Sri Aurobindo points out that the ego, despite its overwhelming central position to our surface consciousness, is just the “tip of the iceberg” when it comes to the real movement of consciousness and energy in and through our being. “But the moment we study ourselves, we find that the self-experience which we thus co-ordinate and consciously utilise for life, is a small part even of our waking individual consciousness. We fasten only upon a very limited number of the mental sensations and perceptions of self and things which come up into our surface consciousness in our continual present: of these again memory saves up only a scanty part from the oblivious gulf of the past; of the storings of memory our intelligence utilises only a small portion for co-ordinated knowledge, our will utilises a smaller percentage for action. A narrow selection, a large rejection or reservation, a miserly-spendthrift system of waste of material and unemployment of resources and a scanty and disorderly modicum of useful spending and utilisable balance seems to be the method of Nature in our conscious becoming even as it is in the field of the material universe.”
While this is what the self-observation shows, the fact remains that nothing of the “wasted” or “unused” material is actually wasted; rather it works subliminally, subconsciously or unconsciously and remains available for recombination into new forms and directions which we, in our ego-consciousness, believe we are inventing, but which in actual fact we are predominantly obtaining from materials secretly stored deep within and bringing forward in newly blended formulations.
Sri Aurobindo concludes: “We are not only what we know of ourselves but an immense more which we do not know; our momentary personality is only a bubble on the ocean of our existence.”
Sri Aurobindo, The Life Divine, Book 2, Part I, Chapter 11, The Boundaries of the Ignorance, pp. 554-555