published: September 2019

Sri Aurobindo: The soul, or psychic being

by Eric Weiss, MFT

Sri Aurobindo identifies a part of our being that he calls the “soul” or “psychic being.”  His notion of soul is analogous to the Buddhist idea of “bodhicitta,” or the mind of enlightenment.  It is a part of us which exists, for the most part, in the background of consciousness.  It observes our surface self, and it sends out messages and impulses to the personality, but those messages are mere suggestions, almost always (mis)interpreted by mental thought and emotional feeling.  To awaken ourselves, to achieve true wakefulness, is to bring this hidden part to the front, to let it reorient and purify our personalities, and to follow its path to the Life Divine.

What pushes the soul awareness into the background is the vividness and intensity of our normal waking experience.  We live in a world of intense sensation, which brings with it pleasure and pain, and rivets our attention.  And we live in a world of desires, that channel our awareness and focus it on projects which only culminate in the sensory world—projects like acquiring wealth, experiencing pleasure, pursuing righteousness and vengeance, all of which focus on bringing about certain sets of worldly conditions.  And we live in a world of thoughts, which connect us to our world, but also cut us off in webs of our own prejudices and opinions.  It is the vividness and fascination with these waking experiences that thrust our soul awareness into the background.

The soul, we begin to realize, is quite subtle.  It can easily be drowned out by the noise of everyday life, and to bring ourselves closer to the soul we ultimately have to cultivate silence and inner stillness.

Fortunately, there is a way to cultivate the soul for those of us who are not yet able to muster spiritual peace.  We can pursue the True, the Good and the Beautiful in our lives.  These qualities are all essentially Soulful.  Wherever we achieve skillful truthfulness, compassionate justice, and apt beauty, there we find a moment of Divine Revelation.  As long as we are dwelling in the sensory world, on the surface of our beings, let us aspire to Truth, Goodness and Beauty. 

As you hopefully know by now, the August 23-25 lectures by Debashih Bannerje at SALC had to be postponed.  We hope to reschedule in November, and should be able to give you new dates and times by the October Eagle issue.