As we live our lives, we focus on the outer circumstances of our existence, our hunger and thirst, our needs, our desires, our education, our careers, our interests and desire for entertainment, our attraction to others and creation of families, and our religious or philosophical idea-sets. There is little room here for the soul to emerge, as we have occupied our lives with all of these things and feel content. At some point, however, when the experiences of life have brought about the needed development of body, life and mind, another process begins to occur. There may be some unusual revelation, such as a near-death experience. Someone may be struck by lightning! For others, however, there can be a subtle touch or influence felt from an experience of a beautiful piece of music, or through time spent in nature, or through contact with an individual who is in touch with the soul element in his or her own life. However it comes, this initial contact begins to assert itself in a search for meaning, in an attempt to understand the deeper wellsprings of existence that we had heretofore ignored. From that point forward, the soul uses various opportunities to come forward, and various experiences take place to guide the individual to a new standpoint and a new basis of understanding his existence.
Sri Aurobindo writes in The Life Divine: “A first condition of the soul’s complete emergence is a direct contact in the surface being with the spiritual Reality. Because it comes from that, the psychic element in us turns always towards whatever in phenomenal Nature seems to belong to a higher Reality and can be accepted as its sign and character. At first, it seeks this Reality through the good, the true, the beautiful, through all that is pure and fine and high and noble: but although this touch through outer signs and characters can modify and prepare the nature, it cannot entirely or most inwardly and profoundly change it. For such an inmost change the direct contact with the Reality itself is indispensable since nothing else can so deeply touch the foundations of our being and stir it or cast the nature by its stir into a ferment of transmutation. Mental representations, emotional and dynamic figures have their use and value; Truth, Good and Beauty are in themselves primary and potent figures of the Reality, and even in their forms as seen by the mind, as felt by the heart, as realised in the life can be lines of an ascent: but it is in a spiritual substance and being of them and of itself that That which they represent has to come into our experience.”