.When we try to understand what is meant by the term ‘soul’ we run up against a confusing mix of ideas about what the soul actually is. Similarly, the use of the term ‘psychic’ has its own issues with confused interpretation. Recognising the need to have some term in English that can be employed to describe the true soul in man, the spark of the Divine that utilizes the mind, life and body as its vehicle of experience in life, Sri Aurobindo developed the term ‘psychic being” after first clearly distinguishing those aspects in common parlance that are not actually the ‘soul’ or the ‘psychic’ element in man.

Sri Aurobindo writes: “The word soul is very vaguely used in English — as it often refers to the whole non-physical consciousness including even the vital with all its desires and passions. That was why the word psychic being has to be used so as to distinguish this divine portion from the instrumental parts of the nature.”

“The soul is a spark of the Divine Spirit which supports the individual nature; mind, life, body are the instruments for the manifestation of the nature. In most men the soul is hidden and covered over by the action of the external nature; they mistake the vital being for the soul, because it is the vital which animates and moves the body. But this vital being is a thing made up of desires and executive forces, good and bad; it is the desire-soul, not the true thing. It is when the true soul (psyche) comes forward and begins first to influence and then govern the actions of the instrumental nature that man begins to overcome vital desire and grow towards a divine nature.”

Sri Aurobindo and The Mother, Living Within: The Yoga Approach to Psychological Health and Growth, Introduction, Mental Health and Integral Yoga, pp. xxxii-xxxvii

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 16 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.