Process of Spiritual Transformation: Role of the superconscient Levels of Mind
But even then there are still limitations of an inferior instrumentation; as a result, the highest spiritual transformation must intervene on the psychic or psycho-spiritual change. There is thus the necessity of an upward journey above our mind and an ascent of consciousness not only into the higher ranges of the superconscient Higher Mind, Illumined Mind and Intuitive Mind but also of Overmind and spiritual nature in which the sense of Self and Spirit is ever unveiled and permanent and in which the self-luminous instrumentation of the Self and Spirit is not restricted or divided as in our mind-nature, life-nature, body-nature. The psychic change makes this ascent not only possible but even safe; psychic consciousness opens us to the cosmic consciousness by breaking many walls of limiting individuality; but it also opens us to what is now superconscient to our normality. If there is an awakening to the existence of the higher supernormal levels, then an aspiration towards them may break the lid or operate a rift in it. As Sri Aurobindo points out:
"If the rift in the lid of mind is made, what happens is an opening of vision to something above us or a rising up towards it or a descent of its powers into our being. What we see by the opening of vision is an Infinity above us, an eternal Presence or an infinite Existence, an infinity of consciousness, an
infinity of bliss, — a boundless Self, a boundless Light, a boundless Power, a boundless Ecstasy."45
One discovers in the domain of the superconscient several planes beyond our present level of awareness. In these planes, a basic sense and knowledge of unity is a general characteristic, even though there are degrees and grades. Moreover, they are not only states of consciousness but also grades of being and power. In the words of Sri Aurobindo:
"In themselves these grades are grades of energy- substance of the Spirit: for it must not be supposed, because we distinguish them according to their leading character, means and potency of knowledge, that they are merely a method or way of knowing or a faculty or power of cognition; they are domains of being, grades of the substance and energy of the spiritual being, fields of existence which are each a level of the universal Consciousness-Force constituting and organising itself into a higher status. When the powers of any grade descend completely into us, it is not only our thought and knowledge that are affected, — the substance and very grain of our being and consciousness, all its states and activities are touched and penetrated and can be remoulded and wholly transmuted. Each stage of this ascent is therefore a general, if not a total, conversion of the being into a new light and power of a greater existence."46
Sri Aurobindo describes in some detail states of consciousness and power of five planes which are distinguishable in the path of spiritual ascension, the path of ascent into the superconscient above the mind. These five planes are: the Higher Mind, the Illumined Mind, Intuitive Mind, Overmnid, and Supermind.
The Higher Mind is, according to Sri Aurobindo, a mind which is no longer subject to mingled light and obscurity or half-light. Its basic substance is a unitary sense of being with a powerful multiple dynamisation capable of the formation of multitude aspects of knowledge, ways of action, forms and significances of becomings, and in all of which there is a spontaneous inherent knowledge. Its special character, its activity of consciousness is dominated by Thought; it is, according to Sri Aurobindo, a luminous Thought-Mind, a mind of spirit-born conceptual knowledge. It can freely express itself in single ideas, but its most characteristic movement is a mass ideation, a system or totality of truth- seeking at a single view; the relations of idea with idea, of truth with truth, are not established by logic but are pre- existent and emerge already self-seen in the integral goal. Large aspects of truth come into the view of the Higher Mind, and the structures of the view can constantly expand into a larger structure or several of them combine themselves into a provisional greater whole on the way to a yet unachieved integrality. In the end, there is a great totality of truth known and experienced, but still a totality capable of infinite enlargement because there is no end to the aspects of knowledge.47
As one goes beyond the Higher Mind or what may also be called Truth-Thought, there is, according to Sri Aurobindo, a greater illumination instinct with an increased power and intensity and driving force, a luminosity of the nature of Truth- Sight with thought formulation as a minor and dependent activity. If, as Sri Aurobindo points out, we may compare the
action of the Higher Mind to a steady sunshine, the knowledge of the Illumined Mind beyond it can be seen as an outpouring of massive lightning of a flaming sun-stuff.48
Beyond the Illumined Mind is the Intuitive Mind. It has a still greater power of Truth-Force, and intimate and exact Truth-vision, Truth-thought, Truth-sense, Truth-feeling, Truth-action. The Illumined Mind does not work primarily by thought, but by a vision, and the Intuitive Mind is more than sight, more than conception. Intuition is a power of consciousness nearer and more intimate to the original knowledge by identity; it is when the consciousness of the subject meets the consciousness in the object, penetrates it and sees, feels or vibrates with the truth of what it contacts, that the intuition leaps out like a spark or lightning-flash from the shock of the meeting. The intuitive perception is the result of a penetrating and revealing touch which carries in it sight and conception as part of itself or as its natural consequence. According to Sri Aurobindo, Intuition has a fourfold power. To use his words:
"A power of revelatory truth-seeing, a power of inspiration or truth-hearing, a power of truth-touch or immediate seizing of significance, which is akin to the ordinary nature of its intervention in our mental intelligence, a power of true and automatic discrimination of the orderly and exact relation of truth to truth, — these are the fourfold potencies of Intuition."49
But still the intuitive light and power is only the edge of a delegated and modified Supermind, and does not bring in the whole mass or body of the identity knowledge.
At the source of the Intuitive Mind, there is, according to Sri Aurobindo, a superconscient cosmic Mind in direct contact with the Supermind. That superconscient comic Mind is the Overmind. It is when, as a result of the ascent to the overmind, a descent of the overmental Consciousness is accomplished in the physical consciousness, that the status of the spiritual transformation is attained. This overmind is not a mind as we know it, but, in the words of Sri Aurobindo:
"... an Overmind that covers as with the wide wings of some creative Oversoul this whole lower hemisphere of Knowledge-Ignorance, links it with that greater Truth- Consciousness while yet at the same time with its brilliant golden Lid it veils the face of the greater Truth from our sight, intervening with its flood of infinite possibilities as at once an obstacle and a passage in our seeking of the spiritual law of our existence, its highest aim, its secret Reality."50
The Overmind is the occult link; it is the Power that at once connects and divides the supreme Knowledge and the cosmic Ignorance. According to Sri Aurobindo, Supermind transmutes to Overmind all its realities but leaves it to formulate them in a movement. But this formulation is done by the Overmind by an awareness of things which, according to Sri Aurobindo, is still a vision of Truth and yet at the same time a first parent of the Ignorance.
Comparing the action of the Supermind and the Overmind, Sri Aurobindo states:
"The integrality of the Supermind keeps always the essential truth of things, the total truth and the truth of its individual self-determinations clearly knit together; it
maintains in them an inseparable unity and between them a close interpretation and free ad full consciousness of each other: but in overmind this integrality is no longer there. And yet the Overmind s well aware of the essential Truth of the things; It embraces the totality; it uses the Individual self-determinations without being limited by them: but although it knows their oneness, can realise it in a spiritual cognition, yet its dynamic movement, even while relying on that for its security, is not directly determined by it. Overmind Energy proceeds through an illimitable capacity of separation and combination of the powers and aspects of the integral and indivisible all-comprehending Unity. It takes each Aspect or Power and gives to it an independent action in which it acquires a full separate importance and is able to work out, we might say, its. own world of creation. .. .At the same time in Overmind this separateness is still founded on the basis of an implicit underlying unity; all possibilities of combination and relation between the separated Powers and Aspects, all interchanges and mutual ties of their energies are freely organised and their actuality always possible."51
Overmind and Supermind: Towards Supramental Transformation
Beyond the Overmind is the plenary Supramental consciousness.
If Overmental consciousness is global in character, the Supramental consciousness is integral. The Overmental consciousness is compared by Sri Aurobindo to a sun and its system shining out in an original darkness of Space and illumining everything as far as its rays could reach so that all that dwells in the light would feel as if no darkness were there at all in their experience of existence. But outside that sphere
or expanse of experience the original darkness would still be there. In the supramental consciousness there is, on the other hand, a plenitude of light, and if it so wills, it can illumine everything integrally. The supramental consciousness is the Truth-Consciousness; it is at once the self-awareness of the Infinite and Eternal and a power of self-determination inherent in that self-awareness. As Sri Aurobindo states:
"In Supermind being, consciousness of knowledge and consciousness of will are not divided as they seem to be in our mental operations; they are a trinity, one movement with three effective aspects. Each has its own effect. Being gives the effect of substance, consciousness the effect of knowledge, of the self-guiding and shaping idea, of comprehension and apprehension; will gives the effect of self-fulfilling force. But the idea is only the light of the reality illumining itself; it is not mental thought nor imagination, but effective self-awareness. It is Real-Idea."52
According to Sri Aurobindo, Supermind starts from unity, not division. It is primarily comprehensive; differentiation is only its secondary act. Therefore, Sri Aurobindo points out, whatever be the truth of being expressed, the idea corresponds to it exactly, the will-force to the idea, and the result to the will. In the supermind, the idea does not clash with other ideas, the will or force with other wills or forces. The supermind is, in the words of Sri Aurobindo:
".. .one vast Consciousness which contains and relates all ideas in itself as its own ideas, one vast Will which contains and relates all energies in itself as its own energies. It holds back this, advances that other, but according to its own preconceiving Idea-Will."53
The supramental consciousness is founded, according to
Sri Aurobindo, upon the supreme consciousness of the timeless Infinite but has too the secret of the deployment of the Infinite Energy in time. In the words of Sri Aurobindo:
"It can either take its station in the time consciousness and keep the timeless infinite as its background of supreme and original being from which it receives all its organising knowledge, will and action, or it can, centered in its essential being, live in the timeless but live too in a manifestation in time which it feels and sees as infinite and as the same Infinite, and can bring out, sustain and develop in the one what it holds supemally in the other."54
But this unified and infinite time consciousness and this vision and knowledge are, according to Sri Aurobindo, the possession of the supramental being in its own supreme region of light and are complete only on the higher levels of supramental nature. But the human mind developing into supermind has to pass through several stages and in its ascent and expansion it may experience many changes and various dispositions of the powers and possibilities of its time- consciousness and time-knowledge.
The process of the ascent from the Mind to the Supermind is extremely complex, and the process of ascent itself involves processes of descent of the higher into the lower, and it cannot be fixed in any rigid manner. The process of psychic development itself implies development of spiritualized consciousness in several degrees or in several ways. For, as we have seen, the inward turn of the psychic consciousness facilitates also the upward turn of consciousness, and while the inward turn is a proper domain of the psychic consciousness, the upward turn is the proper domain of the spiritual consciousness. Hence, the entire process is largely
psycho-spiritual; it can be said that the psycho-spiritual transformation has to reach a very high level before the supramental transformation begins to advance. A description of the three processes of the psychic transformation, spiritual transformation and supramental transformation is, therefore, bound to be highly complex and difficult. It may, however, be stated in a general way that behind every yogic endeavour, it is the psychic aspiration that takes the lead, even though that lead may not be really recognized or acknowledged in every yogic endeavour, particularly when the path of ascension from Mind is directed upwards towards the mental silence and quietistic realization of the Self or when the emphasis in the yogic endeavour is sought to be developed mainly by the aid of cosmic powers and cosmic Beings or Gods of the higher planes. It may also be said that by means of ascension on the higher planes of consciousness between the mind and the supermind one can attain to varieties of spiritual experience, but when the spiritual power and light descend into the operations of the body, life and mind for their transformation, the endeavour would succeed better and more rapidly if it is preceded by a good deal of development of psychic experiences and psychic transformation of the body, life and mind. In any case, psychic transformation and spiritual transformation have to reach high level of perfection much before the descent of the supermind can successfully be brought about.
It may also be added that in the development of the integral yoga, the seeker will be required to expand the scope and aim that we normally find in the specialized systems of Jnana yoga, Karma yoga and Bhakti yoga and any other system of yoga which is synthesized in this vast and comprehensive system. The important point is that in the integral yoga, the
awakening and full development of psychic consciousness is indispensable; similarly, the ascension from the mind to the supermind, which constitutes the domain of spiritual consciousness is also indispensable; and both these processes and high levels of perfection in the psychic transformation and spiritual transformation are prerequisites for the rapid advancement towards the ascent to the supermind and the eventual process of supramental transformation. In the integral yoga, the psychic being or the soul is the leader, and this leadership opens up the path of the guidance of the Spirit, and it is this guidance that opens up the paths of the transmutation of Nature, Prakriti, the culmination of which is reached when the tasks of supramental transformation are accomplished. In this yoga, Purusha is the leader, chaitya purusa, as also the Supreme Purusha, but it also opens up the path of the leadership of Para Prakriti, of the Divine Mother; all the elements and fibres of Prakriti are sought to be transformed by means of increasing and constant help and descent of the higher and higher powers of the Divine Mother, the powers of the Supermind and even beyond. Thus not only the liberation of the soul but also the liberation of Nature and perfection of Nature, including all the instruments of the soul, body, life and mind and higher instruments of consciousness and power, are to be fulfilled.
In the integral yoga, therefore, the process of Jnana yoga, Karma yoga, and Bhakti yoga receives central emphasis, but these processes are inter-woven and perfected by the processes and objectives of what Sri Aurobindo calls the yoga of self-perfection, and the central emphasis in the yoga of self- perfection falls upon the dynamic aspects of yoga and on the detailed processes of purification and developments of powers and instruments of Prakriti.
Recapitulation of the Process of the Triple Transformation
There are, as we have seen, several steps involved in the complete process of the triple transformation. The first step consists of the manifestation of the psychic entity which functions as the guide and ruler of the nature as a result of which every movement of nature is exposed to the light of Truth and what is false, obscure, opposed to the divine realization is rejected. The result of this movement is that the whole conscious being is made perfectly apt for the psychic and spiritual experience of every kind, and the whole conscious being is delivered from the hold of tamas, rajas and satwa; the whole conscious being becomes tuned towards spiritual truth of thought, feeling, sense, and action. The second result is the ascent of consciousness in the superconscient and even towards the Transcendence, which results in the experience of the Self, experience of the Ishwara and Divine Shakti, experience of cosmic consciousness. This inflow of spiritual experiences has effects on the lower Prakriti of mind, life and body, and there are illuminations of the mind by knowledge, illuminations of the heart, illuminations of the sense and the body and even illuminations of dynamic action in the purified mind and heart. There is then the third motion, which consists of an increasing inflow from above, a downpour of an influx of the descending Spirit or its powers and elements of consciousness. This descent is essential for bringing the permanent ascension. Ordinarily, the consciousness does not rise to the summits except in the highest moments; it remains in the mental level and receives descent from above. But by the inflow of the processes of descent of the higher levels of consciousness, a permanent ascent on higher peaks of consciousness can be effected.
Established in the overmind and supermind, every part of our being, every instrument of our being in our body, life and mind can be taken up for transformation; this can be securely done if one has permanently ascended to the overmind and supermind. The descent of the powers of the consciousness descending from a higher level aims at meeting and transforming each minutest portion and movement of the lower Nature; each element, each fibre and each vibration must either be destroyed and replaced if it is unfit, or, if it is capable, transmuted into the truth of the higher being. A descent of consciousness from the higher and highest levels is necessary, but the higher powers of consciousness get modified or diluted when they come down. Even the great light and power of the overmind suffers from this diminution when it descends into the lower levels of consciousness. As Sri Aurobindo points out:
"A light and power of the Overmind working in its own full right and in its own sphere is one thing, the same light working in the obscurity of the physical consciousness and under its conditions is something quite different and, owing to dilution and mixture, far inferior in its knowledge and force and results. A mutilated power, a partial effect or hampered movement is the consequence."55
The descent of the overmind in mind, life and matter and transformation of these layers of Nature has been considered by Sri Aurobindo as the accomplishment of the spiritual transformation; but even this transformation is unable to do fully what is needed for the total transformation of the lower nature, Apara Prakriti. This is the reason why a still higher power, the supramental power, is needed, and this is the reason of bringing down the supermind in the lowest layers of the lower Nature. As Sri Aurobindo points out, only the
supermind can descend with its full power of action, since its action is always intrinsic and automatic, its will and knowledge identical and the result commensurate. The supramental Truth-Consciousness can overcome the limitations of the overmental descent because whereas overmind is global but characterized by the operation of the dividing principle, supermind is total, integral and characterized by the principle of unity. In the words of Sri Aurobindo:
"The Truth-Consciousness, finding evolutionary Nature ready, has to descend into her and enables her to liberate the supramental principle within her; so must be created the supramental and spiritual being as the first unveiled manifestation of the truth of the Self and Spirit in the material universe."56
It is then by the descent of the supramental consciousness that the third and final transformation, the supramental transformation can be accomplished. And it is against this background that the spirit and the processes of the integral yoga can properly be understood and practised; and, again, it is against this background that the processes of the Jnana yoga, Karma yoga, Bhakti yoga and the Tantra as also all other processes of yoga which are incorporated in the integral yoga need to be modified and expanded; but most importantly, the necessity and processes of the yoga of self-perfection have implications not only at the summits of the yogic processes but even initially and increasingly for all processes of the integral yoga.