The Quantum Rishi: Reading Sri Aurobindo’s “Life Divine”

Arindam Basu
5 min readMar 30, 2024

… an amazing text that has elements of Sri Aurobindo’s take on the Upanishads and Buddhism

The cover page of Sri Aurobindo’s Life Divine, if you want to read the full text, click to download
Cover page of Life Divine by Sri Aurobindo, if you want to read the book, click here:

I am reading Sri Aurobindo’s Life Divine. Life Divine is a tome of two books, each a part. Each part has 28 chapters. Sri Aurobindo wrote this book over several years. This is where he elucidated the Upanishads and in the process he has discussed his philosophy of life, and touched various aspects of Buddhism. An aspect of Sri Aurobindo’s work here is how closely it matches with the concepts of Buddhism. If you read it with a background on the Heart Sutra and Lotus Sutra on the one hand, and Padmasambhava’s work and that of Dudjon Lingpa’s work on the liberations, taken together Heart Sutra, Sri Aurobindo’s Life Divine, and Padmasambhava’s work open up a world of quantum dharma. I’d say Sri Aurobindo was perhaps the most closest to a quantum yogi or Quantum Rishi like none other. Here I am going to elaborate my thoughts on reading the Master’s work.

If you read Life Divine, you may see that the text is not “easy” to follow.

The long and short of it


Sri Aurobindo’s points (notes)

  • Supermind is God, God is supermind
  • Supermind is an omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent entity that traverses Time and Space in the Universe (known and unknown universes), it is everywhere at all times, ever present, Time and Space collapses in there
  • Everything (Matter) is contained within the Supermind (subsist within the Supermind), and likewise, the Supermind is _within_ every matter. This means within me (myself), there is the presence of Supermind and I, myself am within the Supermind. This means that we are entangled within the supermind and we are one with the supermind. This also tells us that panpsychism (that every matter has a “mind” of its own is suppported in Sri Autorbindo’s model, although he does not mention that as such in Life Divine).
  • But why is it so? Why is this entity ever present at all times everywhere? What was the “necessity”? Sri Aurobindo posits that it is the “Bliss” (Satchitananda — Sat: Truth, Chit:Presence, Ananda: Bliss).
  • As humans, we do not _know_ or we are not aware of the Supermind as the triune of Mind-Life-Matter and its unification in the Supermind is “hidden” from us by the play of Avidya (“ignorance”). We are busy with our small selves, or egos are hidden from this vision. Our egos are superficial, and everything that happens to us on the surface (our day to day activities, reactions, interaction with the world) are on a superficial plane of existence.
  • So the idea here is to go “deeper”. The idea that Sri Aurobindo (“SA” henceforth) has forwarded in Life Divine (“LD”) is that while the play of the world is where it is, on a superficial plane, “deep” within is a grand unification of the realm of joy hidden from our worldview. So, if we were to envision our lives giving up or renoucing our ego (a separate self as a “false” entity), and tap into the deep within, we would possibly be able to tap into the Bliss (which is ALREADY nascent within us)
  • So, three connected but separate (differentiated but not divided) things are happening here as if in a spatial level (although this spatial arrangement is more of a construct that SA writes in LD). Spirit or Supermind at the top — Mind in the middle — and Matter in bottom. Think of a “flow” (of what? I do not know, but imagine an arrow that moves from Supermind or Spirit from the top) flowing from Supermind to the Matter. SA terms that as the “descent” of the Supermind. Equally, think of a reverse arrow that flows from the Matter to the Supermind (SA in LD terms this as an “ascent” of the Matter to the Supermind state)
  • The Mind is in the middle or is the middle tier. The mind comprehends this world. In Supermind, there is no division between Mind-Life-Knowledge but in the realm of humans, i.e., us, we are divided. For example, let’s say “I” feel hungry. In this instance, “I” am the knower. The “feeling of hunger” is the knowledge, and “hunger” is the known. Everything is “occuring” inside me, and “I” (whoever I may be, that I may be somewhere in the neurons of my brain) am one whole. However, that said, on this occasion, there is still a dissociation between me feeling a separate entity of hunger that must be satisfied. This “differentiation” or “division” of hunger from my entity DOES NOT exist in Sacchidananda, and it is towards this triune of singularity we can find the ultimate bliss. BUT. In most situations, we cannot realise this unity unless we develop a deep sense of intuition. Having described this “divided” selves, SA challenges that if this is so difficult to conceptualise this _within_ a human being, how much more difficult it is to conceptualise it _across_ humans. For instance, to envision another person as an extension of me myself and that there is no boundary runs contrary to our notions of consciousness. Yet in the Divine Consciousness, everything is unified in Space and Time.
  • I find that above concept as mind boggling, yet when I read quantum consciousness (although not everyone agrees with this, and certainly SA did not write about it in LD), there seems to be some overlap here.

Overmind, Supermind and continuous process of evolution

The most remarkable aspect of Life Divine is its close linkage with the Buddhist wisdom and alignment when it comes to the attainment of the state of Overmind. In part two of the book, SA writes about the state of Overmind where Love, Joy, and Beauty and a sense of equianimity are the key themes. Now, in order to reach that state, where aspiration will meet the reach of Overmind from “above”, nevertheless, there are four distinct states are involved:

  • Development of “intuition” (see Chapter 28, Book 1). — this is closely related to the Buddhist concepts (needs expansion)
  • Attainment of a state of “impersonality” (in other words, give up the sense of false ego, let go of the ego to start with)
  • Deep introspection (there are two themes here: going deeper within yourself and a state of silence from within). Both going deeper within oneself and the state of silence are Buddhist themes that we can relate
  • Opening oneself to spiritual experience. — This is a key theme. Opening oneself up to spiritual experience is possible through opening up to Natural beauty and embedding oneself in Nature, perhaps?

At the end of this process, loving the world, living in joy, beauty, truth, and bliss is what will happen.




Arindam Basu

I am a Medical Doctor and an Associate Professor of Epidemiology and Environmental Health at the University of Canterbury. Founder of TwinMe,