Life and death cycles

    In one of his numerous letters to his disciples written in answer to their queries, Sri Aurobindo says:   “I mean by the psychic the inmost soul-being and the soul-nature. This is not the sense in which the word is used in ordinary parlance, or rather, if it is so used, it is with great vagueness and much-misprision of the true nature of this soul and it is given a wide extension of meaning which carries it far beyond that province. All phenomena of an abnormal or supernormal psychological or an occult character are dubbed psychic…  though these things have nothing whatever to do with the psychic….. There is a constant confusion between the mentalised desire-soul which is a creation of the vital urge in man, of his life-force seeking for its fulfillment and the true soul which is a spark of the Divine Fire, a portion of the Divine. Because the soul, the psychic being uses the mind and the vital as well as the body as instruments for growth and experience, it is itself looked at as if it were some amalgam or some subtle substratum of mind and life. But in Yoga if we accept all this chaotic mass as soul-stuff or soul-movement we shall enter into confusion without an issue.”

  He says in another of his letters:   “What is meant in the terminology of the yoga by the psychic is the soul element in the nature, the pure psyche or divine nucleus which stands behind mind, life and body (it is not the ego) but of which we are only dimly aware. It is a portion of the divine and permanent from life to life, taking the experience of life through its outer instruments (i.e. mind, vital and physical body).

  “People do not understand what I mean by the psychic being, because the word psychic has been used in English to mean anything of the inner mental, inner vital or inner physical or anything abnormal or occult or even the more subtle movements of the outer being, all in a jumble; also occult phenomena are often called psychic.

  “The distinction between these parts of the being is unknown. Even in India the old knowledge of the Upanishads in which they are distinguished has been lost. The Jivatman, the psychic being (Purusha Antaratman), the Manomaya Purusha, the Pranmaya Purusha are all confused together.

  “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 the 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 mean 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…..

  “The psychic being may be described in Indian language as the Purusha in the heart or the Chaitya Purusha, but the inner or secret heart must be understood, hrdaye  guhayam, not the outer vital-emotional centre.”

  The Mother in answer to the question:   “Are the soul and the psychic being one and the same thing” says thus: “This depends on the definition you give to the words. In most religions, and perhaps in most philosophies also, it is the vital being which is called “soul”, for it is said that “the soul leaves the body”, while it is the vital being which leaves the body. One speaks of “saving the soul”… but all that applies to the vital being, for the psychic being has no need to be saved! It does not share the faults of the external person; it is free from all reaction.”

  Sri Aurobindo says:   “At a certain stage in the Yoga when the mind is sufficiently quieted and no longer supports itself at every step on the sufficiency of its mental certitude, when the vital has been steadied and subdued and is no longer constantly insistent on its own rash will, demand and desire, when the physical has been sufficiently altered not to bury altogether the inner flame under the mass of its outward ness, obscurity or inertia, an inmost being hidden within and felt only in its rare influences is able to come forward and illumine the rest and take up the lead of the Sadhana Its action is like a searchlight showing up all that has to be changed in the nature; it has in it a flame of will insistent on perfection, on an alchemic transmutation of all the inner and outer existence. It sees the divine essence everywhere but rejects the mere mask and the disguising figure.”

  He further says: “What is meant by (the psychic’s) coming to the front is simply this. The psychic ordinarily is deep within. Very few people are aware of their souls – when they speak of their soul, they usually mean the vital + mental being or else the (false) soul of desire.

  “The psychic remains behind and acts only through the mind, vital and physical wherever it can. For this reason the psychic being except where it is very much developed has only a small and partial, concealed and mixed or diluted influence on the life of most men. By coming forward is meant that it comes from behind the veil, its presence is felt already in the waking daily consciousness, its influence fills, dominates, transforms the mind and vital and their movements, even the physical. One is aware of one’s soul, feels the psychic to be one’s true being, the mind and the rest begin to be only instruments of the inmost within us.”

  The Mother says:  “In the ordinary life there’s not one person in a million who has a conscious contact with his psychic being, even momentarily. The psychic being may work within, but so invisibly and unconsciously for the outer being that it is as though it did not exist. And in most cases, the immense majority, almost the totality of cases, it is as though it were asleep. Not at all active, (it is) in a kind of torpor.

  “It is only with the sadhana and a very persistent effort that one succeeds in having a conscious contact with his psychic being. Naturally, it is possible that there are exceptional cases – but this is truly exceptional, and they are so few that they could be counted – where the psychic being is an entirely formed, liberated being, master of itself, which has chosen to return to earth in a human body in order to do its work. …

  “In almost, almost all cases, a very sustained effort is needed to become aware of one’s psychic being. Usually it is considered that if one can do it in thirty years one is very lucky – thirty years of sustained effort, I say. It may happen that it’s quicker. But this is so rare that immediately one says, “This is not an ordinary human being”. That is the case of people who have been considered more or less divine beings and who were great yogis, great initiates.”

  The Mother says:  “In rebirth it is not the external being, that which is formed by parents, environment and circumstances – the mental, the vital and the physical being that is born again: it is only the psychic being that passes from body to body. Logically, then, neither the mental nor the vital being can remember past lives or recognize itself in the character or mode of life of this or that person. The psychic being alone can remember; and it is by becoming conscious of our psychic being that we can have at the same time exact impressions about our past lives.”

  She says:   “The psychic being may be made centre for self-unification: The work of unifying the being consists of:-

  1. Becoming aware of one’s psychic being.

  2. Putting before the psychic being, as one becomes aware of them, all one’s movements, impulses, thoughts and acts of will, so that the psychic being may accept or reject each of these movements, impulses or acts of will. Those that are accepted will be kept and carried out; those that are rejected will be driven out of the consciousness so that they may never come back again.”

   She again says:  “If we truly want to progress and acquire the capacity of knowing the truth of our being, that is to say, what we are truly created for, what we can call our mission upon earth, then we must, in a very regular and constant manner, reject from us whatever contradicts the truth of our existence, whatever is opposed to it. In this way, little by little, all the parts, all the elements of our being can be organized into a homogeneous whole around our psychic centre. This work of unification requires much time to be brought to some degree of perfection. Therefore, in order to accomplish it, we must arm ourselves with patience and endurance, with a determination to prolong our life as long as necessary for the success of our endeavor….

  “In various times and places many methods have been prescribed for attaining this perception and ultimately achieving this identification. Some methods are psychological, some religious, some even mechanical. In reality, everyone has to find the one which suits him best, and if one has an ardent and steadfast aspiration, a persistent and dynamic will, one is sure to meet, in one way or another – outwardly through reading and study, inwardly through concentration, meditation, revelation and experience – the help one needs to reach the goal. Only one thing is absolutely indispensable: the will to discover and to realize. This discovery and realization should be the primary preoccupation of our being, the part of great price which we must acquire at any cost.

  “Whatever you do, whatever your occupation and activities, the will to find the truth of your being and to unite with it must be always living and present behind all that you do, all that you feel, all that you think.”

  Sri Aurobindo says:   “There are a thousand ways of approaching and realizing the Divine and each way has its own experiences which have their own truth and stand really on a basis one in essence but complex in aspects, common to all but not expressed in the same way by all. There is not much use in discussing these variations; the important thing is to follow one’s own way well and thoroughly.”

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