In our normal human lives, we live in an externally focused standpoint and we create a distinction between ‘objective reality’ and ‘subjective reality’. Because we are so dependent on the body-life-mind complex and its relation to the outer world, we tend to assign a greater truth and reality to the external world. Western science has made the ability to measure, and reproduce results in the external world as the touchstone of ‘what is real’. Subjective experiences, subjective views are treated as something less real and thereby denigrated in our understanding.

As the seeker shifts, however, to a more inward consciousness, it becomes clear that the normal judgments of ‘objective’ and ‘subjective’ can no longer apply. We also begin to recognise that the inner life, and the outer life, are intimately tied to one another, influence one another and in fact, depend on one another. The wall we have set up between ‘objective’ and ‘subjective’ begins to disappear. We recognise the power of thought to create external activities and events. We begin to understand the power of emotions to drive our external life. We also recognise that thoughts and emotions have power to influence others and the environment around us.

At a certain point, we therefore need to recognise that the spiritual awareness, based in an inward consciousness, is real, powerful and despite a lack of external validation, needs to be appreciated for what it in truth is, the manifestation of the spiritual power that creates and drives our lives. The subtle is seen to be more powerful, more effective, and more ‘real’ than the gross physical world, which is seen as the effect of this subtler action, not the cause.

This is just the reverse of the way Western science has historically looked at things. Yet, how can we say that physical elements can manifest mind, music, art, emotion, etc. if these things were not already somehow involved in the physical reality. This involvement is based on the subtle energies, the unseen powers of consciousness, which create the infuse consciousness into the most external forms of existence. This provides for us a basis for understanding the need to shift to an appreciation of how thoughts, dreams, visions, moods, emotions, feelings and intimations actually arise, from whence they come, what their importance and impact is, and how they create our external reality for us.

Sri Aurobindo notes: “There is no law that a feeling cannot be an experience; experiences are of all kinds and take all forms in the consciousness. When the consciousness undergoes, sees or feels anything spiritual or psychic or even occult, that is an experience — in the technical yogic sense, for there are of course all sorts of experiences that are not of that character. The feelings themselves are of many kinds. The word feeling is often used for an emotion, and there can be psychic or spiritual emotions which are numbered among yogic experiences, such as a wave of suddha bhakti or the rising of love towards the Divine. A feeling also means a perception of something felt — a perception in the vital or psychic or in the essential substance of the consciousness. I find even often a mental perception when it is very vivid described as a feeling. If you exclude all these feelings and kindred ones and say that they are feelings, not experiences, then there is very little room left for experiences at all. Feeling and vision are the main forms of spiritual experience. One sees and feels the Brahman everywhere; one feels a force enter or go out from one; one feels or sees the presence of the Divine within or around one; one feels or sees the descent of Light; one feels the descent of Peace or Ananda. Kick out all that on the ground that it is only a feeling and you make a clean sweep of most of the things that we call experience. Again, we feel a change in the substance of the consciousness or the state of consciousness. We feel ourselves spreading in wideness and the body as a small thing in the wideness (this can be seen also); we feel the heart-consciousness being wide instead of narrow, soft instead of hard, illumined instead of obscure, the head-consciousness also, the vital, even the physical; we feel thousands of things of all kinds and why are we not to call them experiences? Of course it is an inner sight, an inner feeling, subtle feeling, not material, like the feeling of a cold wind or a stone or any other object, but as the inner consciousness deepens it is not less vivid or concrete, it is even more so.”

Sri Aurobindo and the Mother, Growing Within: The Psychology of Inner Development, Chapter VII Growth of Consciousness, Inner Experiences, pp. 133-134

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 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.