Many people hold that the truth of existence is an “either/or” proposition. If the universal forces create all of existence, then the individual is essentially an illusory conception; and on the other hand, if the individual is a real and separate entity, then the universal is somehow denied or disproven. It is however not necessary to go to either of these two extremes in our understanding of our existence in relation to the universal manifestation. Sri Aurobindo resolves this conflict in chapter 4 of The Life Divine, a chapter titled ‘Reality Omnipresent”. The universal is real and each individual form, formation or being is also real, being constituted of and being a nexus of the action for the universal forces. The individual is not wholly separate and independent but is part and parcel of that universal creation, dependent on it and the forces that manifest, for his own existence.

There is a constant interchange taking place between this ‘nexus’ in the form of an individual being or formation, and the universal forces that are acting to create the existence we experience. These larger forces act upon us and condition and drive our responses and actions. Because they are not obviously palpable to our external senses in a direct way, we tend to know them primarily through their effects. There is however an intervening “buffer” that acts to receive the external impacts, and this is the aura or vital envelope. As a person becomes more able to experience the impacts on the aura, he is able to begin to have direct knowledge of the interchange that is taking place and thereby work to accept, modify or reject the action of some of these forces.

Sri Aurobindo writes: “Each man has his own personal consciousness entrenched in his body and gets into touch with his surroundings only through his body and senses and the mind using the senses.”

“Yet all the time the universal forces are pouring into him without his knowing it. He is aware only of thoughts, feelings, etc., that rise to the surface and these he takes for his own. Really they come from outside in mind waves, vital waves, waves of feeling and sensation, etc., which take particular form in him and rise to the surface after they have got inside.”

“But they do not get into his body at once. He carries about with him an environmental consciousness (called by the Theosophists the Aura) into which they first enter. If you can become conscious of this environmental self of yours, then you can catch the thought, passion, suggestion or force of illness and prevent it from entering into you. If things in you are thrown out, they often do not go altogether but take refuge in this environmental atmosphere and from there they try to get in again. Or they go to a distance outside but linger on the outskirts or even perhaps far off, waiting till they get an opportunity to attempt entrance.”

Sri Aurobindo and the Mother, The Hidden Forces of Life, Ch. 4 Cosmic and Universal Forces, pp. 82-83

Author's Bio: 

Santosh has been studying Sri Aurobindo's writings since 1971 and has a daily blog at and podcast located 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.
Video presentations, interviews and podcast episodes are all available on the YouTube Channel
More information about Sri Aurobindo can be found at
The US editions and links to e-book editions of Sri Aurobindo’s writings can be found at Lotus Press