Just as the electro-magnetic spectrum has ranges below those that we can consciously receive and translate, as well as ranges above those we can utilize, so also consciousness has ranges below and above our limits. The ranges below our limits are called subconscient and inconscient. Those above are called superconscient.

Scientists have developed tools to measure ranges of vibration outside the normally perceptible range we can capture with our senses. Thus, we know about infrared and ultraviolet ranges, as well as sounds that vibrate at lower and higher levels, etc. While the limits of the sense organs may prevent our directly experiencing UV or infrared energy levels, we can experience their effects and thus, can develop strategies to either utilize them or at least protect ourselves from deleterious effects, such as sunburns and the development of skin cancers that can occur from too much UV exposure over time.

An analogous process can be understood with respect to the action and impact of consciousness. Psychologists are able to begin to unravel the process for understanding the action of the subconscious levels on our lives. Freud, Jung and many others since then have delved into the subconscious forces that provide motive force to the actions and reactions we experience in our lives, even if we do not fully appreciate or understand them. Creative geniuses, artists, inventors, visionaries tell us, through their description of how their novel understanding came to them, of levels above and beyond those of the normal human mind, and they speak of inspiration and intuition.

The Vedic rishis explored the superconscient realms and their forces and worked to expand the limits of human development to begin to incorporate these forces where possible into their experience and consciousness. Some of the code language we find in the Rig Veda refer to powers of light, of illumination, of understanding that exceed the mental processes upon which our external lives are generally founded.

Sri Aurobindo took up the work of exploring, and codifying the levels of consciousness above the mind, both through glimpses and experiences and through an understanding of their effects when the mind was touched by these forces. By observing the stages of the evolution of consciousness, Sri Aurobindo was able to recognize that those ranges above the mental level that he was exploring and experiencing were representative of the next phase in the evolution of consciousness in the world. Based on the mechanism of the next phase developing at the level of the highest prior development, he saw that it was through evolved humanity that these more powerful levels of consciousness and therefore of power of action in the world would necessarily develop.

Dr. Dalal notes: “The superconscient consists of higher levels of consciousness above the ordinary mind from which the higher consciousness comes down into the lower planes of the being. Sri Aurobindo explains: ‘The role of the superconscient has been to evolve slowly the spiritual man out of the mental half-animal.’ The superconscient includes the higher planes of mind — Higher Mind, Illumined Mind, Intuition and Overmind — as well as what is beyond mind, namely Supermind and the Supreme Reality called Sachchidananda (Existence-Consciousness-Bliss).”

Sri Aurobindo and the Mother, Our Many Selves: Practical Yogic Psychology, Introduction, Sri Aurobindo on Our Many Selves, Planes and Parts of the Being, pp.xxvii-xxviii

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.