The Divine is, quite obviously, anantaguna, of infinite qualities, but there is a long tradition of distinguishing three major aspects of the Divine: the Cosmic, the Personal and the Transcendent. The ways by which these three aspects can be realised are quite different.
The Cosmic Divine is found by widening, and amongst the three, this appears to be the realisation that comes most often spontaneously. It comes then, as if on its own, when people forget for a moment their little surface ego and loose themselves in the sea, the sky at night, a remnant of unspoiled nature, a flower, or even, occasionally, a cityscape, or crowd.
The Personal Divine is most commonly found by a deepening, a going inside. Interestingly, it can also come by an opposite movement, from the depths of one’s heart outward, through an intense, focused love of the divine Beloved.
The Transcendent is most typically found by a mental discipline leading to a heightening of one’s consciousness. As such it is the object of three of the most highly regarded spiritual traditions, Buddhism, Patanjali’s rajayoga, and Shankara’s Advaita Vedanta. Here there are two entirely different ways of describing this process of heightening. The first makes use of a somewhat abstract, psychological process of purification till one’s consciousness is entirely free from sensation, feeling, thought and intent, so that only an absolute Transcendent remains. There is also a second, and very different way of describing, what yet, to me appears as the same process in essence. Here one focusses on what happens in the subtle body, and one uses the language of power and energy. One invites the energy of the divine Mother to clean one’s subtle body from top down, so that the Kundalini can rise from bottom up, unhindered, through the chakras of body, vital and mind, to merge with the Transcendent above.
All three roads lead in the end to liberation and bliss, and though many people stick assiduously to the one path they have followed, once one has one of these realisations, it is quite possible to get at least glimpses of the other two.
And yet, as Sri Aurobindo points out, to fulfil our spiritual destiny, none of this is good enough: after liberation, we still need transformation. And it is here that yoga becomes really difficult. Though the realization of these three aspects of the Divine requires some purification of one’s nature beforehand and tends to be followed by some further cleaning up afterwards, this is by itself not enough for the radical, integral transformation Sri Aurobindo envisaged. The reason is that these liberations are, to quite an extent, made possible by stepping out of our normal nature into a state of consciousness that may seem Divine enough, but that is still partial, or to use Sri Aurobindo’s language, overmental and not the Divine in its absolute, supramental integrality.
And as said, it is here that the real difficulty begins, since for this next step we need to widen, deepen and heighten all at the same time, or perhaps one should rather say, outgrow the mind entirely and yet stay exactly where we are, centred, individualised, but not in the separated-out human way, but in a Divine, perfectly all-inclusive way, based on an integral sense of “love and oneness” which the mind cannot even begin to envisage….`