We are used to the idea that if we practice something, if we undertake a course of study, we will gradually increase our ability and our level of understanding, so that eventually we move, in the academic field, for example, from primary school to high school, to college, potentially to graduate school, and at each stage, we become more accomplished in our chosen field of endeavour. The shift of consciousness does not appear to work under that mode of development however. The preparation takes place unseen, in the secret heart, deep within the being and until it comes forward to manifest, at best it throws up hints and glimpses of what is possible.

The shift tis thus more akin to what is known as the “all or nothing” phenomenon. Vision functions like that. Until there are a sufficient number of photons to trigger awareness, we believe everything is dark. The Mother uses the example of the chick maturing inside the egg. Outside there is no visible sign. Once ready, the chick breaks the egg and appears and can immediately begin to interact with the outer environment.

The Mother notes: “And so long as one is there, inside, one is in the falsehood. And only on the day when by the Divine Grace one can break the shell and come out into the Light, is one free.”

“This may happen suddenly, spontaneously, quite unexpectedly.”

“I don’t think one can go through gradually. I don’t think it is something which slowly wears and wears away until one can see through it. I haven’t had an instance of this so far. There is rather a kind of accumulation of power inside, an intensification of the need, and an endurance in the effort which becomes free from all fear, all anxiety, all calculation; a need so imperative that one no longer cares for the consequences.”

“One is like an explosive that nothing can resist, and one bursts out from one’s prison in a blaze of light.”

“After that one can no longer fall back again.”

“It is truly a new birth.”

Sri Aurobindo and the Mother, Growing Within: The Psychology of Inner Development, Chapter IX Reversal of Consciousness: The New Birth, pg. 176

Author's Bio: 

Santosh has been studying Sri Aurobindo's writings since 1971 and has a daily blog at http://sriaurobindostudies.wordpress.com and podcast at https://anchor.fm/santosh-krinsky He is author of 17 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.