One of the reasons that spiritual seekers have traditionally been advised to seek solitude and not engage in society is that there is a constant, subliminal interchange that takes place between all human beings. We generally do not notice it, but on an energetic, a vibrational level, we are constantly receiving (and sending) vibrations that impact how we respond to situations, what we are feeling, and even what we are thinking about in many cases. There is of course also the overt communication activity that is taking place, but what is not recognised is the subtle exchange of energy that is taking place all the time.

It is not necessary, in fact, to totally abandon life in favor of the spiritual pursuit. It may, of course, be helpful for an individual, for a period of time, to step back from the external life, but this is not a permanent solution. Eventually, the seeker needs to become conscious and thereby be able to recognise and address the subtle vibrations that come forward. This type of practice is the solid underpinning of a spiritual growth within the context of life.

Sri Aurobindo does not accept what he calls the “refusal of the ascetic” as the sole path of realisation. Nor does he accept the “materialist denial” which supports the reality of the external life to the exclusion of the spiritual endeavor; rather he describes an ‘omnipresent reality’ which encompasses the integration of the two poles of a complete life, accepting both spirit and matter as one, unified reality.

The Mother notes: “One lives amidst constant collective suggestions, constantly; for example, I don’t know if you have been present at funerals, or if you have been in a a house where someone has died — naturally you must observe yourself a little, otherwise you won’t notice anything — but if you observe yourself a little, you will see that you had no special reason to feel any sorrow or grief whatever for the passing away of this person; he is a person like many others; this has happened and by a combination of social circumstances you have come to that house. And there, suddenly, without knowing why or how, you feel a strong emotion, a great sorrow, a deep pain, and you ask yourself, ‘Why am I so unhappy?’ It is quite simply the vibrations which have entered you, nothing else.”

“And I tell you it is easy to observe, for it is an experience I had when I was a little child — and at that time I was not yet doing conscious yoga; perhaps I was doing yoga but not consciously — and I observed it very, very clearly. I told myself, ‘Surely it is their sorrow I am feeling, for I have no reason to be specially affected by this person’s death’; and all of a sudden, tears came to my eyes, I felt as though a lump were in my throat and I wanted to cry, as though I were in great sorrow — I was a small child — and immediately I understood, ‘Oh! it is their sorrow which has come inside me.’ “

Sri Aurobindo and the Mother, The Hidden Forces of Life, Ch. 3 Hidden Forces Around, pp. 64-66

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 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.
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