With the development of the mental being in evolution, we can observe the central leadership role that the mind plays in dealing with the vital and physical levels of our existence. The mental being, however, is limited by its strict framework and sequential process, and thus, is something like ‘the blind leading the blind’ in terms of its ability to truly comprehend the nature of existence and how to address the complexity of the universal manifestation.

In order for the next stage of evolution to manifest, there must be a new standpoint that recognises that mind cannot be the true leader of the life and body. This brings the seeker to the need to bring forward the soul or psychic being to provide both a link to the higher evolutionary developments and to provide unerring guidance to the mind, life and body as to how they need to reorient themselves and focus their efforts and actions.

There has been much debate about the existence of the soul. Scientists have even tried weighing the human body at the moment before death and the moment after death to see if the weight changes, thereby proving the existence of the soul as a palpable entity! This of course is based on the materialist viewpoint, and the failure implicit in this approach can be equally seen in the attempt to measure the absence of the mind at the time of death as well. Certain powers, vital powers, mental powers, soul powers, are simply not subject to being weighed physically, but they nevertheless exist and can be experienced.

Many people treat the nexus of the personality, the ego and the vital ‘desire soul’ as the soul, and thus, they are misled into a focus on ego-gratification and transitory satisfaction of desires. Eventually however, this mistake must be rectified for the seeker to progress to the true psychic opening and transformation.

Sri Aurobindo observes: “What is meant by [the psychic’s] coming to the front is simply this. The psychic ordinarily is deep within. Very few people are aware of their souls — when they speak of their soul, they usually mean the vital + mental being or else the (false) soul of desire. The psychic remains behind and acts only through the mind, vital and physical wherever it can. For this reason the psychic being except where it is very much developed has only a small and partial, concealed and mixed or diluted influence on the life of most men. By coming forward it is meant that it comes from behind the veil, its presence is felt already in the waking daily consciousness, its influence fills, dominates, transforms the mind and vital and their movements, even the physical. One is aware of one’s soul, feels the psychic to be one’s true being, the mind and the rest begin to be only instruments of the inmost within us.”

“When the psychic being comes in front, there is an automatic perception of the true and untrue, the divine and the undivine, the spiritual right and wrong of things, and the false vital and mental movements and attacks are immediately exposed and fall away and can do nothing; gradually the vital and physical as well as the mind get full of this psychic light and truth and sound feeling and purity, and such violent attacks as you have are impossible.” Sri Aurobindo, Integral Yoga: Sri Aurobindo’s Teaching and Method of Practice, Chapter 8, The Triple Transformation: Psychic, Spiritual and Supramental, The Psychic Transformation, pp. 203-209

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.