classes ::: chapter, Sri_Aurobindo_or_the_Adventure_of_Consciousness, Satprem, Integral_Yoga,
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Instances, Classes, See Also, Object in Names
Definitions, . Quotes . - . Chapters .


object:1.06 - Quieting the Vital
class:chapter
book class:Sri Aurobindo or the Adventure of Consciousness
author class:Satprem
subject class:Integral Yoga


The Limitations of Morality There is an area of our being which is a source of both great difficulty and great power. A source of difficulty, because it blurs all the communications from outside or above by frantically opposing our efforts to silence the mind and bogging down the consciousness at its own level of petty occupations and interests, thus hindering its free movement toward other regions. A source of power, because it is the outcropping of the great force of life in us. This is the region located between the heart and the sex center, which Sri Aurobindo calls the vital.
It is a place full of every possible mixture: pleasure is inextricably mixed with suffering, pain with joy, evil with good, and make-believe with truth. The world's various spiritual traditions have found it so troublesome that they have preferred to reject this dangerous zone altogether, allowing only the expression of so-called religious emotions and strongly advising the neophyte to reject everything else.
Everyone seems to agree: human nature is unchangeable. But this kind of moral surgery,56 as Sri Aurobindo calls it, has two drawbacks: first,
it does not bring about any real purification, because the higher emotions, however refined they may appear to be, are as mixed as the lower ones, since they are sentimental in essence and hence partial;
secondly, it does not really prevent anything it merely represses. The vital is a force of its own, entirely independent of our rational or moral arguments. If we try to overpower it or ill-treat it by radical asceticism or discipline, the slightest letup can bring on an open rebellion and it knows how to take revenge with interest. Or, if we have enough willpower to impose our mental or moral rules upon it, we may prevail, but at the cost of drying up the life-force in ourselves, because 56

The Life Divine, 18:48


the frustrated vital will go on strike and we will find ourselves purified not only of the evil but also of the good in life: we will have become colorless and odorless. What is more, morality works only within the bounds of the mental process; it does not have access to the subconscious or superconscious regions, or to death, or to sleep (which happens to take up one day out of every three in our existence,
so that a sixty-year life span would entitle us to forty years of waking moral life and twenty years of immortality a strange arithmetic). In other words, morality does not go beyond the limits of our small frontal personality. Therefore, it is not a rigid moral or fanatic discipline that we want to impose on our being, but a spiritual and comprehensive one that respects each part of our nature while freeing it from its particular mixture; for in truth, there is no absolute evil anywhere only mixtures.
Furthermore, the seeker no longer thinks in terms of good and evil (assuming he still "thinks" at all), but in terms of exact and inexact.
When a sailor needs to take his ship's bearing, he does not use his love of the sea to do so, but a sextant, and he makes quite sure that the mirror is clean. If our mirror is not clean, we can never see the reality of things or people, because everywhere we will meet only the reflection of our own desires or fears, the echo of our own turmoil, not only in this world but in all the other worlds, in waking, in sleep, and in death. In order to see, we need to stop being in the center of the picture. The seeker will therefore need to discriminate between those elements that blur his vision and those that clarify it; such will be the essence of his "morality."

Habit of Response The first thing the seeker will detect in his vital exploration is a part of the mind whose only role seems to be to give form, and justification,
to his impulses, feelings or desires; this is what Sri Aurobindo terms the vital mind. Since we already know the necessity for mental silence, we will now strive to extend our discipline of silence to this lower mental layer, too. Once this has been achieved, we will see things far more clearly without all their mental embellishments; the

various vibrations of our being will appear in their true light and at their true level. Most importantly, however, we will be able to see these vibrations coming. In this zone of silence we have now become,
the slightest movement of substance mental, vital or other will be like a signal for us; we will immediately know that something has touched our atmosphere. We will thus become aware, spontaneously,
of the many vibrations people constantly emanate without realizing it;
we will know exactly what is going on and whom we are facing (a person's external veneer having usually nothing to do with that unostentatious vibrating reality). Our relationships with the outer world will become clear: we will understand why we instinctively like or dislike someone, why we feel afraid or ill at ease then we will be able to correct our reactions, accept the helpful vibrations, deflect the darker vibrations, and neutralize the harmful ones. Indeed, we will notice quite an interesting phenomenon: our inner silence has power.
If, instead of responding to the incoming vibration, we maintain an absolute inner stillness, we will notice that this stillness dissolves the vibration; it's as if we were surrounded by a field of snow in which all impacts are absorbed and neutralized. Let us take the simple example of anger: if, instead of vibrating inwardly in unison with the person facing us, we can remain absolutely still within, we will see that person's anger gradually dissolving. Mother observed that this inner stillness, this power not to respond, can even stop an assassin's hand or a snake's bite. But wearing an impassive mask while we are still boiling on the inside will not do; we cannot cheat with vibrations (as animals know full well). This has nothing to do with so-called selfcontrol, which is only a mastery of appearances, but with true inner mastery. Moreover, this silence can neutralize any vibration at all, for the simple reason that all vibrations are contagious, from the highest vibrations to the lowest (this is how a master can pass on spiritual experiences or a power to a disciple), and it is up to us to accept the contagion or not; if we become afraid, it means we have already accepted the contagion, and hence have already accepted the angry man's blow or the snake's bite. (One can also accept a blow out of love, like Sri Ramakrishna, who at the sight of a cart driver beating an ox, suddenly cried out in pain and found himself lacerated and bleeding, his back covered with lash marks.) The same holds for

physical pain; we can allow the contagion of a painful vibration to overcome us, or, instead, circumscribe the area of pain and eventually,
depending on the degree of our mastery, neutralize the pain by disconnecting the consciousness from that area. The key to mastery is always silence, at every level, because silence enables us to discern the vibrations, and to discern them is to be able to act upon them. This has countless practical applications, and hence countless opportunities for progress. Ordinary everyday life (which is ordinary only for those who live it ordinarily) becomes an extraordinary field of experience and handling of vibrations, which is why Sri Aurobindo always wanted his yoga to encompass it. It is very easy to live isolated in a flawless illusion of self-mastery.
This power of silence or inner immobility has even more significant applications, for our own psychological life. The vital is not only a place of many troubles and perturbations, it is also the source of a great energy; we must therefore try to separate the life energy from its complications, without separating ourselves from life.
The real complications are not in life but in ourselves, and all external circumstances are the exact reflection of what we are. The main problem with the vital is that it mistakenly identifies with just about everything that comes out of itself. It says: "This is 'my' pain, 'my'
depression, 'my' personality, 'my' desire," and thinks of itself as all sorts of little me's it is not. If we are convinced that all these occurrences are ours, then there is obviously nothing we can do about them, except put up with the trivial family until the attack is over. But if we can remain silent within, we soon realize that none of this has anything to do with us: everything comes from outside. We keep picking up the same wavelengths, and becoming overwhelmed by every contagion. For example, we are with some people, completely silent and still within (which doesn't prevent us from talking and acting normally), when suddenly, in this transparency, we feel something trying to draw us or to enter us, a kind of pressure or vibration in the atmosphere (which may cause a vague sense of unease). If we take in the vibration, we are soon struggling against a depression, having a particular desire, or feeling restless; we have caught the contagion. Sometimes it is not just a vibration but a whole wave that falls upon us. Another's physical presence is unnecessary;


we can be alone in the Himalayas and still receive the world's vibrations. So where is "my" restlessness, "my" desire in all this,
except in a habit of perpetually picking up the same vibrations? But the seeker who has cultivated silence will no longer let himself become caught in this false identification57 ; he will have become aware of what Sri Aurobindo calls the circumconscient, the environmental consciousness,58 that field of snow around him, which can be extremely luminous, strong and solid, or become dark,
corrupted, and sometimes even completely disintegrated, depending upon his own inner state. It is an individual atmosphere, as it were, a protective envelope (sensitive enough to enable us to feel somebody approaching, or avoid an accident just before it happens) where we can feel and stop the psychological vibrations before they enter us.
Generally, they are so accustomed to coming right in, since they find such affinity in us, that we do not even feel them coming; the process of appropriating and identifying with them is instantaneous. But our practice of silence has now created a transparency within us that gradually allows us to see them coming, stop them on their way in,
and reject them. After we have rejected them, they sometimes remain in the circumconscient,59 circling round and round, waiting for an opportunity to reenter we can very distinctly feel anger, desire or depression prowling around us but through continued nonintervention these vibrations will gradually lose their strength and eventually leave us alone. We will have severed the connection between them and us. Then one day, we will happily notice that certain vibrations which had seemed inescapable no longer touch us;
they are as if drained of their power and merely flash by as if on a movie screen; interestingly, we can even see in advance the little mischief trying one more time to perpetuate its trick. Or else, we will find that certain psychological states hit us at fixed times, or recur in cycles (this is what Sri Aurobindo and Mother call a formation, an amalgam of vibrations that, through sheer repetitions, tends to take on a kind of personality of its own); once we pick it up, we will see this 57

The Synthesis of Yoga, 20:321
Letters on Yoga, 22:314
59
Unless they sink into the subconscient, a process we will discuss later when studying that zone.
58


formation unwind itself from beginning to end, like a gramophone record.60 It is up to us to decide whether we want to "go along" or not.
There are thousands of possible experiences, a whole world of observations. But the essential discovery we make is that there is very little of "us" in all this, except a habit of response.61 As long as, out of ignorance, we falsely identify with the vital vibrations, we cannot expect to change anything in our nature, except through amputation;
but from the moment we understand how it really works, everything can change, because we can choose not to respond, using silence to dissolve the troublesome vibrations and tuning in elsewhere, as we please. Hence, contrary to all the old saws, human nature can be changed. Nothing in our consciousness or nature is fixed once and for all; everything is a play of forces or vibrations, which gives the illusion of "natural" necessity by virtue of repetition. This is why Sri Aurobindo's yoga envisions the possibility of an entire reversal of the ordinary rule of the reacting consciousness.62
Having brought this mechanism to light, we will have found, at the same time, the true method toward vital mastery, which is not surgical but calming; the vital predicament is not overcome by struggling vitally against it, which can only exhaust our energies without exhausting its universal existence, but by taking another position and neutralizing it through silent peace: If you get peace, Sri Aurobindo wrote to a disciple, then to clean the vital becomes easy. If you simply clean and clean and do nothing else, you go very slowly for the vital gets dirty again and has to be cleansed a hundred times. The peace is something that is clean in itself, so to get it is a positive way of securing your object. To look for dirt only and clean is the negative way.63

The Adverse Forces There is yet another difficulty. The vibrations coming from people or 60
61
62
63

On Yoga II, Tome 2, 451
On Yoga II, Tome 2, 489
The Life Divine, 19:989
Letters on Yoga, 23:654


from the universal vital are not the only ones trying to disturb the seeker (actually, distinguishing between these two kinds is hardly possible since individuals are merely ground stations64 for the universal vital or the universal mind, and vibrations weave endlessly from the one to the other). There is another type of vibrations,
remarkable for their suddenness and violence; the seeker will literally feel these vibrations sweep over him massively; within seconds he becomes "a different person," having totally forgotten his main purpose, his efforts, his goal, as if everything had been swept away,
left devoid of meaning, disintegrated. These are what Sri Aurobindo and Mother call the adverse forces. They are highly conscious forces whose sole aim, apparently, is to discourage the seeker and divert him from the path he has chosen. The first sign of their presence is easily perceptible: joy is clouded, consciousness is clouded, everything becomes shrouded in an atmosphere of melodrama and gloom.
Personal distress is a sure sign of the enemy's presence. Melodrama is a favorite haunt of these forces; that is how they are able to create the greatest havoc, because they play with a very old teammate within us,
who cannot help loving melodrama even as he cries out for relief.
First, they generally make a point of forcing us into sudden, extreme,
and irrevocable decisions in order to take us as far away as possible from our path a pressing, exacting vibration that demands immediate compliance; or else, they take apart, with remarkable skill, the whole system of our quest to prove that we are deluding ourselves and that our efforts will come to nothing; more often, they bring about a state of depression, playing with another well-known teammate within us whom Sri Aurobindo calls the man of sorrows: a fellow . . . covering himself with a sevenfold overcoat of tragedy and gloom, and he would not feel his existence justified if he couldn't be colossally miserable. 65
All the vibrations of disorder that we call "our" sorrow or "our"
troubles have the immediate result of weakening or disintegrating our protective "field of snow," which means that the door is wide open to the adverse forces. They have a thousand and one ways of attacking us for we are indeed under attack and the more determined we are,
the more relentless they become. This may seem like an exaggeration,
64
65

The Synthesis of Yoga, 20:322
Correspondence with Sri Aurobindo, Vol. II, 112


but only one who has never tried to make progress would doubt it. As long as we move with the common herd, life is relatively easy, with its moderate ups and downs; but the moment we want to get out of the rut, a thousand forces rise up, suddenly very interested that we should behave "like everyone else," then we realize how well organized the imprisonment is. We even realize that we can go as far downward as we can ascend, that our downward movements are in exact proportion to our capacity of ascent; many scales fall from our eyes. If we are a little honest with ourselves, we see that we are capable of anything,
and that, as Sri Aurobindo says, our virtue is a pretentious impurity.66
Only those who have never gone beyond the frontal personality can still harbor any illusion about themselves.
These adverse forces have been given all sorts of devilish and "negative" names through the world's spiritual history, as if their sole aim were to damn the seeker and give decent people a hard time. The reality is somewhat different, for where is the devil if not in God? If he is not in God, then there is not much left in God, because this world is evil enough, as are quite a few other worlds, so that not much would remain that is pure, except perhaps for a dimensionless and shadowless mathematical point. In reality, as experience shows, these disturbing forces have their place in the universe; they are disturbing only at the scale of our constricted momentary consciousness, and for a specific purpose. Firstly, they always catch us with our defenses down yet were we firm and one-pointed, they could not shake us for a second. In addition, if we look into ourselves instead of whining and blaming the devil or the world's wickedness, we find that each of these attacks has exposed one of our many virtuous pretenses, or, as Mother says, has pulled off the little coats we put on to avoid seeing. Not only do the little, or big, coats conceal our own weaknesses, they are everywhere in the world, hiding its small deficiencies as well as its enormous conceit; and if the perturbing forces yank the coats a bit violently, it is not at random or with wanton malice, but to open our eyes and compel us to a perfection we might otherwise resist, because as soon as we have grasped hold of a grain of truth or a wisp of ideal,
we have the unfortunate tendency to lock it up in an hermetic and 66

The Synthesis of Yoga, 20:53


impregnable construction, and to refuse to budge from there. For the individual as for the world, these rather ungracious forces are instruments of progress. "By what men fall, by that they rise," says the Kularnava Tantra in its wisdom. We protest against the apparently useless and arbitrary "catastrophe" that strikes our heart or our flesh,
and we blame the "Enemy," but is it not possible that the soul itself
not the outward mind, but the spirit within has accepted and chosen these things as part of its development in order to get through the necessary experience at a rapid rate, to hew through, durchhauen,
even at the risk or the cost of much damage to the outward life and the body? To the growing soul, to the spirit within us, may not difficulties,
obstacles, attacks be a means of growth, added strength, enlarged experience, training for spiritual victory?67 We complain against evil,
but if it was not there to besiege and defy us, we would long ago have seized the eternal Truth and turned it into a nice, tidy piece of platitude. Truth moves on; it has legs; and the princes of darkness are there to make sure, however brutally, that it does not slumber. God's negations are as useful to us as His affirmations,68 says Sri Aurobindo. The Adversary will disappear only when he is no longer necessary in the world, remarked Mother. He is undoubtedly necessary, as is the touchstone for gold, to make sure we are true.
Indeed, God may not be a pure mathematical point, external to this world; perhaps He is all this world and all this impurity laboring and suffering to become perfect, and to remember Itself here on earth.
The method for dealing with these adverse forces is the same as for the other vibrations: silence, inner stillness that lets the storm blow over. We may not succeed the first time in dissolving these attacks,
but more and more they will seem to take place on the surface of our being; we may be shaken, upset, yet deep down we will feel the "Witness" in us, unscathed and unaffected he is never affected. We fall and get back up again, each time becoming stronger. The only sin is discouragement. In practice, the seeker of the integral yoga will be far more exposed than others (Sri Aurobindo often said his yoga was a 67
68

The Riddle of this World, 79
Thoughts and Aphorisms, 17:146


battle69 ), because he seeks to embrace everything in his consciousness, without rejecting anything, and because there is not just one passage to open up to the bliss above, not just one guardian of the treasure to subdue, but many passages, to the right and the left and below, at every level of our being, and more than one treasure to discover.

The True Vital Thus, there is a kind of threshold to be crossed if we want to find the true life force behind the troubled life of the frontal man. According to traditional spiritual teachings, this crossing involves mortifications and renunciations of all sorts (which, by the way, serve mainly to enhance the ascetic's high opinion of himself), but we are after something quite different. We do not seek to leave life but to widen it;
we do not want to give up oxygen for hydrogen, or vice versa, but to study the chemical composition of consciousness and to see under what conditions it will yield a clearer water and a more efficient operation. Yoga is a greater art of life,70 proclaimed Sri Aurobindo.
The attitude of the ascetic who says "I seek nothing" and that of the worldly man who says "I want this thing" are the same, remarks Mother. The one may be as attached to his renunciation as the other is to his possession. Actually, as long as we need to renounce anything at all, we are not ready; we are still submerged in dualities. Yet,
without any special training, anyone can make the following observations. First, all we have to do is tell the vital, "You have to renounce this or to abandon that," for it to be seized with the opposite desire; or if it does agree to renounce something, we can be certain it will expect to be paid back a hundredfold, and it would just as soon deal with a big renunciation as a small one, since in either case it is at the center of the show, negatively or positively: both sides are equally nourishing it. If we unmask this simple truth, we will have understood the whole functioning of the vital, from top to bottom, namely, its utter indifference to our human sentimentalism; pain appeals to it as 69
70

The Synthesis of Yoga, 20:71
Letters on Yoga, 22:125


much as joy, deprivation as much as abundance, hatred as much as love, torture as much as ecstasy. It thrives in every case. This is because it is a Force, the same Force in pain as in pleasure. We are thus bluntly confronted with the absolute ambivalence of all the feelings that make up the niceties of our frontal personality. Every one of our feelings is the reverse of another; at any moment it may change into its "opposite": the disillusioned philanthropist (or, rather, the disillusioned vital in the philanthropist) becomes a pessimist, the zealous apostle retires to the desert, the staunch unbeliever becomes a sectarian, and the virtuous man is scandalized by all the things he does not dare to do. Here we uncover another feature of the surface vital: it is an incorrigible charlatan,71 a shameless impersonator. (We are not even sure that our own mother's death escapes its pleasure.) Each time we cry in disapproval or in pain (any crying at all), there is a monkey snickering in us. We all know this, yet we remain as sentimental as ever. To top it all, the vital excels in befogging everything. It is fog incarnate; it mistakes the force of its feelings for the force of truth, and substitutes for the heights a smoky volcano summit in the abyss.72
Another observation, which follows from the first, becomes plainly apparent: that of the utter powerlessness of the vital to help others, or even simply to communicate with others, except when there is a meeting of egos. There is not a single vital vibration emanating from us, or relayed by us, that cannot immediately change into its opposite in the other person. We need only wish someone well for the corresponding ill feeling or resistance or opposite reaction to awaken automatically, as if it were being received at the same time as the other; the process seems as spontaneous and inevitable as a chemical reaction. Indeed, the vital does not seek to help, it always seeks to take, in every possible manner. All our feelings are tainted with grabbing. Our feeling of sadness any sadness at a friend's betrayal,
for example, is the sure sign of our ego's involvement, for if we truly loved people for themselves, and not for ourselves, we would love them in any circumstances, even as adversaries; we would feel the joy of their existence in all cases. Our sorrows and sufferings are actually 71
72

The Synthesis of Yoga, 20:217
Correspondence with Sri Aurobindo, Vol. II, 86


always the sign of a mixture, and therefore always deceitful. Joy alone is true. Because only the "I" within us that embraces all existences and all possible opposites of existence is true. We suffer because we put things outside ourselves. When all is inside, all is joy, because there is no longer any gap anywhere.
"But what about the 'Heart'?" we may protest. Well, isn't the heart in fact the most ambivalent place of all? It tires easily, too. And this is our third observation: Our capacity for joy is small, as is our capacity for suffering; we soon grow indifferent to the worst calamities. What waters of oblivion have not flowed over our greatest sorrows? We can contain very little of the great Force of Life we cannot withstand the charge, as Mother says; a mere breath beyond the limit, and we cry out with joy or pain, we weep, dance, or faint. It is always the same ambiguous Force that flows, and before long overflows. The Force of Life does not suffer; it is not troubled or exalted, evil or good it just is, flowing serenely, all-encompassing. All the contrary signs it assumes in us are the vestiges of our past evolution, when we were small and separate, when we needed to protect ourselves from this living enormity too intense for our size, and had to distinguish between "useful" and "harmful" vibrations, the ones getting a positive coefficient of pleasure or sympathy or good, the others a negative coefficient of suffering or repulsion or evil. But suffering is only a too great intensity of the same Force, and too intense a pleasure changes into its painful "opposite": They are conventions of our senses,73 says Sri Aurobindo. It only takes a slight shift of the needle of consciousness, says the Mother. To cosmic consciousness in its state of complete knowledge and complete experience all touches come as joy, Ananda.74 It is the narrowness and deficiency of consciousness that cause all our troubles, moral and even physical, as well as our impotence and the perpetual tragicomedy of our existence. But the remedy is not to starve the vital, as the moralists would have us do; it is to widen it; not to renounce, but to accept more, always more, and to extend one's consciousness. For such is the very sense of evolution.
Basically, the only thing we must renounce is our ignorance and 73
74

On Himself, 26:355
On Yoga II, Tome 2, 671


narrowness. When we frantically cling to our small frontal personality, to its put-ons and sticky sentimentality and saintly sorrows, we are not really "human"; we are the laggards of the Stone Age; we defend our right to sorrow and suffering.75
The seeker will no longer be fooled by the dubious game going on in his surface vital, but for a long time he will keep the habit of responding to the thousands of small biological and emotional vibrations circling around him. The transition takes time, much as the transition from the world-mongering mind to mental silence did, and it is often accompanied by spells of intense fatigue, because our organism loses the habit of renewing its energy at the common superficial source (which soon appears crude and heavy once we have tasted the other type of energy), yet it still lacks the capacity to remain constantly connected to the true source, hence some "gaps." But here again the seeker is helped by the descending Force, which powerfully contributes to establish a new rhythm in him. He even notices, with ever-renewed astonishment, that if he takes but one small step forward, the Help from above will take ten toward him as if he were expected. It would be quite wrong to believe that the work is only negative, however; naturally the vital likes to think that it is making huge efforts to struggle against itself, which is its skillful way of protecting itself on all fronts, but in practice the seeker does not follow an austere or negative rule; he follows a positive need within his being, because he is truly growing out of yesterday's norms and yesterday's pleasures, which now feel to him like a baby's diet. He is no longer content with all that; he has better things to do, better things to live. This is why it is so difficult to explain the path to one who has never tried it, for he will see only his own current perspective or,
rather, the loss of his perspective. Yet if we only knew how each loss of perspective is a step forward, how greatly life changes when we pass from the stage of closed truths to that of open truths a truth like life itself, too great to be confined within limited perspectives, because it embraces them all and sees the usefulness of each thing at each stage of an infinite development; a truth great enough to deny itself and move endlessly to a higher truth.
75

Letters on Yoga, 22:84


Behind this childish, restless, easily exhausted vital, we will find a quiet and powerful vital what Sri Aurobindo calls the true vital
that contains the very essence of the Life Force devoid of its sentimental and painful byproducts. We enter a state of peaceful,
spontaneous concentration, like the sea beneath the movement of the waves. This underlying stillness is not a dulling of the nerves, any more than mental silence is a numbing of the brain; it is a basis for action. It is a concentrated power capable of initiating any action, of withstanding any shock, even the most violent and prolonged, without losing its poise. Depending on the degree of our development, all kinds of new capacities can emerge from this vital immobility, but first of all we feel an inexhaustible energy; any fatigue is a sign that we have fallen back into the superficial turmoil. The capacity for work or even physical effort increases tenfold. Food and sleep are no longer the single and all-absorbing source of energy renewal. (The nature of sleep changes, as we will see, and food can be reduced to an hygienic minimum.) Other powers, often considered "miraculous," may also manifest, but they are miracles with a method; we will not attempt to discuss them here, as it is better to experience them directly. Let us simply say that one who has become capable of controlling a certain vital vibration in himself is automatically capable of controlling the same vibration anywhere he meets it in the world. Further, in this stillness, another sign will appear permanently: the absence of suffering and a kind of inalterable joy. When an ordinary person receives a blow, whether physical or moral, his immediate reaction is to double up in pain; he contracts and begins to seethe inside,
increasing the pain tenfold. On the contrary, the seeker who has established some immobility within himself will find that this immobility dissolves all shocks, because it is wide; because the seeker is no longer a small constricted person, but a consciousness overflowing the limits of its body. Like the silent mind, the quieted vital universalizes itself spontaneously: In yoga experience the consciousness widens in every direction, around, below, above, in each direction stretching to infinity. When the consciousness of the yogi becomes liberated, it is not in the body but in this infinite height,
depth and wideness that he lives always. Peace, Freedom, Power,


Light, Knowledge, Ananda.76 The least pain, of any kind, is the immediate sign of a contraction in the being and of a loss of consciousness.
A very important corollary follows upon this widening of the being, which will make us appreciate the absolute necessity of vital immobility, not only for the sake of clarity of communications,
efficiency in action, and joy in life, but simply for our own safety. As long as we live in the small frontal person, the vibrations are small,
the blows are small, the joys are small; we are protected by our very smallness. But when we emerge into the universal Vital, we find the same vibrations, or forces, on a gigantic, universal scale, for these are the very forces that move the world as they move us; and if we have not acquired a perfect equanimity or inner immobility, we are blown away. This is true not only of the universal Vital but of all the planes of consciousness. Indeed, one can, one must (at least the integral seeker) realize the cosmic consciousness on all levels: in the Superconscient, the mind, the vital, and even in the body. When he rises into the Superconscient, the seeker will find out that the intensities of the Spirit also can be overpowering (it is actually always the same divine Force, the same Consciousness-Force above or below,
in Matter or in Life, in the Mind or higher up, but the farther it descends, the darker, more distorted and broken up it becomes by the medium it has to pass through), and if the seeker, just emerging from his heavy density, tries to rise too rapidly, to skip some stages without having first established a clear and firm foundation, he may well burst like a boiler. Vital clarity, therefore, is not a matter of morality, but a technical or even organic requirement, one could say. In practice, the great Solicitude is always there to keep us from premature experiences; perhaps we are narrow and small only as long as we need to be narrow and small.
Finally, when we have mastered vital immobility, we find that we can begin to help others with some effectiveness. For helping others has nothing to do with sentimentality or charity; it is a matter of power, of vision, of joy. In this tranquillity, we possess not only a contagious joy but a vision that dispels the shadows. We 76

On Yoga II, Tome 2, 184


spontaneously perceive all vibrations; and distinguishing what they are enables us to manipulate them, quiet them, avert or even alter them. Tranquillity, says Mother, is a very positive state; there is a positive peace which is not the opposite of strife an active and contagious and powerful peace, which subdues and calms, straightens and puts things in their place. We will give an example of this "contagious peace," although it belongs to a somewhat later stage in Sri Aurobindo's life. It was in Pondicherry, many years ago, in the season when tropical rains and sometimes cyclones sweep down suddenly and bring devastation. Doors and windows have to be barricaded with thick bamboo laths. That night, a cyclone erupted with torrents of rain, and Mother hurried to Sri Aurobindo's room to help him shut his windows. He was seated at his table, writing (for years Sri Aurobindo spent twelve hours a day writing, from six in the evening till six in the morning, then eight hours walking up and down "for the yoga"). The windows were wide open, but not a drop of rain had come inside his room. The peace that reigned there, recalls Mother, was so solid, so compact, that the cyclone could not enter.




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1.06 - Quieting the Vital
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   1 Integral Yoga






1.06_-_Quieting_the_Vital, #Sri Aurobindo or the Adventure of Consciousness, #Satprem, #Integral Yoga
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