We experience a growth of consciousness during the maturation process starting with birth and continuing as the infant becomes a school-age child, then grows into teenage years and passes through puberty and the hormonal changes that come with that period, then into young adulthood and experience of adult life, eventually as an elder who hopefully has gained some vision and reflection about life as he reflects on his experience. A similar process occurs for the growth and maturation of the psychic being, the soul-essence within each individual, although that process takes place, not within the space of a single lifetime, but across numerous lifetimes, gathering the fruit of the soul’s experience without attachment to specific bodies, lifetimes, or formations that may have been part of that experience.

This brings us to an important, and interesting, observation. We cannot expect the psychic being to wield the same influence in its initial stages of development as when it has fully matured. Each individual passes through these various stages, and thus, we have a continuum of soul-development across not only the individual soul’s growth, but across the entire spectrum of humanity. Just as we do not blame the infant or the child for not having, at that stage of life, the full mental capacity that they will have as an adult, so we also cannot blame any individual whose psychic being is still forming and not yet fully managing the external being and its interactions in the world. And if we reflect on the growth process, we begin to appreciate that there is no room for pride or arrogance about one’s own superiority, as it is not truly a superiority, but a matter of timing. The butterfly cannot look down upon the caterpillar because it cannot yet fly….

Sri Aurobindo observes: “Moreover, the psychic being, the soul-personality in us, does not emerge full-grown and luminous; it evolves, passes through a slow development and formation; its figure of being may be at first indistinct and may afterwards remain for a long time weak and undeveloped, not impure but imperfect: for it rests its formation, its dynamic self-building on the power of soul that has been actually and more or less successfully, against the resistance of the Ignorance and Inconscience, put forth in the evolution upon the surface. Its appearance is the sign of a soul-emergence in Nature, and if that emergence is as yet small and defective, the psychic personality also will be stunted or feeble. It is too, by the obscurity of our consciousness, separated from its inner reality, in imperfect communication with its own source in the depths of the being; for the road is as yet ill-built, easily obstructed, the wires often cut or crowded with communications of another kind and proceeding from another origin: its power to impress what it receipts upon the outer instruments is also imperfect; in its penury it has for most things to rely on these instruments and it forms its push to expression and action on their data and not solely on the unerring perceptions of the psychic entity. In these conditions it cannot prevent the true psychic light from being diminished or distorted in the mind into a mere idea or opinion, the psychic feeling in the heart into a fallible emotion or mere sentiment, the psychic will to action in the life-parts into a blind vital enthusiasm or a fervid excitement: it even accepts these mistranslations for want of something better and tries to fulfil itself through them. For it is part of the work of the soul to influence mind and heart and vital being and turn their ideas, feelings, enthusiasms, dynamisms in the direction of what is divine and luminous; but this has to be done at first imperfectly, slowly and with a mixture. As the psychic personality grows stronger, it begins to increase its communion with the psychic entity behind it and improve its communications with the surface: it can transmit its intimations to the mind and heart and life with a greater purity and force; for it is more able to exercise a strong control and react against false mixtures; now more and more it makes itself distinctly felt as a power in the nature. But even so this evolution would be slow and long if left solely to the difficult automatic action of the evolutionary Energy; it is only when man awakes to the knowledge of the soul and feels a need to bring it to the front and make it the master of his life and action that a quicker conscious method of evolution intervenes and a psychic transformation becomes possible.”

Sri Aurobindo and the Mother, The Hidden Forces of Life, Ch. 2 Hidden Forces Within, pp. 48-49

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 20 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.
YouTube Channel www.youtube.com/@santoshkrinsky871
More information about Sri Aurobindo can be found at http://www.aurobindo.net
The US editions and links to e-book editions of Sri Aurobindo’s writings can be found at http://www.lotuspress.com