Integral Yoga Literature - By Sri Aurobindo

Selections from the Sri Aurobindo Birth Centenary Library

from Volume 18 and 19, The Life Divine


The contents of this document are copyright 1972, Sri Aurobindo Ashram Trust, Pondicherry, India. You may make a digital copy or printout of this text for your personal, non-commercial use under the condition that you copy this document without modifications and in its entirety, including this copyright notice.

Book Two, Chapter Twenty-Seven, "The Gnostic Being" (Part 5 of 5)

A supramental consciousness must be fundamentally a Truth-Consciousness, a direct and inherent awareness of the truth of being and the truth of things; it is a power of the Infinite knowing and working out its finites, a power of the Universal knowing and working out its oneness and detail, its cosmicity and its individualities; self-possessed of Truth, it would not have to seek for the Truth or suffer from the liability to miss it as does the mind of the Ignorance. The evolved gnostic being would have entered into this Truth-Consciousness of the Infinite and Universal, and it would be that which would determine for him and in him all his individual seeing and action. His would be a consciousness of universal identity and a consequent or rather inherent Truth-knowledge, Truth-sight, Truth-feeling, Truth-will, Truth-sense and Truth-dynamis of action implicit in his identity with the One or spontaneously arising from his identity with the All. His life would be a movement in the steps of a spiritual liberty and largeness replacing the law of the mental idea and the law of vital and physical need and desire and the compulsion of a surrounding life; his life and action would be bound by nothing else than the Divine Wisdom and Will acting on him and in him according to its Truth-Consciousness. An absence of an imposed construction of law might be expected to lead in the life of the human ignorance, because of the separativeness of the human ego and its smallness, the necessity it feels to impinge on and possess and utilise other life, to a chaos of conflict, license and egoistic disorder; but this could not exist in the life of the gnostic being. For in the gnostic Truth-Consciousness of a supramental being there must necessarily be a truth of relation of all the parts and movements of the being, -- whether the being of the individual or the being of any gnostic collectivity, -- a spontaneous and luminous oneness and wholeness in all the movements of the consciousness and all the action of the life. There could be no strife of the members; for not only the knowledge and will consciousness but the heart consciousness and life consciousness and body consciousness, what are in us the emotional, vital or physical parts of nature, would be included in this integrated harmony of wholeness and oneness. In our language we might say that the supermind knowledge-will of the gnostic being would have a perfect control of the mind, heart, life and body; but this description could apply only to the transitional stage when the Supernature was remoulding these members into its own nature: once that transition was concluded, there would be no need of control, for all would be one unified consciousness and therefore would act as a whole in a spontaneous integrality and unity.

In a gnostic being there could be no conflict between self-affirmation of the ego and a control by super-ego; for since in his action of life the gnostic individual would at once express himself, his truth of being, and work out the Divine Will, since he would know the Divine as his true self and the source and constituent of his spiritual individuality, these two springs of his conduct would not only be simultaneous in a single action, but they would be one and the same motor-force. This motive power would act in each circumstance according to the truth of the circumstance, with each being according to its need, nature, relation, in each event according to the demand of the Divine Will upon that event: for all here is the result of a complexus and a close nexus of many forces of one Force, and the gnostic consciousness and Truth-Will would see the truth of these forces, of each and of all together, and put forth the necessary impact or intervention on the complex of forces to carry out what was willed to be done through itself, that and no more. In consequence of the Identity present everywhere, ruling everything and harmonising all diversities, there would be no play of a separative ego bent on its own separate self-affirmation; the will of the self of the gnostic being would be one with the will of the Ishwara, it would not be a separative or contrary self-will. It would have the joy of action and result but would be free from all ego-claim, attachment to action or demand of result; it would do what it saw had to be done and was moved to do. In mental nature there can be an opposition or disparity between self-effort and obedience to the Higher Will, for there the self or apparent person sees itself as different from the supreme Being, Will or Person; but here the person is being of the Being and the opposition or disparity does not arise. The action of the person is the action of the Ishwara in the person, of the One in the many, and there can be no reason for a separative assertion of self-will or pride of independence.

On this fact that the Divine Knowledge and Force, the supreme Supernature, would act through the gnostic being with his full participation, is founded the freedom of the gnostic being; it is this unity that gives him his liberty. The freedom from law, including the moral law, so frequently affirmed of the spiritual being, is founded on this unity of its will with the will of the Eternal. All the mental standards would disappear because all necessity for them would cease; the higher authentic law of identity with the Divine Self and identity with all beings would have replaced them. There would be no question of selfishness or altruism, of oneself and others, since all are seen and felt as the one self and only what the supreme Truth and Good decided would be done. There would be in the action a pervasive feeling of a self-existent universal love, sympathy, oneness, but the feeling would penetrate, colour and move in the act, not solely dominate or determine it: it would not stand for itself in opposition to the larger truth of things or dictate a personally impelled departure from the divinely willed true movement. This opposition and departure can happen in the Ignorance where love or any other strong principle of the nature can be divorced from wisdom even as it can be divorced from power; but in the supermind gnosis all powers are intimate to each other and act as one. In the gnostic person the Truth-Knowledge would lead and determine and all the other forces of the being concur in the action: there would be no place for disharmony or conflict between the powers of the nature. In all action there is an imperative of existence that seeks to be fulfilled; a truth of being not yet manifested has to be manifested or a truth manifesting has to be evolved and achieved and perfected in manifestation or, if already achieved, to take its delight of being and self-effectuation. In the half-light and half-power of the Ignorance the imperative is secret or only half-revealed and the push to fulfilment is an imperfect, struggling, partly frustrated movement: but in the gnostic being and life the imperatives of being would be felt within, intimately perceived and brought into action; there would be a free play of their possibilities; there would be an actualisation in accordance with the truth of circumstance and the intention in the Supernature. All this would be seen in the knowledge and develop itself in act; there would be no uncertain combat or torment of forces at work; a disharmony of the being, a contradictory working of the consciousness could have no place: the imposition of an external standardisation of mechanised law would be entirely superfluous where there is this inherence of truth and its spontaneous working in act of nature. A harmonic action, a working out of the divine motive, an execution of the imperative truth of things would be the law and natural dynamics of the whole existence.

A knowledge by identity using the powers of the integrated being for richness of instrumentation would be the principle of the supramental life. In the other grades of the gnostic being, although a truth of spiritual being and consciousness would fulfil itself, the instrumentation would be of a different order. A higher-mental being would act through the truth of thought, the truth of the idea and accomplish that in the life-action: but in the supramental gnosis thought is a derivative movement, it is a formulation of truth-vision and not the determining or the main driving force; it would be an instrument for expression of knowledge more than for arrival at knowledge or for action, -- or it would intervene in action only as a penetrating point of the body of identity-will and identity-knowledge. So too in the illumined gnostic being truth-vision and in the intuitive gnostic being a direct truth-contact and perceptive truth-sense would be the mainspring of action. In the Overmind a comprehensive immediate grasp of the truth of things and the principle of being of each thing and all its dynamic consequences would originate and gather up a great wideness of gnostic vision and thought and create a foundation of knowledge and action; this largeness of being and seeing and doing would be the varied result of an underlying identity-consciousness, but the identity itself would not be in the front as the very stuff of the consciousness or the very force of the action. But in the supramental gnosis all this luminous immediate grasp of the truth of things, truth-sense, truth-vision, truth-thought would get back into its source of identity-consciousness and subsist as a single body of its knowledge. The identity-consciousness would lead and contain everything; it would manifest as an awareness in the very grain of the being's substance putting forth its inherent self-fulfilling force and determining itself dynamically in form of consciousness and form of action. This inherent awareness is the origin and principle of the working of supramental gnosis; it could be sufficient in itself with no need of anything to formulate or embody it: but the play of illumined vision, the play of a radiant thought, the play of all other movements of the spiritual consciousness would not be absent; there would be a free instrumentation of them for their own brilliant functioning, for a divine richness and diversity, for a manifold delight of self-manifestation, for the joy of the powers of the Infinite. In the intermediate stages or degrees of the gnosis there might be the manifestation of various and separate expressions of the aspects of the divine Being and Nature, a soul and life of love, a soul and life of divine light and knowledge, a soul and life of divine power and sovereign action and creation, and innumerable other forms of divine life; on the supramental height all would be taken up into a manifold unity, a supreme integration of being and life. A fulfilment of the being in a luminous and blissful integration of its states and powers and their satisfied dynamic action would be the sense of the gnostic existence.

All supramental gnosis is a twofold Truth-Consciousness, a consciousness of inherent self-knowledge and, by identity of self and world, of intimate world-knowledge; this knowledge is the criterion, the characteristic power of the gnosis. But this is not a purely ideative knowledge, it is not consciousness observing, forming ideas, trying to carry them out; it is an essential light of consciousness, the self-light of all the realities of being and becoming, the self-truth of being determining, formulating and effectuating itself. To be, not to know, is the object of the manifestation; knowledge is only the instrumentation of an operative consciousness of being. This would be the gnostic life on earth, a manifestation or play of truth-conscious being, being grown aware of itself in all things, no longer lost to consciousness of itself, no longer plunged into a self-oblivion or a half-oblivion of its real existence brought about by absorption in form and action, but using form and action with a delivered spiritual power for its free and perfect self-expression, no longer seeking for its own lost or forgotten or veiled and hidden significance or significances, no longer bound, but delivered from inconscience and ignorance, aware of its own truths and powers, determining freely in a movement always concurrent and in tune in every detail with its supreme and universal Reality its manifestation, the play of its substance, the play of its consciousness, the play of its force of existence, the play of its delight of existence.

In the gnostic evolution there would be a great diversity in the poise, status, harmonised operations of consciousness and force and delight of existence. There would naturally appear in time many grades of the farther ascent of the evolutive Supermind to its own summits; but in all there would be the common basis and principle. In the manifestation the Spirit, the Being, while knowing all itself, is not bound to put forth all itself in the actual front of formation and action which is its immediate power and degree of self-expression: it may put forth a frontal self-expression and hold all the rest of itself behind in an unexpressed delight of self-being. That All behind and its delight would find itself in the front, know itself in it, maintain and suffuse the expression, the manifestation with its own presence and feeling of totality and infinity. This frontal formation with all the rest behind it and held in power of being within it would be an act of self-knowledge, not an act of Ignorance; it would be a luminous self-expression of the Superconscience and not an upthrow from the Inconscience. A great harmonised variation would thus be an element in the beauty and completeness of the evolution of the gnostic consciousness and existence. Even in dealing with the mind of ignorance around it, as in dealing with the still lower degrees of the gnostic evolution, the supramental life would use this innate power and movement of its Truth of being: it would relate in the light of that integral Reality its own truth of being with the truth of being that is behind the Ignorance; it would found all relations upon the common spiritual unity, accept and harmonise the manifested difference. The gnostic Light would ensure the right relation and action or reaction of each upon each in every circumstance; the gnostic power or influence would affirm always a symphonic effectuation, secure the right relation of the more developed and the less developed life and impose by its influence a greater harmony on the lower existence.

This would be the nature of the being, life and action of the gnostic individual so far as we can follow the evolution with our mental conception up to that point where it will emerge out of Overmind and cross the border into supramental gnosis. This nature of the gnosis would evidently determine all the relations of the life or group-life of gnostic beings; for a gnostic collectivity would be a collective soul-power of the Truth-Consciousness, even as the gnostic individual would be an individual soul-power of it: it would have the same integration of life and action in unison, the same realised and conscious unity of being, the same spontaneity, intimate oneness-feeling, one and mutual truth-vision and truth-sense of self and each other, the same truth-action in the relation of each with each and all with all; this collectivity would be and act not as a mechanical but a spiritual integer. A similar inevitability of the union of freedom and order would be the law of the collective life; it would be a freedom of the diverse play of the Infinite in divine souls, an order of the conscious unity of souls which is the law of the supramental Infinite. Our mental rendering of oneness brings into it the rule of sameness; a complete oneness brought about by the mental reason drives towards a thoroughgoing standardisation as its one effective means, -- only minor shades of differentiation would be allowed to operate: but the greatest richness of diversity in the self-expression of oneness would be the law of the gnostic life. In the gnostic consciousness difference would not lead to discord but to a spontaneous natural adaptation, a sense of complementary plenitude, a rich many-sided execution of the thing to be collectively known, done, worked out in life. For the difficulty in mind and life is created by ego, by separation of integers into component parts which figure as contraries, opposites, disparates: all in which they separate from each other is easily felt, affirmed and stressed; that in which they meet, whatever holds their divergences together, is largely missed or found with difficulty; everything has to be done by an overcoming or an adjustment of difference, by a constructed unity. There is, indeed, an underlying principle of oneness and Nature insists on its emergence in a construction of unity; for she is collective and communal as well as individual and egoistic and has her instrumentation of associativeness, sympathies, common needs, interests, attractions, affinities as well as her more brutal means of unification: but her secondary imposed and too prominent basis of ego-life and ego-nature overlays the unity and afflicts all its constructions with imperfection and insecurity. A farther difficulty is created by the absence or rather the imperfection of intuition and direct inner contact making each a separate being forced to learn with difficulty the other's being and nature, to arrive at understanding and mutuality and harmony from outside instead of inwardly through a direct sense and grasp, so that all mental and vital interchange is hampered, rendered ego-tainted or doomed to imperfection and incompleteness by the veil of mutual ignorance. In the collective gnostic life the integrating truth-sense, the concording unity of gnostic nature would carry all divergences in itself as its own opulence and turn a multitudinous thought, action, feeling into the unity of a luminous life-whole. This would be the evident principle, the inevitable result of the very character of the Truth-Consciousness and its dynamic realisation of the spiritual unity of all being. This realisation, the key to the perfection of life, difficult to arrive at on the mental plane, difficult even when realised to dynamise or organise, would be naturally dynamic, spontaneously self-organised in all gnostic creation and gnostic life.

This much is easily understandable if we regard the gnostic beings as living their own life without any contact with a life of the Ignorance. But by the very fact of the evolution here the gnostic manifestation would be a circumstance, though a decisive circumstance, in the whole: there would be a continuance of the lower degrees of the consciousness and life, some maintaining the manifestation in the Ignorance, some mediating between it and the manifestation in the gnosis; these two forms of being and life would either exist side by side or interpenetrate. In either case the gnostic principle might be expected, if not at once, yet finally to dominate the whole. The higher spiritual-mental degrees would be in touch with the supramental principle now overtly supporting them and holding them together and would be delivered from the once enveloping hold of the Ignorance and Inconscience. As manifestations of the truth of being, though in a qualified and modified degree, they would draw all their light and energy from the supramental gnosis and would be in large contact with its instrumental powers; they would themselves be conscious motive-powers of the Spirit and, although not yet in the full force of their entirely realised spiritual substance, they would not be subjected to a lesser instrumentation fragmented, diluted, diminished, obscured by the substance of the Nescience. All Ignorance rising or entering into the overmind, into the intuitive, into the illumined or higher-mind being would cease to be ignorance; it would enter into the light, realise in that light the truth which it had covered with its darkness and undergo a liberation, transmutation, new state of consciousness and being which would assimilate it to these higher states and prepare it for the supramental status. At the same time the involved principle of the gnosis, acting now as an overt, arisen and constantly dynamic force and no longer only as a concealed power with a secret origination or a veiled support of things or an occasional intervention as its only function, would be able to lay something of its law of harmony on the still existing Inconscience and Ignorance. For the secret gnostic power concealed in them would act with a greater strength of its support and origination, a freer and more powerful intervention; the beings of the Ignorance, influenced by the light of the gnosis through their association with gnostic beings and through the evolved and effective presence of the supramental Being and Power in earth-nature, would be more conscious and responsive. In the untransformed part of humanity itself there might well arise a new and greater order of mental human beings; for the directly intuitive or partly intuitivised but not yet gnostic mental being, the directly or partly illumined mental being, the mental being in direct or part communion with the higher-thought plane would emerge: these would become more and more numerous, more and more evolved and secure in their type, and might even exist as a formed race of higher humanity leading upwards the less evolved in a true fraternity born of the sense of the manifestation of the One Divine in all beings. In this way, the consummation of the highest might mean also a lesser consummation in its own degree of what must remain still below. At the higher end of the evolution the ascending ranges and summits of Supermind would begin to rise towards some supreme manifestation of the pure spiritual existence, consciousness and delight of being of Sachchidananda.

A question might arise whether the gnostic reversal, the passage into a gnostic evolution and beyond it would not mean sooner or later the cessation of the evolution from the Inconscience, since the reason for that obscure beginning of things here would cease. This depends on the farther question whether the movement between the Superconscience and the Inconscience as the two poles of existence is an abiding law of the material manifestation or only a provisional circumstance. The latter supposition is difficult to accept because of the tremendous force of pervasiveness and durability with which the inconscient foundation has been laid for the whole material universe. Any complete reversal or elimination of the first evolutionary principle would mean the simultaneous manifestation of the secret involved consciousness in every part of this vast universal Inconscience; a change in a particular line of Nature such as the earth-line could not have any such all-pervading effect: the manifestation in earth-nature has its own curve and the completion of that curve is all that we have to consider. Here this much might be hazarded that in the final result of the revelatory creation or reproduction of the upper hemisphere of conscious being in the lower triplicity the evolution here, though remaining the same in its degrees and stages, would be subjected to the law of harmony, the law of unity in diversity and of diversity working out unity: it would be no longer an evolution through strife; it would become a harmonious development from stage to stage, from lesser to greater light, from type to higher type of the power and beauty of a self-unfolding existence. It would only be otherwise if for some reason the law of struggle and suffering still remained necessary for the working out of that mysterious possibility in the Infinite whose principle underlies the plunge into the Inconscience. But for the earth-nature it would seem as if this necessity might be exhausted once the supramental gnosis had emerged from the Inconscience. A change would begin with its firm appearance; that change would be consummated when the supramental evolution became complete and rose into the greater fullness of a supreme manifestation of the Existence-Consciousness-Delight, Sachchidananda.

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Last modified on Nov. 8, 1995