5.2 The Subconscient and the Subliminal

What does “subconscient” mean, exactly?

Subconscient? It is what is half conscious, you see. And we say “sub”, because that means “below” the consciousness. It is something more obscure than the consciousness, but which, at the same time, is like a lower substratum supporting the consciousness. It is like those stores from which one would draw out something quite unformed, a formless substance which could be translated into forms or translated into actions or translated into impulses or even into feelings. But it is like those stores containing a considerable number of fairly mixed things, not very distinct, but which would be very rich in possibilities; only they would have to be drawn out into the light and organised, classified, put into shape so as to give them a value.

So long as they are there, it is a mass, a mixture, certainly subconscient, that is to say, half-conscious, semi-conscious, in which everything is muddled up. It lacks organisation and classification. It is the characteristic of consciousness to organise and classify… classification, putting into order, arranging logically… there are varieties of logic, but still, some logic, a beginning of logic. There are higher and higher kinds of logic, more and more superior. But even preliminary logic is the first work of the consciousness.

But consciousness is plunged — plunged as though by its roots — into this domain, and draws up as it would draw up sap; it constantly pumps this subconscient which it has to transform into something organised. That is why we spend our time re-doing the same work. If we had a small limited amount of consciousness which was our own, as some people imagine it, like a small bag full of consciousness, you know, which is one’s own consciousness, well, when you have put it in good order and organised it well, your work will be done, and you can be quiet. But it is not at all like that, it is not at all like that.

Even as there are elements of consciousness which escape and evaporate, which spread out, there is this constant rising, as from a deep ground, of something that asks to be made conscious. And your work has to be perpetually re-done. But one can — if one is careful and attentive — instead of re-doing exactly the same thing each time, one can re-do it with a little progress. Then the movement is not rectilinear, but a movement which goes like this… you see (gesture of spiral movement). One seems at times to be going back, but that’s in order to go farther and farther forward.

15 September 1954

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Sweet Mother, is the subconscient stronger than the mind, vital and physical?[…]

It has a greater power. Well, just because it is subconscient it is everywhere, everything seems steeped in the subconscient. And so, “subconscient” means half conscious: not conscious and not unconscious. It is just between the two; it is like that, half-way; so things slide down into it, one doesn’t know that they are there, and from there they act; and it is because one doesn’t know that they are there that they can remain there. There are many things which one doesn’t wish to keep and drives out from the active consciousness, but they go down there, hide there, and because it is subconscious one doesn’t notice them; but they haven’t gone out completely, and when they have a chance to come up again, they come up. For example, there are bad habits of the body, in the sense that the body is in the habit of upsetting its balance — we call that falling ill, you know; but still, the functioning becomes defective through a bad habit. You manage by concentrating the Force and applying it on this defect, to make it disappear but it doesn’t disappear completely, it enters the subconscient. And then, when you are off your guard, when you stop paying attention properly and preventing it from showing itself, it rises up and comes out. You thought for months perhaps or even for years, you thought you were completely rid of a certain kind of illness which you suffered from, and you no longer paid any attention, and suddenly one day it returns as though it had never gone; it springs up again from the subconscient, and unless one enters into this subconscient and changes things there, that is, unless one changes the subconscient into the conscient, it always happens like this. And the method is to change the subconscient into the conscient — if each thing that rises to the surface becomes conscious, at that moment it must be changed. There is a more direct method still: it is to enter the Subconscient in one’s full consciousness and work there, but this is difficult. Yet so long as this is not done, all the progress one has made — I mean physically, in one’s body — can always be undone.

11 May 1955

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“More than a third of our existence is passed in sleep…. ”  (The Mother)

Physical sleep therefore well deserves our attention. I said “physical sleep”, for we are inclined to believe that the whole of our being goes to sleep when the body is asleep.

“It is often said that in sleep men’s true nature is revealed.”  (The Mother)

Their true nature does not mean their deeper nature but their spontaneous nature which is not under control, for the control of the will ceases during sleep. And all that one does not do in the waking state, one does during sleep because the control of the will is removed.

“All the desires that have been repressed without being dissolved … try to seek satisfaction while the will is asleep. And as desires are veritable dynamic centres of formation, they tend to organise in and around us an assemblage of circumstances most favourable to their satisfaction      (The Mother)

In another lesson we spoke of the power of mental formation: the mind shapes entities which have a more or less independent life and try to manifest themselves. Here I do not speak of thought but of desire. Desire belongs to the vital domain but at the core of this desire there is always a thought, and the desire becomes all the more active and dynamic when it holds in itself this power of mental formation and the power of vital realisation. The vital is the centre of dynamism of the being, of active energy, and the two combined make something very strong which has a considerable tendency towards realising itself — besides, everything in the universe tends towards manifestation, and things which are prevented from manifesting lose, by that very fact, their force and capacity.

Most of the methods aiming at self-control have indeed made use of repression, of the suppression of movements with the idea that if one continues this suppression long enough, one succeeds in killing the element that is not wanted. This would be quite true if it were a question only of the physical world, but behind the physical world there is the subconscious world and behind the subconscious world there lies the immensity of the Inconscient. And what you do not know is this that unless you destroy within you the desire itself, that is, the seed of the formation, this formation which you are preventing from manifesting is so to say repressed in the subconscient — driven down and repressed right at the bottom — and if you go and search in the subconscient you will find that it is waiting there to do its work. That is why so many people who have for years and years been able to control an unwanted movement are suddenly taken by surprise when this movement rushes up from below with all the greater force the longer it has been repressed. Hence dreams are of great use because this movement of repression exists no longer, the conscious will not being there (for it falls asleep or goes elsewhere) and the desire repressed below leaps up and manifests itself in the form of dreams, so much so that you come to know a good many things about your own nature; that is why it is said that man can discover in sleep and dreams his true nature; it is not his true nature, his deeper nature, which is his psychic nature, but the spontaneous, uncontrolled nature.

27 January 1951

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Sweet Mother, what does “the subliminal being” mean, exactly?

[…] It’s what is behind. I think it is what could be called the subtle physical, the subtle vital, the subtle mind. It is something that’s behind what is manifested. One can imagine that what is manifested is like a layer or like a crust or a bark; it is that which we see and with which we are in touch. And it clothes something, it clothes or expresses something which is more subtle and serves as its support.

When one dreams, one goes very often into his subliminal being, and there things are almost the same and yet not absolutely the same; there is a great resemblance and yet there is a difference; and usually this is greater. One has the impression of entering into something that’s vaster; and, for example, one feels that one can do more, that one knows more, one has a power and clear-sightedness which one doesn’t have in the ordinary consciousness; one has the impression while dreaming that one knows many more things than when one is awake. No? Doesn’t this happen? You don’t have dreams like that?… when one dreams and knows a lot, for example, about the secret causes of things, about what a movement expresses… all that, one feels that one knows it. For instance, when one dreams of someone, one knows better what he thinks, what he wants, all these things, better than when one is in waking contact with him. This happens when one has entered the subliminal. Very often one dreams in the subliminal.

Has the subliminal a contact with the psychic?

Not directly, not more directly than the outside being. If externally, in your ordinary consciousness you have a contact with the psychic, that also has a contact with the psychic, or rather one can put it the other way round: if that has a contact with the psychic, it helps you to have a contact with the psychic, but not necessarily, not always; it depends on the degree of development of the being. It is not necessarily more enlightened, more balanced — no. It is more subtle, it is less dull than our outer consciousness. Our external consciousness is so dull, it has no depth; as our outer understanding has no depth, our sensations have no depth; all this is something as though flat. So here it is fuller, but not necessarily more true.

6 April 1955

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