Dante and Beatrice gaze upon the highest Heaven (The Empyrean);
from Gustave Doré's illustrations to the Divine Comedy, Paradiso Canto 31
In 1908-1909, while spending a year in jail for being a seditionist against British rule in India, Sri Aurobindo (1872-1950) came to the conclusion that the time had come for an entirely new stage of evolution to unfold on planet Earth. So far in our history, out of seemingly inert matter evolved life and out of matter-life evolved mind. The next logical question that arises is, ‘What is next for us? … What exactly are we to become or evolve into?’ The answer, according to Sri Aurobindo and the authors of the Rig Veda, is that we are to become conscious of the One Self that contains and pervades all-selves and all variations throughout all of time and space. Another way of putting this is that our limited mind and fragmented mental-egoic formations are evolutionarily bound to give way to a supramental, or higher-than-mental consciousness of eternity, immortality and unity. Like the seed of a flower is inherently designed to grow through various stages and to bloom, mankind is inherently designed in the course of evolution, to become Gnostic or knowledgeable of the whole living macrocosm of which each individual is a microcosm. As our consciousness evolves in that direction, life on Earth becomes correspondingly luminous, harmonious and divine.
In his magnum opus The Life Divine
, which describes this evolutionary vision, Sri Aurobindo begins his description of the ‘Gnostic Being’ with a selection of verses from the Rig Veda that give readers an idea of the eternal Truth of Oneness that lies in wait to illuminate the shadowy mind of Man.
O Flame, O Wine, your force has become conscious;
you have discovered the One Light for the many.
Rig Veda I. 93. 4
O Truth-Conscious, be conscious of the Truth,
cleave out many streams of the Truth.
Rig Veda V. 12. 2
A perfect path of the Truth has come into being for our
journey to the other shore beyond the darkness.
Rig Veda I. 46. 11
‘Mental nature and mental thought,’ Sri Aurobindo goes on to explain, ‘are based on a consciousness of the finite; supramental nature is in its very grain a consciousness and power of the Infinite. Supramental Nature sees everything from the standpoint of oneness and regards all things, even the greatest multiplicity and diversity, even what are to the mind the strongest contradictions, in the light of that oneness; its will, ideas, feelings, sense are made of the stuff of that oneness, its actions proceed on that basis. … the supramental, the life divine is a life of essential spontaneous and inherent unity.’