It is common for an individual to take some kind of illumination of the mind, or some strong positive emotion in the heart, for instance, as a sign of their contact with the soul. Yet in many, if not most, cases the contact is with a mental or vital movement tinged with the influence of the soul, and thus, only a partial and diluted relationship to the divine essence at the deepest soul level. The Mother clarifies this in some detail:

A disciple inquires: “Sweet Mother, here Sri Aurobindo has said: ‘If the inmost soul is awakened, if there is a new birth out of the mere mental, vital and physical into the psychic consciousness, then this Yoga can be done…’ Why has he said ‘the inmost soul’? Is there a superficial soul?”

The Mother writes: “It is because this inmost soul, that is, the central psychic being, influences the superficial parts of the consciousness (superficial in comparison with it: mental parts, vital parts). The purest mind, the highest vital, the emotive being — the soul influences them, influences them to an extent where one has the impression of entering into contact with it through these parts of the being. So people take these parts for the soul and that is why he says ‘the inmost soul’, that is, the central soul, the real soul.”

“For very often, when one touches certain parts of the mind which are under the psychic influence and full of light and the joy of that light, or when one touches certain very pure and very high parts of the emotive being which has the most generous, most unselfish emotions, one also has the impression of being in contact with one’s soul. But this is not the true soul, it is not the soul in its very essence. These are parts of the being under its influence and manifesting something of it. So, very often people enter into contact with these parts and this gives them illuminations, great joy, revelations, and they feel they have found their soul. But it is only the part of the being under its influence, one part or another…. Exactly what happens is that one touches these things, has experiences, and then it gets veiled, and one wonders, ‘How is it that I touched my soul and now have fallen back into this state of ignorance and inconscience!’ But that’s because one had not touched one’s soul, one had touched those parts of the being which are under the influence of the soul and manifest something of it, but are not it.”

“I have already said many times that when one enters consciously into contact with one’s soul and the union is established, it is over, it can no longer be undone, it is something permanent, constant, which resists everything, and which, at any moment whatever, if referred to can be found; whereas the other things — one can have very fine experiences, and then it gets veiled again, and one tells oneself, ‘How does that happen? I saw my soul and now I don’t find it any more!’ It was not the soul one had seen. And these things are very beautiful and give you very impressive experiences, but this is not the contact with the psychic being itself.”

“The contact with the psychic being is definitive, and it is about this that I say, when people ask, ‘Do I have a contact with my psychic being?’, ‘Your question itself proves that you don’t have it!”

Sri Aurobindo and the Mother, Our Many Selves: Practical Yogic Psychology, Chapter 2, Planes and Parts of the Being, pp. 91-93

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.