Psychology of Integral Yoga
ALL METHODS of Yoga are special psychological processes founded on a fixed truth of Nature and developing out of normal functions, powers and results which were always latent but which her ordinary movements do not easily or do not often manifest. Each specialised system of Yoga selects one or two or more faculties of human psychology and uses them as its instruments, develops them, purifies them and employs through them a certain special method of concentration on the object that is sought to be realised. In the Integral Yoga, all powers and faculties are combined, developed and purified, and there is a progressive integral concentration upon the object of integral perfection.
The first stage in the Integral Yoga is to put our whole conscious being into relation and contact with all that we consider to be true, good and beautiful, all that we consider to be perfect and divine. In the second stage, there is a wide, full and therefore laborious preparation of all that we are in our ordinary lower nature to receive and to become the higher nature. It is only in the third and the last stage, which can be wholly rapid and blissful, that there can come about the eventual transformation and perfection which is the object of the Integral Yoga.
The centre of our ordinary consciousness is the ego, which seems to be our basic entity but which, when analysed, turns out to be only a sense arid centre of a finite consciousness that considers itself erroneously to be self-existent. Of this ego we
are conscious as the surface desire-soul which works in our vital cravings, our emotions, aesthetic faculty and mental seeking for power, knowledge and happiness. The egoistic ignorance in the mind of thoughts, in the heart of emotions and in the senses responds to the touch of things not by a courageous and whole-hearted embrace of the world, but by a flux of reachings and shrinkings, cautious approaches or eager rushes and sullen or discontented panic or anger according to whether the touch pleases or displeases, comforts or alarms, satisfies or dissatisfies. We identify ourselves mentally, vitally, physically with this superficial ego-consciousness which is our first insistent self-experience.
So long as we are content with what we ordinarily are and content with our round of movements in our complex mass of mental, nervous and physical habits held together by a few ruling ideas, desires and associations, we are not yet ready for the conscious adventure of Yoga. For, no yoga can be successfully undertaken and followed unless there is a strong awakening to the necessity of a higher spiritual consciousness and a greater and diviner being. There are many ways by which the individual is awakened strongly to the necessity of a larger spiritual existence. As Sri Aurobindo points out:
'The soul that is called to this deep and vast change, may arrive in different ways to the initial departure. It may come to it by its own natural development which has been leading it unconsciously towards the awakening; it may reach it through the influence of a religion or the attraction of a philosophy; it may approach it by a slow illumination or leap to it by a sudden touch or shock; it may be pushed or led to it by the pressure of outward circumstances or by an inward necessity, by a single word that breaks the seals of the mind or by long reflection, by the distant example of one who has trod the path or by contact and daily influence. According to the nature and the circumstances the call will come."¹
But this call must be distinguished from a mere idea or
intellectual seeking of something higher beyond. This call is truly a decision of the mind and the soul and has, as its results, a complete and effective self-consecration. This call is a unifying single-mindedness of the being. For Yoga contemplates a revolutionary change of consciousness and such a great change cannot be effected by a divided will or by a small portion of the energy or by a hesitating mind. In the words of Sri Aurobindo:
'He who seeks the Divine must consecrate himself to God and to God only.'²
The first steps of Yoga present us serious difficulties and obstacles. We begin to look within ourselves and we are brought face to face with the extraordinary complexity of our own being, the stimulating but also embarrassing multiplicity of our personality, 'the rich endless confusion of Nature.' The most disconcerting discovery is to find that every part of us has each its own complex individuality and nature formation independent of the rest; it neither agrees with itself nor with the others nor with the representative ego. We find that we are composed not of one but many personalities and each has its own demands and differing nature. We find ourselves to be a roughly constituted chaos and we are called upon to introduce the principle of a divine order.
As we begin to live more and more inwardly we begin to find that we do not exist in ourselves, we do not really live apart in an inner privacy or solitude. We find that the sharp separateness of our ego was no more than a strong imposition and delusion, that a large part comes to us from others or from the environment. We also discover that there are other worlds and their beings and powers and influences and that we are over- topped and environed by other planes of consciousness, mind planes, life planes, subtle matter planes, from which our life and action here are fed, or fed on, pressed, dominated, made
use of for the manifestation of their forms and forces. As Sri Aurobindo says:
'Of all this we have to take account, to deal with it, to know what is the secret stuff of our nature and its constituent and resultant motions and to create in it all a divine centre and a true harmony and luminous order.³
In dealing with the complexity of our nature, it would be greatly helpful if we have clarity of the various constituents of our complexity. The three important parts of our ordinary nature are, what Sri Aurobindo calls, the mental, the vital and the physical.
The mind proper is divided into three parts thinking Mind, dynamic Mind and externalising Mind. The vital is divided into three parts, the emotional vital, the central vital and the lower vital. The physical refers to the material or physical consciousness and to the physical body.
The thinking Mind is concerned with ideas and knowledge in their own right. It reasons and perceives with ideas of infinity, eternity, unity, identity and self-contradiction. It considers and finds out the value of things. The dynamic Mind is concerned with the putting out of mental forces for realisation of the idea. The externalising Mind is concerned with the expression of ideas and knowledge and mental forces in life, not only by speech, but by any form it can give.
The emotional vital is the seat of various feelings, such as love, joy, sorrow, hatred and the rest. The central vital is the seat of the stronger vital longings and reactions, such as ambition, pride, fear, love of fame, attractions and repulsions, desires and passions of various kinds and the field of many vital energies. The lover vital is occupied with small desires and feelings, such as food desire, sexual desire, small likings, dislikings, vanity, quarrels, love of praise, anger at blame,
little wishes of all kinds and a numberless host of other things.
The physical consciousness is mechanical and repetitive in character, and it is limited to the purely bodily needs, and it is this consciousness which insists on the mind to seek the evidence of physical senses and the physical sense-organs. The purely bodily consciousness is largely sub-conscious and unconscious.
These three, the mental, the vital and the physical, are interrelated in the complexity of our being. As a result, there is in us what Sri Aurobindo calls the mental-vital (vital mind), mentalphysical (physical mind), vital-mental, vital-physical and physical-vital. The mental-vital or the vital mind is the mind which is at the service of vital desires and vital emotions. It is a so-t of mediator between vital emotion, desire, impulsion, etc., and the mental proper. It expresses the desire, feelings, emotions, passions, ambitions, possessive and active tendencies of the vital and throws them into mental forms. Finding arguments in support of vital movements such as rationalisations of all kinds is also an activity of the mental-vital or of the vital mind. Other activities include pure imaginations or dreams of greatness, happiness, etc., in which men indulge very often. The mental-vital or vital mind plans or dreams or imagines what can be done. It makes formations for the future which the will can try to carry out if opportunity and circumstances become favourable or even it can work to make them favourable. In men of action this faculty is prominent and a leader of their nature; great men of action always have it in a very high measure. At a lower stage of the mental-vital, the vital passions, impulses and desires rise up and get into the pure Thought and either cloud it or distort it. The mental-vital (the vital Mind) should be distinguished from the dynamic Mind. While the mental-vital is limited by the vital view and feelings
of things, the dynamic Mind is not, for it acts by idea and reason.
The emotional vital and the central vital are sometimes taken together and referred to as the higher vital, in contrast to the lower vital which is concerned with the bottom movements of action and desire and stretches down into the vital-physical. The vital-physical is the vital at the service of the physical. It is the nervous being, and it governs all the small daily reactions to outward things. It governs also reactions of the nerves and the body consciousness and reflects emotions and sensations; it motivates much of the ordinary actions of man and joins with the lower parts of the vital proper in producing lust, jealousy, anger, violence, etc. In its lowest parts, where it can be called vital-material, it is the agent of passion, physical illness, etc.
The physical-vital supports the life of more external activities and all physical sensations, hungers, cravings, satisfactions. It is foil of desires and greeds and seekings for pleasure on the physical plane.
The vital-physical is below the mental-physical, but above the material. However, they inter-penetrate each other. The body-energy is a manifestation of material forces supported by a vital-physical energy which is the vital energy precipitated into matter and conditioned by it.
The mental-physical or the physical Mind is the mind at the service of the physical. It is the mind conditioned by the physical, and it is fixed on physical objects and happenings, sees and understands these only and deals with them according to their own nature, but can with difficulty respond to the higher forces. Left to itself, it is sceptical of the existence of supra-physical things, of which is has no direct experience and to which it can find no clue. To enlighten the physical mind by the consciousness of the higher spiritual and supramental planes is one of the important objects of the integral Yoga, just as to enlighten it by the power of the higher vital and higher mental elements of the being is the greatest part of human self-development, civilisation and culture.
The gross material part has also a consciousness of its own, the consciousness proper to the limbs, cells, tissues, glands and organs. To make this consciousness luminous and directly instrumental to the higher planes and to the divine movement is what is meant in Sri Aurobindo's Yoga making the body conscious, that it to say, full of a true, awakened and responsive awareness instead of its own obscure, limited halfsubconscience.
The sub-conscient is below the level of mind and conscious life, inferior and obscure, and it covers the purely physical and vital elements of our constituent bodily being, unmentalised and unobserved by the mind, uncontrolled by it in their action. It can be held to include the corporeal mind, the mind or dumb occult consciousness, dynamic but not sensed by us, which operates in the cells and nerves and all the corporeal stuff and adjusts their life-processes and automatic responses. The mind of the cells is distinguishable from the mental-physical or the physical mind. The mental-physical is the mind at the service of the physical, whereas the mind of the cells is the consciousness working in the cells themselves. It is something like the submerged sense-mind which is highly operative in animal and plant life but is also obscurely at work below our conscious nature.
According to Sri Aurobindo, a plunge into the sub-conscient when we are not yet sufficiently ready is unsafe, and would not help us to explore this region, for this would lead us into incoherence, sleep or dull trance or comatose torpor. Our first concern must be with all that we are conscious of, and it is only when there has been already a good deal of harmonisation of our conscious being and an ascent to high levels of consciousness that it becomes easier and safer to deal with the subconscient. The higher we rise the greater the capacity we acquire to deal with the lower. The lower and the higher have
correspondences and the highest superconscient and the lowest inconscient are in a sense nearest to each other. The lowest inconscient can effectively be dealt with the transformed only by the highest powers of the supramental superconscient.
As Sri Aurobindo explains:
'The Inconscience is an inverse reproduction of the supreme superconscience: it has the same absoluteness of being and automatic action, but in a vast involved trance; it is being lost in itself, plunged in its own abyss of infinity. ... In all material things resides a mute and involved Real-Idea, a substantial and self-effective intuition, an eyeless exact perception, an automatic intelligence working out its unexpressed and unthought conceptions, a blindly seeing sureness of sight, a dumb infallible sureness of suppressed feeling coated in insensibility, which effectuate all that has to be effected. All this state and action of the Inconscient corresponds very evidently with the same state and action of the pure Superconscience, but translated into terms of self-darkness in place of the original self-light.'4
In the evolutionary process, as explained by Sri Aurobindo, the Inconscience seems to be the beginning of the upward movement towards the emergence of the subconscient, the conscient and the superconscient, but the subconscient, the conscient and the superconscient emerge out of the Inconscient because they are already involved in it. And evolution is in essence a heightening of the force of consciousness in the manifest being so that is may be raised into greater intensity of what is still unmanifest. In this evolutionary process, our conscious being stands as a middle term, which is neither unconscious nor superconscious. Our consciousness is normally unaware of all that is subconscious and unconscious of all that is superconscious. It is conscious only-of certain operations of the physical, the vital and the mental, and even of them only of their outer or overt activities and manifestations. For behind
our conscious physical, vital and mental operations there is, according to Sri Aurobindo, a deeper and inner consciousness, which we need to look into in some detail.
The inner consciousness is, in fact, what can be-called the subliminal consciousness, because it is behind the threshold of our outer consciousness. It includes the large action of the inner mind, inner Intelligence and inner sense-mind, of an inner vital, and of an inner subtle-physical being which upholds and embraces our waking consciousness but is not brought to the front.
Our subliminal being is not, like our surface being, an outcome of the energy of the Inconscient. It is a meeting-place of the consciousness that emerges from below by evolution and the consciousness that has descended from above for involution. There is here a consciousness which has a power of direct contact with the universal, unlike the mostly indirect contacts which our surface being maintains with the universe through the sense-mind and the senses.
As Sri Aurobindo explains:
"There are here inner senses, a subliminal sight, touch, hearing; but these subtle senses are rather channels of the inner being's direct consciousness of things than its informants: the subliminal is not dependent on its senses for its knowledge, they only give a form to its direct experience of objects; they do not, so much as in waking mind, convey forms of objects for the mind's documentation or as the starting-point or basis for an indirect constructive experience. The subliminal has the right of entry into the mental and vital and subtle-physical planes of the universal consciousness, it is not confined to the material plane and the physical world; it possesses means of communication with the worlds of being which the descent towards involution created in its passage and with all corresponding planes or worlds that may have arisen or been constructed to
serve the purpose of the re-ascent from Inconscience to Superconscience. It is into this large realm of interior existence that our mind and vital being retire when they withdraw from the surface activities whether by sleep or inward-drawn concentration or by the inner plunge of trance.'³
The intelligence of the subliminal being preserves the accurate form and relation of all its perceptions and memories and can grasp immediately their significance. And its perceptions are not confined to the scanty gleanings of the physical senses but extend far beyond and use, as telepathic phenomena of many kinds bear witness, a subtle sense the limits of which are too wide to be easily fixed. The relations between the surface will or impulsion and the subliminal urge have not been properly studied except in regard to unusual and unorganised manifestations and in regard to certain morbidly abnormal phenomena-of the diseased human mind. But if we pursue our observation far enough, we shall find, as Sri Aurobindo points out, that cognition and will or impulsive force of the inner being really stand behind the whole conscious becoming; the latter represents only part of its secret endeavour and achievement which rises successfully to the surface of our life. To know our inner being is, according to Sri Aurobindo, the first step towards a real self-knowledge.
There is an inner sense in the subliminal nature, a subtle sense of vision, hearing, touch, smell and taste. This inner sense can create or present images and sounds that are symbolic rather than actual or that represent possibilities in formation, suggestions, thoughts, ideas, intentions of other beings, image-forms also of powers or potentialities in universal Nature. It is the subliminal in reality and not the outer mind that possesses the powers of telepathy, clairvoyance, second sight and other supernormal faculties. The operations of this subliminal sense add immensely to our possible scope of knowledge and widen the narrow limits in which our sensebound outer physical consciousness-is circumscribed and imprisoned.
One of the more important powers of this subliminal level is to enter into direct contact of consciousness with other consciousness or with objects, to act without the outer instrumentation, by an essential sense inherent in its own substance, by a direct mental vision, by a direct feeling of things, even by a close envelopment and intimate penetration and a return with the contents of what is enveloped or penetrated, by a direct intimation or impact on the substance of mind itself, not through outward signs or figures, — a revealing intimation or a self-communicating impact of thoughts, feelings and forces. As Sri Aurobindo explains:
'It is by these means that the inner being achieves an immediate, intimate and accurate spontaneous knowledge of persons, of objects, of the occult and to us intangible energies of world-Nature that surround us and impinge upon our own personality, physicality, mind-force and life-force.'6
A still farther power of the subliminal is seen in the changes which take effect in our dealings with the impersonal forces of the world that surround us. In the words of Sri Aurobindo:
'The inner being not only contacts directly and concretely the immediate motive and movement of these universal forces and feels the results of their present action, but it can to a certain extent forecast or see ahead their farther action; there is a greater power in our subliminal parts to overcome the time barrier, to have the sense or feel the vibration of coming events, of distant happenings, even to look into the future.'7
It must, however, be noted that although the subliminal consciousness opens out to us wider vistas of knowledge and action, much surer and much more intimate than our external physical, vital and mental consciousness, still the subliminal consciousness, no less than our external consciousness, is a mixture of knowledge and ignorance and it is capable of erroneous as well as of true perception. It may also be noted
that the knowledge proper to the subliminal being is not complete. According to Sri Aurobindo, knowledge, in order to be true and complete, must be a knowledge by identity. The subliminal knowledge is a knowledge by direct contact but not knowledge by identity. Therefore, a deeper and higher consciousness is needed to cure the deficiencies and mixtures of ignorance and knowledge that we obtain at the level of subliminal consciousness.
That which is still deeper behind the subliminal consciousness is, according to Sri Aurobindo, the psychic entity and its representative soul personality which supports our individual life, mind and body. The relation between that entity and other parts of our being is explained by Sri Aurobindo as follows:
'There is indeed a soul-personality, representative of this entity, already built up within us, which puts forward a fine psychic element in our natural being: but this finer factor in our normal make-up is not yet dominant and has only a limited action. Our soul is not the overt guide and master of our thought and acts; it has to rely on the mental, vital, physical instruments for self-expression and is constantly overpowered by our mind and life-force, but if once it can succeed in remaining in constant communion with its own large occult reality, and this can only happen when we go deep into our subliminal parts, — it is no longer dependent, it can become powerful and sovereign, armed with an intrinsic spiritual perception of the truth of things and a spontaneous discernment which separates that truth from the falsehood of the Ignorance and Inconscience, distinguishes the divine and the undivine in the manifestation and so can be the luminous leader of our other parts of nature. It is indeed when this happens that there can be the turning-point towards integral transformation and integral knowledge.'8
The discovery of the psychic being, its experience and its development is a decisive stage in the Yoga of Sri Aurobindo. It is then that we are liberated from our small individuality and our ego-sense which binds us to the normal rounds of the desire-soul, which is not really a soul but which erroneously regards itself as the centre and entity of our individuality. On the other hand, the psychic entity is, according to Sri Aurobindo, that by which we exist and persist as an individual being in Nature. While other parts of our natural composition are not only mutable but perishable, the psychic entity in us persists and is fundamentally the same always. It contains all the essential possibilities of our manifestation but is not constituted by them. It is an ever-pure flame of the divinity in things and nothing that comes to it, nothing that enters into our experience can pollute its purity or extinguish the flame.
The psychic entity is not an evolute of lnconscience although it accompanies the evolution of our being and evolves and develops as a spark grows and develops as fire. In the words of Sri Aurobindo:
'It is a flame born out of the Divine and, luminous inhabitant of the Ignorance, grows in it till it is able to turn it towards the Knowledge. It is the concealed Witness and Control, the hidden Guide, the Daemon of Socrates, the inner light or inner voice of the mystic. It is what which endures and is imperishable in us from birth to birth, untouched by death, decay or corruption, an indestructible spark of the Divine.'9
In its undeveloped state, the psychic being is called the soul. The developed soul is properly termed the psychic being. The psychic being is also termed as the central being for the purposes of the evolution, for it grows and develops, and it is that which can effectuate a harmonious integration of the mental, vital and physical personality. The term 'central being' is also used for Jivatman, the individual Self which presides unseen over the evolution and of which the psychic being is the representative in the manifested nature. The Jivatman
has been described by Sri Aurobindo as the multiple Divine manifested here as the individualised self or spirit of the created being.' The Jivatman in its essence does not change or evolve, but stands above the personal evolution. Within evolution itself, as noted above, it is represented by the evolving psychic being which supports all the rest of the Nature. The Tivatman is distinguished from Atman or Paramatman. Atman, or the Self is transcendental and universal (Paramatman, Atman) When it is individualised and becomes a central being, it is then the Jivatman. The Jjivatman feels his oneness with the universal but at the same time is centrally experienced as a portion of the Divine.
In other words, the Jivatman is the central being which is itself unborn but which presides over the individual evolution. The soul is the representative of the central being. It is a spark of the Divine supporting individual existence in Nature. A conscious form of the soul, the psychic being, grows in the evolutionary process. The soul supports the Nature in its evolution through ascending grades, but is itself not any of these things. When the inmost knowledge begins to develop, we become aware of the psychic being within us and it comes forward as the leader of our Yoga. We become aware also of the Jivatman, the undivided Self or Spirit above the manifestation of which the psychic is the representative here.10
According to Sri Aurobindo, the psychic being (also known as Chaitya Purusha) has a spontaneous aspiration for the opening of the whole lower nature, mind, vital, body to the Divine, for the love and union with the Divine, for its presence and power within the heart, for the transformation of the mind, life and body by the descent of the higher consciousness into our nature. This aspiration of the psychic being is essential and indispensable for the fullness of the integral Yoga. When the psychic imposes its aspiration on the mind, vital and body, they too aspire and this is what is felt as the aspiration from the level of the lower being. The seeking of the lower being is necessarily at first intermingled and oppressed by the
ordinary consciousness; however by Yogic practice it becomes clear, constant, strong and enduring.
In the integral Yoga, it is necessary to have a clear idea and perception of the different planes and parts of the being, and each part has to get the Truth in it from the psychic or above. What is above the mental consciousness is the superconscient, which has also several grades leading up to the supramental consciousness and supreme integral Divine. It is-the Truth acting from the psychic and descending from the superconscient which will harmonise more and more the action of the different parts of the our being, though the perfect harmony can come only when there is the supramental fulfilment.
In the Yogic psychology of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother, the word 'superconscient' is used to include the planes beyond our present level of awareness, namely, those of the Higher Mind, Illumined Mind, Intuitive Mind, Overmind, Supermind, and the other heights of the pure spiritual being. A basic sense and knowledge of unity is the general characteristic of all the grades of the Superconscience. 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.' ¹¹
The Higher Mind is 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 actions, forms and significances of becoming, 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 preexistent and emerge already self-seen in the integral whole. 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.
As we go 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 lightnings of a flaming sun-stuff.
Beyond the Illumined Mind is the Intuitive Mind. It has a still greater power of Truth-Force, an intimate and exact Truth
vision, Truth-thought, Truth-sense, Truth-feeling, Truth-action. The Illumined Mind does not work primarily by thought, but by 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 four-fold power. To use his own 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 four-fold potencies of Intuition.'¹²
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. This cosmic Mind 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.'¹³
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 transmits 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 the 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 says:
'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 interpenetration and a free and full consciousness of each other: but in Overmind this integrality is no longer there. And yet the Overmind is well aware of the essential Truth of 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 inter- changes and mutualities of their energies are freely organised and their actuality always possible.'14
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 dwelt 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 also termed by Sri Aurobindo as Truth-Consciousness, since 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 says:
'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."5
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 will or force as in man and his world. 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.'16
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, centred 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 being out, sustain and develop in the one what it holds supernally in the other.'17
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 the 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 passage from the lower to the higher is the aim of Yoga. And this passage may effect itself by the rejection of the lower and escape into the higher. This escape is the ordinary point of view. But the passage by the transformation of the lower and its elevation to the higher Nature is the aim of the integral Yoga of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother. This passage and this transformation is a complex process, involving a profound evolution and revolution of the being. There is, first, as ascension to the next higher stage of development. This is followed
by the descent of the powers of the higher stage into the lower by means of which the lower is further purified, developed and elevated upwards. There is also a simultaneous widening of the faculties and powers of the already achieved higher level, which is again preparatory for a still higher stage of development. And this process is a long and ever progressive curve moving upwards and downwards, proceeding from stage to stage until our human nature is supramentalised, culminating in rapid and blissful divine progression. In the following passage from Sri Aurobindo, we have a brief description of this entire process:
'First, there must be a conversion inwards, a going within to find the inmost psychic being and bring it out to the front, disclosing at the same time the inner mind, inner vital, inner physical parts of the nature. Next, there must be an ascension, a series of conversions upwards and a turning down to convert the lower parts. When one has made the inward conversion, one psychicises the whole lower nature so as to make it ready for the divine change. Going upwards, one passes beyond the human mind and at each stage of the ascent, there is a conversion into a new consciousness and an infusion of this new consciouness into the whole of the nature. Thus rising beyond intellect through illuminated higher mind to the intuitive consciousness, we begin to look at everything not from the intellect range or through intellect as an instrument, but from a greater intuitive height and through an intuitivised will, feeling, emotion, sensation and physical contact. So, proceeding from Intuition to a greater overmind height, there is a new conversion and we look at and experience everything from the overmind consciousness and through a mind, heart, vital and body surcharged with the Overmind thought, sight, will, feeling, sensation, play of force and contact. But the last conversion is the supramental, for once there once the nature is supramentalised, we are beyond the Ignorance and conversion of consciousness is no longer needed, though a farther divine progression, even an infinite development is still possible.'18
The aim of integral Yoga is integral perfection. This perfection includes an integral realisation of the Divine, not only of its indistinguishable unity, but also in its multitude of aspects. It includes also an integral liberation and the perfect harmony of the results of Knowledge, Love and Works. There has to be also an integral purity and integral beatitude. Perfection includes perfection of mind and body, so that the higher results of Raja Yoga and Hatha Yoga should be contained in the widest formula of the synthesis finally to be effected.
There are, according to Sri Aurobindo and the Mother, several elements of perfection. The first is a perfect equality, samatā. It is a fundamental poise of the soul while meeting the impact and workings of Nature. Equality is a term of consciousness which brings into the whole of our being and nature the eternal tranquillity of the Infinite.
But equality does not mean, as Sri Aurobindo points out, a fresh ignorance or blinding; it does not call for and need not initiate a greyness of vision and a blotting out of all hues.
'Difference is there, variation of expression is there and this variation we shall appreciate, far more justly than we could when the eye was clouded by a partial and erring love and hate, admiration and scorn, sympathy and antipathy, attraction and repulsion. But behind the variation we shall always see the Complete and Immutable who dwells within it and we shall feel, know or at least, if it is hidden from us, trust in the wise purpose and divine necessity of the particular manifestation, whether it appear to our human standards harmonious and perfect or crude and unfinished or even false and evil.'19
At the same time, we have to note that everything indeed here in this imperfect world has to be changed. We should not take imperfection as our resting-place. We must strive after perfection, and we must make not evil but the supreme good as the universal aim.
But what we do has to be done with a spiritual understanding and knowledge, and it is a divine good, beauty, perfection, pleasure that has to be followed after, not the human standards of these things.
There are certain semblances of equality which must not be mistaken for the profound and vast spiritual equality. As Sri Aurobindo points out:
'There is an equality of disappointed resignation, an equality of pride, an equality of hardness and indifference: all these are egoistic in their nature. Inevitably they come in the course of the sadhana, but they must be rejected or transformed into the true quietude. There is too, on a higher level, the equality of the stoic, the equality of a devout resignation or a sage detachment, the equality of a soul aloof from the world and indifferent to its doings. These too are insufficient; first approaches they can be, but they are at most early soul-phases only or imperfect mental preparations for our entry into the true and absolute self-existent wide equal one-ness of the spirit.'20
The second necessity of perfection is to raise all the active of the human nature to that higher condition of working pitch of their power and capacity (shaktī) on which they become capable of being divinised into true instruments of the free, perfect, spiritual and divine action. This would mean the perfection of the powers and capacities of the mind, the vital and the physical. At the same time, there is the need to perfect the dynamic force (virya) in us of the temperament, character and our inmost soul-nature. This contributes to the power of our members in action and gives them their type and direction. Our temperament, character and nature have to be freed from limitations, they have to be enlarged and rounded so that the whole manhood in us may become the basis of a divine manhood. In more concrete terms, this would mean perfection of the four-fold personality, the personality of knowledge, of strength, of harmony and love and of skill and service. These personalities become progressively united, each assisting and
entering into the other, and all becoming one. In the words of Sri Aurobindo:
'The full consummation comes in the greatest soul most capable of perfection, but some large manifestation of this four-fold soul-power must be sought and can be attained by all who practise the integral Yoga.'²¹
The divinisation of the perfected nature can, however, come about by calling in the divine Power, or shakti to replace our limited human energy so that this may be shaped into the image of and filled with the force of a greater infinite energy (daivī prakriti, bhāgavatī shakti). Again, this perfection will grow in the measure in which we can surrender ourselves, first, to the guidance and then to the direct action of that Power and of the Master of our being and our works to whom it belongs. And for this purpose, what is essential is faith, which is the great power of our being in our aspiration to perfection.
These four things are the essentials of this second element of perfection, the full powers of the members of the instrumental nature, the perfected dynamis of the soul nature, the assumption of them into the action of the divine Power, and a perfect faith in all our members to call and support that assumption, shakti, vīrya, daivi prakriti, śraddhā.²²
The third element of perfection is, according to Sri Aurobindo and the Mother, the evolution of the mental into the supramental gnostic being. For it is the supramental gnosis which, once effectively called into action, will progressively take up all the terms of intelligence, will, sense-mind, heart, the vital and sensational being and translate them by a luminous and harmonising conversion into a unity of the truth, power and delight of a living existence. It is the power also of overcoming physical limitations and developing a more perfect and divine instrumental body.
The next element of perfection is that of the gnostic perfection in the physical body. The physical body is a basis of action, which cannot be neglected or excluded from the spiritual
evolution. A perfection of the body as the outer instrument of a complete divine being living on earth will be necessarily a part of the supramental transformation. 'Pushed to its highest conclusion', says Sri Aurobindo, 'this movement brings in spiritualising and illuminations of the whole physical consciousness and a divinising of the law of the body.'²³
The next element is that of the perfect action and enjoyment of being on the supramental gnostic basis. And-this last element, which is the highest, is, according to Sri Aurobindo and the Mother, ever-widening life and activity in union with the supreme, blissful and conscious self-existent Being, Purushottama. The perfected individual will be conscious in the supreme that is the All, in the supreme infinite in being and infinite in quality, in the supreme as self-existent consciousness and universal knowledge, in the supreme as the self- existent bliss and universal delight of being. And all this experience will be in all parts of his being. In the words of Sri Aurobindo:
'His physical being will be one with all material Nature, his vital being with the life of the universe, his mind with the cosmic mind, his spiritual knowledge and will with the divine knowledge and will both in itself and as it pours itself through these channels, his spirit with the one spirit in all beings. All the variety of cosmic existence will be changed to him in that unity and revealed in the secret of its spiritual significance. For in this spiritual bliss and being he will be one with That which is the origin and continent and inhabitant and spirit and constituting power of all existence. This will be the highest reach of self-perfection.'24
The integrality of perfection cannot become real, according to Sri Aurobindo and the Mother, if it were confined to the individual. Since our perfection embraces the realisation of our self in being, in life and in love through others as well as through ourselves, the expansion of our liberty and all its results in others would be the inevitable outcome as well the
broadest utility of our liberation and perfection. In the words of Sri Aurobindo:
'The divinising of the normal material life of man of his great secular attempt of mental and moral self-culture in the individual and the race by this integralisation of a widely perfect spiritual existence would thus be the crown alike of our individual and of our common effort.'25
An immense wealth of psychological knowledge pertaining to Integral Yoga is to be found in the thirteen Volumes of 'Mother's Agenda', which is particularly related to that part of Integral Yoga which is concerned with the discovery and transformation of the mind of the cells, supramentalisation of the physical body, evolution of the next species, and mutation of death. This vast knowledge needs to be further explored. For the present, the reader may be referred to these Volumes as also to Satprem's biography of The Mother in three volumes, entitled: 'Mother or Divine Materialism', 'Mother or the Next Species', and 'Mother or Mutation of Death'.
1. Sri Aurobindo, The Synthesis of Yoga, Centenary Library, Vol. 20, p. 63.
2. Ibid., p. 64.
3. Ibid., p. 70.
4. Sri Aurobindo, The Life Divine, Centenary Library, Vol. 18, p. 550.
5. Ibid., p. 426.
6. Ibid., pp. 536-37
'7. Ibid., p. 539.
8. Ibid., pp. 539-40.
9. Ibid., p 225.
10. For a metaphysical discussion on the Jivatman, see the chapter entitled, The Eternal and the Individual', in The Life Divine, Centenary Library, Vol. 18. For a psychological account of the Atman, Jivatman and psychic being, see Letters on Yoga, Centenary Library, Vol. 22, pp. 265-307.
11. Sri Aurobindo, The Life Divine, Centenary Library, Vol. 19, p. 938.
12. Ibid, p. 949.
13. Ibid., Vol. 18, p. 278.
14. Ibid., pp. 279-80.
15. Ibid., p. 130.
16. Ibid., p. 131.
17. Sri Aurobindo, The Synthesis of Yoga, Centenary Library, Vol. 21, p.854.
18. Sri Aurobindo, Letters on Yoga, Part I, Centenary Library, Vol. 22, p.251.
19. Sri Aurobindo, The Synthesis of Yoga, Centenary Library, Vol. 20, p.212.
20. Ibid., p. 96.
21. Ibid., Vol. 21, p. 723.
22. Ibid., p. 666.
23. Ibid., p. 668.
24. Ibid., pp. 669-70.
25. Ibid., Vol. 20, p. 44.