Why do we not immediately recognise the existence and centrality of the soul? We tend to set our standpoint in the external consciousness which is directed outwards, and which is constantly receiving sense impressions and pressures impinging on our body-life-mind complex. The sense organs, nervous system and brain are wired to respond to impressions from these external forces and are not either directed toward nor tuned to perceive the subtle energetic action of the inner being, and the soul, the inmost being.

Similarly the external senses do not directly perceive the superconscient spiritual energies that impinge upon us and thus, may try to deny that they exist.

It is very simple, however, to recognise the error of this conclusion. Just because we cannot perceive something directly with our mind and senses, it does not mean that those things do not exist. We do not perceive gravity, radiation or electricity with our senses directly, but we are clearly about to recognise the effects of these forces. We also cannot perceive and measure directly the impulses that we call love, physical attraction, mutual chemistry, or the mechanisms that help create these things, such as the secretion of pheromones.

When we turn our view inwards, and quiet the promptings of the external senses and the physical mind, we can begin to experience and appreciate more directly and consistently the inner physical, the inner vital, the inner mental and the inner soul aspects of our being. With ‘tapasya’ we can understand the causative role that the ever-more-subtle aspects of our existence plays upon the more gross, external aspects of the being. The soul, or psychic being, is the subtle and central causative link between the spiritual existence and our external being. We can certainly appreciate the effect of the soul even if we cannot measure it with our external senses.

Sri Aurobindo defines the forces that constitute the soul-forces that we can appreciate in their expression, forces of truth, forces of beauty, forces of harmony all stem from the action of the soul. The more influence it has on the external being, the more we tend to align our appreciation and action to resonate to these forces of coherence and harmonious development and the more we tend to reject and eliminate those forces that bring forth disharmony, chaos and falsehood.

Sri Aurobindo writes: “At the beginning the soul in Nature, the psychic entity, whose unfolding is the first step towards a spiritual change, is an entirely veiled part of us, although it is that by which we exist and persist as individual beings in Nature. The other parts of our natural composition are not only mutable but perishable; but the psychic entity in us persists and is fundamentally the same always: it contains all essential possibilities of our manifestation but is not constituted by them; it is not limited by what it manifests, not contained by the incomplete forms of the manifestation, not tarnished by the imperfections and impurities, the defects and depravations of the surface being. It is an ever-pure flame of the divinity in things and nothing that comes to it, nothing that enters into our experience can pollute its purity or extinguish the flame. This spiritual stuff is immaculate and luminous and, because it is perfectly luminous, it is immediately, intimately, directly aware of truth of being and truth of nature; it is deeply conscious of truth and good and beauty because truth and good and beauty are akin to its own native character, forms of something that is inherent in its own substance. It is aware also of all that contradicts these things, of all that deviates from its own native character, of falsehood and evil and the ugly and the unseemly; but it does not become these things nor is it touched or changed by these opposites of itself which so powerfully affect its outer instrumentation of mind, life and body. For the soul, the permanent being in us, puts forth and uses mind, life and body as its instruments, undergoes the envelopment of their conditions, but it is other and greater than its members.”

Sri Aurobindo and the Mother, The Hidden Forces of Life, Ch. 2 Hidden Forces Within, pp. 43-44

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