Many spiritual practitioners have realized that the external life we customarily lead is a life of ‘illusion’, and that it is based in a flawed view of reality. This does not mean that our life, existence and action has no real significance; rather, that the way we define our lives, based on the external focus of the body-life-mind complex, is simply inaccurate and leads us to draw incomplete and inaccurate conclusions.

Some of the spiritual paths use this starting point of the illusory nature of the world to suggest that we abandon that world and take up a sole focus on the realisation of our spiritual reality and truth of existence. They in effect ask those who heed the call of the Spirit to deny the outer life’s demands, minimize their needs, and spend time in focus on that deeper truth and reality of our existence.

Other spiritual paths, however, recognise that the Spirit is not divorced from the external world of Matter, Life and Mind, and that we must therefore find a way to integrate our spiritual purpose with our external lives. This is only possible because there is oneness that, while hidden in the background during the development and growth of the material, vital and mental principles of the manifestation, still remains a reality. This oneness remains known and intact through the medium of the soul and the growth of the psychic being or soul-presence as the evolution of consciousness proceeds.

The role of the soul is to develop the external being and preparing it for a direct and complete expression of the Divine Truth of existence. This process is one that takes place over time as a growth and maturation process, and as the body-life-mind complex becomes ready to express the light, power and Ananda of the Divine, the soul also continues to gain in maturity, power of action and ability to express its focus through those instruments of the outer nature.

Sri Aurobindo notes: “The psychic part of us is something that comes direct from the Divine and is in touch with the Divine. In its origin it is the nucleus pregnant with divine possibilities that supports this lower triple manifestation of mind, life and body. There is this divine element in all living beings, but it stands hidden behind the ordinary consciousness, is not at first developed and, even when developed, is not always or often in the front; it expresses itself, so far as the imperfection of the instruments allows, by their means and under their limitations. It grows in the consciousness by Godward experience, gaining strength every time there is a higher movement in us, and, finally, by the accumulation of these deeper and higher movements, there is developed a psychic individuality, — that which we call usually the psychic being. It is always this psychic being that is the real, though often the secret cause of man’s turning to the spiritual life and his greatest help in it. It is therefore that which we have to bring from behind to the front in the yoga.”

Sri Aurobindo and the Mother, The Hidden Forces of Life, Ch. 2 Hidden Forces Within, pp. 49-50

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 20 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.
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