If mankind only caught a glimpse of what infinite enjoyments, what perfect forces, what luminous reaches of spontaneous knowledge, what wide calms of our being lie waiting for us in the tracts which our animal evolution has not yet conquered, they would leave all and never rest till they had gained these treasures. But the way is narrow, the doors are hard to force, and fear, distrust and scepticism are there, sentinels of Nature, to forbid the turning away of our feet from her ordinary pastures.
There are three fundamental realizations which permanently change the consciousness in the path of Integral Yoga:
- Psychic transformation
- Spiritual transformation
- Supramental transformation
In this transformation, the consciousness is transformed by the opening of the psychic being within the heart. This is indicative of the second birth (dwijanma) mentioned in Indian scriptures and the phrase “born-again” as in the words of Christ: “Unless you are born again, you cannot see the kingdom of God” [John 3:3]
There are three things which occur:
- the opening of the occult inner mind, inner vital, inner physical, so that one becomes aware of all that lies behind the surface mind, life and body
- the opening of the psychic being or soul by which it comes forward and governs the mind, life and body turning all to the Divine
- the opening of the whole lower being to the spiritual truth − this last may be called the psycho-spiritual part of the change.
- See More on Psychic Transformation here
The spiritual transformation leads to the realization of the Cosmic Self. It is the equivalent of Enlightenment in other systems of Yoga. The Sahasradala Chakra is activated and one rises above the ordinary rational mind and begins to live in the Overmind. This is the state of Turiya, the fourth state of consciousness, described in the Upanishads.
The concentration above the head coupled with aspiration initiates contact with the Jivatman/Central Being, which is located above the head and this starts the Ascent-Descent process. Please note that the phrase “Jivatman above the head” does not imply some absolute point in Space but just vertically relative to the human consciousness.
During the descent experience, one feels the descent of Force through the head, neck and spinal cord. This inflow increases as the Brahmarandhra (i.e. door of Brahman) opens and widens. The descent of Sat (Existence) brings a sense of coolness in the head and back while the descent of Chit-Shakti (Consciousness) produces heat in the head and lower being. The resistance within the body substance gives rise to electric shocks, headaches and fatigue. The opening of the Ajna Chakra between the eyebrows brings visions. The descent of the Kundalini Force into the throat centre is experienced as heat over the face and neck. Further descent into the vital, physical and subconscient tranquilizes the habits and subconscious impulses within the being.
During the ascent process, the mental and vital sheaths of our body rise above the head and are purified by contact with the Superconscient at the Sahasradala Chakra. This brings about a lack of body consciousness and blankness of mind. The inner being opens to the cosmic mind, vital and subtle physical.
The final result of this recurring ascent-descent-assimilation process is what is referred to as Liberation of the Soul.
The supramental transformation begins when the lid between the lower and higher hemispheres or halves of existence is removed and the Supermind (AKA Maharloka, Vijnana, Turiyam Svid) instead of the Overmind becomes the governing power of the existence. The Supramental Transformation consists of
- Ascent to the Supermind
- Descent of the Supramental powers into the mental, vital and physical parts of the being
The action of the Supramental affects the functioning of the entire being:
- Memory is no longer the storing up of past knowledge but an abiding presence of knowledge that can be brought forward or offers itself when it is needed.
- Reason becomes an luminous organizer of the subjective and objective knowledge.
- Thought operates with an abiding sense of underlying unity with all objects.
- Sensory function operates independently of the sense organs and sense-mind, gaining awareness of all things on all planes.
- Vision opens to a direct knowledge of the past, the present and the future.
Sri Aurobindo’s word of caution about the supramental transformation
The true direct supramental does not come at the beginning but much later on in the sadhana. First the opening up and illumination of the mental, vital and physical beings; secondly, the making intuitive of the mind, through will etc. and the development of the hidden soul consciousness progressively replacing the surface consciousness; thirdly, the supramentalising of the changed mental, vital and physical beings and finally the descent of the true supramental and the rising into the supramental plane.
This is the natural order of the yoga. These stages may overlap and intermix, there may be many variations, but the last two can only come in an advanced state of the progress. Of course, the supramental Divine guides this yoga throughout but it is first through many intermediary planes; and it cannot easily be said of anything that comes in the earlier periods that it is the direct or full supramental. To think so when it is not so may well be a hindrance to progress.
(Sri Aurobindo, Letters on Yoga, Triple transformation)
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