The Desire-Mind and the Soul

The influence of the vital prana on the emotional mind overwhelms the ability to express pure, clear and undistorted emotional energy. The human being is thus dominated by the wash of conflicting emotional reactions, joy and sorrow, love and hate, anger, jealousy, as well as all kinds of hopes and dreams and aspirations. Because of the identification of the ego-personality with this array of emotions, the individual tends to treat this as an expression of his uniqueness, and of his “soul”.

Sri Aurobindo observes that this surface reaction is not actually the true soul in man: “But the real soul, the real psychic entity which for the most part we see little of and only a small minority of mankind has developed, is an instrument of pure love, joy and the luminous reaching out to fusion and unity with God and our fellow-creatures. This psychic entity is covered up by the play of the mentalised Prana or desire-mind which we mistake for the soul; the emotional mind is unable to mirror the real soul in us, the Divine in our hearts, and is obliged instead to mirror the desire-mind.”

This is an important distinction as the more deeply the individual attaches himself to this surface play of emotional reactions, the less is he able to channel the pure energy stemming from the divine standpoint and respond with an equal and radiant goodwill to all. We can see the action of the vital energy infiltrating the emotional sheath of the being as the cause of this mis-identification. This understanding can aid the seeker in eventually discovering the true soul and heeding its quiet promptings in all fields of life and action.

The ancient texts define the soul as no bigger than the thumb of a man, and residing deep in the inner heart, for the most part unseen, unheard, and unheeded in the outward rush of the senses, the vital reactions, the emotions and the mind.

Sri Aurobindo, The Synthesis of Yoga, Part Two: The Yoga of Integral Knowledge, Chapter 8, The Release from the Heart and the Mind, pg. 336