Summary and Main Points of Sri Aurobindo's Teachings
The following summary and list of the main points of Sri Aurobindo's Teachings is by Roy Poser, from Growth Online - The Future Evolutionary Individual and Collective Life on Earth
Sri Aurobindo's Vision of Future Existence
Sri Aurobindo said that humans may not be the final rung on the evolutionary scale. That we might witness the emergence of a new species, one that is above and beyond the present human race as we know it. Sri Aurobindo believed that if we could make the ascent to overcome our limiting nature, if we could further rediscover the hidden spirit in life, if we could come in contact and open ourselves to supramental truth Truth Consciousness, then we can change life as we know it. He invited us to take a journey on a path from our current human functioning to a vastly different superfunctioning that opens he doors to infinite accomplishment, success, and happiness in life.
Spirit in Life, Not Apart From It
The old spiritual teachings ask us to experience spirit and its delight apart from life. The new spiritual understanding is to bring spirit into every moment into life, in every act, releasing its infinite potential, and enabling us to experience the infinite delight of existence.
Religion & Science are Failing Us
Though religion has provided a moral foundation, it has lost touch with its spiritual roots. In the coming age each individual can experience the spirit directly, not merely worship the founder. Also, each religion has but one ray of spiritual truth. We need to experience the vast multiplicity of truths of spirit. Science likewise is failing us, despite the great benefits it has brought. Like religion, it sees one truth -- the material -- and misses the vast multiplicity of vital, mental, and spiritual existence that are also the great determinants of life. Thus for every benefit it creates, it creates an equal harm. (e.g. nuclear bombs with nuclear energy.)
Path to Evolutionary Spiritual Being
For those who wished to undertake the effort, Sri Aurobindo laid out a path from our current human functioning to a new evolutionary spiritual-based functioning; rooted in a new supramental consciousness. One could open to this Force to totally transform our mental, vital, and physical nature into their higher counterparts.
Delight of Being
The ultimate purpose of life is to discover the delight of existence. We reach that delight when we discover our higher nature. The highest nature we can discover is our spiritual nature. When we discover our highest spiritual nature we experience delight; the very reason that the Divine created this universe of forms, for even greater delight.
Going Beyond Our Ignorance to an Integral Knowledge
We are divided beings, born of an essential Ignorance due to our exclusionary view that takes the part we know as the whole. Sri Aurobindo says that as we rise discover our True Self within and the spirit we rise in in consciousness, where we rise above the ego that supports the Ignorance. We begin to see the multiplicity of truths, going beyond our part knowledge. This helps break down our ignorance, and the falsehood and evil that derives from it. In other words, we move toward an Integral Knowledge of the whole, including seeing the oneness of the spirit and matter, and the creator and the creation. I.e. the vision of Brahman.
Theory of Creation
The Involution is the process by which the Omnipresent Spiritual Reality became the cosmos.
The original Omnipresent Reality (The Absolute in the West, Brahman in the East) in its desire to create a universe of forms (for the purpose of extending its own Delight into the experience of delight by those forms in life) extended to the Triune of Existence/Being/Spirit -- Conscious/Force -- Delight. It then spun off the Supramental Plane to enable the plane of Mind to divide the Conscious Force, which provided the energy that is the basis of all forms in creation. When that energy began to move the universe was born.
From the point that energy is created in the involution, the evolution begins .
The universe essentially began as energy at rest, becomes energy that moves, and eventually coagulates into forms of matter (plasma, galaxies, etc.), further evolving on earth (and elsewhere) as vital animus of life, and culminating in humans (and perhaps other intelligent life forms) as mind. Man continues this evolutionary process by rising to his higher nature above mind and within through sprit. When he touches Supermind and the pure spirit above and uses that power to integrate all aspect of his being, he fulfills his evolutionary purpose.
Utilization of Truth Consciousness Power
Man utilizes the same spiritual supramental, truth consciousness power that enables the Reality to manifest the universe to aid in his own ascent from vital and mental-based humans to spiritual and supramental truth consciousness evolutionary beings. This is the culminating of the evolution.
The spiritualized evolutionary individual and collective existence fulfills the purpose of he universe, which is delight of being.
Evolution is Reverse of Involution
The involution, which is from spirit to matter, is reversed in the evolution; i.e. is a return to spirit from matter. The involution goes from the Real Idea of the Omnipresent Reality to manifest a universe for the delight of being, creates the planes of mind, life, and matter, and then hides them before creation; whereas the evolution is the reverse process where matter appears, where the plane of life emerges from matter, where mind emerges from life, and spirit from mind, and in that process enables man to discover the delight of being, the purpose for which the Divine manifest through Supermind the universe.
Subprocesses in Involution and Evolution
In the involution a process of self conception is used by the Divine to conceptualize the universe as a Real Idea, and through supermind converts that Real Idea into the planes of matter, life, and mind. Then thorough a process of self-absorption the Divine hides those planes just as the universe begins so that through the evolution man can discover the hidden spirit, Godhead in objects and experience the delight of existence.
In the evolution matter emerges, and from matter life, and from life mind, and from mind, spirit. In that way Nature reverses the self-absorption of these planes as they emerge as realities. Also man similarly self-conceptualizes what he would like his own life to be to enable his own evolution, experiencing the delight of being for which the universe was created, culminating in his spiritual nature and the evolutionary spiritual being and divine collective life.
Makeup of the Individual
Makeup of the Individual
Life in the universe began as physical matter, evolved to the vital animus of life, and evolved further to mind. The individual human embodies the matter of the universe as his physical body, experiences the vital animus of life as his vital life force, energy, emotions, and feelings, and he is the highest embodiment of the plane of mind. He can also enable spirit in his life
Subdivisions of Physical, Vital, and Mental
The individual consists of physical, vital, mental, and spiritual planes. Each of these can be subdivided into at least three more levels. E.g. three planes of mind--
Levels of Mind Proper The mind of man consists of a first level where thoughts are processed into ideas, a still higher level where thoughts are turned into sentiments, values, and ideals, and higher still where he engages in reason, pure thought, and can conceptualize new ideas and that which he wishes to be.
Levels of Spiritual Mind There are level of spiritual mind beyond our normal minds; beyond mind proper. There is an ascending scale of mentality that starts with the lower fact-gathering and sense-based mind, that rises higher to that part of mind that expresses sentiments and values, rises higher still to the rational, objective pure mind, and then finally breaks through to spiritual mind. It is in spiritual mind that we have experiences of knowledge through silence, light and illumination and vision, and intuition. It is in those realms that the object of knowledge that we pursue simply drops into our minds without the hard thought-churning processes of mind proper. From these levels of mind we simply know that which we want to know. When we have the intuition, then the information, the object of knowledge we wish to know, enters our mind in full, with all of its details.
Vertical and Horizontal Scales of Consciousness
The planes of man that go from matter to vital to mind to spiritual mind to supermind can be thought of as vertical scale of consciousness. The movement from the surface of life to the depths of life within culminating in connection to the psychic being, the personal evolving soul can be thought of as the horizontal scale of consciousness. When we evolve, move deeper within on the horizontal scale, and we move up among the planes in the vertical scale. The evolutionary spiritual being has reached and embodied the greatest depths of the horizontal -- the True Self, the personal evolving soul, the Psychic Being (these three are the same), and the heights of the vertical, the supramental consciousness.
Details of the Consciousness Within on the Horizontal Scale
Overview This horizontal scale of human consciousness ranges from our outer surface consciousness to an inner consciousness in the depths of our being. One way to imagine this is a series of concentric circles expanding out from the center of our being to the outer surface. The outer circle would be the surface of life we experience at the most material level, the inner circle would be our deepest parts within. We can choose to live on the surface of life or be centered in the depths of our being. The more we are influenced by the positive elements of the depths (there are also negative elements there), the higher our consciousness. The more we live on he surface, i.e. the outer rings, the less conscious we are of the world. As we bring the higher consciousness of the depths (which are influenced by the spirit) to our surface life -- replacing the current surface occupations of the outer material world experienced through our sense -- the more we evolve. This movement is a key to our future growth and development as a species.
Details of Inner Positive The inner consciousness (or being) consists of unconscious parts and very conscious parts. The unconscious parts include the inconscient and the subconscient (subconscious), while the conscious parts consist of the the subliminal, or subtle physical, vital, and mental parts, and more conscious still, the personal evolving soul, the True Self, the Psychic Being behind the subliminal being.
As we move our consciousness away from the surface of life and more towards the inner positive Subliminal being and even greater still to the Personal Evolving Soul (the Psychic Being) we break the bonds of our limited nature. We begin to come in contact with greater forces and powers within, which enable us to have greater control of the outer live; which breaks down our limiting, separative ego-sense, which overcomes our fundamental Ignorance which prevents us from having true, integral Knowledge, open us up to universal forces and powers, and enables us to experience the greatest Delight of existence.
Details of Inner Negative Let's consider the limited and greater parts of our inner being. The bedrock of all matter in the universe is unconsciousness, which we can call the Inconscient realm. That unconsciousness, inconscience of matter lives inside the human in the mostly negative Subconscient realm within. It is the cause of difficult dreams, pessimism and negative outlook of life born of millennia of human misery and difficulty. It is the foundation for our physical existence.
However, sitting atop the Subconscient is the very positive Subliminal, which throws up positive influences to our surface being. Within the Subliminal is the Personal Evolving Soul (the Psychic Being), which is the great aspect of our being that enables us to discover our true evolutionary nature. As we make contact with the Subliminal and Psychic Being, we evolve. We begin to do this in life by moving from living on the surface of life to moving into these depths. Ultimately we must also evolve the unevolved subconscient realms within, which we do by opening to the Superconscient realm, which is essentially the spiritual domain. When the spiritual domain evolves the subconscient, and we are firmly living in the depths of our being in the Subliminal and Personal Evolving Soul, the human individual will have begun the process of being transformed into his ultimate evolutionary possibility.
Individual's Center of Consciousness
Each individual lives at all of these levels simultaneously, though he tends to be centered at one; e.g. some people are more physical (e.g. rigid and of one mind), vital (emotional, passionate, energetic), or mental (cerebral, logical, etc.). Most people are centered in the vital of their needs and desires. Fewer are centered in the mind, though more and more are centered there. Fewer still are centered in the highest part of mind proper focused on reason, logic, and conception. A very few are centered in spirit, including spiritual mind.
Transformation of the Individual
Consecration and Surrender
The relatively simple method of human growth and development is to open to the Force before an activity. This is to open to the Power of the Divine Mother. The Divine Mother is the feminine personification of the Divine, God. In that way the individual suffuses all actions taken with this power, releasing its infinite potential. At a further stage man surrenders to the Force, and makes the Divine the whole reason for his existence, carrying out the Divine Will in the details of his life. Sri Aurobindo also explains an ultimate process of yoga to enable his ultimate human evolution. This he calls the triple transformation (explained below).
The one thing demanded of those serious in following Sri Aurobindo's path is a sincerity in its pursuit, and an intense aspiration for the descent of the Power and the transformation of one's nature.
For those who undertake the path of personal transformation (i.e. yoga), Sri Aurobindo describes three successive phases of this transformation -- the psychic, the spiritual, and the supramental.
In the first phase of the Triple Transformation one moves from the outer surface consciousness to the inner consciousness; the inner mind, the subliminal within, until one reaches the personal soul, i.e. inner psychic consciousness. At the psychic one has withdrawn from the ego consciousness, one is able to understand and control the limitations of one's physical, vital, and mental being, and one is put in touch with the cosmic, universal forces and truths. This is the Psychic transformation.
At a further phase one rises higher in one's being toward higher planes of mind, including Higher Mind, Illumined Mind, and Intuitive Mind. It is an opening to the presence above, an elevation of one's lower consciousness to the higher, and the descent of the higher into the lower. This is the Spiritual transformation, beyond the Psychic transformation.
Beyond that still is the Supramental transformation, where one rises to the level of Supermind, for a radical transformation of the being out of the ignorance that is the foundation of our nature, and into a new functioning that transcends beyond the mental, vital, and physical. One can become the Supramental being. The Triple Transformation are three stages that would happen in succession. (There is of course room for endless variety.)
Evolution of Society
Stages of Social Evolution
Just as the universe evolved from matter to life to mind; and the individual parallels that development in his body, his vital, and his mind, so too the society has evolved from a physical state of survival beginning say 100,000 years ago, to a vital stage during the middle of the last millennium, focused on trade, and interaction with others; to a mental stage that he is now currently emerging in which we see the emergence of freedom, democracy, higher organization, education, and individual self-fulfillment.
There is now the possibility of the mergence of the spiritual individual and the the spiritualized society.
Spiritualized Collective Existence
When a number of spiritualized evolutionary individuals appear they can come together and form a collative existence, the beginnings of what Sri Aurobindo calls a divine life on earth.
Nature of Spiritualized Collective Existence
-In this collective divine life, based on the principles of harmony and integrality, he would feel a complete oneness between his individuality and the collective purpose. For example, he would know how and when to lead or rule; or, as necessary, how and when to subordinate himself to the needs of the group. This will be a creative, spontaneous action because he is centered in this truth consciousness that knows the true Truths and experiences the oneness of all at any moment.
-He feels the essential unity and connection with all; because he feels the commonality of spirit, even of substance between himself and others. He is, in one sense, an extended being. Perhaps we can call him a universalized individual.
-What connects such supramentalized individuals into a bond of essential harmony, unit, and oneness is that each individual feels all selves to be an embodiment of a single self. This single self is the physical and soul experience that we are all in essence of the same spiritual Reality, each playing a role in a symphony of Divine unfolding. We feel that same spiritual essence within ourselves, with the environment, and with others. It is a spiritual bond that translates not only as a spiritual connection but as a deep emotional bond; perhaps even a physically sensational bond.
Like individuals, nations are evolving. So is the world collective. There is an ever accelerating movement towards world unity. The emergence of the European Union (which he called for 75 years ago.) is an example. There is a movement from the ego of individual nation to collective association. Unity in multiplicity explains it.
Sri Aurobindo explains his vast philosophy in this area in such books as the The Human Cycle, and The Ideal of Human Unity.