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SHORTER WORKS — 1910-1950

Chapter XXXI.
The Boundaries of the Ignorance: Argument1

We know only a part even of our superficial life and conscious becoming, fastening only on a little of our experience of self and things, memorising less, using still less for knowledge and action. What we reject, Nature stores and uses in our development, for the most part by her subconscious action. Our waking self is only a superimposition, a visible summit; the great body of our being is submerged or subliminal. – The subliminal self perceives, remembers, understands, uses all that we fail to perceive, remember or use. It provides all the material of our surface being which is only a selection from its wider existence and activity. It is only the physical and vital part of our existence which is, properly speaking, subconscient; the subliminal self is the true mental being and in relation to our waking mind it is rather secretly circumconscient; for it envelops as well as supports. Of all this larger part of our being we are ignorant. – We are ignorant also of the superconscient, that which we ordinarily call spirit or oversoul; yet this we find to be our highest and widest self, Sachchidananda creating and governing all that we are and become by His divine Maya. We are ignorant of the subliminal sea of our being which casts up the wave of our superficial existence; we are ignorant also of the superconscient ether of our being which constitutes, contains, overroofs and governs both the subliminal sea and the superficial wave. – We are ignorant of ourselves in Time, for we know only a part of the present life we are living; yet that exists only by all our past of which we are ignorant and its trend is determined by all our future of which we are still more ignorant. For our superconscient Self is eternal in its being and Time is only one of its modes, our subliminal is eternal in its becoming and Time is its infinite field of experience. – We are equally ignorant of the world, holding it to be not-self, ignorant of ourselves in Space; for the world is one Self developing the movement of its conscious force in its self-conceptive extension as Space. We confine ourselves in our consciousness to a single knot of the one indivisible Matter, a single eddy of the one indivisible Life, a single station of the one indivisible Mind, a single soul-manifestation of the one indivisible Spirit. Yet it is only by knowing the One that this individual mind, life, body, soul can know itself or its action. – Thus ignorance of self is the nature of our mind, but an ignorance full of the impulse towards self-possession and self-knowledge. A many-sided Ignorance striving to become an all-embracing Knowledge is the definition of man the mental being.

Arya. 02.1916 / 04.1917


1 Chapter XXXI of The Life Divine as published in the Arya was extensively revised in 1939-40, becoming the present Book Two, Part I, Chapter XI