The physical body acts both as a limiting factor to knowledge and a protective sheath that walls off the levels of consciousness that arise from the actions of the vital, mental, psychic and spiritual planes, with their corresponding powers of action and risks for those who are not prepared to address what they bring forward. We see numerous instances where individuals have inadvertently found themselves, wholly unprepared, suddenly exposed to vital forces or universal powers far beyond their normal level of awareness, with corresponding psychological imbalances resulting from that contact. This may include sudden exposure to past or future lives or events.
For the spiritual seeker, who is both preparing his psychological foundation for the development of new levels and powers of awareness and consciousness, the dangers still exist, but can be mitigated to the degree that balance and understanding temper the influx of new forces. The opening of the psychical consciousness, in particular, brings the capacities of the being to new frontiers, due to the ability of this level to interact with the universal being, or as C.G. Jung would term it (although unduly limiting the scope by his definition), the “collective unconscious”.
Sri Aurobindo notes: “The knowledge of our past lives, — whether of past soul states or personalities or scenes, occurrences, relations with others, — of the past lives of others, of the past of the world, of the future, of present things that are beyond the range of our physical senses or the reach of any means of knowledge open to the surface intelligence, the intuition and impressions not only of physical things, but of the working of a past and present and future mind and life and soul in ourselves and others, the knowledge not only of this world but of other worlds or planes of consciousness and their manifestations in time and of their intervention and workings and effects on the earth and its embodied souls and their destinies, lies open to our psychical being, because it is close to the intimations of the universal, not engrossed only or mainly with the immediate and not shut up into the narrow circle of the purely personal and physical experience.”
Most people have no idea about the influences that impinge on their thoughts, desires, impulses and physical lives, but which originate in the planes or reaches of consciousness outside the framework of the physical awareness of the mind and senses. The opening of the psychical being to the universal brings with it the potential to recognize these occult and hidden drivers that influence our physical lives and directions.
Sri Aurobindo, The Synthesis of Yoga, Part Four: The Yoga of Self-Perfection, Chapter 25, Towards the Supramental Time Vision , pg. 863