Supermind: descending vs latent

Sri Aurobindo’s Integral Yoga is based on the descent of the Supermind onto the lower planes of Mind, Life and Physical and yet, we are also told that this power of the Supermind (as well the power of all seven planes) is already latent within every plane. This raises the question as to why this descent is necessary when everything is already present in each plane; why can’t that which is latent emerge without descent from above ? The short answer to this question is: The descent is necessary in order to awaken the Supramental power that is latent. This post brings together the statements of Sri Aurobindo & The Mother on this important question.

(This post is strictly for those already familiar with Sri Aurobindo’s Integral Yoga terminology.  Much of this will be unintelligible to the rest.)

Satprem’s question to the Mother

As we can see from the Mother’s Agenda dated July 28, 1961, Satprem asked the Mother this same question:

Satprem: Here is something important. Sri Aurobindo says that everything is involved down here – the mind, the vital, the supermind – and that what is involved evolves. But if everything is involved, including the supermind, what is the need for a ‘descent’? Can’t things evolve by themselves?

Mother: Ah! He has explained this somewhere.

Satprem: But I don’t remember seeing anything that satisfied me.

Mother: ….(discussing Avatars and the story of Creation) We’ll have to find this passage.

The Mother, Mother’s Agenda: July 28, 1961

Satprem: But the trouble is that people will say: what’s the need for a ‘descent’ if all is involved and then evolves? Why a descent? Why should there be an intervention from a higher plane?

Mother: I beg your pardon, but what was built up through this involution had to be unbuilt. The CAUSE of this involution had to be undone…..

The Mother, Mother’s Agenda: July 28, 1961

For example, Sri Aurobindo says that when Life appeared there was a pressure from below, from evolution, to make Life emerge from Matter, and simultaneously a descent of Life from its own plane. Then, when Mind emerged out of Life, the same thing from above happened again. Why this intervention from above each time? Why don’t things emerge normally, one after another, without needing a ‘descent’? You may as well ask why everything has gone wrong! No, with experience it becomes easy to understand.

The Mother, Mother’s Agenda: July 28, 1961

Sri Aurobindo was asked the same question by another disciple

The disciple had asked the meaning of the sentence, “it is only the very highest supramental Force descending from above and opening from below that can victoriously handle the physical Nature and annihilate its difficulties.”

Sri Aurobindo, The Mother: The Mother – I

Sri Aurobindo: “Opening from below” means this – that the supramental force descending awakes a response from below in the earth consciousness so that it is possible for a supramental activity to be formed in the material itself. All is involved as potentiality in the earth-consciousness, life, mind, supermind – but it is only when life force descended from the life plane into the material that active and conscious organised life was possible – so it was only when mind descended that the latent mind in Matter awoke and could be organised. The supramental descent must create the same kind of opening from below so that a supramental consciousness can be organised in the material.

Sri Aurobindo, Letters on Yoga – I: The Supramental Evolution

All planes are made of the same substance differing in vibrational intensity

As Sri Aurobindo explains in the following passage from the Life Divine, all the levels of consciousness are composed of the same substance (Sachchidananda) but they differ in vibrational intensity. When the power of higher planes descends, it changes the vibrational intensity in the lower planes of consciousness thereby awakening the latent power.

“The gradation itself depends fundamentally upon a higher or lower substance, potency, intensity of vibrations of the being, of its self-awareness, of its delight of existence, of its force of existence. Consciousness, as we descend the scale, becomes more and more diminished and diluted,—dense indeed by its coarser crudity, but while that crudity of consistence compacts the stuff of Ignorance, it admits less and less the substance of light; it becomes thin in pure substance of consciousness and reduced in power of consciousness, thin in light, thin and weak in capacity of delight; it has to resort to a grosser thickness of its diminished stuff and to a strenuous output of its obscurer force to arrive at anything, but this strenuousness of effort and labour is a sign not of strength but of weakness. As we ascend, on the contrary, a finer but far stronger and more truly and spiritually concrete substance emerges, a greater luminosity and potent stuff of consciousness, a subtler, sweeter, purer and more powerfully ecstatic energy of delight. In the descent of these higher grades upon us it is this greater light, force, essence of being and consciousness, energy of delight that enter into mind, life, body, change and repair their diminished and diluted and incapable substance, convert it into its own higher and stronger dynamis of spirit and intrinsic form and force of reality. This can happen because all is fundamentally the same substance, the same consciousness, the same force, but in different forms and powers and degrees of itself: a taking up of the lower by the higher is therefore a possible and, but for our second nature of inconscience, a spiritually natural movement; what was put forth from the superior status is enveloped and taken up into its own greater being and essence.”

Sri Aurobindo, The Life Divine – II: The Ascent towards Supermind

9 thoughts on “Supermind: descending vs latent

  1. deepti dinesh

    I want to become the member of the Aurobindo society preferably in Ambala under the guidance of Dr.K.Kharma. I am persuing my M.Ed presently from Ambala City.
    I want to learn more about Shri Aurobindo as the more learnt still the less known.

  2. Pingback: The genesis of Sri Aurobindo’s superman | Integral Yoga of Sri Aurobindo & The Mother

  3. hari

    Since the supramental manifestation is only going to take place long after we are gone, aren’t our lives/sadhana wasted on this account?

    1. Sandeep Post author

      I presume your comment is in response to me previous comment on “credit for preparatory work”. By credit, I meant you come better prepared in the next incarnation to do supramental Yoga.

  4. Tux (@lordtux)

    In one link that you provide me one question is done to Sri Aurobindo about the Supermind, so there is so much to read now but do you know if anyone have attained the supermind, have success to bring it down? Mother have attained this?

    1. Sandeep Post author

      Sri Aurobindo and the Mother did attain it. Reading and understanding the Supermind will only provide theoretical understanding. It is more important to practice Yoga yourself.


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