"In Wonders We Sail, Questing for the Answers in Veil"

Sunday, November 27, 2011

The Planes Of Consciousness By Satprem

Not everyone is capable of consciously leaving his body,or consciously widening his mind and vital,but many do so unconsciously,in sleep,precisely when the little I's of the frontal being are less of a hindrance and less thoroughly absorbed in their superficial preoccupations.These various I's express a fraction of reality,that seen by the naked eye,but immense domains stress beyond them.Our object is to recover the integrality of our universal reality.There are three methods or stages of achieving this:the first,which is at everyone's disposal,is sleep;the second,rarer,is based on conscious exteriorisation or deep meditation;the third represents a more advanced degree of development in which everything becomes simple:we can do away with sleep and meditation,and see in every way,with our eyes wide open in the midst of our other activities,as though all degrees of universal existence were there before our very eyes, accessible through the simple shifts of consciousness,somewhat like adjusting our sight from a near by object to a more distant one.Sleep,then,is a first tool; it can become conscious,increasingly conscious,until we become sufficiently developed to be continuously conscious,on this side and on the other,until sleep,and death too,are no longer return to vegetative state or a dispersion in tour natural constituents,but simply a passage from one mode of consciousness to another.Because although the line we have drawn between sleep and waking,between life and death,may fit our observation of external appearances,it actually has no essential reality,any more than our national boarders have any reality for physical geography,or the colored and immutable exteriority of an object has any reality for nuclear physics.There is,in fact,no separation,except of our unconsciousness: the two words (or rather this one and countless others) constantly coexist ,are constantly intermingled,and it is merely a particular way of perceiving the same thing that makes us say in one case,"I live,",and in the other,"I Sleep" or "I'm Dead" (provided we are conscious enough to be aware of being dead),just as it is possible to experience the same object differently depending on the level of observation -atomic,molecular or pure external."Elsewhere" is everywhere here.We have attached a single and exclusive value to the various symbols that form our outer physical life because they are right before our eyes,but there are no more or less valid than the other symbols that makeup our extraphysical life-the atomic reality of an object does not cancel or is not separate from its external reality,and vice versa.Not only the other symbols are valid as our physical symbols,but we cannot understand our own symbols in the least if we do not understand all other symbols.Without the knowledge of the other degrees of reality,our knowledge of the ordinary human world is as incomplete and false as would be a study of the physical world that would exclude the knowledge of molecules, atoms, and particles. Nothing is understood unless everything is understood.

Thus, there is an infinite gradation of coextensive, simultaneous realities, upon which sleep opens a natural window. Indeed, if we set aside the superficial life-death-sleep classification in favor of a more essential classification of the universe, we see that, from top to bottom (if there is such a thing as top and bottom), this universe is but a continuum of consciousness-force or, as Sri Aurobindo puts it, a gradation of planes of consciousness ranging without break from pure Matter to pure Spirit – Subtle Physical, Vital, Mind, Supermind (we may use another terminology, if we like, but the fact remains) – and everything occurs on these planes: everything coexists there, without any separation. Life, death, and sleep are simply different positions of consciousness within this one gradation. When we are awake, we receive mental or vital vibrations, which are translated in us by certain symbols, certain ways of seeing, understanding, or living. When we are asleep, or "dead," we receive the same mental, vital or other vibrations, which are translated in us by other symbols, other ways of seeing, understanding, or living the same reality. In each case, the key to our existence, here or elsewhere, is always our capacity of consciousness; if we lack consciousness in life, we will lack consciousness in every other way: death will really be death, and sleep really a stupor. To become aware of these different planes of reality is therefore our fundamental work. Once we have done this work integrally, the artificial boundaries that separate our different modes of existence will crumble; we will move without break, without any gap of consciousness, from life to sleep to death. More precisely, death and sleep will cease to exist as we understand them, to be replaced by different manners of continuously perceiving the total Reality, and perhaps ultimately by an integral consciousness that will perceive everything simultaneously. Our evolution is far from over. Death is not a denial of Life but a process of Life.

This physical life in this physical body has, therefore, a special prominence among all our modes of existence, because it is here that we can become conscious; this is the field of work, as the Mother says, the meeting-point of all the planes in one body. This is the field of work because it is the starting, or almost starting, point of evolution; through this body, slowly, after countless undifferentiated lives, a "self" takes on an individuality by coming in contact with higher and higher planes of consciousness, and vaster and vaster reaches of consciousness on each plane. Hence, there are as many different kinds of death or sleep as there are lives, because they are the same thing; everything depends upon the degree of our evolutionary development; there are all possible degrees in sleep and death, as in life, from the complete zombie to the fully awake and individualized consciousness. Therefore, there are no general rules regarding sleep and death, because everything is possible, just as it is in our physical waking state. We can at most outline some general features.

As mentioned in the chakras or the seven centers of consciousness, we are made up of several centers of consciousness, ranging from above the head to the bottom. Each of these centers is somewhat like a radio receiver tuned in to particular wavelengths, and is linked with different planes of consciousness from which we constantly receive, most often unknowingly, all sorts of vibrations – subtle physical, vital or mental, higher or lower – that account for our way of thinking, feeling and living, with our individual consciousness acting as a filter and picking up certain vibrations rather than others, in accord with its own social environment, tradition, education, etc. As a general rule, in sleep or in death, we go by affinity to those places or planes with which we have already established a relationship. This is the elementary stage when the consciousness is not truly individualized; although it may be mentally refined and cultivated, it thinks more or less like everyone else, feels like everyone else, and lives like everyone else: it is merely a temporary aggregate whose continuity does not extend beyond the body in which everything is centered. When this bodily center dies, everything scatters into small vital, mental, and other fragments, which return to their respective realms, since they no longer have a center. And when the center is asleep, everything is more or less asleep, since the nonphysical mental and vital elements exist only in relation to, and to serve, the bodily life. In this primary state, whenever the consciousness falls asleep, it slips back into the subconscient (we use the word subconscient as Sri Aurobindo used it, in the etymological sense, meaning that which is historically sub-conscious, not below the level of our waking consciousness but below the conscious stage in the evolutionary sense, as in the animal or the plant); in other words, the consciousness returns to its evolutionary past, which may bring out an array of chaotic images made by random associations of many fragments of memories and impressions, unless it carries on its waking activities in a more or less incoherent way. From there, the consciousness sinks further into a vegetable or larval past, which is its actual sleep, like the sleep of plants and animals. Many stages are necessary before the true center, the psychic and its consciousness-force, are formed and impart some coherence and continuity to this volatile mixture. But from the moment the body ceases to be the main center, and one begins to have an inner life independent of physical circumstances and physical life, and especially when one does yoga, which is a process of accelerated evolution, life truly changes, as do death and sleep; one begins to exist. Actually, the first thing one notices is the special nature of certain dreams, as if visible, outward changes were preceded by inner mutations of a subtler order, affecting our dreams. We go from animal sleep to conscious sleep, or sleep of experience, and from a death that rots to a death that lives. The partitions that divided our integral life crumble. Instead of living in total dispersion for lack of a center, we have found the Master and seized upon the thread of consciousness-force that links together all the planes of universal reality.

From the book 'Sri Aurobindo or The Adventures of Consciousness'


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