When we live primarily, or entirely, focused on our external life via the instruments of the body, life-force and mind, we cannot determine nor recognise the purpose and significance of our existence. We may speculate. We may hold opinions. We may adhere to some doctrine, such as a religious doctrine, particularly if we are members of a particular faith and have been trained in that faith. None of these things, however, provide us any certainty as to this question. The mind, the life and the body are not instruments of knowledge, and thus, they are tied to confusion, error and misapplication of perceived facts. However adamantly we hold our views, we do not have the certainty of ‘knowing’.

Knowledge is based in experience. When the soul, the psychic being, comes forward, it provides certainty as it is a direct ‘knower of truth’. It moves the outer instrumentation to discover the truth and act upon it. It uses the suffering of the outer life as leverage to make the being ready for and receptive to the truth of its existence and the deeper meaning of one’s life.

The Mother notes: “And it is only when one has found, you see, found what he says, found that one has a divine Self and that consequently one must seek to know this divine Self…. This comes much later, and yet, in spite of everything, from the very moment of birth in a physical body, there is in the being, in its depths, this psychic presence which pushes the whole being towards this fulfilment. But who knows it and recognises it, this psychic being? That too comes only in special circumstances, and unfortunately, most of the time these have to be painful circumstances, otherwise one goes on living unthinkingly. And in the depths of one’s being is this psychic being which seeks, seeks, seeks to awaken the consciousness and re-establish the union. One knows nothing about it….”

“Essentially, it is only when one has become aware of one’s soul, has been identified with one’s psychic being that one can see in a single flash the picture of one’s individual development through the ages. Then indeed one begins to know…but not before. Then, indeed, I assure you it becomes very interesting. It changes one’s position in life.”

Sri Aurobindo and the Mother, Growing Within: The Psychology of Inner Development, Chapter I Emergence from Unconsciousness, pp. 11-12

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 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.