The Surface Personality Is Not the Real Self of Our Existence

Development in our world of existence takes place in a sequential manner, systematically developing the physical framework, the body, and then manifesting the vital, life-force and developing its powers, adding in thereafter the mental layer and subsequently, we see the signs that further stages of evolutionary development follow after the framework is in place. This implies, however, that these further stages, the spiritual consciousness, the supramental powers, are inherent aspects in the growth and development of consciousness in the world. We can see throughout nature that a similar pattern of systematic development occurs. The tree begins with a seed, and the physical form and vital force develop from there, eventually coming to the point where the tree flowers and yields its fruits or seeds and perpetuates life through the process. In the human being this process involves not only the physical-vital growth and development, but also an increasing maturation of the capacities of the life and the powers of the mind. At some point, however, we come to a stage where we recognise a sort of futility to this round of growth, maturation, achievement and eventual decline. We begin to feel like there must be something more, some deeper meaning and significance. The entire development of religion, philosophy, scientific investigation and spiritual quests in the history of humanity speaks to this feeling of an emptiness to a round of ever-repeating actions with no ultimate purpose. We crave purpose in life, and when we fail to find it in our physical, vital and mental pursuits, we turn inwards and discover the true soul and the connection to the spiritual oneness of the universal creation.

Sri Aurobindo notes: “The underlying reason for this is that this little mind, vital and body which we call ourselves is only a surface movement and not our ‘self’ at all. It is an external bit of personality put forward for one brief life, for the play of the Ignorance. It is equipped with an ignorant mind stumbling about in search of fragments of truth, an ignorant vital rushing about in search of fragments of pleasure, an obscure and mostly subconscious physical receiving the impacts of things and suffering rather than possessing a resultant pain or pleasure. All that is accepted until the mind gets disgusted and starts looking about for the real Truth of itself and things, the vital gets disgusted and begins wondering whether there is not such a thing as real bliss and the physical gets tired and wants liberation from itself and its pains and pleasures. Then it is possible for the little ignorant bit of personality to get back to its real Self and with it to these greater things — or else to extinction of itself, Nirvana.”

Sri Aurobindo, Integral Yoga: Sri Aurobindo’s Teaching and Method of Practice, Chapter 8, The Triple Transformation: Psychic, Spiritual and Supramental, The Spiritual Transformation, pp. 209-229

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