Honouring Intuition as the Soul’s Way of Knowing


Sri AurobindoI invite you friends, to ponder deeply these words of Hindu mystic and philosopher Sri Aurobindo. At the end there are some questions for your consideration. This would be ideal to do in the context of a group of friends or seekers.

“Therefore to find the truth of things

and the law of his being in relation

to that truth he must go deeper

and fathom the subjective secret of himself

and things

as well as their objective forms and surroundings.

This he may attempt to do

for a time

by the power of the critical and analytic reason

which has already carried him so far;

but not for very long.

For in his study of himself and the world

he cannot but come face to face

with the soul in himself and the soul in the world

and find it to be an entity

so profound, so complex,

so full of hidden secrets and powers

that his intellectual reason betrays itself

as an insufficient light and a fumbling seeker:

it is successfully analytical only of superficialities

and of what lies just behind the superficies.

The need of a deeper knowledge

must then turn him to the discovery

of new powers and means within himself.

He finds that he can only know himself entirely

by becoming actively self-conscious

and not merely self-critical,

by more and more living in his soul

and acting out of it

rather than floundering on surfaces,

by putting himself into conscious harmony

with that which lies behind his superficial mentality

and psychology and by enlightening

his reason and making dynamic his action

through this deeper light and power

to which he thus opens.

In this process the rationalistic ideal

begins to subject itself to the ideal of intuitional knowledge

and a deeper self- awareness;

the utilitarian standard gives way to the aspiration

towards self-consciousness and self-realisation;

the rule of living

according to the manifest laws of physical Nature

is replaced by the effort towards living

according to the veiled Law and Will and Power

active in the life of the world

and in the inner and outer life of humanity.”


The Coming of the Subjective Age, -.29. The Human Cycle, Aurobindo.

Aurobindo begins this reflection by stating the limitations of mere critical and analytical reason in the pursuit of the spiritual life. There comes a day when a human being comes “face to face with the soul in himself and the soul in the world and finds an entity so profound, so complex, so full of hidden secrets and powers that his intellectual reason betrays itself as an insufficient light and a fumbling seeker”.

The great poet Stanley Kunitz doesn’t mention “the soul” per se in his poem, The Layers. Instead, after writing about how in his long life he has lived many lives, and gone through many changes, yet there abides “a principle of being”,  from which he “struggles not to stray”.

How would you describe the soul, this “principle of being”, that transcends critical and analytical reasoning?

Aurobindo writes of “the ideal of intuitional knowledge”. Describe experiences of this deeper intuitive way of knowing in your life.

Aurobindo writes, ” He finds that he can only know himself entirely by becoming actively self-conscious and not merely self-critical,

by more and more living in his soul and acting out of it rather than floundering on surfaces”.

How are you doing with this art of being self-conscious or self-reflective, without being “self-critical”—the competency of self-inquiry, wherein we receive insights about ourselves as information”.

How do you “act out of the soul” rather than flounder on the surface of things?

Teilhard de Chardin writes of the “deep withinness” of life, this depth dimension that can be intuited in the midst of our comings and goings. Is this the “veiled Law and Will and Power” , active in the life of the world and in the inner and outer life of humanity, which is distinct from the “manifest laws of physical Nature”?

 What is your experience of this “veiled Law”?

Please leave your comments, and do respond to other people’s comments.

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  1. Cloyce Terrell says

    “Is this the “veiled Law and Will and Power”, active in the life of the world and in the inner and outer life of humanity, which is distinct from the “manifest laws of physical Nature”?

    This statement intrigues but confuses me, How can there be a ‘veiled Law and Will and Power’ that is distinct from the ‘manifest laws of physical Nature’ which have birthed and evolved me into a form and a consciousness that I experience and presumably know today? This question, to me, separates Soul and Intuition from Nature, Science and Reality, which no doubt seem themselves veiled to me. Is it possible that our spirit, our Souls, our intuition, our within-ness, are only side effects of the process that has formed us, And that our human ‘exceptionalism’ is creating false impressions of Reality as way that a very fluid mind, seeking still to survive, is accommodating the earth’s evolving environment.

    • Bruce Sanguin says

      Thanks Cloyce,

      You caused me to go back and re-read the quote. My sense of what he means by “veiled law” is simply the laws of soul/spirit, which do not contradict the physical laws of nature, but which in humans are susceptible to being concealed because of the presence of fear, and objectively the way we recruit our higher brain to serve our amygdala’s received perception of fear. These laws of soul are always, already present, but are not revealed to our sped-up, fear-based perceptions. Only when we are able to feel safe, slow down, sink in, and feel ourselves to be in flow with life are we able to integrate this way of being. In that sense, we are the ones who “veil” ourselves without knowing it.

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