Integral yoga

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Integral yoga
FounderSri Aurobindo, The Mother

Integral yoga, also called supramental yoga, is the yoga-based philosophy and practice of Sri Aurobindo and The Mother (Mirra Alfassa). Sri Aurobindo finds that there has always been impulse or longings in humans in search for God, Light, Bliss, Freedom, Immortality which has presented itself in a right place in a sequence, which Nature is seeking to evolve beyond mind. This sequence on one end which depicts Life is already involved in Matter (or Matter a form of veiled life, i.e. life being evolved out of matter) and mind in life (i.e. mind being evolved out of life), leading to the understanding that currently the mind is also a veil of higher states which are beyond mind. Nature via the said impulses would gradually prepare for a higher living and a diviner life.

Integral yoga finds all life conscious or unconscious a yoga, defines the term yoga as a methodised effort towards self-perfection by the expression of the secret potentialities latent in the being and highest condition of victory in that effort—a union of the human individual with the universal and transcendent existence which is seen partially as expressions in humans and in the cosmos.

According to Sri Aurobindo, the current status of human evolution is an intermediate stage in the evolution of being, which is on its way to the unfolding of the spirit, and the self-revelation of divinity in all things.[1] Yoga is a rapid and concentrated evolution of being, which can take effect in one life-time, while unassisted natural evolution would take many centuries or many births.[2] Sri Aurobindo suggests a grand representation of future potentialities called sapta chatushtaya (seven quadrates), which depicts a road map to coming evolution.

Concept of Life[edit]

The two common perception of Life and Reality Sri Aurobindo finds that there are two extreme views of life, the materialists and the ascetics.

The Materialists[edit]

He finds materialists would only accept the existence of matter or force and deny anything else, & would in their argument find anything which is not knowable (that which would escape once thought and speech) as inert or a passive, silent Atman, an illusion or a hallucination, this affirmation by the materialists is based on the association of the real with the materially perceptible, and becomes the basis of his assumption on all his arguments. For which Sri Aurobindo finds that the notion cannot give an impartial reasoning. Due to the above notion the materialists would refuse any further inquiry, thus never would have a satisfied understanding.[3] He recommends that the only way to reconcile the materialistic mind with the other truth would be to cross over the layers of inner consciousness either by objective analysis of life & mind as to matter or by subjective synthesis and illumination, arrive at a state of the ultimate unity without denying the energy of the expressing multiplicity of the universe.[4]

He finds that the current World is in a state of rationalistic materialism, & finds that this rationalistic movement has served human kind in a positive way, by purifying intellect from the dogmas, superstitions clearing path to a better advancement of Humanity.[5] Sri Aurobindo finds that root of this Scientific movement to be a search for knowledge, due to this root the movement would not come to a halt and its progress is a sure sign that it would carry forward in reaching the other part of knowledge which vedantins had found in a different way.[6]

The Ascetics[edit]

would only accept spirit/Atman and terming the remaining as mechanical unintelligent substance or energy, leading to believing the reality to be an illusion of senses.[7] Sri Aurobindo finds when the mind retracts from external activities and has experience of silence, a powerful convincing experience that only the pure self or non-being is real, leads them to disregard the outer world. he finds this as a revolt of spirit on matter which was made famous by Buddhism, which affirms that it is impossible to find a solution in the world which is termed to be dual in nature, but to escape into Nirvana, Brahmaloka or Goloka as beyond & a final solution. He finds that this approach is slowly coming to an end and had its importance as the part of evolution, but the said approach is quite different than what was present during Vedic period.[8]

Integral yoga's take on Reality[edit]

Sri Aurobindo finds that a compromise between the two approaches would be a bargain and would not be a true reconciliation, but only a unified Spirit and Matter would be a basis for Integral yoga's path to understanding of reality.[9] He finds that the non being at one end which seems opposite to the manifested universe, are not opposites which would deny other's existence, but rather are different states of reality with opposite affirmations. Sri Aurobindo finds that the highest experience of the Reality to be a conscious Existence, a supreme Intelligence, Force and a self-existent Bliss; He finds a liberated intelligence and experience would bring about this highest understanding of the reality.[10]

Humanity and its purpose[edit]

Integral yoga rejects notion of reality being a purposeless illusion or a result of an accident nor a deceptive trick of mind but an existence aware of itself, realises itself in form and unfolds itself in the individual, an existence which already exists as an all-revealing & all-guiding truth of things first movements would be without the knowledge of its conscious mind but a general movement of nature and later consciously by a progressive awakening & self enlargement, to his divine ascension and finds this ascent of life to divine life is the human journey and his prime purpose of life.[11]


Sri Aurobindo finds an allegory of Adam and Eve in the Genesis, representing Purusha (the individual Soul) tempted by prakriti (nature) having consumed a fruit which represents a dividing consciousness, brings in dualities of life and death, good and evil which has caused a fall, a deviation from full and pure acceptance of God. The redemption would come by recovering the Universal Soul in the individual (in physical consciousness) through a higher knowledge which would reconcile the concept of good, evil, joy, suffering, Life and death identifying these opposites in the universal and transform these division into a divine unity.[12]

  • Self importance:

Sri Aurobindo finds that we keep a false account of the world, and give importance only to our existence and all else being negligible, would be the actual root of ego. Even in philosophising we exert too much importance on our own state of consciousness or mental standards, all outside or views tends to become false or non existent. this sense has an assertion on truth perception, giving distorted view. To recognise that we are only a partial movement of this infinite movement and that it is that infinite which we have to know, to be consciously and to fulfil faithfully, would be the commencement of true living.[13]

Sri Aurobindo finds that ego, a divisive perspective to be one of the cause of the duality, is only an intermediate phenomenon of consciousness necessary for certain line of development in evolutionary process. A process which would eventually lead to dissolution of the ego by self opening of the individual to the universe and to God, this sequence of event being very similar to animalistic life as a prelude to Human life.[14]

Cognition and the Intuitive knowledge[edit]

Sri Aurobindo finds that confining oneself with sensory evidence would lead to knowledge about material world and its phenomenon and nothing more, but as a result of development of Reason which accepts sensory evidence as a starting point but not limited by it goes beyond judges, works on its own right way and may arrive at a result which may be opposite to sensory observations, Sri Aurobindo states to correct the errors of sense-mind by the use of reason is one of main reason why Humanity is the cause of superiority among other life forms.[15]

For Sri Aurobindo intuition comes under the realms of knowledge by identity; he describes the psychological plane in humans (often referred to as mana in Sanskrit) having two arbitrary natures, the first being imprinting of psychological experiences which is constructed through sensory information (mind seeking to become aware of external world). The second nature being the action when it seeks to be aware of itself, resulting in humans being aware of their existence or aware of being angry aware of other emotions. He terms this second nature as knowledge by identity.[16] He finds that at present as the result of evolution the mind has accustomed itself to depend upon certain physiological functioning and their reactions as its normal means of entering into relations with the outer material world. As a result, when we seek to know about the external world the dominant habit is through arriving at truths about things via what our senses convey to us. However, knowledge by identity, which we currently only give the awareness of human beings' existence, can be extended further to outside of ourselves resulting in intuitive knowledge.[17]

From Vedantic knowledge to different school of Hindu philosophy|thoughts in Hinduism[edit]

He finds this intuitive knowledge was common to older humans (Vedic) and sages of the veda and vedanta. For the knowledge they relied entirely upon intuition and spiritual experience and not on logical reasoning but by a comparison of intuitions & experiences, as he gives an example that in the vedanta one discusses in terms of what one knows and not what one thinks of.[18] With time once the rationalistic age took over and speculation began the Indian philosophers recognised that the vedantic texts were superior to reasons, but at the same time started from reason and tested the result it gave them, holding only those conclusions to be valid which were supported by the text. This trend of reason eventually led to conflicting schools of thought each of which the theory founded itself on Vedic texts and used its text as a weapon against the others. Sri Aurobindo believes this is due to the fact that the intuitive knowledge sees things in the whole and only sides of an indivisible whole, while reason on the contrary proceeds by analysis, dissemination and assembles its facts to form a whole. leading into assembly of facts so formed would contain opposites, anomalies, logical incompatibilities and tendencies to affirm some and negate others which conflict with its chosen conclusions so that it may form a flawlessly logical system, which has resulted in different school of thoughts in Hinduism.[19]

Pure existence/purusha - Sat[edit]

Sri Aurobindo observes that Brahman to be present in all, not in equal part of itself but its whole self at one and to be indivisible, To Brahman there are no whole and parts, but each thing is all itself and benefits by the whole of Brahman. even though there is a presence of an illusion of quality and illusion of quantity which may differ, the self to be equal. The form, manner and result of the force of action may vary infinitely but the primal energy would remain same in all.[20]

According to Sri Aurobindo the Vedanta asserts that we are a subordinate and an aspect of a movement of an infinite energy and the movement being a subordinate and an aspect of something other than itself, of a great timeless, spaceless stability, unchanging over time, not acting, not energy but a pure existence. he finds that even though for an observer the world may seem a block of movement, but this energy is an output of a pure existence, this nature of existence would presuppose all end and beginning leading to the understanding that the concept of an absolute beginning and an absolute end an illusion or a fiction. Here He rejects the concept of Nihilism. and asserts concept of a pure existence & movement, the energy which he terms to be world-existence both to be real, one being a fact of being and other a fact of becoming.

even though pure existence being an absolute is unknowable by our thought, Sri Aurobindo finds that not only can we have a glimpse of the pure existence in experience, but we can draw back into it and live in it entirely.[21]

Conscious Force/prakriti - Power of Chit[edit]

Sri Aurobindo finds that the early thoughts of Humans had compared infinite existence of force to a Sea, initially at rest, therefore being free from forms and the first disturbance necessitated the creation of forms. he finds that merry vibrations in itself was not sufficient to create forms but an obstruction in the flow of the force ocean, some contraction and expansion, interplay of vibrations, impinging of force upon force to create a fixed relations and mutual effects. according to the old Indian school of thought, following five elements were the principal building block of all things in the universe.[22]

  • Aerial: A material force modifying its first status and assuming its second. eg reception of vibration would be the sense of sound.
  • Spatial/Space:a property of contact between force and force which is a basis for all material relations,e.g would develop the sense of touch.
  • Agni/Fire: A sustaining principal, provided by a third self modification of the primitive force a principal of light, electricity, fire & heat, sustained by them the sense of Sight.
  • Liquid / Water : characterized by diffusion and a first medium of permanent attractions and repulsions, e.g leading to the sense of taste.
  • Cohesion/Earth : a solid state characterising cohesion, e.g leading to sense of smell.

by dividing and suggesting that all is essentially a response to vibratory contacts between force and force, thus had solved the problem of how things which seems to real to the senses is only a temporary phenomena.

however Sri Aurobindo finds, this theory is not explaining how the contact of vibrations of force should give rise to conscious sensations.[23]

Reason of existence[edit]

Sri Aurobindo finds existence to be a pure existence, to be absolute beginning, end, inherently self-conscious and inseparable from its being and throwing itself out, as a movement of consciousness, which would create forms, forces and worlds, but would not be compelled by its own nature, not obliged by its own potentiality of movement and not limited, bound or compelled by its potentialities and eternally free.[24] the only reason for this movement being Delight.[25] Sri Aurobindo terms the delight of existence to be other than sensational pleasure of an Individual, to be Universal and not dependent on particular cause.[26]

He terms all existence being a combination of three, Existence, Consciousness and Bliss commonly referred to in Vedantic writing as Sachidananda,[27] and thus all being sachidananda or God of Vedantic knowledge, here he clearly summarises of God not being an extra-cosmic, personal God meaning God not being a separate entity from his creation but he himself to be all.[28]

Dilemma of existence of Delight, Pain & Suffering[edit]

Sri Aurobindo further answers the question for everything being Sachidananda, delight why would there be existence of Pain & suffering? that the question is based on the relations between two entities (creature and creature), while we are starting with a theory of One who is all. considering a unity in difference; dealing with its parts and its developments, such as the relations between two entities on the basis of division and duality, could be possible to get an answer.[29]

The Psychic Being[edit]

The Psychic Being is Sri Aurobindo's term for the Personal Evolving Soul, the principle of Divine spirit in every individual.[note 1] The Psychic is the "Innermost Being",[note 2] the permanent being in us that stands behind and supports the physical, vital and mental principles. It "uses mind, life and body as its instruments," undergoing their fate yet also transcending them.[32]

In Integral Yoga the goal is to move inward and discover the Psychic Being, which then can bring about a transformation of the outer nature. This transformation of the outer being or ego by the Psychic is called Psychicisation; it is one of the three necessary stages in the realisation of the Supramental consciousness. This Psychic transformation is the decisive movement that enables a never-ending progress in life, through the power of connecting to one's inner spirit or Divine Essence. The Psychic begins its evolution completely veiled and hidden, but grows through successive lifetimes, and gradually exerts a greater influence, taking on the role of spiritual Guide.[33]

Levels of being[edit]

The levels of being ascend from the inconscient to the Supermind.


Inconscient Matter is the lowest level of involution.[36][37] Spirit is still present in the inconscient:[38] "The Inconscient is the Superconscient's sleep."[web 1] The Inconscient is also the instrument of the Superconsciousness which has created the Universe.[39] According to Satprem, the Inconscient lies at the bottom of the physical subconscient,[web 1] and "life emerged [...] at the border between the material inconscient and the physical consciousness [...] in our body.[web 1]

Subconscient and subtle or subliminal conscient[edit]

The physical, vital and mental levels of being contain both a subconscient and a subtle or subliminal part.[40]

The subconscient[edit]

The subconscient parts are the submerged parts. It contains "obstinate samskaras, impressions, associations, fixed notions, habitual reactions formed by the past."[41] According to Satprem, there are several levels of the subconscient, corresponding with the different levels of our being: a mental subconscient, a vital subconscient, and a physical subconscient, down to the material Inconscient.[web 1]

According to Sri Aurobindo, the body is partly a creation of the inconscient or subconscient.[39] According to The Mother, the ordinary, false consciousness, which is common to material body-consciousness, is derived from the subconscient and the inconscient.[42] According to Aurobindo, the outer being depends on the subconscient, which hinders the spiritual progress.[43] Only by living in the inner being can this obstacle be overcome.[43]

According to Sharma, the subconscient is "the inconscient in the proces of becoming conscient."[44] It is a submerged part of the personality without waking consciousness, but which does receive impressions, and influences the conscious mind.[45] According to Sharma, it includes the unconscious mind which is described by psychologists like Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung,[45] though it includes much more than the unconscious of (Freudian) psychology.[note 3]

The subtle or subliminal conscient[edit]

The subtle or subliminal is the subtle, higher counterpart of the subconscient. According to Sharma, "it has an inner mind, an inner vital being, and an inner subtle physical being, wider than man's consciousness."[44] It can directly experience the Universal, and "it is the source of inspirations, intuitions, ideas, will [...] as well as [...] telepathy [and] clearvoyance."[44]

Gross body[edit]

The gross body commonly referred to in yoga constitutes mainly of two parts the material physical body (annakosha) and the nervous system normally refer to as vital vehicle (Prana kosha) in Integral yoga.[47]


The Physical level refers to both the physical body and the body's consciousness. The body is just as conscious as the vital and mental parts of the being, only it is a different type of consciousness. The Physical not only shades upwards to higher ontological levels, but also downwards into the Subconscient.[note 4]

The Subtle physical is Sri Aurobindo's term for a subtler aspect of the physical nature. This has many qualities not found in the gross physical nature. In The Agenda, The Mother often refers to it. It might be compared to the etheric body and plane, or even the astral body and plane. The term "subtle physical" is used to distinguish it from gross (sthula) or outer material physical.[note 5]


The Vital level of the being refers to the life force, but also to the various passions, desires, feelings, emotions, affects, compulsions, and likes and dislikes. These strongly determine human motivation and action through desire and enthusiasm.

Unlike Western psychology, in which mind, emotions, instincts, and consciousness are all lumped together, Sri Aurobindo strongly distinguishes between the "Vital" and the "Mental" faculties.

In addition to the individual Vital faculty, Sri Aurobindo refers to a Vital Plane or Vital world, which would seem to be partly equivalent to the Astral Plane of popular occultism and New Age thought.

Mind or Mental being[edit]

Mind proper is the conceptual and cognitive mind. Mind is a subordinate process of the Supermind.[49] It is the intermediary stage between the Divine and the mundane life.[50] It works by measuring and dividing reality, and has lost sight of the Divine.[51] It is the seat of ignorance, yet it is still capable of an upward ascent toward the Divine.[52]

Unlike Western psychology, in which mind and consciousness are considered the same, Sri Aurobindo strongly distinguishes between the "Mental" and the "Vital" (emotional) faculties, as well as between Mind and pure Consciousness. Sri Aurobindo in part bases his concept of the Mental on his reading of the Taittiriya Upanishad, the mental being (or perhaps just the Mental Purusha) is the mano-maya-atma—the self made of mind (manas).

For Sri Aurobindo, Mind or the Mental being is not simple and uniform, but consists itself of various strata and subdivisions, which act at different levels of being. These various faculties are described or variously referred to, usually in obliquely or in passing, in some of his books, including Savitri, which has poetic references to many types of Mind.[53] In his letters answering questions from disciples, Sri Aurobindo summarises the characteristics of the various levels of Mind.[54][note 6]

Above mind proper lie various higher individual levels of mind, namely the Higher Mind, Illumined Mind, Intuitive Mind and Overmind, which ascend toward the Spirit, and provide a higher and more inclusive vision of reality:

  • Higher Mind is the realm of Truth-thought. It can hold a wide range of knowledge in one vision and an integral whole.[52][note 7] It receives illumination from the Illumined Mind,[57] and is not dependent on the limited knowledge of the senses.[52] It is also capable of transforming the lower realms of body and mind, effectuating change sof habit and life.[52] Nevertheless, it is still a state of thought, in contrast to Illumined Mind, which is a state of vision and spiritual insight.[57]
  • Illumined Mind is the mind of sight and vision. It transformes the Higher Mind by providing it a direct vision.[58]
  • Intuition provides the illumination of thought and vision to the Higher Mind and the Illumined Mind.[58] Mundane mind may experience intuition too, but in the higher realms of mind it becomes more frequent and stable.[58]
  • Overmind is the Cosmic Consciousness.[59] It is the plane of Gods. Overmental plane is the highest consciousness one can achieve without transcending the mental system. Beyond overmind are the planes of Supermind or unity-consciousness.[note 8]


Supermind is the infinite unitary Truth Consciousness or Truth-Idea beyond the three lower planes of Matter, Life, and Mind. Supermind is the dynamic form of Sachchidananda (Being-Consciousness-Bliss), and the necessary mediator or link between the transcendent Sacchidananda and the creation.[60]

Limitations of the present being[edit]

Humans are stuck between matter and Spirit,[61] due to the habits of personality and partial awareness, which arise from Ignorance.


Humans are accustomed to respond to certain vibrations more than other. These customs develop into one's desire, pain, feelings, which are all a set of habits. This crystallised set of habits becomes one's personality. This is normally believed to be "self". The appearance of stable personality is given by constant repetition and recurrence of the same vibrations and formations.[62]

Three basic difficulties for mankind[edit]

According to Sri Aurobindo, humans face three basic problems:

  1. Partial Self-awareness: humans are only aware of a small part about themselves. They are aware of the surface of mentality, physical being, and life, and not of the larger and more potent subconscious mind and hidden life impulses.
  2. Partial awareness of other beings: humans create a rough mental construction of their fellow beings. Their understanding is created by a mental knowledge, which is imperfect, and subjected to denial and frustration. This partial awareness can be overcome by a conscious unity. This unity can only be achieved from Supermind.[63]
  3. A division between Force and consciousness in evolution: matter, life and mind are often warring with each other. Materialists try to resolve this war by submitting oneself to the mortality of our being, while ascetics have tried to reject earthly life. A true solution may lie in finding the principle beyond mind, thereby overcoming the mortality of our existence.[64]


The fundamental cause of falsehood, error and evil is Ignorance. Ignorance is a self-limiting knowledge, which arises with exclusive concentration in a single field. According to Sri Aurobindo, human notion of good, bad and evil are uncertain and relative.[65]


Unlike other Yoga practices Integral yoga does not propose any kind of physical asanas, breathing techniques or external movements. It is more psychological in nature, with internal reflection and self-analysis and correction as main tools of development .

The main practices or approaches are divided into[66]

  • The yoga of divine work (yoga through ones work )
  • The yoga of Integral Knowledge ( Yoga through analysis, observation and knowledge)
  • The Yoga of Divine love ( Commonly referred to as Bhakti yoga or love of god)
  • The Yoga of Self-Perfection (referred to as a Synthetic yoga or the triple way )[67]

Yogic Practise[edit]

The Yoga of Self-Perfection[edit]

The Triple Transformation[edit]

The limitations of the present being can be overcome by the Triple transformation, the process in which the lower nature is transformed into the divine nature. It consists of the inward psychicisation by which the sadhak gets in contact with the inner divine principle or Psychic Being; the spiritual transformation or spiritualisation; and the Supramentalisation of the entire being.[note 9]


Psychicisation is a turn inward, so that one realises the psychic being, the psychic personality or Divine Soul, in the core of one's being. The Divine Soul serves as a spiritual Guide in the yoga, and enables one to transform the outer being.[68] It may also help avoid the dangers of the spiritual path. There is an intermediate zone, a dangerous and misleading transitional spiritual and pseudospiritual region between the ordinary consciousness and true spiritual realisation.[69]

Psychisiation consists of three methods. In "consecration" one opens oneself to the Force before engaging in an activity. "Moving to the Depths" (or "concentration") is a movement away from the surface existence to a deeper existence within. "Surrender" means offering all one's work, one's life to the Divine Force and Intent.[70][71] Guided by the evolving divine soul within, the sadhak moves away from ego, ignorance, finiteness, and the limitations of the outer being. It is thanks to this guidance by the Divine Soul that the sadhak can avoid the pitfalls of the spiritual path.


As a result of the Psychicisation, light, peace, and power descend into the body, transforming all of its parts, physical, vital, and mental. This is the Spiritual transformation, or Spiritualisation, the concretisation of the larger spiritual consciousness. It is equivalent to "enlightenment", as found in Vedanta and Buddhism.

Intermediate zone[edit]

Sri Aurobindo asserted that spiritual aspirants may pass through an intermediate zone where experiences of force, inspiration, illumination, light, joy, expansion, power, and freedom from normal limits are possible. These can become associated with personal aspirations, ambitions, notions of spiritual fulfilment and yogic siddhi, and even be falsely interpreted as full spiritual realisation. One can pass through this zone, and the associated spiritual dangers, without harm by perceiving its real nature, and seeing through the misleading experiences. Those who go astray in it may end in a spiritual disaster, or may remain stuck there and adopt some half-truth as the whole truth, or become an instrument of lesser powers of these transitional planes. According to Sri Aurobindo, this happens to many sadhaks and yogis.[72][73]


Supramentalisation is the realisation of the Supermind, or Supramental consciousness, and the resulting transformation of the entire being. Psychicisation and spiritualisation serve as necessary prerequisites for the Supramentalisation of the entire being.[74]

The supramental transformation is the final stage in the integral yoga, enabling the birth of a new individual, fully formed by the supramental power. Such individuals would be the forerunners of a new supra-humanity, grounded in truth-consciousness. All aspects of division and ignorance of consciousness, at the vital and mental levels, would be overcome, and 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.[75]

Sri Aurobindo describes several results and different stages depicting the stages of development in integral yoga, called together the sapta chatushtaya, "seven quadrates."[web 2][web 3][note 10] It consists of:.[web 2]

  • Shanti (peace, calm), which consists of samatha (calming of the mind), shanti (peace), sukha (happiness), and hasya (Atmaprasada, contentment of the Atman);
  • Shakti (power), which consists of shakti (the power of the primordial energy), virya (energy, effort), daivi prakriti (Divine Nature, primal force), and sraddha (faith);
  • vijnana (science), which consists of jnanam (knowledge), trikaladrsti (knowledge of past, present and future), ashtasiddhi (eight powers), and samadhi (absorption);
  • Sharira (body), which consists of arogyam (health), utthapana (levitation, being free from gravity and physical powers), saundaryam (beauty), vividhananda (bliss);
  • Karma (divine work), which consists of Krishna (avatar of Vishnu), Kali (the Goddess), kama (divine delight), and Karma (divine action);
  • Brahma, the realization of Brahman;
  • Siddhi (realization), which consists of shuddhi (purification), mukti (liberation), bhukti (enjoyment), and siddhi (realisation of yogic powers).


Sri Aurobindo had a strong influence on Ken Wilber's integral theory of spiritual development.[76] Wilber's Causal and Ultimate stages closely resemble Aurobindo's higher mental stages, but Wilber lumps together levels of Being, types of Being and developmental stages.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ According to The Mother, the term "Psychic" or Psychic Being is derived from the occult kabbalistic teachings of Max Théon.[30] Sri Aurobindo distinguishes between the Psychic Being as being defined in his Integral Yoga, and the ordinary meaning of "psychic," which refers more to psychological phenomena, or to paranormal phenomena, which are connected with the subtle physical layers.[30]
  2. ^ Amal Kiran[31]
  3. ^ According to Pani, the inconscient is the same as the western psycho-analytic unconscious mind, while the subconsciousness is another layer of consciousness.[46]
  4. ^ The Physical can be subdivided into finer sub-grades:
    • the Physical Proper or pure body consciousness, which represents the consciousness of the external physical body itself.
    • the Vital Physical or Nervous Being (which seems to be equivalent to the Etheric body of western esotericism, and hence pertains to one of the subtle bodies)
    • the Mental Physical (similar to the Physical Mind—see "Mental")
    • the True physical being: the Purusha of the physical level, which is like the Inner Physical larger than the surface body consciousness and in touch with the a larger spiritual consciousness.
    • the Inner physical: the physical component of the inner being, which is wider and more plastic than the outer physical body. This is also called the subtle physical
  5. ^ Aurobindo: "By the gross physical is meant the earthly and bodily physical—as experienced by the outward sense-mind and senses. But that is not the whole of Matter. There is a subtle physical also with a subtler consciousness in it which can, for instance, go to a distance from the body and yet feel and be aware of things in a not merely mental or vital way.
    ...the subtle physical has a freedom, plasticity, intensity, power, colour, wide and manifold play (there are thousands of things there that are not here) of which, as yet, we have no possibility on earth."[48]
  6. ^ A small but popular book by Jyoti and Prem Sobel, The Hierarchy of Minds, comes closest to a systematic coverage of an Aurobindonian noetology by gathering all of Sri Aurobindo's references and quotes on the subject of "Mind" and arranging these according to the type of Mind. These various Minds and Mental principles of being include:[55]
    Physical Mind
    • The Mechanical Mind is a much lower action of the mental physical which when left to itself can only repeat the same ideas and record the reflexes of the physical consciousness in its contact with outward life and things.
    • Mind in the physical or mental physical mentalises the experiences of outward life and things, sometimes very cleverly, but it does not go beyond that, unlike the externalising mind which deals with these things from the perspective of reason and its own higher intelligence.
    • Physical Mind: refers to either or both the Externalising Mind and the Mental in the Physical; it is limited to a physical or materialistic perspective, and cannot go beyond that, unless enlightened from above.
    • Mind of Light: according to The Mother this is the Physical Mind receiving the supramental light and thus being able to act directly in the Physical.[56]
    Vital Mind
    • Vital Mind: a mediator between the vital emotions, desires, and so on the mental proper. It is limited by the vital view and feeling of things, and expresses the desires, feelings, ambitions, and other active tendencies of the vital in mental forms, such as daydreams and imaginations of greatness, happiness, and so on. As with the Externalising Mind, Sri Aurobindo associates it with the Vishuddha or Throat Chakra
    Mind proper
    • Mind Proper: free-fold, consisting of Thinking Mind, dynamic Mind, externalising Mind. It constitutes the sum of one's thoughts, opinions, ideas, and values, which guide conscious thinking, conceptualizing and decision-making processes, and is transformed, widened, and spiritualised through the practice of Integral Yoga.
    • Thinking Mind: the highest aspect of the mind proper, concerned with ideas and knowledge in their own right. It is equated with the Ajna Chakra
    • Dynamic Mind: that aspect of the ordinary mind that puts out of mental forces for realisation, acting by the idea and by reason. It is also equated with the Ajna or Brow center.
    • Externalising Mind: the most "external" part of the mind proper, concerned with the expression of ideas in speech, in life, or in any form it can give. It is equated with the Vishuddha or Throat Chakra
    Higher Mind
    • Higher Mind: the first and lowest of the spiritual mental grades, lying above the normal mental level.
    • Spiritual Mind: either the spiritualised mind, or a general term for levels of mind above the normal mental level (the "Mind Proper").
    • Inner mind: the mental component of the Inner Being, which lies behind the surface mind or ordinary consciousness and can only be directly experienced by sadhana
    • True mental being:the Purusha of the mental level freed from the error and ignorance of the lower Prakriti and open to the knowledge and guidance above.
    • Psychic Mind: a movement of the mind in which the Psychic Being predominates; the mind turned towards the Divine
  7. ^ Compare Ken Wilber's Centaur or vision-logic; see Integral theory (Ken Wilber)#Levels or stages
  8. ^ A detailed description of the Overmind is provided in Book I ch.28, and Book II ch.26, of Sri Aurobindo's philosophical opus The Life Divine.
  9. ^ This is described in The Life Divine part 2, ch.25, and Letters on Yoga part 4, section 1.
  10. ^ Aurobindo received these instructions as a series of mantras while he was imprisoned in Alipore prison. They were copied by Arun to use for study.[web 4]


  1. ^ Sri Aurobindo (1939), p. 1107.
  2. ^ Sri Aurobindo (1996), p. 282
  3. ^ Sri Aurobindo (1939), pp. 7-11.
  4. ^ Sri Aurobindo (1939), p. 9.
  5. ^ Sri Aurobindo (1939), p. 10.
  6. ^ Sri Aurobindo (1939), p. 13.
  7. ^ Sri Aurobindo (1939), p. 7.
  8. ^ Sri Aurobindo (1939), pp. 13-28.
  9. ^ Sri Aurobindo (1939), p. 25.
  10. ^ Sri Aurobindo (1939), p. 32.
  11. ^ Sri Aurobindo (1939), p. 47-48
  12. ^ Sri Aurobindo (1939), p. 56
  13. ^ Aurobindo (2005), p. 73
  14. ^ Sri Aurobindo (1939), p. 60-65
  15. ^ Sri Aurobindo (1939), p. 66-67
  16. ^ Aurobindo (2005), p. 68
  17. ^ Aurobindo (2005), pp. 69-71
  18. ^ Aurobindo (2005), p. 75
  19. ^ Aurobindo (2005), p. 76
  20. ^ Aurobindo (2005), p. 72
  21. ^ Aurobindo (2005), pp. 84-86.
  22. ^ Aurobindo (2005), p. 87.
  23. ^ Aurobindo (2005), p. 88.
  24. ^ Aurobindo (2005), p. 97.
  25. ^ Aurobindo (2005), p. 98.
  26. ^ Aurobindo (2005), p. 106.
  27. ^ Aurobindo (2005), p. 99.
  28. ^ Aurobindo (2005), p. 102.
  29. ^ Aurobindo (2005), p. 103.
  30. ^ a b Sri Aurobindo (1977), The Life Divine p. 227 note
  31. ^ Craig Hamilton The Miraculous Power of the Soul—A meeting with Amal Kiran, Pondicherry Archived 2012-06-11 at the Wayback Machine
  32. ^ Sri Aurobindo (1977), The Life Divine p. 891
  33. ^ Sri Aurobindo (1977), The Life Divine pp. 891–4
  34. ^ Wilber 1992, p. 263.
  35. ^ Sharma 1992.
  36. ^ Pani 2007, p. 132.
  37. ^ The Mother 1961, p. 199.
  38. ^ Pani 2007, p. 211.
  39. ^ a b Pani 2007, p. 297.
  40. ^ Sharma 1992, p. 61-63.
  41. ^ Sharma 1992, p. 61.
  42. ^ The Mother 1961, p. 50.
  43. ^ a b Sri Aurobindo 1988.
  44. ^ a b c Sharma 1991, p. 63.
  45. ^ a b Sharma 1991, p. 61.
  46. ^ Pani 2007, p. 207.
  47. ^ Aurobindo (1996), p. 10-11.
  48. ^ Sri Aurobindo, Letters on Yoga part 1, section v
  49. ^ Chakravorty 1991, p. 42.
  50. ^ Chakravorty 1991, p. 40-41.
  51. ^ Chakravorty 1991, p. 41.
  52. ^ a b c d Chakravorty 1991, p. 43.
  53. ^ Jyoti and Prem Sobel 1984 pp. 152–62
  54. ^ Aurobindo, Letters on Yoga vol. I pp. 324–5
  55. ^ Jyoti and Prem Sobel, The Hierarchy of Minds
  56. ^ The Mother, 1980, pp. 63–64
  57. ^ a b Chakravorty 1991, p. 45.
  58. ^ a b c Chakravorty 1991, p. 47.
  59. ^ Chakravorty 1991, p. 49.
  60. ^ Sri Aurobindo (1977), Life Divine Book I, ch.14-16
  61. ^ Aurobindo (1996), p. 210
  62. ^ Sri Aurobindo (1996), p. 210
  63. ^ Sri Aurobindo (1939), p. 227
  64. ^ Aurobindo (1939), p. 228
  65. ^ Sri Aurobindo (1939), p. 622
  66. ^ Sri Aurobindo (1996), pp. 2-30.
  67. ^ Sri Aurobindo (1996), p. 611.
  68. ^ Sri Aurobindo (1977), The Life Divine book II, chapter 25
  69. ^ Sri Aurobindo's Letters on Yoga—The Intermediate Zone
  70. ^ Synthesis of Yoga Part I ch. II-III
  71. ^ Letters on Yoga vol. II pp.585ff (3rd ed.)
  72. ^ Sri Aurobindo's Letters on Yoga—The Intermediate Zone
  73. ^ Grey Lodge Occult Review :: Issue #9 :: The Intermediate Zone Archived 2007-10-12 at the Wayback Machine
  74. ^ Sri Aurobindo, The Synthesis of Yoga, pp.281-2
  75. ^ Sri Aurobindo (1977), The Life Divine book II ch.27-28
  76. ^ Vrinte 2002.


Printed sources[edit]

Sri Aurobindo
  • Aurobindo, Sri (2005), The Life Divine, Pondicherry: Lotus press, ISBN 0-941524-61-2, archived from the original on 2017-10-20, retrieved 2019-07-28
  • Sri Aurobindo (1939), The Life Divine, Sri Aurobindo Ashram press, ISBN 978-81-7058-844-3
  • Sri Aurobindo (1977), The Life Divine (10th ed.), Sri Aurobindo Ashram Trust
  • Sri Aurobindo (1996), The Synthesis of Yoga, Lotus light publication, ISBN 0-941524-65-5
  • Sri Aurobindo (1988), "Transformation of the Subconscient and the Inconscient", Letters on yoga. Volume 3, Part Four, Lotus press, ISBN 8170580099
The Mother
  • The Mother (1961), Mother's Agenda 1951–1973. Volume II: 1961, Paris: Inst for Evolutionary Research, ISBN 2902776047
  • The Mother (1998), Satprem (ed.), Mother's Agenda 1969, 10, Institut de Recherches Evolutives, ISBN 8185137366
  • The Mother (1980), Words of the Mother, Collected Works of the Mother, Centenary Edition vol. 13, Sri Aurobindo Ashram Trust, Pondicherry
Other sources
  • Chakravorty, Satya Jyoti (1991), The Philosophy of Sri Aurobindo, Sterling Publishers
  • Giri, Ananta Kumar (2014), Knowledge and Human Liberation: Towards Planetary Realizations, Anthem Press
  • McDermott, Robert A. (2001), "Introduction", The Essential Sri Aurobindo, SteinerBooks
  • Miśra, Rāmacandra (1998), The Integral Advaitism of Sri Aurobindo, Motilal Banarsidass Publ.
  • Pani, R. N. (2007), Integral Education: Thought & Practical, APH Publishing, ISBN 9788131302866
  • Sharma, Ram Nath (1991), Sri Aurobindo's Philosophy of Social Development, Atlantic Publishers
  • Sobel, Jyoti; Sobel, Prem (1984), The Hierarchy of Minds, Pondicherry: Sri Aurobindo Ashram Trust
  • Vrinte, Joseph (1996), The Quest for the Inner Man: Transpersonal Psychology and Integral Sadhana, Pondicherry, India: Sri Mira Trust, ISBN 81-208-1502-5
  • Vrinte, Joseph (2002), The Perennial Quest for a Psychology with a Soul: An inquiry into the relevance of Sri Aurobindo's metaphysical yoga psychology in the context of Ken Wilber's integral psychology, Motilal Banarsidass, ISBN 81-208-1932-2
  • Wilber, Ken (1992), Het Atman project, Servire

Web sources[edit]

Further reading[edit]

  • Sen, Indra (1986) Integral Psychology: The Psychological System of Sri Aurobindo, Pondicherry, India: Sri Aurobindo Ashram Trust

External links[edit]