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The Three Supramental Poises

The Three Supramental Poises
An admittedly rather simplistic representation of the three Supramental Poises, in relation to both unmanifest Sachchidananda and the manifest cosmos. (Illustration by yours truly)

The Supermind is not uniform andf unchanging throughout, but consists of different aspects or Poises. As described by Sri Aurobindo:

"We, human beings, are phenomenally a particular form of consciousness, subject to Time and Space, and can only be, in our surface consciousness which is all we know of ourselves, one thing at a time, one formation, one poise of being, one aggregate of experience; and that one thing is for us the truth of ourselves which we acknowledge; all the rest is either not true or no longer true, because it has disappeared into the past out of our ken, or not yet true, because it is waiting in the future and not yet in our ken. But the Divine Consciousness is not so particularised, nor so limited; it can be many things at a time and take more than one enduring poise even for all time. We find that in the principle of supermind itself it has three such general poises or sessions of its world-founding consciousness. The first founds the inalienable unity of things, the second modifies that unity so as to support the manifestation of the Many in One and One in Many; the third further modifies it so as to support the evolution of a diversified individuality which, by the action of Ignorance, becomes in us at a lower level the illusion of the separate ego."
The Life Divine (10th ed.), , p.146

"Obviously, these three poises would be only different ways of dealing with the same Truth; the Truth of existence enjoyed would be the same, the way of enjoying it or rather the poise of the soul in enjoying it would be different. The delight, the Ananda would vary, but would abide always within the status of the Truth-Consciousness and involve no lapse into the Falsehood and the Ignorance. For the secondary and tertiary supermind would only develop and apply in the terms of the divine multiplicity what the primary supermind had held in the terms of the divine unity. We cannot stamp any of these three poises with the stigma of falsehood and illusion."
The Life Divine (10th ed.), , p.148

Sri Aurobindo associates each of three poises with each of the three main vedantic philosophies (the Advaita Vedanta or NonDualism of Shankara, the Visishtadvaita or qualkified Nondualism (theistic monism) of Ramanuja, and the Dvaita or theistic dualism of Madhva) which are each seen as a valid but partial understanding, and that it is-

"...only when our human mentality lays an exclusive emphasis on one side of spiritual experience, affirms that to be the sole eternal truth and states it in the terms of our all-dividing mental logic that the necessity for mutually destructive schools of philosophy arises."
The Life Divine (10th ed.), , p.149

Compare here the parable of the Blind Men and the Elephant, and the esoteric-exoteric demarcation in the Traditionalism of Frithjof Schuon. In Link to Amazon com The Transcendental Unity of Religions Schuon argues that the exoteric pertains to the differences, the esoteric to the underlying and transcendent unity. This theme is further developed by Huston Smith and Ken Wilber. Each position holds a valid truth, but goes overboard in denying all other perspectives. Thus, as Sri Aurobindo explains-

"...emphasising the sole truth of the unitarian consciousness [the First Poise], we observe the play of the divine unity, erroneously rendered by our mentality into the terms of real difference..[so that it is considered]...the play itself is an illusion. Or, emphasising the play of the One in the Many [the Second Poise], we declare a qualified unity and regard the individual soul as a soul-form of the Supreme, but would...deny altogether the experience of a pure consciousness in an unqualified oneness. Or, again, emphasising the play of difference, we assert that the Supreme and the human soul are eternally different and reject the validity of an experience which exceeds and seems to abolish that difference. But ...we see that there is a truth behind all these affirmations, but at the same time an excess which leads to an ill-founded negation."
The Life Divine (10th ed.), , p.149

Child nodes: | First Poise | Second Poise | Third Poise |

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origianl text content and three poises diagram by M.Alan Kazlev
All quotations by Sri Aurobindo © Sri Aurobindo Ashram Trust 1977
page uploaded 10 July 2004