This paper was presented at
Psychology: The Indian Contribution
National Conference on
Indian Psychology, Yoga and Consciousness
organised by the Indian Council of Philosophical Research
at the Sri Aurobindo International Centre of Education
Pondicherry, India, 10-13 December 2004

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Sri Aurobindo on cosmic consciousness: An integral view

A.S. Dalal, Sri Aurobindo Ashram, Pondicherry.

Whereas the term “cosmic consciousness” has been used with different meanings by different thinkers, Sri Aurobindo uses the term cosmic consciousness for a specific state of consciousness. He speaks of various planes of inner consciousness which lie behind the outer normal consciousness, and various planes of higher consciousness which lie above the ordinary consciousness. All the planes of inner and higher consciousness are both individual and universal or cosmic. The inward and the upward movements in the growth of consciousness give one access respectively to the inner and higher planes of consciousness in the individual. It is by a third type of movement of consciousness, namely, widening or horizontal extension so as to embrace the universe that one has the cosmic consciousness. Thus cosmic consciousness may be experienced on any of the inner or higher planes of consciousness. He further distinguishes two sides of the cosmic consciousness: the Cosmic Self, which contains everything in the cosmos, and the Cosmic Nature or Energy. He also distinguishes two other sides of the cosmic consciousness—the cosmic Truth and the cosmic Ignorance. When one opens into the cosmic realms of the mind, vital, and physical consciousness without yet having transcended the normal levels of human mind, one enters into an intermediate zone in which there is a mixture of truth and falsehood, the cosmic Ignorance. It is when one passes from the intermediate zone into the higher realms of cosmic consciousness—those of Higher Mind, Illumined Mind, Intuition and Overmind—that one comes into contact with the cosmic Truth. But even the Overmind is part of the Ignorance. It is only the Supermind — the Truth-Consciousness beyond Mind that is all-knowledge. It is possible to have the cosmic consciousness without the liberation of Self-realization. But if Self-realization precedes the cosmic consciusness, then one part of the being remains untouched amid the play of the cosmic forces. The cosmic consciusness is not the highest; beyond it is the supracosmic state of the Transcendent Consciousness.

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