(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 II

Divisions in Consciousness

Is the flow of consciousness divided? It appears to be so and it has to run from moment to moment with a loss of grasp on the last and an ignorance of the next. Therefore arises the necessity of memory to provide some sort of linkage. But consciousness per se is not divided by itself, it is the observing consciousness in Ignorance that causes the so-called divisions. Our sense-faculty is limited and can grasp only a part of indivisible substance as divisible, independent of one substance. (SABCL 18, pg.517)

Gaps or division in Space and Time are present to us in Ignorance though they might not be present in another arrangement of things. It is "to bridge the gaps and connect the divisions created by the ignorance of Mind that we call in the aid of various devices of the mind-consciousness, of which memory is only one device". (Ibid, pg.518)

Flowing stream of the world-sea

There is the "flowing stream of the world-sea" (Ibid) in which any inner movement like anger or grief can occur as a long-continued wave. This continuity is not basically an act of memory .But memory helps to repeat the wave, cause a resurgence of the wave otherwise the wave would have simply collapsed into the stream. Memory justifies itself by a recurrence of the thinking mind to the occasion of anger, it fortifies and makes the mind more subject to it. The same relation between repetition and movement is marked not only in the vital plane of energy but also at the rather constrained level of the mechanical energy. There seems to be "a subconscious memory in all energy of Nature which repeats invariably the same relation of energy and result." (Ibid) Memory is the device which links these movements and their occurrences or recurrences in Time-experience so as to be increasingly used by a more co-ordinating will or reason. However, though indispensable, it is not the only factor by which we develop from the Inconscience or the Ignorance of the mental being develops conscious knowledge of itself. But it is part of the evolutionary process arising from the apparently mindless energy of Matter.

The ego-sense and the ego

"The ego-sense is another device of mental Ignorance by which the mental being becomes aware of himself, -- not only of the objects, occasions and acts of his activity, but of that which experiences them." (Ibid, pg.519) That which experiences is a mental substance called the ego.

When there is a repetition of the same mental phenomenon (for example anger), memory links these repetitions together and enables the mind-sense to realise "that is the same mind-substance(the ego) which is taking the same dynamic form and the same mind-sense (the ego-sense) which is experiencing it." (Ibid)

The ego-sense is not constituted by memory but is always present "as a point of reference or as something in which the mind-sense concentrates itself so as to have a co-ordinant centre instead of sprawling incoherently all over the field of experience; ego-memory reinforces this concentration and helps to maintain it, but does not constitute it." (Ibid)

In animals, the sense of ego or individuality does not go further than a sensational imprecise realisation "of continuity and identity and separateness from others in the moments of Time. But in man there is in addition a co-ordinating mind of knowledge which, basing itself on the united action of the mind-sense and the memory, arrives at the distinct idea, -- while it retains also the first constant intuitive perception, -- of an ego which senses, feels, remembers, thinks, and which is the same whether it remembers or does not remember." (Ibid, pg.519-520) This conscious mind-substance or ego always belongs to the same conscious person who can feel as well as cease to feel, who can remember but also forget. He is superficially conscious but can lapse into sleep , he is there in the infant and demented, in apparent consciousness and unconsciousness, "he is persistently the same behind all changes of his becoming or his personality". (Ibid, pg.520) This ego in the human being which is a formation of self-consciousness and self-experience is higher than the memory-ego and sense-ego of the animal and therefore should be near to real self-knowledge.

Actually all ego-sense and ego-memory is supported by a "secret co-ordinating power or mind of knowledge" (Ibid) implicit in the universal conscious-force or Chit-Shakti which is expressed through reason in the evolution even though it is limited or imperfect. "There is a subconscious knowledge even in the Inconscient, a greater intrinsic Reason in things which impose co-ordination, that is to say, a certain rationality, upon the wildest movements of the universal becoming." (Ibid)


Sri Aurobindo discusses about memory in the phenomenon "of double personality or dissociation of personality". (Ibid) It is interesting that he used the term "dissociation of personality" much earlier than the current nomenclature of dissociative identity disorder (DID) where a single individual has two or more distinct identities. These personalities control behaviour at different times. Each personality appears different with a different name, life and feelings. It seems that each personality is controlled by memory. Like an expert clinician, Sri Aurobindo describes there are also states where dissociation of memory occurs without dissociation of personality:

(a) In hypnotic states a subject takes up a set of memories and experiences to which the waking mind is a stranger but he/she does not think himself/herself as another person ,or

(b) In dementia when one has forgotten the past events of life and even one's name; the ego-sense and personality does not change. (Ibid, pg.521)

However there is the phenomenon of personal growth where it is possible by a rapid development to grow into a completely new personality but there is no gap in memory. (Ibid) If it were not for the co-ordinating mind, one would not perhaps accept the past as belonging to oneself though one remembers everything that happened in the same form of body and same form of mind-substance. It is the co-ordinating faculty of mind which links the past, present and future and relates them to an "I" who remains the same in Time despite the changes of experience and personality.

The "I" as Becoming and as Being

The ego-sense that represents the Mind in forms is the first basis for the development of self-knowledge in the mental being. Travelling from the Inconscience to self-conscience, it becomes aware of "its superficially conscious becoming as related to an "I" which it always is." That "I" is identified in two ways. Firstly it is conscious becoming. But secondly, it is something more than the becoming and superior to it, perhaps a being, eternal and unchanging. By the aid of reason the self-experience based on the becoming aspect may be accepted and the being aspect dismissed. Or the being aspect may be alone revered dismissing the becoming.

Limitations of Self-Knowledge in Ignorance

A self-knowledge based on the separative ego-sense or as a reaction against it cannot be full-proof. There are several reasons :

(a) It is based on knowledge of our superficial mental activity while it is an Ignorance in regards to the large rest of becoming that is behind;

(b) It is knowledge only of being and becoming limited to the individual self; all the rest of the world is "non-self", not realised as part of its own being. It has no direct conscious knowledge of the larger existence.

(c) The true relation between being and becoming has not been worked out on the basis of perfect self-knowledge but rather by Ignorance --a partial knowledge, a knowledge of the multiplicity. (Ibid, pg.522)

As a result we are faced with an either-or situation. Either we can absorb ourselves in direct self-consciousness to the exclusion of all becoming. Or we can be fully involved in the becoming to the exclusion of all stable self-consciousness. As long as we are under the rule of Ignorance -- a partial knowledge of the multiplicity, the antagonism between the two situations cannot be ruled out. "An integral knowledge is the aim of the conscious evolution; a clean cut of the consciousness shearing apart one side and leaving the other cannot be the whole truth of self and things."(Ibid)

Beyond the surface existence

Our surface existence tells us very little of ourselves and the world. It is actually a diminished representation of a greater existence within us that we have to discover by an inner knowledge. The immobile self in us is revealed in silence when the outer mental, vital and physical activities are quietened. The inner self is seated deep within "and is represented on the surface only by the intuitive sense of self-existence and misrepresented by the mental, vital, physical ego-sense." (Ibid, pg.523)

The surface memory is a fragmentary pulling out of a deeper subliminal memory that receives and records not only the world-experience but what the outer mind has not received or recorded. Likewise, our surface imagination is a selection from a vaster creative subliminal experience.

Our surface personality will be replaced by a deeper inner personality that harbours a greater mind, a more dynamic life-energy and a subtle-physical with a finer receptivity. The ego will be replaced by a fourth-dimensional psychic entity that would hold together our self-experience and world-experience. "It is only when we have seen both our self and our nature as a whole, in the depths as well as on the surface, that we can acquire a true basis of knowledge". (Ibid)

Date of Update: 26-Mar-24

- By Dr. Soumitra Basu


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