Sachchidananda 'The Life Divine' Book I,Ch.9, 10, 11, 12 (The Mother Insitute of Research - MIRA) - Track 1003

 If everything is consciousness how can there be unconsciousness at all. Now in answer to this question it is said that whatever is unconscious is itself a mode of consciousness that is unconsciousness is not opposed to consciousness. It is itself a mode of consciousness and the example is that of sleep. When you go to sleep what happens. Your consciousness as you normally understand it is suspended, but it is not destroyed when you wake up you can take up the thread with past and how can you take up the thread with the past if there was a real loss of consciousness. We also know that when there is sleep whatever senses normally observe they don’t observe any more. My ears may be as wide open as now and yet in the sleep condition I don’t hear the noise. Even if the noise takes place around me I don’t hear the noise, therefore unconsciousness is simply a mode of consciousness. This theory therefore simply wants to argue that consciousness is not equal to mental consciousness. If you mean by consciousness, mental consciousness then ofcourse you can’t explain sleep, you can’t explain unconsciousness, you can’t explain matter, but if consciousness have different kinds of grace of such a kind that even the suspension of consciousness is the state of consciousness then you can explain the emergence of matter out of  consciousness and how do you explain – by means of what is called self limitation, there is the power of self limitation in the consciousness. It’s a special kind of power just as power of self expression is a power, the power of self limitation is also a power. I know that a certain things need not to be spoken in the presence of a child therefore I limit my expression, but that limitation requires the power. It’s a very special power. It is a result of a consciousness that power itself is exercised by a special power of consciousness therefore all self limitation is a deliberate action. Deliberate means conscious, so according to this theory consciousness can ….unconsciousness by pointing out that unconsciousness is the deliberate action of consciousness to limit its consciousness. If you therefore put a hypothesis that the whole world is originally a consciousness, having a power of self limitation then that power of self limitation can be of various degrees, greater limitation, lower limitation, higher limitation, intense limitation, acute limitation various kinds of limitations are possible. You can have even the intensest limitation which can become inconcience. Inconcience is consciousness limiting itself to such an acute point that it even does not remember that it is deliberately limit itself. Its an acute self limitation.

Question – How is it different from ignorance?

Ignorance is intermediate between incontinent and supreme consciousness. Limitation of consciousness when it is middle point it is ignorance. When it is acute it is inconcience.

But it is said that it is voluntary limitation …so how does that differ from ignorance?

Ignorance is also self limited ignorance. We are all ignorant and if you ask a question as to how this ignorance has come about if you go into the history of it you will find at a given time you decided that you want to be limited in your consciousness if you are not decided you will not have become ignorant.

Q- what I didn’t understand was how was it different from just as you said that voluntary limit as to what we have t say in front of a child or not so that not ignorance that is because of knowledge.

That’s right. Ignorance also is an act of knowledge. Infact that is the specialty of ignorance. Ignorance itself is a form of knowledge that is why in the Isha Upanishad it is said that Vidya  cha avidya if you follow only avidhya you will be in ignorance, but if you follow Vidhya alone you will be in a greater ignorance because you are omitting something that is also a form of knowledge. Avidya and Vidhya both combined together give you really a true knowledge. The totality of knowledge is both to have Vidhya and avidhya and also the creation of avidhya is a result of a deliberate action on your part. Availing the knowledge. If you had not exercised that will you would not have become ignorant but you have forgotten it because you have decided that you will forget that. It becomes acute to that point. You have become so acutely ignorant that you have forgotten that you have taken a voluntary decision to become ignorant, but if you go back into the history of your ignorance you will find that you had taken a decision at a given time that you will deliberately limit yourself and play with ignorance that is the theory of Ila that all ignorance is a play. You have decided to play to hide yourself and then having hidden yourself you try to find yourself out and then ultimately when you decide that you want to …yourself then only you become conscious of yourself, so in both the cases it’s a question of decision. It’s a deliberate action, so infact there is a chapter in the Life Divine where Sri Aurobindo has described ignorance as the process of knowledge and this is a knowledge which helps us in dealing with the world because wherever you see ignorance that there is working of knowledge somewhere. Mere ignorance is not really ignorance. Even a child when he is ignorant if you really observe perfectly you will find that there is spark of knowledge which is constantly illuminating itself in some of its most important activities just as the body which diseased has an automatic tendency to become healthy. Healing is an automatic process of the body. Even if you are very ill everybody tries to become healthy. Infact all doctors assure you that they are only external instruments. They put the condition of the body in such a condition that it allows the body to work on its own. If the body were not to work on its own by its own inner light the body can never be healthy. How is it that when there is a wound in the body, the white cells of the blood they rush out to give you protection immediately. Who tells them that they have the function to prevent a bleeding, if they come into the picture they can prevent bleeding and therefore the body is protected. How tells the body, so there is a kind of knowledge which is present even in the movements which are unconscious and then if you look at the whole world you will find that the whole world is a big ocean of consciousness.