(Published in FDI, Feb 2011)
(If we want to harness the highest, total potential of people, we will first have to understand the nature of the higher ranges of human consciousness, a consciousness beyond ordinary mentality. This article provides briefly, an outline of these deeper and higher realms of consciousness and the principles of the inner discipline to awaken them in our individual self and in the collective life.)
Key perspectives: The anatomy of consciousness; the surface being; subliminal consciousness; spiritual source; inner discipline.
The Anatomy of Consciousness
We may broadly classify the faculties of our consciousness into four categories – the instincts and sensations of body-consciousness; emotional, dynamic and pragmatic faculties of the vital consciousness; rational, conceptive and analytical faculties of the mind-consciousness; intuitive faculties of the consciousness beyond or behind the mind. We may include the ethical and aesthetic faculties as part of the higher mental consciousness. There are two layers or level in our physical, vital and mental consciousness; surface and the subliminal. Behind or above the subliminal are the various ranges of spiritual consciousness. Thus we may classify human consciousness into three layers: surface, subliminal and spiritual.
The Surface Being
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 the grossness of our physical ego and the divisive consciousness of the mental ego expressing itself through a heavily externalised and rigidly analytical earthly intellect. This is the consciousness in which a major part of humanity lives at present. 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 externalised surface consciousness there is a deeper and vaster subliminal consciousness with an inner or subtle Physical, inner Vital and inner Mental Consciousness. (1) Here the faculties of our consciousness acquire a vaster range and power and 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 than in our surface consciousness. Thus the subliminal can easily burst out of the body-consciousness and expand into the universal. Since the subliminal mind and vital are not limited and confined to the externalised analytical intellect or the emotions of our surface being, 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 contributions to human progress in thought and action and leadership, especially in the secular life of humanity such as politics, culture and science.
The subliminal is also the source of all occult and para-psychological phenomena like extra sensory perception, telepathy, clairvoyance and telekinesis. The subliminal can see, feel or sense the supra-physical 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 is a receiving centre. Those who live in, or in contact with their subliminal consciousness, can sense thoughts and feelings in other minds. So the awakening of the subliminal may also lead to a greater awareness of our inner connectedness, 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 can bring about a psychological equivalent of the IT revolution.
However, 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 because the subliminal is not free from ego and desire. It may have a freer, a more powerful and magnified or a more refined ego and desire but will not be entirely free of 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 the subliminal has its luminous as well as dark regions. So, in future, when the subliminal begins to manifest in the human consciousness on a large and widespread scale, it will have its positive benefits as well as grave dangers. 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!
Thus the subliminal is not the highest potential or power of our being. Behind and above the subliminal lies a vast range of the spiritual consciousness. 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 the “Psychic being” in Sri Aurobindo’s Integral Psychology. Behind the subliminal, in the deepest and innermost core of our being, lies the true spiritual centre 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 man’s higher aspirations for truth, beauty, goodness, harmony, love and unity.
In this spiritual perspective, the real source of all moral and aesthetic aspiration for 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 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 such spiritual personalities 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. The other pragmatic result of psychic awakening is an unerring inner guidance, discrimination and intuition. Our whole being is illumined and clarified by a light of truth which illumines and clarifies every movement and corner of our consciousness, gives the right thought and feeling, right response to every situation and an intuition which can resolve all contradiction, dualities and dilemmas in a higher synthesis.
However, our spiritual potentials 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 the saint, the spiritual mind is the source of the seer and sage. The spiritual mind is in direct contact with the Cosmic Mind of the Spirit. The human mind can, when it is able to open itself or rise to the spiritual mind, 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 universal truth of the self and the world are revealed to the human mind at 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.
This brings us to the practical question – what is the path or discipline for awakening these higher ranges of consciousness that are not usually manifest in most us. So here we will briefly indicate the main principles of the discipline. The first principle is Inner Silence; especially of the surface mind. But peace or silence cannot be sustained without purity. So the second principle is purity, which means a certain amount of freedom from ego, desire, greed, selfishness and attachment to the thoughts, emotions and impulses of the surface mind.
The third principle is a constant and vigilant self-observation leading to increasing self-knowledge. The fourth principle is internalisation, which means shifting the operating centre of consciousness from the surface mentality to the deeper or inner levels of our being through a path of meditation, work or devotion. An important part of this discipline is to acquire the ability to turn inward and remain in a state of passive and receptive silence to receive the inner intuition, guidance or inspiration from these deeper and higher ranges of consciousness. To harness the highest and total human potential in an organization or collective, this four-fold discipline has to become an integral part of the education and training of individuals.
- The subliminal of Integral psychology is not the same as the subconscious of modern psychology. The subconscious is something below and less consciousness than the surface conscious mind; it is dark, infrarational and instinctive. But the subliminal is behind the surface mentality and it is much more luminous, conscious and intuitive with greater capacity for knowledge than the rationality of the surface being. For example, Freudian psychology belongs predominantly to the subconscious. But the psychology of Carl Jung contains many concepts and experiences that belong to the subliminal. However Jungian psychology makes no distinction between the subconscious and subliminal, clubbing them together in an omnibus term “Unconscious”. But he subliminal cannot be called as “Unconscious” because it is much more conscious than the surface mentality.