As long as we remain on the surface of our being, and rely entirely on the physical senses and the nervous system of the vital being and the mental processes focused on these outer sensations, actions and phenomena, the inner depths of our being remain hidden from us, occult, and not quite treated as real.
Western researchers, including notable C.G. Jung, dedicated their life work to coming into contact with the inner realms of being and identifying how these inner planes impacted our outer life. As a result of his research, Jung determined there was a ‘collective unconscious’ that had a storehouse of images and experiences which secretly acted upon the outer nature. There are many in traditional cultures who go on what are sometimes called “vision quests” where they seek to leave behind the surface perceptions and experience realms that operate to influence and control the outer life, but which remain, for the most part, unseen. Yogis and sages, through the processes of meditation and yogic practices, have sought to contact this inner realm of being and shift the standpoint there.
The surface consciousness has very little, if any, direct appreciation of the occult forces at work to shape its perceptions and actions. It is influenced by forces that work indirectly in many cases. The inner being is in touch with these forces and has the ability to see them at work and respond to them directly. Some people, who are sensitive and attuned to the inner being, can sense other beings nearby, can sense vital forces impinging upon them, and can experience thoughts entering from outside. The practice of yoga, which is a form of applied psychology, can open the individual to an appreciation of these inner realms.
Sri Aurobindo observes: “The inner being is composed of the inner mental, the inner vital, the inner physical. The psychic is the inmost supporting all the others. Usually it is in the inner mental that this separation first happens and it is the inner mental Purusha who remains silent, observing the Prakriti as separate from himself. But it may also be the inner vital Purusha or inner physical or else without location simply the whole Purusha consciousness separate from the whole Prakriti. Sometimes it is felt above the head, but then it is usually spoken of as the Atman and the realisation is that of the silent Self.”
Sri Aurobindo, Integral Yoga: Sri Aurobindo’s Teaching and Method of Practice, Chapter 7, Experiences and Realisations, The Witness Consciousness, pp. 179-181