Exploring the Depths of Consciousness Insights From Sri Aurobindo

Sri Aurobindo once said, “We are not only what we know of ourselves but an immense more which we do not know; our momentary personality is only a bubble on the ocean of our existence.”

These words prompted me to reflect on what lies beyond our surface mind and to question the nature of consciousness itself.  This curiosity led me to delve into A Greater Psychology: An Introduction to the Psychological Thought of Sri Aurobindo, edited by A.S. Dalal. 

Challenging Misconceptions about Consciousness 

One of the first misconceptions I encountered is the common belief about the origin of consciousness. Contrary to popular thought, consciousness is not a product of the brain. Instead, the brain is an Exploring the Depths of Consciousness Insights From Sri Aurobindo instrument used by consciousness. Abnormal instances support this idea, showing that our organs, including the heart and brain, are not absolutely essential to life or thought. 

Within us, there exists a vital consciousness that operates in the cells of our body and governs automatic vital functions. This vital consciousness enables us to perform purposeful movements and respond to attractions and repulsions that our mind might not recognize. In animals, this vital consciousness plays an even more significant role. In plants, it is intuitively evident through their behaviors, such as seeding, shrinking, experiencing pleasure and pain, and undergoing cycles of sleep and wakefulness. These behaviors are all movements of consciousness, although they do not manifest as mentality.

The Nature of Consciousness

Consciousness is fundamental to being and is not composed of parts. It formulates any parts it chooses to manifest, either by descending from spiritual levels towards involution in Matter or by working upwards through evolution. When consciousness operates through the sense of ego, we perceive a distinct individual “I” until it expands into infinity or is shed to reveal spiritual vastness. 

Modern materialistic thought, governed by science, views consciousness as a phenomenon that emerges from inconscient Matter and consists of certain reactions to external stimuli. However, this is merely a phenomenon of consciousness, not consciousness itself. It represents only a small fraction of the potential phenomena of consciousness and provides no insight into Consciousness the Reality, which is fundamental to existence.

Conclusion

Understanding consciousness from Sri Aurobindo’s perspective has profoundly impacted my personal journey. His insights challenged my preconceived notions and opened my mind to the vast possibilities beyond the materialistic view of consciousness. The quote, “We are not only what we know of ourselves but an immense more which we do not know,” has been a catalyst for deeper introspection and exploration.

This journey has led me to question: What lies beyond our immediate awareness? How can we tap into the deeper layers of our consciousness? What might we discover about ourselves and the universe if we look beyond the surface of our thoughts and perceptions? 

As you reflect on these questions, I invite you to consider how Sri Aurobindo’s integral philosophy might resonate with your own experiences and beliefs. How might this understanding of consciousness influence your personal and spiritual growth?

– Bhawani Singh
Research Intern, Centre for Human Sciences, Rishihood University

(Disclaimer: These articles are produced by undergraduate students from IIT Roorkee, interning at the Centre for Human Sciences, Rishihood University.)

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