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
 

A Psychological Approach to Sri Aurobindo's

The Life Divine

 
Chapter X Part 4

Consciousness-Force : Further Elaborations

Sri Aurobindo’s usage of the term ‘CONSCIOUSNESS’ is very comprehensive:

(a)   It encompasses myriad planes of consciousness that span a hierarchy from the Inconscient to the Superconscient (which we shall study as the vertical organization of consciousness);

(b)  It includes the different ranges of the structure of our being that stretch from our surface personality (called the outer being), traverses an intermediate SUBLIMINAL OR INNER BEING to finally reach the inmost core of our being (which we shall study as the concentric organization of consciousness);

(c) It is simultaneously present in three poises – individual, universal or cosmic, and transcendent;

(d)  It integrates all its planes, dimensions and poises so that the whole phenomenon of consciousness becomes meaningful to serve an evolutionary purpose.

 

The Vertical Organization—The Hierarchy of Consciousness

To understand the hierarchy of consciousness, the first postulate that we have to appreciate is that:

(a)   Consciousness is not synonymous with ‘mind’—mind is just one of the many planes of consciousness.

(b)  Mind itself is not synonymous with brain. In spatial terms, mind is non-local, but needs the brain for its expression.

In fact, the spiritual perspective states that

(a) Consciousness is not produced by brain but antedates it in evolution though it uses the brain as an 
instrument for its expression

(b) Mental consciousness is only the human range which no more exhausts all the possible ranges of consciousness than human sight exhausts all the gradations of colour or human hearing all the gradations of sound – for there is much above or below that is to man invisible. So there are ranges of consciousness above and below the human range.

(c) Consciousness is not the same as mentality but

‘INDICATES A SELF-AWARE FORCE OF EXISTENCE OF WHICH MENTALITY IS A MIDDLE TERM;

 BELOW MENTALITY IT SINKS INTO VITAL AND MATERIAL MOVEMENTS WHICH ARE FOR US SUBCONSCIENT;

 ABOVE,IT RISES INTO THE SUPRAMENTAL WHICH IS FOR US THE SUPERCONSCIENT’.(The Life Divine, pg 97-98)

 BELOW MIND

Below the mental or cognitive plane of our consciousness is what Sri Aurobindo names the ‘vital’ plane or plane of life-energy. The vital plane itself has many ranges.  In human beings the higher ranges of the vital plane hold the repertoire of our emotions (‘cognition’ and ‘emotion’ have never been clumped together in the Indian tradition, they were always distinct planes – a fact that is only being appreciated now in academic psychology).

The lower range of the vital plane represents simply the ‘life-force’ and is discerned from our physiological functioning by psycho-physiological research. Sri Aurobindo wrote as early in the second decade of the last century:

‘In ourselves there is such a vital consciousness which acts in the cells of the body and the automatic vital functions so that we go through purposeful movements and obey attractions and repulsions to which our mind is a stranger. In animals this vital consciousness is an even more important factor. In plants it is intuitively evident. The seekings  and shrinkings of the plant, its pleasure and pain, its sleep and its wakefulness and all that strange life whose truth an Indian scientist has brought to light by rigidly scientific methods, are all movements of consciousness, but, as far as we can see, not of mentality. There is then a sub-mental, a vital consciousness which has precisely the same initial reactions as the mental, but is different in the constitution of its self-experience, even as that which is superconscient is in the constitution of its self-experience different from the mental being’.(The Life Divine pg.96)

The vital consciousness lapses into the physical consciousness that constitutes ‘matter’. It is only when the plane of   matter is impregnated with life-energy that the ‘vitality’ of the ‘Vital’ becomes gradually evident. Matter otherwise is perceived as inert. In matter, the ‘consciousness’ or ‘chit’  aspect of Chit-Shakti (Consciousness-Force) may not be apparent but the ‘energy’ or shakti aspect is implicit as a mechanical force.

The physical consciousness  lapses into the ‘subconscious’ (this is what Freud called the ‘unconscious’) that contains all the impressions of the past. The subconscious itself sinks into the Inconscience that appears as a ‘denial’ of everything. Sri Aurobindo explains that the Inconscience is phenomenal, not fundamental. It appears as an inconscient because consciousness has veiled itself totally here. When the evolutionary nisus starts working, it initiates the whole process of unfolding of consciousness from the bosom of the inconscience..

ABOVE MIND

At the other end, the hierarchy of consciousness rises above the mental plane to reach the ‘SUPERCONSCIOUS’ plane. In the past, yogis of India took a special route to the superconscious. They:

(a)   Discarded the ego,

(b)   Identified with the Jivatman or Central Being above the manifestation. This is the impersonality principle    
that holds our personality,

(c)   Surpassed all cognitive experience,

(d)   Identified with the transcendental poise of the Absolute.

The only problem with this conventional approach was that it necessitated an abandonment of both personal and social life for it was a pursuit suitable for the ascetic, the hermit, the Rishi .

Sri Aurobindo traces an altogether new and hereto unchartered route to the Superconscient that need not lead to an abandonment of life :

Instead of surpassing cognition, He initiates an evolution of cognitive consciousness, unfolding a spiritual mind-range. At levels higher than the mind, the individual cognitive apparatus enlarges in several dimensions, seizes ‘truth’ in its naked purity, gets linked with the universal cognition and further up, the globalized individual cognition is integrated into a sweeping evolutionary movement to come into touch with the supreme essence of the Creative Force that builds the worlds. The life Divine is a logbook of this journey from the Mind to the Supermind and subsequent chapters will build up this wonderful adventure in consciousness. Such a crowning movement leads to a transformation of life and not an abandonment of life.

The Concentric Organization—The Structure of the Being

What we study as the personality is in Aurobindonian terms our outer being or surface being. Yogic experience has always confirmed that this surface manifestation is supported by a soul-entity deep inside the core of our being. In between the surface personality and the inmost essence of our being, Sri Aurobindo describes a distinct plane of personality, which he names as the inner or subliminal being. Thus we have:

(a) an outer or surface being

(b) an inner or subliminal being

(c) an inmost or ‘true’ being.

 The outer being

The outer being is made up of our

mind (cognition, intelligence, thoughts, ideas, will),

vital ( emotions, passions, dynamisms) and

physical (body); organized around the

ego.

The mental, vital and physical planes have distinctive identities but are intermingled into a skewed combination that revolves around the ego. In different individuals and even in the same individual, at different points in time, the intermingling has different connotations. This is the basis of individual differences.

The inner being

The inner or subliminal being stands behind the outer being. It has an inner mind, an inner vital and an inner physical that are no longer in a confused, intermingled combination as in the surface being but begin to manifest their distinctive characteristics.

The subliminal is

(a)  Connected to the universal consciousness (a portion of which was called by Jung as the collective unconscious). It is through this connection that the universal rhythm of creativity enters the individual;.

(b)  Connected to the surface being through channels of communication called chakras. These are mostly closed but can be opened through yoga. Ordinarily, only a little of the inner being can escape into our outer life and that ‘little’ is responsible for the best of our creative, aesthetic and constructive endeavors. If the channels of communication can be made fully operative, we can discover that we are no longer separate personalities with limited lives but centres of a vast, universal, cosmic action.

The characteristics of the subliminal being were known in a discrete, scattered way. Sri Aurobindo, for the first time in the history of consciousness, has gathered all the past experiences for an unique concept-construct of a well-defined, distinct, highly structured ‘inner being’. This, when grasped by our intellect will be acknowledged as one of the most significant contributions to the world of psychology.

The subliminal opens into the Superconscience above and sinks into the inconscience below.

The Inmost Being

The Inmost or True Being is a fourth-dimensional, ego-transcending principle. It is the soul-essence and has its representation at each plane of consciousness. Thus, it is represented by the true mental being (Monomaya Purusha) at the mental plane, the true vital being ( Pranamaya Purusha) at the vital plane, the true physical being ( Annamaya Purusha) at the physical plane and supporting all these, the psychic being ( Chaitya Purusha). In the Sri Aurobindonian perspective, the real individuality emerges when the ego is replaced by the psychic being. When this is attained, one starts living at a deeper level of consciousness and experiences a sense of wholeness, integrality, peace, unity, collaboration and unalloyed joy.

The psychic being is supported and upheld by an Eternal Spirit (the Jivatman) which is above the manifestation.

The Individual, the Universal, the Transcendent

Consciousness is simultaneously present in three poises; Individual, Universal, Transcendent. The Universal and the Individual co-exist with the Transcendent, which surpasses both. The Universe is a diffusion of consciousness in infinite Space and Time, the Individual is its concentration within the limits of space and time.

 It is intriguing why the universal consciousness diffused in infinite space and time needed the corollary movement of concentration in the individual within the limits of space and time. Sri Aurobindo answers that the Universe seeks in infinite extension the divine totality it feels itself to be but cannot entirely realise; for in extension existence drives at a pluralistic sum of itself which can neither be the primal nor the final unit, but only a recurring decimal without end or beginning. Therefore it creates in itself a self-conscious concentration of the All through which it can aspire.(Ibid, pg 52)

This “Self-conscious concentration of the All” is represented in the individual as an Essence or Self (Atman) .This Self, through an extension , can identify with the essence of the cosmic (universal) consciousness or the Cosmic (Universal) Self and likewise with the essence of  the Transcendent consciousness or the Transcendent Self. The one Self, expressed in the three poises of the Transcendent, Universal and the Individual is what is called as the Being or Brahman . All the great Yogis of India have described that on gaining the highest kind of mystic realization one makes an immediate experiential contact with the Ultimate Reality as the “Being”. This BEING (Brahman) experienced as the ground of the universe  was also identified with the SELF(Atman) –the ground of our psychological existence.

The adventurer in consciousness

This is how the adventurer in consciousness views the hierarchy of the worlds—the ranges of consciousness:

    He saw a lone immense high-curved world-pile

    Erect like a mountain- chariot of the Gods

    Motionless under an inscrutable sky.

    As if from Matter’s plinth and viewless base

    To a top as viewless, a carved sea of worlds

    Climbing with foam-maned waves to the Supreme

    Ascended towards breadths immeasurable;

    It hoped to soar into the Ineffable’s reign:

    A hundred levels raised it to the Unknown.

    So it towered up to heights intangible

    And disappeared in the hushed conscious Vast

    As climbs a storeyed temple-tower to heaven

    Built by the aspiring soul of man to live

    Near to his dream of the Invisible.

    Infinity calls to it as it dreams and climbs; (Sri Aurobindo,Savitri, pg 98)

    Date of Update:
18-Sep-12   

- By Dr. Soumitra Basu

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