Even if it takes a long time, we should either not start at all, but if we start we must go right up to the end.
The very first lines you will see as Sri Aurobindo has said that there have been many achievements in the past in the field of psychic transformation and some of the elements of spiritual transformation. The instances of these kinds of transformation can be many, but the perfection of this is illustrated only by a few, but even then that has been achieved also. But going from spiritual transformation towards Supermind and Supramental transformation it’s a very big domain but in the past history of mankind it has been only glimpsed and the higher heights have been ill explored, and perfection of this is something to be done.
There is nothing in the history of the past where we can get some kind of an indication or light, and that is why the substance of this chapter is so difficult.
Let me read this first paragraph and then we shall go forward:
The psychic transformation and the first stages of the spiritual transformation are well within our conception; their perfection would be the perfection, wholeness, consummated unity of a knowledge and experience which is already part of things realised, though only by a small number of human beings. But the supramental change in its process carries us into less explored regions; it initiates a vision of heights of consciousness which have indeed been glimpsed and visited, but have yet to be discovered and mapped in their completeness. The highest of these peaks or elevated plateaus of consciousness, the supramental, lies far beyond the possibility of any satisfying mental scheme or map of it or any grasp of mental seeing and description. It would be difficult for the normal unillumined or untransformed mental conception to express or enter into something that is based on so different a consciousness with a radically different awareness of things; even if they were seen or conceived by some enlightenment or opening of vision, an other language than the poor abstract counters used by our mind would be needed to translate them into terms by which their reality could become at all seizable by us. As the summits of human mind are beyond animal perception, so the movements of Supermind are beyond the ordinary human mental conception: it is only when we have already had experience of a higher intermediate consciousness that any terms attempting to describe supramental being could convey a true meaning to our intelligence; for then, having experienced something akin to what is described, we could translate an inadequate language into a figure of what we knew. If the mind cannot enter into the nature of Supermind, it can look towards it through these high and luminous approaches and catch some reflected impression of the Truth, the Right, the Vast which is the native kingdom of the free Spirit.
Sri Aurobindo, The Life Divine - II: The Ascent towards Supermind
Just as the animal perception cannot understand the mental operations of man, even so, the mental human being cannot understand the operations of the Supermind.
What does an animal understand of the beauty of poetry? How can it appreciate the music of a singer, when the animal does not have even the faculty of singing, to imagine that there can be various kinds of tunes, varieties of music, the play of music, the delight of music. How can it even be imagined? Even so, for our human mind, which does not have any kind of inkling into the ranges of supramental powers, even if they are described we won’t understand them. That is why Sri Aurobindo proposes that we should first describe intermediate ranges that are between mind and Supermind because these intermediate ranges, although difficult to understand, are not entirely alien. Therefore, this chapter primarily describes intermediate ranges; and as we shall see in this chapter there is a description of Higher Mind, as distinguished from the mind, then at a higher level still, there is the Illumined Mind, then there is the Intuitive mind, then the Overmind and then the Supermind.
These are the intermediate stages and Sri Aurobindo will describe them, but even before describing there are two or three important things that need to be taken into account. These things have been already described earlier and we had also an opportunity of referring to them, but we need once more to bring them back with some kind of precision and concentration. Today I will not read further in this chapter, but deal with those important elements which need to be focused upon.
There is first the question of the process of growth and evolution? How do we evolve? If we are to evolve from mental to Supramental, then we need to understand the process of evolution.
There is one full chapter earlier in this book which we have not read, but of which I have spoken; so that whatever is in the chapter is somehow included in our perfunctory remarks, but there is one full chapter called ‘The Evolutionary Process — Ascent and Integration’, that’s the name of the title of this chapter. Very briefly, this chapter says that there is a rhythm in the development at lower levels of development the emphasis is upon development of physical instruments.
The lower animals have fewer physical instruments as the evolution proceeds further; more and more potent instruments are developed. Take for example, the ape which is nearest to human beings in many ways, has many organs which human beings possess. But, it does not possess the kind of the brain that the human being possesses. It is therefore felt that the distinction between all the other animals and the human being is a possession of the brain. So, unless that physical organ is present, the kind of consciousness that has to be developed does not develop, it may seem that the development of consciousness depends upon the development of the physical organ.
This seems to be the outward machinery of evolution. It is even argued that all the creatures of the world are in a state of struggle against the outer forces of nature. According to one description, nature is hostile to the creatures of the world. The winds, waters, fires of various kinds and the earth even; they are all hostile to the development of creatures and creatures are constantly striving, struggling and in this struggle they try to survive.
This was the famous doctrine of Darwin; who spoke of struggle for existence and survival of the fittest. And he pointed out that evolution consists of development of physical organs, development of physical form in such a way that it becomes more and more fitted to survive. The creatures which failed to develop; they are extinguished, thrown out, only those which are able to sustain the battle remain.
This theory seems to be quite valid, when we look at the basic phenomenon of nature all over the world. There is an element of struggle in this world this is unquestionable. It is also true that everyone struggles to survive, that also is a fact. But whether nature is hostile or not that may be questioned, but it appears to be so to a great extent that also cannot be questioned. Whether ultimately the struggle succeeds in surviving by development of physical organs or not that may be questioned, but very largely it seems to be indisputable. But these two questions still remain, although largely they can be supported by many phenomena that we see all over in the world, whether nature is hostile, really hostile and whether the development of physical organs is a key to survival of the creatures. For that reason we need to go into a deeper understanding of the process of evolution.
If nature was really hostile to the creatures, nature itself would not have in the first place formed the creatures because after all, all the creatures are formations of nature. Secondly, this was the argument of one of the famous philosophers of the West called Bergson. He said if survival of the fittest was the only thing in the world then mountains are the fittest and having formed mountains nothing more could have been necessary to manifest. Rocks can survive for thousands of years, what is the need of any further evolution at all. The most surviving elements have been created already. He said that there must be some other driving force of evolution, not the survival of the fittest, but the joy of creating newer and newer forms,— that was his theory. Nature is a kind of a dancer and wants to manifest its joy by manifesting various kinds of forms.
The delight of nature is that of novelty, you create one form, create another and create still another, — newer and newer forms. The joy of movement of dynamism, growth, what he called in French, (because he was a French philosopher) — ‘Elan Vital’; Elan means the push, the joy of the push, Vital of the vital force. There is a life force which wants to manifest because of the rigour, the vigour which is unbounded and which wants to flow on and on and on. It is like a fountain of water, it gushes out and moves upwards and the joy of this movement is itself the justification of all evolution. All the different species that are seen in the world are so many toys made by nature to enjoy itself and the only restrictive force in this joy of movement is Matter.
Everyone is as it were in a prison and the joy of life is restricted because of the limitations of the body. The body has so much inertia, resistance, need of sleep, need to sustain itself physically. It is subject to disease, sickness, old age, infirmities of various kinds. The joy of life is very much restricted because of this resistance of matter.
According to him, matter is not the first thing to evolve. The first thing to evolve is life force. It is the life force which is evolving and in the bursting of joy, the backlash of the movement of the force of the vital being creates the imprisonment of matter. Again to go back to the analogy of the fountain, you can see that the fountain expresses the upward movement of the water, after reaching a certain height there is a fall backwards, and as it falls backwards, it also pushes backwards the force of the movement of water. This backward movement of vital force, which resists the upward movement of the vital force is what is called matter,—according to him.
After Bergson there came so many others, who examined the theory of evolution and found that mere development of matter or life as explained by Darwin, or by Bergson does not really explain the phenomenon of the world. There is some truth in that theory, some truth in this theory, but these theories do not fully explain all that is there in the world.
According to some there is some kind of a miracle in the development of evolution. Oxygen and hydrogen, we say create water, which has neither the character of oxygen nor of the other. It’s something new, from where has this new thing arrived. It is believed that when certain things are combined together there is an emergence of something new and from what thing, what thing will come out, we do not know, somehow it happens.
It’s like a magic box, you take out a few things and put them together and suddenly something else comes out, which you never expected. In the theory of Alexander, he said that originally there is only a framework consisting of space and time, like a huge open box, as if there were nothing in it. If some kind of force, in space and time and some elements, somehow is being produced and then you combine them in different ways and certain new things and further new things come out. At last, man has come out as a result of all these developments. A very curious kind of creature on the earth and considering all that is happening, he even forecasts what people have imagined of God that may also emerge out of this. Man has been able to image a kind of a God, Deity and maybe by some kind of combinations of elements in human beings; God may come out of it. He wrote a book called ‘Space, Time and Deity’.
Then there was another, this is the theory of Smutts, there seems to be some kind of pattern in this evolutionary movement and merely to say that physical organs are the only means of development, does not seem to be very correct. There seems to be, according to him, a holistic force. You will find that everything that comes out in the world has some kind of wholism, wholeness. It is not as if the part of the eye is developed, the whole of the eye is developed. It’s not a piecemeal development; whenever something develops, it may be a small thing but something whole comes out.
If this world were merely a kind of freak, inconsequential, by chance, then only fragments would have come out in the world, but that is not the case; even a small organism is a whole organism. It is a system, it may be a very small system, but it is a whole system. Even a small flower is a whole. It may be a very tiny thing but in the tiny-ness the fullness is there, some kind of wholeness is there. So, he felt that the whole movement of the world is impelled by a force which is holistic, there is something like wholeness.
Then there was another theory, this is the theory put forward by Whitehead, one of the recent philosophers of the world. He felt that this world does not seem to be a mere one tier development. It seems as if there is a world above this world; whereas this world is a physical world, but there seems to be another world which is not physical, but which is ideative in character. Which has ideas in it and ideas are formations, there may be holistic formations, there may be other kinds of formations. There are patterns in these ideas.
As things develop here in this physical world, there is invasion from this ideative level and they imprint themselves on this matter. And that is how we find new things emerging, they are new to the world of physical reality but they are not entirely new as if they were not there anywhere at all, they were in an ideative form. These ideative forms are imprinted on the physical and then they go on developing, then again a stage comes and again some new ideas come and imprints themselves. He called this process ‘ingressive evolution’. Evolution which is moving forward by the help of ingression, invasion from above, they enter into this world and imprint themselves. That is why; he says that ultimately human beings have become capable of ideation.
If the whole world were only a matter of unconscious movement or drive, then human beings could not have developed ideation at all because ideas already exist above, they have been able to embody themselves in the physical and they must be conscious, because ideas are conscious and they wait for the surroundings to be favorable and then they ingress into the right field and then evolution takes place.
There are many theories of this kind. These theories are in sharp contrast to those who oppose evolution by itself, those who maintain that this world is not at all a process of evolution. There is a belief that this whole world was created by God in six days time and the seventh day was a holiday. In six days time the whole world was created and all the creatures that we see on this earth one by one they were each one specially created, not by a process of evolution, which is supposed to have taken millions of years. They have two arguments basically; one is that if there was evolution, suppose for example, there is an ape which is supposed to have been the fore-runner of man. We don’t see apes becoming men today. If there was evolution we could find some apes becoming man today also, we don’t find it to be so. Secondly, if there is an evolution then there must have been a general, gradual evolution and all the intermediate steps, there must have been many-many intermediate steps but they are not to be found. Between ape and man there is certainly a great difference or between a frog and an ape, between a frog and a bird, between a fish and a bird there is a lot of difference. You can’t bridge the gulf that is between one species and the other, but if there is evolution then there must not have been this gap at all.
The differences between species would have been very, very minute, so there seem to be a lot of gaps between one species and the other and these gaps can be explained only if they are specially created by God. Each species is specially created, not one coming out of the other.
Darwin had answered both the questions and he brought out facts to such an extent that if they are all fully martialled together very well they can easily refute the theory of special creation. He made a detailed study of all the numerous species in the world. That was his great remarkable feat that he expressed in his life and he put down the sequence of species in a very remarkable manner but admitted also that there are gaps. He admitted, but having admitted he tried explain as follows: Some of these intermediate species must have come into being, but may have perished very quickly being very intermediate, not capable of resisting, struggling enough to survive they might have quickly perished, so quickly that the remnants of them are not easily discoverable. We don’t find remains of the dead bodies of these intermediate species. Of many species you can find petrified bodies, even today, but of many species you don’t find. His argument was that they might have been very temporary and they might have perished.
Secondly, he said that in the process of evolution at a certain stage there seems to be what may be called mutation. A transition from one stage to the other may be so rapid and may be so very radical that the next step may seem to be quite different from the earlier one. Take for example, the caterpillar; a caterpillar moves about on a leaf as a small little thing and eats the elements of the leaf and survives. And suddenly after some time it goes into a state of swoon, becomes a cocoon, goes into sleep and after some time suddenly, you find it flies away as a butterfly. It’s a mutation, something suddenly happens and this is a discoverable, observable phenomenon. If you don’t find out some intermediate steps, it is quite possible that some of these intermediate steps did not exist. What is intermediate between the caterpillar and the butterfly? There is nothing discoverable at all. It’s a real mutation, so there may be absence of these intermediate steps all together and therefore, he said you do not find what we call missing links. You call them missing links but they may not be missing at all.
With regard to the second argument, why don’t we see today apes becoming human beings? His answer is that every species at a given stage of development struggles against the environment. In this struggle, it goes on pressing, pressing, and develops a new organ, not in all the members of the species, in some members of the species. If there is a big herd of human beings today, not everybody would become something different. Not all the apes become human beings but in the herd of apes some of them succeed in developing some kind of a brain which is quite distinguishable.
The animal for example is not able to stand erect; orangutan is able to stand erect at least. But not as erect as a human being, so hip is developed in the evolutionary movement, physical aid is given as it were, so is able to stand erect and is able to face the nature much better the whole vision, the view changes with a rising to the erect position of human being,—the whole world view changes. If you only go on looking with your horizontal perception, the world does not look as great as we human beings, who can now stand erect and look at the world.
We are able to face the world and struggle against the world much better. So once this organ is developed in some members then this urge is satisfied. Once it is satisfied, it dies out. Because a species is created where the urge has been fulfilled, that is why we don’t see today apes becoming human beings because that urge has been satisfied, a new species has come into existence.
Once a new species comes into existence the urge of the lower animal to face the problem is extinguished, it remains within the boundaries of its own nature and survives to the extent to which it can, because a better instrument has already been fabricated. But he pointed out that man is the highest now. He has all the possibilities of surviving, he has all the capacities, so nothing more than man is visualisable, we cannot visualise anything more than that. This aspect can be questioned. Is it a fact that man has everything that is needed for further development, but as far as his theory is concerned these two basic questions he was able to answer. Therefore, as against the other theory of special creation this theory seems to be much more sound.
Then there have been many further developments which have tried to explain the details of evolution, particularly with regard to heredity as a carrier of evolution. A parent acquires certain capacities in his lifetime and this is transmitted to the progeny automatically by heredity. The offspring does not need to make that effort which the parent had made to acquire those qualities or characteristics. The parent has made a big effort, acquired the capacities and then the offspring gets it automatically. This is called the law of heredity; the acquired characteristics are transmitted in the progeny; this is also discovered as the law in evolution. The evolution is of such a nature that whenever the parent organism acquires certain capacities then they are transmitted into progeny automatically. Certain things which are acquired in the parent become instincts in the offspring. Instincts are inborn capacities you don’t need to cultivate; they are already available to you.
It is argued that scientific theories like Darwin’s theory may remain valid for some time, tomorrow it may be thrown away, who knows, because in science not a single theory can be said to be permanently valid. New facts can come up and they can be thrown out tomorrow.
A question is raised, whether when we speak of evolution of man, evolution of the spiritual man, evolution of supramental being, is it based upon the findings of Darwin, if so then this theory is very shakable. One day Darwin’s theory may be proved to be wrong; who knows then this theory also will go away with it. So there is one full chapter Sri Aurobindo has written in The Life Divine called, ‘Man and the Evolution’ in which Sri Aurobindo has discussed all the possible objections against the evolutionary theory and said that the theory of spiritual evolution is not based upon the theory of physical evolution.
Darwin’s theory is a theory of physical evolution, evolution of the physical organs one after the other, so that the physical creatures are able to survive by a process of struggle against nature. Spiritual theory of evolution is based upon the study of consciousness.
Although in the process of evolution consciousness seems to have arrived much later, when it does arrive we get the chance of studying that consciousness. And then we discover that behind all processes of evolution the basic impelling force was consciousness, because basically consciousness is evolutionary in character. Matter by itself is not evolutionary in character; Life by itself would remain content within its own movement. It is not true to say that every creature has to struggle against nature.
You remember in the beginning we had said that whether nature is hostile to man or not, is a questionable proposition. The very fact that nature itself produces a creature that fact itself shows that nature may not be necessarily hostile to the production of the creature. There is also something like harmony with nature that nature actually supports the creature in the development. By itself we find that various species are satisfied within themselves. What is it that really pushes the real capacity of progressive manifestation is inherent in consciousness?
If you examine the nature of consciousness then merely on the basis of data of consciousness, not on the basis of physical phenomena which have come about, but merely by seeing that consciousness is capable of evolution, even of mutation. A robber can become Valmiki. Such a mutation of consciousness can take place in the same physical; you don’t need to change the body. In the same body, previously it was robber and now you find that that is gone completely. There a mutation of consciousness has taken place.
It is the capacity of evolution which is inherent in consciousness. So, merely on the basis of the phenomena of consciousness you can establish the whole theory of evolution. You don’t need to support yourself on the theory of physical development. You can then explain even the physical development by a deeper understanding that even behind the development of the brain there was a consciousness behind it, and that is why, when the brain developed, consciousness manifested. Consciousness is actually the driving force and the physical forms are actually gradual developments by means of which consciousness is creating and developing organs in such a way that it can manifest better and better. If you do not know this process inwardly then you may be misled in thinking that it is the physical organs which are producing consciousness. Although the reality is the opposite, take for example, you stand before a steam engine which runs a train and you observe the piston and the emergence of steam. You find that whenever the piston is moving the steam comes out. From the outside you might say that steam is the consequence of the movement of the piston, but the real reality is that if there was no steam already, the piston itself would not have moved. Steam is a real cause of the movement of piston not that the piston is the cause of the steam. It’s a fact that if merely a piston was moving mechanically steam wouldn’t have come out. Even you are seeing the steam coming out because of the fact that steam was really there originally by means of which the piston is moving.
Similarly, it may be that outwardly it may seem that development of physical organs is the cause of consciousness, but really speaking the very development of organs is caused by consciousness. And in human beings these things now become much more evident that even without the development of physical organs the consciousness can evolve further, you don’t need to have a new brain or a new kind of a human body to change Valmiki from a robber into a poet. With the same organs of a robber he was transformed.
So, the evolution of consciousness is independent of the physical. Between the human being as he is now and the spiritual man there are gradation of evolution and all these gradation are affected without the development of any new physical organ. Or else, you might say that it is the consciousness, which can consciously create a new organ not the other way round. The organ producing consciousness can be reversed; consciousness can produce a new organ.
If you want to develop the brain you ask the child to concentrate, which is the process of consciousness. By learning, by concentrating, by widening, the convolutions of the brain also develop, not that the convolutions take place first and then consciousness develops. You develop the powers of the consciousness first and then the organs of the body are affected correspondingly.
The theory of spiritual evolution stands on its own grounds, whether Darwin’s theory remains valid or not valid, this theory is not dependent on it, but if that theory is there, it can be a very supportive theory with all its deficiencies. And Darwin’s theory has done a great service because it has at least produced lots of materials and evidence to show that there has been a gradual development, there is an evolution, its account of evolution may not hold. The theory of nature’s hostility may not hold, the theory that there is only the intention of survival of the fittest may not hold but that there is a gradual development of forms and gradual development of consciousness, this fact is strongly supported by this theory. Maybe his theory that it is the physical which causes consciousness, may not hold, but that there is a great interconnection between physical and consciousness is certainly a very important factor. And if you admit once that the unconscious has produced consciousness, it may look like a miracle and therefore the theorists will be obliged to change the position. That unconscious really, if it is able to produce consciousness, it will be something that is so fantastic, like a magician, it will break all the scientific processes of law. It is much more understandable that consciousness can produce unconsciousness but not vice versa. We know that even in our own life we are in state of waking and we know that we can go back into the sleep, in a state of unconsciousness that is not a miracle from consciousness to go into unconsciousness is not a miracle, but to say that there was unconsciousness originally, we suddenly burst into consciousness. The jump is so great that you cannot explain it because in the unconsciousness there is absence of purpose, absence of system, absence of order and sense of intelligence. In the case of consciousness there is always a sense of purpose, design, intelligence employing means and ends for each other. So, the emergence of unconsciousness from consciousness is more easily admissible that the emergence of consciousness out of unconsciousness. And once you see that consciousness is behind everything in the world then the phenomena of the world becomes more easily understandable. How for example a bird knows how to build a nest, how does it learn how to make a nest, how does a bird know that before it can lay the eggs, it must find a warm place, who teaches the bird. How the social life of ants is organized, how a queen bee is served by all the bees, what is it that drives them all, pure unconsciousness cannot do it? These are inexplicable merely by the theory of pure physical producing consciousness. But all these phenomena can be easily explained if you say that consciousness is basically at the root of everything therefore, if at a certain stage a certain ray of light manifests these designs can be easily explained.
Now if this is so then man developing higher and higher levels of consciousness by an evolutionary process becomes quite intelligible and it can be said that since many human beings have already crossed the ordinary boundaries of manhood. Ordinary boundaries of manhood are the boundaries of the mind. The mental consciousness has been crossed by several individuals. All the saints, all over the world have manifested a special kind of consciousness, which is not available in the mental consciousness. Something that is not divisive, the human mind is capable of division, multiplication, adding and subtraction these four operations. Going beyond these four operations, where human beings have begun to have largeness, universality, oneness,—these are things which are beyond the human mind. And since some human beings have shown a capacity for sustained perception of unity, real saints are those who are established in that new consciousness. As Vivekananda said that he was born without jealousy, jealousy which is the root of all division, basically I am divided from the other, therefore I have jealousy, but if I am united with everything then there is no jealousy. There are human beings who are by birth somehow capable of having shown qualities, which are beyond the limitations of the human mind. Already processes have been developed over the ages that is what Sri Aurobindo says in the very first paragraph, first line that psychic transformation and even beginnings of spiritual transformation are easily conceivable because there are many instances of this.
Perfection of this also is capable of being seen, although not many human beings have proved this perfection, but very fact that some have done it, this possibility of evolution is already established. And once you have reached that point, a further evolution, a further development of consciousness is also conceivable, although it may not have been explored but we can explore it and we could have justification of exploring it.
It is in this process that we find that while evolution is moving forward through the physical organs and while we see that consciousness is at the base of this forward movement, even of the development of the physical organs. We make a discovery just as Whitehead spoke of the ingression that there are already—this world is not the only world but there are also other worlds. In fact the discovery of the other world or other worlds not only one world but other worlds was a discovery made long ago in Indian history by the Vedic Rishis.
The Vedic Rishis while exploring the levels of consciousness discovered that as they developed some consciousness there is an automatic influx of consciousness from above. You just make a little progress and suddenly there is an influx from above, so that your faculties develop very quickly. Just as a small child makes a little progress and if there is a very enlightened teacher already, who has already known quite a lot then he can immediately transmit to the child a lot many things, which a child normally would take many years to acquire on his own.
So, something of this kind happens. It is experienced that when you make a small movement of development of consciousness an influx takes place. Whitehead is not completely wrong in speaking of ingressive evolution. This was a discovery made long ago by the Vedic Rishis. In fact the reason why Whitehead has been able to speak of this ingression can be traced also to this fact that Whitehead was a great follower of Plato. Plato who lived 2000 years ago, Whitehead in the 20th Century but he derived much of his philosophical wisdom from Plato. If you study Plato, you will find that basic ideas of Plato were taken from the Upanishads and Upanishads are derived from the Vedas. The Vedic discoveries are at the root even of this latest theory of evolution, which seems to come to us from far off lands.
What was the basic discovery of the Vedic Rishis? I have spoken earlier, but in this context, I will repeat. The Vedic seers discovered that there are three worlds, of which we are normally aware, which they called prithvi, antariksha and dhyau. Dhyau is heaven, antariksha is the atmosphere and prithvi is earth. These three words are used symbolically that earth is the principle of Matter, antariksha is the principle of Life, and dhyau is the principle of Mind. So, they had discovered that there are three things of which we are quite normally aware—physical world, vital world, mental world; we see all the three interconnected here. We see a human being who is mental, vital and physical all the three intertwined.
But they discovered that there is a world where there is only life, there is another world where there is only mind and there is a world, where there is only physical like the present world in which we are living is basically physical. So, they had discovered the three worlds—the world of Matter, the world of Life and the world of Mind. But then they discovered a fourth world, this was regarded as one of the greatest discoveries of the Vedic Rishis. A story is told in the Rig Veda that nine rishis were doing a lot of effort to go beyond limitations, whatever were the limitations they were trying to go beyond their limitations, as we are trying to go beyond our limitations. They made an effort, on and on, but they were not able to cross over the limitations. Then came a helper called Ayasya and he gave the help in such a way that whereas previously they were not able to sustain the effort beyond a certain period called nine periods, he was able to sustain the effort for ten periods. Therefore, without Ayasya they were called Navagwas and with him were called Dashagwas and with that sustained effort of ten periods, they were able to break the limitations. Limitations of the mind plane and they discovered the fourth plane Turiyam Swid, the fourth world.
Turiyam means fourth and Swid means world and they discovered that the fourth world is full of light, automatic light. It is like discovering, one who has seen only night and one day they suddenly wakes up and the whole day there is light and no sign of fading light at all. Similar were the experiences of these Rishis that the mind is like the night and when they could break the limitations of the mind they arrived at a kind of world which was full of light, inextinguishable light. And they use this very word ‘ahaha’ ‘ah’ means the day, as we got ‘saptah’, seven days is called saptah. So they say, ‘ahaha’ we discovered, — the day which can never end, unending light, unending day. This was discovered; where there is continuous light there can’t be obstruction. If there is no obstruction there can’t be an error, therefore, it was a world of Truth, where Truth was known automatically, you don’t have to make an effort to find out the Truth. You don’t have to make an effort to expand yourself, expansion is automatic. There was no effort to rule out a wrong action, wrong action was impossible because all wrong action is because of error and falsehood. Where error and falsehood don’t exist, wrong action can’t exist. Where there is a constant perception of the truth and the right, all actions will be the right actions. So, they discovered the world of the Truth, the right and the vast. This is what they called Satyam, Ritam, Brihat, — these three great words that they tried to expound this knowledge that this world that was discovered was this world, and this was the capacity of consciousness. By developing consciousness they entered into a world, where the day does not set at all, it’s a constant daylight and you can remain there forever. They call it the home of immortality, the sun does not set there at all.
Having seen this world they declared that this is the place which is the highest goal of all of us. We are now discovering that we are all doing this labour for what? There is further intention to break this limitation to be able to live there. So, the Vedic realizations were the realizations of this plane which Sri Aurobindo says that very few people have gone there. It is the Vedic Rishis who have gone there but that consciousness is so different from our night that to describe it is very difficult for us. Sri Aurobindo speaks of the truth, the right and the vast in the last two lines of the first paragraph that is the description of the Veda, of the Supermind. So, they have discovered the Supermind and they have also given some kind of a hint as a result of which today we can again re-ascend. The process by which you can ascend in this Supermind was somewhat explained by them but not fully.
They also found that bridges can be built between these three worlds and that fourth world. The basic core of the Veda is concerning this secret—the bridges between the three worlds in which we live and the entry into the fourth world. What are the processes by which this can be done? This is not sufficiently understood because the Veda is written in the language, the symbolism of which is difficult to penetrate. It’s only because Sri Aurobindo himself has explained this that we are able to understand the language of the Veda in a new light and we can understand where this process is described.
The Veda also speaks of the intermediate stages between the mind and the Supermind and we can take advantage of this. It speaks of the five Goddesses in the symbolic form—Mahati or Bharati, Ila, Saraswati, Sarama and Daksha. Actually it speaks of seven rivers, we don’t know the seven names but at least five names are known. They speak of seven rivers; these are the rivers which are flowing from Supermind as it were, upon our mental consciousness. So they are nearer to our consciousness, we can touch them more easily. It is these capacities which are symbolized by these rivers to which reference would be made here in this chapter when we come across the description of Higher Mind, Illumined Mind, Intuitive mind, Overmind. We shall see how the Vedic descriptions of these five rivers, five Goddesses are exemplified here.
Mahati is the power of wideness, wideness of which we are not capable at present. All our wideness is limited by horizon. We can imagine further horizons but whatever is our vision, it is always bound by the horizon. Our widest perception of wideness is still limited by the horizon, but horizon less wideness is the real Mahati,—the real vastness. When you cross the mind, it is this wideness which begins to arrive, the moment you come into Higher Mind; you already have this ever expanding wideness. This is one distinguishing feature between mind and Higher Mind.
Our mind can conceive boundlessness, but cannot experience it. Higher Mind not only conceives but lives in it. This is the basic distinction, but still Higher Mind has only the capacity of conceiving as in the case of mind, mind also conceives, Higher Mind also conceives that is the link between our mind and Higher Mind. Since there is a link between the two, we can understand Higher Mind better because we have already got something akin to Higher Mind. That’s why Sri Aurobindo says that before we come to Supermind; let us go to those planes which are nearer to us.
Higher Mind has one great capacity that it can have that wideness which is beyond horizons. Therefore, it has a capacity of synthesizing, which our mind is incapable of. Our mind can synthesise, no doubt; but can synthesise at most a hundred ideas. Even that is a superhuman achievement; to be able to keep hundred ideas together and to synthesise them together would be tremendous capacity, but not impossible. Many human beings, not many but some human beings have been able to achieve it. Shatavadhanis, for example, who can keep a hundred things in their mind at the same time and can repeat—without any notice. You first speak out a hundred things together and then you ask him, what was the 98th or 60th or 61st. He can answer you. These capacities are available but they are quite remarkable developments. But if you can combine say a million ideas together, a million systems at the same time, since we can have many systems in our mind, we can conceive a million ideas together.
Although we cannot achieve it, it is helpful to us to think at least that Higher Mind is something like this.
Then we have got, although quite radically different, when you have got the power of Ila. Ila is something like a power, which is as different from conception as our eyesight is from conception. I can think of a table and what is the difference between my thinking of a table and my seeing the table. What a difference is there between the two experiences. Similar is the difference between the power of Higher Mind and the power of Ila. Ila does not merely conceive, does not merely think, it transcends the capacity of thinking—whatever it thinks it sees. It does not need to think, it sees simply—when you see a table, you don’t need to think of a table, you see the table. The objects of Higher Mind are seen in the mind, which is governed by Ila. All seeing is revelation when you open your eyes and see, you don’t create the things from outside they are only revealed before you. All seeing is uncovering, not manufacturing that which is covered with your closed eyes is now revealed when you open your eyes. Therefore, Ila is called the power of revelation. It’s a faculty like the eyes and the Vedic Rishis said that Ila is present in us, all of us but latent, not developed. If you develop it you will have the capacity of seeing a million things at the same time. This was the idea of Sahasraksha. Indra is called Sahasraksha and Vishnu also — thousand eyes.
So if you have a thousand eyes, what will be the capacity of your being? We have only two eyes but imagine thousand eyes then you can understand what Ila is. The power of Ila is of that kind.
Apart from seeing, if it is also combined with hearing then your knowledge of the objects become greater. For seeing the objects have to be nearer to you but for hearing, objects can be even far off and yet you can catch hold off by hearing. Hearing and seeing are the two fundamental powers of the Illumined Mind,—Ila and Saraswati when you put them together. Drishti and Shruti are the special words of the Veda, when you see and you hear. When you enter into Illumined Mind the objects of your knowledge are so multiple—millions and millions of things you can see and hear and cognize them and your capacity to act than becomes multifold. Today all our activities are governed by our knowledge of the mental mind by the ideative power but if you can develop further and develop millions of eyes, millions of ears then the capacity of action would be quite different, which we can’t imagine now.
What kind of poetry you can write with this kind of consciousness! If with two eyes and two ears, we can write beautiful poetry like Shakespeare and Shelly, what kind of poetry can you write with that kind of consciousness?
If you add touch, to sight and hearing; your knowledge of things becomes so intimate because both sight and hearing keep the object still far off from you to some extent but when you touch an object there is a greater sense of possession and identity. So, the whole object the whole universe is known by your touching it—no doubt remains at all when you really touch a thing. So, you multiply this capacity million fold and you get the power of intuition that is the intuitive mind—Intuition is Sarma. Hearing is Saraswati—Illumined Mind has both these powers but in the intuition Saraswati, Ila and Sarma all of them are together. It’s not as if when you reach there the lower powers are cancelled, they become even more intensified.
And then supposing you have one huge eye, one eye in the whole sky—what will be the capacity of your perception? One eye, this is the description given in the Veda of Vishnu. Vishnu is an eye spread out on the whole sky. It’s not Sahasraksha but one single eye spread over the whole sky that’s the overmental visions of things. Even that is a global eye, which can see whatever is seen but supposing you have one eye covering not only the upper sky but also the lower sky. We see only the upper sky and therefore, all that is below the sky can be seen by it but supposing the sky is all over. Even America also has got a sky although it is downward. Suppose there is an eye which covers all, entirety that is Supermind. The eye of the sky, which is seen from above is a global vision but the vision of Supermind is the total vision not only global, but total vision,—everything is integrated.
This consciousness Vedic Rishis discovered already exists, it’s not to be manufactured—already exists and in the evolutionary process it is pressing downwards. Therefore, although we may not be aware of the pressing of this higher consciousness upon us, it’s already doing it. Therefore, in the evolutionary process while we are pushing ourselves from below, upwards there is also a movement from above downwards. It is by the combined movement of these two things that our evolution can be made rapid.
It is this process that Sri Aurobindo describes in the whole chapter. All that I have told you is a short introduction to all that is said in this chapter. I will request you to read at least the next five or ten pages and then we shall meet again.
Just hear a little about Daksha. Daksha is the power of discrimination; it is also in the intuitive consciousness. When you touch, you can distinguish one from the other much more easily. Power of discrimination that’s the intelligence, the eye, ear and touch,—all these are intelligence, even the eye and ear can discriminate, touch also can discriminate, it’s a power by itself. It is not that intelligence alone has its discrimination all these are powers of intelligence. Discrimination is also a power of intelligence. Although ordinarily in the human being it is the power of discrimination which is regarded as a power of intelligence in our human mentality. But when we come to this point then we find that all these powers are powers of intelligence. Daksha is not the one eye, Daksha is always the power of discrimination, it distinguishes one from the other.