Varieties of Yogic Experience and Integral Realisation - Preface

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If the Spirit is One, why do the reports of the experience of the Spirit differ so widely? The fact is that there is a variety of spiritual experience, and this phenomenon has to be understood and explained.

Spiritual experiences can be sporadic, or they can be attained by pursuing a methodised effort leading to the union of the individual with the universal and the transcendental spiritual reality. When the experience is attained by methodised effort, it can be called yogic experience. When we study the records of the experiences of those who have practised yoga, we find that they give different and even conflicting accounts of their experiences of the Spirit.

This book attempts at introducing a study of this phenomenon, in the light of the integral experience and realisations, which has been described in the Veda' Upanishads, Gita, and lastly, in Sri Aurobindo's Integral Yoga, which reaffirms the integral experience as recorded in the texts of the Veda, Upanishads and the Gita as also those of Tantra, but which has affirmed the possibility and actualisation of the integration and synthesis of Matter and Spirit under the sovereignty of the Spirit.

According to Sri Aurobindo, — and all experiences and realisations of Sri Aurobindo have been confirmed by the Mother, — the Spirit is infinite, and there is a different

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between the essential cognition of the Infinite and mental, overmental, and supramental cognitions of that Infinite.

It is when the spiritual experience of the infinite is obtained in mental cognition that the aspect of the infinite which is experienced tends to be felt as though that aspect is the only truth of the infinite. As Sri Aurobindo points out, "If then we seek mentally to realise Sachchidananda, there is likely to be this first difficulty that we shall see it as something above, beyond, around even in a sense, but with a gulf between that being and our being, and unbridged and even an unbridgeable chasm. There is this infinite existence; but it is quite other than the mental being who becomes aware of it, and we cannot either raise ourselves to it and become it or bring it down to ourselves so that our own experience of our being and world-being shall be that of its blissful infinity. There is this great, boundless, unconditioned consciousness and force; but our consciousness and force stands apart from it, even if within it, limited, petty, discouraged, disgusted with itself and the. world, but unable to participate in that higher thing which it has seen. There is this immeasurable and unstained bliss; but our own being remains the sport of a lower Nature of pleasure and pain and dull neutral sensation incapable of its divine delight. There is this perfect Knowledge and Will; but our own remains always the mental deformed knowledge and limping will incapable of sharing in or even being in tune with that nature of Godhead. Or else so long as we live purely in an ecstatic contemplation of that vision, we are delivered from ourselves; but the moment we again turn our consciousness upon our own being we fall away from it and it disappears

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or becomes remote and intangible. The Divinity leaves us; the Vision vanishes; we are back again in the pettiness of our mortal existence." (Sri Aurobindo, The Synthesis of Yoga, Vol. 20, SABCL, pp. 378-9)

According to Sri Aurobindo, this chasm has to be bridged, and it is by the process of Integral Yoga in which the Infinite is experienced not merely at the mental plane and even at the overmental plane, but at the supramental plane that all the varieties of yogic experiences, even their conflicts can be harmonised. For the mind, the process of integralisation is its supreme difficulty. The knowledge obtained at the level of the integral realisation reveals to us, in the words of Sri Aurobindo:

"... the Self-existent as the All-blissful who, as Sachchidananda manifesting the world, manifesting all beings, accepts their adoration, even as He accepts their works of aspiration and their seekings of knowledge, leans down to them and drawing them to Himself takes all into the joy of His divine being. Knowing Him as our divine Self, we become one with Him, as the lover and beloved become one, in the ecstasy of that embrace. Knowing Him too in all beings, perceiving the glory and beauty and joy of the Beloved everywhere, we transform our souls into a passion of universal delight and a wideness and joy of universal love." (Sri Aurobindo, The Synthesis of Yoga, Vol. 20, SABCL, p.407)

In the integrality of knowledge that is stabilised in the status of integral realisation, all things are unified in the One.
Sri Aurobindo states:

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"Thus by the integral knowledge we unify all things hi the One. We take up all the chords of the universal music, strains sweet or discordant, luminous in their suggestion or obscure, powerful or faint, heard or suppressed, and find them all changed and reconciled in the indivisible harmony of Sachchidananda. The Knowledge brings also the Power and the Joy. "How shall he be deluded, whence shall he have sorrow who sees everywhere the Oneness?"" (Sri Aurobindo, The Synthesis of Yoga, Vol. 20, SABCL, p.407)

In the history of Indian philosophy, there has arisen an impasse and a critical conflict between three schools of Vedantic philosophy, the Adwaita, Vishitadwaita and Dwaita. These three philosophies have also minor variations, but each of these philosophies has registered a quarrel with all the rest. Each one of them has developed a system of mental logic, and each one of them makes an appeal to a spiritual experience, which is declared to be final and ultimate.

Is it possible to resolve this conflict?

Sri Aurobindo has in his 'The Life Divine╠Ľ, in the chapter entitled, "The Triple Status of Supermind╠Ľ”, touched upon this problem. According to Sri Aurobindo, the supermind has three poises, and even beyond the first primary poise, there is the pure Unitarian consciousness, which is timeless and spaceless concentration of the supreme reality Sachchidananda. In the first poise, there is, however, self- extension of Sachchidananda all-comprehending, all-possessing, all- constituting, but there is no individualisation. Sri Aurobindo points out that when the reflection of this first poise of the

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supermind falls upon our stilled and purified self that we loose all sense of individuality. This experience corresponds to the experience of the Adwaita. Similarly, when the second noise of the supermind is reflected in our purified mind, where individuation has its origin, our soul would support and occupy its individual existence and yet even then realise itself as the One. That has become all, inhabits all, contains all, enjoying even in its particular modifications its unity with God and its fellows. This experience corresponds to the experience which is emphasised by the Vishistadawita. When the third poise of the supermind, which is a further development of the second poise, is reflected in our purified mind, we have a sort of fundamental blissful dualism in unity. This experience corresponds to the experience that is referred to by the Dwaita philosophy.

But all the three experiences are valid and they are synthesised and integrated in the triple status of the supermind. It is under this integral experience and realisation that the conflict of the three Vedantic philosophies can come to be reconciled.

Here is the full quotation from Sri Aurobindo:

"We have seen what is the nature of this first and primary poise of the Supermind which founds the inalienable unity of things. It is not the pure unitarian conciousness; for that is a timeless and spaceless concentration of Sachchidananda in itself, in which Conscious Force does not cast itself out into any kind of extension and, if it contains the universe at all, contains it in eternal potentiality and not in temporal actuality. This, on the contrary, is an equal self-extension of

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Sachchidananda all-comprehending, all-possessing, all- constituting. But this all is one, not many; there is no individualisation. It is when the reflection of this Supermind falls upon our stilled and purified self that we lose all sense of individuality; for there is no concentration of consciousness there to support an individual development. All is developed in unity and as one; all is held by this Divine Consciousness as forms of its existence, not as in any degree separate existences. Somewhat as the thoughts and images that occur in our mind are not separate existences to us, but forms taken by our consciousness, so are all names and forms to this primary Supermind. It is the pure divine ideation and formation in the Infinite, — only an ideation and formation that is organised not as an unreal play of mental thought, but as a real play of conscious being. The divine soul in this poise would make no difference between Conscious-Soul and Force-Soul, for all force would be action of consciousness, nor between Matter and Spirit since all mould would be simply form of Spirit.

"In the second poise of the Supermind the Divine Consciousness stands back in the idea from the movement which it contains, realising it by a sort of apprehending consciousness, following it, occupying and inhabiting its works, seeming to distribute itself in its forms. In each name and form it would realise itself as the stable Conscious-Self, the same in all; but also it would realise itself as a concentration of Conscious-Self following and supporting the individual play of movement and upholding its differentiation from other play of movement, — the same everywhere in soul-essence, but varying in soul-form. This

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concentration supporting the soul-form would be the individual Divine or Jivatman as distinguished from the universal Divine or one all-constituting self. There would be no essential difference, but only a practical differentiation for the play which would not abrogate the real unity. The universal Divine would know all soul-forms as itself and yet establish a different relation with each separately and in each with all the others. The individual Divine would envisage its existence as a soul-form and soul-movement of the One and, while by the comprehending action of consciousness it would enjoy its unity with the One and with all soul-forms, it would also by a forward or frontal apprehending action support and enjoy its individual movement and its relations of a free difference in unity both with the One and with all its forms. If our purified mind were to reflect this secondary poise of Supermind, our soul could support and occupy its individual existence and yet even there realise itself as the One that has become all, inhabits all, contains all, enjoying even in its particular modification its unity with God and its fellows. In no other circumstance of the supramental existence would there be any characteristic change; the only change would be this play of the One that has manifested its multiplicity and of the Many that are still one, with all that is necessary to maintain and conduct the play.

"A third poise of the Supermind would be attained if the supporting concentration were no longer to stand at the back, as it were, of the movement, inhabiting it with a certain superiority to it and so following and enjoying, but were to project itself into the movement and to be in a way involved in it. Here, the character of the play would be altered, but

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only in so far as the individual Divine would so predominantly make the play of relations with the universal and with its other forms the practical field of its conscious experience that the realisation of utter unity with them would be only a supreme accompaniment and constant culmination of all experience; but in the higher poise unity would be the dominant and fundamental experience and variation would be only a play of the unity. This tertiary poise would be therefore that of a sort of fundamental blissful dualism in unity — no longer unity qualified by a subordinate dualism — between the individual Divine and its universal source, with all the consequences that would accrue from the maintenance and operation of such a dualism....

"It is indeed only when our human mentality lays an exclusive emphasis on one side of spiritual experience, affirms that to be the sole eternal truth and states it in the terms of our all-dividing mental logic that the necessity for mutually destructive schools of philosophy arises. Thus, emphasising the sole truth of the unitarian consciousness, -we observe the play of the divine unity, erroneously rendered by our mentality into the terms of real difference, but, not satisfied with correcting this error of the mind by the truth of a higher principle, we assert that the play itself is an illusion. Or, emphasising the play of the One in the Many, we declare a qualified unity and regard the individual soul as a soul-form of the Supreme, but would assert the eternity of this qualified existence and deny altogether the experience of a pure consciousness in an unqualified oneness. Or, again, emphasising the play of difference, we assert that the Supreme and the human soul are eternally different and

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reject the validity of an experience which exceeds and seems to abolish that difference. But the position that we have now firmly taken absolves us from the necessity of these negations and exclusions: we see that there is a truth behind all these affirmations, but at the same time an excess which leads to an ill-founded negation. Affirming, as we have done, the absolute absoluteness of That, not limited by our ideas of unity, not limited by our ideas of multiplicity, affirming the unity as a basis for the manifestation of the multiplicity and the multiplicity as the basis for the return to oneness and the enjoyment of unity in the divine manifestation, we need not burden our present statement with these discussions or undertake the vain labour of enslaving to our mental distinctions and definitions the absolute freedom of the Divine Infinite." (Sri Aurobindo, The Life Divine, Vol.18, SABCL, pp. 146-9)

This book may be regarded as an introduction to the theme of the infinity of the One, its varied experiences and the unity of these experiences in the supramental consciousness.

Kireet Joshi

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