As human beings typically rely on their mental capacities to understand things, seekers frequently take the advice of tracing back to the roots of the impulses, thoughts, feelings they experience as requiring a method akin to the processes followed in psychotherapy. Western psychotherapy uses the mind to try to analyze causes and interpret signs, symbols and dreams to lead the individual to the underlying issues he is facing. However, this is not the intended approach for the yogic process, which relies, not on mental explication and understanding, but on a more intuitive and spiritual process that can see and experience the truth without trying to codify it in mental forms.

Sri Aurobindo observes: “What the Mother spoke of was not self-analysis nor dissection; they are mental things which can deal with the inanimate or make the live dead — they are not spiritual methods. What the Mother spoke of was not analysis, but a seeing of oneself and of all the living movements of the being and the nature, a vivid observation of the personalities and forces that move on the stage of our being, their motives, their impulses, their potentialities, an observation quite as interesting as the seeing and understanding of a drama or a novel, a living vision and perception of how things are done in us, which brings also a living mastery over this inner universe. Such things become dry only when one deals with them with the analytic and ratiocinative mind, not when one deals with them thus seeingly and intuitively as a movement of life. If you had that observation (from the inner spiritual, not the outer intellectual and ethical viewpoint), then it would be comparatively easy for you to get out of your difficulties; for instance, you would find at once where this irrational impulse to flee away came from and it would not have any hold upon you. Of course, all that can be done to the best effect when you stand back from the play of your nature and become the Witness-Control or the Spectator-Actor-Manager. But that is what happens when you take this kind of self-seeing posture.”

Sri Aurobindo and the Mother, Our Many Selves: Practical Yogic Psychology, Chapter 4, Becoming Conscious, pp. 124-125

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.