The Maturation of the Soul Across Lifetimes in Fulfillment of Its Evolutionary Role
Posted on May 2, 2023
There is a considerable amount of time, amounting to innumerable lifetimes, when the spark of the soul, the psychic being, is subordinated, hidden, virtually unseen and unheard in the external life. During that time-frame and that sequence of births, the individual has no recognition of the existence of the soul, may indicate that there is no purpose or significance to life and that, without any purpose, life simply randomly came into being and developed what he sees around him. At the end of the lifetime, everything is gone.

Once an individual begins to experience the prodding of the soul, the inner aspiration, and begins to recognize that there is indeed a larger purpose to the universal manifestation and his own role in it, he may take one of several stances. In The Life Divine, Sri Aurobindo outlines the aim of life and describes 4 theories of existence. One of those theories holds that the earth-life is a preparation for some other existence, such as migrating to a heaven (or hell) for all eternity based on whether one is good or bad in this lifetime. Another idea holds that there is indeed an evolutionary development, but it may take the individual, once ready, to other planes or planets or worlds of existence to continue the development.

One way or the other, unless one holds that life is framed entirely within the walls of one lifetime between birth and death, with nothing before and nothing after, one comes away with some entity, being or force that exists prior to this lifetime and continues to exist afterwards. The Tibetan Book of the Dead actually describes a process of the soul’s migration after death to an eventual rebirth in another body and life. The ancient Greeks described the migration of the soul to a waiting area until a rebirth was prepared, and then, having the specific memories erased in the waters of the river Lethe, the soul would be reborn.

Once we begin to recognize an evolution of consciousness, it becomes clear that the development of life out of matter, and mind out of life, and the further stages that come after and through the development of mind, are not things that occur within one lifetime. It is the soul, the psychic being, that carries the spark and ‘mission’ of the individual being through its innumerable lifetimes where it experiences and grows, distils out the essence of the growth process and takes new bodies in order to take up the next phase of the evolutionary development. This is not, as many people believe, the rebirth of a specific individual with a specific personality and specific family group; rather, the soul is not attached to the life of any particular personality or existence, but gathers the essence and moves on to the next stage or phase of its development.

The Mother observes: “Each man has then a mission to fulfil, a role to play in the universe, a part he has been given to learn and take up in the cosmic Purpose, a part which he alone is capable of executing and no other. This he has to learn and acquire through life-experiences, that is to say, not in one life but in life after life. In fact, that is the meaning of the chain of lives that the individual has to pass through, namely, to acquire experiences and to gather from them the thread — the skein of qualities and attributes, powers and capacities — for the pattern of life he has to weave. Now, the inmost being, the true personality, the central consciousness of the evolving individual is his psychic being. It is, as it were, a very tiny spark of light lying in normal people far behind the life-experiences. In grown-up souls this psychic consciousness has an increased light — increased in intensity, volume and richness. Thus there are old souls and new souls. Old and ancient are those that have reached or are about to reach the fullness of perfection; they have passed through a long history of innumerable lives and developed the most complex and yet the most integrated personality. New souls are those that have just emerged or are now emerging out of the mere physico-vital existence; they are like simple organisms, made of fewer constituents related mostly to the bodily life, with just a modicum of the mental. It is the soul, however, that grows with experiences and it is the soul that builds and enriches the personality. Whatever portion of the outer life, whatever element in the mind or vital or body succeeds in coming into contact with the psychic consciousness — that is to say, is able to come under its influence — is taken up and lodged there: it remains in the psychic being as its living memory and permanent possession. It is such elements that form the basis, the groundwork upon which the structure of the integral and true personality is raised.”

Sri Aurobindo and the Mother, Growing Within: The Psychology of Inner Development, Chapter VIII The Psychic Being and Inner Growth, pp. 152-153

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.