The Value of Attaining the Standpoint of the Witness Consciousness in Understanding the Complexity of Interaction of the Parts of the Being

It has been famously stated that we cannot understand the system within which we are acting until we can shift our view to a standpoint outside that frame. As long as we are immersed within any particular system or standpoint, we are locked into the viewpoint and understanding embedded within that frame, and our ability to perceive and fully appreciate the forces acting upon us is both severely limited and extremely biased. To become the observer of the external nature, therefore, is a prerequisite for attaining both self-knowledge and self-mastery.

Sankhya philosophy understood these limitations and therefore set forth a method of understanding that separated the witness consciousness (Purusha) from the active nature, (Prakriti). As we learn how to shift the standpoint to that of the witness, free and separate from the actions of the nature, we can begin to see the gears turning, and the forces moving and acting, and interacting, to create what we know of as our external being. At a certain point we begin to gain the ability to actually untangle the convoluted and intertwined threads of impulsion and action within us, and at that point, we can see and eventually leverage this knowledge to act upon, the parts and aspects of the outer nature.

Dr. Dalal notes: “Real self-knowledge begins when a separation takes place between Purusha and Prakriti, between the Self and its outer Nature. We then perceive ‘the extraordinary complexity of our own being, the stimulating but also embarrassing multiplicity of our personality, the rich endless confusion of Nature.’ [Sri Aurobindo] “

“We also perceive that the numerous personalities, which are mixed up on the surface, are separate and distinct when viewed from within. Each personality represents a part of the being which has its own complex individuality and different nature, its own demands, agreeing neither with itself nor with the others. Speaking of the ‘perfectly normal divisibility of the different parts of the being’, Sri Aurobindo states: ‘In the outer surface nature, mind, psychic, vital, physical are all jumbled together and it needs a strong power of introspection, self-analysis, close observation and disentanglement of the threads of thought, feeling and impulse to find out the composition of our nature and the relation and interaction of these parts upon each other. But when one goes inside… we find the sources of all this surface action and there the parts of our being are quite separate and clearly distinct from each other. We feel them indeed as different beings in us, and just as two people in a joint action can do, they too are seen to observe, criticise, help or oppose and restrain each other; it is as if we were a group-being, each member of the group with its separate place and function, and all directed by a central being who is sometimes in front above the others, sometimes behind the scenes.’ “

Sri Aurobindo and the Mother, Our Many Selves: Practical Yogic Psychology, Introduction, Sri Aurobindo on Our Many Selves, Planes and Parts of the Being, pp. xviii-xix


Transformation of Human Nature Requires a Shift of Standpoint Away From Absorption in the Actions and Reactions of the External Being

Transformation of human nature is not practical from a standpoint mired within that nature. Forces push the being in one direction or another, and the individual is under the power of the divergent drives put up by the physical, the vital and the mental being, compounded by the impact of the ever-changing balance of the three Gunas, or qualities of Nature, which either depress or accentuate the response to the various forces and drives acting on one aspect or another of the external being.

Therefore, it is necessary to shift the standpoint so that one is not totally absorbed by and involved in the external nature. Shifting to the status of the witness of the nature allows the seeker to observe and not be caught up in the play of the outer nature. This is the separation of Purusha, the witness consciousness, and Prakriti, the active nature.

Sri Aurobindo writes: “Man is in his self a unique Person, but he is also in his manifestation of self a multiperson…” Dr. Dalal notes: “In this statement Sri Aurobindo makes a distinction which is fundamental in understanding his explanation of the nature of the human being — the distinction between the Person and its many personalities. This distinction is far from apparent to us in our ordinary consciousness.”

Sri Aurobindo continues: “The ordinary mind knows itself only as an ego with all the movements of the nature in a jumble and, identifying itself with these movements, thinks ‘I am doing this, feeling that, thinking, in joy or in sorrow etc.’ The first beginning of real self-knowledge is when you feel yourself separate from the nature in you and its movements and then you see that there are many parts of your being, many personalities each acting on its own behalf and in its own way.”

Dr. Dalal comments: “We do not possess self-knowledge because we know ourselves not as the Person but as an ego, which is an identification of the Person with the many personalities that constitute the outer nature of our being. In terms of Sankhya philosophy, we do not know ourselves as the Purusha (Person) because we are identified with Prakriti (Nature). In this state of identification with Prakriti, the complex nature of our being is hidden from our view.”

Sri Aurobindo and the Mother, Our Many Selves: Practical Yogic Psychology, Introduction, Sri Aurobindo on Our Many Selves, Planes and Parts of the Being, pg. xvii

A Primary Difference Between Traditional Understanding of Yoga and the Integral Yoga of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother

Yoga has historically focused on liberation of the individual soul from the illusion of the outer world. The seeker is advised to see through the transitory nature of all external rewards, undertake practices that help him to discover his true self, and once that is done, live a life, free from the normal sense of human bondage, until such time as he can escape the cycle of rebirth entirely. The practice is focused on individual salvation. The goal is ‘other-worldly’. The external world, the society, in which the individual lives is given little consequence, and is treated either as a dream, an illusion or an inconvenience or impediment.

It is of course essential that the seeker find a way to free himself from the illusory pursuits of the external world. Liberation, in that sense, is a basic requirement. In the Buddhist tradition there is a Bodhisattwa vow that the seeker will not undertake his own liberation until such time as his presence in the world can aid the liberation of every other sentient being. We see here a purpose infused into the life in the world, and that is to aid other beings who are misled about the illusory nature of the outer existence.

Sri Aurobindo takes a different view of the matter, as he does not accept the duality of world versus Spirit. Rather, the world is a manifestation of Spirit, the creation has a divine purpose, and the objective of the seeker is not to escape from existence, but to participate in the manifestation and the unfoldment of its objective, which he shows to be intimately tied to a progressive unfoldment or evolution of consciousness and the increasing unification between Matter and Spirit that such an increasing awareness makes obvious. There is one reality, it is ‘real’, not illusory in its essence. The illusion is the fixation on the external ego-personality and its short-term ideas about success and enjoyment in the world. When the seeker aligns with the larger universal consciousness, he achieves union with the Divine, and can act in the world as a node or nexus of the spiritual energy that is in process of creating the universal manifestation.

Dr. Dalal observes: “Traditionally the term ‘yoga’ — which literally means ‘union’ — has been generally understood as a path which aims at achieving the union of the individual self with the Universal Self so as to lead to liberation from the ignorance and suffering of life on earth. In Sri Aurobindo’s yoga, which aims at not only the liberation of the individual soul but also the transformation of earthly life, yoga implies not only union of the individual soul with the Divine but also the union of the outer being with the soul and the unification of one’s being around the soul, for, according to Sri Aurobindo and the Mother, it is only through such a unification of one’s being that the Divine can be made to manifest and transform the earthly life.”

Sri Aurobindo and the Mother, Our Many Selves: Practical Yogic Psychology, Preface, pg. xv

Self-Knowledge and Self-Mastery

The purpose of attaining self-knowledge is not to create an intellectual framework and be able to learnedly expound on a subject; rather, self-knowledge implies that the seeker has a purpose behind the effort. This purpose may be to find a way to gain ‘liberation’ from the existing life, to escape the sense of illusion that permeates all goals and actions of the external life, or it may be, as Sri Aurobindo and the Mother indicate, to gain self-mastery over the external nature and thereby prepare the being for the next stage of evolutionary development in the divine manifestation.

Dr. Dalal writes: “Self-understanding must lead to self-mastery. As the Mother, explaining the meaning of her phrase, ‘to know oneself and control oneself’, says: ‘This means to be conscious of one’s inner truth, conscious of the different parts of one’s being and their respective functions. You must know why you do this, why you do that; you must know your thoughts, know your feelings, all your activities, all your movements, of what you are capable, etc. And to know oneself is not enough: this knowledge must bring a conscious control. ‘To know oneself perfectly is to control oneself perfectly.’ ‘ “

“Dr. Dalal concludes: “These statements imply that an understanding of the different parts of one’s being constituting our different selves must result in self-control and self-mastery if the mental understanding is to become true self-knowledge. But true self-mastery can come about only when the different parts of the being — which are normally divided and conflicted — are unified around the inmost centre of our being, the soul or psychic being. As the Mother remarks, ‘This unification is indispensable if one wants to be the master of one’s being and of all its actions.’ “

Sri Aurobindo and the Mother, Our Many Selves: Practical Yogic Psychology, Preface, pp. xiv-xv

Understanding the Difference Between Psychic and Spiritual

Every language has its limitations, particularly surrounding areas of development that were not central to the people who developed and utilized that language. This makes it difficult to translate concepts that are self-evident in one language easily or effectively into another language. This has created substantial confusion and misunderstanding in all fields of life-activity and conceptual development. In some cases, an attempt is made to bring across the concept through a detailed explanation that tries to pick up and communicate the nuances. In other cases, the attempt to translate or communicate remains sorely deficient.

Such is the case with the use of the term “spiritual” in the English language, which is used whenever something does not fit the focus and identification with the external personality and external life that has predominated for the English-speaking people in the past. Thus we hear of spiritual advisors which include services such as tea-leaf reading or palm reading. Whatever may be any underlying truth or distortion as to the practices termed “spiritual” they clearly do not fit the sense and intention of the underlying concepts from cultures that have focused on spiritual development, the seeking and finding of the Eternal Presence, the liberation from the illusion of the external life, and the discovery of one’s own eternal spark and link to the Divine Presence.

In his attempt to bring clarity to the understanding, Sri Aurobindo has worked to remove the vagueness and uncertainty surrounding the use of the term ‘spiritual’ as well as the term ‘psychic’ (which has been equally misapplied for all kinds of things unrelated to the deep-seated soul entity within each being.) Sri Aurobindo restricts the use of the term ‘psychic’ to relate to the soul, while the term ‘spiritual’ relates to the development or relation to the higher consciousness that exceeds our current human evolutionary stage, the contact with and realisation of Sat-Chit-Ananda (Existence, Consciousness, Bliss) in the ancient Vedic terminology.

Other experiences or relations may be mental, vital, or even physical, and they may occur on other planes or from other statuses, without necessarily being ‘spiritual’ in nature..

Dr. Dalal notes: “A crucial distinction that one needs to make on the spiritual path is the difference between the psychical and the spiritual. Due to an inadequate knowledge of yogic psychology, psychical phenomena and experiences — which pertain to the inner or subliminal consciousness, a realm of darkness as well as light — are often confused with spiritual experiences, which pertain to the higher consciousness.”

“Regarding the vague and imprecise way in which the term ‘spiritual’ is used not only in popular literature but also in serious writings, the Mother remarks: ‘… philosophical, yogic and other systems use the word ‘spiritual’ in a very vague and loose way. Whatever is not physical is spiritual! In comparison with the physical world, all other worlds are spiritual! All thought, all effort which does not tend towards the material life is a spiritual effort. Every tendency which is not strictly human and egoistic is a spiritual tendency. This is a word used to season every dish.’ “

Dr. Dalal continues: “The distinction between the inner or supraphysical consciousness and the higher or spiritual consciousness is one of the most valuable aspects of yogic psychology for promoting the self-understanding of the spiritual seeker.”

Sri Aurobindo and the Mother, Our Many Selves: Practical Yogic Psychology, Preface, pp. xiii-xiv

Discrimination to Recognise the Distinction of Different Forces and the Various Parts of the Being is Necessary for the Spiritual Seeker

The Buddhist tradition describes Manjushri as a Bodhisattva who, with his flaming sword of discrimination, cuts through illusion and falsehood to disclose the truth of existence. The power of discrimination between different powers, forces, impressions, suggestions, and their source and intent in their pressure on the seeker, is essential if the seeker is not to fall victim to malign influences or suggestions. It is also important to disentangle the effects of the different elements of the being on the resultant thought-process and actions of the seeker. Otherwise, how does one begin to tackle movements within oneself that need to be changed or eliminated for the spiritual process to succeed?

Dr. Dalal observes: “Sri Aurobindo states that it is necessary to distinguish clearly the different parts of one’s being not only for the sake of intellectual clarity but also for avoiding confusion in one’s experience in sadhana. Thus, for example, with regard to the distinction between the individual self (Jivatman) — which constitutes a single centre of the multiple Divine — and the all-embracing Divine itself, Sri Aurobindo remarks: ‘It is important to remember the distinction; for, otherwise, if there is the least vital egoism, one may begin to think of oneself as an Avatar….’ “

“Another example of confusion caused by the inability to distinguish between different parts of the being pertains to the distinction between the psychic being or soul and parts of the being (mental and emotional) which are merely under the influence of the psychic being but are often mistaken to be the psychic being itself.”

“Regarding the importance of such a discrimination, Sri Aurobindo writes: ‘There is the true psychic which is always good and there is the psychic opening to mental, vital and other worlds which contain all kinds of things good, bad and indifferent, true, false and half true, thought-suggestions which are of all kinds, and messages also which are of all kinds. What is needed is not to give yourself impartially to all of them but to develop both a sufficient knowledge and experience and a sufficient discrimination to be able to keep your balance and eliminate falsehood, half-truths and mixtures. It will not do to dismiss impatiently the necessity for discrimination on the ground that that is mere intellectualism. The discrimination need not be intellectual, although that also is a thing not to be despised.’ “

“Thus even a purely intellectual discrimination, not yet founded on experience, is valuable and ‘a thing not to be despised.’ “

Sri Aurobindo and the Mother, Our Many Selves: Practical Yogic Psychology, Preface, pp. xii-xiii

Utilizing the Mental Power to Aid the Understanding of Our Complex Being

Many years ago, Sri M P Pandit suggested that a devotee write an article about the importance of precise bookkeeping and accounting while engaged in service. There was a prevailing sentiment that such ‘mental ideas’ were antithetical to the kind of absolute devotion and surrender that put everything in the hands of the Mother, and which thereby assumed that everything would work out, money would come as needed and everything would be properly handled.

The conscious participation in the evolutionary process which Sri Aurobindo has described as speeding up that process occurs once the self-reflective mental powers are activated. The development of any new power of consciousness in the manifestation does not, thereby, invalidate, inactivate or overturn the need and use of the earlier terms that have evolved. The mental power did not do away with the vital power. The vital power did not do away with the physical power. Rather, each one was founded on the base of the preceding terms, and modified the interaction accordingly.

As a spiritual seeker begins to grapple with the difficulties of the external nature, particularly in any attempt to transform rather than suppress that nature, he faces a complex mix of drives, emotions, forces, ideas and perceptions that threaten his ability to effectuate true change. Having a clear sense of the interplay of all these forces, where and how they arise, and how to untie the various ‘knots’ that permit them to continue unchanged is an important aid in undertaking the effort of change. This is where the use of the mental power with its ability to separate, classify and organise can be helpful. This is not a call to ‘intellectualize’ the approach to the nature, but an approach, directed by the soul’s aspiration, that takes into account the usefulness of the mental power as part of the process.

Dr. Dalal observes: “Self-understanding is the first step. As the Mother remarks: ‘First learn to know yourself perfectly and then to control yourself perfectly.’ and ‘To perfect oneself, one must first become conscious of oneself.’ “

“The distinct character of man”, states Sri Aurobindo, “is that he is a mental being.” Dr. Dalal extrapolates: “Therefore man naturally starts with a mental understanding of himself. A mental self-understanding lies in being able to distinguish intellectually the many different and complex parts of one’s being. This calls for ‘a very long training and a long discipline of study and observation’, [The Mother] to identify the respective sources of one’s thoughts, feelings, actions and moods. This means being able to give a ‘label’ to different parts of our make-up which constitute the many selves of our being. To many people ‘label’ and ‘labelling’ have a somewhat pejorative meaning, being associated with a mere mental or intellectual process, devoid of a true understanding of the thing being labelled, and often acting as an obstacle to a true understanding. However, a mental understanding is not necessarily an obstacle. On the contrary, it can be a great aid and a step towards deeper understanding. To shun all mental or intellectual understanding as mere ‘labelling’ is to ignore the fact, stated above, that the distinct character of the human being is that of a mental being, and it is but natural for one to start with a mental understanding and gradually develop a deeper understanding. It is only rare individuals who have a deep self-understanding so as to be able to distinguish the different inner movements of their many selves without have first learnt to label them mentally.”

The Mother indicated to the children of the Ashram school: “… if nobody ever taught you what the psychic or the vital is, you cannot have any notion of the thing. You may say, ‘Today I feel good, yesterday I did not.’ Till I was twenty-four I knew nothing about all these things, and yet I could distinguish very well these movements. I did not use these words because no one had taught them to me and I had never read anything, but I felt very clearly the difference at different moments and in what state of consciousness I was.”

The Mother continues: “But you who are here, after all that you have heard and all that you have read and all that I have taught you, you should be conversant with all the movements within you and be able to fix a little label: ‘this is this, that is this other.”

Sri Aurobindo and the Mother, Our Many Selves: Practical Yogic Psychology, Preface, pp. x-xii

Yoga: The Science of Consciousness

In our modern world, we see the wide dissemination of yoga, primarily as a means of gaining some measure of control over the body, through the postures developed and taught under the rubric of ‘hatha yoga’. In many instances, teachers of hatha yoga have taken the step of teaching their students about breathing techniques, called ‘pranayama’, as well as various forms of meditation, chanting and devotional singing. Hatha yoga is taught as a means to obtain health, fitness, wellness, and flexibility of the body and potentially as a way to address stress, insomnia, and lack of peace in the mind. The focus is primarily therefore on the effect that these practices can have on the outer life and the individual’s ability to optimize that life.

If we look back, however, to the historical practice of yoga, we see a quite different picture. Numerous specific paths and practices of yoga developed, many of which were directed at gaining an ability to understand the action of consciousness, and learning to separate one’s true self from the ever-changing surface personality that represents how most people view themselves. Raja Yoga systematically developed a science of quieting the mental noise and focusing the power of concentration. The triple paths (Knowledge, Devotion, Works) of yoga each respectively took up a specific aspect of the human instrument and utilized it to transcend the external ego-personality. This reveals the deeper truths that stand behind the human being, and moves yoga from its focus on the external being and its well-being, to a new focus on understanding and enhancing the power of consciousness in the individual’s life, and thereby enlarging the being and shifting the standpoint to that of the Divine.

Dr. Dalal writes: “Yoga is generally associated with certain set practices such as postures, breathing exercises, meditation and the like. In addition, yoga is understood as consisting in certain rules and norms pertaining to aspects of one’s outer life, such as diet, habits and acts of conduct. However, as taught by Sri Aurobindo, yoga consists essentially in inner psychological work aimed at the change and transformation of consciousness. As he states: ‘Yoga is nothing but practical psychology’; … the whole method of Yoga is psychological; it might almost be termed the consummate practice of a perfect psychological knowledge.’ “

“This book, meant primarily for the general spiritual seeker rather than for the practitioner of Sri Aurobindo’s Integral Yoga, deals only with the initial and preliminary steps towards the radical change of consciousness aimed at by the Integral Yoga. These initial tasks of psychospiritual growth consist in: emerging progressively from the unconscious state in which one is more or less a fused part of the collective mass rather than an independent individual who is ‘a truly mental man who thinks for himself, is free from all outer influences, who has an individuality, who exists, has his reality’; developing an increasing understanding of oneself by becoming more and more conscious of one’s being in all its complexity in order to discern the springs of one’s actions arising from the different parts of one’s being so as to be able to exercise self-control and attain self-mastery; bringing harmony and order among the diverse parts of one’s being which normally are in a state of conflict and disorder; discovering one’s true self and unifying one’s being — which is normally characterised by division and disunity — by organising all other selves around the true self.”

Sri Aurobindo and the Mother, Our Many Selves: Practical Yogic Psychology, Preface, pp. ix-x

Our Many Selves: Practical Yogic Psychology — Introduction


We tend to believe that we are a single, consistent and harmonized individuality, personality, character. For the most part, we are not self-reflective enough to recognise the inconsistencies and inner conflicts that take place within the being, due to different drives, needs, desires, and thoughts pulling us in different directions. This view makes it difficult, if not impossible, to effectuate real change in the nature. To the extent that we recognise that there are multiple selves possible for an individual, we tend to relegate this to an extreme category of psychological imbalance which we call “multiple personality disorder”. In fact, every individual has a number of different selves that find among themselves a rough form of balance, with one in ascendent at one point in time, and another at another point in time.

For those individuals who wish to gain mastery over their nature, who are following spiritual pursuits, who are seeking to participate consciously in the evolution of consciousness, it soon becomes evident that a deeper understanding is required and the yogic process is transformed into ‘practical psychology’ as Sri Aurobindo has termed it. The exploration of the inner makeup, the divergent drives, thoughts, emotions, feelings, desires, perceptions and needs that create these separate selves within us, becomes an important and even essential part of the yogic practice.

Sri Aurobindo writes: “…we have within us and discover when we go deep enough inwards a mind-self, a life-self, a physical self; there is a being of mind, a mental Purusha, expressing something of itself on our surface in the thoughts, perceptions, activities of our mind-nature, a being of life which expresses something of itself in the impulses, feelings, sensations, desires, external life-activities of our vital nature, a physical being, a being of the body which expresses something of itself in the instincts, habits, formulated activities of our physical nature. These beings or part selves of the self in us are powers of the Spirit and therefore not limited by their temporary expression, for what is thus formulated is only a fragment of its possibilities; but the expression creates a temporary mental, vital or physical personality which grows and develops even as the psychic being or soul-personality grows and develops within us. Each has its own distinct nature, its influence, its action on the whole of us; but on our surface all these influences and all this action, as they come up, mingle and create an aggregate surface being which is a composite, an amalgam of them all, an outer persistent and yet shifting and mobile formation for the purpose of this life and its limited experience.”

The Mother adds: “If you have the philosophic mind, you will ask yourself: ‘What do I call ‘myself’? Is it my body? — it changes all the time, it is never the same thing. Is it my feelings? — they change so often. Is it my thoughts? — they are built and destroyed continuously. That is not myself. Where is the self? What is it that gives me this sense of continuity?’ … You continue to observe, you tell yourself: ‘It is my memory.’ But even if one loses one’s memory, one would be oneself. If one sincerely continues this profound search, there comes a moment when everything disappears and one single thing exists, that is the Divine, the divine Presence. … When one has made this discovery, one becomes aware that one was nothing but a bundle of habits. It is always that which does not know the Divine and is not conscious of the Divine which speaks. In everyone there are these hundreds and hundreds of ‘selves’ who speak and in hundreds of completely different ways — ‘selves’ unconscious, changing, fluid. The self which speaks today is not the same as yesterday’s; and if you look further, the self has disappeared. There is only one who remains. That is the Divine. It is the only one that may be seen always the same.”

Sri Aurobindo and the Mother, Our Many Selves: Practical Yogic Psychology, Introduction, pp. vii-viii

Growing Within: the Psychology of Inner Development: Summary and Conclusions

Humanity is facing an existential crisis. Scientists report that changes brought about by human civilisation have created the conditions that are causing what is now being called the sixth planetary die-off of species. The land, water and air are all being polluted. Toxic chemicals are poisoning the planet. Climate change is wreaking havoc with the entire planetary environment. The ocean is seeing its food chain decimated. Essential species required for food production, such as honeybees, are dying off in record numbers, threatening the world’s food supply. And the issues continue to compound with no end in sight.

The problems we see are based on the application of the mind in an attempt to satisfy the desire-soul of the vital ego. Mental solutions tend to be linear, limited in scope and generally fail to take into account the complex interactions of a complete organic system such as the interdependent relationship of all beings in existence. The result is the kind of imbalance that is driving this crisis to the potential for enormous devastation of the planet and humanity.

When we seek for a solution to this crisis, we find that as long as we remain locked into the mind’s framework and method of reaching its conclusions, there seems to be no solution. Some factor or factors simply overwhelm the best plans, and given the nature of the mind, disputes arise between those who want to approach the situation in one way and those who see a different line of development. We eventually reach a state of gridlock, where nothing can be done, while the pressures continue to mount.

We are then forced, under this intense pressure, to find a way to “adapt or die”. In such a circumstance, what is the nature of ‘adaptation’? Sri Aurobindo’s response is that the entire development of life on earth shows the theme of an evolution of consciousness. Man is not the final stage of that evolution, but what he calls a ‘transitional being’. Nature’s process is to set forth some kind of intense pressure, such as an evolutionary crisis, to create the intensity required for the manifestation of the next term of consciousness. This process is what we are experiencing today. The next term of consciousness is what Sri Aurobindo calls the “supramental” consciousness, to signify that it is a power of consciousness that exceeds the mental level.

Under the intensity of the pressure individuals are moved to shift their focus toward the conscious development and active participation in the evolutionary process. Sri Aurobindo indicates that man, the mental being, has the capacity to consciously take part in, and thereby dramatically speed up the long, slow and arduous developmental process of nature.

Sri Aurobindo and the Mother, as pathfinders, were able to determine how a shift from the ordinary human mentality, under the control of the external ego-personality, and driven by the desire-soul of the vital nature, to a spiritual consciousness could take place. This involved a process of growth whereby the individual gains contact with the psychic being, the soul, and shifts the direction of his life toward the contact with and development of a constant relation of the individual soul with the divine reality which is the actual driver of the universal manifestation. The being must first be prepared and the instruments developed, the aspiration for the change awakened and cherished and then, the being begins to turn its attention to the fulfillment of the spiritual quest.  This inner process is what Growing Within: the Psychology of Inner Development has systematically developed and outlined.

Sri Aurobindo and the Mother, Growing Within: The Psychology of Inner Development, Summary and Conclusions