The Nature of the Soul’s Action

For a long period of our evolution, the soul or psychic being remains deeply hidden and its action is for the most part indirect, sending guidance or intimations in the form of intuitions, influences, suggestions to the surface nature composed of body, life and mind. These surface formations in some cases are able to respond to the quiet prodding or guidance provided by the soul, and in others, they simply disregard or modify these quiet urgings to take the form and shape of their native action in their own field. Depending on the ascendency of the vital ego or the mental formation of the individual, the promptings of the soul may be overwhelmed by the action of the force of desire or mental formations which block true psychic guidance. All of this leads many to simply try to deny the existence of the soul, or to disregard its true action and role in the evolutionary process.

Sri Aurobindo explains the role and nature of the soul’s action as follows: “For the psychic part within is there to support the natural evolution, and the first natural evolution must be the development of body, life and mind, successively, and these must act each in its own kind or together in their ill-assorted partnership in order to grow and have experience and evolve. The soul gathers the essence of all our mental, vital and bodily experience and assimilates it for the farther evolution of our existence in Nature; but this action is occult and not obtruded on the surface. In the early material and vital stages of the evolution of being there is indeed no consciousness of soul; there are psychic activities, but the instrumentation, the form of these activities are vital and physical,–or mental when the mind is active. For even the mind, so long as it is primitive or is developed but still too external, does not recognise their deeper character. It is easy to regard ourselves as physical beings or beings of life or mental beings using life and body and to ignore the existence of the soul altogether: for the only definite idea that we have of the soul is of something that survives the death of our bodies; but what this is we do not know because even if we are conscious sometimes of its presence, we are not normally conscious of its distinct reality nor do we feel clearly its direct action in our nature.”

Sri Aurobindo, The Life Divine, Book 2, Part 2, Chapter 25, “The Triple Transformation”

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