Would Mind be able to unravel the secret? But the Mind-principle in its emergence is initially involved in the flux of needs, desires, sensations and emotions whose nuances shift as evolution progresses from animal to human nature. A ray of optimism is seen. "In the human mind there is the first hope of understanding, discovery, a free comprehension; here we might seem to be coming to the possibility of self-knowledge and world-knowledge". (LD 321) But practically what happens is that the mind begins to acquire knowledge through the instruments of sensory perception and ratiocination to end up in speculations, deductions, possibilities, probabilities, inferences and hypotheses. And this whole process is not neutral but impregnated with observer bias that is determined by nature -our subjective temperament, idiosyncrasies and past-life projections -"an inborn natural selection". (Ibid, pg.322) At best we can detach ourselves from the stream of thoughts to observe "the workings of the mental Energy in us" (Ibid) but we are confronted with phenomena that includes theories and hypotheses but not with the primal secret of Reality that is the true source of all determinations.
The only alternative left is to increase our own repertoire of consciousness that is again possible though an evolution of consciousness. "To know with greater certitude we must follow the curve of evolving consciousness until it arrives at a height and largeness of self-enlightenment in which the primal secret is self-discovered". (Ibid, pg.321)
Yogic introspection gives an initial clue to self-discovery. It leads us to realize that mind is a "subtle substance" (Ibid, pg.322) that can be termed as a general determinate or generic indeterminate that can be projected by mental energy into "particular determinations" (Ibid) which manifest as concepts, percepts, sentiments, emotions and will-power. But the mental energy can also be silent and quiescent, basking in immobility and "peace of self-existence". (Ibid) Certain unique self-discoveries are made in that silence:
(a) What we consider to be our own thoughts and formulations actually invade the mind from outside, originating in an universal Mind or transmitted from other minds.
(b) Behind our outer mind is a subliminal mind through which "thoughts and perceptions and will-impulses" (Ibid) rise up from the universal subconscient.
(c) Above our cognitive field are supra-cognitive strata from where a higher mental energy influences us.
(d) There is a true mental being or Monomaya Purusha supporting the mind substance and mind energy; "without this presence, their upholder and source of sanctions, they could not exist or operate". (Ibid)
(e) This Purusha has two poises. It can act as a immobile Witness, passive and detached. All mental determinations would represent a phenomenon of Nature, Prakriti or a construction of Prakriti offered to the observing Purusha.
(f) The Purusha can depart being a passive witness to become the source of all determinations, It can "accept, reject, even rule and regulate, become the giver of the command, the knower". (Ibid, pg.323) The mental being seems to be the "expressive substance" (Ibid) of the Purusha while the mental energy is consciousness-force of the Purusha.
(g) Despite being unique, the personal mind is not a stand-alone phenomenon but seems to be a formation of universal mind, a transmitting station for "cosmic thought-waves, idea-currents, will-suggestions, waves of feeling, sense-suggestions, form-suggestions". (Ibid) All such cosmic movements get assimilated in the "personal Prakriti of the Purusha". (Ibid)
It would be interesting to speculate if this whole evolution of consciousness exists for the enjoyment of the Purusha and executed either by the universal Energy or Mind-Energy. Or else, "whether the whole is something predetermined by some dynamic truth of Self within and manifested on the surface". (Ibid) To unravel that mystery one must expand into the cosmic consciousness in the poise of the cosmic being where "the totality of things and their integral principle" (Ibid) are better manifest than in the limited space of the personal mind.
Where would the expansion into cosmic consciousness or universal mind lead us to? The universal mind not only holds positive forces; it can also harbour negative forces. The collective unconscious which Jung described is the source of universal archetypes that influence us even in our dreams and is implicit in our cultural engagements ---it indicates that we have a poise of the universal mind in Ignorance. We have to travel to a global cognitive matrix that is beyond the universal mind in Ignorance and which Sri Aurobindo named as the Overmind -the "first direct and masterful cognition of cosmic truth."(Ibid)
Sri Aurobindo describes that the Reality is simultaneously expressed in the three poises of Transcendental, Universal (Cosmic) and Individual poises. It is the Transcendent Reality that diffuses to form the cosmic Being in the universal matrix and concentrates to form the individual being. The individual being is therefore "a partial self-expression of the cosmic Being" (Ibid, pg.324) and "a conditional and half-veiled expression" of the transcendent Reality. (Ibid)
Where does the Overmind fit in this scheme of things? Actually it is the integral cognitive field of the Supermind that runs a program to manifest the Transcendental in terms of the Universal and Individual. The first expression of that endeavour is the global cognitive field of the Overmind that allows all potentialities of the universal and individual terms of Reality to manifest. Naturally, when all potentialities have been allowed to manifest, all variations, perfect or imperfect can appear. Can the individual rise up to a perfectly perfect alignment with the cosmic and transcendental principles?
The individual himself is not an automaton but a living and pulsating phenomenon with the capacity of self-determination. What one receives and assimilates facilitates the growth and terms of self-expression of Reality through mind, life and body.
Is that self-expression or self-determination of the individual being
(a) an index of the capacities of the mental Purusha or
(b) is it a construction of Prakriti presented to the Purusha that has become individualized in personal formation?
(c) Or is the very fact of existential reality a "play of cosmic Imagination, a fantasia of the Infinite"? (Ibid)
These three views of creation have equal chances to manifest and hold fort. "Overmind seems to add to the perplexity, for the overmental view of things allows each possibility to formulate itself in its own independent right and realize its own existence in cognition, in dynamic self-presentation, in substantiating experience". (Ibid) (Therefore it is difficult to find an exclusive view in the Overmind because it supports, albeit impartially, all views.
Overmind-a repository of dichotomies
The Overmind is a repository of dichotomies. It therefore supports with equal validity the experience of a featureless Silence reminiscent of the Great Void and the opposite experience of a dynamic and determinative knowledge-power. These contradictory experiential realizations existing as correlatives or complementaries sublimate into the co-existence of
(a) a Nirguna or an impersonal Brahman, "a fundamental divine Reality free from all relations or determinates"(Ibid, pg.325) and
(b) a Saguna, "a fundamental divine Reality who is the source and container and master of all relations and determinations" (ibid).
Sri Aurobindo explains that if the Overmind can accommodates these two truths of the Eternal as mutually exclusive alternatives, there must still be a yet higher poise of Reality - a Transcendence that integrates, upholds and originates them. The Transcendence lies beyond our cognitive grasp and we can have some comprehension of it but at the end remains unknowable.
The dilemma of the Absolute
If the Absolute is sheer and pure Consciousness in the form of a pure Indeterminable that is featureless and beyond all qualities, then there can be no movement in it and thus no creation. Yet the universe exists. This dilemma of the Absolute can only be solved if we posit a Power implicit in Consciousness that can be dormant or active.
What if that Power originated outside the Absolute? It could be the phenomenon of "a cosmic Imagination imposing its determinations on the eternal blank of the Indeterminable". (Ibid, pg.326) But then the Absolute or Parabrahman cannot be the sole Reality but has to admit a dualism. The Supreme Being and the Power of his existence would be "two supreme contradictories" (Ibid) -an indeterminable Brahman and Maya- the originator of determinations which would have to be supported and witnessed by Brahman. In this equation, the Supreme Brahman would be aloof from all creation and therefore all that is created would be illusory - a result of cosmic Imagination.
If we consider all creation to be illusory and not determined by Brahman but by Maya, two difficulties arise:
(a) Even if everything is illusory, all created things must have a subjective existence and subjectivity per se requires a consciousness of Existence; all creations would be "subjective determinations of the Indeterminable". (Ibid)
(b) If the creations are not illusory but real, then the basic question remains unanswered -- "out of what are they determined, what their substance is?" (Ibid)For nothing could be created out of a vacuum, out of a Non-existence other than the Absolute for this would have created a new dualism -"a great positive Zero over against the great indeterminable x we have supposed to be the one Reality". (Ibid)
Sri Aurobindo explains the Reality which is Indeterminate need not be a rigid Indeterminable - it can sport a flexibility too and consent to create out of itself things that would concomitantly be in itself. The phenomenon of Indetermination means one is not limited by determinations; it does not exclude the freedom of self-determination.
"It is perfectly understandable that the Absolute is and must be indeterminable in the sense that it cannot be limited by any determination or any sum of possible determinations, but not in the sense that it is incapable of self-determination". (Ibid, pg.327)
Date of Update:
- By Dr. Soumitra Basu