If we reflect for a moment that a being who does not have a highly developed abstract mental capacity, perhaps a fish or a honeybee, or even a cat or dog, is unable to truly appreciate and understand the functioning of the higher reasoning and logical capabilities that human beings consider to be their exclusive province. There is no doubt that the human being interacts with these other beings, and in some cases is able to train them up to a certain degree to understand certain simple ideas, concepts or commands, but thus far, we have been unable to identify the development of such a higher mental capacity in the animal or insect kingdom even under the direct influence of evolved human individuals.

If we now transpose this reflection to the ability of the higher mental capacity to truly appreciate and understand an evolutionary stage beyond the mind, it becomes possible to appreciate that there are statuses of being which cannot be fully understood or properly interpreted by even the most highly developed mental intelligence.

When someone has a spiritual experience, or undergoes a shift of consciousness which enables him to see and understand things from a totally different standpoint, there is clearly no pathway to communicate the actual experience to the mental substance. The best that can be done is to create imagery, develop analogies or other transcription tools to point the way, even if they cannot fully express the experience to a mind that is not prepared for it.

We see a similar situation when a profound, deep thinking individual tries to explain an esoteric concept. He winds up using language that has little or no meaning to the ordinary individual and, as the saying goes, the concept goes “right over the head” of the individual who does not have that capacity actively developed within him.

The Mother observes: “Those who have experienced this reversal know what I am speaking about; but if one hasn’t, one can’t understand. One may have a kind of idea by analogy, people who have tried to describe yoga compare it with the reversal of a prism: when you put it at a certain angle, the light is white; when you turn it over, it is broken up. Well, this is exactly what happens, that is to say, you restore the white. In the ordinary consciousness there is decomposition and you restore the white. However, this is only an image. It is not really that, this is an analogy. But the phenomenon is extremely concrete. It is almost as though you were to put what is inside out, and what is outside in. And it isn’t that either! But if you could turn a ball inside out, or a balloon — you can’t, can you? — if you could put the inside out and the outside in, it would be something like what I mean.”

Sri Aurobindo and the Mother, Growing Within: The Psychology of Inner Development, Chapter IX Reversal of Consciousness: The New Birth, pp. 169-170

Author's Bio: 

Santosh has been studying Sri Aurobindo's writings since 1971 and has a daily blog at http://sriaurobindostudies.wordpress.com and podcast at https://anchor.fm/santosh-krinsky He is author of 17 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.