For the spiritual aspirant, mystic and yogi, the task is not simple. This is because the ‘Oneness’ that characterizes Reality or the Absolute is not a mathematical or statistical oneness. It is not a summation of all manifestation. It is not the common denominator of all manifestation. It is not the hump of a Gaussian curve. Then what is it? It is an X that persists even if the manifestation disappears. It is an X that impartially supports all creation. It is an X that impartially allows the dissolution of creation. It is also the same X that permits the reappearance of creation.
IT IS IMPOSSIBLE TO SIMPLISTICALLY RELATE THIS ONENESS OF THE ABSOLUTE WITH THE MULTIPLICITY OF MANIFESTATION BECAUSE THEY BELONG TO TWO DIFFERENT PERSPECTIVES. IN FACT, THE DIFFERENCE REPRESENTS AN IRRECONCILIBLE ANTITHESIS.
Indian metaphysical thought tried to bridge this gap by the illusory concept of ‘Maya’. But ‘Maya’ as a concept actually reinforced the irreconcilable nature of the conflict; it did not resolve anything. It just acknowledged the apparent contradiction of the two perspectives. This is the reason Swami Vivekananda reiterated that Maya should be justifiably considered as a statement of facts. In other words, it is a descriptive term but not explanatory.
If we do not resolve the gap between the two perspectives, we are apt to treat the manifested creation as a chance or accident, an illusion or as merely a game whose joy of playing ends with the end of the game!
Sri Aurobindo bridges the gap between the Absolute and the manifestation by positing the concept of the ‘Creative Idea-Force’ –‘ The Truth-Consciousness’ – ‘The Supermind’.
The Supermind mediates between two diametrically different perspectives and subserves both. One cannot just consider the perspectives to be ‘opposite’ or ‘contradictory’ for while the multiplicity of the manifestation can be objectified in mathematical terms; the ‘Oneness’ of the Absolute cannot be approached through mental constructs (on the contrary it can be approached by abandoning all mental constructs).
Therefore the Supermind must have two different poises that subserve the two different perspectives – and these two different poises must have two different knowledge bases; and two different operative-principles: -
A. The poise of the Supermind that subserves the knowledge of the ABSOLUTE is based on the experiential realisation of the Oneness by identifying with the Oneness. As this Oneness is beyond all manifestation and exists even if there is no manifestation, it cannot be known by a knowledge that is dependent on our senses reaching out towards objective worlds. It can only be ‘perceived’ by a pure subjective movement, through faculties that do not depend on our sensory perception and reason; but are supra rational in nature, like ‘Intuition’. Yet this ‘Oneness’ holds the ‘essence’ or ‘seed’ of all that has the potentiality to be manifested, Sri Aurobindo names this operative-principle of the Supermind as a COMPREHENDING AND PERVASIVE PRINCIPLE. All manifestation is present here as an essence – like a masterstroke of a brush in a wide canvas. This is the knowledge pursued by the metaphysician, the seer, the mystic, the yogi- and can only be ‘experienced’ directly. It is knowledge of God, of Oneness, of the unity-principle. It is the knowledge of Reality as a Nihil and equally the knowledge of Reality as Sachchidananda (the indivisible trio of Existence-Consciousness-Bliss).
B. The poise of the Supermind that subserves the knowledge of the multiplicity without losing the knowledge of Oneness is the beginning of objective cognition. It is an operative principle that works through a PROJECTING, CONFRONTING, APPREHENDING CONSCIOUSNESS AND IS THUS CALLED AN APPREHENDING PRINCIPLE. It is a higher knowledge of the world, of the multiplicity, of the manifestation. It is knowledge of the multiplicity from the poise of Oneness unlike the knowledge -base of Science is the knowledge of multiplicity from the poise of multiplicity. It is a knowledge that allows the growth of science but also knowledge that reveals the limitations of science. Actually, the multiplicity is the hallmark of creation and is a phenomenon that has been permitted to be manifested by a Creative –Fiat, a Creative decree, an ‘IDEA-FORCE’ (the ‘Real-Idea’ or ‘Truth-Consciousness) that emanates from the ‘comprehending & pervasive’ principle of the Supermind and gets automatically organized in a discrete, scattered yet harmonious way through the ‘apprehending and projecting’ principle of the Supermind. Science, working at a far below level of the Mind can only grasp the resultants of the apprehending principle of the Supermind, it cannot apprehend the comprehensive nature of Reality that is simultaneously ONE and MANY. It is only the Supermind Consciousness that is capable of this faculty.
The Characteristics of the Supermind Consciousness
Sri Aurobindo explains the characteristics of the ‘Supermind’ Consciousness:
‘We see at once that such a consciousness, described by such characteristics, must be an intermediate formulation which refers back to a term above it and forward to another below it; we see at the same time that it is evidently the link and means by which the inferior develops out of the superior and should equally be the link and means by which it may develop back again towards its source. The term above is the unitarian or indivisible consciousness of pure Sachchidananda in which there are no separating distinctions; the term below is the analytic or dividing consciousness of Mind which can only know by separation and distinction and has at the most a vague and secondary apprehension of unity and infinity,- for, though it can synthetise its divisions, it cannot arrive at a true totality. Between them is this comprehensive and creative consciousness, by its power of pervading and comprehending knowledge the child of that self-awareness by identity which is the poise of the Brahman and by its power of projecting, confronting, apprehending knowledge parent of that awareness by distinction which is the process of the Mind.
‘Above, the formula of the One eternally stable and immutable; below, the formula of the Many which, eternally mutable, seeks but hardly finds in the flux of things a firm and immutable standing-point; between, the seat of all trinities, of all that is biune, of all that becomes Many-in-One and yet remains One-in-Many because it was originally One that is always potentially Many. This intermediary term is therefore the beginning and end of all creation and arrangement, the Alpha and the Omega, the starting-point of all differentiation, the instrument of all unification, originative, executive and consummative of all realised or realizable harmonies. It has the knowledge of the One, but is able to draw out of the One its hidden multitudes; it manifests the Many, but does not lose itself in their differentiations. And shall we not say that its very existence points back to something beyond our supreme perception of the ineffable Unity, - Something ineffable and mentally inconceivable not because of its unity and indivisibility, but because of its freedom from even these formulations of our mind,- Something beyond both unity and multiplicity? That would be the utter Absolute and Real which yet justifies to us both our knowledge of God and our knowledge of the world.
(The Life Divine pg. 135-136)
Let thy infinity in one body live,
All-Knowledge wrap one mind in seas of light…(Sri Aurobindo,Savitri.pg345)
Date of Update:
- By Dr. Soumitra Basu