Or, we may describe this as the parable of the caterpillar and the butterfly. The mind is like the caterpillar, slowly grinding its way along, eating and focusing on its physical being and its circumstances for gaining sustenance. It does not dream that one day it will be transformed into a butterfly and fly freely through the air, seeing the world from a totally different state of awareness. Or, if it is aware of its future destiny, it cannot experience the consciousness of the butterfly as it flies and sees the world from a totally different perspective than the caterpillar fixated on chewing the nearest leaf. Yet, when it reaches a certain stage of its development, the caterpillar withdraws from its active focus on eating, encloses itself in a cocoon and when it later emerges, it spreads its wing and flies away. At that stage, the awareness of the butterfly takes over the consciousness of the former caterpillar.

The mind acts through analysis, decomposition of what it experiences into discrete units and then tries to piece them together, as in a jigsaw puzzle, to get a picture of its reality. It is the caterpillar crawling along the leaf, focused on its physical need for sustenance, and, even if it can conceive of its future destiny with the advent of the supramental consciousness, it cannot begin to understand what the experience of that consciousness actually will be.

Sri Aurobindo writes: “It is hardly possible to say what the supermind is in the language of Mind, even spiritualised Mind, for it is a different consciousness altogether and acts in a different way. Whatever may be said of it is likely to be not understood or misunderstood. It is only by growing into it that we can know what it is and this also cannot be done until after a long process by which mind heightening and illuminating becomes pure Intuition (not the mixed thing that ordinarily goes by that name) and masses itself into overmind; after that overmind can be lifted into and suffused with supermind till it undergoes a transformation.”

“In the supermind all is self-known self-luminously, there are no divisions, oppositions or separated aspects as in Mind whose principle is division of Knowledge into parts and setting each part against one another. Overmind approaches this at its top and is often mistaken for supermind, but it cannot reach it — except by uplifting and transformation.” Sri Aurobindo, Integral Yoga: Sri Aurobindo’s Teaching and Method of Practice, Planes of Consciousness and Parts of the Being, pp. 62-65

Author's Bio: 

Santosh has been studying Sri Aurobindo's writings since 1971 and has a daily blog at http://sriaurobindostudies.wordpress.com on the subject. 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 dedicated to the integration of spirituality into daily life.