THE PSYCHIC BEING – SRI AUROBINDO
A distinction has to be made between the soul in its essence
and the psychic being.
Behind each and all there is the soul which is the spark of the Divine – none could exist without that. But it is quite possible to have a vital and physical being without a clearly evolved psychic being behind it…
The inner being is composed of the inner mental, inner vital, inner physical, – but that is not the psychic being.
The psychic is the inmost being and quite distinct from these.
The word ‘psychic’ is indeed used in English to indicate anything that is other or deeper than the external mind, life and body, anything occult or supra-physical, but that is a use which brings confusion and error and we entirely discard it when we speak or write about yoga
The psychic being is veiled by the surface movements
and expresses itself as best it can through these outer instruments
which are more governed by the outer forces than
by the inner influences of the psychic.
But that does not mean that they are entirely isolated from the soul. The soul is in the body in the same way as the mind or vital – but the body it occupies is not this gross physical frame only, but the subtle body also. When the gross sheath falls away, the vital and mental sheaths of the body still remain as the soul’s vehicle till these too dissolve.
The psychic is the spark of the Divine involved here in the individual
existence. It grows and evolves in the form
of the psychic being –
so obviously it cannot have already the powers of the Divine.
Only its presence makes it possible for the individual to open to the Divine and grow towards the Divine Consciousness and when it acts it is always in the sense of the Light and the Truth and with the push towards the Divine.
The psychic being is the soul evolving in course of birth and rebirth and the soul is a portion of the Divine – but with the soul there is always the veiled Divine, Hrishikesha.
The psychic being is the soul, the Purusha in the secret heart supporting
by its presence the action of the mind, life and body.
At the beginning the soul in Nature, the psychic entity, whose unfolding is the first step towards a spiritual change, is an entirely veiled part of us, although it is that by which we exist and persist as individual beings in Nature.
The other parts of our natural composition are not only mutable but perishable;
but the psychic entity in us persists and is
fundamentally the same always:
it contains all essential possibilities of our manifestation
but is not constituted by them; it is not limited
by what it manifests,
not contained by the incomplete forms of the manifestation, not tarnished by the imperfections and impurities, the defects and depravations of the surface being.
It is an ever-pure flame of the divinity in things and nothing that comes to it,
nothing that enters into our experience can pollute its purity
or extinguish the flame.
The psychic is not above but behind – its seat is behind the heart, its power is not knowledge but an essential or spiritual feeling – it has the clearest sense of the Truth and a sort of inherent perception of it which is of the nature of soul-perception and soul-feeling.
It is our inmost being and supports all the others, mental, vital, physical, but it is also much veiled by them and has to act upon them as an influence
rather than by its sovereign right of direct action;
The psychic part of us is something that comes direct from the Divine and is in touch with the Divine. In its origin it is the nucleus pregnant with divine possibilities that supports this lower triple manifestation of mind, life and body.
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 expresses itself, so far as the imperfection of the instruments allows,
by their means and under their limitations.
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, – that which we call usually the psychic being.
It is always this psychic being that is the real, though often the secret cause of man’s turning to the spiritual life and his greatest help in it. It is therefore
that which we have to bring from behind to the front in the yoga.
The psychic being may be described in Indian language as the Purusha in the heart.
The psychic being in the old systems was spoken of as the Purusha in the heart (the secret heart – hridaye guhâyâm) which corresponds very well to what we define as the psychic being behind the heart centre.
The being of man is composed of these elements – the psychic behind supporting all, the inner mental, vital and physical, and the outer, quite external nature of mind, life and body which is their instrument of expression.
But above all is the central being (Jivatma) which uses them all
for its manifestation: it is a portion
of the Divine Self;
but this reality of himself is hidden from the external man who replaces this inmost self and soul of him by the mental and vital ego.
It is only those who have begun to know themselves that become aware of their true central being; but still it is always there standing behind the action of mind, life and body and is most directly represented by the psychic which is itself a spark of the Divine.
It is by the growth of the psychic element in one’s nature that one begins
to come into conscious touch with one’s central being above.
When that happens and the central being uses a conscious will to control and organize the movements of the nature, it is then that one has a real, a spiritual as opposed to a partial and merely mental or moral self-mastery.
The psychic being evolves, so it is not the immutable. The psychic being
is especially the soul of the individual evolving in the manifestation
the individual Prakriti and taking part in the evolution.
It is that spark of the Divine Fire that grows behind the mind, vital and physical as the psychic being until it is able to transform the Prakriti of Ignorance into Prakriti of knowledge.
A distinction has to be made between the soul in its essence and the psychic being. Behind each and all there is the soul which is the spark of the Divine – none could exist without that. But it is quite possible to have a vital and physical being supported by such a soul essence but without a clearly evolved psychic being behind it.
There is indeed an inner being composed of the inner mental, inner vital,
inner physical, – but that is not the psychic being. The psychic
is the inmost being of all and quite distinct from these.
The psychic being is veiled by the surface movements and expresses itself
as best it can through the three outer instruments which are more governed by the outer forces than by the inner being or the psychic entity.
The psychic being develops only in the physical life on earth and after the death of the physical body rests for a certain time that depends both on its own choice on the degree of evolution it has reached,
then chooses the environment, family and external circumstances in which
to be reborn in order to have exactly the experiences
with which to further realize itself.
For example, if a certain psychic being has to make the experience of having a great power it will embody itself in a king, queen or leader of a nation, but maybe in the next life will have to experience the opposite and incarnate instead in a apparently ordinary person.
In most men the psychic being emerges slowly, even after they have started the sadhana. There are so many things in the mind and the vital that need
to be transformed and reorganized before the psychic
can be entirely free.
We must wait that the necessary process has gone far enough before the psychic can pierce the thousands of years old veil and come to the surface to direct our nature.
A constant and sincere aspiration and the will to turn only to the Divine
are the best means to bring the psychic up in front.
It will go forward by itself through its constant love and aspiration and when the mind and life have been prepared to the descent from on high and the direct action of the Force.
He further defined its characteristics as:
– Its abode is behind the heart;
– Its nature is not based on knowledge but on spiritual feeling;
– Its essential qualities are Divine Love and inner vision;
it has an infallible perception of the Truth, an innate sense of the highest good, the harmonious and the beautiful; and above all consecration and surrender to the Divine;
– It is quite different from the mind or vital;
stands behind them where they meet in the heart. Its central place is there, but behind the heart rather than in the heart.
– It is never deceived by Maya and always firmly rejects all falsehoods;
Always brings us into the Light in the measure that the imperfections
and resistances of the rest of our being allow it;
– Begins in the mineral, is a little more developed in the plant,
and in animals there is a first glimpse of the psychic presence, then comes the moment when it is sufficiently evolved to have its independent consciousness and a personal will.
– Supports from within all the other parts of our being
but until a certain level of the Path has been reached is covered up and veiled by them;
– Does not try to act too directly or forcefully
on the inferior, unenlightened part of our being;
– Is what sustains all things in man,
is the silent witness of the Divine in him and what he feels and knows spontaneously, in a direct, bright and pure as the divine essence and immediately reveals the right movements and those false to our nature.
– Once we have reached a certain level of the Path
its action becomes much more direct and powerful;
Descends into birth and passes through it – although it doesn’t die because
it is immortal – from the terrestrial plane to the other and back
in the course of our personal evolution.
– After countless lives more or less individualized
becomes conscious of himself, his thoughts, movements and the environment he has chosen for its growth.
But in the beginning it is veiled, dormant:
it must be awakened,
and when it is can produce a real and sudden surrender of the whole being, but until that point the effort is necessary, until, as we have already said, will be replaced by the Force.
– Is not yet as one with the Divine as the Jivatman,
but the individual soul supports the psychic being as from behind the curtain, so to say, until
its realization brings peace, centering, surrender, and ultimately
our union with the Divine.
– Only when it has begun to awaken in us
we can become conscious of the Divine Presence in us and all around us; is the only element in us that naturally submits to the Divine.
It is what originally brought us to the Path and remains always
our greatest help in it, especially when we are confronted
by our worst challenges.
How often do you accept his help?
If not often, what makes you think that you can do better by yourself alone?
Its realization brings Bhakti, self-giving, surrender, turning of all the movements Godward, discrimination and choice of all that belongs
to the Divine Truth, Good, Beauty,
rejection of all that is false, evil, ugly, discordant, union through love
and sympathy with all existence, openness
to the Truth of the Self and the Divine.
Which of these definitions touched you most?
What does it tell you about yourself?
From His epic Savitri:
A being no bigger than the thumb of manTo face the pang and to forget the bliss,To share the suffering and endure earth’s woundsAnd labour mid the labour of the stars.
This in us laughs and weeps, suffers the stroke,Exults in victory, struggles for the crown;Identified with the mind and body and life,It takes on itself their anguish and defeat,Bleeds with Fate’s whips and hangs upon the cross,
Yet is the unwounded and immortal selfSupporting the actor in the human scene.
Through this she sends us her glory and her powers, Pushes to wisdom’s heights, through misery’s gulfs; She gives us strength to do our daily taskAnd sympathy that partakes of others’ griefAnd the little strength we have to help our race,
We who must fill the role of the universeActing itself out in a slight human shapeAnd on our shoulders carry the struggling world.
This is in us the godhead small and marred; In this human portion of divinityShe seats the greatness of the Soul in Time
To uplift from light to light, from power to power, Till on a heavenly peak it stands, a king.
Traveler and hewer of the unseen paths,
He is the carrier of the hidden fire,
He is the voice of the Ineffable,
He is the invisible hunter of the light,
The Angel of mysterious ecstasies,
The conqueror of the kingdoms of the soul.
The first line, “A being no bigger than the thumb of man” refers to is passage of the Katha Upanishad:
The Purusha, of the size of a thumb, dwells in the body. Realizing Him as the Lord of the past and the future, one does not want to protect oneself.
This verily is that (which thou seekest.