(a project of Mirravision Trust, Financed by Auroshakti Foundation)

Chapter I
Chapter II - Part 1
Chapter II - Part 2
Chapter II - Part 3
Chapter II - Part 4
Chapter III - Part 1
Chapter III - Part 2
Chapter III - Part 3
Chapter III - Part 4
Chapter III - Part 5
Chapter III - Part 6
Chapter IV - Part 1
Chapter IV - Part 2
Chapter IV - Part 3
Chapter IV - Part 4
Chapter V-Part 1
Chapter V - Part 2
Chapter V - Part 3
Chapter V - Part 4
Chapter V - Part 5
Chapter VI - Part 1
Chapter VI - Part 2
Chapter VI - Part 3
Chapter VI - Part 4
Chapter VI - Part 5
Chapter VII - Part 1
Chapter VII - Part 2
Chapter VII - Part 3
Chapter VII - Part 4
Chapter VII - Part 5
Chapter VIII - Part 1
Chapter VIII - Part 2
Chapter VIII - Part 3
Chapter VIII - Part 4
Chapter IX - Part 1
Chapter IX - Part 2
Chapter X - Part 1
Chapter X - Part 2
Chapter X - Part 3
Chapter X - Part 4
Chapter X - Part 5
Chapter X - Part 6
Chapter XI - Part 1
Chapter XI - Part 2
Chapter XI - Part 3
Chapter XI - Part 4
Chapter XII - Part 1
Chapter XII - Part 2
Chapter XII - Part 3
Chapter XII - Part 4
Chapter XII - Part 5
Chapter XIII - Part 1
Chapter XIII - Part 2
Chapter XIV - Part 1
Chapter XIV - Part 2
Chapter XIV - Part 3
Chapter XIV - Part 4
Chapter XIV - Part 5
Chapter XV - Part 1
Chapter XV - Part 2
Chapter XV - Part 3
Chapter XV - Part 4
Chapter XV - Part 5
Chapter XV - Part 6
Chapter XV - Part 7
Chapter XV - Part 8
Chapter XV - Part 9
Chapter XVI - Part 1
Chapter XVI - Part 2
Chapter XVI - Part 3
Chapter XVI - Part 4
Chapter XVI - Part 5
Chapter XVI - Part 6
Chapter XVI - Part 7
Chapter XVI - Part 8
Chapter XVI - Part 9
Chapter XVI - Part 10
Chapter XVI - Part 11
Chapter XVI - Part 12
Chapter XVI - Part 13
Chapter XVII - Part 1
Chapter XVII - Part 2
Chapter XVII - Part 3
Chapter XVII - Part 4
Chapter XVIII - Part 1
Chapter XVIII - Part 2
Chapter XVIII - Part 3
Chapter XVIII - Part 4
Chapter XVIII - Part 5
Chapter XVIII - Part 6
Chapter XVIII - Part 7
Chapter XVIII - Part 8
Chapter XVIII - Part 9
Chapter XVIII - Part 10
Chapter XIX - Part 1
Chapter XIX - Part 2
Chapter XIX - Part 3
Chapter XIX - Part 4
Chapter XIX - Part 5
Chapter XIX - Part 6
Chapter XIX - Part 7
Chapter XX - Part 1
Chapter XX - Part 2
Chapter XX - Part 3
Chapter XX - Part 4
Chapter XX - Part 4
Chapter XXI - Part 1
Chapter XXI - Part 2
Chapter XXI - Part 3
Chapter XXI - Part 4
Chapter XXII - Part 1
Chapter XXII - Part 2
Chapter XXII - Part 3
Chapter XXII - Part 4
Chapter XXII - Part 5
Chapter XXII - Part 6
Chapter XXIII Part 1
Chapter XXIII Part 2
Chapter XXIII Part 3
Chapter XXIII Part 4
Chapter XXIII Part 5
Chapter XXIII Part 6
Chapter XXIII Part 7
Chapter XXIV Part 1
Chapter XXIV Part 2
Chapter XXIV Part 3
Chapter XXIV Part 4
Chapter XXIV Part 5
Chapter XXV Part 1
Chapter XXV Part 2
Chapter XXV Part 3
Chapter XXVI Part 1
Chapter XXVI Part 2
Chapter XXVI Part 3
Chapter XXVII Part 1
Chapter XXVII Part 2
Chapter XXVII Part 3
Chapter XXVIII Part 1
Chapter XXVIII Part 2
Chapter XXVIII Part 3
Chapter XXVIII Part 4
Chapter XXVIII Part 5
Chapter XXVIII Part 6
Chapter XXVIII Part 7
Chapter XXVIII Part 8
Book II, Chapter 1, Part I
Book II, Chapter 1, Part II
Book II, Chapter 1, Part III
Book II, Chapter 1, Part IV
Book II, Chapter 1, Part V
Book II, Chapter 2, Part I
Book II, Chapter 2, Part II
Book II, Chapter 2, Part III
Book II, Chapter 2, Part IV
Book II, Chapter 2, Part V
Book II, Chapter 2, Part VI
Book II, Chapter 2, Part VII
Book II, Chapter 2, Part VIII
Book II, Chapter 3, Part I
Book II, Chapter 3, Part II
Book II, Chapter 3, Part III
Book II, Chapter 3, Part IV
Book II, Chapter 3, Part V
Book II, Chapter 4, Part I
Book II, Chapter 4, Part II
Book II, Chapter 4, Part III
Book II, Chapter 5, Part I
Book II, Chapter 5, Part II
Book II, Chapter 5, Part III
Book II, Chapter 6, Part I
Book II, Chapter 6, Part II
Book II, Chapter 6, Part III
Book II, Chapter 7, Part I
Book II, Chapter 7, Part II
Book II, Chapter 8, Part I
Book II, Chapter 8, Part II
Book II, Chapter 9, Part I
Book II, Chapter 9, Part II
Book II, Chapter 10, Part I
Book II, Chapter 10, Part II

A Psychological Approach to Sri Aurobindo's

The Life Divine

Book II, Chapter 9, Part I

Book II

The Knowledge and the Ignorance-The Spiritual Evolution

Chapter 9

Memory, Ego and Self-Experience

Part I

Awareness of the Self

Behind our external personality is the soul-substance. The direct awareness of the soul is different from the awareness of the external person that we are. We become aware of the external person by our mind but to be aware of the soul, we have to go behind the mind and the ego and that means behind the usual constructs of time and space, albeit to timelessness (eternity) and spacelessness (infinity). The ordinary mental being thinks that one is in the body and one is at one or other place. But this signifies only relation of of the surface consciousness to the externalities. One has to learn to detach from this external experience to perceive the "self" not affected by the mutations of time and space. The "self" is featureless and relationless and ever-blissful. "Thus we become aware of the stable Self, the eternal "Am", or rather the immutable "Is" without any category of personality or Time". (SABCL 18, pg.512)

The Timeless Self and the time-bound Self

But the eternal timeless inner Self who is unmoved by outer experiences allows the play of Time on its surface. Whereas the time-bound, ego-bound superficial self is constantly modified by experiences so that it is never the same from moment to moment. Those who remain in this surface Time-self are not in the habit of detaching from the surface personality and cannot think themselves separate from this ever-modifying mental experience. For them it is easy to identify with the Buddhist nihilists who consider this external self as "a stream of idea and experience and mental action" (Ibid) and that there is no real inner self but "only a flow of experience and behind it Nihil: there is experience of knowledge without a Knower, experience of being without an Existent; there are simply a number of elements, parts of a flux without a real whole, which combine to to create the illusion of a Knower and Knowledge and the Known, the illusion of an Existent and existence and the existence of experience". (Ibid)

Equally anomalous is the opposite example of those who having realized the inner timeless Self consider everything else as a mutable non-self -- "the result of a deluding trick of consciousness". (Ibid)

Change in both Time and Space

Let us study the surface-consciousness. At first, the study is subjective. There the Time-point constantly shifts and cannot be arrested for a moment . But what about the space-circumstance. Apparently it may appear not to shift. But it actually shifts. There is a constant "change both in the body or form of itself which the consciousness directly inhabits and the environing body or form of things in which it less directly lives".(Ibid, pg.513) One is of course more directly conscious of one's own body than the body of the world which it indirectly assesses through the senses. "This change of the body and the surroundings is not so insistently obvious or not so obviously rapid as the swift mutation of Time; yet it is equally real from moment to moment and equally impossible to arrest". (Ibid) As our mental being records all this mutation, there is a constant modification of the mental personality which is the form of our superficial self. In philosophical parlance, all this change of circumstance is known as causality where the antecedent stage seems to precede the subsequent stage. (Ibid)

Therefore the mind is not only capable of direct self-consciousness but also capable of an indirect mutable self-experience. (Ibid) The latter it divides into two parts, a subjective experience of personality and an objective experience of the ever-changing environment. (Ibid) "But all this experience is at bottom subjective; for even the objective and external is only known to mind in the form of subjective impressions."(Ibid, pg.514)

Role of Memory

Here Memory plays a great role because it becomes in our surface-experience "an important power linking together past and present experiences, past and present personality, preventing chaos and dissociation and assuring the continuity of the stream in the surface mind". (Ibid) Still the function of memory must not be exaggerated for it is not alone which constitutes the ego-sense. Memory is a mediator between the sense-mind and co-ordinating intelligence. It offers to the mind its past data of experience that is difficult to be held in its running from moment to moment.

We have in the functioning of mentality four elements:

(a) The object of mental consciousness

(b) The act of mental consciousness

(c) The occasion

(d) The subject (Ibid)

The object is some movement of the conscious being like anger, grief or impulsive life-reaction or some form of sensation , perception or thought-activity.(Ibid)

The act is some kind of mental observation and conceptual valuation of the movement or wave or else a mental sensation of it. (Ibid) The act and the object may be separated by a distinguishing perception or confused indistinguishably. That means for example a subject may become a movement of anger without observing oneself or one may observe oneself and realize that one is angry. In the former case the act of conscious self-experience and the anger becomes rolled into one wave; in the latter case there is a rapid discrimination and the act of self-experience partly detaches from the object. "Thus by this act of partial detachment we are able not only to experience ourselves dynamically in the becoming....but to stand back, perceive and observe ourselves and, if the detachment is sufficient, to control our feeling and action, control to some extent our becoming." (Ibid, pg.515)

There is however a defect in this self-observation for though there is a partial detachment of the act from the object, there is no complete detachment of the mental person from the mental act. It is when this complete detachment takes place that one becomes aware of the sheer ego at first and at the end of the witness-self --the thinking mental Person who observes his anger but is not determined or limited by the anger or perception. He is a constant factor (Ibid) aware of succession of unlimited conscious experiences but can be aware too of oneself behind the succession, supporting and containing it , always the same behind the changing arrangements of the conscious force. "He is thus the Self that is immutably and at the same time the Self that becomes eternally in the succession of Time." (Ibid, pg.515-516)

Being and Becoming

"It is evident that there are not really two selves, but one conscious being which throws itself up in the waves of conscious-force so as to experience itself in a succession of changing movements of itself.." (Ibid, pg.516) A deeper knowledge reveals the poise of the unchanging immutable Self when it is known as the Being. In the poise of the mutable Self that changes according to the experiencing consciousness, it lives in the knowledge of the phenomenon and is known as the Becoming. In that deeper knowledge,the observed phenomenon is not considered unreal though the immutable Being is not subject to the senses whereas the phenomenon becomes real as Becoming to the mutable Self. (Ibid)

Relevance of Memory

It is to the succession of experiences and the secondary action of the experiencing consciousness that the device of Memory becomes relevant. A primary condition of our mentality is division by the moments of Time and there is an inability to hold the experiences together except this self-divison by the moments of Time. Sri Aurobindo lucidly explains: "In the immediate mental experience of a wave of becoming, a conscious movement of being, there is no action or need of memory; I become angry -- it is an act of sensation, not of memory; I observe that I am angry, --it is an act of perception, not of memory. Memory only comes in when I begin to relate my experience to the successions of Time,when I divide my becoming into past, present and future, when I say, "I was angry a moment ago", or "I have become angry and am still in anger", or "I was angry once and will be again if there is the same occasion."(Ibid, pg.516-517)

Memory and Imagination

Memory can come into the Becoming if there is a recurrence of some emotion like grief or anger from the past without any relation to the present or by the present immediate occasion reviving the past. (Ibid, pg.517) The past is not present in our surface but buried and often active in the subliminal from where it can be summoned by an action of the thought-mind which we call memory just as we can call things not in the ambit of our superficial mind-experience by the action of our thought-mind that we call imagination. Imagination is "that greater power in us and high summoner of all possibilities realisable or unrealisable into the field of our ignorance."(Ibid)

Date of Update: 20-Feb-24

- By Dr. Soumitra Basu


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