But the work to be done was so enormous, so meticulous and so perfect that it could be accomplished, in SriAurobindo's view, only by the triple transformation, — psychic, spiritual and supramental. This implied three major processes and results. Sri Aurobindo speaks of the first process as that of the psychic change, the conversion of our whole present nature into a soul-instrumentation; next or along with the first, he points out, there must be the spiritual change, the descent of a higher Light, Knowledge, Power, Force, Bliss, Purity into the whole being, even into the lowest recesses of life and body, even into the darkness of our subconscience; and thirdly, there must supervene the supramental transformation, — there must take place as a crowning movement the ascent into the Supermind and the transforming descent of supramental Consciousness into our entire being. This entire process involved and still involves the most difficult endeavour that humanity or at least that part of humanity which is capable of highest aspiration has to carry out.
According to Sri Aurobindo, each human being has in him a psychic entity or soul. This entity can be recognized as an individual leader of evolution, and it is that entity that causes the upward aspiration that we find in the human being to break
the barriers of Ignorance and to march towards Knowledge. It is that entity that prepares in the human being the individual instrumentation; and it is that entity that collaborates with the evolutionary Nature and evolves itself as the psychic being and works for its freedom and sovereignty over the body, life and mind, as also for the liberation of the ignorant workings of Nature from their own established grooves so that eventually the Nature gets replaced by Super-Nature or Para Prakriti.
In the Indian tradition of yoga, the discovery of the psychic entity appears to be as ancient as the discovery of Agni, the Mystic Fire, which has been described as something that has been brought down into the cosmic dark Inconscience, and which is at work in the world as a cosmic being in the cosmos and as the individual being in the individual. In the Katha Upanishad, this psychic entity has been described as "the Purusha who is seated in the midst of our self. It has further been described as "no larger than a finger of a man". It is also Mentioned that "he is like a blazing fire that is without smoke, and that he is lord of his past and his future". The Katha Upanishad also declares this psychic entity to be the immortal individual being in the human being. It states: "He alone is today and he alone shall be tomorrow". Finally, it is also said: ''Him having seen one shrinks not from ought nor abhors any" 10
One of the chief characteristics of the yoga, where psychic consciousness receives its due place in its method and aim, is that it tends to lay increasing emphasis on the process of self- consecration and self-surrender to the Master of yoga, who presides over the processes of discipline and guides the seeker in the attainment of Yoga-Siddhi, the perfection that comes from the practice of yoga. From this point of view, we find in
the yoga of the Gita, increasing stress on the psychic love which is the real and spontaneous bond between the psychic entity and the Divine of whom it is an eternal portion;" it is that love that renders the complete surrender to the Supreme Lord as the highest and all-comprehensive method of the Gita's yoga. In the later history of the Indian Yoga, there arose a wide and intense movement of Bhakti yoga, the yoga of divine love, in which the development of the psychic consciousness and its application in the psychicisation of mind and life recorded immense and miraculous levels of fulfillment; a great climactic peak of this movement can be seen in the life and yoga of Sri chaitanya. But never before in the history of yoga was the role assigned to the psychic entity and psychic being in such a wide and comprehensive way as we find it in the integral yoga of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother. For in this yoga, psychic transformation of the entire being, including the physical being has been conceived as an indispensable foundation and accompaniment.
We find here, in Sri Aurobindo's exposition of his integral yoga, a luminous clarity in regard to the origin and nature of the psychic entity. Sri Aurobindo's yoga affirms the reality of Sachchidananda (conscious and blissful Existent) in terms of which all that is in the world and all that is operative in the world can be explained and understood. Sachchidananda is, according to Sri Aurobindo, not only transcendental Reality of the world, not only immanent in the world, but also the originator of the world, the very stuff of the world and also the omnipresent, omnipotent and omniscient Lord of the world. How this stuff of the Sachchidananda is present everywhere and yet fully veiled in the inconscient and how that veil is
being gradually lifted by the process of evolution receives,, in the writings of Sri Aurobindo, a detailed examination and solution. The crux of the solution lies in the integral nature of Sachchidananda, the integrality of which is manifest in the integration of three terms, sat, chit and ānanda. Sachchidananda is at once the Brahman, Purusha and Ishwara, — the transcendental essence which is the stuff of all manifestation (Brahman), the consciousness that originates manifestation and dwells in it in a poise where the energy of manifestation, Prakriti, depends on the originating will and originating being that is Purusha, and the lord and controller of all that is manifested (Ishwara). If, in the manifestation, there has emerged the phenomenon of the inconscience, it can only be by some will in the Sachchidananda and, that too, by the operation of his own power of self-limitation and the Operation of Tapas, the power of various kinds of concentration, including the exclusive concentration of consciousness. If the inconscience presents a figure of total opposition to the nature of Sachchidananda, it can only be a result of the exercise of the omnipotent power and will of the Lord of manifestation who permits the effective mass of the inconscient and its opposition over which He can triumph in a process of struggle and slow development of the inconscience towards the manifestation of the superconscience. If there are the phenomena of pleasure and pain, and of the ego and its dualities, these, too, can only be what they are and what they are becoming in due course of evolution because of the inalienable presence and power of Sachchidananda.
Against this basic background, Sri Aurobindo explains how Matter is the divine All-existence, but veiled, hidden behind the actual phenomenon of things and manifest here
initially through its own subordinate term. Substance, Form of being or Matter. Similarly, Life can be seen as a divine Conscious-Force, omnipresent in the material cosmos, but veiled, operative secretly behind the actual phenomenon of things and expressing itself in the world characteristically as its own subordinate term. Similarly, again, Mind can be explained as the subordinate term of the Supermind, which is the self-awareness of the Sachchidananda, the Infinite and Eternal and a power of self-determination inherent in that self- awareness. Finally, there is in the manifestation of the principle of divine Bliss, omnipresent in the cosmos, veiled indeed and possessing itself behind the actual phenomenon of things, but still manifested in the world and in us through some subordinate principle of its own in which it is hidden and by which it must be found and achieved in the action of the universe. That principle of delight, although veiled in nature, manifests itself to the lover of Nature when he takes joy in all things of Nature universally without admitting repulsion or fear or mere liking or disliking, perceiving beauty in that which seems to others mean and insignificant, bare and savage, terrible and repellent. Similar is the experience of the artist and the poet and even of the God-lover who finds the object of his love everywhere, except in the parts where the experience is marred by the little ego which renders the essential current of delight into emotional and physical joy or suffering, pleasure and pain. That same term of divine bliss is, according to Sri Aurobindo, found in us individually, which we sometimes call in a special sense the soul, the psychic principle which is not the light of the mind or the body, but which holds in itself the opening and flowering of the essence of all these to their own peculiar delight of self, to light, to love, to joy and beauty and to a refined purity of being. That
principle of psychic consciousness which throbs in the universe behind the phenomena of insensitivity and dullness in various degrees is also present in each one of us individually as the psychic entity.
This entire world is the manifestation of Sachchidananda, who is in himself Transcendental above the universe, but is also universal being and individual. We find universal Matter corresponded by physic being for the individual, universal life corresponded by the vital being for the individual, and universal mind corresponded by the mental being in the individual. In the same way, there is the universal delight secret behind the world manifestation, and it is corresponded by the psychic principle in the individual. The individual that is constituted of the psychic principle is what can properly be called the psychic entity12
The psychic entity or the true soul is as invisible and as secret in the individual as the psychic principle which is secretly vibrating all over in the universe. Sri Aurobindo, therefore, calls it "the true soul secret in us", and points out that the presence of this soul or psychic entity, "bums in the temple of the inmost heart behind the thick screen of an ignorant mind, life and body subliminal but behind the veil". The divine bliss of which the psychic entity in us is its term in the individual is further described by Sri Aurobindo as "a flame born out of the Divine and, luminous inhabitant of the ignorance"; and its fundamental task is to grow in the field of Ignorance and to turf it towards the knowledge. This psychic entity is, "Not the unborn Self or Atman, for the Self even in presiding over the existence of the individual is aware always of its universality and transcendence, it is yet its deputy in the forms of Nature, the individual soul, chaitya purusa, supporting mind, life and body, standing behind the mental,
the vital, the subtle-physical being in us and watching and profiting by their development and experience."13
In the totality of the gradual process of self-knowledge, the awareness of the psychic entity develops into psychic being and psychic personality. If we use the terminology of the Gita, the Ultimate Reality is Purushottama, who in his will of manifestation puts forth His power and energy of Becoming, which is inherent in His Being, and in doing so, there is a relationship between the Purushottama and his energy of manifestation, which the Gita refers to as Para Prakriti. The relationship between Purushottama and Para Prakriti is such that Para Prakriti exists as one with the existence of the Purushottama, and thus it cannot exist without Purushottama; but without Para Prakriti, Purushottama remains unmanifest. Para Prakriti, in the process of manifestation brings forth the complexity of the contents of Purushottama, since Purushottama is not an empty blank, and His essence does not exhaust all that He is. That essence is itself, in a sense, more than essence in the sense in which Plato in his philosophy of the highest Good defines that Good as something that exceeds essence both in power and dignity. The essence has within it the power of formation, and since Forms issue from the essence, that power of formation must be inherent in the essence.
It has, indeed, been argued that Form does not really exist, that it is an appearance or an illusion, but it even if that were so, the power of illusion and the power of formation as an illusion must somehow be a content of the essence. It has even been argued that there is neither essence nor form and that both vanish in the experience of Nihil. But even then the Nihil
must have the potentiality of the real or illusory Essence and Form. Logically, therefore, there does not seem to be an escape from That conclusion if the ultimate reality is One without the second, as is the contention of the Veda, Upanishad and the Gita. Indeed, the One is not a mathematical integer, something more than zero and less than two, but essence of identity having complexity in it and having power in it, which in its manifestation, brings out formations, —the formations of multiplicity of particulars and individuals, of the universal and of the totality, which is always more than totality. In the yogic system of the Gita, there is a clear recognition of the relationship between Purushottama and Para Prakriti as also of the manifestation of universality and individuality, both manifested through the infinity of Para Prakriti. With regard to the individual, there are two clear indications in the Gita, which need to be underlined. In the first place, the individual or the jiva, has been described as an eternal portion of the Divine,14 and this portion is, by the law of the Infinite, inseparable from its Divine universality; it is indeed itself that universality, except in its frontal appearance and its frontal separative self-experience. The second description of the individual or the jiva is to be found in VII.5, where it is stated that Para Prakriti is the constitutor of the becoming of the individual. On account of this ontological relationship between the Purushottama, Para Prakriti and the Jiva, one of the possible realizations of the higher level may be marked by the individual, in his awakening to the reality of the Purushottama, plunging himself into the reality of Purushottama. Another possibility would be where the individual liberating himself becomes aware of his eternal Companion and elects to live forever in the presence of Purushottama, in an imperishable union and oneness.
In the system of the integral yoga of Sri Aurobindo, the individual working in the world of Ignorance has been described as the psychic entity. The psychic entity is fundamentally the Jiva, an eternal portion of the Divine, but it assumes, in the manifested world and in its descent into the Inconscience, the form of a spark and as an individual nucleus of ānanda or divine love in the mass of our ignorant Nature. That is the reason why Sri Aurobindo describes psychic entity as:
"A small nucleus here in the mass of our ignorant Nature, so that it is described in the Upanishad as no bigger than a man's thumb", and therefore capable by the spiritual influx of enlarging itself and embracing "the whole world with the heart and mind in an intimate communion or oneness."15
According to Sri Aurobindo, this psychic entity, representing the Jiva, which is an eternal portion of the Divine, is immortal. A clear distinction can, therefore, be made between various parts of our natural composition and the psychic entity. Various parts of our natural composition at our present state of evolution consist of the body, life and mind. These parts of our natural composition are, according to Sri Aurobindo, 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."16
The psychic entity, the nucleus of the individual, the spark of the Divine is, in relation to the field of ignorance, a labourer
carrying out the task of leading the evolutionary products of ignorant Nature or Apara Prakriti towards the total transformation of body, life and mind by triumphant infusion into them the qualities and powers of Para Prakriti. It is, at the beginning of its work in the field of the Apara Prakriti, like a secluded King in a screened chamber which is ruled by the evolving body, life and mind. Indeed, the screen behind which the secluded king is at work is thick, and therefore the body, life and mind are unaware of the secret Light of the King. But still "lodged in the cavern heart of things",17 it bums behind the thick screen of an ignorant mind, life and body. Indeed, intimations continue to flow from the innermost sanctuary where the psychic entity lives as a secluded King; these intimations can even rise to our surface, but our mind does not detect their source. As a result, the mind follows or does not follow those intimations according to its bend or turn at the moment. The ignorant mind, which is exclusively concentrated on its own activities along with those of the physical being and vital being, is normally obedient to the ego, which is one of the devices evolved by ignorant Nature for co coordinating activities of a limited field with itself as the apparent centre. The mind is able to obey the intimations rising from the psychic entity only if it has already developed clarity, subtlety, power of synthesis and quietude; otherwise, mind tends to obey the urge of the vital ego, particularly when the vital consciousness is turbulent and easily excitable; the egoistic consciousness that operates in the vital being overpowers the mind, and the mind, instead of turning inwards, remains externalized. In that condition, there is little chance of the psychic consciousness at all controlling the nature for manifesting in us something of its secret spiritual stuff and native movement.
There is, it may be said, a certain relationship between the psychic entity and the ignorant Nature in which it is missioned to act. If the psychic consciousness has descended into ignorance, it is because the entire evolutionary process is to be awakened to receive the higher light and be transformed by it. At the individual level, the psychic entity acts as an aid to the gradual evolution of the body, life and mind; and this aid is hampered by two characteristics of the evolutionary process: there is, first, resistance and even refusal to make a transition from Inconscience to Ignorance or from Ignorance to Knowledge; and there is, secondly, a resultant battle between the upward movement of evolution and the resistance and refusal to evolve upwards and even refusal to accept the aid that can come to it from the psychic entity which is at work in it. Indeed, Nature ultimately works out an upward evolutionary movement, but that movement is tardy or rapid, depending upon the consent that is obtained in the evolutionary Nature towards its upward movement.
The psychic entity or the soul having earlier no experience of the inconscience or the ignorance when it descended from above as a spark from the Divine, undergoes a process of learning by experience the nature of the Inconscience and of the Ignorance. This learning process implies the soul's growth by experience of the inconscience and the ignorance. This growth of the soul consists of gathering the essence of all the mental, vital and bodily experience; the soul also assimilates that experience by means of which it gains gradual control and mastery over the evolutionary process of the body, life and mind. It is only when this control and mastery become strong that the body, life and mind become more and more inward and become more and more inclined to receive and accept intimations of the psychic entity. There is thus a double
process of the action of the psychic entity: the action of aiding the development of body, life and mind, and the action of gaining control and mastery over its instruments. This implies that the soul, by means of its growth, begins to take a secret form; in other words, it puts forward and develops a soul personality; that soul personality is not itself the soul, but its formation growing out of the soul, and that soul personality represents the soul; that growing soul personality is what Sri Aurobindo and the Mother call the psychic being. While this secret soul personality grows, it is able increasingly to influence the body, life and mind and even their superficial activities that take place on the outer surface. As a result, even on the ignorant surface, we become dimly aware of something that can be called a soul or a psychic being as distinct from mind, life and body. This is the stage where maturer forms of the development of personality take place.
As Sri Aurobindo points out, it is part of the work of the soul or the psychic entity to influence mind and heart and vital being and turn their ideas, feelings, enthusiasms, dynamisms in the direction of what is divine and luminous, but this work of the soul is facilitated increasingly as the psychic being and psychic personality grow stronger. This underlines the momentous importance of the growth of the psychic being in the yoga of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother. The psychic being, as it develops, begins to increase its communion with psychic entity behind it, on the one hand, and improve, on the other, its communications with the instruments of the mind, life and body and even with the surface consciousness. The psychic being can transmit its intimation to mind and heart and life with greater purity and force, but even then the progress would be slow and long, if left solely to the difficult automatic action of the evolutionary Energy. Hence, there arises an
indispensable need to develop some conscious and deliberate and even designed efforts on the part of the human individual being.
In other words, the growing individual has to undertake the task of the practice of yoga, which is a methodized effort, first, to awaken to the knowledge of the soul and, secondly, to the knowledge of the principles and processes by which the soul and the psychic being can be brought to the front in order that life can be made receptive and capable of carrying out the guidance that the soul and the psychic being can provide.'18
According to Sri Aurobindo, the mind's clear perception and insistence on an effort to know the nature of the soul and psychic being can be a great help. One of the main difficulties in arriving at the mind's clear perception of the soul and psychic being is the fact that when one attempts to go within in search of the soul, one finds many formations which present themselves as soul elements, and one can be mistaken as to which element is truly psychic. There are confusions on account of the early Greek and some other traditions about after-death descriptions, and there are beliefs about experiences of the wraith or ghost of the personality. This ghost is often confused with the soul because, like the soul, the ghost seems to survive death of the body. In fact, as Sri Aurobindo points out, the ghost is sometimes a vital formation reproducing the man's characteristics, his surface life mannerisms, sometimes a subtle physical prolongation of the surface form of the mind-shell or it is at best a sheath of the life-personality which still remains in the front for some time after the departure from the body. But even though this sheath of the life-personality survives the death of the body, it is still a formation and gets dissolved in due course of time. The real soul has altogether a different character, and it is immortal and
undying Traveler of various domains of experience, and it is what assumes body after body in a series of rebirth.19
Concept of Psychic Being in relation to the Concepts of Brahman, Purusha, Ishwara as also to Jivatman and Psychic Entity
The second difficulty in recognizing the true soul and psychic being arises from our ignorance of the subliminal parts of our nature and the forms and powers of the conscious being or Purusha which presides over their action. The concept of Purusha itself suffers from various confusions. In the Sankhyan philosophy, the word Purusha indicates the individual being which is in its very nature inactive but luminous. In the Katha Upanishad, the individual being is described as the Jivatman, Eater of sweetness.20 The Taittiriya Upanishad speaks of the individual being as the five-fold Atman or Purusha, the physical individual being, vital individual being, mental individual being, Gnostic individual being and the blissful individual being, purusha annamaya, ātmāpranmaya,ātmomaya, ātmā vijnanamaya, and ātmā anandamaya.The Upanishad uses the word Purusha not only for the individual being but also for the Supreme beyond the immutable, and the words Purusha and Brahman are also used as synonymous22 and also as Lord, (Iśā and Prajapati, Father of creatures)23 In the Gita, as in the Veda and the Upanishads, the word Purusha is used as synonymous with Brahman and Ishwara, but there is also a distinction made between Jiva, the individual being,24 and it also speaks of Purusha in three poises, kshara, mobile, akshara, immobile, and Purusha beyond mobile and immobile. In the later philosophies of India, the words Atma, Jiva and Purusha are often used as synonyms, and yet their
descriptions are not always identical. In Sri Aurobindo's statement of philosophy and yoga, we find clear descriptions and distinguishing features for each of these terms. Whenever the word Brahman or Atman is used, it means the ultimate essence that can expand in manifestation; whenever the word Purusha is used, it means the Being with the will of origination of expansion by which the energy which is quiescent in the essence is brought out into manifestation, and thus the word 'Purusha' means originator of the movement of Prakriti with which it can have a relationship of play, such that Purusha can dwell in Prakriti as the originator, even while the Purusha consciousness, as originator, can remain above Prakriti; on the other hand, Prakriti depends for its movement on the originating will of the Purusha and offers its movement for the enjoyment of Purusha, who as the enjoyer can assume the role of the giver of the consent to the activities of Prakriti. Again, the word Purusha is used in connection with its three poises, the transcendental, the universal and individual as also for its other three poises, — mobile, immobile and beyond mobile and immobile. The word Ishwara is used to indicate the status of the lord, controller and ordainer of all that is manifested and of all the arrangements of manifestation. For conveying the connotation of the individual being, Sri Aurobindo uses the word Jivatman or individual Purusha, and he distinguishes clearly between the Jivatman, psychic entity and psychic being, all of which relate to the individual being. Finally, it may be added that Brahman, Purusha and Ishwara are not three independent realities, but they refer to the same Ultimate Reality, which is at once the essence that can expand, the essence that can will and originate expansion and manifestation, and the essence which enjoys its lordship over what is manifested. The Ultimate Reality is one, and therefore
the yoga and philosophy of Sri Aurobindo is advaitic or monistic, but since, according to him, Ultimate Reality is Complex-Simple, and therefore, multisided and multipoised, that monism is integral or purnadvaita.25
As we are seeking mental clarity as an aid regarding the soul and individual being, we may refer to the following statement of Sri Aurobindo, where a clear distinction is made between jivatman, psychic entity or spark soul, and psychic being. It is in one of his letters that this distinction has been clearly brought out: "The Jivatman, spark-soul and psychic being are three different forms of the same reality and they must not be mixed up together, as that confuses the clearness of the inner experience.
"The Jivatman or Spirit, as it is usually called in English, is self-existent above the manifested or instrumental being — it is superior to birth and death, always the same, the individual Self or Atman. It is the eternal being of the individual.
"The soul is a spark of the Divine which is not seated above the manifested being, but comes down into the manifestation to support its evolution in the material world. It is at first an undifferentiated power of the Divine Consciousness containing all possibilities which have not yet taken form, but to which it is the function of evolution to give form. This spark is there in all living beings from the lowest to the highest.
"The psychic being is formed by the soul in its evolution. It supports the mind, vital, body, grows by their experiences, carries the nature from life to life. It is the psychic or chaitya
purusa. At first it is veiled by mind, vital and body, but as it grows, it becomes capable of coming forward and dominating the mind, life and body; in the ordinary man it depends on them for expression and it not able to take them up and freely use them. The life of the being is animal or human and not divine. When the psychic being can by sadhana become dominant and freely use its instruments, then the impulse towards the Divine becomes complete and the transformation of mind, vital and body, not merely their liberation, becomes possible.
"The Self or Atman being free and superior to birth and death, the experience of the Jivatman and its unity with the supreme or universal Self brings the sense of liberation, it is this which is necessary for the supreme spiritual deliverance:
but for the transformation of the life and nature the awakening of the psychic being and its rule over the nature are indispensable.
"The psychic being realizes its oneness with the true being, the Jivatman, but it does not change into it.
"The bindu seen above may be a symbolic way of seeing the Jivatman, the portion of the Divine; the aspiration there would naturally be for the opening of the higher consciousness so that the being may dwell there and not in the Ignorance. The Jivatman is already one with the Divine in reality, but what is needed is that the rest of the consciousness should realise it.
"The aspiration of the psychic being is for the opening of the whole lower nature, mind, vital, body to the Divine, for the love and union with the Divine, for its presence and power within the heart, for the transformation of the mind, life and body by the descent of the higher consciousness into this
instrumental being and nature.
"Both aspirations are essential and indispensable for the fullness of this yoga. When the psychic imposes its aspiration on the mind, vital and body, then they too aspire... The aspiration felt above is that of the Jivatman for the higher consciousness with its realisation of the One to manifest in the being. Therefore both aspirations help each other. The seeking of the lower being is necessarily at first intermittent and oppressed by the ordinary consciousness. It has, by sadhana, to become clear, constant, strong and enduring..."26
Psychic Being and Subliminal Beings of Body, Life and Mind
The psychic being is also called by Sri Aurobindo to be the inmost being, and between this inmost being and the surface consciousness of which we are ordinarily aware to some extent, there is, what Sri Aurobindo calls, the inner being or the subliminal being. To the ordinary man who lives in his own waking surface, psychological existence is simple and consists of clamorous company of desires, some imperative intellectual and aesthetic cravings, some tastes, a few ruling or prominent ideas, a number of more or less imperative vital needs, alterations of physical health and disease, a scattered and inconsequent succession of joys and grief's, frequent minor disturbances and vicissitudes and rarer strong searching's and upheavals of mind or body. When one turns inward to go deep within oneself, the most disconcerting discovery is to find that every part of one's being has its own complex individuality. Whether it is intellect, will, sense- mind, nervous or desire self, the heart, the body, — each is in conflict with the other. One finds that one has many
personalities and each has its own demand and differing nature. As Sri Aurobindo states:
"Much more than half our thoughts and feelings are not our own in the sense that they take form out of ourselves; of hardly anything can it be said that it is truly original to our nature. A large part comes to us from others or from the environment, whether as raw material or as manufactured imports; but still more largely they come from universal Nature here or from other worlds and planes and their beings and powers and influences; for we are overtopped and environed by other planes of consciousness, mind planes, life planes, subtle matter planes, from which our life and action here are fed, or fed on, pressed, dominated, made use of for the manifestation of their forms and forces."27
One of the essential tasks of the psychic being is to become, in the growing individual totality, a divine centre and create growing harmony and luminous order. This can best be achieved if the psychic being can be brought more and more increasingly on the surface consciousness; on the other hand, this process can be aided greatly if the surface consciousness strives to go deeper and deeper towards the psychic being. Ultimately, a stage should be reached where the gulf between the surface consciousness and inmost consciousness is bridged. But as one goes deep inward, one discovers in the intermediate zones a mind self, a life self, a physical self. Each one of these selves is called Purusha, provided we mean by the word Purusha, not the individual soul, but that power of consciousness, which originates movement of energy or Prakriti and assumes a poise of accompaniment and indwelling with Prakriti, appropriate to each grade of the development of Prakriti. In each individual there is one soul or the individual Purusha, but that Purusha presides over each
grade of Prakriti's movement that is operative in the evolution of body, life and mind. Thus, there is in our total composition, a being of mind, a mental Purusha or manomaya Purusha, expressing something of itself on our surface in thoughts, perceptions, activities of our mind-nature; there is also a being of life, vital Purusha or pranamaya Purusha which expresses something of itself in the impulses, feelings, sensations, desires, external life-activities of our vital nature; there is also a physical being or annamaya Purusha, a being of the body which expresses something of itself in the instincts, habits, formulated activities of our physical nature. These beings in us are powers of the individual Purusha, or of chaitya Purusha. These Purushas, — annamaya, pranamaya and manomaya, — are not limited by their temporary expressions, for what is formulated is only a fragment of its possibilities; but as Sri Aurobindo points out, "the expression creates a temporary mental, vital or physical personality which grows and develops even as the psychic being or soul-personality grows and develops within us. Each has its own distinct nature, its influence, its action on the whole of us; but on our surface all these influences and all this action, as they come up, mingle and create an aggregate surface being which is a composite, an amalgam of them all, an outer persistent and yet shifting and mobile formation for the purposes of this life and its limited experience."28
The mind self, the life self, the physical self are ordinarily experienced in our surface consciousness; but the more the surface consciousness turns inwards, the more it comes to experience these inner selves and their greater powers. Owing to the ignorance of what these selves really are, how they are constituted or how they are formed, and of how the Purusha consciousness acts in relation to grades and formations of
Prakriti, we can easily mistake something of the inner mind or life self as the psychic being. We normally do not have a clear distinction between (i) the surface consciousness and surface personality or surface multi-personality and (ii) the Subliminal or the inner mind, inner vital and inner physical, their formations and their influences in the constitution of development of our surface consciousness. And, similarly, we are ignorant of the distinction between these Subliminal or inner beings and the psychic being which is our inmost being. It is true that man is in a grade of consciousness higher than that of the animal, and therefore there are deeper states of consciousness and understanding. In certain states of the mind, it is possible to stand behind the movements of mental powers and surface consciousness, and there is thus this ability to stand apart and above mental operations and above operations of the surface consciousness; man is, as a result, self-compelled to make some attempt, however elementary in many, to control and in the end more and more perfectly to harmonize the manifold components and the different and conflicting tendencies that seem to make up his surface being. In due course of time, man can succeed in setting up a sort of regulated chaos or ordered confusion in him. And yet, this success can be temporary and fragile. The human nature is extremely complex, and, ultimately, he is led to understand and harmonize all tendencies, propensities and other operations. The complexity of human nature arises from the fact that there are in the human being those elements which are resultants of the evolutionary process that commences from the inconscience and passes through the subconscience and arrives at the evolution of the body, life and mind and their difficult and complicated junction, which is itself fragile and fluctuating; there is, at the same time, a constant action of what
Sri Aurobindo calls the typal worlds, — worlds of the subtle matter, of life force and of the mind, which are not evolutionary but which belong to the involutionary process as a consequence of which there came about the involution of the consciousness of the superconscient into the Inconscience. These typal worlds radiate influences on the evolutionary process, and they have by their pressure from above, aided the evolutionary emergence of matter, life and the mind. There are, therefore, in every human being, belts of connections between those typal worlds and the evolving human nature. These belts of influences and connections constitute a large part of our consciousness, but because of our exclusive concentration of consciousness in the normal field to which we are limited in various degrees, we are unaware of those operations which result from the interaction between what is evolved and the operations that are radiating from the typal worlds; of that interaction and junction, we are normally unaware, and therefore, the operations, specially of the typal worlds and their influences on ourselves, remain behind the threshold of our consciousness. That realm of interaction and junction is the realm of the subliminal consciousness, and this realm should be distinguished from the realm of the sub- conscious. Just as we are not aware of the subconscious which is below our threshold of consciousness, even so, we are not aware of the subliminal which is behind the threshold of our consciousness. It is in the subliminal that we can discover various grades of Purusha consciousness, each adapted to the evolving grade behind which it presides. The physical self, annamaya Purusa, the vital self, prānamaya Purusa and mental self, manomaya Purusa belong to the subliminal consciousness, and it is only when we are able to penetrate and rend or tear the screen between our surface consciousness
and the subliminal by repeated processes of inward concentration that we can find entry into what may be called the inner kingdoms of consciousness and travel through them until we reach the psychic being or chaitya purusha, which is the inmost being. The more we grow into subliminal consciousness, and the more we are able to have contact with the psychic being, the more are we enabled to become free from the limitations of the egoistic consciousness and to enter into the grades of universal consciousness; and this provides a great aid to the ascent towards the regions of the superconscience.29 Of the superconscience, too, we are unconscious, although from the planes and worlds of superconscience, too, radiations flow into us and contribute in varying degrees to the development of our personality.