As long as we remain rooted in the awareness of mind-life-body, we see the world and our existence as a fragmented collection of separate objects, beings and forces and we act as if we are separate and distinct from everything else. The spiritual transformation of consciousness involves a shift of standpoint to that of oneness, where we can see and experience the unity of the entire creation, and can act from the deeper intention of that unified existence. The lynch-pin of the change in awareness is the shift from the surface being of mind-life-body to the inmost being, the soul or psychic being, which is the aspect within us that is in touch with the Divine and which thereby allows us to transcend the surface ego-consciousness.

Dr. Dalal writes: “In spiritual experience there exists one sole Being, one sole Existence which embraces all beings and existing things in the universe, and which in spiritual realisation is experienced as the One Self of all things and creatures. But in our ordinary experience we perceive the world as inhabited by a plurality of beings and things existing outside what we felt to be our self. This is because our true self, described previously as the Purusha, who is one with the Self of all things and beings, has identified itself through ignorance with Prakriti, its outer instrumental nature made up of body, life and mind. This identification of Purusha with Prakriti has led to the formation in us of an ego — physical, vital and mental — which gives us the sense of a self that is separate from the rest of the universe. Thus it is the ego that gives rise to the distinction ingrained in our ordinary consciousness between what we feel to be our self and the rest of the universe which is perceived as the not-self. Also, it is the ego — physical, vital and mental — which, due to its complexity and heterogeneity, leads to the formation of multiple selves or personalities, causing division, conflict, disharmony and disorganisation in our outer being. Harmonisation and unification of the outer being can be brought about only by discovering our inmost being — Chaitya Purusha or the psychic being — and organising the outer being around the psychic as its centre and governing principle.”

“The aim of spiritual quest in the past has generally been to obtain liberation from the bondage to suffering caused by the illusory sense of a separate self, the ego, and thereby escape from the perpetual cycle of birth and death. According to Sri Aurobindo, the farther goal of spiritual evolution beyond liberation consists in the transformation of the instruments of the spirit — mind, life and body — so as to establish the kingdom of the spirit on earth. It is when the outer being is unified and governed by the psychic being that the transformation of mind, life and body becomes possible. As Sri Aurobindo states:

“The psychic being… supports the mind, vital, body, grows by their experiences, carries the nature from life to life…. At first it is veiled by mind, vital and body, but as it grows, it becomes capable of coming forward and dominating the mind, life and body; in the ordinary man it depends on them for expression and is not able to take them up and freely use them. The life of the being is animal or human and not divine. When the psychic being can by sadhana become dominant and freely use its instruments, then the impulse towards the Divine becomes complete and the transformation of mind, vital and body, not merely their liberation, becomes possible.”

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. xxxiv-xxxv

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.