The normal process of mental reception brings in numerous thought-forms, based on the receptivity of the individual and the wideness of his sources of information and mental energy. For those who have not systematically developed a process for organising the mind, these thought-froms have no particular sequencing and are not necessarily reviewed for consistency as a result of serious reflection. This leads to a confused mental approach that can actually apply ideas in what area that are absolutely contradicted by the way they respond in another area.

Serious development of the mental power can create a mind that is able to receive a broad array of thoughts, but which is able to understand and discriminate between them, choose those that are able to advance the direction within which the individual wants to move, and sort out the contradictions that otherwise naturally appear. In many cases these contradictions are disguised because they are not fully fleshed out through a systematic process of intellectual rigour, but rather, come in essentially fully formed and unquestioned as to their provenance and meaning.

We see, for instance, individuals speak about freedom of expression, freedom of speech, freedom of thought, as core principles, but who nevertheless want to ban certain books and circumscribe the kind of expression that is to be allowed. They hold what are essentially contradictory propositions in their minds at the same time without any sense of inconsistency.

When the Mother describes the universal thought-forms that enter into us, and which we take as our own thoughts, she makes it clear that without a serious mental development process, the being winds up playing host to many conflicting thoughts. This hinders the process of individuation which is required to set the stage for the next level of the evolution of consciousness.

The Mother notes: “Most people — and not only those who are uneducated but even the well-read — can have the most contradictory, the most opposite ideas in their heads without even being aware of the contradictions. I have seen numerous examples like that, of people who cherished ideas and even had political, social, religious opinions on all the so-called higher fields of human intelligence, who had absolutely contradictory opinions on the same subject, and were not aware of it. And if you observe yourself, you will see that you have many ideas which ought to be linked by a sequence of intermediary ideas which are the result of a considerable widening of the thought if they are not to coexist in an absurd way.”

Sri Aurobindo and the Mother, Our Many Selves: Practical Yogic Psychology, Chapter 6, Some Answers and Explanations, pp. 154-155

Author's Bio: 

Santosh has been studying Sri Aurobindo's writings since 1971 and has a daily blog at and podcast at He is author of 19 books and is editor-in-chief at Lotus Press. He is president of Institute for Wholistic Education, a non-profit focused on integrating spirituality into daily life.