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object:2.2.01 - The Outer Being and the Inner Being

book class:Letters On Yoga I
author class:Sri Aurobindo

Section Two
The Concentric System:
Outer to Inner

Chapter One

The Outer Being
and the Inner Being
The Outer and the Inner Being and Consciousness
There are always two different consciousnesses in the human
being, one outward in which he ordinarily lives, the other inward and concealed of which he knows nothing. When one
does sadhana, the inner consciousness begins to open and one
is able to go inside and have all kinds of experiences there. As
the sadhana progresses, one begins to live more and more in this
inner being and the outer becomes more and more superficial. At
first the inner consciousness seems to be the dream and the outer
the waking reality. Afterwards the inner consciousness becomes
the reality and the outer is felt by many as a dream or delusion,
or else as something superficial and external. The inner consciousness begins to be a place of deep peace, light, happiness,
love, closeness to the Divine or the presence of the Divine, the
Mother. One is then aware of two consciousnesses, this inner
one and the outer which has to be changed into its counterpart
and instrument - that also must become full of peace, light,
union with the Divine. At present you are moving between the
two and in this period all the feelings you have are quite natural.
You need not be at all anxious about that, but wait for the full
development of the inner consciousness in which you will be
able to live.
There is always a double nature in human beings, the inner
(psychic and spiritual) which is in touch with the Divine; the
outer, mental, vital and physical, which has been brought up in
the Ignorance and is full of defects, imperfections and impurities.
It is for this reason that in sadhana things cannot be changed in a


Letters on Yoga - I

moment. The inner experience grows and extends and fills more
and more of the nature, but till all is filled, the imperfections
remain somewhere.
It is a usual experience - to live within in one consciousness
while the external being (mind, life, body) goes on of itself under the impulsion of the cosmic Force, doing quietly whatever is
necessary to do. This is part of the Yogic consciousness and to
have it means a very real and considerable advance on the path
of Yoga.
You have been accustomed to feel your outer consciousness as if
it were yourself and so, when you are in your inner realisation,
you feel as if you were not in this old accustomed self. As you
grow in the sadhana, you must learn to live in this inner being
and to feel the outer as something a little outside and this inner
being as your real self.
The inner parts in everybody remain vulgar or become high according as they are turned to the outward forces of the Ignorance
or towards the higher forces from above and the inner impulsion
of the psychic. All forces can play there. It is the outer being
that is fixed in a certain character, certain tendencies, certain
The outer consciousness is shut up in the body limitation and
in the little bit of personal mind and sense dependent on the
body - it sees only the outward, sees only things. But the inner
consciousness can see behind the thing, it is aware of the play of
forces, personal or universal - for it is in conscious touch with
the universal action.

The Outer and the Inner Being


The outer consciousness is that which usually expresses itself in
ordinary life. It is the external mental, vital, physical. It is not
connected very much with the inner being except in a few -
until one connects them together in the course of the sadhana.
The exterior being is the physical which is connected in an ignorant way with the physical universe. It is this physical being
which has developed an external mind and vital. The inner mind
and vital are on the contrary in direct contact with the universal
mental and vital and their forces; the inner subtle physical can
also be in direct touch with the cosmic forces of the physical
universe. But the exterior being is not in direct touch with the
universal or cosmic - only through the outer mind and senses.
It is the outer nature that is obscure and when it is at ease, feels
no necessity of remembering the Mother - when the difficulty
comes, then it feels the necessity and remembers. But the inner
being is not like that.
The inner being is not usually unquiet but it can be quiet or
unquiet like the outer.
The Inner, the Outer and the Process of Yoga
It is only by virtue of the inner consciousness that the outer can
awaken to the Divine Influence at all - it receives the inner urge
even when it is not aware whence it comes.
They [the inner mind and vital] exercise an influence and send
out their powers or suggestions which the outer sometimes carries out as best it can, sometimes does not follow. How much
they work on the outer depends on how far the individual has an
inner life. E.g. the poet, musician, artist, thinker, live much from


Letters on Yoga - I

within - men of genius and those who try to live according to
an ideal also. But there are plenty of people who have very little
inner life and are governed entirely by the forces of Nature.
As one gathers experience from life to life, mental or vital, the
inner mind and vital also develop according to the use made of
our experiences and the extent to which they are utilised for the
growth of the being.
You are mistaken in thinking that your external being alone is
like that. Hardly anybody has the external being of a Yogi - it
is the inner being that has the Yogic turn - the external has to
be converted and transformed.
If the inner being does not manifest or act, the outer being will
never get transformed.
If the inner being is safe, then there is no longer any struggle
or overpowering [of the outer being] by inertia or depression
or other fundamental difficulties. The rest can be done progressively and quietly, including the coming down of the Force. The
outer being becomes merely a machinery or an instrumentation
to be set right. It is not so easy to be entirely mukta in the inner
When the inner being once thoroughly establishes its separateness, even oceans of inertia cannot prevent it from keeping it. It
is the first thing to be done in order to have a secure basis in the
Yoga, to establish thoroughly this separateness. It comes most
usually when the peace is thoroughly fixed in all inner parts,
that the separateness also becomes fixed and permanent.

The Outer and the Inner Being


The Inner Being
The inner being is the inner mind, inner vital, inner physical
with the psychic behind them. The [term] higher being is used
to denote the conscious self on planes higher than the ordinary
human consciousness.
Do you not know that the inner being means the inner mind,
inner vital, inner physical with the psychic behind as the inmost?
How can there be one centre for all that?
The inner being cannot be "located" above, it can only join with
the above, penetrate it and be penetrated by it. If it were located
above, then there would be no inner being.
The inner being has its own time which is sometimes slower,
sometimes faster than the physical.
The Inner Being, the Antaratma and the Atman
The word Antaratma is very vaguely used like the word soul
in English - so used, it covers all the inner being, inner mind,
inner vital, inner physical even, as well as the inmost being, the
Our inner being is in touch with the universal mind, life, matter,
a part of all that, but by that very fact it cannot be in possession
of liberation and peace. You are thinking probably of the Atman
and confusing it with the inner being.
The Inner Being and the Psychic Being
I did not mean by the inner being the psychic or inmost being.
It is the psychic being that feels love, bhakti and union with the


Letters on Yoga - I

Mother. I was speaking of the inner mental, inner vital, inner
physical; in order to reach the hidden seat of the psychic one
has first to pass through these things. When one leaves the outer
consciousness and goes inside, it is here that one enters - some
or most entering into the inner vital first, others into the inner
mental or inner physical; the emotional vital is the most direct
road, for the seat of the psychic is just behind the emotional in the
heart centre. It is absolutely necessary for our purpose that one
should become conscious in these inner regions, for if they are
not awake, then the psychic being has no proper and sufficient
instrumentation for its activities; it has then only the outer mind,
outer vital and body for its means and these are too small and
narrow and obscure. You as yet have been able only to enter the
outskirts of the inner vital and are still insufficiently conscious
there. By becoming more conscious there and going deeper one
can reach the psychic - the safe refuge, nirapad sthana, of which
you speak, and you will not be disturbed by the confused visions
and experiences of the inner vital outskirts.
The psychic stands behind the inner mind, inner vital and inner
physical and supports them all - they are the inner, this the
inmost being.
I do not know what you mean by its [the inner being's] being
"around" the psychic. It is obviously nearer to the psychic than
the outer mind, vital or physical, but that does not ensure its
being open to the psychic only and not to other universal forces.
The psychic can have peace behind it - but the inner mind,
vital and physical are not necessarily silent - they are full of
movements. It is the higher consciousness that has a basis of

The Outer and the Inner Being


The psychic being is described in the Upanishads as no bigger
than the size of one's thumb! That of course is a symbolic image.
For usually when one sees anybody's psychic being in a form, it
is bigger than that. As for the inner being, one feels it big because
the true mental or the true vital or even the true physical being
is much wider in consciousness than the external consciousness
which is limited by the body. If the external parts seem to occupy
the whole consciousness, it is when one comes down into the
physical and feels all the activities of Nature playing in it -
even the mental and vital movements are then felt through the
physical and not as things of a separate plane. But when one
lives in the inner being then one is aware of a consciousness
which begins to spread into the universal and the external is
only a surface movement thrown up by the universal forces.
The Outer Being and Consciousness
The outer being is a means of expression only, not one's self. One
must not identify with it, for what it expresses is a personality
formed by the old ignorant Nature. If not identified, one can
change it so as to express the true inner personality of the Light.
They [the outer mind, vital and body] are small, but not unimportant in spite of their apparent insignificance - because they
are a necessary passage of transmission between the soul and
the outer world.
You take the outer waking consciousness as if it were the real
person or being and conclude that if it is not this but something
else that has the realisation or abides in the realisation, then no
one has it - for there is no one here except this waking consciousness. That is the very error by which the ignorance lasts
and cannot be got rid of. The very first step in getting out of the
ignorance is to accept the fact that this outer consciousness is not
one's soul, not oneself, not the real person, but only a temporary


Letters on Yoga - I

formation on the surface for the purposes of the surface play.
The soul, the person is within, not on the surface - the outer
personality is the person only in the first sense of the Latin word
persona which meant originally a mask.

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