[Published in Next Future, May 2006.]
Higher Ranges of Consciousness: Triple Transformation
In a very general way we may say that in the future we will see the flowering of new faculties with a much greater power of knowledge, feeling and action than the ones we possess at present.
We may broadly classify the faculties of our consciousness into four categories. The instinct and sensations of the body-consciousness; emotional, dynamic and pragmatic faculties of the vital consciousness; the perceptive, ethical and aesthetic faculties of the mind-consciousness; and intuitive faculties of the spiritual consciousness. But these faculties exist or operate at many levels or dimensions of our being with corresponding variations in their range and power.
The first and the lowest level is our surface conscious mentality which is more or less enclosed or tied to our bodily consciousness. At this level the faculties of our consciousness are severely limited and conditioned by grossness of our physical ego and the divisive consciousness of the mental ego expressing itself through the heavily externalized, rigidly analytical and earthly intellect. This is the consciousness in which major part of humanity lives at present. The limitation of the present mental consciousness, we have discussed earlier, applies fully to this level of our consciousness. Here, the faculties of our consciousness are at the lowest level of light, power, harmony or integration.
But this is not all we are. Behind the externalized surface consciousness there is a deeper and vaster subliminal consciousness with an inner or subtle Physical, inner Vital and inner Mental consciousness. Here the faculties of our consciousness acquire a vaster range and power, becomes much more powerful, luminous, creative and intuitive. This is because the subliminal is less circumscribed by the heaviness and grossness of our body-consciousness, and the knot of ego, though very much there, is less tight and more loose than in our surface consciousness. So the subliminal can easily burst out of the body-consciousness and expand into the universal. The subliminal mind and vital are not limited and confined to the externalized analytical intellect or the emotions of our surface being. So they are much more intuitive than the surface being, with a greater capacity for knowledge, feeling and action. And finally, the faculties of the subliminal consciousness are much more integrated and harmonized than that of the surface. This subliminal is the source of all human greatness and genius. It is the source of inspiration behind all those great and eminent men and women who have gone beyond the average human mass and made important contribution to human progress in thought and action and leadership, especially in the secular life of humanity like for example in politics, or culture or science.
But the subliminal is only an extension of the surface consciousness with greater powers. When it emerges in the human being, it can considerably enhance the powers of consciousness but cannot transform it. This is because the subliminal is not free from ego and desire. It may have a freer or a more powerful and magnified or a more refined ego and desire but not entirely free from them. But no lasting and essential transformation of the human being is possible without a radical freedom from these two central knots of bondage. The other important factor to be noted is that subliminal has its luminous as well as dark regions. So, in the future, when the subliminal begins to manifest in the human consciousness in a large and wide-spread scale, it has its positive benefits as well as grave danger. If the luminous regions of the subliminal can do much for bringing to humanity a greater goodness than the surface consciousness, its dark regions can wrought a much greater evil than the surface consciousness is capable of doing. While the luminous regions of the subliminal can create an Einstein or a Gandhi, its dark regions can create a Hitler!
So, if the evolving humanity of the future opens itself to the luminous regions of the subliminal, it will lead to a better humanity with greater powers than the present. It may lead to a psychic science and technology with a more simple and direct power of Mind over Matter than that of the present predominantly physical science and technology with its clumsy and complicated material instruments.
The subliminal is also the source of all occult and para-psychological phenomena like extra sensory perception, telepathy, clairvoyance and telekinesis. For the subliminal can see, feel or sense the supraphysical forces and things behind the visible material facts, which the ordinary mind confined within the surface consciousness cannot see. It has also a more conscious and direct contact with the universal mind of which our individual mind are receiving centres. Those who live in or in contact with their subliminal consciousness can sense the thought and feeling in other minds. So the awakening of the subliminal may also lead to a greater awareness of our inner connectedness or in other words the psychological interdependence and interaction of our mind and life. This may lead to a great progress in psychology which in turn bring about a psychological equivalent of the IT revolution.
But, on the other hand, if humanity opens to dark regions of the subliminal, then it will lead to a ruthless reign of the Titan and the Devil over the earth, ending in the destruction of the present human civilization. This danger can be averted only if the awakening of the subliminal is accompanied or followed by the awakening of the spiritual dimension in man and the powers of the subliminal are put entirely at the service of the spiritual.
Thus the subliminal is not the highest potentiality or power of our being. Behind and above the subliminal lies a vast range of the spiritual consciousness. But the spiritual is not a single white monotone of peace and bliss as some spiritual traditions imagine it to be. As Jesus Christ said, “There are many mansions in my Father’s Kingdom” The “Father’s Kingdom” is the spiritual realm, the parent of our being, which contains many landmarks, levels, ranges, worlds “Mansions”
The first major spiritual mansion or landmark within the individual is what is called as “Psychic being” in Sri Aurobindo’s integral psychology. Behind the subliminal, in the deepest and inner most core of our being lies the true spiritual center of our individuality. It is this true self in us which is probably the truth behind the “soul” of religions. This psychic being is the source of all higher aspirations in man for truth, beauty, goodness, harmony, love and unity.
We must note here, in our spiritual perspective, the real source of all moral and aesthetic aspiration for the truth and right, goodness and beauty is not the ethical and aesthetic being in the mind but the spiritual self beyond the mind. The ethical and aesthetic being and their moral notions, conscience, and sensitivities are partial, diminished or very often, faulty reflections and constructions of the deeper and truer perceptions and aspiration of the psychic being in man. The ethical and aesthetic being in the mind, like the other emotional or intellectual faculties are instruments constructed by the more or less ignorant mind for expressing the evolving soul in man. They become true and perfect only to the extent to which they are under the influence of the psychic being or the spiritual self.
The psychic being is the source of sainthood; it is the part of our being or consciousness which creates the saint or that type of spiritual personality with a deep and pure love for God and man and all creation. But, apart from these spiritual results, the psychic being has also some important pragmatic implications for the secular life of humanity. It is the source of highest harmony and integration in the human being. Only the psychic being, when it comes forward and takes full and conscious control of our life, can bring about a complete and perfect integration of our physical, vital and mental being and all its faculties and create a harmonious whole of our being and life.
However, our spiritual potentialities are not limited to the psychic being. There are also many levels of spiritual mind beyond the rational mind. If the psychic being is the source of saint, the spiritual mind is the source of the seer and the sage. The spiritual mind is in direct contact with the Cosmic Mind of the Spirit. The human mind when it is able to open itself or raise to the spiritual mind can merge into or identify with the cosmic mind and participate in its universal knowledge, power and vastness. In the spiritual mind, the deepest, highest and the universal truth of self and the world are revealed to the human mind in various levels of direct insight, inner vision or intuition.
And beyond the spiritual mind lies what Sri Aurobindo calls the “Supermind” which is the creative source of the universe. In the supermind the infinite and eternal Truth of life is revealed in its very source without any veils, even the luminous veil of the spiritual mind. If the spiritual mind can be viewed as living in a sort of stratosphere near the creative Sun of Truth receiving its rays, and channelise them into the earth through the intuitive mind, the supermind is that very Sun. To realize the Supermind, the ascending human soul has to raise beyond the spiritual stratosphere of the mind and enter into the blazing core of the supreme Sun of Truth. According to Sri Aurobindo, until now very few spiritual personalities have realized the Supermind. Most of the spiritual figures of the past lived either in their psychic being or in the spiritual mind.
The three higher ranges of consciousness we have outlined, the Psychic, Spiritual Mind and the Supermind, indicate three stages of spiritual transformation of the Individual. This triple transformation will transform the body, life, mind and soul of the individual into a free and perfect instrument of the infinite and eternal Divine for the progressive manifestation of the divine Will in the Universe. According to Sri Aurobindo this integral transformation of human nature as a whole, and not merely the spiritual liberation of the soul, is the evolutionary destiny of the Individual.
In the future, all these higher ranges of consciousness beyond the ordinary mind, from the subliminal to the supermind, will manifest progressively, more and more, in the human consciousness and life and in every activity of human life. This will not be, as in the past, confined to a few intellectual, literary, artistic or spiritual elite. Even the masses and the so called “ordinary man in the street” will be illumined from within. As Sri Aurobindo points out “Even the multitude shall hear the Voice and turn to commune with the Spirit within” and “Common natures feel the wide uplift” . Until now, the inner development of the masses was effected either subconsciously through the slow aeonic evolutionary process of Nature through the ordinary experiences of life or more consciously and swiftly through a process of outer mental, moral and religious education imparted through an intermediary elite. In the future, the spirit within may act more directly and consciously on the mass-mind, through a process of inner illumination leading to a wide-spread inner awakening in all the levels and sections of the human society.
Thus, when these higher ranges of consciousness begin to manifest more and more in humanity it will herald a new cycle of human evolution in which as Sri Aurobindo points out “Superconscious conscious grow on earth”. We will discuss this transitional period from a mental to a supramental humanity in our next article. However, we may briefly discuss some of the important motifs which are likely to govern this transitional phase of human evolution.
1. Sri Aurobindo, Savitri, Pg 709
2. Ibid pg 710
3. Ibid pg 330