“Man is a transitional being” – Sri Aurobindo averred when he envisioned the coming of a new species he called “superman”. It is generally not necessary to practice Yoga after you attain Self-realization but both Sri Aurobindo and the Mother continued to do so in order to attain the next stage, which they called the “supramental transformation” (hence the epigram “Sri Aurobindo’s yoga begins where other Yogas end”). This aspect of their work is often misunderstood by pedantic scholars who have the irksome tendency of rashly equating superficially similar ideas espoused by various thinkers across the globe. These scholars tend to claim that Sri Aurobindo’s idea of the superman must have been influenced by Neitzche’s Ubermensch or by Darwin’s theory of evolution. In this article, I will endeavour to demonstrate the actual origin of the concept of the superman through numerous remarks made by Sri Aurobindo and the Mother on the subject. As much as possible, I shall present original quotations in order to avoid adding a layer of (mis)interpretation.
Sri Aurobindo and the Mother Mirra Alfassa frequently spoke of ascents and descents which occur during meditation. Ramana Maharshi, when informed of these statements, firmly denied any such occurrences. Such puzzling contradictions can occur due to different vocabularies used by various sages as well as the varied transformations by which they attain Self-realization. In this article, I will endeavour to outline the resolution to this contradiction and hopefully clear the confusion.
The ordinary human mind interfaces with the phenomenal world through abstractions; with the aid of the senses, it builds a representation of the world in the human memory which it manipulates with the reasoning process, rejecting and accepting ideas based on the ego’s subjective inclinations. The nature of the thought process changes as the mind becomes electrified with progress in Yoga. The practice of mental silence heightens the vibratory pitch of the brain and the awakening of the Kundalini kindles subtle centers in the brain. The mind expands into the cosmic planes of the Mind and acquires new powers of consciousness. In such a mind, the memory of the past is purged, the reasoning process is replaced by spontaneous intuition, and the abstractions within are substituted by a more intimate knowledge acquired by direct contact of subject consciousness with object consciousness.
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.