So long as we try to identify ourselves with the surface ego-based personality we remain ignorant of the real magnitude of the transformation that needs to occur. Also, we find that we cannot effectuate real change, as the attempt to change the surface ideas, desires, emotions or physical reactions neither has the ability to succeed, nor does it take into account the underlying issues. The subconscious element carries all kinds of habitual patterns and reactions that have been built into the human psyche for millenia, many of which are carried forward from the past animal evolutionary stage. But there is also more than just a subconscient sink. There are also levels that are subliminal and act outside our conscious range of perception, even if they have connection to a deeper or wider existence of which we are a part. There is also a circumconscient existence as we do not exist in a vacuum, but are part of a larger life, the forces of which impinge upon us and to which we subliminally respond. And then there is the superconscient realms of a wider and larger existence which is pressing upon us and calling us to exceed ourselves in this evolutionary growth pattern.
To truly begin to understand ourselves, we needs must recognize the complexity of these various planes of our existence, their interplay, their secret impact on the surface personality which we tend to believe is our “real” self of which we can gain some control!
Sri Aurobindo explores this issue: “Our visible life and the actions of that life are no more than a series of significant expressions, but that which it tries to express is not on the surface; our existence is something much larger than this apparent frontal being which we suppose ourselves to be and which we offer to the world around us. This frontal and external being is a confused amalgam of mind-formations, life-movements, physical functionings of which even an exhaustive analysis into its component parts and machinery fails to reveal the whole secret.”
“It is all this latent experience and knowledge that the Divine Force working upon us by our opening to it in the integral Yoga, progressively reveals to us, uses and works out the consequences as means and steps towards a transformation of our whole being and nature. Our life is thenceforth no longer a little rolling wave on the surface, but interpenetrant if not coincident with the cosmic life. Our spirit, our self rises not only into an inner identity with some wide cosmic Self but into some contact with that which is beyond, though aware of and dominant over the action of the universe.”
Sri Aurobindo, The Synthesis of Yoga, Part One: The Yoga of Divine Works, Chapter 6, The Ascent of the Sacrifice-2, The Works of Love–The Works of Life, pp. 170-172