That 'real self' is not
affected by the pains and pleasures of our body, by the fluctuating
emotions of our vital or by the doubts and prejudices of our ideas
and premises. Indeed, if we can have the experiential contact with
one's inmost essence, one can remain 'detached' from the outer
disturbances that are possessed as passing 'experiences' which do
not overwhelm the individual.
The nature of this 'inmost
essence' or 'real self' is that of 'BLISS' – it is actually a 'Bliss
- Self' that radiates Ananda, love, joy, purity: 'In the entirely
expressive Sanskrit terms, there is an anandamaya behind the
manomaya, a vast Bliss- Self behind the limited mental self, and the
letter is only a shadowy image and disturbed reflection of the
former. The truth of ourselves lies within and not on the surface.'
In subsequent chapters and
in numerous letters to aspirants, Sri Aurobindo explains how this
'real self' develops inside us from a soul- spark to the 'Psychic
Being' that itself is the projection of a Central Being or Jivatman
above the manifestation.
Now this 'real self' cannot
directly influence our outer being or surface personality. Its
influence can only be discernible if another dimension of being – a
new dimension of our personality develops. This is another unique
contribution of Sri Aurobindo to the world of Psychology. He names
it as the 'SUBLIMINAL' or 'INNER' Being that stands behind the outer
being. He gives a detailed description of the Subliminal in Book II
of the Life Divine explaining in details its difference from the
The Subliminal or 'Inner
Being' is connected with the cosmic or universal consciousness. It
is through the subliminal that the universal delight in 'the
aesthetic reception of things as represented by Art and Poetry'
enter to influence our outer being, 'so that we enjoy there the Rasa
or taste' of the sap of Creation. That 'Rasa' or 'nectar' of
existence does not even exclude the taste of the 'sorrowful, the
terrible, even the horrible or repellent'. That is why Shakespeare's
tragedies are as important as his comedies, and Kali's wrath can be
as beautifully portrayed as Krishna's love. That is why Michael
Angelo's David can be beautiful even after killing the demon and the
nailed body of Jesus is a source of compassion, not of vengeance. It
is interesting to note that the 'sorrowful', the 'terrible', the
'horrible' sensations have been depicted in Indian Art in the famous
forms of Karuna, Bhayankara and Bibhatsa Rasas, and these are as
important as their opposites.
The 'Subliminal' as a
gateway to Universal Delight
outer being revolves around the ego and is too 'divided' to receive
the impact of the Universal Delight. The subliminal is under the
influence of our 'real self' and is not biased by the ego. Hence it
can receive the Universal Delight as 'an aesthetic reception', which
then percolates into the outer being. This 'percolation' of course
depends on the level of development of the outer being – on its
finesse and receptivity, on its 'culture' and 'education'.
One must be cautious that
the mere aesthetic reception of the Universal Delight in existence
through our subliminal does not automatically qualify that the
'Ananda' of Sachchidananda has been perceived. To perceive that
'pure-delight' which is 'supramental and supra-aesthetic', the inner
being has to progress considerably, so that its upper realms extend
into the 'superconscious'. Indeed, the inner subliminal can extend
into the 'superconscious' as well as plunge into the 'subconscious'
enroute the 'Inconscience'. 'Certainly, this aesthetic reception of
contacts is not a precise image or reflection of the pure delight
which is supramental and supra-aesthetic; for the latter would
eliminate sorrow, terror, horror and disgust with their cause while
the former admits them: but it represents partially and imperfectly
one stage of the progressive delight of the universal Soul in things
in its manifestation and it admits us in one part of our nature to
that detachment from egoistic sensation and that universal attitude
through which the one Soul sees harmony and beauty where we divided
beings experience rather chaos and discord. The full liberation can
come to us only by a similar liberation in all our parts, the
universal aesthesis, the universal standpoint of knowledge, the
universal detachment from all things and yet sympathy with all in
our nervous and emotional being.' (Life
Divine, Pg. 119)
'Ananda' or 'Bliss'
supports the entire creation
We have discussed that
'Ananda' or 'Bliss' is the only answer to the 'Why' of existence.
But then, this is something that can only be realised at a very high
superconscient plane. Does it really support the entire field of
creation? Or is it something that exists in isolation at the highest
planes of consciousness?
Sri Aurobindo explains that
though it is 'realizable' at a very high plane of consciousness, its
presence is 'discernible' throughout existence.
'It is the reason of that
clinging to existence, that overmastering will-to-be, translated
vitally as the instinct of self-preservation, physically as the
imperishability of matter, mentally as the sense of immortality
which attends the formed existence through all its phases of
self-development and of which even the occasional impulse of
self-destruction is only a reverse form, an attraction to other
state of being and a consequent recoil from present state of being.
Delight is existence, Delight is the secret of creation, Delight is
the root of Birth, Delight is the cause of remaining in existence,
Delight is the end of birth and that into which creation ceases.
“From Ananda,” says the Upanishad, “all existences are born, by
Ananda they remain in being and increase, to Ananda they depart”.'
(Life Divine, Pg. 111)
uniqueness in the description of Ananda?
Traditionally, the 'Ananda'
or 'Bliss' poise of Sachchidananda has been experientially perceived
at a very high superconscious level. The Bliss could not be brought
down to our egoistic life, as it would have been disruptive. That is
why our 'heavens' have been located in superconscient spheres, far
above ordinary life. Of course, different spiritual paths have
'constructed' their 'heavens' with the different types of
superconscient experiences with which they contacted the 'Ananda'
poise of Reality. To some, it represented 'Rapture', to some it
represented 'love', to some it was 'Peace', to some it represented
'Beauty', to some it represented 'Silence'. Accordingly the
'heavens' have been named in the Indian tradition by different
names. Sri Aurobindo explains that wherever the knowledge in man
leads him to think it can grasp this bliss, 'it will fix its
heaven.' 'This is Swarga, Vaikuntha, Goloka; this is Nirvana'
(Essays Divine and Human, Pg. 216).
To Sri Aurobindo, the key
word is 'transformation' of our existence so that the
'Superconscient' experiences can manifest in material life. Our
heavens have to blossom not in very high realms but in this
apparently mundane life. That is why is emphasized the discovering
and developing the 'Real Self' within us, which in its nature
radiates 'Bliss'. Sri Aurobindo ventures to suggest that if
developed, this 'Real Self' can come forward as a fourth dimensional
principle and replace the ego. This sounds preposterous but there is
a way for that journey. If the ego can really be 'replaced' by the
'Real Self' in ordinary existence, then only the heaven of 'Bliss'
can manifest in our earthly life. Of course, this means working on
our own selves and developing our 'subliminal' or 'inner being'
behind our surface personality. Psychology becomes a gateway to
Spirituality. One has to work not only at one's 'heights' of
consciences but also at one's 'depths', complementing each other.
'DELIGHT' IN THE UPANISHAD
“The name of That is the
Delight; as the Delight we must worship and seek after It”
(Kena Upanishad, 1V.6))
This Upanishadic sloka
(couplet) describes Brahman in its poise of transcendental Delight.
It is the All-Blissful Ananda from which all existences are born, by
which all existences live and increases and into which all
existences arrive in their passing out of death and birth. This is
the 'immortality' of the Upanishads. The soul, which is identified
with this Bliss, can be one with the infinite existence and yet in a
sense still able to enjoy differentiation in the oneness. In other
words, that soul becomes a centre of the divine delight – a fountain
of joy and love to which all fellow-creatures can be attracted.
(Source: Sri Aurobindo, The Upanishads, Pg. 181)
[However, as explained above, such a soul described in the Upanishad
that radiates a fountain of joy is still a soul that realizes Ananda
in the superconscient plane of existence and attracts souls who have
set out for that 'ascent'. Sri Aurobindo wants a 'descent' of the
Ananda or self-existent Delight in ordinary existence – a unique and
utopian vision waiting for fulfillment.]
Date of Update:
- By Dr. Soumitra Basu