In Search of an Awakened Consciousness

Jayanthy Ramachandran

The beginnings

The search for the meaning of consciousness has occupied my attention in varying degrees at different points in my life. With that is a settled feeling that this is the one most important thing to be done. I first came across it when, as a child (10 to teenage hood), I took up AIM magazines and started reading them. It did not matter whether I understood or not. I was there reading something significant and that’s all that mattered. There was a strong feeling that “THIS WAS IMPORTANT”. Across the span of some years, I realized “consciousness” was a theme occurring and recurring very many times in Sri Aurobindo’s and The Mother’s writings. It took me a little more time to realize that THAT was a major theme of Sri Aurobindo’s idea of evolution towards Supermanhood (another term that fascinated me as a child, since  superman was someone I could identify with…my hero). In my 20s, I first asked the question seriously, “What is consciousness?” No answer satisfied me. There was an urge to know it. I have been always given to going to the root of things (Someone had planted this in my mind as well, when I was young and I realized that it helped clarify and solve a lot of problems, after I tried it out consciously when I was in some deep trouble). Since it was the basic theme in the philosophy that I came to embrace as the only one which could answer all my questions and the puzzlements of life, then it seems imperative to me, to this day to know consciousness in full.

However, knowing consciousness through identity, is no mean task. At the moment, the mind has decided that it is as good as measuring the width of the universe with a tailor’s measuring tape. However, immense hope shines within each time one hears or reads, “…the Divine, The Infinite, The Eternal is in you.”

Pre-IP course

Sri Aurobindo’s and The Mothers’ writings have been important guides to me all along. However, I also realize that they are as good as I am able to put them into practice and living them, allowing them to act in me. Then the next realization is that ability of the mind to understand what consciousness is may only be a small beginning and that it cannot be the end of all. Mother and Sri Aurobindo suggest that the mind, the vital and the physical can serve as instruments towards the realization of a true inner reality within and that they need to be put through a rigorous process of perfectioning.

Before this course, consciousness was a vague phenomenon that I associated with awareness. To be conscious was to be aware, and the awareness was best situated in the NOW. My attempt to be aware of the now was to begin with, surface. The physical environment was scrutinized, sensed and the input processed in the mind. This extended somewhat to my feelings, and the way I thought. But there was lacking a depth. The gropings did not bring me anywhere close to knowledge by identity. I read in some places what was meant by identity, and this experience is nowhere near what Sri Aurobindo had described somewhere. I was fairly accurate at gauging someone’s thoughts and feelings... but have I been able to live their consciousness? No. As I read more about consciousness, I become aware that there is much forward movement to be made, lots of plunging within and taking the help of something deep within me, the psychic being perhaps, or perhaps the divine presence. Then it becomes imperative that the divine be invoked within and the psychic being allowed to rise to the front. For this alone, one can labour a life-time…! However, the goal is clear and that is to know consciousness. It is a huge thing. I can start with knowing the different parts of the being, in relation to itself and to the world around it. I have been pointed to the fact that one has to find one’s guru inside oneself. This concept spells adventure to me… like being on an expedition of discovery.

The small ways in which I have attempted to be aware has been good. I have found a way of introspection which has somewhat worked for me to some extent. I am not yet able to measure the smallness or largeness of it. I have found some ways of occasionally plunging into mental silence (and to an extent emotional) to be able to watch myself better. There is in me a voice with tells the mind every time it behaves in a small and limited way. But I was just watching. There was no concrete idea about what I was watching for. During fleeting moments, I have had the opportunity to see an entity who sits within, watching but not reacting, especially during moments of immense sorrow or pain or depression. During such times, something wakes up and says, “what are you doing? Take this moment to watch.”

There is also accessible to me a settled silent space within, which I can call in to open up inside, from which prayers arise or in which they are formulated, asking for help and guidance sometimes, and sometimes a spontaneous prayer for everything on earth or someone who comes to mind arises and sometimes, it is a deep aspiration directed up for this being to be taken up and moulded according to what He wishes it to be and to be filled within with only Him. The prayers of requests concerning some uncertainty, asking for clarity are almost always answered, with a quotation or a book or a prayer (Mother’s Prayers and Meditations) coming my way, or even a whole person appearing before me and saying something that clicks things in place. There is also this knowledge that what I ask for is as good as my level of consciousness and I know in my core that working on this consciousness is the most important thing for me, here. In intimate ways, I have felt some presence. Something has been with me and I have asked more and more for this presence. There was no way for me to speak of this to anyone or to use checklists to check except for that entity I communicate with always, that thing which I refer to as “divine”.  This has given me tremendous moments of joy. This is a joy that comes with the knowledge that Someone is intimately with me, with my most private thoughts and aspirations, my most secret feelings, sensations and everything. A couple of special people have come into my life with whom I have been for the first time share deeper aspects of my being and spirituality and that has brought the divine into the realm of another  world. To be able to have Him fill one’s inner and outer life is a great joy and appears to be the thing to have or to be or become. There is also the knowledge that little it is that one has of this Wonderment and that this has to be more and more brought out in an increase and intensity. I know this to be the thing to be done in this life. Nothing else will make sense without this. But as yet, there are vast patches of dessert land that needs to be transformed into this garden of Eden or this Brindavan where the divine sports and frolic’s freely and one has no other alternative but to sport and frolic with him in utter joy and freedom.

IP Course and impressisons

There were some gems that I picked up during this course. The most important one was from the discourse on Consciousness and how it came to be. The Mother’s story told by Vladmir helped a great deal. Though I have read it before, it never made this much sense. Listening to Matthijs bhaiya and Neeltje didi brought fresh, new insights into the theory behind Integral Yoga and confirmed some existing bits of ideas I have formed on my own all these years. Behind the uncovering of consciousness lies all these methods and techniques and attitudes and a huge CHANGE of EVERYTHING in the being that resists this process. It will have to be a second by second, a constant attempt, this plunging in.  Next, the discourse on “seeds”, on the personas we carry with us was a very important learning for me. I can already see some typical few personas emerging.  The exercises on going within, on bringing about silence gave practical hints to the processes needed for inner silence and the opening up of the inner word wider and wider so that contact could be established with one’s core and the quality of consciousness be brought to another realm. I have seen the ease with which I enter into my heart space and the difficulty of going into my head. There is a sense that the head cannot be abandoned though I see comfort in retreating into the heart space. If there are a million parts to this being, then each part must be penetrated and known, is what arises within now.

Consciousness appears a huge thing. Theory says that It pervades the entirety of creation and that our human consciousness is a small part of it. As of now, human consciousness operates mainly at the mental level. I would have to start from the premises that what is in the circle of this individual being be addressed first, while keeping it somewhere in the consciousness that Consciousness is ALL PERVADING. This outlook immediately shows an expansion within. There is certainly more to this entire affair than meets the eye. The mind speaks this language now. The heart seems to know what the mind takes baby steps to realize.  There is this great conviction within that this has to be worked out. What, how….only a silencing, a plunging in, an opening will help this process and lots and lots and lots of faith, unshakeable faith and perhaps courage.

Theoretically, I have gathered the following about consciousness which has helped me understand better (at least mentally) about what Consciousness is according to those who have lived IT:

Theoretical Learnings

Consciousness – Chit or Chit Shakti (From the writings of Sri Aurobindo and The Mother)

It is the energy, the motion, the movement of consciousness that creates the universe and all that is in it – macrocosm, microcosm is consciousness arranging itself.  From atom to matter, to vital to mental and psychic, consciousness pervades all. All is present in man, but mixed up together in external consciousness with real status behind the inner being. Therefore, “one can only become aware of them by releasing the original limiting stress of the consciousness which makes us live in the external being and become awake and centred within in the inner being. There is a large and rich and inexhaustible kingdom within.  It is the same consciousness which has in us drawn a lid or covering between the lower planes and the higher planes.

I have listed some descriptions of Consciousness which I plan to read every now and then.

Consciousness is not composed of parts. It is fundamental to being and itself formulates any parts it chooses to manifest. Consciousness:

  • is power of awareness of self and things
  • is or has a dynamic creative energy
  • determines its own reactions or abstains from reactions
  • can answer  to forces
  • can put out from itself forces
  • outlook of subjective personality is determined by the grade of consciousness in which it is organized according to its typal nature or its evolutionary stage

Usually identified with mind. But there are ranges beyond the perception of one’s mental being or “above and below the human range” as Sri Aurobindo puts it. These ranges are in the realm of what to us now is “unconscious” – supramental/overmental (above) OR sub-mental (below).

What consciousness is not

  • not confined to the human individual, but is a cosmic reality pervading all of creation (and non-creation?)

Consciousness must be understood as a universal reality before we can hope to understand human consciousness which is only a part of the total real.

How I understand consciousness in myself occupies me these days (in Pondy) and I know it will be a major pre-occupation as long as it will last. There is a great aspiration that this new fire that burns in me to get to the root of what consciousness means blazes on always fueling the search, simply because consciousness cannot be limited, if one accepts the current definition of consciousness.

I accept at this point in time that understanding “consciousness” is not going to be an easy process for me, now that I realize (mentally, for the time being) its magnitude. It goes to the very root of why I and the rest of this world, or universe for that matter is here, now. This is a very very big thing for me. It has put consciousness in a new light.  I see today the kind and magnitude of the process of learning I have been through so far. I have a sense that I have operated from a limited outlook (if I can use that word – but limited because some aspects of consciousness were not conscious to the mind, which inevitably organizes the way I can start on something. This new understanding I have of consciousness (mentally for sure) will definitely colour how I will approach the adventure of discovering consciousness.  I also have a sense that I cannot settle for this new information as final, there is an intrinsic thought or feeling that the process of arriving is eternal and I am prepared to engage myself in the journey every moment of my life for as long as it takes. There does not seem to be another engagement more than this in one’s life.

Post IP course

Some practical points for practice in the next 5 months

Self-discovery will feature as a first step towards understanding consciousness in my own being. Who am I? What am I made of on the outside and the inside? The following will be the areas that I will have to observe myself and understand the movements as closely as possible. I will maintain a daily journal that describes most of these aspects for the next 5 months. Who am I in:

  • my relationships with people
  • my relationships with things
  • my relationships with places
  • What is the nature of major emotions that arise in me?
  • What is the nature of major thoughts that arise in me?
  • Do I know concretely the difference between thought and feeling?
  • What is the nature of actions that arise out of me? – their cause, process and way of action and the results and all my feelings, thoughts, intents behind all these.

May the fire of aspiration for a transformed life on earth burn strong and bright along with unshakeable faith in the hands that guide and a certainty that this will be.

Meanwhile, a lovely passage from Mother’s writing greeted me as I entered the Bhavan in Banglore. It will be a gem that I will cherish as a great start to this journey and here it is:

Union with the Divine Consciousness and Will

The force which, when absorbed in the Ignorance, takes the form of vital desires is the same which, in its pure form, constitutes the push, the dynamis towards transformation. Consequently, you must beware at the same time of indulging freely in desires, thinking them to be needs that must be satisfied, and of rejecting the vital force as positively evil. What you should do is to throw the doors of your being wide open to the Divine. The moment you conceal something, you step straight into Falsehood. The least suppression on your part pulls you immediately down into unconsciousness. If you want to be fully conscious, be always in front of the Truth – completely open yourself and try your utmost to let it see deep inside you, into every corner of your being. That alone will bring into you light and consciousness and all that is most true. Be absolutely modest – that is to say, know the distance between what you are and what is to be, not allowing the crude mentality to think that it knows when it does not, that it can judge when it cannot. Modesty implies the giving up of yourself to the Divine wholeheartedly, asking for help and, by submission, winning the freedom and absence of responsibility which imparts to the mind utter quietness. Not otherwise can you hope to attain the union with the Divine Consciousness and the Divine Will.
The Mother