© Sri Aurobindo Ashram Trust

Power of observation

27 January 1954

In what part of the being does the power of observa tion develop?

I think the power of observation develops in all the parts of the being. You may have a mental power of observation, a vital power of observation, a physical power of observation. When you observe ideas, for instance, the train of ideas, the logic of the ideas, it is not altogether the same power of observation as when you look at a friend doing athletics and see whether he is making his movements correctly or not. That is, the capacity of atten tion is there in both cases, but it works in a different field. It can't be said that it is one part of the being observing the others; it is the faculty of observation developing in each part of the being--that is, the faculty of concentration and attention. For the capacity of observation must not be confused with the capa city of discernment. Discernment is an intellectual capacity. Something like a judgment already enters into it, what we call "discrimination": you can distinguish between the origin of one thing and of another, and the reciprocal value of these things. But that ought to be founded on a correct observation. The power of observation comes first, discernment follows.

Is there a power of observation in the psychic?

More than that! There is the capacity for a direct vision of things. It is like a mirror in which all things are reflected, what ever they may be. But that is just what most children, when not deformed, have very clearly, a great sensibility--for example, to the atmosphere of those who approach them. There are child ren who, without any apparent reason, rush towards one person and run away in horror from another. For you both of them are equally good or not good, you make no difference. But in one instance the child is immediately attracted by the person, and in the other, try as hard as you may, it will weep, it will cry or it will run away, but it will have nothing to do with that per son; and all this is a translation, in a consciousness of ignorance, of a psychic phenomenon: the vision of the psychic quality of that person.