Supermind (Integral yoga)

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Sri Aurobindo

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Supermind, in Sri Aurobindo's philosophy, refers to the infinite unitary truth-consciousness or truth-idea simultaneously transcendent and immanent to planes of matter, life, and mind. Supermind is the dynamic form of satcitananda (being-consciousness-bliss), and the necessary conduit, mediator or linkage between satcitananda and the manifest creation. (Life Divine Book I, ch.14-16)

Introduction[edit]

By 'Supermind,' Sri Aurobindo means several things. For one, it is a plane that resides between the "upper hemisphere" of pure being and consciousness, and the "lower hemisphere" of life in the universe (mind, life, and matter). This plane is what enables the Real Ideas of the Supreme to manifest as forms of that force in creation. So in that sense, Supermind is the power that enables creation; that divides the Force into the forms, forces, and powers, seen and unseen experienced in the universe.

Another way of looking at Supermind is a plane of perfect knowledge that has the full, integral truth of anything. It is a plane that Man can rise to above his current limited mentality so he too can have perfect understanding of a matter that enters his mind seemingly out of nowhere through revelations of that truth.

A third way of looking at Supermind is not only the means of creation, but a force and power that is leaning down on the earth's consciousness, and which we can open to in order to transform the various aspects of our being, as well as instantly or very rapidly set right the conditions of life, creating sudden good fortune ("instantaneous miraculousness") for the person opening to it.

Ultimately Sri Aurobindo envisions a new race of humans who through an opening to the supramental power and knowledge have been transformed in all planes of their being, mental, vital, and spiritual, ushering in what he calls the Gnostic, supramental individual who will be the basis of a new divine life on earth.

Supramental Perception[edit]

When one rises above mind, even illumination, intuition, and revelation of understanding, one has the experience of supramental perception. In supermind one has the experience of the total realization/ideation of an object of knowledge without thought, as it simply is there in the mind anew. Supramental perception involves a totality of knowing, as opposed to the very partial, limited perception of mind that knows but one side of a matter. In supramental perception, one understands any issues from its many sides; as well as its essence, totality, and wholeness. Anything known is perceived in harmony and relation to other things; almost the opposite of mind which guards its own limited opinion, not seeing its thought in relation to others concerning an object of knowledge

In supermind, one perceives the object of knowledge directly, which Sri Aurobindo calls "knowledge by identity." Supramental perception also implies a supramental Will for its effectuation in life; i.e. the power for it to become real as a manifest, living reality. E.g. if you know a thing directly through supramental perception, there is also a power for it to manifest quickly and suddenly from seemingly out of nowhere. Sri Aurobindo refers to this power of sudden manifestation through supramental perception as an opening of "instantaneous miraculousness."

Finally, through Supramental perception, one perceives the true nature of existence. One sees what Sri Aurobindo calls (in his opus 'The Life Divine' and elsewhere) the "omnipresent Reality," which is in essence the Divine Origin extended to all planes of life. When one has supramental perception one sees that all things – physical matter, vital life, and mental thought are various forms of the divine Reality. One also perceives how each and every individual thing in life – large or small, positive or negative, liked or dislike – plays a role in the unfolding of existence. This is what Sri Aurobindo says is "to see the Wonder," which one can only perceive when one has risen beyond limited mentality to supramental perception.

Supramentalisation[edit]

The objective and final stage of integral yoga is to actualise the Supermind within one's being ("Supramentalisation"). This would constitute a divinisation of matter itself or a realisation of its inherent primordial propensity, and usher in a completely new, 'divine' way of existing. (Life Divine Book II, ch.26-28). This involves bringing down the Supramental consciousness to transform the entire being, and ultimately to the divinisation of the material world. Supramentalisation requires both a spiritual and a psychic transformation.

Sri Aurobindo believed that most yogas and religions were concerned with 'ascent', a striving to ascend beyond the body and beyond time into a formless and timeless absolute or transcendent self. He wrote that the 'old systems' arrived at an 'infinite empty Negation or an infinite equally vacant Affirmation'.[1] He introduced the imperative for and the process by which the supramental (beyond or other than mental) consciousness would 'descend', to firmly establish itself in Earthly life.

The supramental transformation[edit]

The supramental transformation means the birth of a new individual fully formed by the supramental power, the same power that enabled the universe to be created in the first place from out of a Divine Source. Such individuals would be the forerunners of a new truth-consciousness based supra-humanity. Among their capacities are: a total oneness and identity with the environment and with others; total integral knowledge replacing our essential ignorance, i.e. knowledge by identity; a unification of knowledge and will (what one knows is automatically created, what is willed is fully known in its truth); the Force of creation reunited with the Consciousness; and a complete unity of the Individual, Universal, and Transcendent purpose expressed through the person. Also, all aspects of division and ignorance of consciousness at the vital and mental levels would be overcome, replaced with a unity of consciousness at every plane, and even the physical body transformed and divinised. A new supramental species would then emerge, living a supramental, gnostic, divine life on earth. (The Life Divine book II ch.27-28)

This then must be the nature of the third and final transformation which finishes the passage of the soul through the Ignorance and bases its consciousness, its life, its power and form of manifestation on a complete and completely effective self-knowledge. The Truth-Consciousness, finding evolutionary Nature ready, has to descend into her and enable 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.

Sri Aurobindo, The Life Divine, 918, 10th ed.

The Supramental Descent[edit]

On February 29, 1956, Sri Aurobindo's co-worker the Mother, announced, "The manifestation of the Supramental upon earth is no more a promise but a living fact, a reality. It is at work here, and one day will come when the most blind, the most unconscious, even the most unwilling shall be obliged to recognize it."[2]

On January 1, 1969, the Mother (at age 90) announced the 'arrival' of the 'superman consciousness' – 'the intermediary between man and the supramental being'.[3]

Time in the Context of Supramental consciousness[edit]

Sri Aurobindo wrote that whereas the mind is unable to establish a "truth relation between the timeless and things in time", supramental consciousness is "founded upon the supreme consciousness of the timeless Infinite, but has too the secret of the deployment of the infinite Energy in time."[1] The last chapter of his book The Synthesis of Yoga, called 'Towards a Supramental Vision of Time', discusses the matter of time in terms of the evolution of a trikaladristi or 'knowledge of the three times'. "This unified and infinite time consciousness and this vision and knowledge are the possession of the supramental being..."

The Gnostic Being[edit]

The Gnostic Being in Sri Aurobindo's philosophy refers to the supramental state of divinised humanity, which (as described in the final chapters of The Life Divine) will emerge as a spirit-oriented future existence.

In this highest form of social or collective life, the domination of the ordinary mind — of surface preoccupation, of partial knowledge, as well as the lower physical and vital life is replaced with a mind and life dominated by the spirit.

The divinised or gnostic being is described as living a spiritual existence in an integral way; integral in his own being, and integral and one with the world around him. He has integrated and elevated the physical, vital/emotional, and mental planes of his existence to its greatest heights and fulfillment by finding the spirit within himself and applying and elevating these planes of life with the spiritual. He also discovers that the spirit is everywhere in the world and in every other person, eliminating the separation between himself and life and himself and others around him. In other words he is whole and integrated individually and universally.

"To be in the being of all and to include all in one's being, to be conscious of the consciousness of all, to be integrated in force with the universal force, to carry all action and experience in oneself and feel it as one's own action and experience, to feel all selves as one's own self, to feel all delight of being as one's own delight of being is a necessary condition of the integral divine living."
— Sri Aurobindo, The Life Divine

In addition to integrating the planes and sublevels of one's being (individualization), and becoming one with others and the world (universalization), the individuals who will be the harbingers of this divine life will also be united with the transcendent Divine. These individuals will have found the transcendent spirit within, the spiritual force, God, the Divine in the cosmos, and feel, know, act with complete reference to its divine force, power, knowledge, and bliss.

In this context a number of individuals, integrated individually, universally, and transcendently, can work together, near or apart, aware or unaware of one another, to create a new common life, superior to the present individual and common existence. A critical mass of such "gnostic individuals" could create the foundation of a new social life and order; a divine life on earth.

The purpose of this divine life would be a greater unity, mutuality, and harmony.

"...a greater identity of being and consciousness between individual and individual unified in their spiritual substance, feeling themselves to be self and self of one self-existence, acting in a greater unitarian force of knowledge, a greater power of being. There must be an inner and direct mutual knowledge, based upon a consciousness of oneness and identity, a consciousness of each other's being, thought, feeling, inner and outer movements...."
---Sri Aurobindo, The Life Divine

In this state the current vital and mental constructions of life would be replaced by gnostic individuals who live beyond the vicissitudes of human thought and the push and pull of the forces of Nature. Humanity in the current age does not have the depth of inner knowledge to understand the infinite forces that are involved in the emerging world. His limiting mind-sense and the limiting mind-sense of the collective hasn't the integral vision and knowledge and force of action to deal with the evolving society. We have created a civilization which has become too big for our limited mental capacities and understanding and our limiting ego, which narrows the truth to our own needs and desires. The current unfolding and limited blossoming of life on earth is bound by the limiting vital animal and passion nature, and the narrow opening to the full truth which is the human mind.

A life of unity, mutuality, and harmony alone, emerging from individuals who are in integral relationship with themselves, others, and the transcendent spirit, can deal with the overwhelming needs of the collective life. The gnostic beings would help establish this integral, unifying gnostic consciousness on earth, which would provide a far greater power and knowledge than man now has for understanding and acting on the needs of the emerging collective. The one rule of this divine life would be the self-expression of the spirit, of the divine, in all aspects of life.

"..an existence without the reactions of success and frustration, vital joy and grief, peril and passion, pleasure and pain, the vicissitudes and uncertainties of fate and struggle and battle and endeavor, a joy of novelty and surprise and creation projecting itself into the unknown... The gnostic manifestation of life would be more full and fruitful and its interest more vivid than the creative interest of the Ignorance; it would be a greater and happier constant miracle."
— Sri Aurobindo, The Life Divine

Supermind and Omega Point[edit]

Beginning with the Catholic theologian R.C. Zaehner, a number of scholars have pointed out parallels between the respective spiritual evolutionary philosophies of Sri Aurobindo and Pierre Teilhard de Chardin (see e.g. Zaehner 1971, Feys 1973, Sethna 1973, 1981, Bruteau 1974, Chetany 1978, Brookman 1988). Both describe a progression from inanimate matter through life and mind to a future consummation and Divinisation of humanity and the Earth as Supermind at Omega Point/God-Omega. Neither seems to have been aware of the other's work. A scientific basis for Pierre Teilhard de Chardin's and Sri Aurobindo's panentheistic Omega point philosophies was provided in 1994 by the physicist Frank J. Tipler's promulgation of his Omega Point Theory.

Quotation[edit]

'The aim of supramental Yoga is to change into this supreme Truth-consciousness, but this truth is something beyond mind and this consciousness is far above the highest mind-consciousness. For truth of mind is always relative, uncertain and partial, but this greater Truth is preemptory and whole. Truth of mind is a representation, always an inadequate, most often a misleading representation, and even when most accurate, only a reflection, Truth's shadow and not its body. Mind does not live in the Truth or possess but only seeks after it and grasps at best some threads from its robe; the supermind lives in Truth and [is] its native substance, form and expression; it has not to seek after it, but possesses it always automatically and is what it possesses. This is the very heart of the difference.
'The change that is effected by the transition from mind to supermind is not only a revolution in knowledge or in our power for knowledge. If it is [to] be complete and stable, it must be a divine transmutation of our will too, our emotions, our sensations, all our power of life and its forces, in the end even of the very substance and functioning of our body. Then only can it be said that the supermind is there upon earth, rooted in its very earth-substance and embodied in a new race of divinised creatures.
'Supermind at its highest reach is the divine Gnosis, the Wisdom-Power-Light-Bliss of God by which the Divine knows and upholds and governs and enjoys the universe.'
-– Sri Aurobindo [4]

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ a b Sri Aurobindo, Synthesis of Yoga, Sri Aurobindo Ashram, Pondicherry, 1948.
  2. ^ The Mother's Agenda, 1956, Volume 1. see link
  3. ^ The Mother's Agenda, 1969, Volume 10: from January 1, 1969.
  4. ^ 'Seven drafts on Supramental Yoga [for "The Path"] from 1928-1929 to late 1930s as found on ‘Bernard's Site for Sri Aurobindo and the Mother'

References[edit]

  • Sri Aurobindo (1977) The Life Divine, (Sri Aurobindo Ashram Trust), ISBN 0-941524-62-0 (hardcover), ISBN 0-941524-61-2 (paperback)
  • Beatrice Bruteau (1974), Evolution towards Divinity (Theosophical Publishing House, Wheaton, Ill)
  • David M. Brookman, Teilhard and Aurobindo: A Study in Religious Complementarity, Mayur Publications, 1988
  • J. Chetany (1978), The Future of Man According to Teilhard de Chardin and Aurobindo Ghose, New Delhi, Oriental Publishers & Distributors
  • Jan Feys, (1973) The Philosophy of Evolution in Sri Aurobindo and Teilhard de Chardin, Calcutta: Firma K. L. Mukhopadhyay
  • Basant Kumar Lal, Contemporary Indian Philosophy Motilal Banarsidass, 1978 ISBN 81-208-0261-6 ; pp. 195 ff.
  • George Nedumpalakunnel, Realization of God According to Sri Aurobindo: A Study of a Neo-Hindu Vision on the Divinization of Man Claretian Publications, 1979
  • K. D. Sethna (1973), Teilhard de Chardin and Sri Aurobindo - a Focus of Fundamentals, pp. 34–5, (Bharatiya Vidya Prakasan, Varanasi)
  • ----- (1981). The spirituality of the future : a search apropos of R. C. Zaehner's study in Sri Aurobindo and Teilhard de Chardin. Rutherford, [N.J.] London,
  • Ramakant A. Sinari, The Structure of Indian Thought C. C. Thomas 1970 p. 244
  • Zaehner, R.C. (1971) Evolution in religion: a study in Sri Aurobindo and Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, Clarendon Press, Oxford.

External links[edit]