The seer of the Taittiriya Upanishad identified various planes of ever more subtle and powerful consciousness, with the most subtle and powerful being the ultimate causative agent of the denser and lower formations of Matter, Life and Mind. If we look at the experience of the vedic seers, we find that there are three basic terms that define stages of conscious awareness. There is the lower, denser level consisting of Matter-Life-Mind. There is another level that is the “Knowledge” plane of consciousness. And then there is the plane of Sat-Chit-Ananda, pure existence, consciousness, bliss which transcends the manifested universe. The knowledge level acts as an intermediary between the transcendent level and the planes of material existence. Sri Aurobindo calls this level the supramental level, that is, the level beyond the action of mind. This level holds the awareness of the transcendent and the ultimate will of the creative power in the universe, while effectively implementing, in detail, the relationships and forms needed to carry out that will in the external world. In that sense, the knowledge level can be analogized as a type of prism that receives the pure white light, and breaks it down into all the colors of the rainbow.

This brings us to the definition of the three great terms of the divine reality, the Transcendent, the Cosmic or Universal, and the Material existence. The material existence is created and caused by the action of the cosmic or universal under the impulsion of the intention of the divine Will that stems from the transcendent.

Sri Aurobindo notes: “The Cosmic Divine is what is concerned with the actual working out of things under the present circumstances. It is the Will of that Cosmic Divine which is manifested in each circumstance, each movement of this world.”

“The Cosmic Will is not, to our ordinary consciousness, something that acts as an independent power doing whatever it chooses; it works through all these beings, through the forces at play in the world and the law of these forces and their results — it is only when we open ourselves and get out of the ordinary consciousness that we can feel it intervening as an independent power and overriding the ordinary play of the forces.”

“Then too we can see that even in the play of the forces and in spite of their distortions the Cosmic Will is working towards the eventual realisation of the Will of the Transcendent Divine.”

Sri Aurobindo and the Mother, The Hidden Forces of Life, Ch. 1 Life Through the Eyes of the Yogin, pg.25

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 20 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.
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