There are three planes of consciousness in Man -- the physical, the vital, and the mental. The physical is -- in ascending order of consciousness -- our bodies, including its material substance, its inner and outer movements, and its sensations. The vital is a higher plane, and includes our desires, feelings, emotions, attitudes, and emotive relations and interactions with others. The mind is a higher plane still, and includes mental functionings of fact gathering and conversion; idea production; development of beliefs and values; and rational thinking; all out of which comes various levels of understanding and knowledge.
In the course of evolution, we see an ascent of consciousness from that of the relatively unconscious physical body (as in primitive life forms) to more conscious vital parts (as in animals) to the much more aware and conscious mental plane (especially in higher primates, culminating in humans). It is in the plane of Mind that Man has distinguished himself from the animal; though even there his mental understanding is limited by the needs of his lower physical and vital nature.
Here I want to narrow the focus to the planes and dimensions of the human Mind. As devised by Sri Aurobindo, Sri Karmayogi, and others, we can distinguish between several increasingly conscious planes or divisions of our mentality -- ranging from the simpler fact-processing capability to the more complex planes of reason to spiritual-like powers of direct knowing without thought. Let’s examine each more closely.
Physical Mental -- The simplest aspect or dimension of the human Mind is that which captures information from the world and processes it into facts, associations, and ideas. It is the mechanical part of our mentality that we can call the Physical Mental. (We will see that there are three essential subplanes of Mind, this being the first and most basic.)
Vital Mental -- The next highest plane of mental consciousness is that which turns understanding and ideas into personal beliefs and values. At this level of Mind, ideas are personalized and emotionalized to express what we believe in; perceive to be of value. This is what we call the Vital Mental.
Rational Mind (Mental Mental) -- The highest level of Mind proper is rational and logical mind. There we engage in purer thinking, using logic to build up our understanding of any object that we are considering. This higher dimension of mind is more in touch with the truth of things, as it strains to know the object of knowledge by developing an argument through a logical sequence of thoughts.
Limits of Rational Mind
And yet even logical mind can be prejudiced in its comprehension, as it can be unduly influenced by our bodily and emotional needs and influences. E.g. if I am overly-attached to my family at the expense of others, it can skew my view of things, including how my mind builds up its so-called logical point of view. There are in fact few if any individuals who engage in pure thinking untainted by our physical, vital, and psychological prejudices.
This tendency to be attached to and argue one side of a matter, even amongst highly intelligent “rational” human beings, is what Sri Karmayogi calls “intellectualization,” something the Western mind finds great difficulty growing out of. However, we can shed that tendency, when we develop an inner life of calm and stillness that looks out on the world as a non-prejudicial “Silent Witness.” From that poise we more readily embrace, even seek out the many points of view of any matter; the true truth of things. As a result, true rational thinking/rationality is born, and therefore a truer understanding and knowledge begins to take shape.
Then there are the ultimate planes of mentality -- Spiritual Mind --, which consist of an ascending scale of levels beyond mind proper. There we have sudden insights, blinding flashes of truth, visions of possibilities, and sudden descents of knowledge coming as Light.
And yet even these spiritual-based insights involve a small degree of thinking; where the churning of thought still precedes the sudden descent of knowledge. E.g., when Archimedes experienced his famous moment of Light and exclaimed “Eureka, I’ve got it,” he had been pondering the issue from many sides (i.e. engaging in rational thought) as he bathed in the tub.
Well it turns out that there are higher spiritual planes of mind still, where one experiences sudden intuitions of knowledge without any thought at all; where revelation of truth simply appear in one’s Mind from the universal plane.
Beyond this is an opening the cosmic Mind itself, to the universal consciousness, where anything can be known in its many-sided truth. However, even there, there is not the perfect, all-encompassing direct connection with the object under scrutiny or consideration. That is left to spirito-mental dimension of Supermind (aka Truth Consciousness), where anything is known in its totality, and where one also has the full power to realize and make it real. Thus, I suddenly know the thing under consideration in its totality, even as it tends to manifests as a living reality in life. In Supermind, knowledge and will for manifestation are fused.
Also, each thing known is understood in connection with every other in Supermind. Thus, it is a unity consciousness of perfect awareness of all the parts, the totality, the whole, and the essence of any matter; all perfectly integrated and One in one’s consciousness.
Sense Mind to the Subliminal
Thus, we see a scale of mentality, from lower to higher, beginning with fact processing that generates ideas; to vitalized ideas that become beliefs and personal values; to a lower and higher scales of rational, logical thought; to spiritualized mind of silence, illumination, intuition, revelation, cosmic consciousness, and supramental perception where one is in complete identity with the object; where knowledge and will are fused; where our knowledge is integrated and one with all related truths of existence.
This is what we may call a vertical scale of mental human consciousness. There is also a horizontal scale, ranging from the surface of our lives to the deepest depths within us. Let’s then examine these.
At the surface, the mind is preoccupied by the inputs of the five senses. The mind perceives the world through what it sees, hears, etc. and then comes to a conclusion about things. Often this is faulty, as our eyes can deceive us from understanding the true truth of a matter. E.g. if we see a person being arrested, we may misjudge the event, concluding that he must be guilty, when in fact he is being put in the squad car to protect him from another. There are an infinite number of examples where this surface sense mind comes to utterly wrong conclusions. It happens to each of us a dozen times a day, as we come to wrong perceptions based on what we see, which is at odds with what is really happening.
Understanding life merely through the five senses, without engaging in logical, rational thought is an inordinately physical way of perceiving existence. E.g., we see how the scientist is confounded when he tries to evaluate his subject matter solely based on visible, measureable, quantifiable, material, physical fact; when the truth of the matter is more varied, complex, and lies much deeper. Likewise, the American who lives on the surface of life bemused by all of the material objects that serve him in life is a slave to this outer, sense-oriented physical mind.
Not only can we move away from surface mind to rational mind, but we can also get in touch with a deeper mind inside us. Buried within us is a subtle form of mind, a subliminal mental being, also called the Inner Mind. This mind is in touch with the universal forces; to what Sri Aurobindo calls the superconscient, or universal mental existence. Thus, this subliminal mental being has awarenesses and perceptions that transcend normal causality and views of space and time; just as the universal plane does. These subtle thoughts are constantly percolating up from the depths to the surface of our being, providing critical hints of what to do and what to avoid, providing an Inner Guidance that can be infinitely valuable to successful living. Along with the intuitions of knowledge that descend into us through spiritual mind, these inner intimations of the subliminal mentality can provide deep, profound insights into the nature of things and the workings of life at any given moment.
The more one develops an inner life, the more the mind expands to the spiritual mental planes above, and to the subliminal mental planes in the depths of our being. Through inner concentration, meditation, (and most recommended) continuous opening to the spiritual Force, i.e. consecration, one can over time forge a powerful inner existence of calm and serenity that enables mind to soar to the universal heights above and to the deepest depths within. Streams of truth will then constantly come into our being from all directions, giving us profound knowledge, wisdom, and power, enabling us to become the Master of Life.Write the text of your article here!