Man and the Supermind
(4th draft - early 1930s)
Man is a transitional being, he is not final; for in him and high beyond
him ascend the radiant degrees which climb to a divine supermanhood.
The step from man towards superman is the next approaching achievement
in the earth's evolution. There lies our destiny and the liberating key
to our aspiring, but troubled and limited human existence - inevitable
because it is at once the intention of the inner Spirit and the logic
of Nature's process.
The appearance of a human possibility in a material and animal world was
the first glint of a coming divine Light, - the first far-off intimation
of a godhead to be born out of Matter. The appearance of the superman
in the human world will be the fulfilment of that distant shining promise.
The difference between man and superman will be the difference between
mind and a consciousness as far beyond it as thinking mind is beyond the
consciousness of plant and animal; the differentiating essence of man
is mind, the differentiating essence of superman will be supermind or
a divine gnosis.
Man is a mind imprisoned, obscured and circumscribed in a precarious and
imperfect living but imperfectly conscious body. The superman will be
a supramental spirit which will envelop and freely use a conscious body,
plastic to spiritual forces. His physical frame will be a firm support
and an adequate radiant instrument for the spirit's divine play and work
Mind, even free and in its own unmixed and unhampered element, is not
the highest possibility of consciousness; for mind is not in possession
of Truth, but only a minor vessel or an instrument and here an ignorant
seeker plucking eagerly at a mass of falsehoods and half-truths for the
unsatisfying pabulum of its hunger.
Beyond mind is a supramental or gnostic power of consciousness that is
in eternal possession of Truth; all its motion and feeling and sense and
outcome are instinct and luminous with the inmost reality of things and
express nothing else.
Supermind or gnosis is in its original nature at once and in the same
movement an infinite wisdom and an infinite will. At its source it is
the dynamic consciousness of the divine Knower and Creator.
When in the process of unfolding of an always greater force of the one
Existence, some delegation of this power shall descend into our limited
human nature, then and then only can man exceed himself and know divinely
and divinely act and create; he will have become at last a conscious portion
of the Eternal.
The superman will be born, not a magnified mental being, but a supramental
power descended here into a new life of the transformed terrestrial body.
A gnostic supermanhood is the next distinct and triumphant victory to
be won by the spirit descended into earthly nature.
The disk of a secret sun of Power and Joy and Knowledge is emerging out
of the material consciousness in which our mind works as a chained slave
or a baffled and impotent demiurge; supermind will be the formed body
of that radiant effulgence.
Superman is not man climbed to his own natural zenith, not a superior
degree of human greatness, knowledge, power, intelligence, will, character,
genius, dynamic force, saintliness, love, purity or perfection. Supermind
is something beyond mental man and his limits, a greater consciousness
than the highest consciousness proper to human nature.
Man is a being from the mental worlds whose mentality works here involved,
obscure and degraded in a physical brain, shut off from its own divinest
powers and impotent to change life beyond certain narrow and precarious
limits. Even in the highest of his kind it is baulked of its luminous
possibilities of supreme force and freedom by this dependence. Most often
and in most men it is only a servitor, a purveyor of amusements, a caterer
of needs and interests to the life and the body. But the superman will
be a gnostic king of Nature; supermind in him even in its evolutionary
beginnings will appear as a ray of the eternal omniscience and omnipotence.
Sovereign and irresistible it will lay hands on the mental and physical
instruments, and, standing above and yet penetrating and possessing our
lower already manifested parts, it will transform mind, life and body
into its own divine and luminous nature.
Man in himself is hardly better than an ambitious nothing. He is a narrowness
that reaches towards ungrasped widenesses, a littleness straining towards
grandeurs which are beyond him, a dwarf enamoured of the heights. His
mind is a darkened ray in the splendours of the universal Mind. His life
is a striving exulting and suffering wave, an eager passion-tossed and
sorrow-stricken or a blindly and dully toiling petty moment of the universal
Life. His body is a labouring perishable speck in the material universe.
An immortal soul is somewhere hidden within him and gives out from time
to time some sparks of its presence, and an eternal spirit is above and
overshadows with its wings and upholds with its power this soul continuity
in his nature. But that greater spirit is obstructed from descent by the
hard lid of his constructed personality and this inner radiant soul is
wrapped, stifled and oppressed in dense outer coatings. In all but a few
it is seldom active, in many hardly perceptible. The soul and spirit in
man seem rather to exist above and behind his formed nature than to be
a part of its visible reality; subliminal in his inner being or superconscient
above in some unreached status, they are in his outer consciousness possibilities
rather than things realised and present. The spirit is in course of birth
rather than born in Matter.
This imperfect being with his hampered, confused, ill-ordered and mostly
ineffective consciousness cannot be the end and highest height of the
mysterious upward surge of Nature. There is something more that has yet
to be brought down from above and is now seen only by broken glimpses
through sudden rifts in the giant wall of our limitations. Or else there
is something yet to be evolved from below, sleeping under the veil of
man's mental consciousness or half visible by flashes, as life once slept
in the stone and metal, mind in the plant and reason in the cave of animal
memory underlying its imperfect apparatus of emotion and sense-device
and instinct. Something there is in us yet unexpressed that has to be
delivered by an enveloping illumination from above. A godhead is imprisoned
in our depths, one in its being with a greater godhead ready to descend
from superhuman summits. In that descent and awakened joining is the secret
of our future.
Man's greatness is not in what he is but in what he makes possible. His
glory is that he is the closed place and secret workshop of a living labour
in which supermanhood is made ready by a divine Craftsman.
But he is admitted to a yet greater greatness and it is this that, unlike
the lower creation, he is allowed to be partly the conscious artisan of
his divine change. His free assent, his consecrated will and participation
are needed that into his body may descend the glory that will replace
him. His aspiration is earth's call to the supramental Creator.
If earth calls and the Supreme answers, the hour can be even now for that
immense and glorious transformation.
Note on this text : There
are numerous drafts of this essay and of essays thematically related to
it. The first draft is clearly from 1927 or thereabouts. The second, rewritten
directly from the first and not long after, was published, with some related
passages, under the title "Man A Transitional Being" in the
Bulletin in August 1951. One more draft intervenes between this and the
draft above, which seems to have been written in the early 1930s. It was
not published until August 1976 in the Bulletin.
in "The Hour of God", (booklet edition pages 91-95)
NOT in SABCL, volume 17 BUT in the new edition
of Sri Aurobindo's Major Works, volume 10 "Essays
Divine and Human"
published by Sri
Aurobindo Ashram - Pondicherry
diffusion by SABDA