Planes of consciousness

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Letters on Yoga – I
“The Planes or Worlds of Consciousness”

Letters on Yoga I - The Planes or Worlds of Consciousness.jpg
PDF (6 pages)

“What are the ‘invisible worlds’?

(Mother:) That is a formidable question!
         You have heard and read that we are made up of various states of being: physical, vital, mental, psychic, spiritual, etc. Well, all these inner states of being correspond to invisible worlds. There is a physical world, a vital world, a mental world, a psychic world, and many spiritual worlds, a whole range of more and more subtle worlds approaching nearer and nearer to the Supreme. So, since you carry within yourself a corresponding range, by studying and becoming aware of your inner being you gradually make yourself capable of becoming aware also of these invisible worlds.”[1]

(Mother:) “These things are not invisible in themselves — they are invisible to the physical consciousness and the physical senses, but not to the corresponding inner states of consciousness or the corresponding inner senses. For, by a systematic development one can acquire senses in these worlds and one can then live a similar life with different characteristics. I mean that one can live an objective life in these worlds if one is sufficiently developed oneself. Otherwise, they wouldn’t exist for us. If we did not carry in ourselves something corresponding to all that exists in the universe, this universe wouldn’t exist for us. And it is only a matter of systematic and methodical development. Some people have it spontaneously for various reasons, usually as a result of a long preparation in previous lives, sometimes because of specially favourable circumstances — they are born in a certain environment, of parents who had developed these faculties, and they were helped to develop them from childhood. Other people have to acquire them systematically by inner discipline; it takes time, a long time, but after all it doesn’t take much longer than for the brain of a child to grasp abstract mathematics. That takes years.

Do these invisible worlds exist in a fixed place in the universe?

They form part of the universe, of course. Yes, one can say that they exist in a fixed place. But to understand that, to understand these things requires a mind capable of understanding that there are other dimensions than the purely material dimensions. For when you are told that your psychic being is in your body, that doesn’t mean that if you open up your body you will find your psychic being inside. You will find your heart, your stomach and the rest, but not your psychic being. And yet it is correct to say that it is within you. It extends beyond you too, but it is in another dimension. And one can say that there are as many dimensions as there are different worlds. Certainly all these invisible worlds — so-called invisible worlds — are contained, so to say, in the material universe. But they don’t occupy the place of other things.”[2]

(Sri Aurobindo:) “We must understand what we mean by planes of consciousness, planes of existence. We mean a general settled poise or world of relations between Purusha and Prakriti, between the Soul and Nature.”[3]

(Sri Aurobindo:) “The physical is not the only world; there are others that we become aware of through dream records, through the subtle senses, through influences and contacts, through imagination, intuition and vision. There are worlds of a larger subtler life than ours, vital worlds; worlds in which Mind builds its own forms and figures, mental worlds; psychic worlds which are the soul’s home; others above with which we have little contact. In each of us there is a mental plane of consciousness, a psychic, a vital, a subtle physical as well as the gross physical and material plane. The same planes are situated in the consciousness of general Nature. It is when we enter or contact these other planes that we come into connection with the worlds above the physical.”[4]

(Medhananda:) “For convenience, for someone who is moving up the ladder, we speak of different domains of manifestation. But these are simply different states, different qualities of vibration, of consciousness.
         If people do not know the history of the worlds, it is because they do not want to know it. It is our birthright to know it, because our being participates in all these worlds. They are not outside us or alien to us. Just as a part of us participates in the material world, another part belongs to the vital world, another to the mental world, etc. And part of us is in the oneness. It is only because we are all curled up and focused on our body that we don't see them. Moreover they are all mixed up. We have to disentangle them. That is evolution.”[5]

(Sri Aurobindo:) “Each plane, in spite of its connection with others above and below it, is yet a world in itself, with its own movements, forces, beings, types, forms existing as if for its and their own sake, under its own laws, for its own manifestation without apparent regard for other members of the great series.”[6]

(Sri Aurobindo:) “Since Being, conscious force and delight of being are always the three constituent terms of existence, the nature of a world is really determined by the way in which Prakriti is set to deal with these three primary things and the forms which it is allowed to give to them.”[7]

See also