Confusion about the spiritual being and the psychic being is not the only source of misunderstanding about the source of inspirations, feelings, and thoughts that arise as the individual shifts away from exclusive focus on the surface external being and begins to gain experience of the inner being. It becomes necessary then to recognize that the mind, the life and the body have not only an external, surface action, but also have an inner or subtle action . Whereas the surface being is very much wrapped up in its own process, the inner mind, vital and physical are able to receive and recognize their connection to the universal forces and planes to which they are connected. As we step back from the surface mind, for instance, we can begin to experience intuitions or inspirations, whatever we may call them, that speak to us of the truths occurring in the larger existence beyond our narrow ego-personality. Similarly, the inner vital can experience emotions, feelings, reactions that are moving outside. The inner, or subtle physical can experience pressures and sensations that may indicate a physical force of illness, for instance. It is this inner subtle existence, vibrating and receiving through the respective chakras that act as energy centers for mind, vital and body, that can have insights, premonitions, or feelings of things that are coming towards one.

Many of those who experience these things may confuse them with the action of the soul, or psychic being. However, it is not the role of the soul to capture, translate and respond to these forces, whether overt and coming to the external being, or subtle and coming to the inner being, but rather, to provide the direction and compass for the being’s direction, acting as the guide and evaluating the response that the being should provide to these forces of mind, life and body.

Sri Aurobindo observes: “The psychic is not above but behind — its seat is behind the heart, its power is not knowledge but an essential or spiritual feeling — it has the clearest sense of the Truth and a sort of inherent perception of it which is of the nature of soul-perception and soul-feeling. It is our inmost being and supports all the others, mental, vital, physical, but it is also much veiled by them and has to act upon them as an influence rather than by its sovereign right of direct action; its direct action becomes normal and preponderant only at a high stage of development or by yoga. it is not the psychic being which, you feel, gives you the intuitions of things to be or warns you against the results of certain actions; that is some part of the inner being, sometimes the inner mental, sometimes the inner vital, sometimes, it may be, the inner or subtle physical Purusha. The inner being — inner mind, inner vital, inner or subtle physical — knows much that is unknown to the outer mind, the outer vital, the outer physical, for it is in a more direct contact with the secret forces of Nature. The psychic is the inmost being of all; a perception of truth which is inherent in the deepest substance of the consciousness, a sense of the good, true, beautiful, the Divine, is its privilege.”

Sri Aurobindo and the Mother, Our Many Selves: Practical Yogic Psychology, Chapter 2, Planes and Parts of the Being, pg. 86

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.