Journey to the depths
Behind our outer being or surface personality stands an inner subliminal being with an inner mind, an inner vital and a subtle (inner) physical. The wall between the surface being and subliminal being can be breached in two ways:
(a) "a gradual effort and discipline", or
(b) "a vehement transition", at times "a forceful involuntary rupture" which might not be safe for the habitual mind accustomed to the security of life, but nevertheless a potent transition. (Ibid)
Once we access the subliminal depths, we are confronted with a larger being with a larger mind capable of a manifold knowledge, a larger life in communion with the universal Life-Energy, an inner subtle-physical consciousness that surpasses the limitations of the surface body and a widening of oneself to the poise of an universal being no more limited by our narrow mental, vital, physical existence. "This widening can extend itself to a complete entry into the consciousness of cosmic Mind, into unity with the universal Life, even into a oneness with universal Matter". (Ibid) However Sri Aurobindo is pragmatic and warns that a widening into the cosmic consciousness does not guarantee that one is in possession of the Supreme Truth. When an individual widens into the cosmic consciousness, he or she has surpassed the limitations of ordinary life but has initially identified with the lower regions of the cosmic consciousness -"an identification either with a diminished cosmic truth or with the cosmic Ignorance". (Ibid)
Behind the subliminal being is the soul-space that holds the soul in its individual and universal poises.
Journey to the heights
Once we have accessed the subliminal consciousness, the inner being or inner Self "is found to be capable of an opening, an ascent upwards into things beyond our present mental level; that is the second spiritual possibility in us". (Ibid) The ascent can move along two different pathways:
(a) The usual time-honoured journey upwards leads to the vast impersonal static and silent Self as our real basic existence or to a Great Void . "There may be even an extinction, a Nirvana both of our active being and of the sense of self into a Reality that is indefinable and inexpressible. But also we can realise that this self is not only our spiritual being but the true self of all others; it presents itself then as the underlying truth of cosmic existence. It is possible to remain in a Nirvana of all individuality, to stop at a static realisation or, regarding the cosmic movement as a superficial play or illusion imposed on the silent Self, to pass into some supreme immobile and immutable status beyond the universe". (Ibid,291)
(b)There is another pathway that had hitherto not been zealously followed except having some glimpses of it. It is a spiritual mind-range that traverses supra-cognitive planes. In this pathway, a two-way communication takes place. There is a dynamic descent of light, knowledge, power and bliss into our self of silence while there is a corresponding ascent to the higher regions of the Spirit that is the foundation of all the forces that descend.
Both the pathways raise us from the mind of Ignorance to the spiritual state. The difference is that the first pathway to the Transcendent Self or Nirvana leads us to the Truth beyond the world while the second pathway opens the possibility of the Descent of the creative Supramental Truth-Consciousness through the activation of Chit-Shakti or Consciousness-Force to bring the Divine rule in the earth consciousness. Naturally, Sri Aurobindo opts for the second pathway that could lead to the transformation of life rather than the first pathway that seeks a liberation from life. He is explicit in his observations:
"It is in the latter alternative that we find the secret we are seeking, the means of the transition, the needed step towards the supramental transformation; for we perceive a graduality of ascent, a communication with a more and more deep and immense light and power from above, a scale of intensities which can be regarded as so many stairs in the ascension of Mind or in a descent into Mind from That which is beyond it". (Ibid)
Sri Aurobindo traces the scale of supra-cognitive matrices of Consciousness-Force that extend beyond the ordinary cognitive mind to the creative consciousness of the Supermind:
(a) Higher Mind
(b) Illumined Mind
(d) Overmind or global cognition
(e) Supermind or Integral Cognition.
The Higher Mind is a supracognitive field beyond the ordinary mind and holds all contradictory and complementary ideas in a sort of mass-ideation. In ordinary thinking, if we have to incorporate a new idea, we have to deconstruct the opposite idea. For example to be a votary of capitalism it would be difficult to glorify socialism. Not so in the Higher Mind where mental constructions and deconstructions are not needed for knowledge is "automatic and spontaneous"(Ibid, pg.292) and can exist in a multidimensional mode with contradictory ideas carrying the same value. If humanity could be trained to rise up to this plane of Higher Mind, we would be free from dogmatic and exclusivist thinking that is the cause of human discord to a large extent.
Speaking of the Higher Mind, Sri Aurobindo describes:
"We are aware of a sealike downpour of masses of a spontaneous knowledge which assumes the nature of Thought but has a different character from the process of thought to which we are accustomed; for there is nothing here of seeking, no trace of mental construction, no labour of speculation or difficult discovery; it is an automatic and spontaneous knowledge from a Higher Mind that seems to be in possession of Truth and not in search of hidden and withheld realities. One observes that this Thought is much more capable than the mind of including at once a mass of knowledge in a single view; it has a cosmic character, not the stamp of individual thinking". (Ibid, pg.291-292)
Unlike the ordinary mind where one idea has to be dislodged to accommodate an opposite idea, the Higher Mind accommodates all ideas which therefore go on adding to each other. At a certain point this would be strenuous if all ideas needed words for expression and one could shift to a yet higher matrix of Consciousness-Force where the ideas could be able to illumine our cognition without the necessity of words. This is the Illumined Mind that is a sort of seer vision where a revelatory ideograph would communicate the essence of Truth without the necessity of words. The Higher Mind is the domain of philosophers who are compelled to communicate the Truth through words. The Illumined Mind is the domain of the seer who does not have the compulsion to communicate experiences and realizations through words and yet can have more hold on the psyche of the race than the philosophers.
Sri Aurobindo describes:
"Beyond this Truth-Thought (of the Higher Mind) we can distinguish a greater illumination instinct with an increased power and intensity and driving force, a luminosity of the nature of Truth-Sight with though-formulation as a minor and dependent activity. If we accept the Vedic image of the Sun of Truth, --an image which in this experience becomes a reality, -- we may compare the action of the Higher Mind to a composed and steady sunshine, the energy of the Illumined Mind beyond it to an outpouring of massive lightnings of flaming sun-stuff". (Ibid, pg.292)
Beyond the Illumined Mind is the supra-cognitive field of Intuition from where Truth leaps like a spark of lightning that surpasses all intellectual logic and yet is veridical and determinative in character, has an exactitude and precision and is unfailingly right. It is not a derivatory but self-existent Truth. The only problem is that when it reaches the ordinary mind, it can get deformed and diluted. Therefore one must be trained to receive it and concentrated not to miss its cues that may come as a sudden aberrant Idea or a revelation heard or glimpsed or a strong feeling perceived in the depths of the being or a dream-message that turns out to be true or constructive. It should be noted that this supra-cognitive Intuition that coveys self-existent Truth is different from what we label as ordinary intuitions in common parlance; these latter are often instincts or subconscious hints or are derived from collective suggestions.
Sri Aurobindo describes;
"Still beyond (beyond the Higher Mind and Illumined Mind), can be met a yet greater power of the Truth-Force, an intimate and exact Truth-vision, Truth-thought, Truth-sense, Truth-feeling, Truth-action, to which we can give in a special sense the name of Intuition; for though we have applied that word for want of a better to any supra-intellectual direct way of knowing, yet what we actually know as intuition is one special movement of self-existent knowledge. This new range is its origin; it imparts to our intuitions something of its own distinctive character and is very clearly an intermediary of a greater Truth-Light with which our mind cannot directly communicate". (Ibid)
Beyond the plane of Intuition is the field of global cognition or Overmind.
Date of Update:
- By Dr. Soumitra Basu