There are many functions of our existence that take place without the conscious awareness or intervention of the mind. All of the complex functions of the body and its organs, for instance, are very much independent of control by our conscious mind and will, although some of these functions may, through intensive training and focus, come under at least partial control, such as the generation of inner heat in the Tibetan practice of tummo.

There are similar subconscious process that occur on the levels of perception, feeling, emotion and mental ideation. The entire realm of what we call ‘instinct’ is a basically automatic reaction in one of the vital responsive systems that takes over instantaneously when the necessary triggers or precursors arrive and prod the vital nature. This all takes place at the subconscious level.

Much of what enters through the vital envelope remains subliminal to us and if it finds a corresponding receptivity in the subconscious of the individual, it sets up a sympathetic vibration. This is illustrated by the musical instrument called the sitar, which has primary strings and ‘sympathetic’ strings. When the primary string is played, the sympathetic strings vibrate automatically. When any vibration enters the subconscient, it awakens any responsive ‘strings’ that may be lying there, seeds sprout and movement of energy ensues, as if from within us, but really as a response and reaction to the vibrations that have reached us from outside.

Sri Aurobindo observes: “The universal forces act very often through the subconscient — especially when the force they send is something the person has been in the habit of obeying and of which the seeds, impressions, ‘complexes’ are strongly rooted in the subconscient — or, even if that is no longer the case, of which there is a memory still in the subconscient.”

Sri Aurobindo and the Mother, The Hidden Forces of Life, Ch. 4 Cosmic and Universal Forces, pp. 83

Author's Bio: 

Santosh has been studying Sri Aurobindo's writings since 1971 and has a daily blog at and podcast located at
He is author of 20 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.
Video presentations, interviews and podcast episodes are all available on the YouTube Channel
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 Lotus Press