The Vedic Rishis sought the Truth, the Right, the Vast. (satyam, rtam, brihat). They understood that the awareness limited to the ego-personality, the individual body-life-mind complex, was incomplete and could not comprehend the truth or meaning of existence. They sought to identify with the larger reality that manifested our existence as part of its own, not simply as separate beings. What many do not recognise is that this is not some concept of pure philosophy, but an actual experience of consciousness. Occasionally, under a variety of circumstances, individuals actually shift out of their focus on their personal individuality and experience something of a wider consciousness. Sometimes in the case of high fever, the individual can experience a loosening of the body to the body-awareness and feels a wider consciousness; yet, this is not the state envisioned by the Rishis. This widening, while nevertheless exceeding the immediate boundary of the body consciousness, remains limited and appears to be more of an awareness of the energy-body around the physical body.

A truer experience of wideness tends to occur in various places that are naturally conducive, such as along the ocean, or under a star-filled sky, or looking across a plain from a large hill or mountain. We see here the principle of samyama, the process of self-identification, as the vision and mood focuses on the wide horizon or endless vast of space.

The Mother writes: “… there are many ways of doing this [making the consciousness vast]. … The easiest way is to identify yourself with something vast. For instance, when you feel that you are shut up in a completely narrow and limited thought, will, consciousness, when you feel as though you were in a shell, then if you begin thinking about something very vast, as for example, the immensity of the waters of an ocean, and if really you can think of this ocean, and if far, far, far, far, in all directions, like this (Mother stretches out her arms), how, compared with you, it is so far, so far that you cannot see the other shore, you cannot reach its end anywhere, neither behind or in front nor to the right or left… it is wide, wide, wide, wide… you think of this and then you feel that you are floating on this sea, like that, and that there are no limits…. This is very easy. Then you can widen your consciousness a little.”

“Other people, for example, begin looking at the sky; and then they imagine all those spaces between all those stars, and all… that kind of infinity of spaces in which the earth is a tiny point, and you too are just a very tiny point, smaller than an ant, on the earth. And so you look at the sky and feel that you are floating in these infinite spaces between the planets, and that you are growing vaster and vaster to go farther and farther. Some people succeed with this.”

Sri Aurobindo and The Mother, Living Within: The Yoga Approach to Psychological Health and Growth, Exercises for Growth and Mastery, Widening the Consciousness, pp. 150-155

Author's Bio: 

Santosh has been studying Sri Aurobindo's writings since 1971 and has a daily blog at and podcast at He is author of 16 books and is editor-in-chief at Lotus Press. He is president of Institute for Wholistic Education, a non-profit focused on integrating spirituality into daily life.