It is not easy for most people to distinguish vital responses such as feelings or emotions from the true expression of the psychic being within them. This is primarily due to the fact that just about everyone bases themselves in the external surface being. We see this confusion when people see someone who has a deep emotional resonance, a longing or a feeling of human love or attachment and they call this a ‘soul’ relationship or expression. The vital nature may be influenced by the psychic being, but it still is busy carrying out its own movements and forms of expression. Even much of what is seen as religious or spiritual devotional activity in the end turns out to be a heightened vital response or enthusiasm, perhaps influenced by the psychic, but still representing the vital nature.

When the individual moves beyond the identification with the ego-personality and the external surface being, and is then free from these vital actions and reactions, the psychic expression can come to the fore, in the form of deep, quiet, and abiding peace and aspiration, a deep unattached gratitude based in the spiritual sense, not in the acknowledgement of any particular benefit to the ego-personality itself, and an unwavering faith that is unshaken by outward circumstances.

The Mother observes: “… you must not mistake the feelings for the psychic, you understand! — these two are absolutely different things. People always think that when they have emotions, feelings, they are entering the psychic. These things have nothing to do with the psychic, they are purely vital. They are the most subtle part of the vital, if you like, but they are vital. It’s not through the feelings that one goes to the psychic, it is through a very intense aspiration and a self-detachment.”

Sri Aurobindo and the Mother, Our Many Selves: Practical Yogic Psychology, Chapter 2, Planes and Parts of the Being, pg. 93

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 17 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.