The Adventure of Consciousness

“Sri Aurobindo used to say that the sole purpose of books and philosophies was not really to enlighten the mind, but to silence it so that, quieted, it can start experiencing and receive inspiration directly.”
–Satprem, Sri Aurobindo, or the Adventure of Consciousness, p. 281

We do everything in a state of tension, hurriedly, carelessly, unconsciously; in response to the thousand and one promptings of external life, not to mention its blows, we behave physically like a patient in a dentist’s chair: we are tense and turned in on ourselves, out of haste, or fear, or anxiety, or greed.  This is the legacy of a few millions of years of animality: our substance remembers having struggled to survive, it keeps hardening itself.  This hardening is one of the causes of death, and a great obstacle to establishing the true vibration.  When we stiffen and harden under a blow, we gather all our vital force in one point, as a defense; a huge current suddenly flows through a tiny opening, which turns red-hot and hurts. If we learned to broaden our physical consciousness and absorb the blow instead of rejecting it, we would not suffer – all suffering is a narrowness of the consciousness, at all levels. We can thus understand that were this dust of warm supramental gold to rush suddenly into our cells, and were the body to react with its usual hardening, everything would burst.  In other words, our cellular consciousness, like our mental and vital consciousness, must learn to expand and universalize. (p. 321)

And so what is there to add to the adventure of consciousness by one (Aurobindo) who dedicated his life to its exploration and elucidation?  How can you venerate the silence by adding more words to it?

The mind left to its own devices will make up more verbal propositions without end, whether in attempted communication with others or in the safety of its own domain; and these deserve to be measured for truth next to one another and in light of the greater wordless silence that is the big picture outside and inside our habitually dictating selves.

Would it be better to do as Sri Aurbindo did and retreat in solitude for 24 years, or to seek to attain an unshakeable stillness and silence that could serve as a beacon and shining example for any and all to follow?  The answer Satprem provides, in his 300-plus pages of dense commentary, is a resounding No.  What Aurobindo found and Satprem emphasizes, is that there is no enlightenment apart from the meat of life and death; no individual salvation without the liberation of all the world from suffering; no adventure of consciousness outward from the body and its failings, but only into the depths of our reality, our atomic and subatomic structure, where we find what we are looking for in the very place we are.

Satprem says, “We have lost the Password, that is the bottom line of our era” (p. 349).

A new word, if it can bring us back to this journey, is not extraneous but vital.  If it is true it can serve as the password we seem to keep forgetting.  To that end there is always an opening for a fresh attempt – especially as truth insists on leaving behind all that has gone before, and coming to us naked and new and in need of our understanding as of this moment, going forward into the yet unknown.


  1. CoorgoNor 28 February 2009 2:04 am
  2. mark 15 April 2009 2:17 am

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  3. mark 15 April 2009 6:23 am

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