The Emergence of the Soul and the Evolution of Consciousness

Sri Aurobindo observes in The Life Divine:  “But there is the other, the invisible factor; there is rebirth, the progress of the soul by ascent from grade to grade of the evolving existence, and in the grades to higher and higher types of bodily and mental instrumentation.  In this progression the psychic entity is still veiled, even in man the conscious mental being, by its instruments, by mind and life and body; it is unable to manifest fully, held back from coming to the front where it can stand out as the master of its nature, obliged to submit to a certain determination by the instruments, to a domination of Purusha by Prakriti.  But in man the psychic part of the personality is able to develop with a much greater rapidity than in the inferior creation, and a time can arrive when the soul entity is close to the point at which it will emerge from behind the veil into the open and become the master of its instrumentation in Nature.  But this will mean that the secret indwelling spirit, the Daemon, the Godhead within is on the point of emergence; and, when it emerges, it can hardly be doubted that its demand will be, as indeed it already is in the mind itself when it undergoes the inner psychic influence, for a diviner, a more spiritual existence.  In the nature of the earth life where the mind is an instrument of the Ignorance, this can only be effected by a change of consciousness, a transition from the mental to a supramental consciousness, a supramental instrumentation of Nature.”

The term “psychic” has been used differently in the West than its use by Sri Aurobindo.  The psychic being, or psychic entity is the soul-being in man, and it is the part that responds directly to the Divine in the creation, and focuses the energies of mind, life and body on the higher evolutionary purpose.  It is the true soul, not the “desire soul”.  The desire soul is the superficial being that we generally identify ourselves with, our ego-personality trying to fulfill the desires that arise from the urges of body, life and mind.  The true soul has its focus and aspiration towards the higher development and the goal of acting from the standpoint of Oneness.  When it comes forward and takes charge of the actions of the being, it can bring about substantive changes in viewpoint and focus.  The mind, life and body then become instruments of its action.

The first stage, during which it has not yet fully come forward, is to exert an influence on the mind and emotions of the being.  This influence leads the individual to begin to adjust his value-set, his actions and reactions to correspond with the soul’s guidance.  At a certain stage, when the instruments are sufficiently prepared, the soul can actually take direct charge and the individual will undergo what may appear to be a total “reversal of consciousness” with a new focus, direction, significance and aspiration taking over the being.  This process is not necessarily limited to those who espouse a religious conviction.  There is the famous story of the great sage Valmiki, the author of the Ramayana, who was a dacoit (thief, criminal) before undergoing a conversion in his standpoint.

For an individual undergoing the psychic influence or emergence, one will note a falling away of desire for wealth, status, fame or any worldly success of any sort, for their own sake, and a corresponding rise in aspiration for the Divine, for Light, for Oneness, for spiritual freedom.  Eventually the life focus is entirely changed as also the standpoint as the individual moves from the egoistic to the divine standpoint in seeing and reacting to the events, actions, and beings he encounters in life.

Sri Aurobindo, The Future Evolution of Man, Chapter Two, The Place of Man in Evolution, pp. 5-13

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