Financed by Auroshakti Foundation)

 
Chapters
Chapter I
Chapter II - Part 1
Chapter II - Part 2
Chapter II - Part 3
Chapter II - Part 4
Chapter III - Part 1
Chapter III - Part 2
Chapter III - Part 3
Chapter III - Part 4
Chapter III - Part 5
Chapter III - Part 6
Chapter IV - Part 1
Chapter IV - Part 2
Chapter IV - Part 3
Chapter IV - Part 4
Chapter V-Part 1
Chapter V - Part 2
Chapter V - Part 3
Chapter V - Part 4
Chapter V - Part 5
Chapter VI - Part 1
Chapter VI - Part 2
Chapter VI - Part 3
Chapter VI - Part 4
Chapter VI - Part 5
Chapter VII - Part 1
Chapter VII - Part 2
Chapter VII - Part 3
Chapter VII - Part 4
Chapter VII - Part 5
Chapter VIII - Part 1
Chapter VIII - Part 2
Chapter VIII - Part 3
Chapter VIII - Part 4
Chapter IX - Part 1
Chapter IX - Part 2
Chapter X - Part 1
Chapter X - Part 2
Chapter X - Part 3
Chapter X - Part 4
Chapter X - Part 5
Chapter X - Part 6
Chapter XI - Part 1
Chapter XI - Part 2
Chapter XI - Part 3
Chapter XI - Part 4
Chapter XII - Part 1
Chapter XII - Part 2
Chapter XII - Part 3
Chapter XII - Part 4
Chapter XII - Part 5
Chapter XIII - Part 1
Chapter XIII - Part 2
Chapter XIV - Part 1
Chapter XIV - Part 2
Chapter XIV - Part 3
Chapter XIV - Part 4
Chapter XIV - Part 5
Chapter XV - Part 1
Chapter XV - Part 2
Chapter XV - Part 3
Chapter XV - Part 4
Chapter XV - Part 5
Chapter XV - Part 6
Chapter XV - Part 7
Chapter XV - Part 8
Chapter XV - Part 9
Chapter XVI - Part 1
Chapter XVI - Part 2
Chapter XVI - Part 3
Chapter XVI - Part 4
Chapter XVI - Part 5
Chapter XVI - Part 6
Chapter XVI - Part 7
Chapter XVI - Part 8
Chapter XVI - Part 9
Chapter XVI - Part 10
Chapter XVI - Part 11
Chapter XVI - Part 12
Chapter XVI - Part 13
Chapter XVII - Part 1
Chapter XVII - Part 2
Chapter XVII - Part 3
Chapter XVII - Part 4
Chapter XVIII - Part 1
Chapter XVIII - Part 2
Chapter XVIII - Part 3
Chapter XVIII - Part 4
Chapter XVIII - Part 5
Chapter XVIII - Part 6
Chapter XVIII - Part 7
Chapter XVIII - Part 8
Chapter XVIII - Part 9
Chapter XVIII - Part 10
Chapter XIX - Part 1
Chapter XIX - Part 2
Chapter XIX - Part 3
Chapter XIX - Part 4
Chapter XIX - Part 5
Chapter XIX - Part 6
Chapter XIX - Part 7
Chapter XX - Part 1
 

A Psychological Approach to Sri Aurobindo's

The Life Divine

 
Chapter X Part 3

Consciousness-Force: An illustration of the understanding of sensory reality in ancient Indian metaphysical psychology

We have examined that Consciousness-Force or Chit-Shakti builds the worlds and gives meaning and purpose to existence. This is a very high spiritual realization that has been elaborated by metaphysical psychology and is beyond our usual sensory perception. Yet the world as we know appears concrete and tangible because it is perceptible through our senses.

The question is – How does the Chit-Shakti of spiritual realization become the tangible matter measurable through our senses?

Ancient Indian metaphysical psychology studied this question in elaborate details. It attempted to relate metaphysical reality to sensory reality by constructing a metaphysical perspective of sensory perception. In the process it produced a conceptual perception of sensory reality based on a premise that has three cardinal points:

(a)   The principle of things is a formative movement of energies,

(b)   All forms are born of meeting and mutual adaptation between unshaped forces,

(c)   All sensation and action is a response of something in a form of Force to the contacts of other forms of Force. (The Life Divine, pg 91)

The transition from the metaphysical basis of psychology to the physiological basis of psychology is best illustrated by studying how the conceptual perceptions of sensory reality emerged in the Indian tradition. This is beautifully elaborated in the process that describes how the different levels of our world were built.

We shall start to study in brief this process by first examining how we are all aware of forms of matter. It has been traditionally experienced and conceptualized in Indian metaphysics that matter is built up from five subtle elements that follow each other in successive stages. There is an experiential point where the subtle, ethereal matrix of matter precipitates into concretely perceptible material forms signifying the transition between the metaphysical and physiological paradigms of psychology.

The emergence of material forms—5  metaphysical stages

Stage 1:

It is difficult to conceive of the pre-material stage of the universe. Presumably, there was the vast ocean of Inconscience, —an ethereal expanse that was silent, immobile, formless, fathomless.

This primal ethereal state was disturbed by the influx, the penetration of a material energy—elementary, mechanical but nevertheless‘energy’.

The very act of penetration implies a Movement—a disturbance of the primal, immobile status of ether. This disturbance produces ripples or vibrations in the bosom of the primal ether.

As vibrations produce sound, this stage is symbolized as the sound element in creation.

Indeed, ‘movement’ is the primal beginning of the creative process that has to be initiated from the poise of slumber that is characteristic of the Inconscience. That is why Sri Aurobindo uses the term ‘formative movement’.  In Savitri, He poetically describes how the cycle of creation is initiated by the stirrings of an initial movement in the bosom of the inconscience or primal ether .The primal ether is described as ‘a fathomless zero’, ‘ a soulless void’, ‘a formless stupor’, an ‘unbodied infinite’.

As in the dark beginning of all things,

..Cradled the cosmic drowse of ignorant Force

Then something in the inscrutable darkness stirred;

A nameless movement, an unthought Idea

Insistent, dissatisfied, without an aim,

Something that wished but knew not how to be,

Teased the Inconscient to wake Ignorance.

( Sri Aurobindo,Savitri, pg 1,2)

Stage 2

The influx and movement of mechanical energy in the bosom of the Inconscience does not suffice to produce ‘forms’ of matter. The movement of energy has therefore to produce waves or forces in the primal ether. These forces interplay with each other, impinge upon each other to ‘create a beginning of fixed relations and mutual effects’. (The Life Divine, pg 89)

Thus is born the concept of ‘CONTACT’ of forces. Sri Aurobindo describes that ‘contact’ is the basis of all material relations. Why?  It is contact of subatomic particles that constitute an atom; it is contact of atoms that construct molecules; and it is contact of molecules in various permutations and combinations that is the basis of diverse forms of matter.

(‘Contact’ is not only a material phenomenon. At the biological level, it is ‘contact’ of ovum and sperm that produces living forms. And further up, it is the  social ‘contact’ of living beings that produces groups, packs, and herds. The phenomenon is sublimated in human beings in the concepts of brotherhood, universality, fraternity, and comradeship.)

In the old Indian system, the phenomenon of ‘contact’ is a characteristic of the material Force when it shifts from the ethereal to a status symbolized as ‘aerial’—the second element in creation. Air denotes universalization and this is what is projected by contact of Forces—hence the symbol.

Stage 3

Neither vibratory movements nor contact of forces are sufficient to produce material forms. There is needed a sustaining principle that dynamises and shapes the movement of energy inherent in the hitherto unshaped forces playing with each other. ‘This is provided by a third self-modification of the primitive Force of which the principle of light, electricity, fire and heat is for us the characteristic manifestation’ (Ibid, pg 90). This is a goal-oriented energy-mechanism that is represented in terms of ‘nuclear energy’ at the material level and ‘metabolism’ at the cellular level. As a result, the forces that were unshaped come to acquire shapes i.e. they become invested with meaning, purpose and uniqueness. This dynamisation of forces is a prerequisite for the condensation of forces as forms and is metaphysically symbolized as the Agni or fire-element in creation. Yet it is insufficient to produce tangible material forms.

Stage 4

Mere dynamisation and shaping of forces in the ocean of material energy remain incomplete to produce material forms. The dynamic forces cannot be at isolation from one another. They need to intermix and coalesce with each other to form new integers and mutations. If this capacity were not developed, we would not have a ‘variety’ of forms. This diffusion and intermixing of material forces need a medium. Ideally this medium should permit ‘permanent attractions and repulsions’ (Ibid), -- “permanent’ as this is to be the precursor of ‘consistent’ forms or else the world of forms would be chaotic, unstable and disorganized. This medium is symbolically and picturesquely described as the water element in creation.

Stage 55

The phenomenon of diffusion of Forces must be supplemented by a phenomenon of ‘cohesion’, ‘solidification’ and ‘concretization’ so that tangible and measurable material forms are finally precipitated. The transition from the metaphysical basis of psychology to the physiological basis of psychology is finally represented at this stage that is symbolized as the earth element in creation.

Thus, we have described five elements in creation that help in the transition from metaphysical reality to sensory reality. Sri Aurobindo clarifies ‘ALL FORMS OF MATTER OF WHICH WE ARE AWARE, ALL PHYSICAL THINGS EVEN TO THE MOST SUBTLE, ARE BUILT UP BY THE COMBINATION OF THESE FIVE ELEMENTS.UPON THEM ALSO DEPENDS ALL OUR SENSIBLE EXPERIENCE;

FOR BY RECEPTION OF VIBRATION COMES THE SENSE OF SOUND;

BY CONTACT OF THINGS IN A WORLD OF VIBRATIONS OF FORCE THE SENSE OF TOUCH;

BY THE ACTION OF LIGHT IN THE FORMS HATCHED, OUTLINED, SUSTAINED BY THE FORCE OF LIGHT AND FIRE AND HEAT THE SENSE OF SIGHT;

BY THE FOURTH ELEMENT THE SENSE OF TASTE; BY THE FIFTH THE SENSE OF SMELL.

ALL IS ESSENTIALLY RESPONSE TO VIBRATORY CONTACTS BETWEEN FORCE AND FORCE. IN THIS WAY THE ANCIENT THINKERS BRIDGED THE GULF BETWEEN PURE FORCE AND ITS FINAL MODIFICATIONS AND SATISFIED THE DIFFICULTY WHICH PREVENTS THE ORDINARY HUMAN MIND FROM UNDERSTANDING HOW ALL THESE FORMS WHICH ARE TO HIS SENSES SO REAL, SOLID AND DURABLE CAN BE IN TRUTH ONLY TEMPORARY PHENOMENA AND A THING LIKE PURE ENERGY, TO THE SENSES NON-EXISTENT, INTANGIBLE AND ALMOST INCREDIBLE, CAN BE THE ONE PERMANENT COSMIC REALITY.’(IBID)

From material forms to living forms

The metaphysical perspective detailed above still falls short of explaining the phenomenon of CONSCIOUS SENSATIONS. It explains the workings of the energy aspect of Chit-Shakti (Consciousness-Force), but has still to bring in the Chit or consciousness aspect of Chit-Shakti in creation. Actually, we were so long focusing on the emergence of tangible material forms that was a resultant of the influx of the elementary material energy in the primal ether of Inconscience.

In the next stage, the material forms have to be the basis of living forms. How is that accomplished?

For this to occur, matter must be animated by the influx of consciousness. This means the infusion of a non-material life-energy in the matrix of inanimate matter. It is achieved by ‘a vast cosmic principle of Force’ (Ibid) at work that is named MAHAT in ancient terminology.

But the very influx of life-energy as a ‘movement’ in the bosom of matter simultaneously implicated the possibility of ‘depletion of energy’, of ‘entropy’, of ‘death’. Thus there is introduced a principle of division, a principle of limitation. It is this divisional principle that is called AHANKARA in the old terminology and is the basis of Ego-formation (Ibid). If this divisional principle was not there, we would not have a process of individualization and unique human individuals would not have come in existence.

Sri Aurobindo describes that the Sankhyas or the ancient analytical thinkers admitted that these two principles as well as the principle of intelligence became active in awareness not merely by the virtue of Force but by the virtue of an inactive Conscious Being behind the flux of life-phenomena. He adds that this was a concept that came very close to modern scientific thinking and that ‘Whatever its defects,  its main idea was so indisputable that it came to be generally accepted’ (Ibid, pg 91)

Sri Aurobindo dwells on the essence of sensory reality in ancient metaphysical psychology and its conceptual perceptions before the incorporation of the idea of evolution in consciousness as an integral part of Reality. For readers who are historically interested in the details of the old Indian view of sensory reality, a handy dissertation can be availed in the first chapter of the first volume of Indian Psychology by Jadunath Sinha (published by Motilal Banarasidass, Delhi)

An unshaped consciousness desired light
And a blank prescience yearned towards distant change.
………
A thought was sown in the unsounded Void
A sense was born within the darkness’ depths,
A memory quivered in the heart of Time
….

(Sri Aurobindo, Savitri, pg 2, 3)
Date of Update:
13-Aug-12   

- By Dr. Soumitra Basu

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