Assumptions Behind the Works of Sri Aurobindo

  • joke is appreciated in its own cultural context, not outside, as the joke assumes the knowledge of the context.

  • Sri Aurobindo writes about the evolving Spirit and its goal on earth.

  • Spiritual writings are esoteric and reveal only to the initiated.

  • In a very large measure, writing of quality is meant for the cream in the field and not for the uninitiated.

  • Readers of Sri Aurobindo are alien to the ways of Spirit that can be explained by a yogi. A further dimension of the inherent complexity here received as complication is raised by the concept of evolution of Spirit. To an educated public who do not actively consider the evolution of society or who mistake it for social growth, concepts of this third dimension remain a mystery at best. At their worst, they create a fertile confusion out of helplessness.

  • Still the writing especially its logic and presentation is well within the scope of one who has received a rigorous academic training. Such people not only find the writing intelligible but enjoyable as it engages their unengaged faculties.

  • The aims here are,

  1. To list out, after a fashion, as many as possible of these assumptions.

  2. To illustrate some of them..

  3. To illustrate through life examples whenever one is in sight..

  4. To quote His own sentences to bring out the difference that we miss in reading..

  5. To reach the resourcefulness of concept–formation which He takes advantage of to bring out His dimension of thought. To show He uses such resourcefulness of language to His advantage..

  6. To quote occasional utterances of His to prevent natural misconceptions from forming..

  7. To help the reader STAY on Sri Aurobindo's dimension unfailingly giving him the principle of that dimension as well as the precise use of common words in that sense..

  8. To draw a sharp difference between concepts of the Rishis that are mental concepts and Sri Aurobindo's concept–formation..

  9. Significance of terms differ according to the plane in which it acts. For this the planes must be distinguished fully and a few usages must be used..

  10. We see most of HIS startling ideas are already known to the sages of the world and to serious writers. Our purpose is to show the limitation of understanding in life or that it was only a mental perception not extending into the realism of life.

A list of Sri Aurobindo's Assumptions

Sri Aurobindo uses words like Spirit and Truth in their original significance and assumes the reader knows them, whereas the reader takes them in the linguistic sense and puts himself outside the pale of HIS writing.

  • For us, Spirit is soul or God, a power that presides over human destiny, as we take government to be a power in the capital.
    Spirit, to Sri Aurobindo is the experience of Sat while it tries to objectify. This experience renders Sat into substance. It is out of that substance the world is made. It is difficult for us to distinguish between Spirit, Soul and Being. He explains that Spirit in the transcendent plane is before Time was created and Soul is the Spirit in the Cosmos and Universe.

  • Truth for us is fact or the opposite of false. Truth is the objective state of Sat which is subjective.

    Such other words are:

    Absolute, Infinite, Eternal, Consciousness, Ascent, Descent, Being, Becoming, Asat, Nirvana, Nihil, Sunya, Cipher, Maya, Subtle, Concentration, Energy, Force, Power, Cosmos, Universe, Consecration, surrender, Formlessness, good, Good, Bliss, Delight, Divine, Individual, Self, Soul, Unity, Totality, Wisdom, Ego, Ether, Buddhi, Ethics, Evolution, Non-Existence, Faith, God, Good and Evil, Silence, Peace, birth, death, Real-Idea, Ignorance, Illusion, Imagination, Immortality, Impersonal, Unconscious, Freedom, Indeterminable, Mind, Life, Matter, Integral, Transformation, Intellect, Reason, Ishwara, Karma, Love, Light, Personality, Character, Nature, Negative, One, Oneness, Overmind, Physical, Plane, Psychic, Purusha, Reality, Reversal, Sacrifice, Supermind, Superconscience, Surface, Time, Transcendent, Vidya, Avidya, Vital, Yoga.

The above is a formidable list, though somewhat incomplete. It is worthwhile giving here all that can be said of each word, which of course will become of considerable length. I shall briefly indicate what is meant or what is not meant by each word in one or two lines.

The first world Absolute belongs to philosophy and therefore it is better to emphasise the philosophic sense instead of the linguistic.

– It is nothingness and Non-Existence or Non-Being to the tradition. To Sri Aurobindo it is infinite Existence.Ascent and Descent are only meant in the evolutionary sense and not in the sense of rising to a highest which is a physical meaning.
– is ignorance. As the Upanishads use Avidya as knowledge of Becoming, Sri Aurobindo while explaining His own ideas uses the word Ignorance avoiding Avidya of the Upanishads or acitti of the Vedas which means not knowing God.
Being, Becoming, Being of the Becoming
-Being is Purusha, Becoming is Prakriti so far. The concept of Being of the Becoming is born only with Him, not before. Please note Becoming in this extended sense is the evolving Being wholly. The distinction is subtle, likely to be missed if the mind is not on the sequence of HIS argument.
-He says birth is the first mystery. He depicts birth and death as the machinery that renders Timelessness in terms of Time. Birth is not merely a body or soul coming into worldly existence.
– is not the mere intellect that receives the sense information and processes the facts in it separating them from sense impressions. It has the subtle side to it and is capable of linking the mind to higher consciousness.
– is a non-complicated word for understanding. In India the word is wrongly confined to one's moral behaviour towards women. In language character and personality are usually properly understood though there is no precise definition that distinguishes one from the other. Swabhava in Sanskrit is very close to character but it is the character of the soul not the mind only.
– In daily use it is a common word meaning focussed attention which is all right. In these spiritual writings it helps us to consider this word in its original meaning of dwelling on itself.
– is a religious word meaning to make an act sacred and is well known thus. Though it is the same here too, to us it succeeds aspiration and precedes Surrender in a chain of spiritually willed acts.
– He uses the two words Universe and Cosmos to refer to the lower hemisphere of ignorance and the higher hemisphere of knowledge. The universal is also the impersonal against the personal of the individual. What is a slight difference in language is of significance in philosophy especially when the writing refers to characteristics of the soul. While it is human in the universal, in the Cosmos it is non-human or divine.
– Ananda, Bliss and Delight are used as synonyms inter-changeably. He does draw the difference between static bliss and active delight. He explains that as the change of Delight of Being into Delight of Becoming expressing a world of difference.
– Mother has a horror of the word ‘God’ for the religious connotations it had acquired in Europe. She uses Divine instead.

The three aspects of Sat are Atma, Purusha, Ishwara. Atma is closer to the original Brahman, Purusha is a Being that is conscious while Ishwara is the creator of the world, the Lord of Nature. He employs the word Divine in the sense of Ishwara, particularly in the sense of the Lord who represents the evolving Soul. He is to Sri Aurobindo one who enjoys the Unity in Multiplicity, the godhead into which man is to evolve.

– This is a very important word for this yoga as the aim of this yoga is to abolish ego. In His writings Ego must always be understood only in the spiritual sense, not in the usual linguistic sense of proud, arrogant, or selfish. These are the surface aspects of ego. To sum up, the Spiritual sense HE uses for Ego is "All that is not divine or Nature is ego." When mind began to divide the material force and ended its division in matter as atomic existence, Ego was created. It will not utterly disappear until that division is healed by evolution. On p. 740 of The Life Divine Sri Aurobindo says when the ego is shed, the Cosmic Self reveals. Egoistic ignorance is deeper than Temporal Ignorance which means ego will survive as long as Time is there. That is not the common usage.
– A very common word. In no place in HIS writings does the word have a simple meaning. It divides into physical energy, vital energy, mental energy and spiritual energy. We do not have that distinction. Supramental energy is what passes through the FORCE in a speed that exceeds that of light.
– There is a line saying that Eternity is common between Time and Timelessness. To us Timeless is Eternal and Time is not. To him there is a Time-eternity and Timeless eternity which meet in Time.
– We must distinguish between the material ether we know and the spiritual ether that creates the Five Elements.
– Involution ends in Matter and then evolution begins. Even the changes that occur at Sachchidananda Sri Aurobindo calls evolution. To Him involution and evolution together are Evolution. It begins at the beginning.
– To act on an occasion positively without any knowledge of what we do is faith. Spiritually Faith is a knowledge of the Soul. Mind acquiring that knowledge as its own is called spiritual knowledge.
– is understood to be the opposite of Form. He describes it as a condition out of which all Forms emanate, maybe formlessness too. Silence, One, Identical, Unmanifest, Infinite Form are so described by Him that all of them represent an original condition which exceeds the dual statuses. In the plane of Time it is explicit. Mind knows both the opposites, not the condition which includes both and transcends them. Only Supermind can know that. All his yoga and philosophy are expressed only in this third dimension of wholeness and Unity.
– The last Freedom is that which can without hindrance lose that Freedom. It is by this argument HE could bring the whole of Unity into the purview of the logic of the partial mind. 'Freedom is the final law and last consummation' says HE. Mind is our ultimate. It is partial. It is incapable of seeing its insufficiency. When it arrived at the Absolute, it found the ABSOLUTE to be neither one or the other while it was everything we know. Trying to frame a principle of creation, the Rishis could never consider the Absolute as a creator as it is NOTHING they knew. They excluded it from that possibility of Cosmic determinism. Sri Aurobindo whose vision is of the Supermind, sees the Absolute as the creator who determines. With that vision, HE needs to put to our minds that vision through an argument. His argument was the Absolute, that neither one nor the other could not be determined by anything, thus satisfying the demands of logic. Freedom and indeterminability receive the same treatment at His hands.

Self-existence is a concept on which Sri Aurobindo dwells very much. He describes human good as the opposite of evil and says there is a GOOD, Light, Delight, etc. that are not the opposites of evil, darkness or pain. They are of the higher consciousness, higher hemisphere. He extends that argument to Infinity too. He thus speaks of self-existing Infinity, Eternity, etc.


– is not to know. Vedas and Upanishads have explained them differently. Vedas said knowing God is knowledge, citti, not knowing God is acitti, thus explaining knowledge and ignorance in terms of God. Therefore, their final solution can only cover one side, not the whole. The Upanishads described knowledge as knowing God – Vidya -- and knowing the world as ignorance – Avidya. These definitions are not one-sided as in the Vedas but become mutually exclusive. Sri Aurobindo says knowledge by self-absorption becomes Ignorance, thus retaining their relationship. Thus, He was able to offer a solution of the Whole.


– what others call illusion He calls Ignorance. He explains the mind is not capable of imagining a non-existent thing and creates an illusion.


– He describes the faculty of imagination as the capacity to visualise the future and thus bring it about.


– Popularly understood as survival in the body without death. His definition of immortality is to know the Self in birth and non-birth.


– is the opposite of personal and particular and therefore general extending to universal. He cites the Sanskrit term Anantaguna, meaning capable of all the qualities.


– The corresponding term Jivatma is not used by him when He particularly explains the idea. Even His chapter on that is "Eternal and the Individual". Jivatma has no reality in the tradition and is not eternal while Individual for Him is Eternal. There is a world of difference in the basic concepts.


– Though the meaning of the word is clear, this is not a concept now commonly seen anywhere. The two things of common experience are disharmony and its opposite, cooperation. The concept of co-ordination is felt only negatively when the roads are dug up all the time by one department or another without coordinating. We enjoy a health which is fully integrated but as we take it for granted we are rarely aware of it. The other nearest example is an automated machine. Even in these two examples the integration of functions are on the merits of each part. The integration of the Universe which Sri Aurobindo has in view is one where each part is as important as every other. Each time Sri Aurobindo uses the word, it is better to stop, bring before one's eyes what He means and take in the meaning. When we say here is a man of many parts, an employee, a son, a father, a member of the party, etc. all these functions are done by ONE man who is the same man. There is no question of integrating these functions but they are all united in him. To see the world inside oneself will be that vision which will dwarf the Viswarupa of Arjuna. At least the mind should fully feel its truth.


– The Absolute that put forth Existence, Sat as the first step in creation witnesses four extensions of Sat.

  1. Sat – Chit – Ananda.
  2. Atma – Purusha – Ishwara.
  3. Sat – (Spirit) Truth.
  4. Time and Space as inner and outer extension.
    • Sat-Chit-Ananda remains in unmanifestation as well as in manifestation.
    • Atma, Purusha, Ishwara are the aspects of Sat.
    • Truth is the objective state of Sat, which is subjective.
    • Time and Space withhold the cosmos that is created.

The state of Sat prior to any of these modifications is called Supreme, Supracosmic, Transcendent.

Ishwara can be either in the cosmos or beyond it. What is beyond is Supreme Ishwara, Purusha too can be at both levels. Atma above is Transcendent Self. In the Cosmos it assumes the states of mutable and immutable. In addition, Ishwara includes Purusha and Purusha includes Atma. These three states also are representative of Sat, Chit, Ananda. To have a clear idea of the stages, grades, etc. and to draw them in some kind of a chart, though it will elude precision, will be helpful. 'Essays on the Gita' touches upon all these states at various places. Sri Aurobindo assumes all this knowledge in the reader. Superconscient occupies a special position. Sri Aurobindo says to know the process of moving from consciousness to Superconscient is the supreme discovery. Superconscient is formed out of self-absorption even as the Inconscient was so formed darkly. As these states constantly overlap, only experience will clear these distinctions, not study. Even in experience, one can speak only of what he has experienced. And there are too many states.


– Belongs to Force, not consciousness or Being. The idea of reward and punishment is silly. Maybe cause and effect will hold good better, if not at all points.


– is a plane of Force above matter and below mind. We know only social life and that too not as a plane. The Life plane HE speaks of pervades the universe and can survive its abolition. It is a specialised Force created by the action of the mental knowledge on will as a plane of energy.


– is the opposite of darkness. To Sri Aurobindo darkness is more intense light. He also says there is no darkness in the world, only the inability of our senses to create light. Mother says the light of a bright noon is pitch dark before spiritual light and the darkness of midnight is bright before spiritual darkness. The light we see or receive from the sun is only material concentrations of the original light, not the original light. We know our knowledge rises to light. They also say the origin of light is consciousness and the knowledge that issues from there.


– The Love they speak of is not what we humans call love, as this is full of selfish interests. The world is not ready to receive a drop of that higher love, which, if it descends now earth will be crushed. At the beginning of creation, Love was thrown into it to heal the breach created. Love is Ananda descended into creation and received by the soul. If Ananda is received by the vital, JOY is the result. Beauty is a form. It is mind that sees the forms. Ananda seen by the mind of forms is beauty.


– In spirituality Matter and Spirit are the same. Apart from explaining that Matter is Sachchidananda, Delight of existence, He says Matter is the result of Mind acting on Matter. Mind creates Matter dividing the cosmic substance and aggregating it while the substance itself is originally spiritual substance converted into material substance by the senses of mind. It is of Force, not consciousness or Being.


– The Indian tradition describes Maya as illusion. The Vedas say it is wisdom. To His, it is the consciousness of the Absolute. As Sachchidanandam is the luminous shadow cast by the absolute, Maya is its dark shadow.


– I wonder whether Mind is described anywhere in the world. At least the Western physiology or philosophy does not seem to have defined it. Whether it is there in Indian Spiritual tradition or not, I do not know. Mind is one of the innumerable things we take for granted and constantly use without knowing what it really is. Such an unconscious use of anything results in one becoming a slave to the instrument of creation, much as the common man uses money. Whether the origin, organisation, power, role of money is fully known to the world is again a question. The role of money as a financial power is fully defined, documented and analysed. There are two other powers of money, social and evolutionary. They are least appreciated.


– In language Nature means hills, forests, bushes, rivers, etc. Spiritually it is the becoming of the being. While reading spiritual, philosophic, or yogic material, if one is led by the common usage, the misleading is sure and great.


– In the series of hostile, evil, negative, bad this concept takes its allotted space between bad and evil. Negative is the opposite of positive. Sri Aurobindo considers Negative as a complement to the Positive. In a plantation of 1000 acres, if 300 acres are developed, the rest is undeveloped. One is not opposite of the other. All that we consider good in our personality is only the organised energy while the rest is unorganised. We have got into the habit of calling the undeveloped or unorganised part negative.


– is considered the very antithesis of the Many. One enjoys the undifferentiated unity while the pluralistic state subdivides into the Many and does not lose its unity but enjoys in the diversified multiplicity. In fact, it is a higher level of unity. It is in order to enjoy this higher unity that the One consciously lost its undifferentiated unity. An autocratic leader who enjoys implicit obedience of fear, offers freedom of opinion to the other levels of leadership and to the rank and file. When the unity of authority he voluntarily gave up comes back to him as the voluntary unity of the units, he emerges stronger. The One enjoys the Many in this fashion. Oneness is a prior stage to unity. Oneness is in union and in consciousness. Unity is in the being and its substance.


– This is a coinage by Him as Supermind. It is the last stage of spiritual mind where there is knowledge coexisting with ignorance.

Characteristics of Overmind:

  1. It is a delegate of Supermind to Ignorance.
  2. Its knowledge can act successfully without being hindered by the ignorance.
  3. He who reaches Supermind can bypass Overmind if he chooses.
  4. Gods are of the Overmind plane. They have egos and gunas.
  5. Their size is of the size of earth.
  6. Krishna is of the overmental plane.

– In all His writings Peace is Spiritual peace, not the Peace of nations when war ceases. A trait or act or movement has a structure of energy. The structure dissolves generating peace. Peace and Silence together create JOY. Silence and Peace are so fundamental that it is even said 'Silence is God', 'Peace is God'.


– Physical and material can be understood separately though often they go together. Body in us is physical, is subconscient, though its original substance is inconscient. It is the vital and mind that dominate the physical. All knowledge of the physical is subconscient and thus perfect. The physical cannot learn in half. It cannot move until it fully learns. When it learns it cannot wait. It acts. Though the physical fully obeys the mind, when it finds the mind is incapable of protecting the body, it rises, acts and protects itself when we witness convulsing strength. The entire past is buried in it.


– As there are planes in geometry, we speak of social planes, moral planes, spiritual planes. It is a plane of energy we thus refer to. Some planes are visible, others subtle and invisible.


– Issues out Force which emanates from consciousness. Faculty is organised power. Force organised is power. Language does not give us distinct definitions of energy, force, power, and faculty though in usage writers adhere to the exact sense. Thus is created scope of interchange of words for expressive metaphor. Memory is a faculty but we speak of the power of memory as a faculty has its power too. Consciousness is a power of Being. Truth is a power of Being. To know His usage of such words and to adhere to it will be of help. It is easy to get confused, but it is equally possible to get out of confusion.


– Psychic is of the mind. Sri Aurobindo did not use this word in The Arya but when The Life Divine was published in 1940 He rewrote the entire text using Psychic, meaning the evolving Soul. Nature too has a soul. It slowly evolves. Psychic is that evolving soul. It is in the fourth dimension. It is the Being of the Becoming. It is centred in man behind the heart. Bhakti yoga releases Psychic and leads to moksha because it can. It can lead to moksha as well as evolution, depending on the line of yoga in which it emerges.


Being, the witness Soul. Tradition accepts Sankya theory of many Purushas and one Prakriti, while Sri Aurobindo believes there is only one Purusha. It is the conscious being. It acts by Prakriti. It is the second aspect of Sat among the three, Atman, Purusha, Ishwara. The power of Atman, Maya is conceptively creative while the power of Purusha Prakriti is dynamically executive. Ishwara's power – Shakti -- is both conceptively creative and dynamically creative. Purusha exists in the cosmos as Purusha, beyond that in the Transcendence as the Supreme Purusha (Purushothama) and in the individual as Jivatma. Atman is called Self. It becomes the Purusha when Self becomes conscious. Purusha is the Silent witness of Prakriti's doings. When it ceases to be silent and orders Prakriti, Prakriti becomes Shakti and Purusha Ishwara.


– is His own creation. Senses see the objects and report to mind as sense impressions. Sifting the impressions away, we have observation. Observation in the mind becomes information, i.e. the mind is informed of a phenomenon. Information processed becomes data that is usable. When mind receives into its own preferred perch, information changes into opinion. The mind that refrains from getting into the pigeon holes of opinion creates facts out of information. Many facts go to produce an idea. In fact, the idea of the mind that emerges out of the impact of facts is its own. This idea is a knowledge that is aware of itself, but it has no force of effectuation. It resides in the will of the mind. The mind's will in the measure of endorsing its idea implements it. In the Supermind, idea and will are fused together. It is Real-Idea. Real-Idea is a vibration of Being –Sat -- through which Supermind creates instantaneously. Sat conceives to create. Sat is the origin of substance. Naturally, by virtue of emanating from substance itself, its idea has the force to effectuate itself.


– It refers to Truth strictly though used severally.


– means conclusions arrived at on a basis. What is baseless is not reasonable. It is believed reason cannot take us to the Absolute. He explains Reason can do so if we do not limit its scope and calls the second phase of it higher reason. Reason being a faculty, it acts within authority whether it is religion or society. In a class, when a child scores the top mark, in a society bound to caste, the prize will not go to the child if it is an outcaste. Marriages with Jews were denied in the last century for Christians. In that society it is unreasonable to award the outcaste child, i.e. reason is bent to the authority of the day. In us, we bend reason to the authority of the one-sided, partial mind. We never see that at all. The Southerners believed THUS in their invulnerability in the Civil War. The Second World War could have been avoided if Baldwin and Chamberlain had read the writing on the wall. Man in his pursuit of Absolute uses social or mental reason. Sri Aurobindo asks for Pure Reason. To see the Force of His reasoning while pleading that Negative is not the opposite of Positive, Nihil is not Nothing, Freedom has the freedom to lose itself, we see Sri Aurobindo at his very best.


– goes with transformation. It is not ordinarily met with in life. The confessions of the church, the penitence of the criminal are similar phenomena in life. There is more than meets the eye. As one rises in life, the physical work he did for himself is done for him by others. He shifts to the mind, ceases to exercise his hand. Instead of himself working, he has the work done for him. Giving up the pleasure of working with his own two hands, he shifts to asking another to do it for him. We know the phenomenon of memorisation changing into understanding which yields place to thinking. All these are given up in favour of Silence which is NOT thinking. The reversal of consciousness at each step is clear. But there is still more. In a bargain, we work for our best. It changes to our working for the rival's best where the reversal is clearer. There was a time when for a petty crime a man was hanged. His life was taken out of him. Now they try to take his crime out of him. For transformation to take place, reversal of consciousness is indispensable. To be able to know the reversal at every step is to know it fully.


– is giving up. Giving up outwardly is Sannyasa, doing it inwardly is thyaga. Only the latter is of relevance to us.


– is the Spirit in transcendence, Soul is the Spirit in Cosmos. A plane of energy has a live centre. When that centre takes shape, it becomes a being, e.g. a vital being, mental being, spiritual being, etc. When that being is of spirit in us or in the cosmos, it is Soul. Going beyond the Cosmos that being is called the Self.


– The fragrance of the flower that is invisible is subtle. Subtle is invisible. Thoughts are subtle. Fragrance is in the subtle physical, feelings are in the subtle vital, thoughts are in the subtle mental. Seeing Mother is Spiritually subtle plane.


– It is above Overmind. It is the creator of the world. The Vedas called it Satyam, rtam, Brihat – the Truth, vast, luminous. It is the Nature of Sachchidananda. It is called the plane of Truth-Consciousness. Truth that is objective status of Sat becomes Supermind when it becomes conscious. Therefore, it is the plane of Truth consciousness. It holds the planes of Timelessness and Time. It splits into comprehending Supermind and apprehending Supermind, in between which MIND is born. It creates by Real-Idea which is a vibration of Being.


– Sri Aurobindo divides mind into three levels -- 1. surface mind, 2. inner mind, 3. subliminal mind. The surface, apart from being surface has four characteristics of 1. Mind, 2. Ego, 3. Time, 4. Finite. All parts of our being including the body belong to the surface. It is here Ignorance becomes complete. All important activities of consciousness arise from the surface. The entire Indian yogic tradition is confined to the surface. One can go behind the surface either by concentration or thinking or consecration. By so doing, one goes into the inner mind which opens into the subliminal.


– Where the subconscious in its ascent meets the Superconscient in the descent the subliminal is born. It is universal. The psychic is in the cave of the subliminal. It records what happens around us even if it is not in our view.


– In life the weak surrenders to the strong. The Gita demands of the bhakta to surrender his all, all his dharma – values -- so that he may attain liberation. The Gita's surrender is for liberation; here it is meant for transformation. The individual surrenders his being, consciousness, delight and power into that of the divine being. This surrender dissolves his ego, releases his psychic and puts him on the threshold of universalisation. The surrender Sri Aurobindo speaks of makes the one who surrenders the object to which he surrenders.


– is the Spirit looking at itself in its movements. It is the inner extension of consciousness or being. There are different Times to different planes. The Timeless expresses itself in the plane of Time through birth and death. Time is becoming. Timelessness is Purusha. Simultaneous coexistence of Time–eternity and Timeless eternity is the dimension of the Psychic where the Absolute evolves in life.


– He has drawn our attention to the idea that all totality is a reversal. We must remember this aspect of it with totality.


– He explains in a long passage that we are not unconscious when we are stunned or drugged or sleeping. In His opinion, this is a wrong usage where subconscious is right. .


– He calls life Vital.


– is not consummate knowledge of the world. To know the relationship between God and the world is Wisdom.

Yoga means dhyana, japa, mantra, samadhi, asana, pranayama. But all this is not YOGA for Him. All life is yoga. Nature is enjoying the leisure of infinity before it and therefore is not in a hurry. She intentionally puts obstacles in the way of speedy partial progress because all – Unity, Truth, Goodness, Knowledge, Power and Love – must mature simultaneously. To centre oneself in the soul of Nature – Becoming – and aspire for its evolution is YOGA for Him. TO LIVE CENTERED IN THE PSYCHIC AND BE EVOLVING ALL THE TIME and to make the human choice every minute so as to fulfil that purpose is YOGA for Sri Aurobindo.

This is not strictly an exhaustive list of terms or assumptions, though it covers nearly the whole territory. An exhaustive list is the field of a scholar who writes a glossary of His vocabulary. The explanation given to yoga above contains a statement about the whole of six parts. In The Life Divine it comes as an explanation of an argument. But it is an important assumption – no part can reach its fullness till the whole reaches it. The six items He gives there represent Sachchidananda,

- Sat
- Chit
Love - Ananda.

In other words, Sachchidananda is the Whole.

Another important thing He always upheld was power should come down on earth before Love if Love is to be protected. Jesus could not protect himself for that reason. We see in the above six that Power precedes Love.

To us the word ‘thought’ never poses any problem. To grasp what He means in an argument such as 'Thought seeks the Absolute' one needs to know what He means by Thought. We take thought for granted. Thought comprehends by the sense of difference is His explanation. When two or more ideas present to the mind, the effort of mind to relate one with the other is the process of thinking. Atma is known to create conceptually, which is a process of thought. Wherever there is a difference, thought can comprehend it. Thus, thought can reach the Absolute.M

In another place HE says even if ego is abolished one will be left with evil nature which means the creation of evil is beyond the plane of ego. Here He assumes in us the knowledge of planes. What is the value of Thought here and elsewhere? Brahman in which there is no scar of division has created Sachchidanandam. Now a difference has come into existence. Thought is capable of comprehending this difference. As against the age-old belief that Thought cannot reach Brahman, we can now see it is possible. For understanding this we must understand what thought is. Sri Aurobindo's assumptions are of this level. To write explaining all His assumptions is possible in a work of good length for one who is intellectually inclined. The aim here is to be indicative, suggestive, not scholarly and exhaustive.

He assumes that we will NOT assume.

When the ego dissolves, the psychic emerges and becomes universal. This is a theme that runs through His writings. Along any linear development of finite into a bigger finite, the rules may repeat, not when the finite is making for Infinity as the movement here is not linear. This is an occasion where the converse is not true. The ego when it dissolves in other yogas becomes the impersonal Self not the psychic. Only in the evolutionary movement does it become the psychic.

Another familiar theme is when the Psychic emerges, it leads us along the path of evolution. Not so in Bhakti yoga which also releases the psychic. Here it leads to liberation. Though Psychic is an instrument of evolution, it does not function so when it is not released by the evolutionary process. A principal grants you admission when you appear before him as a candidate for admission, not when he meets you in the supermarket as a salesman.

Cosmic Consciousness

-This is one of the extensions of the Self-Conscious Being, the Sat Purusha that is transcendent or Supracosmic. For us to see that, we must rise above that and there the Being is one with consciousness. We may be able to see it when we enter into it but only from above is it fully seen.


– is a common word which we accept as something divine. As it emerges from the Being when it objectifies itself as Truth, Spirit arises as the experience of Being. In a passage Sri Aurobindo further explains (p.22) Spirit is inactive Brahman, transcendent Silence, the Self of the Adwaitin, the conscious Energy one with Being that creates the world. Even after reading all this, when we come across the word Spirit, we look at it as before, not in its full significance.

p.26. It is in cosmic consciousness Unity breaks into multiplicity and interacts with each other. Mind in its mental consciousness can only see the multiplicity, not the unity. In the superconsciousness Mind will be able to see the unity and not the multiplicity. Both and their interactions are seen in cosmic consciousness. The truth of creation is here. The Rishis who reached the Superconscious directly, missed the truth of creation and hence evolution.


– is a word that tells us nothing exists. The Buddhist conception also tells us Nirvana dissolves every thing including the SOUL. What Nirvana dissolves is the ego, personality, Karma, cause and effect as they are all products of becoming. Soul is not. It is of the Being. There is no question of its being dissolved.

Sri Aurobindo uses the medium of language to communicate spiritual experiences that are fresh to human experience. And that language is read by people of several cultures. A language is differently understood by different cultures. When an American uses the word daughter to an Indian it means at the age of 18 she would take care of herself whereas to the Indian the same word means she is a life-long liability to him whose marriage must be quickly arranged by him. The one thousand ideas that The Life Divine explains should be understood by us as HE originally meant, not what it means to us or what the language means by it