The cosmic Mind acts as an independent principle, oblivious of its origin from the great unitary matrix and therefore lacking the "catholic universality of the overmind movement".(Ibid) "It is by this movement that we pass from the cosmic Truth into the cosmic Ignorance". (Ibid)
The cosmic Mind facilitates the manifestation of independent units that join to construct eclectic combinations. Yet paradoxically the cosmic Mind knows that it is the basis of diverse wholistic or eclectic movements. Therefore, though it comprehends its own unity, it is cut off from the original unitary source and its comprehension about its own unity is based on its intelligence that lacks the experiential contact with the Supernals. "Its units also act in ignorance of each other and of the cosmic whole except for the knowledge that they can get by contact and communication,-- the basic sense of identity and the mutual penetration and understanding that comes from it are no longer there". (Ibid, pg.300-301)
What is known as Ignorance in Indian spiritual tradition is actually a type of a "certain conscious knowledge" that is cut off from the unitary matrix. Ignorance is therefore based on "a partial knowledge, not a true and integral self-knowledge, nor a true and integral world-Knowledge". (Ibid, pg.301) Sri Aurobindo explains that this character of partial knowledge "persists in Life and in subtle Matter and reappears in the gross material universe which arises from the final lapse into the Inconscience". (Ibid, pg.301) Therefore the science of Mind in behavioural disciplines, the science of Life in biological disciplines and the science of Matter in physical disciplines are relative and inconclusive!
Compared to the Supermind which is unitary and integral and the Overmind which is unitary and global, the cosmic Mind is non-unitary and neither integral nor global but works through division, facilitates individuation at the cost of unity and thus reflects the Ignorance. And yet the paradox is that the cosmic Mind cannot be totally overwhelmed and possessed by Ignorance! Just as the individual is not an isolated phenomenon but is supported by an inner being that is connected with the cosmic consciousness, the cosmic Mind reflects the universal consciousness and thus facilitates a "conscious harmony, an interdependent organization of right relations" (Ibid) that is neither countered by obscure Life forces or inert Matter.
The cosmic Mind facilitates individuation at the cost of unity and allows the growth of unique integers which can only maintain their uniqueness by being ignorant of the unitary origin of Existence. This is why the cosmic Mind is responsible for Ignorance. But metaphysical psychology postulates that Ignorance does not mean Falsehood, they have to be differentiated. The cosmic Mind "is a plane of Ignorance, but not yet of falsehood or error, or at least the lapse into falsehood and error is not yet inevitable; this Ignorance is limitative but not necessarily falsificative. There is limitation of knowledge, an organisation of partial truths, but not a denial or opposite of truth or knowledge". (Ibid)
Actually this is the reason why all human constructs which are so meticulously crafted can give us relative truths but not absolute Truth. All constructs that fail us do so because they represent partial truths. An organization of partial truths holds our world-view but being limited have to be replaced by newer world-views. Partial truths succeed in holding the fort of knowledge to some extent because Consciousness-Force or Chit-Shakti which builds the worlds does not make the planes of consciousness totally independent: "the exclusive concentration of Consciousness-Force which puts them into separative action does not entirely sever or veil Mind from Life or Mind and Life from Matter". (Ibid) However at the end, all partial truths are engulfed in the Inconscience-the great and grand denial of Reality.
Inconscience is the zone where Ignorance reigns supreme. Till the Inconscience is reached, the separation between the unitary matrix and the unique integers is incomplete -a semblance of truth still persists allowing the manifestation of partial truths. "The complete separation can take place only when the stage of Inconscience has been reached and our world of manifold Ignorance arises out of that tenebrous matrix". (Ibid)
Ignorance in Involution and Evolution
In Sri Aurobindo's parlance, evolution is preceded by Involution. Involution posits the descent of the Supreme Consciousness through a progressive densification till the Inconscience is reached. In the Inconscience, the Superconscious becomes dormant and hidden. During the process of the descent of the Supreme Consciousness, there were built non-evolutionary or typal planes that would correspond with the evolving planes. Thus there are typal planes of Mind, Life and Matter. Each typal plane is a particular organisation of Consciousness-Force that works out truths of each plane on an independent basis. Therefore each plane works out "truths of itself, not illusions or a tangle of truth and falsehood, knowledge and ignorance". (Ibid)
The dilemma arises in the Inconscience where Consciousness gets totally de-linked from Force or gets blindly imprisoned in Form and Force. Existence, Consciousness and Delight -the triune Sachchidananda gets totally lost in their diametrically opposite poises in the Inconscience. Existence lapses into apparent non-Existence; Consciousness into apparent Inconscience, Delight into cosmic insensibility.
Consciousness has now to get back its status quo. This it can only do by emerging from the Inconscience through a graded and "fragmentary" (Ibid, pg.302) evolution for the emergence has to be slow, with gradual revelation of hidden potencies. In other words, the truth of Consciousness will be revealed slowly as the trajectory of evolution progresses. But the emergence from Inconscience which is the denial of the Supreme Consciousness must naturally carry vestiges from the Inconscience-vestiges in the form of "error" and "falsehood" which are not illusory but "unavoidable truths of a world born out of Inconscience". (Ibid) "For the Ignorance is still in reality a knowledge seeking for itself behind the original mask of Inconscience; it misses and finds; its results, natural and even inevitable on their own line, are the true consequence of the lapse, -- in a way, even, the right working of the recovery from the lapse." (Ibid)
The intervention of duality
The Superconscious had become the Inconscience through the process of involution. The reverse movement of evolution does not automatically restore the Superconscient terms to their original poise. Instead, a phenomenon of duality intervenes in the "labour of self-discovery":
(a) Consciousness proceeds through the dual terms of truth and falsehood, knowledge and error;
(b) Existence proceeds through the dual terms of life and death;
(c) Ananda or Delight of Existence proceeds through the dual terms of pain and pleasure.
Why does the duality intervene? "A pure experience of Truth, Knowledge, Delight, imperishable existence would here be itself a contradiction of the truth of things". (Ibid) Why is it so? This is because though the Supermind held the creative essence of the manifestation, it was the Overmind whose Law allowed each Force constituting the multiplicity to work out its own possibilities. And when infinite possibilities are allowed to flourish, the opposing potency of each Force would bound to surface. (Thus it would not be surprising if one who was perceived as a benevolent ruler turned out to be a tyrant.)
"The natural possibilities of a world in which an original Inconscience and a division of consciousness are the main principles, would be the emergence of Forces of Darkness impelled to maintain the Ignorance by which they live, an ignorant struggle to know originative of falsehood and error, an ignorant struggle to live engendering wrong and evil, an egoistic struggle to enjoy, parent of fragmentary joys and pains and sufferings; these are therefore the inevitable first-imprinted characters, though not the sole possibilities of our evolutionary existence. Still, because the Non-Existence is a concealed Existence, the Inconscience a concealed Consciousness, the insensibility a masked and dormant Ananda, these secret realities must emerge; the hidden Overmind and Supermind too must in the end fulfil themselves in this apparently opposite organisation from a dark Infinite". (Ibid)
From dualities to Integrality
It would be a really uphill and almost impossible feat for the Overmind and Supermind to manifest in the world of dualities that emerge from the dark Infinite. Sri Aurobindo explains that there are two phenomena which can render that culmination easier:
(a) Though we are limited by sensory perception and rational intellect, we can also have access to supra-cognitive planes of consciousness capable of "a more universal comprehension and a direct touch of truth in its very self and body". (Ibid, pg.403) The foremost of such supra-cognitive capacities is a very high Intuition created when the Overmind descends towards Matter. Intuition with its penetrative and revelatory lightning like flashes of Truth illumines our consciousness. It enters us through our inner being and thence influences our surface personality making our being receptive to the messages from the higher echelons of consciousness, facilitating our growth into "intuitive and overmental beings". (Ibid) In ordinary life we also receive flashes of intuition but these get diluted with the ordinary mind and senses rendering such intuitive insights as "mostly fragmentary, casual or partial". (Ibid) It is our quest to rise up to the supra-cognitive planes in the likeness of the intuitive and overmental beings because we possess the potentiality to do so.
(b) The Superconscient principles of Supermind, Overmind and Intuition are not only concealed in the Inconscience from where we arise through evolution and to which we are destined to evolve; they also have a secret occult presence in the manifestation "with flashes of intuitive emergence in the cosmic activity of Mind, life and Matter". (Ibid) Their action may not be ordinarily perceivable but their presence behind the scenes is unmistakable. It is their presence which propels us to the Unborn, makes us aspire to Godhead even in the flux of contradictions, inspires us for constant progress and even allows the influx of Avatars, prophets and seers to be forerunners on the way. Things work out slowly at first for a sudden and premature emergence of the Supermind would upset the applecart of Ignorance and Inconscience and a too rapid transition could be disruptive. After all, all the lines of possibilities allowed by the Overmind must be allowed a level playing field before the final consummation in an integral synthesis in the Supermind. We need not feel dismayed for as Life and Mind have manifested in Matter, the higher Superconscient powers are also programmed to manifest at the opportune time and in the proper context. While these concealed powers emerge from involution, their supreme effulgence and Light would descend into us from above facilitating consciousness to emerge from the matrix of dualities along multiple denouements to culminate in a grand and integral synthesis in the Creative Supermind.
"A divine Life in the manifestation is then not only possible as the high result and ransom of our present life in the Ignorance but, if these things are as we have seen them, it is the inevitable outcome and consummation of Nature's evolutionary endeavour". (Ibid, pg.303-304)
The Mother has described that the emergence of supramental beings would be preceded by intermediary beings. The present human being has to grow into the intermediate being that would facilitate the advent of the supramental being. Towards the end of Book One of the Life Divine, Sri Aurobindo hints about the "intuitive and overmental beings". They would be the prototypes of the coming race of intermediate beings. To be an intuitive being, the rational mind has to be replaced by Intuition which would automatically do the work of reason by intuitive discrimination and then surpass reason. To be an overmental being, the individual has to shift to a global cognitive field by linking with the cosmic consciousness.
Date of Update:
- By Dr. Soumitra Basu