Journey to Supermind: The Life Divine, Session #2 [6/7]


After an introductory session last week, our Life Divine study group begins its discussion of Aurobindo’s text, with Matteo leading the conversation (after Marco’s opening remarks, and a silent meditation) with a ritual mantra from the first pages of the book.


The Life Divine, Chapters 1–5 (pps. 1–46)


Hosted by the editors of, Journey to Supermind is a series of reading/writing and creative/spiritual practice events dedicated to the philosopher, poet, integral yogi, and spiritual revolutionary Sri Aurobindo.

In this weekly series running from June to November 2018, we are reading his magnum opus of evolutionary metaphysics, The Life Divine, while creating a field for exploring his poetic and literary works (e.g., Savitri); political and historical thought (e.g., The Human Cycle); and practical teachings on human transformation, or Integral Yoga (e.g., The Synthesis of Yoga).


Marco Morelli
Mattéo Needham
Eric Weiss
Geoffrey Edwards
Wendy Ronitz-Baker
Durwin Foster
Kim Smith
John Davis
Doug Duff
Heather Fester
Florian Martinez
Lauren Unger
Terri O’Fallon

Date Recorded: June 7, 2018

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Resources/Referenced Material

Study Guides/Introductory Material
Books References During Recorded Sessions
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Dear Life Divine readers~ please take a note of this and let me know what you think. I don’t want to exclude anybody, and will definitely accommodate late-comers with advance notice. I think we may also be able to enable a virtual ‘waiting room’ or antechamber-limbo space which we can use to allow people to join late without interrupting the conversation.

Given that we’re attempting some deep work, and we’ve had our intros now, I am feeling that creating a firmer container could help with overall focus and sense of presence. Your feedback welcome!


I agree, Marco, that a safe container allows for a more disciplined flow state to happen.

Since Aurobindo lived during major world wars and was active in a psychic campaign against Hitler, I listened to this talk with the prolific Gary Lachman with great curiosity. He doesn’t mention Aurobindo directly but he looks at Occult Politics in the Trump Era. We could be witnessing the collapse of the Mental Structure, as described by Gebser, and this could perhaps be moving us collectively towards more Integral ranges of human development. The use of magic has resurfaced ( Putin has a Rasputin!) and many self declared alt-right magicians are a driving force. It is suggested that some believe synchronicity events can be coordinated. Some fantastic possibilities could arise as this is not a force to be swept under the rug so easily as it has been in the past.


Some interesting discussion of Jung and I have come across this Barfield before, although I cannot remember in what context now. I will look his work up and perhaps figure that out. Many years ago I read a book called The Reenchantment of the World by Morris Berman that profoundly influenced me long before I read any of this other stuff (I think it was first published in 1981). Berman’s argument was similar to the one that Lachman presents here, but I think it may have been based partly on Barfield’s ideas and perhaps it was in Berman’s book that I came across Barfield before. Anyway, the idea is that the medievals had a profoundly different understanding of the world than do the moderns. That is, they thought differently - it wasn’t just that the content of their thoughts was different. For example, they didn’t see the world as consisting of mostly “empty space” as we moderns have been taught to think - rather for them there was no “empty space” at all. Everything was filled with God, including the air and the “space” between people, so essentially everything touched everything else. And this affected how they carried out their everyday lives. Lachman notes that Barfield based these ideas on poems and language, but Berman drew heavily on paintings and visual representations as well. Sloterdijk’s argument runs along similar lines, but I think his was less convincing overall, almost because he put in too much and so one lost track of smaller but important details like this one. It is also why I like to think if we truly “took on” a deep quantum understanding of the world, it might change how we behaved in everyday life. Okay, not just quantum physics, but something broader that included quantum physics… Anyway, if you haven’t read it I do recommend Berman’s book, which reviews the evolution of science as well as our ways of thinking about the world.


Thanks, Everyone, for the call and for allowing active listening as one expression of participation. I resonate with those somewhere in the vicinity of finding my way into the text and listening to learn. I will speak up when I can and maybe eventually facilitate too to share the joy/process with you all.

I have many complexities coming into this call (especially regarding spirituality), which I don’t want to detail here too much. But, the call left me in a better place with them, so I’ll reflect (and hopefully share) as I exfoliate some of the layers of my confusion about where I am in relationship to Sri Aurobindo and the Mother as we go along. One of those complexities is that as I’m reading, I keep wondering why there are so many words, why it requires words. The transmission or resonance I get is more in my body, I think. I find it very hard to get through it, and I’m reminded of the words of Jim Ryan at CIIS who talked about how the Psychic Being knows the traditions that are right for it, and if a tradition isn’t right, there will be way to force it. I don’t want to force it. And even the bodily resonance is not without complexity, not unblocked, not available to me on the levels it needs to be to participate more fully, to consciously integrate the contents of the yoga.

I also want to say that we were asked to notice the togetherness, the silences, the container, the threads. And, as we ended the call, I could feel the individual threads of our Essences resonating in my fingertips. It’s as thought they were actually individually colored threads of essence that jumped at slightly varied frequencies but all together. That made me think of what Kim may have shared about feeling this in her fingers and toes as well.

And, related to what @johnnydavis54 shared, I feel like my way in may also be through some of the journals of Sri Aurobindo (and maybe some of the Mother’s channeled writing). Eric has done a study of the notebooks as well as I understand it. I also shared in that dreamspace of processing and feeling and interacting with my own individual mother/Mother last night in surprising ways and awoke with many feelings to digest. I was able to breath through the difficult layers and find the serenity as well. So much resonance in what you shared, John. Those of us who are “dream yogis” or shamanic or Jungian by orientation may have that practice space to look forward to in this group as well.

The CIIS dissertation I mentioned is titled Death and Transformation in the Integral Yoga of Mirra Alfasa (1878-1973) of the Sri Aurobindo Ashram: A Jungian Hermeneutic by Stephen Lerner Julich. I’d offer to share widely, but I know he is trying to get it published. So, if it speaks to anyone in particular, it’s available via ProQuest Dissertations, and I can also share it individually if you feel really called by the sound of it!

That dissertation (with its focus on alchemy) is definitely my way in. I’ll give you a teaser from about mid-way through the table of contents (This isn’t even all of it!):

Historical Considerations 43
The Mother, Jung, and the western study of religion. 43
Mysticism, occultism, and the rise of experimental psychology. 48
Mesmerism, spiritualism, and occultism in fin-de-siècle Europe. 50
Occult influences on the Mother and Jung 60
Theosophy and the Hermetic Brotherhood of Luxor. 60
Western Occult Roots of Integral Yoga 64
Indian roots of Integral Yoga. 67
The Mother’s Path 77
A Universal Gnosis 82
Chapter Three: Transformational Structures 88
The Rhythm of Evolution 88
“The mind of the cells.” 93
Jung’s archetypes of transformation. 97
Archetypes and the objective psyche. 97
Rhythm and number…100
Transformation in Integral Yoga…105
Evolution and involution…105
The psychic being. 108
Transformation in Jung: Brahman and Transformation 116
Brahman as libido. 117
Brahman as uniting symbol. 124
Brahman and the ego-self axis. 127
The Mother’s Body 130
The Divine Couple as Archetypal Model: Savitri 136
The Triple Transformation 141
Two yogas. 141
Symbolic analogues 148
The threefold rhythm. 150
Completion of the yoga. 157
Dorn’s Threefold Alchemy and a Comparison of the Two Systems 159
The Mother as Gateway to the Self 172
Chapter Four: Death 177
The Door Between the Worlds 177
Who Dies? 184
Death as a multitude of different things. 189
Genealogy of an idea. 198
Toward a Symbolic Understanding of the Mother…201
The imaginal…204
The Mother as a living symbol…208


Hi folks:

I just joined the conversation, and as a long time student of Integral yoga, I thought I’d provide a few background details that could be helpful.

I notice at least one comment about “why so many words” - all of us who have read Sri Aurobindo have asked that at one time. As I learned the following, it helped enormously to put this into perspective.

Sri Aurobindo was a poet, not a philosopher. Except for a 6 year period in a life of 79 years, he did not write any “books” (he really didn’t write any books at all, but more on that in a moment).

Almost the entirety of his most well known works - The Life Divine, Synthesis of Yoga, The Human Cycle, Ideal of Human Unity, Future Poetry, commentaries on the Vedas, Upanishads and the Gita - was written between 1914 and 1921. There are numerous short essays prior to that, many poems, some short stories and plays, and after 1921, much fewer essays. In the last 30 years of his life, most of his energy went toward writing letters to disciples covering practical matters related to their sadhana. But most of all, of course, he was working on Savitri, the 23000 line epic poem.

The Life Divine had revisions in the 1940s, and at least 6 entirely new chapters, but the first chapters being read now are pretty much the same, with minor revisions, as the 1914-1921 original (written as 64 pages a month for the journal The Arya). It may help to keep in mind he was writing simultaneously, chapters in the Life Divine, Synthesis, Gita/Veda/Upanishad commentaries.

As to the Life Divine specifically, I remember first reading and wondering why it had to be so “intellectual.” After living with it for awhile, I realized i was reading it in a way that blocked what was there. Many years after my first reading, I met a William James scholar who was well versed in Greek and also loved the Life Divine. He told me it always amused him when people said Sri aurobindo was simply writing in the Victorian style of his day. He said the undulating waves of the words reminded him much more of the ancient Greek philosophers’ style that Sri Aurobindo had loved so much.

Rod Hemsell, who leads Savitri Immersion workshops, has been encouraging me in recent years to “hear” Savitri as mantra, and to pay much less attention to the apparent “meaning” of the words. I’ve found, especially in the last year or so, that reading Life Divine this way yields riches that simply don’t come by reading it as one would approach a scholarly text.

I hope that helps. I love that this conversation is taking place and look forward to participating.


Thank you kindly @Don_Salmon for this insight; we would love for you to participate, as you are able.

Some referenced material during Conversation #2 (thank you to @Matteo for the glossary reference - quite useful):

A lovely reading of Life Divine Book 1 by Shraddhavan, divided by chapter. I post this, as a few individuals (such as @wronitz and myself) have the occasional preference for downloading audio:

Life Divine Reading from the Savitri Bhavan website
Same reading on YouTube


Hi Douglas,

Thanks, and again, very glad to be here. Since writing earlier, I thought of a few more (since, no doubt, everyone here has hours to spare and no other reading materials! Sorry, I’ll try to make a suggestion at the end to make this easier)

So, Santosh Krinsky, publisher of Lotus Books, has for a number of years been writing daily commentaries on several of Sri Aurobindo’s writings. Here’s a link to his commentaries on the entire Life Divine: The Life Divine | Sri Aurobindo Studies (he’s still active on FB - I think he’s doing “The Ideal of Human Unity” now)

Soumitra Basu, a psychiatrist working in north India, has written commentaries - a bit more from a psychological view - on most of the first book of the Life Divine, which you can find here: INSTITUTE FOR INTEGRAL YOGA PSYCHOLOGY :: Life Divine Chapters - Sri Aurobindo

And finally, for those who would prefer to listen than to read, Rand Hicks has recorded talks he made on most of book 1 over the course of more than a year. Peacock Pages: The Life Divine - Book I

They’re all interesting - Santosh’s is, I think, a bit more intellectual, Soumitra’s more psychological, and Rand’s both philosophic and intuitive - if that helps!

Happy reading/listening.

Oh, here’s a simple summary:

There is one Being, one Consciousness, one Blissful Conscious Being, and the Infinite Intelligence of that Being, knowing Itself and only Itself infinitely, has the capacity to perfectly integrate the unbounded, vast, Infinite with the ever-unfolding, dynamic, Conscious-Energy appearing as the multifarious finite manifestations that One Being, the mind being the vehicle for that Infinite Intelligence to multiply infinitely without for an instant losing its Unity, the Life being the energy that links mind and matter, and Matter being the appearance of that One Being as seen/felt/perceived by the senses.

or in (somewhat) plainer English,

Through me -but-not-me-and-me-also, That plays, asleep, dreaming, waking, in what to the mind appears to be an unfolding of billions of years and trillions of galaxies and unfathomable complexities but to the awakened integral knowing - the integral knowing of the supramental consciousness - there is no “world” but rather, an endlessly multiplying play of laughter, orgasmically discovering, and rediscovering, through crisis and resolution, and further crisis and more-and-more-and-ever-more-and.


and in case the above makes it seem like i think i know something, i’m still utterly baffled by this website, so if i show up intermittently at first, it’s my muddled mind:>))


Welcome, @Don_Salmon, and thanks for your insights and links to commentaries. @Douggins, I especially like the sound of that reading by Shraddhavan, which perhaps could help one hear the text as a mantra, in addition to an intellectual work, as Don (via Rod Hemsell) suggests one might do. The idea of a ‘Savitri immersion workshop’ sounds amazing.

Don, if you need any help navigating the site, please message me anytime. You can do this by clicking on my name and then using the “message” button. @Douggins is a forum moderator and can help, too.

The recording from our previous call is posted above, and the thread for this week’s call is here:

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Thanks much, Marco, I appreciate it.