I have often wondered why there was no book explaining the process of life here on earth. There are books that suggest certain helpful practices, The Bible, The Torah and The Quran offer guidance, and although that is very helpful, even in these you get a fragment here and an insight there, but no one really explains what is going on!
The Hindus have studied the process for millennia and I thought that they might be able to shed some light on the subject. Late last year, a friend recommended a book by Sri Aurobindo (1872-1950) and The Mother, called The Psychic Being. She said it provided a good explanation for the process of life.
The Psychic Being is not exactly a book, it is a compilation of Aurobindo and The Mothers’s writings on the subject of life. So, although somewhat disjointed, there are enough pieces to sort of weave a whole cloth together.
Aurobindo is not an easy read. He was an incredibly bright and gifted intellectual, and his writing can sometimes be dense. Aurobindo was also a Hindu, and the Hindu view of life and spirituality is somewhat different from ours, so one has to sometimes do a little footwork to comprehend exactly what he was saying.
Aurobindo divides all living things into two complimentary structures – an internal and external or subjective and objective. The goal of life is the reconciliation of those seeming opposites to the divine.
He defines humans as having mental, physical and vital realms, each of which has an internal and an external component. The external realms are controlled by the ego, which is based in fear. In the undeveloped state it dominates the person. Its outlook is necessarily rigid. There can be no compromise to fear.
Living from the ego leads to an unsatisfying life, filled with emotion and conflict. And because the ego cannot lead to peace of mind, following it can only lead to frustration and anger from efforting through a process that has no chance of succeeding.
While all this ego noise is going on in the external, there is a small, quiet inner voice at the center (the psychic being) urging us towards greater compassion. Overwhelmed at first by the incredible chaos of the ego, the psychic being is overwhelmed. But when when resignation comes at the failure of the ego and the individual begins to quiet the mind, the small, persistent voice of the psychic being can then begin to be heard.
Realizing that there really was nothing to fear in the first place, the individual then turns more and more to the guidance of the psychic being and thus moves closer to the light. This is the process we know as life.
From “The Psychic Being”:
“The psychic being is always there, but is not felt because it is covered up by the mind and vital; when it is no longer covered up, it is then said to be awake. When it is awake, it begins to take hold of the rest of the being, to influence it and change it so that all may become the true expression of the inner soul. It is this change that is called the inner conversion. There can be no conversion without the awakening of the psychic being.
There is this divine element in all living beings, but it stands hidden behind the ordinary consciousness, is not at first developed and, even when developed, is not always or often in the front.; . . . . It grows in the consciousness by Godward experience, gaining strength every time there is a higher movement in us, and finally by the accumulation of these deeper and higher movements, there is developed a psychic individuality, – . . . It is always this psychic being that is the real . . . cause of man’s turning to the spiritual life . . .
(The psychic being) is a portion of the divine and permanent from life to life. . . . As this experience grows it manifests a developing psychic personality which insisting always on the good, true and beautiful, finally becomes ready and strong enough to turn the nature towards the Divine. It then can come entirely forward . . . and transform the nature. Nature no longer imposes itself on the soul, but the soul, the Purusha, imposes its dictates on the nature.
When the ego begins to quiet and the psychic being becomes more of a force in the external processes, the soul, which is eternal and unchanging, and is connected to the “Divine Spark” in each of us, can begin to provide guidance:
The psychic being usually expresses itself through it’s instruments (mental, physical, etc.) . . . It tries to put as much of its own stamp on them as possible. But it can seldom put on them the full psychic stamp – unless it comes out from its rather secluded and overshadowed position and takes into its hands the direct government of the nature.
The psychic being is formed progressively around the divine centre, the soul, in the course of its innumerable lives in the terrestrial evolution, until the time comes when the psychic being, fully formed and wholly awakened, becomes the conscious sheath of the soul around which it is formed.
And thus identified with the Divine, it becomes His perfect instrument in the world. (The Mother)
. . . not the common meaning. There is a constant confusion between the mentalized desire-soul which is a creation of the vital urge in man, of his life-force seeking for its fulfillment and the true soul which is a spark of the Divine Fire, a portion of the divine.”
The soul and the psychic being are not exactly the same thing, although their essence is the same. The soul is the divine spark that dwells in the centre of each being; it is identical with its Divine Origin; it is the divine in man. The soul itself is is an inner divinity greater than mind or life or body.
Note: For those of you who would like to read more, Aurobindo’s Letters on Yoga is long, but it is an easier read.
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