Paragraph 8 – 11

Study Notes


     Above, the formula of the One eternally stable and immutable; below, the formula of the Many which, eternally mutable, seeks but hardly finds in the flux of things a firm and immutable standing-point; between, the seat of all trinities, of all that is biune, of all that becomes Many-in-One and yet remains One-in-Many because it was originally One that is always potentially Many.


     Above the Truth-Consciousness there is formula of the One, eternally stable and immutable (unchanging) Sachchidananda. Below It, is the formula of the Many which is forever changing. In the ever-changing status of things, it seeks but fails to find a firm and stable standing-point. Truth-consciousness which is in between is the seat of triune consciousness- Sat, Chit and Ananda. It is biune i.e., both as a child of Brahman and the parent of Mind. It is the seat of all that becomes Many-in-One. It was originally the One having the potentialities of Many.

This intermediary term is therefore the beginning and end of all creation and arrangement, the Alpha and the Omega, the starting-point of all differentiation,the instrument of all unification, originative, executive and consummative of all realised or realisable harmonies. It has the knowledge of the One, but is able to draw out of the One its hidden multitudes; it manifests the Many, but does not lose itself in their differentiations.


     Supermind is the Alpha and the Omega, the starting point and the end of all creation and arrangement; origin of all differentiation and instrument of unifications and all realisable harmonies. It has the knowledge of the One and can draw out the hidden Many from the One. It manifests the Many without being lost in their division.

And shall we not say that its very existence points back to Something beyond our supreme perception of the ineffable Unity, —Something ineffable and mentally inconceivable not because of its unity and indivisibility, but because of its freedom from even these formulations of our mind, —Something beyond both unity and multiplicity? That would be the utter Absolute and Real which yet justifies to us both our knowledge of God and our knowledge of the world.


     Sri Aurobindo says the very existence of Supermind points out to Something beyond our conception of the Divine as indescribable unity. Our Mind makes the formulation of unity and indivisibility as the nature of the Divine. But the Divine is beyond these mental formulations. That is its Freedom. It is beyond both unity and multiplicity. Though the Divine is the utter Absolute and Real beyond all descriptions yet justifies to us our knowledge of God as One and our knowledge of the world as Many.


     But these terms are large and difficult to grasp; let us come to precisions. We speak of the One as Sachchidananda; but in the very description we posit three entities and unite them to arrive at a trinity. We say “Existence, Consciousness, Bliss”, and then we say, “they are one”. It is a process of the mind. But for the unitarian consciousness such a process is inadmissible. Existence is Consciousness and there can be no distinction between them; Consciousness is Bliss and there can be no distinction between them. And since there is not even this differentiation, there can be no world. If that is the sole reality, then world is not and never existed, can never have been conceived; for indivisible consciousness is undividing consciousness and cannot originate division and differentiation. But this is a reductio ad absurdum; we cannot admit it unless we are content to base everything upon an impossible paradox and an unreconciled antithesis.


     We have seen that Sachchidananda represents the One, the Unity. We also say Sachchidananda is a trinity, meaning it is Existence, Consciousness and Bliss (Ananda) and we say they are one. Sri Aurobindo says it is the process of the mind. For the consciousness which is One such division is unacceptable. There cannot be any distinction between Existence and Consciousness, Consciousness and Bliss.
     Based on this fact one may argue that world is not possible because Sachchidananda cannot permit any division of itself. It is an indivisible consciousness. Earlier we have seen that Sachchidananda which is One has become the Many, the manifested world. If Sachchidananda is taken as the only sole reality then there cannot be this manifested world.
     But such an argument, Sri Aurobindo says, is carrying something to an absurd extreme. We cannot accept such an argument unless we want to base everything on an impossible paradox and unreconciled opposites.


     On the other hand, Mind can conceive with precision divisions as real; it can conceive a synthetic totality or the finite extending itself indefinitely; it can grasp aggregates of divided things and the samenesses underlying them; but the ultimate unity and absolute infinity are to its conscience of things abstract notions and unseizable quantities, not something that is real to its grasp, much less something that is alone real.


     In this paragraph Sri Aurobindo discusses the One and the Many from the level of the Mind. This world is a field of multiplicity and division. Mind sees the divisions as real. It can artificially construct the totality of the many i.e., finite which extends infinitely. It can grasp the aggregates of divided things and the sameness underlying the many.
     But Mind cannot grasp such concepts as unity and absolute infinity as they are too abstract for it. They do not appear as real to the understanding of Mind. Nor can it believe that One alone is real.

Here is therefore the very opposite term to the unitarian consciousness; we have, confronting the essential and indivisible unity, an essential multiplicity which cannot arrive at unity without abolishing itself and in the very act confessing that it could never really have existed. Yet it was; for it is this that has found unity and abolished itself. And again we have a reductio ad absurdum repeating the violent paradox which seeks to convince thought by stunning it and the irreconciled and irreconcilable antithesis.


     We find in the manifested world, the multiplicity, the very opposite of indivisible unity. We find here in the world essential multiplicity which cannot become unity without abolishing itself. In the very act of abolishing, it denies its very own existence. Sri Aurobindo says it is paradoxical. Without remaining in existence how it can abolish itself and find unity?
     This argument also carries something to absurd extreme. It tries to convince the thought by stunning it with its irreconcilable opposites.


     The difficulty, in its lower term, disappears if we realise that Mind is only a preparatory form of our consciousness. Mind is an instrument of analysis and synthesis, but not of essential knowledge. Its function is to cut out something vaguely from the unknown Thing in itself and call this measurement or delimitation of it the whole, and again to analyse the whole into its parts which it regards as separate mental objects.


     It is the difficulty of the mind which is unable to see the unity in this world of multiplicity. This difficulty disappears once we understand that Mind is only a preparatory stage of our consciousness. Mind does not possess the essential knowledge. It is only an instrument of analysis and synthesis. For example, an ape does not know anything about the computer. Similarly, Mind cannot solve the paradox between Sachchidananda as an indivisible One and Sachchidananda as the manifested Many.
     Mind cuts something from an unknown Thing (Infinity). It measures out and delimits (brings the limitless within limits). It calls this limited portion as the whole. It again analysis this whole into its parts. It views these parts as separate mental objects.

It is only the parts and accidents that the Mind can see definitely and, after its own fashion, know. Of the whole its only definite idea is an assemblage of parts or a totality of properties and accidents. The whole not seen as a part of something else or in its own parts, properties and accidents is to the mind no more than a vague perception; only when it is analysed and put by itself as a separate constituted object, a totality in a larger totality, can Mind say to itself, “This now I know.” And really it does not know. It knows only its own analysis of the object and the idea it has formed of it by a synthesis of the separate parts and properties that it has seen.


     What Mind definitely sees is only the parts and accidents (meaning characteristics of the parts). It does not see the essence of things. For example, we do not see the soul in human beings.
     In its own way it knows these things. As far as Mind knows, whole means assemblage and totality of parts and their characteristics. It does not see this whole as part of something else. Mind only gets vague knowledge of the properties of its parts.
     For example, our body is the whole. All our organs are it parts. Mere assembling of our organs cannot constitute the whole man.
     What mind does is it constitutes a separate object as a totality in a larger totality and analysis it. Then it says, “This now I know”. But in reality, it does not know. What it knows is, its own analysis of the object and its own idea it has formed by the synthesis of the separate parts and its properties.

There its characteristic power, its sure function ceases, and if we would have a greater, a profounder and a real knowledge, —a knowledge and not an intense but formless sentiment such as comes sometimes to certain deep but inarticulate parts of our mentality, —Mind has to make room for another consciousness which will fulfil Mind by transcending it or reverse and so rectify its operations after leaping beyond it: the summit of mental knowledge is only a vaulting-board from which that leap can be taken.


     Mind cannot go beyond this analysis of the parts. It misses the knowledge of the whole. Only a greater, profounder and real knowledge can give mind wholistic perception. Such knowledge we get sometimes from our deeper and less communicated part of our mentality.
     We live in mental consciousness. Mind has to make way for some higher consciousness. This higher consciousness can set right the present defects and limitations of mind by transcending (going beyond) it. Now man is at his summit of his mental consciousness. His present state can be a jumping-board for making a leap to higher consciousness.

The utmost mission of Mind is to train our obscure consciousness which has emerged out of the dark prison of Matter, to enlighten its blind instincts, random intuitions, vague perceptions till it shall become capable of this greater light and this higher ascension. Mind is a passage, not a culmination.


     Our present consciousness has emerged out of dark prison of matter. Our mental consciousness is obscure (meaning, lacking in clarity). The ultimate goal of Mind is to train our unclear consciousness. Our lower parts have blind animal instincts. They have to be enlightened. We get intuitions but they are random, not well-ordered. All our perceptions both inner and outer are vague, not precise. All these have to be enlightened by higher consciousness.
     Therefore, Sri Aurobindo concludes this paragraph by saying, ‘Mind is a passage, not a culmination(end)’.