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The Illumined Spiritual Mind

Illumined Mind
Higher Mind
Mental Mind
Vital Mind
Physical Mind

About the Higher Mind is in Sri Aurobindo's system a further and even more powerful and revelatory supra-rational level of being, which he calls the Illumined Mind. About this, he says:

this grade of Spiritual Mind, Sri Aurobindo says

The power of the spiritual Higher Mind...prepare(s) an Integration of the being in a greater Force of consciousness and knowledge.

This greater Force is that of the Illumined Mind, a Mind no longer of higher Thought, but of spiritual light. Here the clarity of the spiritual intelligence, its tranquil daylight, gives place or subordinates itself to an intense lustre, a splendour and illumination of the Spirit: a play of lightnings of spiritual truth and power breaks from above into the consciousness and adds to the calm and wide enlightenment and the vast descent of peace which characterise or accompany the action of the larger conceptual-spiritual principle, a fiery ardour of realisation and a rapturous ecstasy of knowledge.
The Life Divine (10th ed.), , p.944

Max Theon in his series of higher faculties or degrees, has the level called :"Light" above "Essence" which in turn is above "Mind". If Mind is the same as in Sri Aurobindo's (non-spiritualised or pure Thinking) Mental and Essence corresponds to Aurobindo's Higher Mind., then Light, logically, would be equivalent to the Illumined Mind

Spiritual Light

A downpour of inwardly visible Light very usually envelops this action; for it must be noted that, contrary to our ordinary conceptions, light is not primarily a material creation and the sense or vision of light accompanying the inner illumination is not merely a subjective visual image or a symbolic phenomenon: light is primarily a spiritual manifestation of the Divine Reality illuminative and creative; material light is a subsequent representation or conversion of it into Matter for the purposes of the material Energy.
The Life Divine (10th ed.), , p.944

This is also what Christopher Hills says in his theory of Rainbow Evolution. Suhrawardi went so far as to develop a cosmology based on the principle of Light. And of course there is the symbolism of Light in Gnosticism , Manichaeism, and Kabbalah.

Perhaps these cosmologies were inspired by gnosis and revelation deriving from this level or stratum or degree of being.


There is also in this descent the arrival of a greater dynamic, a golden drive, a luminous "enthousiasmos" of inner force and power which replaces the comparatively slow and deliberate process of the Higher Mind by a swift, sometimes a vehement, almost a violent impetus of rapid transformation.
The Life Divine (10th ed.), , p.944

In other words, the higher up the scale of being; the closer to the supreme Truth Consciousness, the more powerful and even the more confronting the transformation of the lower vehicle.


The theory of knowledge in philosophy is most often based on the rational mind. This means that it is limited relative to higher levels of insight. Indeed what is required is a framework according to what external link Charles T Tart calls "state specific sciences"

The Illumined Mind does not work primarily by thought, but by vision; thought is here only a subordinate movement expressive of sight.  The human mind, which relics mainly on thought, conceives that to be the highest or the main process of knowledge, but in the spiritual order thought is a secondary and a not indispensable process. In its form of verbal thought, it can almost be described as a concession made by Knowledge to the Ignorance, because that Ignorance is incapable of making truth wholly lucid and intelligible to itself in all its extent and manifold Implications except through the clarifying precision of significant sounds; it cannot do without this device to give to ideas all exact outline and an expressive body....

A consciousness that proceeds by sight, the consciousness of the seer, is a greater power for knowledge than the consciousness of the thinker. The perceptual power of the inner sight is greater and more direct than the perceptual power of thought: it is a spiritual sense that seizes something of the substance of Truth and not only her figure; but it outlines the figure also and at the same time catches the significance of the figure, and it can embody her with a finer and bolder revealing outline and a larger comprehension and power of totality than thought-conception can manage. As the Higher Mind brings a greater consciousness into the being through the spiritual idea and its power of truth, so the Illumined Mind brings in a still greater consciousness through a Truth-sight and Truth-light and its seeing and seizing power. It can effect a more powerful and dynamic integration; it illumines the thought-mind with a direct inner vision and Inspiration, brings a spiritual sight into the heart and a spiritual light and energy Into its feeling and emotion, imparts to the life-force a spiritual urge, a truth inspiration that dynamises the action and exalts the life-movements; it infuses into the sense a direct and total power of spiritual sensation so that our vital and physical being can contact and meet concretely, quite as intensely as the mind and emotion can conceive and perceive and feel, the Divine in all things; it throws on the physical mind a transforming light that breaks its limitations, its conservative inertia, replaces its narrow thought-power and its doubts by sight and pours luminosity and consciousness into the very cells of the body. In the transformation by the Higher Mind the spiritual sage and thinker would find his total and dynamic fulfilment; In the transformation by the Illumined Mind there would be a similar fulfilment for the seer, the illumined mystic, those in whom the soul lives in vision and in a direct sense and experience: for it Is from these higher sources that they receive their light and to rise into that light and live there would be their ascension to their native empire.

The Life Divine (10th ed.), , pp.944-5

This constitutes a gradational or gnostic epistemology, with each higher hypostasis a progressively more integral form of understanding. And like all such paradigms, it is qualitative - the higher is more complete than the lower, which ina sense could be considered its emanation.

And just as there are grades below, so there are those that are above, in the ladder of ascent.

But these two stages [the Higher Mind and the Illumined Mind] of the ascent enjoy their authority and can get their own united completeness only by a reference to a third level; for it is from the higher summits where dwells the intuitional being that they derive the knowledge which they turn into thought or sight and bring down to us for the mind's transmutation.
The Life Divine (10th ed.), , pp.944-5

In a sense, ands a sa representative of the branching pattern of emanation, the Higher Mind depends on both the Illumined and the (Divine) Intuitive Mind, whilst the Illumined Mind depends only on Intuitive Mind. And of course all three depend on the Overmind.

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page by M.Alan Kazlev
Text by Sri Aurobindo © Sri Aurobindo Ashram Trust 1977
page uploaded 30 November 1998, last modified 5 March 2005