On the way from the Quiet Mind and Silent Mind or Purified Mind, and while crossing from Higher Mind to the Supermind, several higher and penultimate spiritual experiences are attained. In the specialized systems of yoga these or some of them are felt to be so overwhelming that they seem to sublate all the others and they can be felt to be the ultimate experiences of the Reality. In the integral yoga, however, the push is towards the supramental realization of the Ultimate Reality, and it is found that the Supermind, being itself the self-awareness of this infinite and the power of the self-determinations of the infinite, provides the direct and living experience of the supreme Infinite. As Sri Aurobindo points out:
"Supermind has quite another, a positive and direct and living experience of the supreme Infinite. The Absolute is beyond personality and beyond impersonality, and yet it is both the Impersonal and the supreme Person and all persons. The Absolute is beyond the distinction of unity and multiplicity, and yet it is the One and the innumerable Many in all the universes. It is beyond all limitation by quality and yet it is not limited by a qualityless void but is too all infinite qualities. It is the individual soul and all souls and more of them; it is the formless Brahman and the universe. It is the cosmic and the supracosmic spirit, the supreme Lord, the supreme Self, the supreme Purusha and supreme Shakti, the
Ever Unborn who is endlessly born, the Infinite who is innumerably finite, the multitudinous One, the complex Simple, the many-sided Single, the Word of the Silence Ineffable, the impersonal omnipresent Person, the Mystery, translucent in highest consciousness to its own spirit, but to a lesser consciousness veiled in its own exceeding light and impenetrable for ever. These things are to the dimensional mind irreconcilable opposites, but to the constant vision and experience of the supramental Truth-Consciousness they are so simply and inevitably the intrinsic nature of each other that even to think of them as contraries is an unimaginable violence."33
One of the major experiences on the way to the supramental experience and realization is the experience of the Cosmic Consciousness. Indeed, the Cosmic Consciousness can be had at various levels of the mind, overmind and supermind. The essence of the passage over to the goal of the Cosmic Consciousness is the exceeding of the limits imposed on us by the ego-sense and at least a partaking, at most identification with a self-knowledge which broods secret in all life and in all that seems to us inanimate. Describing the experience of the cosmic consciousness, Sri Aurobindo states:
"Entering into that Consciousness, we may continue to dwell, like It, upon universal existence. Then we become aware — for all our terms of consciousness and even our sensational experience begin to change, — of Matter as one existence and of bodies as its formations in which the one existence separates itself physically in the single body from itself in all others and again by physical means establishes
communication between these multitudinous points of its being. Mind we experience similarly, and Life also, as the same existence one in its multiplicity, separating and reuniting itself in each domain by means appropriate to that movement. And, if we choose, we can proceed farther and, after passing through many linking stages, become aware of a supermind whose universal operation is the key to all lesser activities. Nor do we become merely conscious of this cosmic existence, but likewise conscious in it, receiving it in sensation, but also entering into it in awareness. In it we live as we lived before in the ego-sense, active, more and more in contact, even unified more and more with other minds, other lives, other bodies than the organism we call ourselves, producing effects not only on our own moral and mental being and on the subjective being of others, but even on the physical world and its events by means nearer to the divine than those possible to our egoistic capacity."34
According to Sri Aurobindo, this cosmic consciousness is real to the seeker who has had contact with it or lives in it; this consciousness is real with a greater than the physical reality; real in itself, real in its effects and works. In the higher experience of the supramental cosmic consciousness, it is perceived that consciousness and being are not different from each other, but all being is a supreme consciousness, all consciousness is self-existent, eternal in itself. One can go one step farther. The Conscious Energy is seen to be one with the Being that creates the universe, but at the same time it is seen that the conscious Being which is the truth of the infinite supermind, is more than the universe and lives independently in Its own inexpressible infinity as well as in the cosmic harmonies. It is found that the world lives by That; That does not live by the world.
It is in connection with That that one can enter with the world-transcending consciousness and become superior to all cosmic existence. And in regard to that consciousness, a major experience and realization can be obtained. That experience is described by Sri Aurobindo as the experience that one obtains "at the gates of the Transcendent".
Sri Aurobindo describes it as follows:
"For at the gates of the Transcendent stands that mere and perfect Spirit described in the Upanishads, luminous, pure, sustaining the world but inactive in it, without sinews of energy, without flaw of duality, without scar of division, unique, identical, free from all appearance of relation and of multiplicity, — the pure Self of the Adwaitins, the inactive Brahman, the transcendent Silence. And the mind when it passes those gates suddenly, without intermediate transitions, receives a sense of the unreality of the world and the sole reality of the Silence which is one of the most powerful and convincing experiences of which the human mind is capable."35
According to Sri Aurobindo, this Silence is a status of the withdrawal from the activity, but there is still a possibility of a greater withdrawal, an experience not only of the Being but something that is beyond the being which is spoken of as an experience of the Non-Being. Sri Aurobindo states:
"But, still, there is the absolute withdrawal, there is the Non-Being. Out of the Non-Being, says the ancient Scripture, Being appeared. In the beginning all this was the
Non-Being. It was thence that Being was born. Then into the Non-Being it must surely sink again. If the infinite indiscriminate Existence permits all possibilities of discrimination and multiple realization, does not the Non-Being at least, as primal state and sole constant reality, negate and reject all possibility of a real universe?"36
Sri Aurobindo points out that another Upanishad rejects the birth of Being out of Non-Being as an impossibility; Being, it is said in the Chhandogya Upanishad, can only be born from Being. But the word Non-Being can be taken in the sense, not of an inexistent Nihil, but of an x which exceeds our idea or experience of existence; then the impossibility disappears. For Sri Aurobindo admits the truth of the experience of the Being as also of the experience that is even more transcendental which can be applicable to the Absolute Brahman of the Adwaita as well as to the Void or Zero of the Buddhists. In fact, the Mundaka Upanishad speaks of the Supreme beyond the immutable (aksardt paratah parah)?1 That which is beyond the mutable and the immutable, the Unknowable and the Ineffable, the ultimate x is so real that even the word real, even the word being or the word non-being cannot be applicable to it. Or else, it can be spoken of as pure Being and Non-Being and yet neither but beyond. Sri Aurobindo speaks of this Reality as follows:
"Pure Being is the affirmation by the Unknowable of Itself as the free base of all cosmic existence. We give the name of Non-Being to a contrary affirmation of Its freedom from all cosmic existence, — freedom, that is to say, from all positive terms of actual existence which consciousness in the universe can formulate to itself, even from the most abstract, even from the most transcendent. It does not deny them as a real expression of Itself, but It denies Its limitation
by all expression or any expression whatsoever. The Non-Being permits the Being, even as the Silence permits the Activity. By this simultaneous negation and affirmation, not mutually destructive, but complementary to each other like all contraries, the simultaneous awareness of conscious Self-being as a reality and the Unknowable beyond as the same Reality becomes realizable to the awakened human soul. Thus was it possible for the Buddha to attain the state of Nirvana and yet act puissantly in the world, impersonal in his inner consciousness, in his action the most powerful personality that we know of as having lived and produced results upon earth.
"...It is possible to pass into a Silence beyond the Silence. But this is not the whole of our ultimate experience, nor the single and all-excluding truth. For we find that this Nirvana, this self-extinction, while it gives an absolute peace and freedom to the soul within is yet consistent in practice with a desireless but effective action without. This possibility of an entire motionless impersonality and void Calm within doing outwardly the works of the eternal verities, Love, Truth and Righteousness, was perhaps the real gist of the Buddha's teaching, — this superiority to ego and to the chain of personal workings and to the identification with mutable form and idea, not the petty ideal of an escape from the trouble and suffering of the physical birth. In any case, as the perfect man would combine in himself the silence and the activity, so also would the completely conscious soul reach back to the absolute freedom of the Non-Being without therefore losing its hold on Existence and the universe."38
All spiritual experience is experience of the Infinite and it takes a multitude of directions; some of them like the
experience of the Silence or of the Being or of the experience of Silence beyond Silence or of the Non-Being are so close to the Divine and the Absolute, so penetrated with the reality of Its presence or with the ineffable peace and power of the liberation from all that is less than It, that they carry with them an overwhelming sense of finality, complete and decisive. As Sri Aurobindo points out, there are a hundred ways of approaching the Supreme Reality and, as is the nature of the way taken, so will be the nature of the ultimate experience by which one passes into That which is ineffable, That of which no report can be given to the mind or expressed by any utterance. Sri Aurobindo terms all these definitive culminations as penultimates of the one Ultimate. A supreme experience is the one which affirms and includes the truth of all spiritual experiences, gives to each its own absolute, integralises all knowledge and experience in a supreme reality. In this light, it may be said that all spiritual experiences are true, but they point towards some highest and widest reality which admits that truth and exceeds it. According to Sri Aurobindo, in the passage from mental to overmind cognition, one realizes many-sided unity, and the whole manifestation assumes the appearance of a singular and mighty harmony which reaches its greatest completeness when the soul stands on the border between Overmind and Supermind and looks back with a total view upon existence.
In that total view, two other major but penultimate experiences can be specially underlined, because one of them belongs to the path of the divine works and the other belongs to the path of the divine love, just as the penultimate experiences of the silent Being and the silent Non-Being are, as we have seen above, the culminating points of the exclusive path of Divine Knowledge.
At the height of the path of the divine works, one realizes more and more the supreme Divine as the Master and Mover of our works. It is discovered that He is the Cosmic Spirit of all this creative Energy around us; he is the Immanent within us. As Sri Aurobindo points out, the Master of the work does not reveal himself at once to the seeker. Always it is his Power that acts behind the veil, but He becomes manifest only when we renounce the egoism of the worker. This Master of the work and his divine Shakti not only preside over the works of the universe but they originate these works, inhabit these works, control them and override all the happenings in the world. But it is the veil of our desire and it is the veil of the ego that prevent us from coming into contact with them, and it is only when our surrender to the Divine Shakti is absolute that we are able to live in the absolute presence of the Master of the Work. Only then, says Sri Aurobindo, can we see our work throwing itself naturally, completely and simply into the mould of the Divine Will.
In the integral Karma Yoga, Sri Aurobindo points out, it is not enough to know the Divine Shakti as the one Cosmic Force that moves us and all creatures on the planes of Mind, Life and Matter. For at the level of Mind, Life and Matter, the cosmic force acts as the lower Nature, Apara Prakriti, and, although the Divine Knowledge, Light, Power are concealed there and at work in the ignorance and can break partly its veil and manifest something of the true character or descend from above and uplift these inferior workings, yet, imperfection remains in the dynamic parts. Even if we realize the Master of Works in a spiritualized mind, a spiritualized life-movement, a spiritualized body-consciousness, there is a stumbling response to the Supreme Power.
This stumbling response can be remedied, according to Sri Aurobindo, when we open to the Divine Shakti in the truth of a force, as the supramental Para Prakriti, which transcends the lower Prakriti of the mind, life and body. As in other paths which are integrated in the integral yoga, even so, in the path of karma yoga, the path of divine works, the aim is not merely liberation from the lower nature but also the liberation of the lower nature from its own limitations. For then only the work of the karma yogin is not only the work of the liberated soul but the work of accomplished supramentalised nature. As Sri Aurobindo states, not only liberation but perfection must be the aim of the Integral Karma Yoga. As Sri Aurobindo explains:
"If ours were not an integral Yoga, if we sought only the liberation of the self within us, or the motionless existence of Purusha separated from Prakriti, ...dynamic imperfection might not matter. ...But in an integral realization this can only be a step on the way, not our last resting-place. For we aim at the divine realization not only in the immobility of the Spirit, but also in the movement of Nature. And this cannot be altogether until we can feel the presence and power of the Divine in every step, motion, figure of our activities, in every turn of our will, in every thought, feeling and impulse. No doubt, we can feel that in a sense even in the nature of the Ignorance, but it is the divine Power and Presence in a disguise, a diminution, an inferior figure. Ours is a greater demand, that our nature shall be a power of the Divine in the Truth of the Divine, in the Light, in the force of the eternal self-conscient Will, in the wideness of the sempiternal Knowledge."39
The supreme Master of the Work can be integrally realized, according to Sri Aurobindo, only when we cross the
border of the highest Mind into a larger supramental consciousness, where the divine Truth is the nature and not a stranger. The Master of the Work is revealed there in the imperishable integral truth of his being and his powers and his workings. Only there, too, his works in us assume the flawless movement of his unfailing supramental purpose. But even then, a farther step remains to be taken. It is realized that the truest reason why one must seek liberation is not to be delivered, individually, from the sorrow of the world, though that deliverance too will be given to us, but that we may be dynamically one with the Divine, the Supreme, the Eternal. As Sri Aurobindo points out:
"The truest reason why we must seek perfection, a supreme status, purity, knowledge, strength, love, capacity, is not that personally we may enjoy the divine Nature or be even as the gods, though that enjoyment too will be ours, but because this liberation and perfection are the divine Will in us, the highest truth of our self in Nature, the always intended goal of a progressive manifestation in the universe. The divine Nature, free and perfect and blissful, must be manifested in the individual in order that it may manifest in the world."40
But this aim cannot be achieved merely by ascent to the Supermind; there has to be, according to Sri Aurobindo, a descent of the supermind; for then only can the lower nature be transformed; then only can the action in the world be the manifestation of the dynamic nature of the Master of the Work, and then only can our law of action be one with the law of action of the Divine. Perfection of the divine action through the transformed and supramentalised mind, life and body would deliver us into liberation and perfection of what is called sddharmya mukti.
Ananda Brahman (Blissful Divine)
Another major penultimate experience in the integral yoga is that of Ananda Brahman (Blissful Divine), which is the principal contribution of the path of the Divine Love. Will, knowledge and love are the three divine powers in human nature and in the life of man, and they point to the three paths by which the human soul rises to the Divine. When these three paths are united and when the union of the individual with the Supreme is attained through all the three paths, then the integrality that is achieved becomes the foundation of the integral yoga. These three paths are interrelated and the three powers, — will, knowledge and love also get interrelated. In that inter-relationship, love is found to be the crown of all being, and its way of fulfillment is marked by the increasing intensity that results in fullness and the ecstasy of utter self-finding. Love is the power and passion of the divine self-delight and without love, as Sri Aurobindo points out, we may get the rapt peace of its infinity, the absorbed silence of the Ananda, but not its absolute depth of richness and fullness. The path of the divine love is, therefore, indispensable for the integral realization of the Supreme.
It is true that there is a movement of love where the human lover and the Divine loved can live in the enjoyment of their exclusive oneness away from the world and from all others. Sometimes this exclusiveness may prove to be an inevitable movement of the path of bhakti. But love can be fulfilled in knowledge and works; the widest love fulfilled in knowledge sees the world not as something other and hostile to this joy, but as the being of the Beloved and all creatures as his being, and in that vision divine works find their joy and their justification. According to Sri Aurobindo,
this is the knowledge in which the integral Yoga must live.
Yoga is not philosophy, nor is it a religion; it is not a matter of theory or speculation, nor is it a matter of revelation turned into dogma; it is a matter of experience, which can be renewed by fresh experience and which can be matured into abiding realization. As Sri Aurobindo points out:
"Its experience is that of a conscient universal and supracosmic Being with whom it brings us into union, and this conscious experience of union with the Invisible, always renewable and verifiable, is as valid as our conscious experience of a physical world and of visible bodies with whose invisible minds we daily communicate."41
It is this character of yoga which has to be emphasized, particularly with reference to the Bhakti Yoga, because certain aspects of this yoga seem to be so allied to the practices of popular religion that there could be genuine confusion between Bhakti Yoga and popular religion. Adoration and worship which are connected with popular religion change their character when they are practised in Bhakti Yoga; the path of the yogic love for the divine aims at transforming the character of adoration and worship into a means by which one can be led towards a closer union of the soul with the Divine. Prayer in the path of yoga is a means of preparing the relationship between the individual soul and the Divine. In the end, prayer either ceases or remains only for the joy of the relationship. The relations which arise out of the attitude towards the divine are those of the divine Father and the Mother with the child and of the divine Friend; or else these relations mature into the individual as a pupil and the Divine as living Guide, Teacher, giver of light. Closer and more intimate still is the relation of the Mother
and the child. The soul turns to the Mother-Soul because of the self-existent nature of this love and because that points us to the home towards which we turn from our wanderings in the world into the bosom in which we find our rest. But the highest and the greatest relation springs from the very nature of love itself; it is the passion of the Lover and the Beloved. For love is a passion and seeks for two things, eternity and intensity, and in the relation of the Lover and the Beloved, the seeking for eternity and for intensity is instinctive and self-born. As Sri Aurobindo points out:
"Therefore it is here most that the turning of human emotion Godwards finds its full meaning and discovers all the truth of which love is the human symbol, all its essential instincts divinized, raised, satisfied in the bliss from which our life was born and towards which by oneness it returns in the Ananda of the divine existence where love is absolute, eternal and unalloyed."42
The path of divine love passes through many moods of love that is turned to the Divine; there is in these moods the joy of musing and absorption; moods turn from the delight of the meeting and fulfillment and embrace to the pain of separation, the wrath of love, the tears of longing, the increased delight of union. In the words of Sri Aurobindo:
"The heart is the scene of this supreme idyll of the inner consciousness, but a heart which undergoes increasingly an intense spiritual change and becomes the radiantly unfolding lotus of the spirit. And as the intensity of its seeking is beyond the highest power of the normal human emotions, so also the delight and the final ecstasy are beyond the reach of the imagination and beyond expression by speech. For this is the delight of the Godhead that passes human
It may be acknowledged that the way of the Divine Love is impossible, if the personality of the Divine cannot be taken as a reality, — a real reality — and not a hypostasis of the illusion. There can be no love without a lover and beloved. In the integral yoga, personality and impersonality, as our mind understand them, are only aspects of the Divine and both are contained in his being; they are one thing which we see from two opposite sides and into which we enter by two gates. It is true that when one crosses the border of the mind, and one develops the realization that comes through the path of knowledge, a penultimate experience of the ultimate reality is that of the Nirguna, the pure Impersonal. On the other hand, when one crosses the borders of the mind, and develops the realization that comes through the path of divine love, one experiences the reality as Saguna, the divine Person. But if one crosses into the realm of the Intuitive Mind, one finds there the reconciling power. And one can even rise into the native supramental home of the infinite and illimitable Truth, where all existence discovers its unity. Sri Aurobindo, while describing this experience of unity points out:
"That is what the ancient Veda meant when it cried, "There is a firm truth hidden by truth (the eternal truth concealed by this other of which we have here these lower intuitions); there the ten hundred rays of light stand together; that is One." "rtena rtam apihitam dhruvam...das'a s'atdsaha tasthus tad ekam."44
Integral and Supramental Realisation of the Infinite
Sri Aurobindo points out that the impersonal is a truth; the personal too, is a truth; they are the same truth seen from
two sides of our psychological activity; neither by itself gives a total account of its reality, and yet by either we can approach it. Both views are true, and each must be given its proper validity. In the words of Sri Aurobindo:
"The integral seeker has to see in this light that he can reach one and the same Reality on both lines, either successively or simultaneously, as if on two connected wheels traveling on parallel lines, but parallel lines which in defiance of intellectual logic but in obedience to their own inner truth of unity do meet in infinity."45
The realization of the divine personality and the realization of the absolute impersonality are two of the great major but penultimate realizations. Even in respect of divine personality, there are found to be various forms, since the divine personality has various formulations of quality; it is found that the divine Person is Anantaguna, and is able to express himself through infinite quality. We can adore the divine Person through different forms of His nature, a God of righteousness, a God of love and mercy, a God of peace and purity; none of these are all the Divinity; yet these forms of his personality are real truths of himself. As Sri Aurobindo points out:
"He is each separately and all together. He is Vishnu, Krishna, Kali; he reveals himself to us in humanity as the Christ personality or the Buddha personality. When we look beyond our first exclusively concentrated vision, we see behind Vishnu all the personality of Shiva and behind Shiva all the personality of Vishnu. He is the Ananta-guna, infinite quality and the infinite divine Personality which manifests itself through it. Again he seems to withdraw into a pure spiritual impersonality or beyond all idea even of impersonal Self and to justify a spiritualised atheism or agnosticism; he
becomes to the mind of man an indefinable, anirdesyam. But out of this unknowable the conscious Being, the divine Person, who has manifested himself here, still speaks, "This too is I; even here beyond the view of mind, I am He, the Purushottama."46
The path of the Divine Love leads the seeker to the out flowings of the Ananda Brahman, — to joy, beauty, love, peace, and delight. In the supramental consciousness, however, the Ananda Brahman reveals its integrality and Brahman is realized as the integral Supreme, where the Supreme Inactive Brahman, the Divine Master of Work and the Ananda Brahman stand together in the highest unity and oneness. As one reaches the integral experience and realization of the integral Supreme, Brahman is revealed in three ways, within ourselves, above our plane, around us in the universe. Describing the integral realization, Sri Aurobindo states:
"When we possess firmly this consciousness of the Ananda Brahman in all of these three manifestations, above, within, around, we have the full oneness of it and embrace all existences in its delight, peace, joy and love; then all the worlds become the body of this self. But we have not the richest knowledge of this Ananda if it is only an impersonal presence, largeness or immanence that we feel, if our adoration has not been intimate enough for this Being to reveal to us out of its wide-extended joy the face and body and make us feel the hands of the Friend and Lover. Its impersonality is the blissful greatness of the Brahman, but from that can look out upon us the sweetness and intimate control of the divine Personality. For Ananda is the presence of the Self and Master of our being and the stream of its out flowing can be the pure joy of his Lila."47
Effects of Spiritual Experiences on Evolutionary Human Nature
The experiences of the Spirit can be acquired through the mind or the heart or life-sense or even through the physical consciousness; as Sri Aurobindo points out, if the inner doors are flung sufficiently open, the light from the sanctuary can suffuse the nearest and the farthest chambers of the outer being. A consciousness so touched may be so much uplifted that the being turns to an immediate union with the Self or with the Divine by departure from the evolution and, if that is sanctioned, no question of individuality or steps or method intervenes, the rupture with Nature can be decisive. But even if this happens or can happen in regard to the development of certain individuals, the evolutionary process of the earth, when examined, seems to imply an intention of the transformation of the earth-life, and therefore, the law of the departure is not or need not be the same as the law of the evolutionary transformation or perfection. Hence, the experiences of the spirit or even the experiences of the penultimate heights or profundities of the Spirit result in increasing spiritualization of Nature. And the process of spiritual change of nature must go step by step, till the stair of the ascension is transcended and there is an emergence of the greatest wide-open spaces or a consciousness which is supremely and supramentally luminous and infinite.
The psychic and spiritual experiences result in the processes of psychic transformation and spiritual transformation of nature. The psychic transformation and spiritual transformation are fundamentally processes of evolution, and they follow the processes of heightening and widening of the consciousness, the processes of ascent to
higher levels of consciousness and the processes of taking up of the lower levels resulting in new integration of the lower by superior powers of higher levels of consciousness; as a result, the demand for integration becomes, according to Sri Aurobindo, a point of cardinal importance. The process of the ascent towards supermind, therefore, follows the process not only of ascent but also of integration. It is in this context, therefore, that the evolutionary process pushes the development upwards from the silence of the mind to higher levels of the mind, such as the Higher Mind, Illumined Mind, Intuitive Mind and Overmind towards the Supermind. As Sri Aurobindo states:
"But when the spiritualization begins and, as its greater results manifest themselves, — silence of the mind, the admission of our being into the cosmic consciousness, the Nirvana of the little ego in the sense of universal self, the contact with the Divine Reality, — the interventions of the higher dynamis and our openness to them can increase, they can assume a fuller, more direct, more characteristic power of their working, and this progression continues until some complete and mature action of them is possible. It is then that the turning of the spiritual towards the supramental transformation commences; for the heightening of the consciousness to higher and higher planes builds in us the gradation of the ascent to Supermind, that difficult and supreme passage."48
This difficult passage consists of heightening, widening, ascent and integration, and series of ascents and descents. The first decisive step out of the human intelligence is, as we have seen, an ascent into the Higher Mind; but this ascent becomes more and more established when the aspect of cognition and the aspect of will of the higher mind impose
themselves by a process of integration and descent on our substance of Mind, Life and Matter. In order to make this integration free from resistance or a revolt of the mind, life and body, a previously established control is very desirable as that creates a general responsiveness. Even then, although a first spiritual change is effected, the original basis of the Nescience proper to the Inconscience will still be there needing at every turn to be changed, enlightened, diminished in extent and in its force of reaction. Even when the illumined mind arrives, and even when there is the descent of the golden drive, and even when a luminous enthusiasm of its force and power effectuates the integration of the lower levels of consciousness and power, the resistance of the Inconscience is not overcome; and yet what is achieved is enormous. As Sri Aurobindo points out, in the transformation by the Higher Mind, the spiritual sage and thinker will find his total and dynamic fulfillment, and in the transformation by the Illumined Mind, there would be a similar fulfillment for the seer, the illumined mystic, those in whom the soul lives in vision and in a direct sense and experience. Even then, these two stages of the ascent enjoy their authority and can get their own united completeness only by a reference to a third level, the level of the Intuitive Mind. When the Intuitive Mind acts in its own plane, it can perform all the action of the Reason; it can replace the function of logical intelligence and work out their right relation of things and the right relation of idea with idea by its own superior process and with steps that do not fail or falter. The process of integration and transformation by the descent of the intuitive mind into the lower levels of consciousness also achieve greater effectivity. Speaking of the power of the transformation of the Intuitive Mind, Sri Aurobindo states:
"It takes up also and transforms into its own substance not only the mind of thought, but the heart and life and the sense and physical consciousness: already all these have their own peculiar powers of intuition derivative from the hidden Light; the pure power descending from above can assume them all into itself and impart to these deeper heart-perceptions and life-perceptions and the divinations of the body a greater integrality and perfection. It can thus change the whole consciousness into the stuff of Intuition; for it brings its own greater radiant movement into the will, into the feelings and emotions, the life-impulses, the action of sense and sensation, the very workings of the body-consciousness; it recasts them in the light and power of truth and illumines their knowledge and their ignorance."49
But even then, the total integration is hampered, and the intuitive mind cannot sufficiently take up the subconscient and penetrate the fundamental Inconscience. As Sri Aurobindo points out, the basis of Inconscience in our nature is too vast, deep and solid to be altogether penetrated, turned into light, transformed by the intuitive mind or even by the still higher Overmind. It is not easy to bring about the ascent to the Overmind; the yogic experience shows that a high and intense individual opening upwards is not sufficient; to that vertical ascent, there must be added a vast horizontal expansion of the consciousness in some totality of Spirit. According to Sri Aurobindo, it is only by an opening into the cosmic consciousness that the Overmind ascent and descent can be made wholly possible. An important precondition is that the inner being must already have replaced by its deeper and wider awareness the surface mind and its limited outlook and learn to live in a large universality, but when one learns to live in overmental consciousness, one begins to have,
according to Sri Aurobindo, a very integral sense of governance, a complete supporting or over-ruling presence and direction of the cosmic Self or Ishwara. In the boundless largeness of the overmind, not only the separate ego but all sense of individuality, even of a subordinated or instrumental individuality, may entirely disappear. Some of the effects that Sri Aurobindo has described of the descent of the overmind can be seen in the following statement:
"When the Overmind descends, the predominance of the centralizing ego-sense is entirely subordinated, lost in largeness of being and finally abolished; a wide cosmic perception and feeling of a boundless universal self and movement replaces it: many motions that were formerly egocentric may still continue, but they occur as currents or ripples in the cosmic wideness. Thought, for the most part, no longer seems to originate individually in the body or the person but manifests from above or comes in upon the cosmic mind-waves: all inner individual sight or intelligence of things is now a revelation or illumination of what is seen or comprehended, but the source of the revelation is not in one's separate self but in the universal knowledge; the feelings, emotions, sensations are similarly felt as waves from the same cosmic immensity breaking upon the subtle and the gross body and responded to in kind by the individual centre of the universality; for the body is only a small support or even less, a point of relation, for the action of a vast cosmic instrumentation."50
Overmind and Consummation of Spiritual Transformation
According to Sri Aurobindo, the overmind change is the
final consummating movement of the dynamic spiritual transformation; it is the highest possible status — dynamis of the Spirit in the spiritual-mind plane. The overmind carries the consciousness to the point of a vast illumined universality and an organized play of this wide and potent spiritual awareness of utter existence, force-consciousness and delight. But Sri Aurobindo points out that in the terrestrial evolution itself the overmind descent would not be able to transform wholly the Inconscience. It is true that the descent of the overmental consciousness would be able to transform in each man it touched the whole conscious being, the inner and outer, personal and universally impersonal, into its own stuff and impose That upon the Ignorance illumining it into cosmic truth and knowledge. But this transformation would not be able to provide security against the downward pull or gravitation of the inconscience which dissolves all the formations that life and mind build in it, swallows all things that arise out of it or are imposed upon it and disintegrates them into the original matter. It is this limitation of the overmental descent that necessitates ascent to the supermind and the descent of the supermind into the terrestrial formula. As Sri Aurobindo states:
"The liberation from this pull of the Inconscience and a secured basis for a continuous divine or gnostic evolution would only be achieved by a descent of the Supermind into the terrestrial formula, bringing into it the supreme law and light and dynamis of the Spirit and penetrating with it and transforming the inconscience of the material basis. A last transition from Overmind to Supermind and a descent of Supermind must therefore intervene at this stage of evolutionary Nature."51