Most of us live our lives predominantly on the surface of our being, with the surface mind, surface vital and surface physical beings in the forefront, reacting to the pressures of life and the impulses of desire and fear, attractiona and repulsion on a more or less mechanical basis. The transformation that Sri Aurobindo has envisioned requires, however, that we move the center of our being, and thus, the motive impulsion, to the inner being, away from this surface personality. “For to stand outside on our surface and to receive from the inner being and follow its intimations is not a sufficient transformation; one must cease to be the surface personality and become the inner Person, the Purusha.”
The force of habitual action, along with the natural fixation on the objects of desire sought by the surface personality, make it difficult to make this conversion from outer to inner directedness.
The difficulty is further enhanced by the gulf between the outer and the inner being, and the intervening layers of subliminal mind, life and physical which have their own corresponding impulsions and seekings, which are not usually in full agreement with the psychic pressure.
“The outer nature has to undergo a change of poise, a quieting, a purification and fine mutation of its substance and energy by which the many obstacles in it rarefy, drop away or otherwise disappear; it then becomes possible to pass through to the depths of our being and from the depths so reached a new consciousness can be formed, both behind the exterior self and in it, joining the depths to the surface. There must grow up within us or there must manifest a consciousness more and more laid bare to the cosmic Self and Power and to what comes down from the Transcendence, turned to a higher Peace, permeable to a greater light, force and ecstasy, a consciousness that exceeds the small personality and surpasses the limited light and experience of the surface mind, the limited force and aspiration of the normal life-consciousness, the obscure and limited responsiveness of the body.”
Sri Aurobindo, The Life Divine, Book 2, Part 2, Chapter 25, “The Triple Transformation”