"The Divine Mother and the Triple Status of the Supermind" by Debashish Banerji

The Divine Mother and the Triple Status of the Supermind

by Debashish Banerji

Guru Pershad Memorial Lecture, Sri Aurobindo Society, Pondicherry, 2004.

 

 

Thank you for inviting me to give this address for the Annual Guru Pershad Memorial Lecture.  When Professor Nadkarni asked me to make this address I thought of this subject because at our Center in Los Angeles we were studying both The Mother and the chapters on the Supermind in the first part of The Life Divine at the time and this theme drew my attention.

 

To talk about the triple status of the Supermind sounds like something very esoteric and very distant – chapters of The Life Divine that people usually pass over or glance at without much concern, and usually the idea that is propagated is that things like Supermind are too far from us, we should not even think about them.  They do not warrant thought.  We should make ourselves silent and proceed as best as we can, and may be we will catch a glimpse by the Grace, of what the Supermind is or can do or is here to do.

 

Well, Sri Aurobindo wrote this substantial tome – which he once called humorously “a fat elephant”, and a lot in this book has to do with the Supermind.  Now he wrote it evidently because he wanted us to read it, and wanted us to read it because he wanted us to form an idea, however adequate or inadequate it may be, so that we might develop some sort of an aspiration towards what his central work has been.  And aspiration, as we know, is one of the two central powers of Sri Aurobindo’s yoga. As you are no doubt aware, Sri Aurobindo begins The Mother by enumerating the two sole powers of his yoga; and these are – Aspiration and Grace.

 

But Aspiration in itself can be either vague, nebulous, diffuse, or it can be something which is fine-tuned.  We all start with a vague aspiration.  Everybody in this world has some kind of an aspiration.  Aspiration, one may say even, is the essence of humanity.  But the aspiration of most people remains vague for their entire life.  They do not form any clarity about where they want to go.  Of course with the action of Grace, Aspiration clarifies, but the works of Sri Aurobindo are meant to give us a finer tuning to our aspiration.  And as the aspiration grows in precision, so too the Grace can act with greater precision on us and bring us closer to a realisation which opens more and more of that Truth to us.  So with this preamble, I would like to move on to the relevance of today’s talk and of what Sri Aurobindo had to write about it in The Life Divine and The Mother.

 

In The Life Divine, the first book begins with a few general subjects, general aspects of the spiritual life, like The Human Aspiration, The Two Negations, Reality Omnipresent, the Destiny of the Individual, Man in the Universe, the Ego and the Dualities.  Then Sri Aurobindo lays down his methodology in a very important chapter called The Methods of Vedantic Knowledge.  After this he launches upon a number of chapters that talk about what Sri Aurobindo elsewhere has called “The Ladder of Existence” – from top down.  Looked at from above, this “ladder” can be divided into two halves – Vidya and Avidya or the Knowledge and the Ignorance.  The Vidya itself can be broken into Sachchidananda (Existence-Consciousness-Bliss) and Vijnana or Supermind and the Avidya into Matter, Life and Mind. So there are triple principles above and triple principles below and a link principle – that Sri Aurobindo calls the Supermind – in between.  Now this breakdown of the ladder of existence is something that was unclear in Indian philosophical systems almost from the time of the cycle of philosophy in India which one might say begins from the post–Upanishadic period – from the time of the Buddha – an intellectual cycle of the understanding of the spiritual truths of the Vedanta.  Sri Aurobindo explores this range of existence in detail and introduces here a key term, whose significance had been lost in post-Buddhistic Indian philosophy and this term is “Supermind.”

 

So to begin looking at this spectrum of the manifestation, Sri Aurobindo starts with the traditional Indian understanding of Knowledge as Sachchidananda or Being, Consciousness, and Bliss. These form the next Chapters in the book – the Pure Existence, which talks about Sat, Conscious Force – which is Chit, Delight of Existence – which he breaks into two chapters, The Problem and The Solution. I will not go into detail on the explanation of the problem and the solution here, because that will take us beyond the scope of today’s talk, but what I wish to draw out here is that having talked about these three principles of the Knowledge, he launches into five chapters – which he names variously, The Divine Maya, The Supermind as Creator, The Supreme Truth Consciousness, The Triple Status of the Supermind and The Divine Soul – and these five chapters give us five ways of understanding what Sri Aurobindo calls the Supermind.  Thus a considerable part of Book I of The Life Divine goes into the description of this plane of consciousness called Supermind. Then he continues to talk about Mind and Supermind where he establishes the link between the mental principle and the supramental principle, then chapters on Life, Soul and Matter.  And these are the chapters that talk about the Avidya or the Ignorance.

 

Now, this long description that I just gave was meant to point to the importance of the chapters on Supermind – that there are the five chapters that he lays out with considerable eloquence and comprehensiveness on this consciousness called Supermind.  May be there is little of it that can really seep into us and have any kind of lasting depth or clarity at this stage of our existence.  But he has gone to great lengths to bring this experience of his own to us in words, so that we may connect with it with our aspiration.

 

Now, the other reason why he has gone into this great effort is that the knowledge of this consciousness called the Supermind is something that was lost to us.  In our understanding of the spiritual life from the time of the philosophic cycle in India, we have had a different kind of approach to the Spirit.  This approach to the spirit may be based on the Vedanta. In various ways all Indian philosophies including Buddhism, which calls itself non-Vedic, can be seen as basing itself in some way on the Vedanta; and if we try to look at what the Vedanta is positing we will see that the Vedanta’s central truth is that of the spirit as a unitary reality and as infinite at the same time.  The Infinite One – this is the essence of the Vedanta and it is a very inviting definition of Reality. The infinite One, because ‘one’ seems to be the essence of finiteness and yet ‘infinity’, if it is to be fundamental and not just a fragmentation of a unity into infinite particles, must be something that can never be contained within any container, however large that may be.  So this combination – paradoxical – of a fundamental unity and a fundamental infinity is the basis of the truth of the Vedanta.  We have to understand how it is brought together but in this particular case the understanding of the truth as the one and the infinite has been laid out by the philosophers in India as a kind of duality – a duality which looks above at the Sachchidananda and says that that is the One, and looks down at our existence and says that that is the infinite fragmentation.  There is a fragmented reality here – a reality in which separateness is the essential existence.  And there is a unitary reality above – a reality in which there is One – reality that is undifferentiated.  An undifferentiated Unity above, a separative fundamental infinity below.

 

Now the Vedanta is very clear about the unity of all things and unity is what we move to intentionally in our human existence.  Mind itself gropes for unity and carries within it an intention of unity.  It is impossible for mind to rest until it can assert something of a fundamental unity in existence.  This is what makes even Science look for a Unified Field Theory.  So what is that fundamental unity which Vedanta classifies as Adwaita – the one without a second?  We know that the Adwaita that is most popularly understood in India today is the Adwaita of Sankara, which asserts that Sachchidananda is Brahman, is true and the world, ‘Jagat’ here, is the fragmented reality, is false.  Therefore the reality of the world is denied as something illusory, something which does not have any kind of substantiality except in the false experience which somehow we have been given to experience through the mysterious agency of Maya- an illusion-making magician – within the unitary reality of Sachchidananda.  If we can escape from this prison of Maya we will experience Reality as it truly is – one, undifferentiated, without name and form, without any particularity, specificity or fragmentation. So this is the One without a second that we are asked to approach.

 

Now the Veda had a different approach; it gave us a process by which to understand the difference between the One and the infinite particles or fragments of the One.  And this process is that of the Purusha-Medha Yajna: the sacrifice of the Purusha.  By sacrifice the Purusha has became this world.  This is the idea of the Veda.  And this sacrifice is seen as that of the One Being, Purusha, the One Being there is, who for some mysterious reason has fragmented himself, has broken himself up, broken himself into pieces, and these fragments, infinite fragments of That One (Tad Ekam) are separate realities – that are here in this Ignorance.  Thus, the Ignorance is the sacrificed body of the Supreme Person. We ourselves are the limbs of that sacrificed body of the Supreme which is why we experience separativeness.  This is the dichotomy between Vidya and Avidya as far as the Veda is concerned. 

 

Now what unites these separated portions?  Are we doomed to this kind of existence for all time?  Is this the eternal condition of existence here? And it would seem according to the philosophies of India that developed after Buddha – post-Buddhist philosophies of India – that yes, the condition which we experience here is an eternal one – one of eternal fragmentation and separateness.  Avidya is an eternal condition of the world, of Jagat, while Vidya is an eternal condition of Sacchidananda. Now, Sri Aurobindo is not satisfied with this idea and contests it with these five chapters on the Supermind.  Because he is saying to us that this is not true – that between this One undifferentiated reality above and this separative fragmentation below there is a link Principle – a link principle which is the creative poise of the Sacchidananda,  that creates Time and Space as the canvas on which the flowering of the manifestation of divine consciousness can take place, in which Sacchidananda can be deployed and find a certain representation – a representation which is changing, not fixed because evolving, and therefore whatever the condition of Ignorance or Avidya that we may see here is also a temporary condition governed by the movements of the Supermind.  Supermind is the power, is the Divine Maya. The Maya which remains unclassifiable by Sankara, is in fact the Divine Power which causes – is the causal power – behind the unfoldment of the separative consciousness here towards its own reality of the Supermind.  So this is Sri Aurobindo’s view of the link principle.

 

Now to come to the “triple status of the Supermind,” this, according to Sri Aurobindo, is what allows the Supermind to link the above and the below, the Vidya and the Avidya. We may ask, what is this triple status of the Supermind? To understand this we have to first look at the Vedantic idea of Sacchidananda and of Supermind as a link principle as Sri Aurobindo describes it.  The Sacchidananda is one unitary undifferentiated Being, which is Self Conscious and possesses Infinite Delight as its intrinsic nature.  Now this is the fundamental reality that is.  Actually even this fundamental reality as Being is a kind of representation because what ever is completely infinite cannot but be beyond Being and Non-Being.  Therefore something indescribable, something completely and infinitely unmanifest, something that can never know even itself and therefore is called by the Vedanta as the Unknowable, is the origin of this but in that origin is a mystery – a mystery which moves towards self knowledge and that self knowledge is represented to itself first and solely as the Sacchidananda – Sacchidananda as Being,  Being as infinite consciousness and because it is infinite, conscious Being, experienceable to itself and to anything within it. Moreover, since it has infinity as its intrinsic property, its limits are always exceeded by whatever scope of experience it can lay to itself and this freedom, this absolute freedom, is the basis of its intrinsic property of delight.  Therefore Delight, Consciousness, and Being, infinite Reality turned in upon itself, with no need of manifestation, undifferentiated is the reality of  Sacchidananda.

 

Now Sri Aurobindo points out in his introduction to the Philosophy of the  Upanishads that even to take that first step out of the Unthinkable Reality beyond Being and Non-Being and to become Being is an inexorable movement towards the manifestation.  It cannot but now take the successive steps logically towards manifesting itself because the One Being self-conscious turns its consciousness upon itself and it turns its consciousness upon itself in an act of concentration, whose other name is Tapas, it broods upon is own possibilities and as a result these possibilities start Becoming.  They start being called out into manifestation.  They become deployed in a certain form and that representative form is the manifest reality.

 

Now in essence, Sacchidananda could have created something by itself and perhaps it does.  A creation by Sacchidananda without the Supermind is something that the Mother was asked about. “Is it possible to think about a creation by Sachchidananda without the Supermind?” And to paraphrase the Mother, if you were to be in this instant in a certain location and at a certain point in time and the next instant in a complete different location in another form, scale and time and jumped from space-time to space-time without any coherence to your experience – this would be the kind of experience you would have of a creation by Sacchidananda without the Supermind. Supermind is an organ, which Sacchidananda deploys – it is the knowledge of Sacchidananda, which is also the Will of Sachchidananda, what Sri Aurobindo calls the Knowledge-Will, that gives a systematic form to the exploration of Being by Consciousness.  The self-consciousness of being is explored in a systematic graded (space) and phased (time) form through the agency of Supermind and this is done in a variety of ways and perhaps in two major ways – one is a creation in the Supermind, which is an eternal supramental creation, always present, always perfect, in the Vidya but evolving more and more powers of Divinity because it is an exploration as well.  And the other – the kind of experience that we have, which is a plunge into the Ignorance because by doing so Supermind makes a point zero beginning – a zero beginning of all things which is an absence of the Divine, is the best systematic exploration of what is the Divine.  Therefore, in this creation that we call the ignorant creation the beginning of the explorations of Being by Supermind takes place through the positing of an existence without consciousness, which is Matter. Within it there is more and more consciousness that becomes manifest through phases, through graded steps, in time and space, causing an evolution that brings us to our peculiar and rather unhappy condition– a being between two worlds and being conscious of that fact.  We are caught between the Ignorance and the Knowledge, struggling to find stability and cannot belong to either pole.  So this is the basis of the human experience which Sri Aurobindo calls “divine discontent”, which makes man what he is.

 

Now given this much let us go back to the triple status of the Supermind.  What is this triplicity which makes the Supermind the link principle?  Sri Aurobindo in his chapter called the “Triple Status of the Supermind” enumerates these three to be the Transcendent, the Universal and the Individual.  These are the three poises of the Supermind and let me read how Sri Aurobindo describes this and shows us the difference between our kind of experience of Reality and the Supermind’s experience of Reality in as much as this triple poise of the Supermind goes.

 

He says-“We, human beings, are phenomenally a particular form of consciousness, subject to Time and Space, and can only be, in our surface consciousness which is all we know of ourselves, one thing at a time, one formation, one poise of being, one aggregate of experience; and that one thing is for us the truth of ourselves which we acknowledge; all the rest is either not true or no longer true, because it has disappeared into the past out of our ken, or not yet true, because it is waiting in the future and not yet in our ken. But the Divine Consciousness is not so particularised, nor so limited; it can be many things at a time and take more than one enduring poise even for all time. We find that in the principle of Supermind itself it has three such general poises or sessions of its world-founding consciousness. The first founds the inalienable unity of things, the second modifies that unity so as to support the manifestation of the Many in One and One in Many; the third further modifies it so as to support the evolution of a diversified individuality which, by the action of Ignorance, becomes in us at a lower level the illusion of the separate ego.”  [Volume: 18-19,SABCL (The Life Divine), Page: 145]

 

So these are the three statuses of the Supermind.  Within the Supermind there is something which is very close to the undifferentiated unity of the Sacchidananda. But whereas in Sacchidananda this unity is turned in upon Itself and therefore unmanifest, in Supermind this same unity is a self-extension, a self-extension in Space that becomes an evolution in Time in the second and third statuses of Supermind.

 

In the second status of Supermind there is a projection out of the undifferentiated unity into a kind of universal containment – a containment in which the possibilities of this Supreme Reality are then made into varied multifarious realities that are all various forms and functions of the Supermind.  Therefore the Supermind becomes the Many and the continent of the Many, which is what we might call Universal Consciousness.  Within the self-extended consciousness is an universal presence to each reality in that consciousness – what one might call a Jivatman – Jivatman outside of the reality of Time, but positioning itself behind every form that the universe carries in itself.

 

And the third status of the Supermind, is one in which these varied possibilities become the individualized recipients of the totality of the Supramental Reality – in other words Supermind enters into each of its constituents – becomes immanent in them.  This entry of the Transcendent Mystery into each of its constituents causes Sri Aurobindo to remark that the human individual is greater than the entire universe, because in each individual the Transcendent dwells.  That is, not only are we portions of or fragments of an Universal Reality but inside each of us there is that which exceeds the universe, which is the Transcendent.  And therefore that, which can actually even change the dimensions of the Universe, has that power. Therefore, these are the three realities that are simultaneously experienced in the Supermind. 

 

This we see is the experience of the Divine Consciousness.  But when we come to our human reality we experience life through the fragmented lenses of our individuality in the Ignorance, what might be called the illusion of the ego.  So the ego, as a separative consciousness, causes us to experience an individual truth of the world – an experience of Each of the Many – that have lost their connection with the All and with the One, where the All is the Universal Reality and the One is the undifferentiated reality or the self-extension of the Supermind as an unitive consciousness.  In the Supermind this never happens.  In the Supermind these three realities co-exist and partake of each other’s nature. The absolute unity of all three is felt by everything.  Within that unity is also felt that operation of unity as a universal consciousness and as a form-and-function-creating consciousness in each constituent of that universe.  And within that same unity and same universal reality each constituent experiences itself as the totality of that reality– the total supramental consciousness.  This becomes the basis of the play that is the dynamic reality of supramental existence, the supramental manifestation – manifestation in the Supermind.

 

Now this kind of a triple status co-existing is something that Sri Aurobindo envisages as the inevitable destination of this ignorant world, that we are here as individual realities because we contain in ourselves the transcendent Reality. We are hedged around by that universal reality and not only surrounded but behind us that universal reality is creating an individual form or Eidolon and we are connected with a transcendent reality above us, and this triple form of existence is something that we are to experience, not merely individually but together as the condition of a world – a world- condition and therefore this kind of a world is what our world is moving towards – the supramental manifestation is this kind of a world.

 

Now to come to this sort of realization or understanding is to completely change our view of the understanding promoted by the post-Buddhistic philosophies I spoke about earlier, where we either have to deny as illusory our experience of fragmented reality or we have to accept it as something which will always remain divided, ignorant, unhappy.  Sri Aurobindo is contesting this view by telling us in these chapters that there is an evolution that is going to take us out of this into the Supermind. In the chapter on the “Triple Status of the Supermind” he shows us clearly how these three statuses relate to the major post-Buddhistic Vedantic philosophies and why in each of these philosophies there is a certain partiality that divides them against each other.

 

The Veda tells us that the truth is one, but the seers see it differently. An ecumenical or universalist religion is also vociferous in pointing out that the sages have said all different kind of things but actually they have said the same thing. Nevertheless, the disciples of the sages are fighting all the time and this is our reality even today.  The fact is that most of these sages have not said the same thing and this is what Sri Aurobindo is making very clear.  The sages have not said the same thing because each one has had a partial realisation of the Divine Consciousness and when we talk about the triple status of the Supermind, we see clearly that the three major schools of Vedanta are at odds with each other regarding this very fact of what Vedanta means.

 

Firstly, there is Adwaita which is Sankara’s school and that affirms the Transcendental undifferentiated unity of all things but cannot affirm any qualified unity – i.e. the universal Reality where the Saguna Brahman is manifesting, nor can it affirm any reality to the individual or to Time.  Therefore all these things must be unreal to it.  Sri Aurobindo says that the first status of the Supermind – the status which is the self–extension of unity in space is something which gives us that experience.  If that becomes reflected in the mental consciousness we have the sense that that alone is true, everything else is false. Similarly if there is an experience of the second status of the Supermind which is that of the universal reality in which One Consciousness is modulating itself into the Many and that falls on the stillness of our mental consciousness then we believe that that alone is true, everything else is false.  The third one is one where we see the Individual Reality as distinct from the Supreme Reality – a dualism which is only and always going to remain so and bridgeable only through relationship, and that relationship between the Individual and the Divine becomes the basis of an experience of Divine Love that unites or does not unite, but brings closer to an unity the individual and the Divine.

 

Now the three main branches of the Vedanta of course, are Adwaita, Vishishtadwaita and Dwaita. Adwaita is the Absolute Non-Dualistic philosophy of Sankara, Vishishtadwaita, the Qualified Non-Dualism of a Ramanuja, and Dwaita of course, the Dualistic philosophy of a number of thinkers but perhaps most sophisticated of these is Sri Chaitanya who posits an Unthinkable Unity-in-Difference.  Both together co-exist. There is a difference due to relationship and a unity at the same time but we cannot think of it because it is beyond logic.  So at the mental level, these three kinds or forms of experience are each exclusive and radically different. They don’t combine.  But in the Supermind they are not exclusive, they are all present at the same time which is what allows us to have an integral realisation of the Transcendent, the Universal and the Individual poises of the Divine.

 

We may see this in Sri Aurobindo’s own life and in the Yoga he went through himself.  We might see that his first realisation – the realisation of the Nirvana, was an opening to the Transcendent, an opening to something like what the Buddha or  Sankara is telling us – the One alone exists and the Many become unreal.  And only something which is Beyond and completely indescribable is sensed as a permanent Reality.  But Sri Aurobindo lived in this consciousness and did not accept it as final.  He tells us that between his having this particular realisation and his entry into Alipore Jail he had some other experiences or realisations.  And the main one that he talks about is that of the Universal Brahman with its two sides – the Passive and the Active side.

 

The passive side of the Universal Brahman realization is that of an Universal Being that is present behind all things, silent.  And the active side of the same realization is of the Shakti of that Being that has become and moves everything in this Universe.  Everything is a formation of that particular power here. Yet, even this experience does not give any reality to the Individual as a separate Divine Being.  This is what Sri Aurobindo was to have at the Alipore Jail, where he experienced Vasudeva as immanent in all things, Sri Krishna as the Divine Reality – the Transcendent Purushottama present inside every being. So this completed for him the three experiences or the three realisations that constitute the triple status of the Supermind. He did not have these simultaneously at this stage; he had them one after the other but they were an expansion of realization, not excluding each other.  So there was a kind of a synthesis of the three.

 

Now, in Sri Aurobindo’s case having had these experiences he was to discover the Supermind where these three realisations co-exist, but now having come to this point he saw his mission as being that of bringing the supramental consciousness here and manifesting it as a possibility for the earth consciousness so that all human beings could partake of this manifestation, and this realization of three simultaneously coexisting statuses be the basis of the world that we inhabit. Now Sri Aurobindo attempted this in Pondicherry for ten years in a variety of ways, as he says, barking up many trees and finding a dead end in every case until the coming of the Mother.

 

And it is only after the coming of the Mother that the supramental yoga took a new turn and Sri Aurobindo was to say that if is was left to him he would have perhaps been able to give this yoga to a handful of ten disciples but with the coming of the Mother it had become a world possibility. Now this is a very enigmatic statement and we have to ask why this is the case; and why Sri Aurobindo has always pointed to the Mother as the source for opening this supramental realization to us all. Now, the only place Sri Aurobindo gives us some hint about this is in the little book The Mother. Here he tells us that the Mother’s consciousness is the Divine Consciousness.  And that she is here, in this lower triple world as a kind of delegate from her own true reality.  And in a way this is exactly what Sri Aurobindo tells us also in Savitri. Savitri in Sri Aurobindo’s epic is also exactly this – the Supramental Reality that has cast a ray of itself into this world to supramentalise it.  And therefore the Mother comes, as he says, with the Divine Consciousness, and the Divine Consciousness is not the human turning divine but a consciousness that progressively manifests its divinity.  And this progressive manifestation of its divinity is what is going to bring us closer and closer to itself and manifest more and more of itself the more we are ready to receive it.  From the very beginning this consciousness carries in itself the triple status of the Supermind and this is what Sri Aurobindo is telling us in the book The Mother – that the Mother’s consciousness is at once Transcendent, Universal and Individual – that this triple status is present in Her as her normal functioning. 

 

I read this part from Chapter VI—

There are three ways of being of the Mother of which you can become aware when you enter into touch of oneness with the conscious force that upholds us and the Universe.  Transcendent, the original supreme Shakti, she stands above the worlds and links the creation to the ever-unmanifest mystery of the supreme.  Universal, the cosmic Mahashakti, she creates all these beings and contains and enters, supports and conducts all these million processes and forces.  Individual, she embodies the power of these two vaster ways of her existence, makes them living and near to us and mediates between the human personality and the divine Nature.”

 

So this is the Mother and Sri Aurobindo is telling us in no uncertain terms who the Person is that we know as the Mother.

 

As he says again in The Mother:

The one whom we adore as the Mother is the divine conscious force that dominates all existence, One and yet so many sided that to follow her movement is impossible even for the quickest mind and for the freest and most vast intelligence.  The Mother is the consciousness and Force of the supreme and far above all she creates, but something of her ways can be seen and felt through her embodiments and the more siezable because more defined and limited temperament and action of the goddess forms in whom she consents to be manifest to her creatures.”

 

And towards the end of the book he reiterates –

“…Be on your guard and do not try to understand and judge the Divine Mother by your little earthly mind that loves to subject even the things that are beyond it to its own norms and standards, its narrow reasoning and erring impressions, its bottomless aggressive ignorance and its petty self-confident knowledge.  The human mind shut in the prison of its half-lit obscurity cannot follow the many-sided freedom of the steps of the Divine Shakti.  The rapidity and complexity of her vision and action outrun its stumbling comprehension; the measures of her movement are not its measures.  Bewildered by the swift alterations of her many different personalities, her making of rhythms and her breaking of rhythms, her accelerations of speed and her retardations, her varied ways of dealing with the problem of one and of another, her taking up and dropping now of this line and now of that one and her gathering of them together, it will not recognize the way of the supreme power when it is circling and sweeping upwards through the maze of the Ignorance to the supernal light.  Open rather your soul to her and be content to feel her with the psychic nature and see her will the psychic vision that alone makes a straight response to the Truth.  Then the Mother herself will enlighten by their psychic elements your mind and heart and life and physical consciousness and reveal to them too her ways and her nature.”

 

So here Sri Aurobindo is pointing out to us that the ways of the Mother are completely beyond our ignorant understanding, but that we have something in us that can open to her and that is the psychic being.

 

Now, the psychic being is that portion in us which is Her immanent portion inside the individual.  It is indeed the Mother’s own individual existence in the Universe.  In the Gita it is described as Paraprakritir Jivabhuta or the individual-becoming of the Supreme Nature.  The Supreme Mother has become individualized as the psychic being in each of her creatures and therefore it is through the psychic being and psychic being alone that we can approach her, that is the individual dimension that is given to us.

           

We may say that for integral Yoga there is one true root of integrality and that is the Supermind, but there is a delegate of that integrality inside us – an immanent integral power – and that is the psychic being.  The psychic being can unite our subliminal consciousness, our inner mental, inner vital and subtle physical consciousness because as he says there, it is through the psychic and the Mother’s enlightening through their respective psychic elements, that your mind and heart and life and your physical consciousness can be enlightened. 

 

So this becomes the method and mode by which the Mother can work on us, because our psychic being is indeed in tune with her, but the Mother herself is not just our psychic being, she has not just entered into us to leave us in ignorance with the psychic being that is so deeply hidden in us that we can hardly find an access to it by ourselves. This is exactly where the whole miracle and magic and wonder of the work of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother comes in and the tremendous opportunity and Grace that is given to us by the fact that the supramental yoga is not an abstract impersonal yoga to be followed out by individuals left to themselves but that the Divine Consciousness and Shakti have brought it here and are present here to give it to us, that the Mother is here and that the Mother is not merely that psychic being hidden in us, but has come externally in an unveiled form so that we may relate to her and in that relating connect with the three statuses of the Supermind and find that she can open that experience up for us. 

 

We as individuals can make some inadequate individual efforts. We can read these words and think of the three statuses of the Supermind, we can be inspired by Sri Aurobindo’s own successive realizations. But to have these realisations ourselves – it is next to impossible, because the co-ordination of these experiences, as Sri Aurobindo points out, is so complex because it is not just an individual coordination, the supermental reality that is evolving in earth nature is One Being.  The whole of the earth is one Being and we are the diversified elements of that Being that are being lead through this evolution and this leading is a coordinated process, a harmonious process that only the Divine Consciousness knows and therefore it is not through any kind of principled yoga in which we determine beforehand what it is that we will follow as a routine, that we can do this yoga.  It is only through a progressive surrender to that supramental source that is embodied and present to us as the Mother that we can become aware of how she is leading the creation individual by individual and totally at the same time.  She is leading the Universe and every individual in it at once by her Knowledge-Will, which is a triple simultaneous knowledge through the triple status of the Supermind. 

 

So in Chapter VI of The Mother, Sri Aurobindo says – “The Mother not only governs all from above but she descends into this lesser triple universe.  Impersonally all things here, even the movements of the Ignorance, are herself in veiled power and her creations in diminished substance, her nature body and nature force and they exist because moved by the mysterious fiat of the supreme to work something that was there in the possibilities of the infinite, she has consented to the great sacrifice and has put on like a mask the soul and forms of the ignorance. (In other words, us.) But personally too she has stooped to descend here into the Darkness that she may lead it to the Light, into the Falsehood and Error that she may convert it to the Truth, into this Death that she may turn it to godlike Life, into this world-pain and its obstinate sorrow and suffering that she may end it in the transforming ecstasy of  her sublime Ananda.  In her deep ad great love for her children she has consented to put on herself the cloak of this obscurity, condescended to bear the attacks and torturing influences of the powers of the Darkness and the Falsehood, borne to pass through the portals of the birth that is a death, taken upon herself the pangs and sorrows and sufferings of the creation, since it seemed that thus alone could it be lifted to the Light and Joy and Truth and eternal Life.”

 

So this is what the divine Mother understands much better than we can understand. As Sri Aurobindo puts it – “Since it seemed that thus alone….  Perhaps if we were more receptive, as the Mother said in the case of Sri Aurobindo’s passing, it may not have been necessary for Her to subject herself to the torturing influences of the Falsehood and the Ignorance.  She could have led us from above.  But we are subject and easily vulnerable to the influence of the Falsehood and the Ignorance, too helpless under their yoke and it is only by coming down and being in our midst that this supramental realisation is possible because it is only She who can become human, put on the garb of the human and yet remain divine and draw us from that poise into the supamental creation.

 

That is why we return to Sri Aurobindo’s revised understanding of the Vedic holocaust of the Purusha, of the sacrifice of the purusha who becomes the fragmentary universe.  In the above-quoted paragraph, he continues to assert this understanding, “This is the great sacrifice called sometimes the sacrifice of the Purusha, but much more deeply the holocaust of Prakriti, the sacrifice of the Divine Mother.”  So this is what the whole work of the Mother is, this is what she has come to do. This is where she is and the supreme opportunity that has been offered to us is that she has embodied herself in an individual form to lead us individually and through the cosmos towards the Supermind.

 

I would like to conclude by pointing out some instances of how the Mother works in these three statuses and how she has been present and is present to us through these three ways of her being. We know that Sri Aurobindo has said that the Mother by her gaze connects people to their psychic beings and by her touch brings the psychic being into the surface consciousness, brings it into the human surface.  And that is the individual way of working. We have been given the supreme opportunity of making a relationship with the individualized form of the Mother – that she is not physically present now, makes no difference here.  She is as present to us in relationship in a personal form as she ever was, perhaps more present today because she is present in a supramental body right now.  And we can relate to that and that will draw us, bring the psychic being forward which is the first necessity of this yoga, the psychic transformation.

 

She also has always been working in a universal way, not only drawing individuals through an individual action, but drawing them as parts of a universal leading through her many powers and personality.  Of course, Chapter VI of this book, The Mother, is all about the four primary personalities of the Mother that are active in the universe and how their harmonious action will bring us to a point that we will recognize the unitary reality of the divine Mother, whom we know as the Mother. But each of the powers and personalities of the Divine Mother have their specific modes of action and each of these can approach the same situation in a completely different manner. In the Mother’s own life she has told us how the powers and personalities that she has emanated have constantly been at work in this world, but how these could work at odds with one another in the lower planes and create a resultant chaos or destruction by themselves. In the Ignorance, Avidya, this is indeed what happens. But the Supramental Source of all these aspects can harmonize their actions by containing the Knowledge of their perfect deployment and it is this central co-ordinating power – the Aditi consciousness – that the Mother has embodied, which selects the specific mode of action at any time and place, resulting in a harmonious cosmic working. 

 

And finally the Mother in her Transcendent being is constantly in contact with the Unmanifest Mystery of the Supreme and it is the fiat of the Supreme that she gives birth to, she is actually the Virgin who gives birth to the Child of God in time and therefore I would like to end by reading a passage describing the Mother’s supramental action or transcendental action and it is the transcendental action of the Mother which is ultimately that which brings the Supermind here to the earth consciousness.  This is why Sri Aurobindo, when he left his body, said to the Mother that it is She to whom it was given to bring about the supramental manifestation on earth.  And the Mother’s description of what happened on the 29th of February in 1956 is a clear statement of that transcendental action and this is what I will read —

 

This evening the Divine Presence, concrete and material, was there present  amongst you.  I had a form of living gold, bigger than the universe and I was facing a huge and massive golden door, which separated the world from the Divine.

 

As I looked at the door, I know and willed, in a single movement of consciousness, that ‘the time has come’, and lifting with both hands a mighty golden hammer I struck one blow, one single blow on the door and the door was shattered to pieces. Then the Supramental Light and Force and Consciousness rushed down upon earth in an uninterrupted flow.”(CWM, Vol.15, p.102)

 

And she says later, commenting on this “What happened on February 29th, 1956 is not so much a vision or an experience but something done.  During the evening meditation in the playground I went up into the Supermind and saw that something needed to be done, and did it. It is interesting to note that the words-‘The time has come’ which express what I simultaneously know and willed, when I found myself in front of the massive door on whose other side was the world, were heard by me in English, not in French. It was as if Sri Aurobindo had spoken them.”

 

The fiat of the Supreme, spoken in the language of the Supreme and executed by the Shakti of the Supreme, in a moment that embodied the Knowledge-Will of the Supreme. This was the Mother’s transcendental action, her golden Mahakali action, of which Sri Aurobindo has said – “Therefore with her is the victorious force of the Divine and it is by grace of her fire and passion and speed if the great achievement can be done now rather than hereafter.”

 

                                                                                                Debashish Banerji


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“The Overmental Transformation and the Transition to the Supermind,”
by Debashish Banerji

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2 thoughts on “"The Divine Mother and the Triple Status of the Supermind" by Debashish Banerji

  1. Anonymous says:

    Bravo!!!

  2. Anonymous says:

    Debashish,
    You are a wonder!
    Thank you so much for this article. As I read your words, tears came to my eyes again and again; especially in the sections about the Mother. I felt (& still feel) her presence more strongly than ever before …
    ~ ron

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