The Witness Poise of the Purusha

For most people, the intertwined relationship of Purusha and Prakriti means that there is very little leverage or ability by the Soul to take charge of and manage the reactions of the nature. There is also very little possibility of self-examination and reflection until a more evolved mental consciousness is able to express itself in the being. Sri Aurobindo notes that when the mental consciousness develops, a true subjective separation of Purusha and Prakriti into a “witness consciousness” and an “executive force” becomes possible. This represents an important stage in the enhancement to the evolutionary process that Yoga represents.

“The mental Purusha is naturally able in its own native principle of mind to detach itself, as we have seen, from the workings of its Prakriti and there is then a division of our being between a consciousness that observes and can reserve its will-power and an energy full of the substance of consciousness that takes the forms of knowledge, will and feeling. This detachment gives at its highest a certain freedom from the compulsion of the soul by its mental nature. For ordinarily we are driven and carried along in the stream of our own and the universal active energy partly floundering in its waves, partly maintaining and seeming to guide or at least propel ourselves by a collected thought and an effort of the mental will muscle; but now there is a part of ourselves, nearest to the pure essence of self, which is free from the stream, can quietly observe and to a certain extent decide its immediate movement and course and to a greater extent its ultimate direction. The Purusha can at last act upon the Prakriti from half apart, from behind or from above her as a presiding person or presence,…, by the power of sanction and control inherent in the spirit.”

Sri Aurobindo, The Synthesis of Yoga, Part Four: The Yoga of Self-Perfection, Chapter 16, The Divine Shakti, pg. 729