For those who live their lives on the surface, focused on fulfillment of their external lives, desires and their ego-personality, there is generally no direct knowledge of the existence of the soul. They may accept the idea of a soul without a clear sense of what that implies or means. Or they may deny the idea of the soul and indicate that there is no proof of its existence. They may try to find proof of the existence of the soul in some way, if the issue even arises in their minds to consider that. At the end of the day, for those individuals, the soul is a theoretical construct, not a reality.

For those who, however, have had the direct experience of the soul, who are in contact with the inmost being that Sri Aurobindo calls the ‘psychic being’, it is not a matter of debate about whether the soul exists.

It is this way with everything. Those who have gained the ability to see or experience certain things are able to take these things as self-evident; while those who cannot see them will doubt their existence. There are people who progressively lose their hearing over time. At some point, when they listen to music, they cannot hear certain notes any longer and may feel like the music lacks richness or even a proper melody due to the absence of certain notes. Those who can hear the entire range of the music being performed can bask in the beauty of the music. Those who cannot hear are unable to act as true judges of the existence of the music. Those who are blind cannot be the judge of visual arts. Similarly, those who have no direct connection to the psychic being are not able to judge its existence or meaning.

Dr. Dalal observes: “Sri Aurobindo uses the term ‘psychic being’ (from Greek psukhe, meaning the soul) for the inmost being which supports the outer and the inner beings. The psychic being in its essence, called the psyche or psychic entity, is a spark or portion of the Divine present in all things and creatures. In the course of evolution the psyche grows into an individual psychic personality in the human being and is then called the psychic being.”

“Whereas the universal Self, the Atman, is unborn, and stands above the evolutionary process and is unaffected by it, the psychic being is the evolving soul which, though immortal, passes through cycles of physical birth and death, growing from life to life.”

Sri Aurobindo notes: “The psychic being can at first exercise only a concealed and partial and indirect action through the mind, the life and the body, since it is these parts of Nature that have to be developed as its instruments of self-expression, and it is long confined by their evolution. Missioned to lead man in the Ignorance towards the light of the Divine Consciousness, it takes the essence of all experience in the Ignorance to form a nucleus of soul-growth in the nature; the rest it turns into material for the future growth of the instruments which it has to use until they are ready to be a luminous instrumentation of the Divine…. It is the psychic personality in us that flowers as the saint, the sage, the seer; when it reaches its full strength, it turns the being towards the Knowledge of Self and the Divine, towards the supreme Truth, the supreme Good, the supreme Beauty, Love and Bliss, the divine heights and largenesses, and opens us to the touch of spiritual sympathy, universality, oneness.”

Sri Aurobindo and the Mother, Our Many Selves: Practical Yogic Psychology, Introduction, Sri Aurobindo on Our Many Selves, Planes and Parts of the Being, pp. xxv-xxvi

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.