Each level of consciousness acts on its own native level independent of any single individual person or embodiment. There is a subtle physical plane, a vital plane, a mental plane, and various spiritual planes beyond that characterize and represent further levels of the evolution of consciousness in the universal manifestation. Each of these powers exists without necessarily expressing through any specific being, although, as the Upanishads and the Vedic tradition (including the representations set forth in the puranic epics) make clear, the evolutionary principle takes place on earth, and thus, to impact the earth consciousness and its development, they seek to manifest, to take birth, here in the physical world and in a physical body, and manifest to the extent possible within the limitations imposed by the earlier and lower principles.

Until an individual becomes conscious and receptive to a specific level of vibration of consciousness, he simply does not recognize its action, even though it may be (and is) influencing him in a variety of ways. Thus, an individual who lives primarily, for instance, on the vital level will not receive and be able to employ the powers of the higher mental ranges, until such time as his receptivity and power extend to that level.

This is a similar process with respect to the action of the psychic being. it has influence and can provide subtle guidance and support to the external being, even if the individual is not consciously aware of it or consciously receptive. It manifests its powers at its own level, influencing the other levels, and developing in its own sphere. At some point, as the individual moves his awareness inwards and becomes conscious of the psychic being, he can receive direct support and guidance in a direct and powerful manner.

A disciple asks: “Sweet Mother, can the psychic express itself without the mind, the vital and the physical?”

The Mother answers: “It expresses itself constantly without them. Only, in order that the ordinary human being may perceive it, it has to express itself through them, because the ordinary human being is not in direct contact with the psychic. If it was in direct contact with the psychic it would be psychic in its manifestation — and all would be truly well. But as it is not in contact with the psychic it doesn’t even know what it is, it wonders all bewildered what kind of a being it can be; so to reach this ordinary human consciousness it must use ordinary means, that is, go through the mind, the vital and the physical.”

“One of them may be skipped but surely not the last, otherwise one is no longer conscious of anything at all.”

Sri Aurobindo and the Mother, Our Many Selves: Practical Yogic Psychology, Chapter 2, Planes and Parts of the Being, pp. 90-91

Author's Bio: 

Santosh has been studying Sri Aurobindo's writings since 1971 and has a daily blog at http://sriaurobindostudies.wordpress.com and podcast at https://anchor.fm/santosh-krinsky 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.