In the Gita’s perspective there is a distinction in our perception between the standpoint of the higher nature and the lower nature. The lower nature consists of the manifested universe and for us, that means our individual experience of body, life and mind bound together by an ego-sense. The higher nature is the divine Power manifested by the Supreme in creating this universe. There is also an apparent center of consciousness, the ego-sense or desire-soul which interacts with the lower nature, and there is the true center of consciousness at the level of the divine Purushottama. Inasmuch as all this is one unified creation manifested out of the one universal consciousness by the transcendent Supreme, there must be somewhere within this apparent individual something that connects us with the divine consciousness, and this is called the Jiva, or the inner Soul.
Sri Aurobindo takes this to some depth as he integrates the concept of the Swabhava and Swadharma into this apparent but not totally real division of consciousness: “And first we have to see that the Swabhava means one thing in the highest spiritual nature and takes quite another form and significance in the lower nature of the three Gunas. There too it acts, but is not in full possession of itself, is seeking as it were for its own true law in a half-light or a darkness and goes on its way through many lower forms, many false forms, endless imperfections, perversions, self-losings, self-findings, seekings after norm and rule before it arrives at self-discovery and perfection.”
All this seeking in the outer nature for what our true law of being is, all the struggle we undergo is due to the filtered light of the outer being. “These motions belong, not to the soul, but to the nature. The Purushottama is not limited by this ignorance; he governs it from above and guides the soul through its changes.”
“The real soul of the individual, the central being in us, is greater than these things, but accepts them in its outward evolution in Nature. And when we have got at this real soul, at the changeless universal self sustaining us and at the Purushottama, the Lord within us who presides over and guides the whole action of Nature, we have found all the spiritual meaning of the law of our life.”
At this stage we become conscious of the 4 main powers of manifestation within us, “…a Soul of self-knowledge and world-knowledge, a Soul of strength and power that seeks for and finds and uses its powers, a Soul of mutuality and creation and relation and interchange between creature and creature, a Soul of works that labours in the universe and serves all in each and turns the labour of each to the service of all others. We become aware too of the individual Power of the Divine in us, that which directly uses these fourfold powers, assigns our strain of self-expression, determines our divine work and office and raises us through it all to his universality in manifoldness till we can find by it our spiritual oneness with him and with all that he is in the cosmos.”
Sri Aurobindo, Essays on the Gita, Second Series, Part II, Chapter 20, Swabhava and Swadharma, pp. 503-504