We feel like something is missing in our lives. It could be something material, it could be just a pang of hunger or thirst. It could be a sense of emotional emptiness, unattached to a specific object. We may feel like we need to find out something, do something, know something, respond to something, although we are not quite sure exactly what it is. This sense of emptiness occurs to everyone at various times of life. In some cases, where it is attached to a specific desire we can identify what it is we seek. But in many cases, it is vague, amorphous, undefined.

As we grow in awareness, we may begin to have a feeling of aspiration toward something greater, something beyond us. Some seek a relationship with an external God or Savior. Some aspire to enlightenment, salvation, freedom from the bondage of Nature, or other forms that such an aspiration may take. This is a sign that we are readying ourselves to go beyond the body-life-mind complex and the attachment to the fruits of the external life. Even here, however, we are not always clear or certain about the specifics of our seeking, and as we grow, the nature of that seeking may change.

Sri Aurobindo writes: “Man seeks at first blindly and does not even know that he is seeking his divine self; for he starts from the obscurity of material Nature and even when he begins to see, he is long blinded by the light that is increasing in him.”

A disciple asks: “How is it that one seeks something and yet does not know that one is seeking?”

The Mother responds: “There are so many things you think, feel, want, even do, without knowing it. Are you fully conscious of yourself and of all that goes on in you? — Not at all! If, for example, suddenly, without your expecting it, at a certain moment I ask you: ‘What are you thinking about?’ your reply, ninety-nine times out of a hundred will be: ‘I don’t know.’ And ‘What do you feel?’ — ‘I don’t know.’ It is only to those who are used to observing themselves, watching how they live, who are concentrated upon this need to now what is going on in them, that one can ask a precise question like this, and only they can immediately reply. In some instances in life, yes, one is absorbed in what one feels, thinks, wants, and then one can say, ‘Yes, I want that, I am thinking of that, I experience that’, but these are only moments of existence, not the whole time. … Haven’t you noticed that? No?”

Sri Aurobindo and the Mother, Growing Within: The Psychology of Inner Development, Chapter I Emergence from Unconsciousness, pp. 9-10

Author's Bio: 

Santosh has been studying Sri Aurobindo's writings since 1971 and has a daily blog at http://sriaurobindostudies.wordpress.com and podcast at https://anchor.fm/santosh-krinsky 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.