The transformation from the human individual confined and limited by the mind-life-body which he inhabits to that of a spiritual being starts with the recognition of the soul, which Sri Aurobindo also calls the “psychic being” which is the actual entity that utilizes the instrumental functions of mind-life-body to undertake its experience, growth and development. The soul, or psychic being, survives the death of the body and, due to its being a portion of the Divine, it partakes of the knowledge, the power, the bliss and the inherent purity of the Divine, regardless of the weaknesses, limitations or failings of the bodily instruments.
Many people believe that human beings are inherently “sinful”, are born into “original sin” and are separated from God. In Sri Aurobindo’s view, the soul is forever pure, not bound in “sin” and one with the Divine, regardless of the actions or inaction of the outer being fixated on its own egoistic fulfillment and satisfaction.
This view sets forth the rationale for this first step in the transformation from the mental being inhabiting a living body, to a soul-being utilizing mind, life and body for its own purposes. The recognition of Oneness with the Divine comes about when the soul finally can come forward and takes it place as the key element in the evolutionary process which is developing in the world.
Sri Aurobindo observes in The Life Divine: “At the beginning the soul in Nature, the psychic entity, whose unfolding is the first step towards a spiritual change, is an entirely veiled part of us, although it is that by which we exist and persist as individual beings in Nature. The other parts of our natural composition are not only mutable but perishable; but the psychic entity in us persists and is fundamentally the same always: it contains all essential possibilities of our manifestation but is not constituted by them; it is not limited by what it manifests, not contained by the incomplete forms of the manifestation, not tarnished by the imperfections and impurities, the defects and deprivations of the surface being. It is an ever-pure flame of the divinity in things and nothing that comes to it, nothing that enters into our experience can pollute its purity or extinguish the flame. This spiritual stuff is immaculate and luminous and, because it is perfectly luminous, it is immediately, intimately, directly aware of truth of being and truth of nature; it is deeply conscious of truth and good and beauty because truth and good and beauty are akin to its own native character, forms of something that is inherent in its own substance. It is aware also of all that contradicts these things, of all that deviates from its own native character, of falsehood and evil and the ugly and the unseemly; but it does not become these things nor is it touched or changed by these opposites of itself which so powerfully affect its outer instrumentation of mind, life and body. For the soul, the permanent being in us, puts forth and uses mind, life and body as its instruments, undergoes the envelopment of their conditions, but it is other and greater than its members.”