[Sri Aurobindo uses the term psychic being for the soul-principle. In conventional parlance, the psychic is used either to represent the desire-soul or paranormal phenomena. However paranormal phenomena like materialization and dematerialization occur not due to soul-action but represent abnormal actions of occult subtle-physical energies (Ibid, pg.241footnote)]
Characteristics of the Psychic Being
Sri Aurobindo described the characteristics of the psychic being, the fourth dimensional, beyond-ego soul principle:
(a) It is a “flame of the Godhead always alight within us, inextinguishable even by that dense unconsciousness …which obscures our outward nature.”(Ibid,pg.239)
(b) It is “the concealed Witness and Control, the hidden Guide, the Daemon of Socrates, the inner light or inner voice of the mystic.” (Socrates’ daemon has always been considered as an internal oracle or Divine Entity that gave recommendations without imposition)(Ibid)
(c) It is that “which endures and is imperishable in us from birth to birth, untouched by death, decay or corruption, an indestructible spark of the Divine”. (Ibid)
(d) It should be distinguished from the unborn Self or unevolving Spirit that is always aware of its universality and transcendence, but “is yet its deputy in the forms of Nature, the individual soul, the caitya purusha, supporting mind, life and body, standing behind the mental, the vital, the subtle physical being in us and watching and profiting by their development and experience”. (Ibid, pg.239-240)
(e) It is “the true original Conscience in us deeper than the constructed and conventional conscience of the moralist, for it is this which points always towards Truth and Right and Beauty, towards Love and Harmony and all that is a divine possibility in us, and persists till these things become the major need of our nature”. (Ibid, pg.240)
(f) It “puts forward a psychic personality which changes, grows, develops from life to life; for this is the traveller between birth and death and between death and birth, our nature parts are only its manifold and changing vesture”.(Ibid)
(g) It “ can first exercise only a concealed and partial and indirect action through the mind, the life and the body, since it is these parts of Nature that have to be developed as its instruments of self-expression. Missioned to lead man in the Ignorance towards the light of the Divine Consciousness, it takes the essence of all experience in the Ignorance to form a nucleus of soul-growth in the nature; the rest it turns into material for the future growth of the instruments.”(Ibid)
(h) It can “come forward into the front and, replacing the desire-soul, govern overtly and entirely and not only partially and from behind the veil this outer nature of mind, life and body, then these can be cast into soul images of what is true, right and beautiful and in the end the whole nature can be turned towards the real aim of life, the supreme victory, the ascent into spiritual existence”. (Ibid, pg.241)
The psychic being carries the most memorable impressions of our life –impressions that have a superconscient or divine source, impressions that are intuitive, supra-cognitive or deeply experiential. It is these impressions that are carried as memory traces beyond the life-span to influence and shape future lives.
Beyond the Psychic Being
However, the psychic being alone is not indispensable for our spiritual progress. The coming of the psychic being forward to replace the desire-soul and be the leader of the human march is the first step. For a further growth in consciousness, a second step is needed – the light from the Supermind has to descend into our mortal life. The psychic being can “open to the hidden diviner ranges of our being and receive and reflect their light and power and experience, but another, a spiritual transformation from above is needed for us to possess our self in its universality and transcendence.”(Ibid)
Different trajectories of the Psychic Being
Sri Aurobindo also cautions that though psychic being can actively lead the human march after replacing the ego and be an effective player in the cosmic consciousness, it has also the possibility of lapsing into a passive mode. It can separate itself from the world-movement or it can identify with the static self behind the cosmos, “but separate inwardly from the world-movement, losing its individuality in its Source, it might return to that Source and have neither the will nor the power any further for that which was its ultimate mission here, to lead the nature also towards its divine realisation”(Ibid, pg.242) This is not surprising as by “the law of the Infinite”, it is inseparable from the Divine Whole –in a way it is also a poise of the Divine Whole. It can therefore awaken to that reality to plunge into “apparent extinction” or merging of itself with the Source.
Our Nature is an ignorant mass that has arisen from the Inconscience. The psychic being is a projection of the Superconscience as a “small nucleus”. As it has not arisen from the Inconscience, it is free from ignorance, falsehood, suffering and mortality. It has been figuratively described in the Upanishad as “no bigger than a man’s thumb” which can “by the spiritual influx enlarge itself and embrace the whole world with the heart and mind in an intimate communion or oneness. Or it may become aware of its eternal Companion and elect to live forever in His presence, in an imperishable union and oneness as the eternal lover and the eternal Beloved, which of all spiritual experiences is the most intense in beauty and rapture”.(Ibid) Yet these splendid achievements are not the consummation. The supramental light has to descend to perfect the spiritual odyssey.
The Psychic Being can travel forward to actively replace the desire-soul. It may however travel back to the Self and be in a passive mode or align with it in eternal love
Date of Update:
- By Dr. Soumitra Basu