Finding the Psychic Being (Radio program)

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Transcript of:
Finding the Psychic Being
by Loretta, 2010 (44:26)
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Sri Aurobindo and Mother came here for one very distinct purpose

Hello everybody. It's so nice to see all of you here. It's really so lovely. I'm speaking on finding our own individual soul, and I'm going to give just a little bit of background which probably almost everyone in the room knows just as well as I do. But, anyway, we will give it.

Sri Aurobindo and Mother came here for one very distinct purpose that's reflected in everything that they say and in everything that they do. And that was to facilitate and help bring into the manifestation this tremendous consciousness that has now become available. It's a consciousness that has been mentioned for centuries in spiritual teachings from many, many, many places and now seems to be the time when we incredibly lucky people experience it. We don't just read about it or hear about it but it's open to us, and it's available to us.

They also gave a little bit of advice about the best way to receive this consciousness, and they said the best way to do it is to realise your individual soul.

So, what is a soul? We have 'the all', 'everything', 'manifest and unmanifest everything', and we have so many words for it that I'm just going to use one, which I think is the most basic, and that's 'love'. We have the all-love. And that all-love decided, or did, forget a little about its all-ness. And became a little tiny part of itself. And in us throughout all of our lives that all-love and all-ness is becoming itself again. And on the way, we get formed.

'Darshan', presence

One of the things that I do in Auroville is I do exhibitions on different subjects of Mother and Sri Aurobindo's work, and this year it was on finding your individual soul. We have called it “Finding the Psychic Being”. And when I do these exhibitions, the best way for me to do them is really to not be there at all. I try to let Mother just completely work through me, and after awhile it's like the exhibition is running down the road and I'm running after it, just trying to do whatever I can do. And it's a very wonderful experience.

And each time, Mother and Sri Aurobindo do something. Sometimes it starts earlier and sometimes it starts when I hang the first thing on the wall – and this force comes pouring down, and it's always different. They make use of this work for their work which they are continuing to do. I never feel their absence. They were such tremendously realised beings that when they left their body I don't think they went anywhere at all. And so they're right here, and working with us all the time.

So the principle of a 'darshan' – darshan is the Sanskrit word for 'presence' – is a very well-known thing in Indian culture. When I first went to India about forty years ago that's the only kind of traveling the Indian people did. Sometimes whole villages would pick up and go to sit at the feet of a saint because the cosmic vibrations come down through the top of the head and out the bottom of the feet. And when you sit at the feet of a saint that saint's realisations are carried along with the cosmic vibrations, and if you're open you get them, whatever part you can get.

So because this is not telling you about the psychic being, because this is really doing whatever we can for finding our own psychic being, I'm going to try to bring as many darshans into this as possible. The most precious darshan is I've got a small tape of Mother teaching the children in the school about how to find their soul. And you all have as a handout the full session where one of these children asks the Mother if we can see the soul in someone else's eyes. And it's not to be read now – it's quite long – but you can just take it home and read it. But I've got the tape right here and I'm going to play the central part of it, and I'm going to read a few lines in English and then let you hear the French – because to hear the Mother's voice speaking about the soul, when she is such a realised being and has realised her own soul, even if we can't understand the words, it will touch us.

What is the psychic being?

But first we're going to play for you a small video. We made this video and found – it's only thirteen minutes long... we're just going to play the video for you, it's about the exhibition, and I think it will bring you to Auroville. It will bring you to this incredible building called Savitri Bhavan which is just outpouring of Mother's force, and it will bring you into the force that they poured into the exhibition.

(Start of video)

In the practice of Sri Aurobindo's Yoga, the first major stage to be reached is the finding of the individual soul – the psychic being. We call it the psychic being because in French the word for soul is ‘l'être psychique’, the psychic being. We've set up this exhibition for finding the psychic being. It takes a journey. It starts from the very first explanations: “what is the psychic being?”, “why would you find the psychic being?”, “how do you find the psychic being?”, at least some of what the psychic being does. And it ends with the very deep, soft, eternal parts that are the soul and that come from Sri Aurobindo and the Mother's own experiences.

We have taken from a wide range of Sri Aurobindo's writings: from his books, from his letters to the early disciples, from his poetry, from his epic poem Savitri. And we have taken from a wide range of Mother's teachings: from her letters, from her classes to the students, from her recorded talks in her room with one of her Ashram disciples.

Displayed along with the text on the walls are a number of photographs of Mother and Sri Aurobindo. And here and there interspersed are small drawings of swans, because the swan is the symbol of the individual soul. In the early days the disciples would write to Sri Aurobindo and ask him to interpret their dreams. And whenever they dreamt of the swan, Sri Aurobindo would say this is the symbol of the individual soul.

Throughout the exhibition you will see wonderful orchids. In her naming the spiritual qualities of flowers, Mother gave the name of all orchids of 'Attachment to the Divine'.

So we invite you to take the journey to find your psychic being.

“What exactly is the soul or psychic being? And what is meant by the evolution of the psychic being?”

The soul and the psychic being are not exactly the same thing, although their essence is the same.

The soul is the divine spark that dwells at the centre of each being; it is identical with its Divine Origin; it is the divine in man.

The psychic being is formed progressively around this divine centre, the soul, in the course of its innumerable lives in the terrestrial evolution, until the time comes when the psychic being, fully formed and wholly awakened, becomes the conscious sheath of the soul around which it is formed.

And thus identified with the Divine, it becomes His perfect instrument in the world.[1]


If perfect moments on the peak of things,
These tops of knowledge, greatness, ecstasy,
Are only moments, this too enough might be.
I have put on the rapid flaming wings
Of souls whom the Ignorance black-robed Nature brings
And the frail littleness of mortality
Can bind not always. A high sovereignty
Makes them awhile creation’s radiant kings.
These momentary upliftings of the soul
Prepare the spirit’s glorious permanence.
The peace of God, a mighty transience,
Is now my spirit’s boundless atmosphere.
All parts are gathered into a timeless whole;
All moments blaze in an eternal year. [2]

The Self's Infinity

I have become what before Time I was.
A secret touch has quieted thought and sense:
All things by the agent Mind created pass
Into a void and mute magnificence.
My life is a silence grasped by timeless hands;
The world is drowned in an immortal gaze.
Naked my spirit from its vestures stands;
I am alone with my own self for space.
My heart is a centre of infinity,
My body a dot in the soul’s vast expanse.
All being’s huge abyss wakes under me,
Once screened in a gigantic Ignorance.
A momentless immensity pure and bare,
I stretch to an eternal everywhere. [3]

The feeling of the psychic being

“In order to find the soul you must go in […], draw back from the surface, withdraw deep within and enter, enter, enter, go down, down, down into a very deep hole, silent, immobile, and there, there’s a kind of... something warm, quiet, rich in substance and very still, and very full, like a sweetness — that is the soul.

And if one is insistent and is conscious oneself, then there comes a kind of plenitude which gives the feeling of something complete that contains unfathomable depths in which, should one enter, one feels that many secrets would be revealed... like the reflection in very peaceful waters of something that is eternal. And one no longer feels limited by time.

One has the feeling of having always been and of being for eternity.

That is when one has touched the core of the soul.”[4]


My soul arose at dawn and, listening, heard
One voice abroad, a solitary bird,
A song not master of its note, a cry
That persevered into eternity.
My soul leaned out into the dawn to hear
In the world’s solitude its winged compeer
And, hearkening what the Angel had to say,
Saw lustre in midnight and a secret day
Was opened to it. It beheld the stars
Born from a thought and knew how being prepares.
Then I remembered how I woke from sleep
And made the skies, built earth, formed Ocean deep.[5]

(End of video)

Emergence of the psychic being

So we have the all-love, that is just what it was, and a little part of itself has started out on this long journey to find itself again. And how does it do that? It does it through the instrumentality of the human body. And we are remarkably complex instrumentalities, all of us. So many layers, and so many parts of layers, and so many aspects of layers. So we're going to set out now to try and find that eternal part of us and bring it forward. One of the things the Mother said is that most people who have an interest in finding their soul, and certainly the people who are trying to do the yoga of the Mother and Sri Aurobindo, have a fairly well-developed psychic being. Because that is what is looking for itself.

We have a lovely part of Savitri; I'm going to read just a few lines where he explains the process very poetically.

A mystic slow transfiguration works.
All our earth starts from mud and ends in sky,
And Love that was once an animal’s desire,
Then a sweet madness in the rapturous heart,
An ardent comradeship in the happy mind,
Becomes a wide spiritual yearning’s space.
A lonely soul passions for the Alone,
The heart that loved man thrills to the love of God,
A body is his chamber and his shrine. (p.632)

So Mother and Sri Aurobindo give us nice advice about finding the psychic being and it's incredibly simple. The important thing is that we have to want to do it. And we have to take the time and trouble to do what they tell us to do.

Usually we function in the outside world; we're far more interested in who we are in the outside than in the inside. There's a very beautiful thing in Savitri that for me just brings the presence of the soul so closely. It's just a few lines:

Then Savitri following the great winding road
Came where it dwindled into a narrow path
Trod only by rare wounded pilgrim feet.
A few bright forms emerged from unknown depths
And looked at her with calm immortal eyes.
There was no sound to break the brooding hush;
One felt the silent nearness of the soul. (p.502)

Recognizing the soul

The presence of the soul in us is everything about us that is love and softness, peace, tranquility, love of beauty, beauty, every effort for what is the better thing. Whatever the better thing is. Because that's what the soul is made of. So we already have a sense of our soul. And Mother gives a wonderful hint when she talks about the fact that when we were small babies, we were somebody, we had a certain relationship with the world and ourselves; and now we're somebody else, completely different. But there's a continuity in our own consciousness to that part when we were babies. And that's the soul. Because it's the soul that's eternal, and it's the soul that brings that.

And if we concentrate on all the beautiful parts in us, then it kind of clears the screen of all the parts that are hiding the soul: egoisms, and unkindnesses, and negative thoughts, and things like that.

We have a choice, as we all of course have realised, at every moment. Either for the better thing or for the lesser-better thing. And the more we make that choice for the better thing, the more the screen is cleared and is opened for the soul – and in fact it's a very clever system, because in fact it's the soul that's doing that. But we need a kind of cooperation. Mother says the soul is not trying to hide from us, but there are two very noisy fellows in the way. And that's our mind and our vital being. So we have to learn to just quiet all of that and try to learn to listen to that still small voice, because that is the voice of our soul. And that does guide us.

Mother says somewhere “it's a presence of something that knows, and tells what it knows”, and we just have to be able to let it speak and to listen to it, and to follow it. Seeing beauty, giving beauty, knowing that there's love, making that effort for that more positive thing – that's all hard work. It's not just a very beautiful thing to say. You're down in the trenches, all the time. It seems like with this tremendous power that's coming into the universe that we face ourselves around every corner.

And so there's only one solution. And that's that better part of us, that higher part of us, that's individual soul with its God-given task to realise itself again.

Yoga and the higher will

We are just sending and receiving instruments. And so the more we give out love, the more we receive love, the more we become love – it's the psychic action. The more love is freely given, the more the action of the psychic simply flows forward.

The working attitude – the working attitude – when we're totally lost in “I can't love the guy – my God how do I do this...” is a complete surrender. It's just a complete surrender of our being to the higher will. Because – I mean I have no idea, and I doubt that anyone here has much more idea of all these incredible things – but we know there's a higher will. And we know that higher will is directing us. And it's that higher will that has evolved the soul in us. And so the more we can surrender ourselves just to remember that there is a higher will, and to quiet down, and to let that act through us, the more the soul grows, in a sense. (Not that it has to grow.)

And then as a highly practical issue: I mean would we rather deal with our life from the standpoint of our personality that we've somehow managed to grow in this small life, through our families and our experiences of life, or would we rather have something that's been around for such a long time, that has gained so much more wisdom and so much more capacity, come forward and do these things for us?

Sri Aurobindo describes something of the soul that says it all really nicely. It encapsulates the process:

A secret soul behind supporting all
Is master and witness of our ignorant life,
Admits the Person’s look and Nature’s role.
But once the hidden doors are flung apart
Then the veiled king steps out in Nature’s front;
A Light comes down into the Ignorance,
Its heavy painful knot loosens its grasp:
The mind becomes a mastered instrument
And life a hue and figure of the soul.
All happily grows towards knowledge and towards bliss. [6]

In the body, the physical body, the seat of the soul is in the heart – not the physical heart slightly to the left of the center of our body, but centralised in the body. It sits behind the emotional being. And we can go forward to it – not by going forward, but it's a falling back, a going deeper and deeper and deeper within. And there seem to be kind of 'levels of application' for this kind of inner work. We can make the decisions to go within, and to find the soul. And we can also offer ourselves to everything that's good and everything that's beautiful and everything that's Truth and everything that's Beauty, kind of on the way, which opens the door some more. And then we can have, on top of that, when we can think of it, an aspiration for an inward opening, and an aspiration to feel that conscious presence. And then we can have calling on Mother and Sri Aurobindo, because they're so close, and we're so important to them. I firmly believe that there's not a hair on our heads that they're not aware of.

When our soul comes forward

So how do we know when our soul is coming forward? How do we know that the soul has come forward more and more to take charge of our progress? We know it because of all the soul qualities that we are and that we do. Because we're not such a common phenomenon in the daily life. There are not that many people who are so deeply yearning for progress, for what's better, for all the higher things. And we can know by people's response to us. Because suddenly everything works. And everything moves. Because our soul, which is connected to the all, has got us hooked up to the all. And we're doing the right thing, and we're acting in the right way.

Sri Aurobindo has a really beautiful sonnet that characterises the condition of our consciousness when we really have the soul very forward and all these instrumentalities of our being, all these layers and parts and nooks and crannies, are all really open to the higher will and being moved by the higher will.


O Thou of whom I am the instrument,
O secret Spirit and Nature housed in me,
Let all my mortal being now be blent
In Thy still glory of divinity.
I have given my mind to be dug Thy channel mind,
I have offered up my will to be Thy will:
Let nothing of myself be left behind
In our union mystic and unutterable.
My heart shall throb with the world-beats of Thy love,
My body become Thy engine for earth-use;
In my nerves and veins Thy rapture’s streams shall move;
My thoughts shall be hounds of Light for Thy power to loose.
Keep only my soul to adore eternally
And meet Thee in each form and soul of Thee.[7]

And so what do we have when we have a realised soul? We have love, that for love forgot itself, to become love, to receive love, to give love, so that love can manifest. And at that point we are doing what Mother and Sri Aurobindo said in the yoga and we're able to receive all of this tremendous power and light and love that's coming down. And this is really only just the beginning.

Mother and Sri Aurobindo were there some time ago, and now their bodies are not there, but we're really at the dawn of the new age, and we are really the pioneers. We are ploughing the fields and building the roads, and we do it by the softest, gentlest, most loving peaceful things that people can do.

Seeing the soul in someone else's eyes

So I have Mother's talk – this is in the Entretiens, the Questions and Answers; Mother started taking classes in the school because the French teachers were teaching the little students by rote, and weren't teaching them to think French. And Mother didn't want the students to be taught by rote, so she came in and started taking classes in French, and she started teaching these students. And when you read the Questions and Answers, you read some questions and – I know I read them for years and I thought “boy, what a wise question”. Wherever Mother was everybody was; they didn't close the doors and so Mother was in there and the students were sitting around her on the floor in their exercise clothes – in their shorts and their t-shirts – and all around them stood all the Ashram, and all the sadhaks. But the children asked the questions. And it was kids with this depth – they were so open. And so one child asks the Mother, “Sweet Mother ('Douce Mère'), With the human mind, is it possible to recognise another person's soul?” And you have this – and I'm just going to go to the middle of it – because when Mother talks about going within to find the soul, you hear her voice. And her voice gets softer and softer and deeper and deeper and deeper and she says “descend” ('descendre'), and she goes “descendre descendre descendre...” - she goes in, you feel her going in. And the word “far” is loin, and she goes “loin, loin, loin, loin, loin, loin, loin, loin...”

Okay. I'm going to read the first few lines, then I'm going to play it and then I'm going to stop it; and then I'm going to read the next few lines, and play it and stop it. I suggest that what you do is just open yourself as much as possible to receive the darshan of the Mother's consciousness as she's giving the experience of going deep within to the whole Ashram and all its students.

“To perceive the soul in someone, as a rule the mind must be very quiet — very quiet, for when it is active, its vibrations are seen, not the vibration of the soul.

And then, when you look at someone who is conscious of his soul, and lives in his soul, if you look like this, the impression you have is of descending, of entering deep, deep, deep into the person, far, far, far, [“loin, loin, loin, loin”] far within; while usually when you look into someone’s eyes, you very soon come to a surface which vibrates and answers your look, but you don’t have that feeling of going down, [“descendre”] down, down, down, going deep as into a hole and very far, [“très, très, très, très far”] very, very, very far within, so you have... a small, very quiet response.

Otherwise, usually you enter — there are eyes you cannot enter, they are closed like a door; but still there are eyes which are open — you enter and then, quite close behind, you come to something vibrating there, like this, shining at times, vibrating. And then, that’s it; if you make a mistake, you say, “Oh! He has a living soul” — it is not that, it is his vital.

In order to find the soul you must go in this way (gesture of going deep within), like this, draw back from the surface, withdraw deep within and enter, enter, enter, go down, down, down into a very deep hole, silent, immobile, and there, there’s a kind of... something warm, quiet, rich in substance and very still, and very full, like a sweetness — that is the soul.

And if one is insistent and is conscious oneself, then there comes a kind of plenitude which gives the feeling of something complete that contains unfathomable depths in which, should one enter, one feels that many secrets would be revealed... like the reflection in very peaceful waters of something that is eternal. And one no longer feels limited by time.

One has the feeling of having always been and of being for eternity.

That is when one has touched the core of the soul.”[8]

There's not much to say after that. If anybody has any questions, you could ask, or you could just find me any time.

  1. Some Answers from The Mother, p.245, 16 July 1960
  2. Collected Poems, p.616, "Moments"
  3. Ibid., p.610, “The Self's Infinity”
  4. Questions and Answers 1957-1958, p.310, 9 April 1958
  5. Collected Poems, p.203, “Reminiscence”
  6. Savitri, p.530
  7. Collected Poems, p.611, “Surrender”
  8. Questions and Answers 1957-1958, p.309, 9 April 1958

See also