One of the greatest difficulties we face in trying to understand the operation of hidden or occult forces in life is the limitations on our ability to perceive and to know what is actually taking place. Each aspect of our being has its own way of “knowing”. For our lives in the external world we rely heavily on our senses for impulses that carry information to our nervous system and our brains. We are heavily dependent, then, on the accuracy and completeness of the sense perceptions and the ability to correctly interpret what we are sensing. We know already that our senses operate within a certain range on the electro-magnetic spectrum, such that we have a top and bottom range for perceiving colors, objects and sounds, for instance. We also know that some of our sense organs operate on what is called the “all or nothing” principle. For instance, we will not perceive light with our eyes until a certain threshold quanta of photons have impacted and thus met the threshold of perception. We are able to measure and monitor occurrences outside the range of our senses, and thus, know for a fact that radiation, vibration and any information carried by the vibrations are both real and can impact our lives. We know, for instance, that various forms of radiation can cause uncontrolled cellular growth in physical bodies, or can poison the physical body and bring about its death and dissolution.

What we do not know, and what we cannot know with our physical sense organs and the mechanism of our mental structure and process, is what exactly the impact and influence of various forces that exist on the vital, mental, spiritual (or other) planes of existence is upon our own physical, vital, mental and spiritual processes. This does not imply that we can cannot ever know these things, but that our current method of knowing is unable to fully appreciate, understand and judge these things that occur outside our normal range and limits.

It is thus certainly true that the mind and its senses are not the proper instruments to delve into the reality and action of the hidden forces that nevertheless can be shown to exist and impact our lives, as well as those that are not yet measurable by any means currently at our disposal. Thus, new forms of “knowing” must be developed and relied upon in order to carry out this exploration into the hidden forces of life.

Dr. Dalal notes: “Our difficulty in discovering the forces of life is due to the nature of the normal or ordinary consciousness of the human being at the present point of his evolution. For the ordinary consciousness, which is mental, can apprehend things only through the sensorium, that is, the sensory and intellectual apparatus. Consequently, our knowledge of forces is indirect and limited to what the senses can perceive of the outward effects of forces and the intellectual inferences that can be drawn from such sensory perceptions. As Sri Aurobindo explains:”

“The ordinary consciousness is that in which one knows things only or mainly by the intellect, the external mind and the senses and knows forces etc. only by their outward manifestations and results and the rest by inferences from these data. There may be some play of mental intuition, deeper psychic seeing or impulsions, spiritual intimations, etc. — but in the ordinary consciousness these are incidental only and do not modify its fundamental character.”

Sri Aurobindo and the Mother, The Hidden Forces of Life, Preface, pg. ix

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 19 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.
More information about Sri Aurobindo can be found at
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