During the evolutionary development of the ascending powers of consciousness, the action of the soul is to provide an influence from behind, while the primary attention is fixated on the needed development of the powers of the external being, body, life and mind. This severely limits the direct action of the soul until everything is readied. There are however additional factors which both limit and distort the soul’s action in the external being.

One of these is the inability of the outer instruments to fully and completely express the soul’s intimations in a pure and unmodified way. The outer instruments of body, life and mind act somewhat like a “step down transformer” that takes the potential high power energetic action of the soul, run it through their limited capabilities, and, without a clear recognition of the source of the sou’s pressures, try to fit them into the natural inclinations of the respective instruments. This leads to a watering down effect of the soul’s power to achieve its aims in the external nature, and even a distorting effect when, for instance, vital passions are substituted and palmed off as soul-expressions. When the soul’s pressure is coopted to fulfill goals of the external ego-personality, it is easy for the individual to lose the clarity of what actually constitutes the expression of the soul.

Sri Aurobindo writes: “But this psychic influence or action does not come up to the surface quite pure or does not remain distinct in its purity; if it did, we would be able to distinguish clearly the soul element in us and follow consciously and fully its dictates. An occult mental and vital and subtle-physical action intervenes, mixes with it, tries to use it and turn it to its own profit, dwarfs its divinity, distorts or diminishes its self-expression, even causes it to deviate and stumble or stains it with the impurity, smallness and error of mind and life and body. After it reaches the surface, thus alloyed and diminished, it is taken hold of by the surface nature in an obscure reception and ignorant formation, and there is or can be by this cause a still further deviation and mixture. A twist is given, a wrong direction is imparted, a wrong application, a wrong formation, an erroneous result of what is in itself pure stuff and action of our spiritual being; a formation of consciousness is accordingly made which is a mixture of the psychic influence and its intimations jumbled with mental ideas and opinions, vital desires and urges, habitual physical tendencies. There coalesce too with the obscured soul-influence the ignorant though well-intentioned efforts of these external parts towards a higher direction; a mental ideation of a very mixed character, often obscure even in its idealism, sometimes even disastrously mistaken, a fervour and passion of the emotional being throwing up its spray and foam of feelings, sentiments, sentimentalisms, a dynamic enthusiasm of the life-parts, eager responses of the physical, the thrills and excitements of nerve and body, — all these influences coalesce in a composite formation which is frequently taken as the soul and its mixed and confused action for the soul-stir, for a psychic development and action or a realised inner influence. The psychic entity is itself free from stain or mixture, but what comes up from it is not protected by that immunity; therefore this confusion becomes possible.”

Sri Aurobindo and the Mother, The Hidden Forces of Life, Ch. 2 Hidden Forces Within, pp. 47-48

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