The Buddhist tradition describes Manjushri as a Bodhisattva who, with his flaming sword of discrimination, cuts through illusion and falsehood to disclose the truth of existence. The power of discrimination between different powers, forces, impressions, suggestions, and their source and intent in their pressure on the seeker, is essential if the seeker is not to fall victim to malign influences or suggestions. It is also important to disentangle the effects of the different elements of the being on the resultant thought-process and actions of the seeker. Otherwise, how does one begin to tackle movements within oneself that need to be changed or eliminated for the spiritual process to succeed?

Dr. Dalal observes: “Sri Aurobindo states that it is necessary to distinguish clearly the different parts of one’s being not only for the sake of intellectual clarity but also for avoiding confusion in one’s experience in sadhana. Thus, for example, with regard to the distinction between the individual self (Jivatman) — which constitutes a single centre of the multiple Divine — and the all-embracing Divine itself, Sri Aurobindo remarks: ‘It is important to remember the distinction; for, otherwise, if there is the least vital egoism, one may begin to think of oneself as an Avatar….’ “

“Another example of confusion caused by the inability to distinguish between different parts of the being pertains to the distinction between the psychic being or soul and parts of the being (mental and emotional) which are merely under the influence of the psychic being but are often mistaken to be the psychic being itself.”

“Regarding the importance of such a discrimination, Sri Aurobindo writes: ‘There is the true psychic which is always good and there is the psychic opening to mental, vital and other worlds which contain all kinds of things good, bad and indifferent, true, false and half true, thought-suggestions which are of all kinds, and messages also which are of all kinds. What is needed is not to give yourself impartially to all of them but to develop both a sufficient knowledge and experience and a sufficient discrimination to be able to keep your balance and eliminate falsehood, half-truths and mixtures. It will not do to dismiss impatiently the necessity for discrimination on the ground that that is mere intellectualism. The discrimination need not be intellectual, although that also is a thing not to be despised.’ “

“Thus even a purely intellectual discrimination, not yet founded on experience, is valuable and ‘a thing not to be despised.’ “

Sri Aurobindo and the Mother, Our Many Selves: Practical Yogic Psychology, Preface, pp. xii-xiii

Author's Bio: 

Santosh has been studying Sri Aurobindo's writings since 1971 and has a daily blog at and podcast at He is author of 17 books and is editor-in-chief at Lotus Press. He is president of Institute for Wholistic Education, a non-profit focused on integrating spirituality into daily life.