Wednesday, February 29, 2012

A Mental View of the Supramental

Earth by this golden superfluity

Bore thinking man and more than man shall bear;

This higher scheme of being is our cause

And holds the key to our ascending fate;

It calls out of our dense mortality

The conscious spirit nursed in Matter’s house.

SRI AUROBINDO (In: Savitri Book 2, Canto 1, p. 99)

If there is one word that is unique to Sri Aurobindo’s spiritual philosophy, it is ‘supramental’. ‘Supramental’ refers to a level of consciousness, which is a significant milestone in the evolutionary process. When the all-knowing all-powerful chose to manifest as matter, it was an act of drastic self-limitation, or involution. In the process of involution, the Supreme Consciousness of the Divine did not disappear; it merely hid itself. Thus matter, which seems to lack consciousness, actually has the Supreme Consciousness in a dormant form, exactly as the plant lies dormant in the seed. The creation of matter was followed by evolution, which is the opposite of involution. The process of evolution may be viewed as a progressively better expression, or revelation, of the Supreme Consciousness hidden in matter. The first major milestone in evolution was the appearance of life on our planet. A little better expression of the Supreme Consciousness was achieved through the evolution of the mind. Structure kept pace with the evolution of consciousness. Mental consciousness expressed itself through the brain. As the mental consciousness became richer, the brain grew larger and more complex. It was as if the Master Craftsman kept coming up with better processors in its quest to improve the performance of its computers. Mental consciousness has reached its peak in human beings. But even human consciousness expresses only a very small fraction of the Supreme Consciousness of the Divine. However, looking at the trend of evolution so far, it is only to be expected that man will give way to a creature with a still higher level of consciousness. Human consciousness is not only higher than animal consciousness; it is also radically different in one respect. A human being can rise in consciousness during its lifetime, at least partly through his own efforts. Not only he can rise, he aspires to rise in consciousness. It is as if the evolutionary urge of the Divine, which has so far been worked out entirely by nature, has been planted in a corner of the human mind. That this is not fantasy has been shown by the phenomenal rise in consciousness that has been experienced by Yogis, Sufis and Mystics across religious and spiritual traditions. The highest level of expressed consciousness, as visualized by Sri Aurobindo and the Mother, is the Supramental consciousness. Between the ordinary human consciousness and the Supramental, there are many intermediate planes, viz. higher mind, illumined mind, intuitive mind, and over-mind. What do these planes signify in terms of our awareness? The ordinary human consciousness makes us perceive the world as a collection of separate objects and living beings. Plurality and differentiation are the hallmark of mental consciousness. The progressively higher levels of consciousness lead to a perception that the division, as ordinarily seen, is only part of the reality. Behind, above and beyond the reality characterized by division is a higher Reality characterized by unity. The perception of unity is rooted in the fact that the Supreme Consciousness inherent in all forms of manifestation – living and non-living – is identical; it is only the expressed fraction that is different. The highest level of consciousness expressed on earth till recently was the over-mind consciousness. Sri Aurobindo and the Mother’s goal was to bring the Supramental Consciousness down on earth. Their efforts bore fruit on 29 February 1956, exactly 56 years ago. It was on that day that the Mother saw the door guarding the Supramental, and She used her force to release it. What it means is that the earth’s atmosphere is now charged with supramental consciousness.

What are the practical implications of the descent of the Supramental on earth? It has created the possibility of the next milestone in the evolution of consciousness. Supramental consciousness will not be simply a much higher level of consciousness than any that our planet has seen; it will be a radically different kind of consciousness. According to Sri Aurobindo, the difference between the present mental consciousness and Supramental consciousness of the future will be much greater than that between animal consciousness and human consciousness. Therefore, it is difficult for us humans to visualize what the new consciousness will be like. But one thing seems clear. In contrast with mental consciousness which is rooted in division, Supramental consciousness will be rooted in oneness. Oneness implies collapse of the separative ego. Collapse of the separative ego implies elimination of selfishness and greed. That will be the ultimate solution to all human problems. That will be the beginning of a new world full of love, peace and joy. As Sri Aurobindo has said, “The power of love, of truth, of right will be there, not as a law mentally constructed but as the very substance and constitution of the nature…” The key to the new world order in the Supramental age will be a fundamental change in human nature. Now that the earth atmosphere is charged with the Supramental, we have the choice of waiting for the slow process of natural evolution to work out the next leap of consciousness, or to accelerate it through our efforts. The process of evolution can be accelerated by us because human beings have the capacity for rising in consciousness. If a sufficient number of persons work for raising their consciousness, they would also contribute to building up the critical mass of people that is necessary for influencing positively the way the world runs. Thus each of us can contribute to ushering in a new world order based on compassion, cooperation and contentment. As the Mother said, “The world is preparing for a big change. Will you help?”

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