The Ascent towards Supermind, Part II, Chapter XXVI - Session v

As you know last time we were trying to do something that is impossible and we shall continue that impossible task, namely to try to understand, what is Higher Mind, Illumined Mind, Intuitive Mind, Overmind, Supermind. We had already crossed two barriers: Higher Mind and the Illumined Mind and then we were trying to see.

What would be the nature of Intuitive Mind and once again we need to say that all these things that we are talking about may seem to be quite intangible to us. The more we study the more we come into contact even though the descriptions become easier for us to understand, gradually. It is only for that reason that we are dwelling upon these ideas. Let us try to see what is Intuitive mind. Intuition has a special characteristic, which is similar to touch in our ordinary experience of life. To see a thing and to touch a thing these two have different contents in our experience of knowledge. You might say that when you see a thing there is some kind of incompleteness. Until you take it, and touch it, and possess it, you feel much more concrete. This experience of concreteness is a special characteristic of Intuitive Mind. Remember that all these states of consciousness—Higher Mind, Illumined Mind, Intuitive Mind etc, are all instruments of knowing the invisible, therefore, when we say here is a concrete touch, it’s a concrete touch of the invisible.

The easiest example of intuitive consciousness is the knowledge of your own personal existence. How do I know that I exist? Of course my body can be seen physically but I do not say that my body exists. When I pronounce the sentence ‘I exist’. It seems to be still something much more than the body when I say ‘I exist’. How do I know ‘I exist’? It is by a personal intimate experience which is inescapable. I can’t escape experiencing myself and therefore, I have no doubt about it. I can doubt everything in the world but I can’t doubt the fact that I exist. In any case you cannot doubt the experience which gives you a concrete touch with yourself. It’s not a physical touch with yourself that is one simplest example of intuitive consciousness. I intuitively experience myself. Knowledge by identity is the fundamental character of intuitive experience. You know because you are, you know that because you are That.

This experience can be deepened to such an extent that your concept of ‘I exist’ begins to include the whole universe and you begin to experience your identity with the whole universe. I escape from my narrowed limits; I become more and more enlarged. Just as at a lower level the mother feels the presence of the child. It’s a different body; the child is a different body. Existence of a child is different from your existence but you feel it is so large that the child is included in your personal experience.

Similarly if you become more expanded, if you have greater responsibilities then you vibrate with the totality of your responsibilities and you automatically come to know what is happening in the domain of your responsibilities. If you are very conscious, if you are very intimate and if this becomes enlarged on and on and on, the whole cosmos becomes a part of your domain. This is how the highest experience of which we had spoken, when we did the Isha Upanishad, ‘the Self is in All, and All is in the Self and the Self becomes All’. This experience is also an example of intuitive mind. It is our intuitive consciousness that experiences this. This is one of the highest experiences of the intuition.

But there is also a domain of the ordinary mind, where if you are a metaphysician then you can experience what may be called intellectual intuitions. You find that your intellectual exercise of any kind would not be possible, if you did not know intuitively ‘infinity and eternity’. These two terms are central to metaphysical thinking: the concept of eternity, and the concept of infinity. This is not the moment to examine these two concepts but if we have time in due course, if we have second series we shall enter into metaphysics and we shall try to see how these two concepts, eternity and infinity are intuitively known to our intellect that is to say that they are not learned from outside They are seen inwardly and inescapably. This is the specialty of intuitive knowledge.

All intuitive knowledge is inescapable, inevitable. It is also what is called incorrigible. It's knowledge which can’t be corrected. In the very act of correcting you assert therefore, it is incorrigible. If you therefore, think very impartially on the train of metaphysical thinking then you will begin to perceive that no thinking is possible, not only metaphysical thinking no thinking is possible unless you already had in your mind an implicit knowledge, inescapable knowledge, incorrigible knowledge of eternity and infinity. These are two very important intuitions of intellect itself. To think is to think in terms of infinity. To think is to think in terms of eternity.

If eternity were not present in your consciousness in some way or the other, you could not think of any time at all. All our concepts in the world, all that we are thinking is in the framework of space and time. If anybody says think in which space and time are not involved, you will say it is impossible and you will notice that in all your thinking space and time are automatically involved; whether you know about space, whether you know about time, its independent of it. You can’t think of anything, unless you think in terms of space and time. Then if you ask yourself, what is space, what is time? You will find out that all space is infinity, all time is eternity. If you can’t think at all without space and time and if space automatically implies the concept of infinity and if time implies the concept of eternity, then it means that you can’t think without eternity and without infinity. This is actually the condition of our mind when we examine our mind. If you open out the operation of your mind you will find that in your mind at the back of every thinking process the concept of eternity and infinity are already present, not explicitly known to you but implicitly known to you. So that whenever you think more and more deeply, you will find all the time behind your thought was an implicit knowledge of eternity and infinity. You have also at the same time an intuition that space and time always point to something beyond themselves.

I am complicating the matter further deliberately because that will give an experience of what intuitive knowledge is like. First of all, I said that you cannot think without thinking of space and time. Secondly, I said that the moment you think of space, the concept of infinity becomes implicitly present. The moment you think of time the concept of eternity becomes implicitly present. I go one step farther and say that the very concept of infinity implies something more than infinity, something that is beyond infinity. The moment you think of eternity, you think of something more than eternity. The very concept is such; you can’t hold that concept without there being something more than infinity, more than eternity. Once again, I am not trying to draw out your process of thinking, so as to arrive at this conclusion immediately but let me take only one small example.

All time is duration, you will at once see that all time is duration, you cannot think of time if there was no duration. All duration means succession of moments, without succession there is no duration. If there is succession it must be divisible. All succession implies divisibility. If there is a duration of five minutes, five minutes are divisible into two and half minutes. Two and a half minutes is divisible in one and quarter minutes and then you go on and on and you come to the conclusion that this division can never end. Half of half always remains and that half can be further divided into another half and that too another half. Unless there was something which is not divisible, this whole process cannot exist. If you can always go on dividing, dividing, dividing, it does not end anywhere. Therefore, it follows there must be something which is not divisible then only it can end but that which is not divisible is not duration because all duration is divisible. You must arrive at a point which is not divisible. That which is not divisible is not duration, it is beyond time. All time is duration and we could see now—that time could not flow until you posit, which is not duration. That which is not duration is something beyond time. The very concept of time implies something that is beyond time. So, you arrive at a concept of what is called the timeless. These are all intuitive concepts. You don’t need to go out in the world, just by examining your very mental consciousness, ordinary process of thinking you arrive at this conclusion.

In arriving at this conclusion you see at once. You will have noticed that although I have used arguments, or I seem to be arguing but actually there is no argument in it. What I am trying to say is, I am just opening the eyes to see, as I said first of all.

I repeat the whole argument, or so called argument. Anything that you think implies the concept of space and time. It is impossible to think without space and time being present in your thoughts. Space and time implies the concept of infinity and the concept of eternity. This concept when analyzed in terms of time as we saw just now, all time is duration. All duration is divisible, and this divisibility is endless. If it is endless, it could have never started, before starting it must cross half, it could have never started. Therefore, there must be something which is indivisible, that which is indivisible cannot be duration. Therefore, it must be beyond time. This is the whole concept that you arrive at.

You perceive that there is a timeless on whose basic bedrock the time can flow. These are basic concepts of intellectual intuition, in the very operation of intellect, they are present. Even though we come to know by this explicit argumentation, you will see that they were already embedded in your consciousness and this kind of an exercise that we did only brings out what is already embedded in your consciousness. It is seen to be present implicit in your consciousness. Therefore, you might say consciousness is nothing but the concept of timeless and time, timeless and eternity. The consciousness itself can be defined as this,—the concept of timeless and eternity, the concept of the spaceless and infinity. This is one of the best definitions of consciousness itself.

What does consciousness consist of? We normally think that consciousness consists of our awareness of this thing or that thing or that thing or at the most it consists of the consciousness of our being, of our existence. I exist then we see that this ‘I exist’ can be expanded into larger and larger domains of existence, until all is included in it. When all is included, you arrive at the concept of space and time. When you arrive at the idea of space and time, you arrive at eternity and infinity. And when you arrive at this, you arrive at the timeless and the spaceless. All these are the implications of the consciousness. So, consciousness can be defined as a concept for intuitions of the timeless and spaceless, eternity and infinity.

When the intuitive mind operates then these concepts are consciously present. At present they are not consciously present, we need to do all the exercise to become aware of them but in the intuitive mind these are automatically present. We normally cannot hold these ideas constantly present but to be able to hold these ideas constantly present the best method would be, this is one of the proposals that if you can silence your mind, if the mind becomes silent then all that is implied to your consciousness becomes explicit, comes into the forefront. Because what is it that is preventing these implicit concepts from coming into the forefront? It is the riot of our mind; the mind is constantly whirling round and round. As a result, the implicit concepts of consciousness are not able to come into the forefront. If the mind is silenced then you will constantly live in the intuitions of eternity, spaceless and timeless. But there is a second method also because to silence the mind is a very difficult task. If you can and the method is of bhakti, the method of silencing the mind is usually associated with the path of knowledge—Jnana yoga, but if you have bhakti then the inner heart can open itself.

The inner heart can open to the presence of something that is inwardly intimate with you. The presence of God for example can be experienced more easily through the heart by coming into contact with the presence, which is already present in your heart and by unity of your heart’s consciousness with that reality; you intuitively have the experience of the Divine. And the more you live in this consciousness, the less is the whirling of our mind and the mind can be largely quieted, this is the second method.

The third method is that you invite the higher consciousness to come down, not silence your mind immediately, but you just invite. The higher consciousness exists whether we know it or not, whether we are aware of it or not, just as a small child may not be aware of the presence of father and mother, but father and mother are present. Similarly higher consciousness exists, the consciousness of eternity and infinity exists, if you therefore can invite it then it’s a method of simplicity, you just invite and then it presses down upon you, whether you like it or not. You suddenly become invaded by the inner consciousness, by the higher consciousness. As Mother said once, the real meditation is not when you try to meditate. Real meditation is when you cannot escape meditating, when meditation comes over you, it invades you, you suddenly become immobile. It is the rush of the higher into your being and then you simply have to give yourself to it, you cannot do anything else at that time. You are as it were taken into the arms of the infinity and you rest in the arms of infinity. You don’t need to make an effort to become silent. Silence automatically comes to you. This is another method of developing intuitive mind.

The fourth method is that you undertake a comprehensive intellectual exercise. This is one of the most difficult processes but for some minds it would be perfectly legitimate and perfectly easy. Somebody who has a lot of time and leisure and has time to think over everything that is possible to think over, and when you have thought over the whole thing as a result of that the mind becomes absolutely clear.

And when the mind becomes absolutely clear that clarity becomes intuitive consciousness, for example you take the book The Life Divine. If you have the patience and leisure to go through the whole of The Life Divine then all that can be thought about is comprehended. The Life Divine is one book in the world where everything that can be thought about is included. Every mode of thinking, every process of thinking, every question that has to be thought of intellectually, all that has been included in this book, so if you really go through this entire book then your mind becomes absolutely clear. There are no confusions left and that clarity is a state of intuitive consciousness and thereafter all the thoughts that come to you, they as it were, come to you directly. These are the four methods by which you can develop intuitive mind and intuitive consciousness.

If you have read this chapter sufficiently, you will find that Sri Aurobindo says that intuition has four powers. It has the power of seeing, the power of hearing, the power of touching and the power of discriminating. The power of seeing is called revelation, the power of hearing is called inspiration, the power of touching is what you may call truly intuitive and the power of discrimination is what is called viveka, to discriminate one from the other rightly. And the specialty of these four powers is that it acts directly without groping.

In all our intellectual and mental thinking, we grope, we go from error to knowledge, or from error to error. But in the case of these four powers, whatever you see, is seen correctly. There is no mistake in this process; whatever you hear, you hear correctly. The concreteness that you feel by touch of reality is a concreteness that is incorrigible, it can’t be corrected, it is so true and all the distinctions that you make by discrimination are exact and precise. Automaticity, directness, infallibility of the knowledge these characterize intuitive mind.

But this intuitive mind when it acts in our ordinary consciousness has one limitation. It is like a spotlight. The intuition throws light upon a spot and what is seen in that spot is correct, luminous, unmistakable, incorrigible, but that spot is a limitation. If you want to know the totality then spot light will not do because spot light will always give you light on a spot. So when you throw intuition on a spot it will be correct, but if it is not, if it has to answer a question upon that on which it has not thrown itself, it may not be able to answer you. This is the limitation of the intuitive mind. You have to put your light on a spot and if that is focused properly, you get the correct knowledge. You have therefore, to expand your scope of knowledge, your area of light. And that happens, when you go to Overmind.

In the Overmind you get global knowledge not spot light, it’s a global light. The entire area that is before you that entire area becomes visible and becomes known. The entire globe, the entire hemisphere for example, could be seen and embraced by the overmind. There is a kind of cosmicity which is found in the overmind consciousness. It is as if you move in the cosmos with the kind of surety and knowledge as you move in your own room, which is familiar to you. If you know this room quite well and you move in this room, everything is familiar and you can put everything in its proper place. Similarly, you can say the whole world is my home. The entire universe is my chamber and you move in it with all familiarity and in an unmistakable knowledge about everything that is the nature of the overmental consciousness.

This domain is so far from our normal domain that one only needs to read some good descriptions of this consciousness and wait for a time when we can ourselves enter into this consciousness. So we shall not dwell too much on this because it will be so artificial. All these higher levels of consciousness—Higher Mind, Illumined Mind, Intuitive Mind, Overmind, when they operate upon our consciousness they usually take the form of words, the perceptions, the knowledge that is gained begins to be expressed in words. But the quality of these words is such that it discloses the reality in a manner in which it is almost miraculous for us. These words when they are presented to us in a rhythmic manner, in poetry, we get what is called mantric poetry. The very words, when they are spoken, you feel there is something which is not normal and yet it expresses so correctly, so clearly. Sometimes the rhythm is powerful, sometimes the very words are powerful, sometime the style is powerful, the vision is powerful. But when all of them are combined together, the style, the rhythm, the vision, then it becomes so powerful that it begins to vibrate in your being and you are brought nearer to the opening of that very consciousness in you.

There are a few lines, which I will talk to you about taken from Savitri, Sri Aurobindo’s Savitri, Savitri is full of mantric vibration. There is one passage on page 15, where Sri Aurobindo describes Savitri as a young woman. In her youth the kind of consciousness that she possessed, Sri Aurobindo describes. And he himself has in one of his letters said that this is an example of overmind intuition. A kind of expression, which came to him when Savitri was as it were seen, the truth of Savitri was seen in the overmental consciousness and expressed in the intuitive consciousness. I will give you just now these 15-20 lines and we shall read together just to feel some kind of an experience of this overmental consciousness.

Question: Can the intuitive mind and the overmind be divided? Is there a distinction?

Answer: Yes, as I told you, an intuitive mind is a spotlight. There is a limitation of not only words but it will be much more powerful in the spotlight. For example, there is a famous line of Shakespeare in Hamlet, ‘to be or not to be that is a question’. It’s not a mantric poetry but there is in it a very powerful expression. It’s such an expression that you really feel that although it is a very simple sentence, you might say it’s not even poetry but it’s a poetic expression, it’s a part of Shakespeare's poetry of Shakespeare. When it is recited, it discloses something in you tremendously powerful. So powerful that even today, we feel that one of the moods of the human experience is expressed in this one line: ‘to be or not to be that is the question.’ Even Higher Mind, Illumined Mind, Intuitive Mind all this is what is called overhead consciousness. Overhead consciousness starts with Higher Mind, Illumined Mind, intuitive mind, Supermind, overmind, all of them are overhead consciousness. Anything that flows from mantra has got three important qualities, the climax of the style, climax of the vision of the truth and the climax of rhythm. When all three are combined together it becomes a mantra.

Question: The mantric would be confined only to the overmental consciousness or also in the intuitive mind?

Answer: On all, but it must be the climax of the vision. In the intuitive mind the climax of intuitive consciousness must be reached. Wherever a climax is reached, it begins to take the form of a mantra.

Now read this towards the end of page 15. (See Savitri)

All in her pointed to a nobler kind. ||3.30||

Near to earth’s wideness, intimate with heaven,

Exalted and swift her young large-visioned spirit

Voyaging through worlds of splendour and of calm

Overflew the ways of Thought to unborn things. ||3.31||

Ardent was her self-poised unstumbling will;

Her mind, a sea of white sincerity,

Passionate in flow, had not one turbid wave. ||3.32||

As in a mystic and dynamic dance
A priestess of immaculate ecstasies
Inspired and ruled from Truth’s revealing vault
Moves in some prophet cavern of the gods,
A heart of silence in the hands of joy
Inhabited with rich creative beats
A body like a parable of dawn
That seemed a niche for veiled divinity
Or golden temple door to things beyond. ||3.33||

Immortal rhythms swayed in her time-born steps;
Her look, her smile awoke celestial sense
Even in earth-stuff, and their intense delight
Poured a supernal beauty on men’s lives. ||3.34||

A wide self-giving was her native act;
A magnanimity as of sea or sky
Enveloped with its greatness all that came
And gave a sense as of a greatened world:
Her kindly care was a sweet temperate sun,
Her high passion a blue heaven’s equipoise. ||3.35||

As might a soul fly like a hunted bird,
Escaping with tired wings from a world of storms,
And a quiet reach like a remembered breast,
In a haven of safety and splendid soft repose
One could drink life back in streams of honey-fire,
Recover the lost habit of happiness,
Feel her bright nature’s glorious ambiance,
And preen joy in her warmth and colour’s rule. ||3.36||

A deep of compassion, a hushed sanctuary,
Her inward help unbarred a gate in heaven;
Love in her was wider than the universe,
The whole world could take refuge in her single heart. ||3.37||

The great unsatisfied godhead here could dwell:
Vacant of the dwarf self’s imprisoned air
Her mood could harbour his sublimer breath
Spiritual that can make all things divine. ||3.38||

For even her gulfs were secrecies of light. ||3.39||

At once she was the stillness and the word,
A continent of self-diffusing peace,
An ocean of untrembling virgin fire:
The strength, the silence of the gods were hers. ||3.40||

In her he found a vastness like his own,
His high warm subtle ether he refound
And moved in her as in his natural home. ||3.41||

In her he met his own eternity. ||3.42||

These are the lines I wanted to present to you, just to feel the experience of what Sri Aurobindo himself has said overmind intuition.

I will give you a passage from Satprem’s book, The Adventure of Consciousness. Where he has spoken of mantric poetry on which you raised a question. I think this would be quite interesting to go through this section. This is the section on mantric poetry.

“The planes of consciousness are not distinguished only by the luminous vibrations of different intensities but by different auditory vibrations or rhythms which can be heard when one has that “ear of the ear” of which the Veda speaks.

(This mention is from the Kena Upanishad, where the Rishi speaks of ‘chakshauh chakshu, shrootrasya shrota’—‘the eye of the eye and of the ear of the ear’, so this ear of the ear, when it is vibrating then you grasp this mantric poetry.)

“Sounds or images, lights or forces, or beings are different aspects of a same Existence which manifests itself variously and with varying intensities according to the planes. The more one descends the ladder of consciousness, the more do the auditory vibrations, like the lights, like the beings or the forces, get broken up. On the vital plane, for example, can be heard the disordered vibrations of Life, jarring, syncopated, like certain types of music which come from this plane (Some kind of pop music or rock music and so on, same thing, of this kind for the light plane) or like a certain type of vital painting or poetry which, all of them, translate this broken and highly-coloured rhythm. The higher one rises, the more the vibrations harmonise, unite, spin out like certain great notes of Beethoven’s String Quartets, which seem to draw us vertiginously, with held breath, to the resplendent heights of pure light. The power is not characterized any longer by volume or coloured outburst but by a high inner tension. The vibratory rapidity turns the rainbow to pure white, a high note so swift that it seems to be still, caught in eternity, a single sound-light-force, which is perhaps the sacred syllable of the Indians, OM—[the] Word concealed in the upper fire. “In the beginning was the Word”, says the Scriptures.

There exists in India a secret knowledge based on the study of sounds and the differences of vibratory modality according to the planes of consciousness. If the sound OM is pronounced, for example, one can clearly feel that it envelopes the head centres, whilst the sound RAM touches the navel centre; and as each of our centres of consciousness is in direct communication with a plane, one can thus, by the repetition (japa) of certain sounds put oneself in communication with the corresponding plane of consciousness. An entire spiritual discipline called “tantric” because derived from certain sacred texts called tantra, it is founded on this fact. The basic or essential sounds which have the power of establishing communication are called mantras. The mantras, always secret, are given to the disciple by his Guru, are of all kinds (each plane of consciousness has a crowd of degrees) and they may serve the most contradictory ends. By the combination of certain sounds one can, at the lower levels of consciousness, generally at the vital level, put oneself in relation with the corresponding forces and obtain many strange powers: there are mantras that can kill (sometimes in five minutes,—terrifying vomiting), mantras which attack with precision a particular part or the organ of the body, mantras which heal, mantras which kindle fire, which protect, spell-bind. This kind of magic or vibratory chemistry proceeds simply by the conscious manipulation of the lower vibrations. But there is a higher magic which also proceeds by the handling of vibrations but on higher planes of consciousness; this is poetry, music, the spiritual mantras of Upanishads and the Vedas or the mantras which the Guru gives his disciple to help him enter consciously into direct communication with such or such a plane of consciousness, such or such a force, such or such a divine being. Here the sound carries in itself the power of experience and realization—it is a sound that makes one see.

Poetry and music which are an unconscious handling of secret vibrations may then be considered powerful means of the opening of consciousness. If we could succeed in composing poetry or music which is a product of a conscious handling of higher vibrations, we would create great works having an initiatory power. Instead of a poetry which is a fantasy of the intellect and a nautch-girl of the mind as Sri Aurobindo says, we would create a mantric music or poetry to bring the Gods into our life. For true poetry is an act, it makes holes in the consciousness—we are so walled in and barricaded!—through which the Real can enter: it is a mantra of the Real, an initiation. This is what the Vedic rishis and the seers of the Upanishads have done in their mantras which have the power of communicating an illumination to one who is ready; this is what Sri Aurobindo explained in his Future Poetry and this is what he has done in Savitri.

The mantra or great poetry, great music, the sacred Word, come from the overmind. This is the source of all creative or spiritual activities (it is not possible to distinguish between the two: the categorical divisions of the intellect vanish in a clear air wherein all is sacred, even the profane). We may hence try to say in what lies the particular vibration or particular rhythm of the overmind. And, first, for anyone who has the capacity to enter more or more consciously into relation with the higher planes—poets, writer or artist—it is quite evident, perceptible, that after a certain level of consciousness it is no longer ideas that one sees and tries to translate. One hears. There are literally vibrations or waves, rhythms which lay hold of the seeker, invade him, then clothe themselves with words and ideas or with music, colours, in their descent. But the word or the idea, the music, the colour, is the result, a secondary effect; they just give a body to that first terribly imperious vibration. And if the poet, the true one, corrects and re-corrects, it is not to improve upon the form as one says, or to express himself better, but to catch that vibrating thing—and if the true vibration is not there, all his magic crumbles, as that of the Vedic priest who has badly pronounced the mantra of the sacrifice.

(This is a reference to a story in a Brahmana that every word in the mantra is in its right place. A mantra is one which is called an inevitable expression or incorrigible expression, it can’t be corrected, the rhythm, the placement of words, the vision, all these are absolutely, accurately expressed. If you change one thing into the other even in pronouncing, the whole effect is marred. There is a story in Brahmana that somebody,—a demon wanted to kill Indra and there was a mantra which would kill Indra by merely pronouncing that mantra. The priest mispronounced it while reciting and instead of reading that the one should kill Indra, it was pronounced to mean that one, who can be killed by Indra, is killed and therefore, the demon was killed in return. So in the case of mantric poetry, every word is in such a place that if you just make a little change the whole effect would be quite different. That is why there is a tradition in India that mantras have to be pronounced perfectly well, there should be no mistake in the pronunciation of the mantra, this is the tradition in India. It is to that which he is referring here).

When the consciousness is transparent, the sound becomes clearly audible, and it is a seeing sound, a sound-image or a sound-idea, which links indissolubly in the same luminous body the audition to the vision and the thought. All is full, contained in a single vibration. On the intermediary planes (Higher Mind, illumined or intuitive mind) these vibrations are generally broken up—they are jets, impulsions, pulsations,—whilst in the overmind they are vast, sustained, self-luminous, like those great notes of Beethoven. They have neither beginning nor end, they seem to be born out of the infinite and disappear into the infinite; they do not “begin” somewhere, they come into the consciousness with a sort of halo of eternity which vibrates ahead and continues to vibrate long after, like the echo of another journey behind this one:

Sunt lacrimae rerum et mentem mortalia tangent.

This is from Vergil which Sri Aurobindo quoted as the very first inspirations of overmind origin, owes its overmind quality not to the sense of the words but to this rhythm which precedes the line and follows it, as though it was carried on a background of eternity or rather by Eternity itself. So too this line of Leopardi which does not owe its grandeur to the sense but to that something so subtly more than the meaning, which quivers behind:

Insano indegno mistero delle cose

Or this line of Wordsworth:

Voyaging through strange seas of thought, alone.

And Sri Aurobindo also quoted Rimbaud:

Million d’oiseaux d’or, ỏ future Vigueur!

Poetry has been restored to its true role, which is not to please but to make the world more real or full of the Real.

Perhaps we will yet see the gods, who people this world, if we are religious-minded. Beings or forces, sounds, lights, rhythms are so many true aspects of the same Thing, indefinable but not unknowable, which is called God—we speak of God, make temples, laws, poems, to try to trap a single pulsation which fills us with sunlight, but it is free as the great wind on foam sprayed shores. Perhaps we shall also enter the world of music which in fact is not distinct from the others but a special translation of this same great unutterable Vibration. And if once, just once, be it a few minutes in a life-time, we hear that Music, that joy which sings above, we shall know what Beethoven and Bach used to hear; we shall know what God is because we shall have heard God. We will not even say anything in capital letters; simply we shall know that this exists and that all the suffering of the world is redeemed.

At the extreme frontiers of the overmind, there remain only great waves of coloured light, says the Mother, the play of spiritual forces will be translated later—sometimes long afterwards—by new ideas, social changes, terrestrial events, after having crossed one by one all the layers of consciousness and been considerably darkened or deformed in the course of the journey. There are sages down here, rare and silent, who can handle, combine these forces, and who can draw them down to the earth, as others combine sounds for a poem. Perhaps these are truly the poets. Their existence is a living mantra precipitating the Real upon earth.

Thus were completed the degrees of ascension which Sri Aurobindo covered alone in his cell at Alipore. But we have only given a few human gleams of these heights, we have said nothing of their essence, nothing of these worlds as they are in their glory, independently to our poor translations. One must hear for oneself, one must see!

Calm heavens of imperishable Light,
Illumined continents of violet peace,
Oceans and rivers of the mirth of God
And griefless countries under purple suns. ||33.15||

This is the biography of Sri Aurobindo. So I shall complete this chapter by reading the remaining portion:

On the 5th May, 1909, after a year’s imprisonment, Sri Aurobindo was acquitted. He owed his life to two unexpected incidents: one of the prisoners having betrayed him, denouncing him as the leader of the secret movement, his evidence in the case would have meant the death penalty for Sri Aurobindo, when, mysteriously, he was killed by a revolver-shot from a neighbouring cell. Then came the day of trial and as everyone sat expecting the verdict of capital punishment, his own advocate was seized by sudden illumination which spread through the entire hall and shook the jury: “Long after he is dead and gone, his words will be echoed and re-echoed, not only in India, but across distant seas and lands. Therefore I say that the man in his position is not standing before the bar of this court, but before the bar of the High Court of History.” Sri Aurobindo was thirty-seven. His brother Barin, beside him in the cage, was sentenced to the gallows.

But Sri Aurobindo heard the Voice all the time: “Remember never to fear, never to hesitate. Remember that it is I who I am doing this, not you nor any another. Therefore whatever clouds may come, whatever dangers and sufferings, whatever difficulties, whatever impossibilities, there is nothing impossible, nothing difficult. It is I, who is doing this.”

Actually all that we spoke about Higher Mind, Illumined Mind, intuitive mind, overmind, Supermind were the degrees of consciousness that Sri Aurobindo was crossing at this time when he was in the jail. He was ascending all these planes of consciousness and then within a year of his acquittal he ascended into the Supermind, crossing even the overmind. So, all that Sri Aurobindo has described in this chapter that we are reading was actually a description of the experiences that he passed through at that time and then thereafter. There are three more important points to be noted, when we come to the end of this. One is the distinction between the Overmind and the Supermind. Secondly, the difference it makes when the Overmind descends and when Supermind descends. Thirdly while Supramental descent is inevitable, indispensable, if the problem that the world faces today is to be resolved.

What is the difference between the Overmind and the Supermind? As I said that overmind is a global vision of things, but Supermind is what we call comprehensive vision, not only global vision but comprehensive vision. While explaining the difference at one time Sri Aurobindo has said that overmind vision is something similar to what you have when you stand alone in a dark night. On a very high top of a hill a large expanse of things can be seen in the darkness or not seen in the darkness and wherever you cast your eyes there is darkness and therefore, you may express your experience by saying all is dark. But although this statement is true of this experience, it is not really entirely true. In the sense that it is true only of the hemisphere on which you are standing, on the lower hemisphere the sun would be in full splendor. So if you want to see what is Supramental consciousness like, it would see both the upper hemisphere and the lower hemisphere at the same time. It’s a comprehensive consciousness. The watchword of the overmind is multiplicity that arrives at unity. The emphasis in the overmind is on multiplicity but multiplicity which ultimately is seen to be united. In the Supermind the watchword is unity, which manifests itself in multiplicity. Unity is a first vision, multiplicity is a secondary vision. In the overmind there is as it were a pressure that every element of multiplicity is pushed to its extreme conclusion so that ultimately it may come to emphasize division. Unity is something that is opposed to division. In multiplicity there is differentiation but when you allow each element to arrive at its extreme conclusion, you arrive at what may be called division.

Really speaking nothing in the world is divided. Division really does not exist but things look divided. I see before me a chess board, in which each piece is different from the other, quite far from the other and therefore, there is a perception of division. There is multiplicity but also each one is divided from the other. But if I look from below and from above I see that although they look divided, there is an inner underlying unity. All the pieces represent some kind of unity, some kind of a game which can be played by all of them. When they can join together there is some kind of unifying purpose or even at a lower level all these pieces of matter are manifestations of one matter. So although here they look divided, basically they are manifestations of one single matter but this division that appears here is one of the conclusions of the push of the overmind to allow each element to go its extreme logical conclusion.

In the Supermind even when you start with the divisions, they constantly push you towards differentiation and differentiations melting into unity. Oneness is the mantra of the Supermind, all multiplicity, all division melt into oneness. Or if multiplicity and divisions are allowed, they are all a play of oneness, where oneness is never, never put at the back. The oneness is in the forefront, everything else is subordinate. As a result of this distinction when the overmind descends it can act very powerfully, luminously.

In fact its light is so powerful that many Rishis when they reached the overmind they felt it was the highest. It is only when some Rishis tried to go beyond it, that they discovered that the overmind was only a golden lid, which had to be broken. In the Isha Upanishad the Rishi says, ‘The face of the truth is hidden by a golden lid, and then says break it.’ The overmind is so powerful, looks like golden and it’s a golden lid but it hides the face of the Truth. Thus the consciousness of unity still lies behind overmind, the supramental and then it says: ‘samuha rashmin’,—you see the multiplicity and samuha, bring them together. All the rays of light are brought together.

So, from this description it is clear that the Rishi broke the barrier of the overmind and entered into the unity of all the lights. In that light he has then described soham ‘I am he’. The real oneness ‘I am he’, the real oneness is experienced in that unity. This is the reason why if overmind descends it can be very luminous, very powerful but when it reaches the inconscient, it cannot transform it.

This is the limitation of the Overmental descent. But the real problem of the world today, we have reached such a stage in world evolution that the present situation in the world cannot be corrected unless the inconscient is transformed. This is the specialty of the present time. Therefore, without the descent of the Supermind this cannot be transformed, unless Yoga is practiced whereby the Supramental descent is brought out. Unless this is done the problems of the world today cannot be resolved that is why supramental yoga is a yoga relevant to the present day.

This is the new task of which Sri Aurobindo spoke at the very beginning of the chapter. Where Sri Aurobindo has said that if our aim was only to be liberated from the world then that task has already been done for centuries, the roads are built, the high water marks are noted and you can just run on the road which has already been laid down, but that is not the aim. Our aim is much greater to cure the disease of the world, not only our liberation then much has still not been done.

Sri Aurobindo quotes again from the Rig Veda and says: ‘As you rise from peak to peak then much that has still to be done, remains to be done and that becomes visible to us. So, that is the main substance of this chapter that we were reading. The remaining two chapters in The Life Divine, ‘The Gnostic Being’ and ‘The Divine Life’ are devoted to the description of a transformed being. How would the human being when he is transformed by the Supermind, what will be the nature of his existence? How he would live, with what consciousness he would act, what would be his relationship with himself and with others, with the society at large, with the world at large and what would be the consequences of all this for the earth life and a detailed examination of the earth life, which can be transformed into the divine life is given in the next chapter.

I think these two chapters don’t require any kind of talking, they are just to be read, even this chapter required no talking, but we gave a concession to ourselves and we talked about it. Although we are unworthy of talking about it, we talked about it just to play on the shores of this entire ocean of life which is here, so I would only suggest that you can read these two chapters as and when you feel like it and our present series can come to an end now.

We started with The Triple Transformation and came to this, it gives a complete map of what is to be done from where we are, psychic transformation, spiritual transformation and the supramental transformation and how by this supramental descent this transformation can take place.

If you now want to continue our session then we have to decide what we should do next.

Question: You have just told us that there are four ways of intuitive mind?

Answer: No, actually the whole chapter is given to this question. This whole chapter called The Ascent towards Supermind is actually devoted to the answer of this question that you gradually move upwards and then these are the steps and then there is a law of evolution where you move upwards then you come downwards again, move upwards, come downwards. We have discussed the question of the law of evolution, ascent and integration. First you arrive at the stability of a given plane where you are now. Fortify your present plane of consciousness, make it subtle, make it complex then you rise higher there is a push upwards, then when you rise higher for the moment you establish yourself for some time on that higher plane. Then you will see that gradually there is downward movement and all that has been crossed previously is again reviewed and transformed by the higher and you go downward, downward, downward. Having reached the downward level again there is a push to the higher level and once again you come down to lower levels by transforming the lower levels again and by this repeated movement of going upward and going downward you stabilize at higher and higher levels of consciousness.

You may be at several levels in regard to different conditions of consciousness. Sri Aurobindo had given an image of an army. An army invades a country for conquest then having invaded it conquers a part of the territory. Having conquered that part of the territory there is an effort to consolidate what is conquered. In the meantime what was conquered earlier may rise in revolt then you may again have to go back to what was conquered earlier, secure your conquest over that. In the meantime something you have conquered here may slip out. So, again you consolidate what you have conquered earlier and now you establish an administration and rule by which revolts will not take place and you establish quite well and have done this having secured this territory. Now you prepare for the further conquest of a new land which has to be conquered. Again when you conquer that you need consolidation. This is the image that Sri Aurobindo has given; this is how our whole movement takes place and gradually you rise higher and higher and higher.