The following article is based on a presentation made during the
Second International Conference on Integral Psychology,
held at Pondicherry (India), 4-7 January 2001.
 
The text has been published in:
Cornelissen, Matthijs (Ed.) (2001) Consciousness and Its Transformation. Pondicherry: SAICE.
 
 

Journeying through worlds of splendour and calm
An experience of integral psychology

Don Salmon

In the calm mind, it is the substance of the mental being that is still, so still that nothing disturbs it. If thoughts or activities come, they do not rise at all out of the mind, but they come from outside and cross the mind as a flight of birds crosses the sky in a windless air. It passes, disturbs nothing, leaving no trace. Even if a thousand images or the most violent events pass across it, the calm stillness remains as if the very texture of the mind were a substance of eternal and indestructible peace. A mind that has achieved this calmness can begin to act, even intensely and powerfully, but it will keep its fundamental stillness—originating nothing from itself but receiving from Above and giving it a mental form without adding anything of its own, calmly, dispassionately, though with the joy of the Truth and the happy power and light of its passage.  
  — Sri Aurobindo, Letters on Yoga, p. 637-38

 

I'd like to invite you to pause.... to go back and once again read through the passage on the calm mind... reading very slowly... allowing for the experience that Sri Aurobindo describes to unfold in your consciousness.... allowing even a glimpse of that 'eternal and indestructible peace' to enter into your awareness....

 

I'd like now to invite you, as you proceed to read through the text below, to see to what extent you are able to remain with a calm mind, aware of thoughts, sensations, feelings, etc. arising and passing away in awareness, without getting caught or absorbed; open and receptive to whatever intuitions may emerge from within or descend from Above....

And of course, it is best to do this in remembrance, receptive to the Force of the Mother:

 

Aspire to the Mother for this settled quietness and calm of the mind and this constant sense of the inner being in you standing back from the external nature and turned to the Light and Truth.
  — Sri Aurobindo, Letters on Yoga, p. 635

 

Faith... is indispensable to the action of the being and without it man cannot move a single pace in life, much less take any step forward to a yet unrealized perfection. It is so central and essential a thing that the Gita can justly say of it that whatever is a man's [faith], that he is... and, it may be added, whatever he has the faith to see as possible in himself and strive for, that he can create and become.

Sri Aurobindo, The Synthesis of Yoga, p. 771

   

It is what we see and believe with our whole active nature ourselves to be and our relations with the world to mean, it is our faith, that makes us what we are. But the consciousness of man is of a double kind and corresponds to a double truth of existence; for there is a truth of the inner reality and a truth of the outer appearance. According as he lives in one or the other, he will be a mind dwelling in human ignorance or a soul founded in divine knowledge.

  Sri Aurobindo, Essays on the Gita, p. 573

 

I'd like to invite you on a journey with me, a journey through inner worlds, to the innermost center of Consciousness. Before we embark together on this exploration, you may wonder whether it is possible to enter into these seemingly remote domains. But consider—if Being is One, then all that you experience—even at this very moment—is but a reflection, though perhaps a distorted one, of the Supreme Reality.

In fact, if your work involves helping people to grow and develop in any way, possibly the best thing you could do for them is to instill a faith in That which is deepest and highest in them, whether or not they are yet capable of knowing it directly. The ultimate purpose of this journey is to inspire the development of a new way of training integral researchers, therapists and teachers. As you come to know in a more intimate fashion the workings of the various domains of consciousness, your faith in your own Divine possibilities will be strengthened, and you will thus develop a greater capacity to strengthen the faith of your patients and students in their greater development, and ultimately in the possibility of contact with their innermost Divine Being.

I'm going to focus particularly on the different ways of 'knowing' which characterize each domain. In the outer consciousness, we are separate from what we know—this is the consciousness in which 'Ignorance' is most clearly manifest. Sri Aurobindo describes Ignorance as the perception of ourselves as separate from the world, which itself is perceived as being made up of so many separate, material objects, existing entirely independent of any form of consciousness. By contrast, as we awaken in the inner worlds, we come into direct contact with whatever we perceive. Centred in the consciousness of the soul, we recognize our oneness with whatever we know.

  There are several potential difficulties in a presentation of inner experience to a large audience. The first problem is that each reader is at a different stage of development in terms of the experience of inner realities. How is it possible to speak to a large audience (at the IP conference, there were nearly 100 individuals) and find some kind of common understanding? The key, it seems to me, is that all of us have, in the midst of the most apparently mundane circumstances and experience, aspects of the inner and innermost Reality reflected in our ordinary experience. We aren't generally aware of this, but in special moments, when we are struck with wonder at the beauty or majesty of a particular event, person or object, the reflection of a greater Reality becomes most apparent:

 

Awe is itself an act of insight into a meaning greater than ourselves... Awe enables us to perceive in the world intimations of the Divine, to sense in small things the beginning of infinite significance, to sense the ultimate in the common and the simple; to feel in the rush of the passing the stillness of the eternal.
  — Abraham Heschel, God in Search of Man

 

Here are two examples of deeper realities reflected in our outer nature:

 

*   Our desires, our discontent and restlessness, are themselves a sign that there is something in us aware of and aspiring for a deeper reality. This recognition is perhaps fundamental to the Integral Yoga, because by recognizing the seed of aspiration in all of our experience of desire, discomfort and discontent, we have a means by which we can sustain and deepen the flame of aspiration in our lives.

*   The perception of beauty is perhaps initially a response of our surface nature, but in quieting our surface reaction it is possible to trace the feeling of wonder and adoration at the sight of a beautiful flower or the sound of a beautiful musical composition into a psychic perception.

 

To consider another potential concern, there is an ancient prohibition against revealing one's inner experiences to others. On the Integral Psychology forum, we have discussed this problem at great length. We realized that a science of consciousness would be impossible without the sharing of inner experiences. From this we concluded that the only remaining question was not whether we would share experiences, but rather, how. The simplest and shortest answer would be, whenever it is appropriate in a legitimate scientific context to share inner experiences with other integral psychologists, we would do so to whatever extent possible with an attitude of offering, reverence, devotion, sincerity and humility.

Another problem is the use of words to convey experiences which by their nature are beyond words. Sometimes, when talking about 'planes and parts of the being', the idea might arise that somewhere on the astral plane there is perhaps a signpost labelled, '100 yards ahead, inner vital being, just south of the inner physical mind; turn left at the subtle physical'. If it weren't for Sri Aurobindo's writings, I wouldn't have thought it possible to convey inner experience with great clarity and specificity. However, even regarding his own writings, so clear and so solidly based on spiritual experience, he found it necessary to warn his readers:

 

All this [description of inner experience] must not be taken in too rigid and mechanical a sense. It is an immense plastic movement full of the play of possibilities and must be seized by a flexible and subtle tact or sense in the seeing consciousness. It cannot be reduced to a too rigorous logical or mathematical formula.
  — Sri Aurobindo, Letters on Yoga, p. 253

Remaining mindful of Sri Aurobindo's cautionary note, I believe that even if the attempt to convey inner experiences were a complete failure, the effort to put them into words would nonetheless be a wonderful means of developing one's intuitive faculties. One result that I hope will come of sharing this presentation is to encourage others to engage in a disciplined and loving dialogue about inner experiences with the aim of rising above intellectual disputation to a level of intuitive communion. In this spirit, it seems to me that it may be possible to allow words to become transparent vehicles through which the Divine Light might shine.

 

In the live presentation, I brought a reddish-green mango to the Sri Aurobindo World Centre for Human Unity, a beautiful open-aired performance space. I had purchased it the previous week from a road-side stand along the Bay avenue in Pondicherry. I had no idea what I was going to use for the presentation, so I was just keeping my eyes open as I travelled through Pondicherry and Auroville. One afternoon, on the way to the Ashram, I came across a street vendor and a particularly colourful mango caught my eye. If you want to use this image, you might keep it in mind throughout your reading of the text. I will attempt to describe the mango first as seen with the outer consciousness, then through the 'eyes' of the inner being, and then, to whatever extent it is possible to do so in words, as 'seen' directly by the soul. Just to be clear, I'm not claiming (or denying!) direct knowledge here—I'm attempting, together with you, to 'see' with the inner eyes of intuitively-inspired faith.

In order to make this applicable to integral education and psychotherapy, I want to describe, however briefly, the way in which the Ignorance manifests in the outer and inner consciousness. In the outer consciousness, where we take objects to be separate from us, you might say, 'I am conscious of the mango'. In the inner consciousness, where knowledge is, as Sri Aurobindo says, in 'direct contact' with the object of knowledge, you could say, 'I am conscious with the mango'. Finally, the knowledge of the soul is described by Sri Aurobindo describes the knowledge of the soul as one of identity—you become what you see, or you might say 'I conscious the mango.' It is essential here to avoid trying to understand that sentence intellectually, but rather to understand it with a mind and heart full of Faith. I hope I am able to evoke a feeling for this intuitive Faith, at least to some extent, in the section on the innermost consciousness.

In The Synthesis of Yoga, Sri Aurobindo speaks of two 'roots' of the impurities of our nature. The first is the radical separation, which creates a division between our self and others, our self and the world, and between the different parts of our self. The second is an inappropriate intermixture of mental, vital and physical consciousness, an interference of one part of the being in the workings of the other.

  Sri Aurobindo gives a graphic description of our divided consciousness in the Life Divine:

 

The Life is at war with the body; it attempts to force it to satisfy life's desires, impulses, satisfactions and demands from its limited capacity what could only be possible to an immortal and divine body; and the body, enslaved and tyrannized over, suffers and is in constant dumb revolt against the demands made upon it by the Life. The Mind is at war with both: sometimes it helps the Life against the Body, sometimes restrains the vital urge and seeks to protect the corporeal frame from life's desires, passions and overdriving energies; it also seeks to possess the Life and turn its energy to the mind's own ends..., and the Life too finds itself enslaved and misused and is in frequent insurrection against the ignorant halfwise tyrant seated above it. This is the war of our members which the mind cannot satisfactorily resolve because it has to deal with a problem insoluble to it, the aspiration of an immortal being in a mortal life and body.

But there is also that fundamental division within between force of Nature and the conscious being which is the original cause of this incapacity. Not only is there a division between the mental, the vital and the physical being, but each of them is also divided against itself. The capacity of the body is less than the capacity of the instinctive soul or conscious being..., the capacity of the vital force less than the capacity of the impulsive soul, the vital conscious being..., the capacity of the mental energy less than the capacity of the intellectual and emotional soul, the mental [being]. The principle of unity is above in the Supermind: for there alone is the conscious unity of all diversities; there alone will and knowledge are equal and in perfect harmony; there alone Consciousness and Force arrive at their divine equation. Man, in proportion as he develops into a selfconscious and truly thinking being, becomes acutely aware of all this discord and disparateness in his parts and he seeks to arrive at a harmony of his mind, life and body, a harmony of his knowledge and will and emotion, a harmony of all his members.  

Sri Aurobindo, The Life Divine, p. 214

 

Regarding the interference between parts of the being, take the simple process of eating. The body has an instinctive recognition of what it needs, but the vital desire interferes, demanding what is pleasant to it rather than what the body needs. The mind establishes rigid rules conforming to its own logic which may not be the logic of the body. The inertia and sluggishness of the body similarly interferes with the workings of the mind, as it also limits one's receptivity to the influx of vital energy. You can, I'm sure, think of many more examples of the confused interplay of mental, vital and physical consciousness.

As I wrote above, my goal in presenting this inner journey is to suggest a new way of training integral teachers and therapists. Whatever stage you may be in the development of inner awareness, it is possible by recognizing the reflections of inner states in your surface consciousness to gain a glimpse of deeper realities. I think that by learning to recognize the workings of the Ignorance—the root separation between self and other, and the inharmonious workings of the mental, vital and physical consciousness, it may be easier to inspire that deeper Faith in your students and patients which is the ultimate healing power—whether it be the sattwic faith in one's highest ideal or the spiritual faith in the Divine Shakti, the Mother.

 

Before beginning the next section, look at a mango, or bring the image of one to mind, and ask yourself:

 

*   'Who' is it that is aware of the mango?

*   'What' is the 'mango'? What is the nature of the 'mango' or any 'object' or 'person' apart from the knowing of the inner or outer consciousness?

I. The outer consciousness

Separative consciousness

 

'I' am conscious of the mango—I am separate from the mango.

 

Once again, I'd like to ask you to pause briefly, reestablish your awareness of a calm inner being, untouched by passing thoughts, feelings and sensations:

 

In the calm mind, it is the substance of the mental being that is still, so still that nothing disturbs it. If thoughts or activities come, they do not rise at all out of the mind, but they come from outside and cross the mind as a flight of birds crosses the sky in a windless air. It passes, disturbs nothing, leaving no trace. Even if a thousand images or the most violent events pass across it, the calm stillness remains as if the very texture of the mind were a substance of eternal and indestructible peace. A mind that has achieved this calmness can begin to act, even intensely and powerfully, but it will keep its fundamental stillness—originating nothing from itself but receiving from Above and giving it a mental form without adding anything of its own, calmly, dispassionately, though with the joy of the Truth and the happy power and light of its passage.   Sri Aurobindo, Letters on Yoga, p. 637

 

I'd like again to invite you, as you proceed to read through the text, to see to what extent you can read while remaining calm within....

 

Aspire to the Mother for this settled quietness and calm of the mind and this constant sense of the inner being in you standing back from the external nature and turned to the Light and Truth.        Sri Aurobindo, Letters on Yoga, p. 635

 

What is the nature of the outer consciousness? One way to get a fresh sense of it is to look at the experience of a child.

Imagine you are an infant. Your older brother is holding up a mango about 5 feet in front of you, and is walking toward you. This is the first time in your life you have ever seen a mango. You've never touched one before, you've never heard the word 'mango', and you have no previous experience of its taste, smell. What do you experience?

(Remember, even though I'm using the word 'you' or 'yourself', as yet you have no sense of a 'self' apart from the world around you). Your attention is drawn to a reddish-green patch of colour. You hear a loud sound behind you—perhaps somebody dropped a plate—and you turn toward the sound. At this moment, the reddish-green patch has left your visual field, so for all intents and purposes, it no longer exists.

Your head turns, and the reddish-green patch of colour appears once again. Now it is growing larger. Seeing it as adults might see it, it is simply your brother, holding the mango, walking closer to you. But you have not yet developed what psychologists call 'size constancy'—that is, you don't know that objects appear smaller in the distance and appear to grow larger as that distance is reduced. Nor do you realize at this age that the large white circle just outside the window is not something that you can reach out and touch. Even though it seems hardly further than the apple tree whose leaves kiss the sides of your house, as yet you have no way of understanding that the moon is actually thousands of miles away.

If your brother decides to take the mango and place it behind his back, for you once again, the patch of colour no longer exists. You don't yet have the concept that something continues to exist when you no longer perceive it. You haven't yet developed what psychologists call 'object constancy'. For you, simply stated, 'out of sight, out of mind'.

The fact that as yet your experience of time is extremely malleable contributes to the sense of the 'world' as a mixture of ever-changing sensations. 'Things' seem to blend into one another; there is no clear sense of where 'you' end and the 'world' begins. 'Time' is not yet a relentless flow from past to future. Rather than living in a world of ever-changing objects it seems that change itself is what makes up your world.

And yet, there is more, far more than this, to your experience. There are feelings, images are starting to form in your mind. But more important than this—there are deeper dimensions to your experience which will begin to emerge when we explore the inner and innermost domains of consciousness.

The experiences described up to now are characterized by an incessant flow of changing sensations. Within the first few months of life, this indistinct field of sensory experience comes to be experienced as a relatively coherent and increasingly stable set of images—images which coordinate the various sensations of sight, sound, smell, touch and taste. This process of coordination is done for the most part through memory, and by the sixth or seventh month begins to be centred around a specific reference point, a point which eventually is known as 'I'. The nature of this 'I' will only begin to become clear toward the end of this story. For now, it is enough to say that for you as an infant—in terms of the outer consciousness only—your sense of 'I' refers mostly to a set of physical and vital reflexes and reactions.

In order to avoid getting caught up in too much analysis, it will be helpful to pause and look once again at the image of the mango. See if you can get a feeling for the rich texture and fluid nature of your experience as an infant. The main point here is to get a sense of how thoroughly the mind is involved in the construction (not creation!) of what we take to be a solidly existing world 'out there'. Body workers often speak of focusing on 'pure sensation' as a means of getting away from 'the mind'. However, they don't realize the extent to which the mind is intimately involved in the very texture of the material world as we experience it. In case you find this hard to believe, try this: Look at the area on the page that follows this sentence, and see if you can experience nothing more than a simple set of visual sensations:

M A N G O

 

I'll ask it in the negative now: Can you look above this sentence and not see the word 'mango'? Actually, it is possible to do.

Perhaps it may be helpful to consider that it is not only external objects like mangos, but in fact, everything—people, animals, buildings, earth, air, water and fire—that is filtered through an 'image'. This filtering process brings together a chaotic assortment of sensations, feelings, desires, impulses, memories, concepts, ideas, judgments all of which are thoroughly 'embedded' in the image. In our outer consciousness, we have no direct contact with the 'thing itself', with Reality. Rather, our ordinary experience is full of abstractions—the image is something which is abstracted from our direct experience, which itself is a distorted perception of Reality. What we take to be the Reality is merely this mind-constructed image. It is all we know and all we can know with our outer consciousness. One might even say that the 'mango' that is experienced by means of the outer consciousness is this mind-constructed mixture of physical, vital and mental consciousness.

Here's a simple experiment you can do to get a sense of how you do this with people. Try this the next time you are going to be introduced to somebody. When you first see the person, try to get a clear sense of the image that you are forming based merely on their appearance—man, woman, tall, short, white, black, etc. Be alert to all the past impressions that are embedded in that image, an image which may have no basis in 'external' reality. Notice, if you are observing the person interacting with somebody else, how this image shifts and changes as you add new information based on your observations. See if you can be especially alert after you have talked to this person for the first several minutes of your interaction. Look and see how dramatically the image of this person changes as you incorporate new information—what they do, how old they are, where they live, their interests, desires, etc. See how much more complex the relationship becomes within just a few minutes, as you move even further away from your direct experience, relating to this person through an increasingly multi-layered image.

This image through which everything in the world is filtered, is related , in our experience, to a separate 'I'. This 'I' is itself only a constructed image. One image is projected 'out there' as the world, another is taken to be 'in here', a 'me' which is separate from the world. In our ordinary experience, these separate images are then engaged in a mostly conflictual relationship. This separation is the root cause of desire, anger, grief, fear, etc. Since this constructed image is not well-integrated, there is strife and division within the 'I' image as well as between the various images of the world. As noted previously by Sri Aurobindo, there is division and conflict between the mind, life and body, as well as within the mind itself. This fact of separation, division and conflict is the fundamental characteristic of the outer consciousness, and the cause of most human difficulties. While there is something deeper, a Reality which underlies, embraces and pervades the images of the world and the 'I', it is not possible to know this Reality by means of the ordinary, outer consciousness.

The experience of apparent separation is not true—it is the mark of the Ignorance. The material world as experienced by our outer consciousness is felt to be separate from us. Similarly, other people are felt to be separate from us. We feel that the world would exist—exactly as we perceive it—in our absence. But the experienced world exists only in relation to the experiencer. Even in our ordinary experience, the world and the knowing of the world are inseparable. But to know what the 'world' is apart from our ordinary consciousness, and to realize how the world comes to exist in Reality, is impossible by means of the outer consciousness.

Even science—which is, for the most part, simply a highly disciplined use of the outer thinking mind—tells us nothing of Reality. In fact, in a sense, science takes us even further away from direct contact with Reality. The scientist, without fully recognizing that the 'rock' or 'brain' he studies is an image or abstraction, further abstracts aspects of that image which are measurable, and then leaving behind both the 'real' object as well as the image of it, analyses the nature of the measured abstraction. It is impossible to know Reality through the mind. However, by examining the nature of this outer, mental consciousness with precision and discipline, it is, perhaps paradoxically, possible to come to such a clear sense of the limitations of the mind, that an awareness may dawn of something beckoning from beyond.

 

The only really important thing modern science has discovered is that from the purely outer and physical point of view things are not what they seem to be. When you look at a body, a human being, an object, a landscape, you perceive these things with the help of your eyes, your touch, hearing, and, for the details, smell and taste; well, science tells you: 'All that is illusory, you don't see things at all as they are, you don't touch them as they really are, you don't smell them as they really are, you don't taste them as they really are. It is the structure of your organs which puts you in contact with these things in a particular way which is entirely superficial, external, illusory and unreal.

From the point of view of science, you are a mass of—not even of atoms—of something infinitely more imperceptible than an atom, which is in perpetual movement. There is absolutely nothing which is like a face, a nose, eyes, a mouth; it is only just an appearance. And scientists come to this conclusion—like the uncompromising spiritualists of the past—that the world is an illusion. That is a great discovery, very great... One step more and they will enter into the Truth... So, by diametrically opposite roads they have come to the same result: the world as you see it is an illusion.

The Mother, Questions and Answers 1957-58, p. 239

 

As you move into exploration of the inner and innermost domains, you will begin to get a glimpse of that Reality which underlies the separate 'images' which present themselves to the surface consciousness. However, before moving on, ask yourself:

 

  *   'Who' is it that is aware of the mango? 'Who' is aware of all of these images, including the image referred to here as 'I'?

  *   'What' is the 'mango'? What is the nature of the 'mango' or any 'object' or 'person' apart from the knowing of the outer consciousness?

II. The inner consciousness

Knowledge by direct contact

 

I am conscious with the mango; I am in direct contact with the mango.

 

Once again, I'd like to ask you to pause briefly, reestablish your awareness of a calm inner being, untouched by passing thoughts, feelings and sensations:

 

In the calm mind, it is the substance of the mental being that is still, so still that nothing disturbs it. If thoughts or activities come, they do not rise at all out of the mind, but they come from outside and cross the mind as a flight of birds crosses the sky in a windless air. It passes, disturbs nothing, leaving no trace. Even if a thousand images or the most violent events pass across it, the calm stillness remains as if the very texture of the mind were a substance of eternal and indestructible peace. A mind that has achieved this calmness can begin to act, even intensely and powerfully, but it will keep its fundamental stillness—originating nothing from itself but receiving from Above and giving it a mental form without adding anything of its own, calmly, dispassionately, though with the joy of the Truth and the happy power and light of its passage.   Sri Aurobindo, Letters on Yoga, p. 637-38

 

I'd like again to invite you, as you proceed to read through the text, to see to what extent you can read while remaining calm within....

 

Aspire to the Mother for this settled quietness and calm of the mind and this constant sense of the inner being in you standing back from the external nature and turned to the Light and Truth.        Sri Aurobindo, Letters on Yoga, p. 635

 

Before reading on, ask yourself this question:

Are you awake or dreaming? If you think the answer is easy, how do you know? Is there anything you could point to, which would make it absolutely clear, without a trace of doubt, that you were awake or in a dream?

You may be familiar with the section in Sri Aurobindo's book, The Life Divine, where he makes a great effort to refute the idea that the world is an illusion, the idea that the world is 'only a dream'. I want to emphasize I am not making a philosophic statement of any kind here, I'm only asking a question about experience without drawing any theoretical conclusion or asking you to draw one. I'd like you to consider it with some intensity, as though it really mattered to you—at least as much as it mattered to a friend of mine who related to me the following genuinely harrowing experience. The purpose of this question is not to set you off on a course of intellectual speculation, but to awaken a glimpse of a different kind of consciousness. Here, more than ever, it will be helpful to read with a calm mind:

My friend told me how, one morning, she walked into her bathroom and was struck with sheer terror when she looked in the mirror and saw her face dissolving. She suddenly 'woke up' and was enormously relieved to find that she had only been dreaming. She got out of bed, went into the bathroom, looked in the mirror and was again struck with terror as she saw her face dissolving. Abruptly, she woke up. Only this time, she remembered the sequence—a terrifying dream followed by a false awakening—that is, she thought she was awake when she was actually dreaming.

Now, she didn't know whether she was awake or asleep. The feeling of great fear was still with her, filling her with a sense of dread. 'Am I awake or asleep  I have to figure this out, but how can I do that?' This was a real, living question for her, not a merely intellectual query. The question filled her whole being with a tremendous intensity. She decided she would walk into the bathroom and look in the mirror. She did so, and her face looked normal. Greatly relieved, she walked back into her bedroom. As she passed the fulllength mirror next to her bedroom closet, she saw, to her horror, her entire body dissolving. Once again, she awoke to find herself in her bed. This time, she was awake.

Or was she?

Ask yourself again, are you awake, now, in this moment, or are you dreaming?

How do you know?

Imagine that you are dreaming, and you are aware that you are dreaming. Stop and look around your environment. The objects you see are dream-objects, your body is a dreambody, all sounds are dream-sounds, your thoughts, feelings and sensations are arising in dream-consciousness. Do you notice any difference in the texture of things in the world? Do you feel a difference at all in the sense of time, of space, the texture of your body, the quality of thoughts and feelings? Is there perhaps any sense of an increased fluidity in the objects around you, a sense of your awareness extending beyond the limits of your body, 'touching' in a way the 'things' around you? Is there an increased feeling of aliveness and vitality in yourself and the world? Is it perhaps easier to feel a quality of inner stillness, and a sense of a vast awareness without bounds?

Sri Aurobindo speaks quite explicitly of the connection between the dream state and inner consciousness. In one letter, he relates the word 'dream' to the inner consciousness:

 

The terms waking, dream, sleep are applied because in the ordinary consciousness of man the external only is awake, the inner being is mostly subliminal and acts directly only in a state of sleep when its movements are felt like things of dream and vision; while the superconscient (supermind, overmind, etc.) is beyond even that range and is to the mind like a deep sleep.     Sri Aurobindo, Letters on Yoga, p. 256

 

In case it's not clear from the preceding paragraph, I want to emphasize the fact that the way Sri Aurobindo is using the word “dream” (consistent with the Indian tradition) he does not mean something illusory or unreal.  On the contrary, the “dream state” as a symbol of the inner or subliminal domain of consciousness, is often experienced as more “real” than the ordinary waking state. The exercise given above is not in any way meant to imply that the waking state is somehow illusory.

 

In another letter, Sri Aurobindo makes clear the relationship between the inner and outer consciousness:

 

At first the inner consciousness seems to be the dream and the outer the waking reality. Afterwards the inner consciousness becomes the reality and the outer is felt by many as a dream or delusion, or else as something superficial and external. The inner consciousness begins to be a place of deep peace, light, happiness, love, closeness to the Divine or the presence of the Divine, the Mother. One is then aware of two consciousnesses, the inner one and the outer which has to be changed into its counterpart and instrument—that also must become full of peace, light, union with the Divine.

  Sri Aurobindo, Letters on Yoga, p. 307

 

In The Synthesis of Yoga, Sri Aurobindo further distinguishes between ordinary dreams and Yogic dreaming:

 

There is a complete difference between... the dreamstate of Yoga and the physical state of dream. The latter belongs to the physical mind; in the former the mind proper and subtle is at work liberated from the immixture of the physical mentality. The dreams of the physical mind are an incoherent jumble made up partly of responses to vague touches from the physical world round which the lower mindfaculties disconnected from the will and reason, the buddhi, weave a web of wandering phantasy, partly of disordered associations from the brainmemory, partly of reflections from the soul travelling on the mental plane, reflections which are, ordinarily, received without intelligence or coordination, wildly distorted in the reception and mixed up confusedly with the other dream elements, with brainmemories and fantastic responses to any sensory touch from the physical world. In the Yogic dreamstate, on the other hand, the mind is in clear possession of itself, though not of the physical world, works coherently and is able to use either its ordinary will and intelligence with a concentrated power or else the higher will and intelligence of the more exalted planes of mind. It withdraws from experience of the outer world, it puts its seals upon the physical senses and their doors of communication with material things; but everything that is proper to itself, thought, reasoning, reflection, vision, it can continue to execute with an increased purity and power of sovereign concentration free from the distractions and unsteadiness of the waking mind. It can use too its will and produce upon itself or upon its environment mental, moral and even physical effects which may continue and have their after consequences on the waking state subsequent to the cessation of the trance.

Sri Aurobindo,
  — The Synthesis of Yoga, pp. 521-22

 

The main point of these comparisons is to contrast the separative character of the outer consciousness to one of the main characteristics of the inner consciousness: you are in direct contact with whatever you are aware of. Things feel and look quite different. Mother, for example, describes the perception of subtle-physical energy as resembling the waves of heat you may see rising from a road in the distance on a very hot day. But there is a profound difference—in the ordinary consciousness, you feel yourself to be 'here' and the heat waves are over 'there'. By contrast, in the inner consciousness, the 'space' between you and the subtle-energy is different. You feel as if 'you' are in some way 'there' as well as 'here'. Another way of saying this is that in the inner domain, your consciousness is universalized. You are no longer wholly confined to a particular location, separate from all that is around you. You begin to have a perception of a vital consciousness which is all-pervasive; you can walk through a forest and feel a powerful Force of Life which is One though manifesting in a myriad of trees, insects, birds, flowers and rocks.

Your way of knowing is different. Rather than observing the mango as an object separate from you, there is a close, even an intimate knowing of it, characterized more by intuition than intellectual reasoning. The ancients did not trace out a pattern in the stars and then by some primitive logic declare 'Capricorn' to be a Force determining the behaviour and personality of a human being. They experienced a direct communion, a direct knowing of an inner Reality which manifests to our human senses as the stars in outer space. To this inner knowing, the 'mango' which you are exploring is not merely a separate object, out 'there', but the appearance of an aspect of a larger Force, a focus of a universal consciousness appearing in a certain way to the outer awareness.

Several years ago, I attended a two-week retreat with a community of Tibetan Buddhists. Late one evening, I was sitting outside with one of the monks, a joyful and dedicated practitioner with many years of meditation experience. At one point, we were sitting in silence, contemplating an immense and beautiful tree which had many branches which were curved in various intriguing ways. As we sat there immersed in a delicious Silence and Presence, we began describing the 'meaning' of the tree—the way the shape of the leaves expressed an aspect of the being of the tree, the way in which the gentle swaying of the tree in the light breeze communicated to us a communion of the tree with the surrounding elements. After awhile, there was little or no sense of 'us' watching something 'out there'; rather, it seemed as if the very words that arose were inseparable from the Being of the tree and the total environment. While making no attempt to analyse what happened, we both recognized that we had entered together into a subtle plane of awareness, which in the Integral Yoga is known simply as the inner consciousness.

It is important to keep in mind that in awakening to this inner domain, you are still in the realm of the Ignorance. Ego still plays a part; separation is not yet eliminated. Though the gross division between parts of yourself as well as between yourself and the world which characterizes the outer consciousness has been lessened, a separation remains. There is a yet deeper and more profound form of knowing which can only be realized by entering into the innermost consciousness, that of the psychic being, the soul.

In the outer consciousness, we are conscious 'of' the world, conscious 'of' the mango. Though it may be somewhat awkward, you might say with the awakening of this inner awareness, you are now conscious 'with' the mango; you are in such direct intimate contact with it, it is no longer felt as something separate from you.

Before proceeding, call up the image of the mango, and ask yourself once again:

  *   'Who' is it that is aware of the mango?

  *   — 'What' is the 'mango'? What is the nature of the 'mango' or any 'object' or 'person' apart from the knowing of the outer consciousness?

III. The innermost consciousness, the psychic being:

Knowledge by identity

 

'I' conscious the mango; I am one in being with the mango.

 

Once again, I'd like to ask you to pause briefly, reestablish your awareness of a calm inner being, untouched by passing thoughts, feelings and sensations:

 

In the calm mind, it is the substance of the mental being that is still, so still that nothing disturbs it. If thoughts or activities come, they do not rise at all out of the mind, but they come from outside and cross the mind as a flight of birds crosses the sky in a windless air. It passes, disturbs nothing, leaving no trace. Even if a thousand images or the most violent events pass across it, the calm stillness remains as if the very texture of the mind were a substance of eternal and indestructible peace. A mind that has achieved this calmness can begin to act, even intensely and powerfully, but it will keep its fundamental stillness—originating nothing from itself but receiving from Above and giving it a mental form without adding anything of its own, calmly, dispassionately, though with the joy of the Truth and the happy power and light of its passage.   Sri Aurobindo, Letters on Yoga, p. 637-38

 

I'd like again to invite you, as you proceed to read through the text, to see to what extent you can read while remaining calm within....

 

Aspire to the Mother for this settled quietness and calm of the mind and this constant sense of the inner being in you standing back from the external nature and turned to the Light and Truth.        Sri Aurobindo, Letters on Yoga, p. 635

 

If once [the soul] can succeed in remaining in constant communion with its own larger occult reality,—and this can only happen when we go deep into our subliminal parts,—it is no longer dependent, it can become powerful and sovereign, armed with an intrinsic spiritual perception of the truth of things and a spontaneous discernment which separates that truth from the falsehood of the Ignorance and Inconscience, distinguishes the divine and the undivine in the manifestation and so can be the luminous leader of our other parts of nature. It is indeed when this happens that there can be the turningpoint towards an integral transformation and an integral knowledge.     Sri Aurobindo, The Life Divine, p. 539

 

We now enter a realm in which words are but a weak and frail substitute for experience. In this section, I'm only going to speak long enough to invite you into a momentary consideration, a brief glimpse of the possibility of a different kind of knowing, one which is intimate, profound, direct, a knowing which is inseparable from loving and being. In this knowing, there is an awareness of the all-pervading, all-containing Divine Presence. There is a 'smile' which is felt at the heart of things, and a feeling—which is more than a 'feeling'—of utter devotion and love for the Divine.

There is a clarity in regard to the workings of the outer nature which is impossible even from within the consciousness of the inner being:

 

A guidance, a governance begins from within which exposes every movement to the light of Truth, repels what is false, obscure, opposed to the divine realization: every region of the being, every nook and corner of it, every movement, formation, direction, inclination of thought, will, emotion, sensation, action, reaction, motive, disposition, propensity, desire, habit of the conscious or subconscious physical, even the most concealed, camouflaged, mute, recondite, is lighted up with the unerring psychic light, their confusions dissipated, their tangles disentangled, their obscurities, deceptions, selfdeceptions precisely indicated and removed; all is purified, set right, the whole nature harmonized, modulated in the psychic key, put in spiritual order. This process may be rapid or tardy according to the amount of obscurity and resistance still left in the nature, but it goes on unfalteringly so long as it is not complete. As a final result the whole conscious being is made perfectly apt for spiritual experience of every kind, turned towards spiritual truth of thought, feeling, sense, action, tuned to the right responses, delivered from the darkness and stubbornness of the tamasic inertia, the turbidities and turbulences and impurities of the rajasic passion and restless unharmonised kinetism, the enlightened rigidities and sattwic limitations or poised balancements of constructed equilibrium which are the character of the Ignorance. Sri Aurobindo, The Life Divine, p. 907-08

 

Through this purification of the inner and outer nature, the possibility of new experiences emerges:

 

[There] is a free inflow of all kinds of spiritual experience, experience of the Self, experience of the Ishwara and the Divine Shakti, experience of cosmic consciousness, a direct touch with cosmic forces and with the occult movements of universal Nature, a psychic sympathy and unity and inner communication and interchanges of all kinds with other beings and with Nature, illuminations of the mind by knowledge, illuminations of the heart by love and devotion and spiritual joy and ecstasy, illuminations of the sense and the body by higher experience, illuminations of dynamic action in the truth and largeness of a purified mind and heart and soul, the certitudes of the divine light and guidance, the joy and power of the divine force working in the will and the conduct. These experiences are the result of an opening outward of the inner and inmost being and nature; for then there comes into play the soul's power of unerring inherent consciousness, its vision, its touch on things which is superior to any mental cognition; there is there, native to the psychic consciousness in its pure working, an immediate sense of the world and its beings, a direct inner contact with them and a direct contact with the Self and with the Divine,—a direct knowledge, a direct sight of Truth and of all truths, a direct penetrating spiritual emotion and feeling, a direct intuition of right will and right action, a power to rule and to create an order of the being not by the gropings of the superficial self, but from within, from the inner truth of self and things and the occult realities of Nature.           Sri Aurobindo, The Life Divine, p. 908-09

 

Entering into the stillness of the inner being, we may have the experience of a quiet, self-existent awareness, calmly observing the various workings of the outer nature. But the 'knowing' of the soul is not that of a witness, separate from what it observes. Rather, it enters into the very Self of what it knows.

 

Sri Aurobindo describes this knowing from a transcendent 'perspective' here:

 

The half enlightened say, 'Whatever form is built, the Lord enters to inhabit', but the seer knows that whatever the Lord sees in His own being, becomes Idea and seeks a form and a habitation.         Sri Aurobindo, The Upanishads, p. 512

 

Stepping back from the noise of the surface consciousness, a still, calm awareness, deep and vast, is touched. From there, it is possible to be a witness, to observe, not mentally, not as an entirely separate entity but with an intuitive, direct awareness of the movements of the outer nature.

Becoming more deeply conscious, it is possible to become aware of 'That' in us (and beyond us) which is the true Source of these outer movements. You can see, with great clarity, how a pure mental, vital or physical vibration becomes distorted by the ego, by the separative Ignorance in which we live. The result is a confused imperfect manifestation of the true underlying vibration. As you become still more conscious, you start to see that you are not merely a passive witness, liberated and free while watching a mechanical and subjugated play of nature. You can recognize that it is only by your permission, your sanction, that the movements of the outer nature take place at all. There is something within that takes an interest in the arising of fear, desire, greed, etc., otherwise it would not take place at all. With this deepened and widened consciousness, you now have the ability to withdraw the permission, the sanction which provides the life-blood for these movements. Awakening to this relationship of the 'sanctioner' to the play of nature, Sri Aurobindo's words take on a yet deeper meaning:

 

The half enlightened say, 'Whatever form is built, the Lord enters to inhabit', but the seer knows that whatever the Lord sees in His own being, becomes Idea and seeks a form and a habitation.       Sri Aurobindo, The Upanishads, p. 512

 

Returning to our initial exploration of the mango, I described the experience as being conscious 'of' the mango. In the inner consciousness, I spoke of the feeling of direct contact as being conscious 'with' the mango. In this innermost domain, you might say You are 'consciousing' the mango, bringing it into being. It is only possible to say this, though, when there is an awareness of this 'You' as an 'eternal portion of the Divine', gazing the world into being, newly arising in this moment and this moment and this moment. This participation in the Divine act of creation partakes of the play of the Divine Ananda or Delight.

 

It is very important to remember, as stated earlier, that the “I” which can “Conscious” the mango, much less anything else, is not the ordinary ego.  In Truth, it is only at the supramental level it is possible to experience this in its utter fullness, but through faith (Sraddha) and intuition it is possible to at least gain a glimpse of this Divine Creative process - to discover what it is to be a co-creator with the Divine.

One last time, ask yourself,

 

*   'Who' is it that is aware of the mango?

*   'What' is the 'mango'? What is the nature of the 'mango' or any 'object' or 'person' apart from the knowing of the outer consciousness?

Looking with the outer, the inner, and the innermost consciousness

 

Aspire to the Mother for this settled quietness and calm of the mind and this constant sense of the inner being in you standing back from the external nature and turned to the Light and Truth.        Sri Aurobindo, Letters on Yoga, p. 635

 

In the first three sections of this essay, I invited you to look at a mango from the viewpoint of the outer, inner and innermost consciousness. In this part of the final section, we will be looking at several different kinds of events and interactions from the same three perspectives—that of the outer consciousness, the inner consciousness, and the innermost consciousness. First, we'll look at a personal experience. Next, we'll explore a psychotherapy session. Finally, we'll look at an international event. In each case, I'm going to try to evoke an experiential sense of what it would be like to look at these from the vantage point of these three very different ways of knowing. I'll be using, as a guide to this process of exploration, an exercise that the Mother gave to the children of the Ashram for reviewing their daily experiences in the light of the psychic being. The text is fairly lengthy, so I've put it at the end of this essay.

Basically, the exercise involves first, finding the light of the deepest and highest consciousness to which you have access—a mental ideal in the outer consciousness if that is all that is accessible, but preferably an inner consciousness, or the light of the soul if that is possible. Then, to foster a spirit of disidentification, you imagine you are looking at a movie screen, and see projected on that screen your actions of the day. You look and discern what goes against your highest ideal, and what seems to be out of place, as if to see what might be creating a kind of shadow against the images on the screen Then, you search—try to find if the action was the result of some level of inattention or lack of awareness (tamas). You may, on the other hand, find there was some hidden egoistic movement distorting the truer vibration deep within. You might even come to realize that something in you was secretly enjoying the play of forces, sanctioning the distorted physical, vital and mental movements. Finally, you attempt to put everything in order—sort out the various inappropriate mixtures of physical, vital and mental consciousness, and arrange everything so it is harmoniously organized around the light of your highest ideal. In this way, you discover the truer vibration, the undistorted expression of your true nature, and arrive at a real and deep integration. This leads to a purification of the nature. If the psychic light is awakened, it will lead to the subsequent psychic transformation which Sri Aurobindo describes as the first phase of the three-part psychic, spiritual and supramental transformation.

 

To summarize:

1.   — Find the light of the deepest consciousness (mental ideal, inner light or the light of the soul)

2.   — Step back—project your actions on a screen

3.   — Look closely at actions which are contrary to your highest ideal: what is behind them—unconsciousness, egoism? Look at how the physical, vital and mental consciousness are mixed together in inappropriate ways.

4.   — Organize everything around the light of your highest ideal

 

Please don't read the following descriptions through a lens of 'right or wrong'. In a way, I consider it almost irrelevant whether my interpretation of the inner and outer events is correct. This may be an especially good section to read with a calm mind. In particular, strong feelings, beliefs and attitudes may be aroused in regard to the third topic, the current political situation in Israel. What I'm attempting to do is simply suggest a way of looking and knowing. I'm just beginning to get a feel for how this might be done. In fact, it may even be best to read without being concerned whether it all makes 'sense' or not; just skim through it, if need be, and perhaps you may find a much better way of describing the inner and outer perspectives. In the future we may all help each other in developing this process further.

So, I'll be looking at the individual, psychotherapeutic and international events from the outer, inner and innermost perspectives, using Mother's process of inner investigation. At the end of Her description of the exercise, the Mother notes that this process can be used for world affairs as much as for the growth of the individual:

 

It is quite evident that if a similar procedure were adopted by a nation or by the earth, most of the things which make men unhappy would disappear, for the major part of the world's misery comes from the fact that things are not in their place. If life were organized in such a way that nothing was wasted and each thing was in its place, most of these miseries would not exist any longer. An old sage has said: 'There is no evil. There is only a lack of balance. There is nothing bad. Only things are not in their place.' If everything were in its place, in nations, in the material world, in the actions and thoughts and feelings of individuals, the greater part of human suffering would disappear.                              

The Mother, Questions and Answers 1950-51, p. 40 

A. Looking at an event in your life

 

1) Having a credit card refused when purchasing food

 

Scenario: Having just selected some fruit and vegetables, Lisa brings them to the check-out counter. She gives her credit card to the cashier, but the card is rejected by the machine. Lisa's first reaction is irritation, and convinced that the machine must have made an error, speaks to the cashier in a somewhat condescending voice, telling him he needs to be more careful. The card is again rejected, and now, realizing that she has no other way of paying for the food, Lisa starts to feel anxious. At this moment, she becomes self-conscious, recognizing that her comments were inappropriate, and feels somewhat guilty and shameful for overreacting. Not knowing what to say, she simply takes the card from the cashier and walks out of the store.

a) Looking with the outer consciousness

What is Lisa's ideal? The lowest, tamasic ideal might simply be a predominantly extraverted one of maintaining physical security. With this in mind, all she would care about is making damn sure she never runs out of money again. A more rajasic ideal might be to keep an outer appearance of calmness and self-possession in order to impress others. I'm going to consider here how she might look at her actions in the light of a higher, sattwic ideal—wishing to meet people with an open heart and calm mind, ready to give of herself whenever the situation calls for it.

Examining her responses, she looks closely at her initial reaction of irritation, followed by anxiety and then self-consciousness. Underlying the feeling of irritation she becomes aware of a judgment of the cashier: 'You are screwing up, and you're interfering with me, with the fulfilment of my desire; desires not just to get food but to be respected.' She sees herself holding on to this identification with a separate self in order to feel important; more than that, to feel solid, real. Looking still more deeply, she sees that the way she presents herself to the world is with this kind of assertive stance. 'I hold on to this, it seems, out of my feeling of myself as a separate being, attempting to maintain the integrity of myself in the face of all that seems to threaten it. I get angry often, because of an assumption that things are supposed to go my way.'

Lisa looks at the relationship between these various reactions, and sees how her assumptions bring tension to the body, and suppress her vital energy. In turn, her vital feelings, shaped by egoistic reactions, cloud her thinking and make it hard for her to maintain calmness and respond in a more appropriate fashion. She begins to see herself acting differently—letting go of assumptions, she can feel an increase in energy. Stepping back from identification with the need to fulfill her desires, the movement of irritation slowly changes to a quality of strength.

Attempting to discern a truth underlying the various reactions, she sees that the guilt and shame she felt was related to a subconscious awareness of her unwillingness to face and deal with her financial affairs. At the same time, she recognized the value of an ideal she held of not being too attached to money. Comparing these two apparently conflicting ways of dealing with money, she resolved to keep that her ideal of maintaining a simple lifestyle would not become distorted into fear of attachment to possessions.

Finally, she looks at her feeling of powerlessness which did not dissolve even after she had become conscious of her reactions of irritation and anxiety. She saw the power of these reactions—the chain reaction of irritation turning into anxiety, leading to feelings of guilt and shame. She saw how, in spite of her attempts to be more mindful, these reactions prevented her from stepping back and getting a clearer, less self-involved view of what was happening. She then sees herself again at the check-out counter, acting now with a strong yet relaxed body, open and clear emotions, and a calm and discerning mind, all emerging in the light of her highest ideal.

b) Looking with the inner consciousness

Taking time to become inwardly calm, letting the play of the surface consciousness come to rest... the scene—food, counter, cashier, refusing the credit card—becomes intensified, more alive....

...Seeing the fruits and vegetables—nourishment for the mind, body and soul....

...the cashier—recognized by Lisa as, in part, an impersonal reflector of her inner state... coming to the check-out counter to play out the ritual of mutual give-and-take, a reflection of the universal rite of sacrifice, making sacred...

...Recognizing Lisa herself also as an actor in the cashier's karmic dance... inseparable from the play of the whole environment, and from the play of the yet larger Whole...

...Looking 'within' the scene, seeing the machine refusing the credit card as a manifestation of Lisa's fear and ambivalence toward dealing with money...

...Seeing a deeper truth—aspiration of soul to relate to money with non-attachment, mixed up with ego, distorted by confused interaction of universal movements of mental, vital, physical consciousness, becomes irritation, anxiety, fear...

...Becoming still more calm, allowing the deeper truth to unfold wordlessly.... letting egoistic interference fall away.... the body, heart and mind following out the truth of the inner nature, the aspiration to give and take money freely....

c) Looking with the innermost consciousness

The Divine Dance; Inconscience progressing toward Ignorance progressing toward Truth; all the Divine Play... nourishment appearing as fruits and vegetables; universal flow of Shakti manifesting as credit; the refusal of credit the touch of the Mother, teaching (Herself in the form of Lisa) the need to relate to the energy of money from wisdom, not fear.

 

2) A therapist with a patient who has an emotionally abusive, alcoholic husband

 

Scenario: Tom, a psychotherapist, is talking with Joan. It is their sixth therapy session, and Joan is telling Tom about a fight she had the day before with her husband Eric. Previously, if Eric broke anything while in a drunken rage, Joan would calmly and without complaint clean it up. Yesterday morning after a typical bout with Eric, Joan refused to pick up the broken remnants of china which Eric had thrown against the wall. Eric finally apologized to her after walking around for several hours in a state of sullen moodiness. Joan found herself comforting him, while feeling ashamed of herself for being weak. Listening to this, Tom found himself struggling with conflicting desires—to empathize with Joan or to berate her for taking so much emotional abuse from Eric.

a) Looking with the outer consciousness

Tom takes some time to settle in and become calm. He steps back, and looks at the whole scene as if projected in front of him. He considers Joan's inner state first. What does she want from the relationship, and from therapy? It appears to Tom that Joan is wedded to several seemingly contradictory ideals. She is seeking simple physical security (Eric is quite wealthy), as well as emotional satisfaction through helping someone who appears to need her. But Tom wants to be careful not minimize what he perceives to be Joan's genuine concern for Eric's best interests. He focuses in on the moment when she calmly tells Eric she is not cleaning up after him.

He sees this as signifying the emergence of a deeper strength in Joan. Her egoistic need for security had distorted her judgment and her sense of self-worth. Her emotional needs had distorted her care for Eric into a manipulative dance, sapping her of the courage to speak openly and truthfully about his drinking as well as his emotional abuse and neglect. Tom looks closely at the level of egoistic distortion which yet has hold of Joan's physical, vital and emotional consciousness. He reflects on the means of instilling in her a stronger faith in her greater possibilities and how best to bring out the underlying truth of unattached selfless caring which he recognizes as a sign of her deeper wisdom and compassion.

Tom then looks at what Joan's story brings up in him. Though he had previously been reluctant to acknowledge it, hearing of Joan's experiences forces him to confront his own egoistic needs to be recognized as a 'good person' who cares for others. He sees how this need distorts the expression of his own deeper resources of care and compassion. He looks at the possibility of bringing together the strength of non-attachment with appropriate expressions of concern. As he continues his reflections, his detachment from the various egoistic distortions increasing, he is able to see himself acting with greater wisdom, refusing to indulge inappropriate emotional demands while finding greater inner resources for responding to the legitimate needs of his patients.

b) Looking with the inner consciousness

Taking time to become inwardly calm, letting the play of the surface consciousness come to rest... Tom begins to become aware of subtle currents of feeling and thought within which the therapeutic relationship is taking place...

He comes to recognize how his inner aspiration for dealing sincerely with the potential complexities and inequalities of being in a 'helper' relationship brought him into contact with Joan... Stepping back further, he sees—not with an outer intellectual seeing, but through a direct intuition—this particular therapist-patient relationship reflecting a larger cultural search for a deeper and truer means of facilitating growth and development...

Looking more closely at his reaction to Joan's refusal to help Eric; Tom sees a variety of internal responses; wanting to take credit for her newfound strength; annoyance at her continued wish to take care of Eric; annoyance and judgment about his own need for Joan to recognize his helpfulness.... Stepping back again, he sees—with a direct intuitive gaze, not as an intellectual interpretation—these responses as individual formations of a universal movement in consciousness; he sees the formations which have led Joan's soul to choose these very circumstances to work out the karmic knots left from experiences of past lives...

Tom begins to recognize the therapeutic process as a modern expression of the ancient shamanic journey through the inner worlds, the shaman/therapist helping the magician/patient to unlock the hidden powers of her being; he comes to feel a great loss resulting from the contemporary lack of recognition of greater universal powers—'Gods' in the language of the ancient—to call on for aid in this sacred process, powers that would help the helper maintain a spirit of receptivity and humility...

Tom slowly comes to see with greater clarity his role as helper—inseparably intertwined with those he helps, though with non-attachment rather than dependence—grounded in the experience of being an instrument of That which is greater than himself. Wordlessly giving gratitude to That, he resolves to become more mindful of his need to be a channel of a deeper and higher wisdom.

c) Looking with the innermost consciousness

Psychotherapy, therapist and patient: a movement in Consciousness unfolding and developing mental, vital expression, purifying the nature to allow for the emergence of a deeper and higher awareness... the duality of helper and helped, looked at with a calm and unflinching gaze, forces the mind beyond itself to a greater wisdom; the suffering of a conflicted relationship between the outer personalities resulting in a purification of the nature and the growth of the soul... souls of the Divine, one in diversity... diversity manifesting an underlying unity...

All revealed as That in play with Itself, with Himself, with Herself....

 

3) The Labour Party and the unity government in Israel

 

Scenario: In the New York Times of Thursday, February 22, 2001, Deborah Sontag wrote an article describing the ambivalence of Israel's Labour Party toward the proposal of Prime Minister-elect Ariel Sharon to form a unity government. This would involve a coalition between the Likud Party and the center-left Labour party. Part of Sharon's motivation in pursuing this is to maintain a tighter rein over a Parliament which is made up of 18 factions. The question facing Labour leaders is whether they can be a more effective voice opposing Sharon's potential militarism outside of the government or as a member of the coalition. There appear to be forces pulling Labour leaders in opposite directions. There is the desire to retain the privileges of power, and a perception that most Israelis, in despair over the apparent failure of peace talks, want a unified government. However, some feel it would be immoral to share power with a Parliament which included far right wing politicians who wish to expel the Palestinians from Israel.

There is a concern that a unity government may encompass so many viewpoints that it would result in 'diplomatic, political and social paralysis'. Colette Avital, a member of the Labour party and former Israeli consul in New York, described the situation this way: 'The country should be psychoanalyzed collectively. The idea is that a national unity government will solve our problems. But it will only worsen them.' One newspaper columnist, Nahum Barnea, stated his belief that the best thing that could happen, given a normal process of transfer of power, would be for the Labour party to take the necessary time to recover from its losses and develop a real voice for the opposition. 'But', he said, 'this is not a normal country, and these are not normal times. There is a sense of such despair, and that combined with the depression in the Labour Party will somehow force it into the coalition.'

The remaining political forces which have decided not to join the unity government include several Israeli Arab parties, the secularist Shinui party and the leftist Meretz Party. In a comment on the labour vote to join the unity government, Meretz party member Naomi Chazan said 'It will be bad for the country. It will be terrible and disgusting, and someone will have to say it, and that will be us. We will form a real opposition.'

a) Looking with the outer consciousness

There appear to be a wide assortment of powerfully conflicting ideals underlying the various factions and parties in Israel. A gross need for physical security at any cost, even the destruction of people's homes and their very lives; a vital desire for economic expansion and political power; the sattwic mental ideal of peace, harmony, collaboration; and the spiritual—mixed in with varying levels of religiosity—wish for the creation of a sacred land symbolizing humanity's relationship to the Divine.

It seems that these ideas coexist not just within members of the same party or faction but in the psyches of many individuals as well. The wish for security opposes the desire for collaboration and peace; the quest for economic and political power runs into conflict with both the need for security and aspiration for greater harmony; and the religious egoism of 'My land, my country' runs directly counter to the intuitive perception of Israel as a symbolic centre for the manifestation of the Light of the Spirit.

There are many 'egos'—the ego of the Right vs the Left; the ego of nationalism; the egos of the individual power-seeking politicians; the ego of the Palestinian people seeking a home; the ego of the Israeli people defined by their links to the diaspora as well as to both recent and ancient history.

Focusing on the sattwic mental ideal of peace with strength, the mind opens up to the possibility of drawing on inner resources of wisdom which can recognize at one and the same time the many conflicting needs of the people. At the same time, the recognition emerges of the need to create some means of communicating this higher ideal to those who are so frightened and so power-hungry they are unable to see past their own attachments and desires. Yet, limited to this surface way of looking, the doubt remains as to whether it is possible to develop a vision large enough to encompass these many conflicting needs and ideals. Stepping back as far as is possible to the outer mind, some tiny glimmer of faith begins to shine through.

b) Looking with the inner consciousness

Taking time to become inwardly calm, letting the play of the surface consciousness come to rest... a universal play of forces becomes visible; the search for a unity government in Israel is seen—directly, with an intuitive gaze, not a mental interpretation—as One with the larger movement amongst nations and peoples toward an ideal unity; one which is founded not on a physical need, a vital desire or mental idea, but a spiritual vision of equality and unity-in-diversity...

Seeing the ego, the Ignorance, underlying the need for 'my' security...

Seeing the ego, the Ignorance, underlying the desire for economic and political power for 'my' country...

Seeing the ego, the Ignorance, underlying even the ideal of peace, harmony and collaboration for 'my' people...

Recognizing the incompatibility of the needs, desires and ideals as they presently stand; looking for the underlying Truth, in the light of a spiritual vision...

Recognizing that a spiritual homeland, in the world as it is, requires stable physical boundaries...

Recognizing that economic and political stability and growth are, within proper limits, appropriate, given the current level of consciousness predominant in the world...

Recognizing that the ideal of peace is a high ideal, however far beyond the current aspirations of many, shining as a beacon of light calling forth intimations of a deeper and truer vision....

   — Recognizing the play of universal forces, individualized as the country of Israel, seeking to find the right Dharma, the right way, to become not just unified for the sake of 'our people' but in harmony and collaboration with the greater World-play.

c) Looking with the innermost consciousness

Moving in this critical era of transition and transformation from the separative egoism of nation-states and international institutions, a greater Force bringing out hidden conflicts, apparent incompatibilities to foster an ultimate Divine unity.... Israel as one Centre of Wisdom and Love; with its own Swadharma, its own way of being and true nature manifesting out of the current surface conflicts and disunity; the Time-Spirit calling for the emergence of a deeper consciousness in order to manifest a true Divine harmony and unity amongst human beings.

 

 

The Mother's exercise for reviewing the day in the light of the soul

 

If this reviewing is to make you progress, you must find something within you in whose light you can be yourself your own judge, something which represents for you the best part of yourself, which has some light, some goodwill and which precisely is in love with progress. Place that before you and first pass across it as in a cinema all that you have done, all that you have felt, your impulses, your thoughts, etc.; then try to coordinate them, that is, find out why this has followed that. Look at the luminous screen that is before you: certain things pass by well, without throwing a shadow; others, on the contrary, throw a little shadow; others yet cast a shadow altogether black and disagreeable. you must do this very sincerely, as though you were playing a game: under such circumstances I did such and such a thing, feeling like this and thinking in this way; I have before me my ideal of knowledge and selfmastery, well, was this act in keeping with my ideal or not? If it was, it would not leave any shadow on the screen, which would remain transparent, and one would not have to worry about it. If it is not in conformity, it casts a shadow. Why has it left this shadow? What was there in this act that was contrary to the will to selfknowledge and selfmastery?

 

Most often you will find that it corresponds to unconsciousness —then you file it among unconscious things and resolve that next time you will try to be conscious before doing anything. But in other cases you will see that it was a nasty little egoism, quite black, which had come to distort your action or your thought. Then you place this egoism before your 'light' and ask yourself: 'Why has it the right to make me act like that, think like that...' And instead of accepting any odd explanation you must search and you will find in a corner of your being something which thinks and says, 'Ah, no, I shall accept everything but that.' You will see that it is a petty vanity, a movement of selflove, an egoistic feeling hidden somewhere, a hundred things. Then you take a good look at these things in the light of your ideal: 'Is cherishing this movement in conformity with my seeking and the realization of my ideal or not? I put this little dark corner in front of the light until the light enters into it and it disappears.' Then the comedy is over. But the comedy of your whole day is not finished yet, you know, for there are many things which have to pass thus before the light. But if you continue this game—for truly it is a game, if you do this sincerely—I assure you that in six months you will not recognize yourself, you will say to yourself, 'What? I was like that! It is impossible!'

You may be five years old or twenty, fifty or sixty and yet transform yourself in this way by putting everything before this inner light. You will see that the elements which do not conform with your ideal are not generally elements which you have to throw wholly out of yourself (There are very few of this kind); they are simply things not in their place. If you organize everything—your feelings, your thoughts, your impulses, etc.—around the psychic centre which is the inner light, you will see that all inner discord will change into a luminous order.

It is quite evident that if a similar procedure were adopted by a nation or by the earth, most of the things which make men unhappy would disappear, for the major part of the world's misery comes from the fact that things are not in their place. If life were organized in such a way that nothing was wasted and each thing was in its place, most of these miseries would not exist any longer. An old sage has said:

'There is no evil. There is only a lack of balance.

'There is nothing bad. Only things are not in their place.'

  If everything were in its place, in nations, in the material world, in the actions and thoughts and feelings of individuals, the greater part of human suffering would disappear.

  The Mother, Questions and Answers 1950-51, p. 38-39