We identify with our ego-personality and consider ourselves to be both unique and whole, but in reality, the ego-personality is a construct that is made up of a number of different levels and aspects of our being that exercise a varying amount of influence on the eventual life we lead. There is the physical body which has its own capacities and incapacities, needs and basic habits of action. This conditions things like the diet we eat, the sleep and waking needs, the responsiveness of the body to demands put on it, and the basic immune system resistance that allows it to withstand assaults from influences that otherwise seek to weaken or destroy the body. There is the vital-nervous sheath that builds up both our sense perceptions and our nervous response to outer impacts, as well as habits and desires that drive action in the world. Greed and fear stem from this desire-being and modify physical attraction and repulsion forces as they occur on the vital level. Emotional responsiveness has elements of both the vital being and the mental being. The mental being layers in ideas, conceptual frameworks that are learned through the process of growth and education, and any focus developed as a result of the mind directing itself towards inner awareness and growth, as well as the attempt of the mind to influence the vital and physical aspects of the being. The conscious mind frequently considers itself to be the primary motive force in our being, and thereby masks the action of the soul as it filters the influence through its own processes and predilections.
What we think of, then, as our unified personality, is actually a compromise action made up of these three aspects of our being, and, to some degree, depending on the status of the soul-evolution of the being, influenced by the psychic being, which works to loosen the bonds of the ego-personality and align us with the higher divine purpose of existence, and, as possible, influence the body-life-mind elements to carry out the soul’s bidding.
Sri Aurobindo observes in The Life Divine: “Man is in his self a unique Person, but he is also in his manifestation of self a multiperson; he will never succeed in being master of himself until the Person imposes itself on his multipersonality and governs it: but this can only be imperfectly done by the surface mental will and reason; it can be perfectly done only if he goes within and finds whatever central being is by its predominant influence at the head of all his expression and action. In inmost truth it is his soul that is this central being, but in outer fact it is often one or other of the part beings in him that rules, and this representative of the soul, this deputy self he can mistake for the inmost soul principle.”