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The Triple Transformation

Sri Aurobindo on the transformation of the being

Sri Aurobindo's teaching stands radically distinct from all other spiritual paths, in emphasising not just transcendence, but transformation. This is the direction, he states, to which evolution and Nature (by which here is meant all of phenomenal reality) is moving. As he puts it

"If it is the sole intention of Nature in the evolution of the spiritual man to awaken him to the supreme Reality...then in the essence her work has been already accomplished and there is nothing more to be done....But we have supposed that there is a farther intention, - not only a revelation of the Spirit [i.e. traditional Liberation], but a radical and integral transformation of Nature..."
The Life Divine (10th ed.), p.889

Time and again Sri Aurobindo points out that only Supermind, the Truth Consciousness, the dynamic mediating element of the Absolute Reality, is sufficent to bring about this task. A lesser (although still to us radical and dramatic) Spiritualisation (Minor or Major Enlightenment) or Overmental transformation (Godheadhood) is not sufficient.

Yet for such an unimaginatively dramatic transformation and metamorphosis to occur, -

"...the gulf between Mind and Supermind has to be bridged, the closed passages opened and roads of ascent and descent created where there is now a void and a silence. This can be done only by the triple transformation to which we have already made a passing reference: there must first be the psychic change, the conversion of our whole present nature into a soul-instrumentation; on that or along with that there must be the spiritual change, the descent of a higher Light, Knowledge, Power, Force, Bliss, Purity into the whole being, even into the lowest recesses of the life and body, even into the darkness of our subconscience; last, there must supervene the supramental transmutation, - there must take place as the crowning movement the ascent into the Supermind and the transforming descent of the supramental Consciousness into our entire being and nature."
The Life Divine (10th ed.), p.891

In the following passage, (from Letters on Yoga I think; I didn't note the actual page reference), mentionis made of the two primary parameters of consciousness (see the Integral Matrix for more):

"There are in fact two systems simultaneously active in the organisation of the being and its parts: one is concentric, a series of rings or sheaths with the psychic at the centre; another is vertical, an ascension and descent, like a flight of steps, a series of superimposed planes with the supermind-overmind as the crucial nodus of the transition beyond the human into the Divine. For this transition, if it is to be at the same time a transformation, there is only one way, one path.

First, there must be a conversion inwards, a going within to find the inmost psychic being and bring it out to the front, disclosing at the same time the inner mind, inner vital, inner physical parts of the nature.

Next, there must be an ascension, a series of conversions upwards and a turning down to convert the lower parts.

When one has made the inward conversion, one psychicises the whole lower nature so as to make it ready for the divine change. Going upwards, one passes beyond the human mind and at each stage of the ascent, there is a conversion into a new consciousness and an infusion of this new consciousness into the whole of the nature. Thus rising beyond intellect through illuminated higher mind to the intuitive consciousness, we begin to look at everything not from the intellect range or through intellect as an instrument, but from a greater intuitive height and through an intuitivised will, feeling, emotion, sensation and physical contact. So, proceeding from Intuition to a greater overmind height, there is a new conversion and we look  at and experience everything from the overmind consciousness and through a mind, heart, vital and body surcharged with the overmind thought, sight, will, feeling, sensation, play of force and contact. But the last conversion is the supramental, for once there--once the nature is supramentalised, we are beyond the Ignorance and conversion of consciousness is no longer needed, though a farther divine progression, even an infinite development is still possible."

In short:

  1. Psychicisation
  2. Spiritualisation
  3. Supramentalisation

This can be summarised in terms of the following diagram

The Triple Transformation
from Growth Online, external link The Future Evolutionary Individual and Collective Life on Earth

While the first two stages - Psychicisation and Spiritualisation - do not have to be in sequence (they can be simultaneous, or Spiritualisation can even preceed Psychicisation), both are necessary prerequisites for the final, consumate stage of Supramentalisation.

A further, more elaborate codification of the stages of spiritual transformation would start with the early spiritual development of the soul, and the paths to spiritual practice, leading to the movement inward and finally the essential stage of Psychicisation. This would deepen to the Psycho-Spiritual Transformation, and then to full spiritualisation and the choice between Nirvana/Liberation and ascent-decent-transformation. Assuming one chooses the latter path (in contrast to most spiritual teachings and practices - from the Upanishads, Taoism, and Western traditions like Gnosticism to pop-eastern gurus and grand synthesisers like Ken Wilber) this opens up further vistas of spiritual evolution and transformation, leading to Overmentalisation and finally Supramentalisation

It seems to me (from consideration of Sri Aurobindo's description of these transformations) that Psychicisation and Spiritualisation, and the associated experiences, ramifications, paths, and states of attainment with each separate and both together are sufficient to explain all the mystical and higher consciousness experiences known to humanity. These may or may not (depending on the experience) lead to totally non-phenomal experiences of Liberation or Nirvana. But for the complete Divinisation of Matter the goal is not a passive abiding in and as the Absolute, but the Transformation of the material world itself, which the Supramental State makes possible.

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page by M.Alan Kazlev
page uploaded 6 July 2004, last modified 29 July