9. What the soul sees and has experienced, that it knows; the rest is appearance, prejudice and opinion.
(Thoughts and Aphorisms: SriAurobindo)
The vision and experience of soul is alone the true and real knowledge. Whatever is other than what the soul has seen and experienced is only an appearance. It is something that appears, a phenomenon, a semblance, a purely external and superficial aspect of a thing — as opposed to something as it is in itself, independent of the mental reasoning and judgment and discrimination. That which is not as per the vision or experience of soul is a prejudice, which may be an opinion, idea or judgment formed without sufficient knowledge or examination of the facts, a sort of a preconceived preference or idea .
Thus, according to Sri Aurobindo, whatever is seen or understood by the ordinary mind is not real knowledge. Truth is seen and experienced by soul alone. Soul alone knows Truth, the ordinary mind or the vital consciousness does not know.
What is soul, as defined by Sri Aurobindo?
The Ultimate Reality is the Infinite and One Existence-Consciousness-Bliss, whom we name as the Brahman, the Divine, and God etc. He has three aspects, the Transcendental, the Universal and the Individual.
In the Transcendental mode, He is above all manifestation, above all the Universes, all the worlds. He is the Supreme Divine, the One, Indivisible, Infinite, Pure, and bears the eternal consciousness in Him, above all Time and Space.
The Supreme Divine is the Existence-Consciousness-Bliss, as I have already told. He is, He is Existence, eternal existence, and can even become Non-Existence, beyond the apprehension of any manifested existence.
In the Universal mode, He is one with the Universes, though also above them and is their Creator. He is the Manifestation; He is the One who manifests. It is His Will that is manifested. The entire Manifestation is He, and it is His Leela, Play. He is both beyond it, and within it, and in each atom, each living being.
And He is also the Individual, Personal God. All the Avatars are but His Individual Manifestations. The Supreme is with His Creative Force, the Mahashakti, whom we call the Divine Mother. They are One and Indivisible, and yet They are Two in Manifestation and even above Manifestation. It is the Will of the Supreme that created the Manifestation. In words, it may be said that he thought, in the Upanishadic language: “Ekoham, bahu syama.” [I am alone, and shall become many.] The Existence-Consciousness became many, countlessly many, and each of the many is a Soul. A soul, or the atman in Sanskrit, is a part and portion of the Supreme Consciousness, the Divine — a part who is one with the Whole, who can be the Whole also, who can unite with the Whole.
In all living beings, there is a soul, who resides in the background, not easily known or realized. The soul presides over the living being, but somewhat inactively, in the background. The Soul does not generally participate in the Evolution. In the Evolution from the animals to the human beings there has been no active role of the Soul, though the Divine Will was ever active. However, in Man, there is an active part or aspect of the Soul, which is termed by Sri Aurobindo as the Psychic Being, which participates in the Evolution of Man, in the onward journey of the human being on the Path of Evolution into the higher beings, the supramental beings, towards the Manifestation of the Supramental Consciousness, the next phase of the Evolution. The Psychic is not present in any other living beings.
Sri Aurobindo adopted the term “psychic being” for the following reason: “The word soul is very vaguely used in English- as it often refers to the whole non-physical consciousness including even the vital with all its desires and passions. That is why the word psychic being has to be used so as to distinguish this divine portion from the instrumental parts of the nature.”
The Presence of the psychic being in man is the Promise that one day a new and higher Divine race shall emerge on earth and shall form the crown of the Evolution, shall be the apex of the Manifestation. The psychic being is a special term and it should not be confused with the other uses of the word in general. In spite of the Presence of the psychic being, human beings are in general not yet conscious of his Goal, of his higher possibilities, of the Higher Existence on earth. But there are persons, who are becoming conscious, maybe in an imperfect way, incomplete way, but they are being conscious, growing towards the New Becoming.
Truth is revealed, Knowledge is revealed, only when the Psychic is unveiled. Though Soul or the Psychic is the most essential element in Man, it is mostly veiled and closed and dormant in the majority of human beings. But it has to be unveiled. The Soul has to come to the front. And then only Truth will be seen and experienced.
The Mother was asked the question : ‘How do we know what the soul sees?’ She gave us the answer : “Obviously there is only one solution : to become conscious of one’s soul.” In other words, the psychic being has to be unveiled.
Prior to unveiling of the psychic being, whatever we think we know, whatever we have learnt and whatever has come to us through observation, reasoning or intellectual speculation or understanding, all that is but a relative knowledge. When we have the question in our mind as to whether we have known our soul, that very question indicates that we have not yet become conscious of our soul, we have not yet realized the soul. When we are conscious of our soul, as The Mother has said, we have no more any such question in our mind. When we have the realization of the soul, when we have the psychic experience, we positively know it and we do not ask any question about it.
The Mother says :
And that experience can neither be counterfeited nor imagined; you cannot pretend to be in contact with your soul — it is something which cannot be contrived or counterfeited. When the soul governs your life, you know it with absolute certainty and no longer ask any questions.
Until and unless we have known the soul, and until and unless the soul or the psychic being takes up the governance of our life and existence and consciousness, we cannot really proceed further in life, and we continue to grope in darkness or twilight, as the case may be.
We have seen what the vital being [life] and the mental being [mind] can give us : half-knowledge, uncertainties, constant debates, chaos and disorder and indiscipline, differences and conflicts and wars, enmities and jealousy and violence. We have so many theories and speculations and ways — but the Knowledge is not there, the Way is lost.
If the New Race has to be here, the first requirement is that some persons must have the psychic unveiling.
Written earlier and published in Sulekha (http://www.barinchaki.sulekha.com/) on 1-11-2007.