Sri Aurobindo explains that our spiritual perception of the Absolute has translated in our consciousness in two psychological experiences:
(a) The dimension of indeterminability expresses through "fundamental negating positives" that culminate in the Nirguna Brahman - the Eternal without qualities, the Impersonal, the Non-being, the Void.(Ibid)
(b) The dimension of determinations as an dynamic essentiality expresses though "fundamental affirming positives" that culminate in the concept of Saguna Brahman - the Infinite with Eternal qualities, the Infinite Person who is the source and foundation of all persons and personalities.(ibid)
In the supramental cognition both the perspectives have to be considered as existing in each other for "their co-existence or one-existence is eternal and their powers sustaining each other found the self-manifestation of the Infinite." (Ibid) Yet their separate consideration is not an illusion or "error of Ignorance" but has its own unique validity of spiritual experience.
Ordinarily, we can have spiritual experiences at three levels:
(a) At the spiritual end where the manifestation is programmed,
(b) At the material end where the manifestation is perceived,
(c) At the Inconscience where the Descent of Consciousness culminates and the evolutionary Ascent of Consciousness initiates its trajectory.
At each of these levels the Nirguna Brahman and the Saguna Brahman can be experienced:
At the spiritual end the indeterminability of the Nirguna Brahman and the primary power of determination of the Saguna Brahman can be considered as fundamental spiritual determinates or indeterminates.
At the material and inconscient planes, the same qualities of indeterminability and power of determinations can be considered as general determinates or generic indeterminates.
An experience of the Nirguna Brahman frees the Infinite from limitations by its own determinations so that the spirit is liberated and no longer bound by the determinations and creations of Nature.
An experience of the Saguna Brahman gives the Infinite the freedom "to create a world of determinations without being bound by it: it enables it also to withdraw from what it has created and re-create in a higher truth-formula." (Ibid, pg.332)
Freedom in different denouements is thus the key-word in the experience of the Absolute whether in its poise of indeterminability or as generator of determinants. "It is on this freedom that is based the spirit's power of infinite variation of the truth-possibilities of existence and also its capacity to create, without tying itself to its workings, any and every form of Necessity or system of order: the individual being too by experience of these negating absolutes can participate in that dynamic liberty, can pass from one order of self-formulation to a higher order." (Ibid)
In fact, at a certain stage of spiritual progress towards the Supramental consciousness, a period of Silence of the Spirit - a "Nirvana of mentality and mental ego" (Ibid) is indispensable. No wonder, an experience of the pure and featureless Self is needed to appreciate how that Silence supports the world of manifestation. "In any case, a realisation of the pure Self must always precede the transition to that mediating eminence of the consciousness from which a clear vision of the ascending and descending stairs of manifested existence is commanded and the possession of the free power of ascent and descent becomes a spiritual prerogative". (Ibid) This means that one can reach the stage where a subject after liberation can invoke the descent of the higher planes of consciousness in one's being so as to make them operable in terrestrial consciousness. That would signify the Jivanmukta in a dynamic mode.
Thus an identification with different poises of the Absolute, with its indeterminability as well as its different determinants is necessary for an integral comprehension of the Reality. If the inalienable unity of the Absolute is a Supramental experience, an identity with each of the primal aspects and powers of the Absolute is experienced at the global cognitive field of the Overmind without losing the sense of underlying unity.
It is only at the level of the Mind that the sense of underlying unity is lost and each power of the Absolute becomes an unique and separate affirmation. Yet all is not lost for even in the Mind's ignorance, a subliminal memory of the totality remains and can be recovered by a profound intuition of "an underlying truth of integral oneness".(Ibid, pg.333) If the aspirant progresses from the usual cognitive matrix of the ordinary mind to the domain of a higher spiritual mind, the sense of underlying unity behind all separate affirmations becomes an "ever-present experience". (Ibid)
Fundamental Truths in Omnipresent Reality
If the underlying unity of the multiplicity is a fundamental truth then all the unique and independent integers of the multiplicity also represent a fundamental truth of Reality. Sri Aurobindo explains: "All aspects of the omnipresent Reality have their fundamental truth in the Supreme Existence." (Ibid) This is best exemplified in the way the Inconscience is produced by the plunging of the Superconscience into the abyss through the process of self-involution that precedes the evolution. Whatever evolves is not from a vacuum but from the Inconscience where all that would evolve are involved as dormant potentialities. During the descent of the Superconscience into the abyss of "trance-sleep", all its values change into their nether opposites through a graded process of self-oblivion of the Spirit. That is how Life changes into Death, Truth changes into Falsehood, Knowledge changes into Ignorance, Joy changes into Suffering. These limited and opposing terms represents "the play of a secret all-being" with rules of "self-oblivion, self-opposition, self-limitation". (ibid) "This is the Inconscience and Ignorance that we see at work in the material universe. It is not a denial, it is one term, one formula of the infinite and eternal Existence". (Ibid)
Cognition of cosmic being
The Inconscience is therefore not a false imposition or unreal creation but inherent in the total cognition of cosmic being which has its assigned place in the spiritual economy (Ibid) of the universe. If all our experiences are considered to be unreal or false impositions, both cosmic and individual existence would be false and the sole reality would be the "indeterminable self-awareness of the Absolute"(Ibid). If the entire manifestation is considered to be temporal and a collapsible construction without the support of a timeless eternity, then that would also be a false imposition. "But if all is a manifestation of the Reality... then the awareness of individual being and world-being would be in its spiritual origin and nature a play of the infinite self-knowledge and all-knowledge; ignorance could be only a subordinate movement, a suppressed or restricted cognition or a partial and imperfect knowledge". (Ibid, pg.334)
Even if the entire manifestation is considered to be illusory and temporal, the inevitable consummation would be the return of the spirit, "not out of the cosmos to a sole supracosmic self-awareness but even in the cosmos itself to an integral self-knowledge and all-knowledge". (ibid)
Is there a blank Absolute beyond the Supermind?
The Supermind is the creative consciousness where the unmanifest One is programmed to become the Many. Sachchidananda that is the triune of Existence (Sat), Chit (Consciousness) and Bliss (Ananda) which are inseparable becomes dynamic in the creative matrix of the Supramental Truth Consciousness so as to initiate the beginning of differentiation.
Naturally it can be surmised that beyond the Supermind, the Absolute alone exists - a blank, featureless Absolute of indeterminability. The corollary would be that the components that make up the triune Reality of Sachchidananda would cease to exist in the ineffable Absolute.
Sri Aurobindo differs. He explains that whatever manifests must be pre-existent as a potentiality. Therefore the potentiality of determinations pre-exist in the Absolute as "inherent truths of the supreme being" (Ibid, pg.335) which is thus not truly featureless though it appears to be so. In fact though the Supermind itself is poised between the Overmind and Sachchidananda, it is also present as a potentiality and an inherent power-principle in Sachchidananda and Beyond: "the difference would be that the determinations would not be demarcations, they would be plastic, interfused, each a boundless infinite." (Ibid, pg.334-335)
In other words, the Oneness and the multiplicity, the dimension of indeterminability and the dimension of determinations exist simultaneously for "all is in each and each is in all radically and integrally". (Ibid, pg.335) In this broader spectrum, Knowledge as we know would be a direct action of consciousness upon itself.
"The Absolute is not a mystery of infinite blankness nor a supreme sum of negations; nothing can manifest that is not justified by some self power of the original and omnipresent Reality". (Ibid, pg.335)
Date of Update:
- By Dr. Soumitra Basu