classes ::: chapter, Sri_Aurobindo_or_the_Adventure_of_Consciousness, Satprem, Integral_Yoga,
children :::
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Instances, Classes, See Also, Object in Names
Definitions, . Quotes . - . Chapters .

object:1.09 - Sleep and Death
book class:Sri Aurobindo or the Adventure of Consciousness
author class:Satprem
subject class:Integral Yoga

Not everyone is capable of consciously leaving his body, or consciously widening his mind and vital, but many of us do so unconsciously, in sleep, just when the little I's of the frontal being are less noisome and less engrossed in their superficial preoccupations.
These sundry I's express a fraction of reality, the reality seen by the naked eye, but immense realms stretch beyond them. We have already mentioned a universal Mind, a universal Vital, and a subtle Physical behind this physical shell; now we must try to recover our entire universal reality. There are three methods or stages for achieving this.
The first, available to everyone, is sleep. The second, less common,
involves conscious exteriorization or deep meditation. The third, in which everything becomes simple, requires a more advanced degree of development: without recourse to sleep or meditation, it is indeed possible to see in every manner, with eyes wide open and in the very midst of other activities, as if all the levels of universal existence were present before us, and accessible through mere shifts of consciousness, rather as if we were adjusting our eyesight from a nearby object to a distant one. Sleep, then, is a first tool; it can become conscious, increasingly conscious, ultimately reaching a point of development where we will become continuously conscious, whether on this side of the veil or the other, where sleep, as well as death, will no longer be a return to a quiescent state or a dispersion into our natural constituent parts, but merely a transition from one mode of consciousness to another. Because, although the line we have drawn between sleep and waking, life and death, may agree with external appearances, it has no more essential reality than our national borders have in terms of physical geography, or the external colors and fixed appearance of an object have in terms of nuclear physics. Actually,
there is no separation anywhere, except for our lack of consciousness;
the two worlds (or, rather, this one and countless others) coexist constantly, are constantly intermingled, and it is only a particular way

of perceiving the same thing that makes us say, in one case, "I live,"
and in the other, "I sleep" or "I am dead" (provided we are conscious enough to realize this), just as we can experience the same object differently, depending on how we look at it, at the subatomic, atomic,
molecular, or purely external level. "Elsewhere" is everywhere in this reality. We have attached a unique exclusive value to the various symbols that form our outer physical life because they are right before our eyes, but they are no more or no less valid than the other symbols that make up our extraphysical life. The atomic reality of an object does not cancel or contradict its external reality, nor is it separate from it, and vice versa. Not only are other symbols as valid as our physical ones, but we cannot really understand our physical symbols unless we understand all non-physical symbols. Without the knowledge of the other degrees of existence, our knowledge of the ordinary human world remains as incomplete and false as would be a study of the physical world that would exclude the knowledge of molecules,
atoms, and particles. Nothing is understood unless everything is understood.
Thus, there is an infinite gradation of coextensive, simultaneous realities, upon which sleep opens a natural window. Indeed, if we set aside the superficial life-death-sleep classification in favor of a more essential classification of the universe, we see that, from top to bottom (if there is such a thing as top and bottom), this universe is but a continuum of consciousness-force or, as Sri Aurobindo puts it, a gradation of planes of consciousness ranging without break from pure Matter to pure Spirit Subtle Physical, Vital, Mind, Supermind (we may use another terminology, if we like, but the fact remains) and everything occurs on these planes: everything coexists there, without any separation. Life, death, and sleep are simply different positions of consciousness within this one gradation. When we are awake, we receive mental or vital vibrations, which are translated in us by certain symbols, certain ways of seeing, understanding, or living. When we are asleep, or "dead," we receive the same mental, vital or other vibrations, which are translated in us by other symbols, other ways of seeing, understanding, or living the same reality. In each case, the key to our existence, here or elsewhere, is always our capacity of consciousness; if we lack consciousness in life, we will lack

consciousness in every other way: death will really be death, and sleep really a stupor. To become aware of these different planes of reality is therefore our fundamental work. Once we have done this work integrally, the artificial boundaries that separate our different modes of existence will crumble; we will move without break, without any gap of consciousness, from life to sleep to death. More precisely, death and sleep will cease to exist as we understand them, to be replaced by different manners of continuously perceiving the total Reality, and perhaps ultimately by an integral consciousness that will perceive everything simultaneously. Our evolution is far from over. Death is not a denial of Life but a process of Life.96
This physical life in this physical body has, therefore, a special prominence among all our modes of existence, because it is here that we can become conscious; this is the field of work, as the Mother says,
the meeting-point of all the planes in one body. This is the field of work because it is the starting, or almost starting, point of evolution;
through this body, slowly, after countless undifferentiated lives, a "self" takes on an individuality by coming in contact with higher and higher planes of consciousness, and vaster and vaster reaches of consciousness on each plane. Hence, there are as many different kinds of death or sleep as there are lives, because they are the same thing;
everything depends upon the degree of our evolutionary development;
there are all possible degrees in sleep and death, as in life, from the complete zombie to the fully awake and individualized consciousness.
Therefore, there are no general rules regarding sleep and death,
because everything is possible, just as it is in our physical waking state. We can at most outline some general features.
As mentioned earlier, we are made up of several centers of consciousness, ranging from above the head to the bottom. Each of these centers is somewhat like a radio receiver tuned in to particular wavelengths, and is linked with different planes of consciousness from which we constantly receive, most often unknowingly, all sorts of vibrations subtle physical, vital or mental, higher or lower that account for our way of thinking, feeling and living, with our individual consciousness acting as a filter and picking up certain 96

The Life Divine, 18:193

vibrations rather than others, in accord with its own social environment, tradition, education, etc. As a general rule, in sleep or in death, we go by affinity to those places or planes with which we have already established a relationship. This is the elementary stage when the consciousness is not truly individualized; although it may be mentally refined and cultivated, it thinks more or less like everyone else, feels like everyone else, and lives like everyone else: it is merely a temporary aggregate whose continuity does not extend beyond the body in which everything is centered. When this bodily center dies,
everything scatters into small vital, mental, and other fragments,
which return to their respective realms, since they no longer have a center. And when the center is asleep, everything is more or less asleep, since the nonphysical mental and vital elements exist only in relation to, and to serve, the bodily life. In this primary state,
whenever the consciousness falls asleep, it slips back into the subconscient (we use the word subconscient as Sri Aurobindo used it,
in the etymological sense, meaning that which is historically subconscious, not below the level of our waking consciousness but below the conscious stage in the evolutionary sense, as in the animal or the plant);97 in other words, the consciousness returns to its evolutionary past, which may bring out an array of chaotic images made by random associations of many fragments of memories and impressions, unless it carries on its waking activities in a more or less incoherent way.
From there, the consciousness sinks further into a vegetable or larval past, which is its actual sleep, like the sleep of plants and animals.
Many stages are necessary before the true center, the psychic and its consciousness-force, are formed and impart some coherence and continuity to this volatile mixture. But from the moment the body ceases to be the main center, and one begins to have an inner life independent of physical circumstances and physical life, and especially when one does yoga, which is a process of accelerated evolution, life truly changes, as do death and sleep; one begins to exist. Actually, the first thing one notices is the special nature of certain dreams, as if visible, outward changes were preceded by inner mutations of a subtler order, affecting our dreams. We go from animal sleep to conscious sleep, or sleep of experience, and from a death that 97

Mother India (Journal)

rots to a death that lives. The partitions that divided our integral life crumble. Instead of living in total dispersion for lack of a center, we have found the Master and seized upon the thread of consciousnessforce that links together all the planes of universal reality.

Sleep of Experience Depending on the development of our consciousness, there are many degrees in this new type of sleep, from the rare spasmodic flashes we may have on one plane or another to a continuous and self-governing vision, capable of moving freely throughout the entire range of planes.
Here again, everything depends upon our waking consciousness. By affinity we normally go to the planes with which we have established a connection. The vital, mental or other vibrations we have accepted,
which have become ideas, aspirations, desires, base or noble reactions,
constitute this connection, and when we leave our body, we simply go to the source of these vibrations an extraordinarily vivid and striking source, next to which our mental and vital translations in the physical world seem pallid and virtually empty. Then we begin to become aware of the immense and countless worlds that suffuse and envelop and overshadow our little earthly planet, determining its destiny and ours. It is obviously impossible to describe these worlds in a few pages or even in several volumes; it would be like trying to describe the earth on the basis of a glimpse of Long Island. We will simply give a few clues to help the seeker check his own experience. The first requirements for this exploration, as Sri Aurobindo has often insisted,
are a clear austerity, the absence of desire, and a silent mind;
otherwise we may fall prey to all kinds of illusions. Patiently, through repeated experiences, we first learn to identify the plane on which our experience has taken place, then the level within each plane. This process of situating our experience is as important for our quest as knowing which road we are traveling and which state or country we are crossing when we explore the earth. Then we learn to understand the meaning of our experiences; this is a foreign language, even several languages, which we must decipher without any interference from our own mental language. Indeed, one of the main difficulties is

that mental language is the only language we know, so as we wake up,
its own transcriptions will tend unconsciously to interfere with and to distort the purity of the experience. Without a knowledgeable guide to unravel this tangle, we must learn to remain as mentally silent as possible upon awakening, and to feel, intuitively, the meaning of these other languages; this occurs fairly rapidly as our consciousness develops and our experiences multiply. At first, it is like a jungle of a Chinese marketplace: everything looks the same. Then, over the months and years, one eventually makes out paths and faces, places and signs, and a more vivid proliferation than on earth.
But how to remember one's sleep? For most people it is a total blank a link is missing. There are in fact many links, or bridges, as the Mother puts it, as if we were made of a series of countries connected to one another by bridges. Thus, we may easily remember some parts of our being and their travels, while others are forgotten for lack of a bridge to the rest of our consciousness. When crossing this void, or untrained part of the consciousness, we forget (which generally happens to those who fall into "ecstasy," a subject we will return to). Usually, a sufficiently developed person travels through the whole range of planes of consciousness in his or her sleep and goes right to the supreme Light of the Spirit Sat-Chit-Ananda most often unconsciously, but those few minutes are the true sleep, true repose in the absolute relaxation of Joy and Light. Sri Aurobindo used to say that the real purpose of sleep is to return spontaneously to the Source and reimmerse oneself in it. From there we come down slowly through each plane the Mind, Vital, Subtle Physical, and Subconscient (the last one is remembered the most easily) where each part of our being has its own corresponding experiences. There are also many zones within each plane, each with its own particular bridge. The major difficulty is in building the first bridge, the connection with the external waking consciousness. The one and only way to do this is to remain perfectly motionless and silent upon awakening. If we turn over or move, everything vanishes or, rather,
the great lake of sleep is instantly covered with little ripples, which keep us from seeing anything. If we begin to think, then the ripples turn into swirls of mud that totally obscure everything; thought has no place in this process, neither can the mind help us to remember.

Instead, we must gaze steadily upon the vast, quiet lake, in a very sustained but objectless contemplation, as if the sheer pointedness of our gaze were going to pierce the dark blue depths. If we persevere long enough, we will see an image suddenly emerge before our eyes,
or just a faint outline, like the scent of a faraway land, laden with fragrance and very familiar, yet still elusive. At that point, we should not leap at the image, for it would immediately vanish, but let it gradually become clearer, assume its own shape, and eventually a whole scene will emerge. Once we have seized hold of the thread, it is usually enough to pull it gently, without trying to think or understand (understanding will come later; if we begin interpreting prematurely,
we will cut off all communications), and that thread will take us from one country to another, from one memory to another. We may sometimes remain stuck for years at the same point on the way, as if there were a memory lapse somewhere, a gap in the road. To build the missing connection, we must be patient and just persevere; through obstinacy, a path will eventually open, as in the jungle. To try to recall dreams is not the only method, however; we can also concentrate at night, before going to sleep, with a will to remember and to wake up once or twice, at fixed intervals, in order to catch the thread at different points along the way. This method is particularly effective.
We know how we only have to want to wake up at a given time for the inner clock to work precisely, almost to the minute; this is called "making a formation." These formations are like little vibratory nodules issued by the will and which then acquire an existence of their own, discharging their duties very effectively. 98 We can make more or less powerful, and more or less durable, formations (that can be periodically recharged) for all sorts of purposes, and in particular for remembering to awaken at regular intervals during our sleep. If we persevere for months, or years if necessary, eventually each time a significant event takes place on some plane of our sleep, we will be 98

We all make formations, unwittingly, through our desires and thoughts (good and bad), then we forget them. But the formations do not forget; they return two years or ten years later, their work done the particular desire or thought has been fulfilled,
certain circumstances have been rearranged while we have long stopped thinking about them; we do not even recognize the result as originating from ourselves. We are thus besieged by all sorts of small living entities that go on seeking realization,
even while we no longer want them.

automatically alerted. We will only need to stop in the middle of the sleep, repeat the event two or three times to ourselves to record it, then go back in again.
In this enormous field of experience we can stress only a few general practical points, which may strike the seeker at the beginning of his investigation. First, a clear distinction must be drawn between ordinary subconscious dreams and actual experiences. Experiences are not dreams, though we are in the habit of mixing them together; they are real events, on one plane or another, in which we have participated. They are distinguished from ordinary dreams by their striking intensity: any event in the outer physical world, however exceptional, seems dull next to them. They leave a deep impression in us, and the memory of them is more vivid than any physical memory,
as if we had touched a richer mode of existence not necessarily richer in its external aspect or color, although it may be strikingly bright (especially in the Vital), but in its content. When the seeker awakens with an overwhelming sensation, as if he had bathed in a world replete with signs having more than one meaning at a time (the events of our physical world rarely mean more than one thing at a time), which are so filled with invisible ramifications and depths that he could contemplate them for a long time and not exhaust their meaning, or when he has watched and participated in scenes that seem infinitely more real than physical scenes (which are always flat, as if they rested against a hard, somewhat photographic background), he will know he has had a real experience and not a dream.
Unreal-seeming yet more real than life,
. . . truer than things true If dreams these were or captured images,
Dream's truth made false earth's vain realities.99
There is yet another remarkable phenomenon: as we ascend the scale of consciousness, the quality of the surrounding light changes
differences in luminosity are a sure indication of where we are and 99

Savitri, 28:120

even of the meaning of the scene. There is indeed a whole spectrum,
from the muddy shades of the subconscient (gray, brown, black); the vibrant hues of the Subtle Physical; the bright colors of the Vital,
which, we should note, always look somewhat artificial, flashy, and a bit hard (this region is particularly deceptive); to the lights of the Mind, which become increasingly powerful and pure as one rises toward the Origin. From the Overmind and above (we will discuss the Overmind later), a radical change occurs in the nature of the vision:
the objects, beings and things we see no longer seem to be illumined from the outside, flatly (as is the Earth by the sun), but they are luminous in themselves, and ultimately there is no longer anyone "outside" looking in, but only ecstasy in a still, resplendent Light,
utterly free of the clatter and sensational happenings of the lower planes. To come into contact with that Light, if only for a few minutes, is to feel as rested as after eight hours of sleep. This is how yogis can live without sleep, and also how a few minutes of concentration in the day can refresh us as much as a long walk in the countryside. Our body is unbelievably resilient; psychological turmoil is what tires us.
Aside from participating in events of a universal character, we find that sleep is a gold mine of information about our own individual condition. All the levels of our being stand out during sleep, as if we had been deaf and dumb, made of cardboard, during our waking hours, and suddenly everything in us awakens to a life truer than life.
These various inner levels of our being may appear in sleep as rooms,
or houses, in which the slightest detail is significant: When one sets out to explore one's inner being, explains the Mother, and the different parts that form it, one often has the impression of entering a hall or a room; according to the color, the atmosphere, and the objects it contains, one gets a very clear feeling of the part being visited. Then one may even move into deeper and deeper rooms, each with its own character. Sometimes, instead of rooms, we may encounter all kinds of beings an entire family or even a menagerie
which represent the forces and vibrations we are accustomed to harboring in us, and which make up "our" nature. These are not beings of "dream"' they are the real beings we harbor. Forces are conscious,
vibrations are conscious; beings and forces, consciousness and force,

are two simultaneous sides of the same reality. Then we see very vividly what we want to keep, or no longer keep, within ourselves.
Something else will strike the seeker by its almost daily recurrence. He will find, after the fact, that he has had, during the night, the exact premonition of all the important psychological events that will take place the next day. First, he may believe this is pure coincidence, or deny the connection between one event and the other,
but after the same thing has reoccurred hundreds of times, he will begin to be on guard; and finally, once he has completely awakened to the fact, he will use this foreknowledge to take protective measures beforehand. For example, we may have a spell of depression that day,
or go into a rage, or feel a movement of rebellion inside us, or a sexual impulse, etc., or even, to take another example of a seemingly different nature, we may trip on the stairs two or three times and almost fall headlong, or contract a violent fever; then we notice that each of these small, very trivial daytime incidents corresponds exactly to another incident, most often symbolic in nature (symbolic, because it is not the fact itself, but a mental transcription when we wake up in the morning), which we experienced the night before: either we were attacked in a "dream" by an enemy, or we were involved in an unhappy turn of event, or else we saw, sometimes very precisely, all the details surrounding the psychological scene that would take place the next day. It would seem that "someone" is perfectly awake in us and very concerned with helping us identify all the why's and hidden mechanisms of our psychological life, all the reasons for our falls as well as progress. For, conversely, we may have a premonition of all the happy psychological movements that will translate the next day into a progress, an opening of consciousness, a feeling of lightness, an inner widening; we remember that the night before we saw a light, an ascent, or a wall or house crumbling (symbolic of our resistance or the mental constructions that were confining us). We are also very struck by the realization that these premonitions are usually not associated with events we deem important on our physical plane, such as the death of a parent or some worldly achievement (although these premonitions also may occur), but with very trivial details, bearing no external importance, yet always very meaningful for our inner progress. This is a sign of the development of our consciousness.

Instead of unconsciously accepted mental, vital or other vibrations,
which shape our life without our knowledge and which we naively assume to be our own (we say: this is my anger, my depression, my sexual impulse, my fever), we begin to see them coming into us. This is visible proof, supported by hundreds of experiences night after night, that all the play of our frontal nature originates outside ourselves, in a universal Mind, a universal Vital, or even higher regions if we are capable of tuning in to them. This is the beginning of mastery, because once we have seen, or foreseen, something we can change the course of circumstances. Earthly life is simultaneously the place of the most rigorous and the most blind determinism, and of conquered freedom it all depends upon our consciousness. A
disciple once wrote to Sri Aurobindo relating his "dreams,"
emphasizing the rather bizarre coincidence that seemed to occur between nocturnal events and waking. This was the answer he received: Understand that these experiences are not mere imaginations or dreams but actual happenings. . . . It is a mistake to think that we live physically only, with the outer mind and life. We are all the time living and acting on other planes of consciousness,
meeting others there and acting upon them, and what we do and feel and think there, the forces we gather, the results we prepare have an incalculable importance and effect, unknown to us upon our outer life.
Not all of it comes through, and what comes through takes another form in the physical though sometimes there is an exact correspondence; but this little is at the basis of our outward existence.
All that we become and do and bear in the physical life is prepared behind the veil within us. It is therefore of immense importance for a yoga which aims at the transformation of life to grow conscious of what goes on within these domains, to be master there and be able to feel, know and deal with the secret forces that determine our destiny and our internal and external growth or decline.100

Sleep of Action We have gone from animal sleep to conscious sleep or sleep of 100

On Yoga II, Tome 2, 110

experience; we can now go to a third type of sleep, sleep of action. For a long time, our sleep, however conscious it may be, remains indeed a passive kind of state. We are only the witness of things, a helpless spectator of something happening in this or that part of our being. It should be stressed that it is always a part of our being that undergoes a particular experience, although at the time we may have the impression that our whole being suffers, fights, or travels, etc. just as we may have the impression, when discussing politics or philosophy with a friend, that our whole self participates in the discussion, when it is merely a mental or vital function of it. As sleep becomes more conscious, we go from impressions to naked realities. We realize that we are made up of a medley of mental, vital, and other fragments,
each with a separate existence and separate experiences on its own particular plane. At night, when the bond of the body and the tyranny of the mental mentor have vanished, this independence becomes remarkably alive. All the vibrations we have gathered in us, and which make up "our" nature, become so many little entities running here and there, and we discover all sorts of strangers in us whose existence we had never suspected. In other words, these fragments are not integrated around the true center, the psychic, and because they are not integrated, we cannot bring them under control and change the course of circumstances. We are passive, because the real "we" is the psychic, and most of these fragments are not connected with the psychic.
Hence the necessity of integration rapidly becomes imperative if we wish to control circumstances here, there, and everywhere. For example, when we leave our body and go into the regions of the lower Vital (corresponding to the area of the navel and sex centers), the part of our being that is exteriorized in this region often goes through very unpleasant experiences; it is attacked by all sorts of voracious forces,
giving rise to what is commonly called a "nightmare," from which we escape by returning as quickly as possible into our body, where we are safe. Now, if that particular part of our being has accepted to become integrated around the psychic center, it can safely go into these rather infernal regions because it possesses the psychic light (the psychic is a fragment of the great original Light), and when under attack, it needs only remember this light (or the Master, which is the same) for all

adverse forces to vanish. By remembering, it calls upon the true vibration, which has the power to dissolve or disperse all vibrations of a lesser intensity. There is even an interesting transitory stage in which we helplessly participate in terrifying pursuits, for instance, and suddenly that fragment of ourselves remembers the light (or the Master), thus abruptly reversing the situation. On these planes we can also meet many people, known or unknown, near or far away, living or dead the ever-living whom we name as dead,101 as Sri Aurobindo says who are on the same wavelength, and we can be the witness or helpless partner of their misadventures (which may translate into unpleasant happenings on earth, as we have seen; all the blows received there will be received here; each occurrence there prepares something here). But if the fragment of ourselves having the experience with the corresponding fragment of that friend or stranger or "dead" person is able to remember the Light (that is, if it is integrated around the psychic), it becomes capable of reversing the course of events, of assisting a friend or stranger in distress, of helping a disembodied being go through a difficult passage, get out of a dangerous place, or free himself from some unhealthy associations (there are so many places where we are prisoners). The following is an example of such an experience, chosen deliberately in negative terms and as simply as possible: X "dreams" that she is walking with a friend along the shore of a lake with seemingly marvelously clear waters, when suddenly a snake springs up from the bottom of the lake and bites her friend on the throat. She makes several attempts to protect her friend, but becomes frightened herself, is pursued by the snake, and runs "back home" (into her body). The next day she learns that her friend is ill and has completely lost her voice. She herself experiences throughout the day a series of small abortive incidents,
within and without. If she had been actively conscious, centered,
nothing would have happened, and the adverse force would have fled.
There are contrary examples where accidents have been "miraculously" averted because they were overcome on the previous night by a conscientious friend, if not by oneself. Thus, we can usefully participate in many activities that prepare our own tomorrows, or more extensive tomorrows, depending upon our 101

Savitri, 28:30

capacities. "A conscious being, no larger than a man's thumb, stands in the centre of our self; he is Master of the past and the present . . . he is today and he is tomorrow," says the Katha Upanishad. (IV.12, 13)
We need to have numerous experiences, with actual verifications whenever possible, before we can appreciate to what extent these dreams are not dreams. There are some prisons that cannot be unlocked here until we have unlocked them there. The problem of action is thus intimately connected with that of integration.
This integration is all the more necessary when we no longer have a body, i.e., when we are supposedly dead, because these fragments no longer have the recourse of returning to the body for protection. If they are not integrated, they suffer a great deal of unpleasantness. This is probably the origin of all the stories about hell, which this cannot be repeated enough concern only some lower parts of our nature. For the lower planes (notably the lower Vital, corresponding to the navel and sex centers, the most difficult regions to integrate) are full of ravenous forces. As a young disciple who had died prematurely said when describing his journey to a friend during sleep: "Just behind your world there is no law and order" a proper British laconism for hell. And he added: "I had Mother's light (the Master) with me, and I
crossed over." Since this experience is typical of many deaths, it should be noted that the two friends met in lovely colored gardens,
typical of the higher vital regions (corresponding to the heart center),
which constitute some of the countless so-called paradises of the other world though not so lofty paradises, to be sure. Generally, the disembodied person remains there as long as he wishes; then, after he grows tired of it, he moves to the place of true rest, in the original Light, with his soul, to await the time of return. To say that a person will go to "eternal hell" is a cruel absurdity. How could the soul,
which is pure Light, ever be a prisoner of those lower vibrations? It would be like saying that infrared light controls the ultraviolet. Like goes with like, always and everywhere, whether here or on the other side. And what could ever be "eternal," truly, except the soul, except joy? If there were an unending Hell, it could only be a seat of unending rapture, said Sri Aurobindo, for God is joy, Ananda, and

than the eternity of His bliss there is no other eternity.102
As our being becomes integrated around the psychic, it thus goes from passive to active sleep, if one may still speak of "sleep," and from a troublesome death to an interesting journey or another form of work. But, depending on the breadth of our consciousness, there are also many degrees in this experience, from a limited action that does not extend beyond the small circle of living or dead acquaintances, or the worlds familiar to us, to the universal action of a few great beings whose psychic has in a sense colonized vast stretches of consciousness, and who protect the world with their silent light.
Let us conclude these brief generalities, which are at best trail markers for the seeker, with a final observation concerning premonitions. We should again emphasize that having a premonition about something is the sign that this "something" already exists on some plane before taking place here; it does not hang in midair. We are extremely scrupulous and precise regarding physical reality, yet we treat the happenings of nonphysical worlds as if they were incoherent or vague, perhaps because the vagueness is in our own mind. We find through experience, however, that everything is perfectly rational, if not always reasonable: not only does the luminosity intensify as we ascend the scale of consciousness, but time accelerates, covering a wider range of space, as it were, or more distant events (both in the future and in the past), and ultimately we emerge into that motionless Light where everything is. As a consequence, we realize that the fulfillment on earth of our premonitory vision takes place sooner or later in time, depending on the plane of consciousness where the vision has occurred. For example, when we see in the subtle Physical, which borders our world, the earthly transcription is almost immediate, a few hours or a day away; we see an accident, and the next day, it takes place.
Moreover, the vision is very precise, down to the slightest detail. The higher we rise on the scale of consciousness, the later the fulfillment of the vision and the more universal its scope; the details of realization are less precise, as if the happening itself were unavoidable (provided our vision is sufficiently free of egoism), with a margin of uncertainty 102

Thoughts and Aphorisms, 17:137

concerning the actual facts of its realization though in a sense, this margin accounts for the changes or distortions suffered by a higher truth as it descends from plane to plane to its earthly realization. All kinds of interesting conclusions can be derived from this observation,
in particular that the more conscious we are on earth, or the higher we are capable of rising on the scale of consciousness and approaching the Origin, the closer we bring the earth to the Origin by annuling the distorting determinisms of the intermediary planes. This can have important consequences not only in an individual sense, for mastering and transforming our own life, but also in global terms, for the transformation of the world. A great deal has been written about determinism versus individual freedom, but the problem is too often seen from the wrong perspective. It is not a question of freedom versus determinism, but of freedom and many determinisms. We are subject, Sri Aurobindo says, to a series of superimposed determinisms physical, vital, mental and higher and the determinism of each plane can change or cancel the determinism of the plane immediately below it. For instance, good health and a given life-span in a person can be modified by the vital determinism of "his" passions or various psychological disorders, which in turn can be modified by the mental determinism of his willpower and his ideal, which can then be modified by the greater law of the psychic, and so on. Freedom means to move to a higher plane. And the same applies to the earth, because the very same forces drive the individual and the collective. As individual meeting points of all these determinisms in matter, if we are capable of rising to a higher plane, we automatically help change all the lower determinisms and give the earth access to a greater freedom,
until the day when, with the help of the pioneers of evolution, we can lift ourselves to a supramental plane, which will change the present destiny of the world as the Mind once changed its destiny around the Tertiary Era. And in the end if there is an end perhaps the earth will attain the supreme Determinism, which is supreme Freedom and perfect accomplishment. Through our work on consciousness, each of us contributes to resisting the fatalities that assail our world, and acts as a leavening agent for the earth's freedom and divinization. Indeed,
the evolution of consciousness has a supreme meaning for the earth.

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1.09 - Sleep and Death
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