Isaac Newton identified various forces that operate in the physical external world around us. His work was followed up by numerous others and codified into laws of physical substance. The force of gravity is one such force that impacts the movement and attraction of physical objects. Other forces operative on the physical level include electromagnetic force, strong nuclear force and weak nuclear force. These forces together create the physical structure of the universe as we conceive it and know it.

We recognise physical forces and can observe and even predict their effect on physical objects. We can also recognise the operation of forces in different aspects of our being, such as the operation of attraction and repulsion on the vital level. Many have recognised the existence of a universal vital force, called variously Prana, Qi, Mana (and other names) depending on the culture from which the name originates. 

If we extend our view to the mental level, we can identify mental forces that impact us, thought-suggestions, both visible and occult. We can trace mental influences through time as we identify the lines of mental development.

It becomes clear that each aspect of existence is governed by and acted upon by forces both seen and unseen, and that there is also an interaction where the various elements of existence impinge upon one another. It also becomes clear that as we explore the complexity and interactions that take place in the entire universal creation, that there are forces and powers that we have not yet identified nor fully appreciated or understood. As we delve further into quantum mechanics we see actions which are inexplicable under the laws of Newtonian physics, which implies the action of forces not yet fully revealed to us. What we begin to recognise is that forces interact and as they interact they create a new result which is neither solely the one nor the other of the two interacting forces. Consider the creation of a new human being, which occurs through the interaction of the genetic material provided by the male with the genetic material provided by the female. The child expresses a new, combined set of genetic patterns, taking some from each of the two original sets of genes. There are forces at work which govern this interaction of genetic material and the results.

We believe we make our own decisions about what to do, when to do it, how to do it and why we do it. Upon further reflection we see that a chain of ’cause and effect’ has operated to bring us to this specific point in time, place and circumstance, and that our actions are very much controlled and dictated by these antecedents. What role do these hidden forces of life play, and to what extent are we able to understand, modify, control or decide utilizing our free will and independence? In order to understand our own actions and the context within which we live our lives, we need to delve into the hidden, occult levels of the creation that drive all actions in the universe.

William Shakespeare in Julius Caesar has Brutus exclaim: ”There is a tide in the affairs of men, Which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune; Omitted, all the voyage of their life
Is bound in shallows and in miseries.”

Sri Aurobindo notes: ”This is certain that when we go back into ourselves very deep away from the surface appearance, we find that the mind, heart and sensational being of man are moved by forces not under his own control and that he can become an instrument in the hands of Energies of a cosmic character without knowing the origin of his actions. It is by stepping back from the physical surface into his inner being and subliminal consciousness that he becomes directly aware of them and is able to know directly and deal with their action upon him.”

Sri Aurobindo and the Mother, The Hidden Forces of Life, Introduction

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.
More information about Sri Aurobindo can be found at
The US editions and links to e-book editions of Sri Aurobindo’s writings can be found at