Many people can identify the experience of suddenly receiving an intuition or inspired or illumined knowledge on occasion. Some experience such things relatively frequently. Where does this sudden illumination come from? How does it act upon us? Generally, the occasional intuition is recognised when it comes into the mind, vital or physical being and has a quality of ‘rightness’ and truth associated with it. When the individual acts upon this intuition it is found to carry the individual forward in a much more effective way than any attempt to use the plodding mental intelligence and its linear, step-by-step structuring of knowledge. Such intuitions are valuable, but not infallible as they rely on the instrumentality of the body-life-mind complex to receive, translate and act upon them without undue distortion, which of course is impossible to avoid for the lower nature.

These insights and intuitions obviously come from another, different and higher level of awareness, and Sri Aurobindo has mapped these higher phases or stages through many years of yogic practice.

The transition to these higher stages of consciousness implies a self-exceeding beyond the ego and its limitations and transition to a new standpoint. It is from this new standpoint that the cosmic consciousness can be made a permanent part of the active awareness.

Sri Aurobindo notes: “The overmind is the basis of the total cosmic consciousness, but the cosmic consciousness itself can be felt on any plane, not only above mind, but in mind, life, matter.”

“The cosmic consciousness has many levels — the cosmic physical, the cosmic vital, the cosmic Mind, and above the higher planes of cosmic Mind there is the Intuition and above that the overmind and still above that the supermind where the Transcendental begins. In order to live in the Intuition plane (not merely to receive intuitions), one has to live in the cosmic consciousness because there the cosmic and individual run into each other as it were, and the mental separation between them is already broken down, so nobody can reach there who is still in the separative ego. A reflected static realisation of Sachchidananda is possible on any of the cosmic planes, but the full entering into it, the entire union with the Supreme Divine dynamic as well as static, comes with the transcendence.” Sri Aurobindo, Integral Yoga: Sri Aurobindo’s Teaching and Method of Practice, Chapter 7, Experiences and Realisations, The Cosmic Consciousness, pp. 184-187

Author's Bio: 

Santosh has been studying Sri Aurobindo's writings since 1971 and has a daily blog at and podcast 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.