The Desire-Soul and the True Soul in Man

There is virtually always a great deal of confusion, and struggle, associated with opening the “path of the heart” to the yogic process. This is caused by the distortions of the surface personality and the attachment to the normal and natural desires and emotions of the human being and the remnants of the animal nature still active in our humanity. Sri Aurobindo describes this as the “desire-soul”: “For there is in front in men a heart of vital emotions similar to the animal’s, if more variously developed; its emotions are governed by egoistic passion, blind instinctive affections and all the play of the life-impulses with their imperfections, perversions, often sordid degradations,–heart besieged and given over to the lusts, desires, wraths, intense or fierce demands or little greeds and mean pettinesses of an obscure and fallen life-force and debased by its slavery to any and every impulse. This mixture of the emotive heart and the sensational hungering vital creates in man a false soul of desire; it is this that is the crude and dangerous element which the reason rightly distrusts and feels a need to control, even though the actual control or rather coercion it succeeds in establishing over our raw and insistent vital nature remains always very uncertain and deceptive.”

Sri Aurobindo contrasts this with the true soul, the psychic being: “…a silent inmost being of which few are even aware; for if all have a soul, few are conscious of their true soul or feel its direct impulse. There dwells the little spark of the Divine which supports this obscure mass of our nature and around it grows the psychic being, the formed soul or the real Man within us. It is as this psychic being in him grows and the movements of the heart reflect its divinations and impulsions that man becomes more and more aware of his soul, ceases to be a superior animal, and, awakening to glimpses of the godhead within him, admits more and more its intimations of a deeper life and consciousness and an impulse towards things divine. It is one of the decisive moments of the integral Yoga when this psychic being liberated, brought out from the veil to the front, can pour the full flood of its divinations, seeings and impulsions on the mind, life and body of man and begin to prepare the upbuilding of divinity in the earthly nature.”

It is the role of the seeker to begin to understand the difference between this surface soul of desire and the deeper true soul of the psychic being, to differentiate the impulsions and promptings each of them sends, and to choose those that originate in the deeper true soul, the divine spark, in the “secret heart-cave” of the being.

Sri Aurobindo, The Synthesis of Yoga, Part One: The Yoga of Divine Works, Chapter 5, The Ascent of the Sacrifice-1, The Works of Knowledge–The Psychic Being, pp. 140-141

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