If we examine closely our mental state when we undertake activities with which we are familiar, experienced and educated, we see that our minds are sharp, our perceptions are detailed and our understanding is precise. We find it easiest to achieve this status with external things, although some with a developed intellect can apply this to abstract matters such as mathematical formulae or complex games such as chess.

Contrast this with the way we generally experience our sense of our mission in life, our past development and the trend of that development into the future. For most of us, we get vague intimations. Some, who practice past life regression or various forms of hypnosis in an attempt to unlock the hidden areas of our subconscious being, accept that they are getting clear insights into their past lives. In some cases, of course, there is a very clear perception, but in others, we find again some vague intimations and possibly the working of unconscious suggestion or desire to create these past lives in the image of what we want them to be. What is missing is the kind of sharp, clear, distinct perception that we obtain when we look at specific fields of endeavour in our surface lives. How then can we actually understand the significance and purpose of our lives, if all we generally obtain are these amorphous feelings or intimations.

It is possible to enter into a status of consciousness where one actually sees clearly why one has been born into this life and into these circumstances, and one understands what one has to do. This comes about when the soul, the psychic being, comes forward and takes over active guidance of the life from in front, not just as intimations from behind. Sometimes an event occurs which dramatically provides an opening to the deeper being. Dannion Brinkley reported that he was struck by lightning, was ‘clinically dead’ for 28 minutes and when he returned to life, he was aware of the purpose of his life and his mission, which he described in his autobiographical work Saved by the Light. Near death experiences seem to frequently bring an opening for people to understand their lives in a deeper and more precise manner, and in some cases, they reorient the entire direction that the life had taken heretofore. Intense spiritual experiences may have a similar result. The transformative impact of such an experience is illustrated in the story in the Bible about Saul on the road to Damascus and his subsequent conversion to become Paul the Apostle of Jesus. He recognised his ‘mission’ in life through that experience. Such events underlie many of the stories of awakening to the deeper sense of life that permeate human experience through the ages.

The Mother writes: “There is such a great difference between feeling vaguely, having a hesitant impression of something, of a force, a movement, an impulse, an attraction, of something which drives you in life — it it is still so vague, so uncertain, it is hazy — there is such a difference between this and having a clear vision, an exact perception, a total understanding of the meaning of one’s life. And only then does one begin to see thing as they are, not before. Only then can one follow the thread of one’s destiny and clearly see the goal and the way to reach it. But that happens only through successive inner awakenings, like doors opening suddenly on new horizons — truly, a new birth into a truer, deeper, more lasting consciousness.”

“Until then you live in a cloud, gropingly, under the weight of a destiny which at times crushes you, gives you the feeling of having been made in a certain way and being unable to do anything about it. You are under the burden of an existence which weighs you down, makes you crawl on the ground instead of rising above and seeing all the threads, the guiding threads, the threads which bind different things into a single movement of progression towards a realisation that grows clear.”

“One must spring up out of this half-consciousness which is usually considered quite natural — this is your ‘normal’ way of being and you do not even draw back from it sufficiently to be able to see and wonder at this incertitude, this lack of precision; while, on the contrary, to know that one is seeking and to seek consciously, deliberately, steadfastly and methodically, this indeed is the exceptional, almost ‘abnormal’ condition. And yet only in this way does one begin to truly live.”

Sri Aurobindo and the Mother, Growing Within: The Psychology of Inner Development, Chapter I Emergence from Unconsciousness, pp. 12-13

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.