The soul makes choices along the way and in so doing, it builds up the psychic being as it grows, evolves and passes through a series of births and deaths of the physical existence. The Jivatman represents the Divine Consciousness presiding over each individual formation within the manifestation and remains unattached to the specific results of any specific decision made in the individual lifetime, but remains fixed on the larger divine intention in the manifestation.

Without the awareness provided by the inward being, the actions we undertake in the life are seemingly random and uncoordinated and do not lead to any observable specific forward movement. Through long eons of time, eventually the external being recognises the divine intention, the soul, and the secret development of the psychic being and at that point, conscious choices can be made to begin to direct, guide and determine the direction of the being and thereby assert this direction on the external being.

The common idea that the soul moves from birth to birth, and maintains the same personality, friends and family, enemies, etc. is clearly an untenable one. The psychic being carries the essence of the experience of a lifetime forward to help determine the flow of consciousness and energy in the evolutionary cycle, but this does not imply that the soul re-embodies a similar existence in lifetime after lifetime.

Sri Aurobindo writes: “The soul or psyche is immutable only in the sense that it contains all the possibilities of the Divine within it, but it has to evolve them and in its evolution it assumes the form of a developing psychic individual evolving in the manifestation the individual Prakriti and taking part in the evolution. It is the spark of the Divine Fire that grows behind the mind, vital and physical by means of the psychic being until it is able to transform the Prakriti of Ignorance into a Prakriti of Knowledge. This evolving psychic being is not therefore at any time all that the soul or essential psychic existence bears within it; it temporalises and individualises what is eternal in potentiality, transcendent in essence, in this projection of the spirit.”

“The central being is the being which presides over the different births one after the other, but is itself unborn, for it does not descend into the being but is above it — it holds together the mental, vital and physical being and all the various parts of the personality and it controls the life either through the mental being and the mental thought and will or through the psychic, whichever may happen to be most in front or most powerful in nature. If it does not exercise its control, then the consciousness is in great disorder and every part of the personality acts for itself so that there is no coherence in the thought, feeling or action.”

Sri Aurobindo and the Mother, Our Many Selves: Practical Yogic Psychology, Chapter 2, Planes and Parts of the Being, pp. 85-86

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.