The long history of focus by spiritual aspirants on achieving oneness with the Transcendent, the Eternal, while subordinating or outright denying the life of the world, has created substantial confusion about the significance of life, the nature of the manifested universal creation, and the relation of these to the Eternal. Sri Aurobindo clarifies the differences between the Eternal and the consciousness which is responsible for the creation, the supramental consciousness. Much of the confusion is due to the attempt to use the mind’s limited capabilities to understand what is clearly beyond the limits that the mind can grasp. Understanding can only come through “knowledge by identity” which requires the seeker to move beyond the mental framework and experience the higher consciousness directly.

Sri Aurobindo writes: “1. I mean by the supracosmic Reality the supreme Sachchidananda who is above this and all manifestation, not bound by any, yet from whom all manifestation proceeds and all universe. 2. The supramental and the supracosmic are not the same. If it were so there could be no supramental world and no descent of the supramental principle into the material world — we would be brought back to the idea that the divine Truth and Reality can only exist beyond and the universe — any universe — can only be half-truth or an illusion of ignorance. 3. I mean by the supramental the Truth-Consciousness whether above or in the universe by which the Divine knows not only his own essence and being but his manifestation also. Its fundamental character is knowledge by identity, by that the Self is known, the Divine Sachchidananda is known, but also the truth of manifestation is known, because this too is That — sarvam khalvidam brahma, vasudevah sarvam, etc. Mind is an instrument of the Ignorance trying to know — supermind is the Knower possessing knowledge, because one with it and the known, therefore seeing all things in the light of His own Truth, the light of their true self which is He. It is a dynamic and not only a static Power, not only a Knowledge, but a Will according to Knowledge — there is a supramental Power or Shakti which can manifest direct its world of Light and Truth in which all is luminously based on the harmony and unity of the One, not disturbed by a veil of Ignorance or any disguise. The supermind therefore does not transcend all possible manifestation, but it is above the triplicity of mind, life and Matter which is our present experience of this manifestation.”
Sri Aurobindo, Integral Yoga: Sri Aurobindo’s Teaching and Method of Practice, Planes of Consciousness and Parts of the Being, pp. 65-67

Author's Bio: 

Santosh has been studying Sri Aurobindo's writings since 1971 and has a daily blog at He is author of 16 books and is editor-in-chief at Lotus Press. He is president of Institute for Wholistic Education, a non-profit focused on integrating spirituality into daily life.