Sri Aurobindo, The Life Divine, The Triple Transformation

Track Running Questions & Answers – Experience and Self-Knowledge

Psychological and Constitutional Ignorance.

Psychological ignorance is the ignorance of the total psychology of our being. We are ignorant of the subconscient which is in us. There is a huge ocean of the subconscient in us of which we are ignorant. We are ignorant of our body excepting a little of which we know, but we are largely unaware of our entire body. We are unaware of our vital, of our mind and of the soul in us. And we are unaware of the superconscient that which is above the soul. This unawareness constitutes our psychological ignorance.

The constitutional ignorance consists of our ignorance of the interrelationship of these. We do not know the relationship between body and life, the relationship between life and mind, between mind and body, between mind and life, between soul and mind, between soul and body, between soul and life, the entire constitutional hierarchy. Some people believe that what is most important is the body. If you provide for the bodily needs then everything is done. This is because we feel that the body is the most important; so constitutionally we think the body is the sovereign. Some people believe that life is the sovereign and that the body should be capable of fulfilling the desires that man has got and so they use the body as an instrument, as a horse and life as the rider of the horse, as it were, and the horse must act according to the needs of the rider. They believe that the life force is the leader. Some people believe that the mind is the leader. In the Taittirya Upanishad there is a description of the mind, manomaya purusha prana sharirah neta, ‘prana sharirah neta’, this is the term which is used in the Taittiriya Upanishad, that mind, manomaya purusha, is the leader of the prana of the life, of the vital and sharirah, of the body. And those who live in the mind, the thinkers, scientists, inventors, designers, planners, always believe that the mind is the sovereign, and that body and life must subserve the mind. But very few or hardly anybody really knows that there is behind the mind something else, the soul, of which the body, life and mind are the instruments. Some people, even when they come to become aware of the soul, they do not know that the soul is the master, is the sovereign and body, life and mind are its instruments.

The constitutional ignorance is not knowing the real relationship, the real leader among the body, life and mind and the soul. So, the ignorance of the interrelationship of body, life, mind and soul is our constitutional ignorance. And then above the soul is the Jivatman, and above that is the real master, the sovereign Lord himself, isha vasyam. The supreme Lord himself is the master of the whole thing. This entire relationship we are unaware of. Because of our psychological ignorance and because of our constitutional ignorance we are helpless in this whole battle of life. We are just moved basically by instinctive movements, by the impulses of life, by the compulsion of circumstances, by various kinds of events which occur and we react to them. Certain influences we gather and some guidance we receive from one corner or the other "pell–mell". In a disorderly fashion we create somehow some order out of this disorder and this we call our normal life.

So the basic thing that has to be done first and foremost is to develop our body, life and mind of which we are normally aware, in such a way that we begin to become aware of the soul of which we are not normally aware.

The first step is to become aware of that which we are not normally aware. So to some extent, the development of body, life and mind is absolutely essential before you can enter into the awareness of the soul. Actually the soul itself allows the body, life and mind to develop to some extent and voluntarily remains hidden, does not even show its presence. It is a very wise designer or architect you might say.  It does not even show its presence until body, life and mind are developed to some extent, but when they are developed to some extent, then one begins to feel the presence of something that is different from body, life and mind. Very often we may have some experiences of the soul's presence but we may not recognise it as something distinct from body, life and mind. To become aware of the distinct experiences of the soul one has to have repeated experiences of the soul and one must know how to recognise the difference between the mental idea and the soul experience.

Actually we thought of doing this subject because of the question which was raised last time: how do we know that we are progressing? The real thing in us which really recognises, is the soul. It is the soul which recognises whether we are progressing or not. And that was the reason why I took up this subject as a whole which is a much larger subject, but I thought it was a good link because unless we uncover the soul, we do not get the right guidance as to whether we are progressing at all and if we are progressing in the right direction or not. He is the architect who knows whether the construction is going on according to the design or not.

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