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object:3.4.1 - The Subconscient and the Integral Yoga
book class:Letters On Yoga IV
author class:Sri Aurobindo
subject class:Integral Yoga
section class:The Subconscient and the Inconscient and the Process of Yoga
class:chapter

The Change of the Subconscient

The change of the subconscient is most important for our Yoga—for without it there can only be an incomplete personal experience without the change we seek for being established in the very roots of the being here and consequently in the earth-consciousness.
***

No man is perfect; the vital is there and the ego is there to prevent it. It is only when there is the total transformation of the external and the internal being down to the very subconscient, that perfection is possible. Till then imperfection will remain as our common heritage.
***

So long as there is not the Supramental change down to the subconscient complete and final the lower nature has always a hold on some part of the being.
***

The Yoga cannot be done in a minute. Some essential changes are made rapidly, but even these have to be worked out and confirmed in the detail of action. What you speak of [a sudden change in the subconscient], only the Supramental could do if it acted directly or some force fully supported by the Supramental, but that occurs rarely.
***
The Subconscient, the Inner Being and the Outer Being

In our Yoga we mean by the subconscient that quite submerged part of our being in which there is no wakingly conscious and coherent thought, will or feeling or organised reaction, but which yet receives obscurely the impressions of all things and stores them up in itself and from it too all sorts of stimuli, of persistent habitual movements, crudely repeated or disguised in strange forms can surge up into dream or into the waking nature. For if these impressions rise up most in dream in an incoherent and disorganised manner, they can also and do rise up into our waking consciousness as a mechanical repetition of old thoughts, old mental, vital and physical habits or an obscure stimulus to sensations, actions, emotions which do not originate in or from our conscious thought or will and are even often opposed to its perceptions, choice or dictates. In the subconscient there is an obscure mind full of obstinate sanskaras, impressions, associations, fixed notions, habitual reactions formed by our past, an obscure vital full of the seeds of habitual desires, sensations and nervous reactions, a most obscure material which governs much that has to do with the condition of the body. It is largely responsible for our illnesses; chronic or repeated illnesses are indeed mainly due to the subconscient and its obstinate memory and habit of repetition of whatever has impressed itself upon the body consciousness. But this subconscient must be clearly distinguished from the subliminal parts of our being such as the inner or subtle physical consciousness, the inner vital or inner mental; for these are not at all obscure or incoherent or illorganised, but only veiled from our surface consciousness. Our surface constantly receives something, inner touches, communications or influences, from these sources but does not know for the most part whence they come.
***

The subconscient is below the waking physical consciousness—it is an automatic, obscure, incoherent, half-unconscious realm into which light and awareness can with difficulty come. The inner vital and physical are quite different—they have a larger, plastic, subtler, freer and richer consciousness than the surface vital and physical, much more open to the Truth and in direct touch with the universal.
***

The inner being does not depend on the subconscient, but the outer has depended on it for thousands of lives—that is why the outer being and physical consciousness’s habit of response to the subconscient can be a formidable obstacle to the progress of the sadhana and is so with most. It keeps up the repetition of the old movements, is always pulling down the consciousness and opposing the continuity of the ascent and bringing the old nature or else the tamas (non-illumination and non-activity) across the descent. It is only if you live wholly and dynamically in the inner being and feel the outer as a quite superficial thing that you can get rid of the obstruction or minimise it until the transformation of the outer being can be made complete.
***

It [a condition of obscurity] is most probably something that has come from outside and covered. This happens at this stage when the working is in the physical and subconscient—for that is the nature of these parts, to live in the external with the inner being covered up by a sort of natural veil of obscurity. Therefore when one makes the opening through this veil, it has a tendency to come back. When that happens, one has to remain undisturbed and call down the Force and Light from above to remove the obstacle. This must be done till the opening is permanent and complete and no covering is possible.
***
The Subconscient and the Physical Being

The subconscient difficulty is the difficulty now1—because the whole struggle in the general sadhana is now there. It is in the subconscient, no longer in the vital or conscious physical that the resistance is all massed together.
***

There is a close connection between the subconscient and the physical and lower vital parts; so long as the subconscient is not cleared, the seed you speak of remains.
***

The material [consciousness] is for the most part subconscient—it depends upon the subtler parts for its waking consciousness.
***

The subconscient material plane is a field that still opposes the entrance of the Divine Light.
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Until they [the material and subconscient parts of the being] aspire or at least assent fully to the aspiration and will of the higher being, there can be no lasting change in them.
***

It [the reason the physical can help to remove inertia] is because, the subconscient being just below the physical, the enlightened physical can act on it directly and completely in a way in which mind and vital cannot and by this direct action can help to liberate the mind and vital also.
***

Yes, what you write is correct. When the physical consciousness has to be changed, it is of course essential to work on the subconscient, as it has a great influence on the physical which is very dependent on it.

The loss of consciousness comes naturally at first when the subconscient is being worked upon. You have to be careful that it does not become habitual. If you react with a will for the change of this tendency (no struggle is needed) it will pass in time.
***

It is not a fact that formless things [such as vague subconscient impressions] can have no power—all that is necessary is that they should have a force in them. The subconscient influences the body because all in the body has developed out of the subconscient and all in itself still is only half conscious and much of its action can be called subconscious. It is therefore much more easily influenced by the subconscious than by the conscious mind and conscious will or even the vital mind and vital will except in those things in which a conscious mental or vital control has been established and the subconscious itself has accepted it. If it were not so, man‘s control of his actions and physical states would be complete, there would be no illness or, if there were, it could be immediately cured by mental action. But it is not so. For that reason the higher consciousness has to be brought down, the body and the subconscient enlightened by it and accustomed to obey its control.
***

It is good. Emptiness and silence of the consciousness prepare the being to live within, with the outer consciousness only as a means of communication and action on the physical world instead of living in the external only.

As there is a superconscient (something above our present consciousness) above the head from which the higher consciousness comes down into the body, so there is also a subconscient (something below our consciousness) below the feet. Matter is under the control of this power, because it is that out of which it has been created—that is why matter seems to us to be quite unconscious. The material body is very much under the influence of this power for the same reason; it is why we are not conscious of what is going on in the body, for the most part. The outer consciousness goes down into this subconscient when we are asleep, and so it becomes unaware of what is going on in us when we are asleep except for a few dreams. Many of these dreams rise up from the subconscient and are made up of old memories, impressions etc. put together in an incoherent way. For the subconscient receives impressions of all we do or experience in our lives and keeps these impressions in it, sending up often fragments of them in sleep. It is a very important part of the being, but we can do nothing much with it by the conscious will. It is the higher Force working in us that in its natural course will open the subconscient to itself and bring down into it its control and light.
***

It is in the Yogic consciousness that one feels the seat of the subconscient below the feet, but the influence of the subconscious is not confined there—it is spread in the body. In the waking state it is overpowered by the conscious thinking mind and vital and conscious physical mind, but in the sleep state it comes on the surface.

  This letter was written in April 1935.—Ed. ↩

***
Habits and the Subconscient

The subconscient is a thing of habits and memories and repeats persistently or whenever it can old suppressed reactions, reflexes, mental, vital or physical responses. It must be trained by a still more persistent insistence of the higher parts of the being to give up its old responses and take on the new and true ones.
***

The subconscient is the support of habitual action—it can support good habits as well as bad.
***

The exterior consciousness can be invaded by what rises up from the subconscient or comes in from outside and owing to a renewed vibration of the past habit can respond—but that does not mean that the will of the vital or of the physical mind is for these things. If there was anything in them normally on the side of sex or violence, then you could say the impurities were there. But if it were so, there would be more than these attacks, there would be a daily struggle with anger and desire.

If one had to wait for an absolute purity free from all possibility of these attacks before beginning to realise the Divine, nobody would ever be able to realise. It is as the realisation progresses, that the fundamental transformation takes place.
***
The Environmental Consciousness and the Subconscient

These cravings and desires are old habits of the physical which came to it from the universal Nature and which it accepted and took as part of itself and its life. When these things are rejected by the waking consciousness they try to take refuge in the subconscient or else in what may be called the environmental consciousness and from there they press upon the consciousness trying to recover their hold or simply to recur for a time. If they are in the subconscient they come up most usually in dreams, but they may also surge up into the waking consciousness. If they come from the environment they take the form of thought-suggestions or impulses or a vague restless or disturbing pressure. It is probably this environmental pressure that you feel. When the body is full of the new consciousness, Peace and Power at the same time, then this outward pressure is felt but can no longer disturb and finally it recedes to a distance (no longer pressing immediately on the physical mind or body) and either gradually or rapidly disappears.

By environmental consciousness I mean something that each man carries around him, outside his body, even when he is not aware of it,—by which he is in touch with others and with the universal forces. It is through this that the thoughts, feelings etc. of others pass to enter into one—it is through this also that waves of the universal force—desire, sex, etc.—come in and take possession of the mind, vital or body.
***

When these things [base feelings such as jealousy] are rejected and disappear for a time, some part of them may go out into the environmental consciousness and from there they can return in a wave from the general Nature. If one is conscious, one can even feel them coming in. The rejection of such returns is an important part of the purification and it is not complete till this power of returning is no longer there. But also it may be that some part is not so much rejected as suppressed by mental control, then it sinks into the subconscient and when the subconscient is active (as in dream or in a passive state of the mind) or else when the subconscient itself is brought up for purification, then it may rise up even with much violence. There especially the sense that one has to begin all again and nothing has been done may come upon the sadhak. But it is not so really. One has to be firm and not get upset but this time detach firmly and completely so as to uproot completely from the nature.
***

What is taking place, the subsiding of the surge of subconscient thoughts and movements, and their pressure on the mind, is just what ought to take place. It is not a suppression or pulling back into the subconscient, it is an expulsion from the conscious self into which it has arisen. It is true that something more may rise from the subconscient, but it will be what is still left there. What is now rejected, if it goes anywhere and is not abolished, will go not into the subconscient but into the surrounding consciousness which one carries around him—once there it no longer belongs to oneself in any way and if it tries to return it will be as foreign matter which one has not to accept or allow any longer. These are the two last stages of rejection by which one gets rid of the old things of the nature, they go down into the subconscient and have to be got rid of from there or they go out into the environmental consciousness and are no longer ours.

The idea that one should let what rises from the subconscient go on repeating itself till it is exhausted is not the right idea. For that would needlessly prolong the troubled condition and might be harmful. When these things rise they have to be observed and then thrown out, not kept.
***
The Rising Up of Things from the Subconscient

The human like the animal mind lives largely in impressions rising up from the subconscient.
***

What must have happened was that as the physical consciousness is now being worked upon, all the past impressions (which usually remain in the subconscious and rise up from time to time and meanwhile influence the thought and action and feelings without being noticed) rose up in a mass and threw themselves on the consciousness. This usually happens in order that the sadhak may see and reject them and get liberated entirely (in the subconscious as well as the conscious parts) from his physical past. That is why you felt afterwards the sense of release. The throat is the centre of the externalising mind (physical mind).
***

I do not think you have gone back—probably what has been happening to many if not most in the Asram (especially those who have done some serious sadhana) is happening to you. It is the rising of old habitual thoughts, feelings, impulses in a confused way from the subconscient in a mechanical repetition. The subconscient is the basis of the ordinary physical nature and the light has to come into it also. Moreover even if the progress gained has been covered over by these things, what is once gained is not lost; it always reemerges after obscuration and one can get back into it. Ideas of discouragement should always be rejected.
***

What is happening just now [the rising of confused, depressing thoughts] is that there is a great uprush of the subconscient in which are the seeds or the strong remnants of the habitual difficulties of the nature. But its character is a confusion and obscurity without order or clear mental or other arrangement—it is a confused depression, discouragement, inability to progress—a feeling of what are we doing? why are we here? how can we go on? will anything ever be attained? and along with it old difficulties recurring in a confused and random but often violent and distressing fashion.

You cannot “begin” again; it would be too difficult a thing in this confusion. You have to get back to the point at which you deviated. If you can get back to the Peace that was coming and with it aspire to the freedom and wideness of the Purusha consciousness forming a point d’appui of detachment and separation from all this confusion of the subconscient Prakriti, then you will have a firm ground to stand upon and proceed. But for that you must make your choice firmly and refuse to be upset at every moment and diverted from it.
***

But in reality these things [old movements of the lower nature] are not sufficient reasons for getting sad and depressed. It is quite normal for difficulties to come back like that and it is not a proof that no progress has been made. The recurrence (after one has thought one has conquered) is not unaccountable. I have explained in my writings what happens. When a habitual movement long embedded in the nature is cast out, it takes refuge in some less enlightened part of the nature, and when cast out of the rest of the nature, it takes refuge in the subconscient and from there surges up when you least expect it or comes up in dreams or sudden inconscient movements or it goes out and remains in wait in the environmental being through which the universal Nature works, and attacks from there as a force from outside trying to recover its kingdom by a suggestion or repetition of old movements. One has to stand fast till the power of return fades away. These returns or attacks must be regarded not as parts of oneself, but as invasions—and rejected without allowing any depression or discouragement. If the mind does not sanction them, if the vital refuses to welcome them, if the physical remains steady and refuses to obey the physical urge, then the recurrence of the thought, the vital impulse, the physical feeling will begin to lose its last holds and finally they will be too feeble to cause any trouble.
***

You do not realise how much of the ordinary natural being lives in the subconscient physical. It is there that habitual movements, mental and vital, are stored and from there they come up into the waking mind. Driven out of the upper consciousness, it is in this cavern of the Panis that they take refuge. No longer allowed to emerge freely in the waking state, they come up in sleep as dreams. It is only when they are cleared out of the subconscient, their very seeds killed by the enlightening of these hidden layers, that they cease for good. As your consciousness deepens inwardly and the higher light comes down into those inferior covered parts, the things that now recur in this way will disappear.
***

What you describe seems to be in its nature an uncontrolled rushing up of the subconscient taking the form of a mechanical recurrence of old thoughts, interests or desires with which the physical mind is usually occupied. If that were all, the only thing would be to reject them, detach yourself and let them pass till they quieted down. But I gather from what you write that there is an attack, an obscure force using these recurrences to invade and harass the mind and body. It would be helpful if you could give an exact description of the main character of the thoughts that come, what things and ideas they are concerned with etc. But in any case the one thing to do is to open yourself to the Mother‘s force by aspiration, thought of the Mother or any other way and let it drive out the attack. We shall send Force continually till this is done. It will be better to let us know every three days or so how you go on, for that will help to make the action of the Force more precise.
***

These thoughts that attack in sleep or in the state between sleep and waking do not belong to any part of your conscious being, but come either from the subconscient or from the surrounding atmosphere through the subconscient. If they are thoughts you had in the past and have thrown out from you, then what rises must be impressions left by them in the subconscient—for all things thought, felt or experienced leave such impressions which can rise from there in sleep. Or the thoughts can have gone out from you into the environmental consciousness, that is, an atmosphere of consciousness which we carry around us and through which we are connected with universal Nature and from there they may be trying to return upon you. As it is difficult for them to succeed in the waking state, they take advantage of the absence of conscious control in sleep and appear there. If it is something new and not yours, then it can be neither of these, but an attack of some outside Force.

It is to be hoped that as you have rejected them, they will not come again, but if they do, then you must put a conscious will before going to sleep that they should not come. A suggestion of that kind on the subconscient is often successful, if not at once, after a time; for the subconscient learns to obey the will put upon it in the waking state.
***

The dream you had was really a rising up of past formations or impressions from the subconscient. All that we do, feel or experience in life leaves an impression, a sort of essential memory of itself in the subconscient and this can come up in dreams even long after those feelings, movements or experiences have ceased in the conscious being,—still more when they have been recent and are only now or lately thrown away from the mind or vital. Thus long after one has ceased to think of old acquaintances or relatives dreams about them go on coming up from this source. So too when sex or anger no longer troubles the conscious vital, dreams of sex or dreams of anger and strife can still rise. It is only when the subconscient is cleared that they cease; meanwhile they are of not much importance (provided one understands what they are and is not affected) so long as the old movements are not allowed to recur or remain in the waking state.
***

It [variation in the intensity of past memories] is always so with the impressions left in the subconscient physical. One day they come as pale and distant things, with no life in them, another they seem to get a certain force. It depends on whether they are caught up by a current of force from the universal or rise up of themselves with no force except what is left in them from the past.
***

All these movements simply mean that a certain part of the nature, full of habitual emotional movements, had been lying suppressed but not definitely dealt with and has now come up with as much force as possible, taking advantage of the descent of the consciousness from the peace and Ananda. It is an old habitual movement of the egoistic vital that is repeating itself. You had pushed it down into the subconscient and away to the outskirts of your nature, but not cleared the nature of it entirely. It is not surprising that it has pushed back the inner self and its experiences for the time being; if it had not done that, it could not last for a moment. But that is no reason why you should talk as if it were a hopeless downfall; it is not that, though it is a serious stumble. You have to recognise it for what it is and get out of the wave and throw it away from you. Steady yourself and look straight at what has happened without overstressing its importance; it will then pass away sooner.
***

As for the mood that came on you, it comes up from the subconscient, where things of the old nature sink when they are rejected. When moods come up like that, you have to remain quiet and call the Mother till it is gone. After a time this power of mechanical repetition without reason from the subconscient gets worn out and disappears—then these moods come no more.
***

All that [sense of grief and sorrow] is probably things that rise from the subconscient—or perhaps the subconscient itself is being worked upon to arrive at a state of light and peace. It sometimes enters into a happy condition, sometimes into a neutral one, sometimes it raises up a causeless sorrow. The movements of the subconscient take place even without reason, of themselves, owing to the inherent habit in Nature, that is why the grief is without discoverable cause. It is only because it is in the subconscient that you cannot locate it. When the grief comes, you must dissociate yourself from it and reject it, not taking it as your own, until it ceases to come and call down the Mother’s peace and Ananda in its place.
***

Yes, surely it is present [vanity in the subconscient]. All normal reactions and characteristics are there in the subconscient, and even remain there after they have been rejected from the conscious nature and can return from it in the conscious nature.
***

Certainly, the subconscient has many more fears in it than those admitted or acknowledged by the waking consciousness.
***

The dark wells of the subconscient are deep and until they are altogether cleared some gushing up of the old sources is always possible.
***
Dealing with the Subconscient

As for the subconscient that is best dealt with when the opening of the consciousness to what comes down from above is complete. Then one becomes aware of the subconscient as a separate domain and can bring down into it the silence and all else that comes from above.
***

The subconscient can be entirely dealt with only when the other parts are sufficiently open and changed—but meanwhile it can feel the pressure of the change in the mind and vital.
***

The conscious parts have to be prepared first—impossible to deal successfully with the subconscient till then, except in points and details. Just as the musician has first to learn the right principle and execution of his music with his mind and vital (aesthetic) perception and will—and teach his fingers to execute it—afterwards the subconscient in his fingers will learn its work and do the right thing of itself—e.g. touching the right keys without his eyes having to follow.
***

These [vital and physical weaknesses] are symptoms and feelings that can easily come in the period when the subconscient is being dealt with—tamas, age, decay, illness, death, weakness, inertia, the mechanical play (as if the inevitable round of a machine) of the lower vital have their seeds in the subconscient and when the subconscient rises up in its native power, these threaten to rise with them. Never consent to the attack or allow the faith and the will to go down before them. Affirm always the higher Truth against them and call down the Power and Light into the cells, into the whole body and plunge them into the subphysical below the body so that the very roots of the subconscient may get illuminated and change. It is only by doing this that realisation in the body will become possible.
***

It [insincerity in the vital] can only be dangerous if the waking mind accepts it. All the same, so long as it remains in the subconscient, it keeps a seed of possibility—so it must be got out altogether.
***

Just as one can concentrate the thought on an object or the vision on a point, so one can concentrate will on a particular part or point of the body and give an order to the consciousness there. That order reaches the subconscient.
***
Dealing with Memories from the Subconscient

It is most probably from the subconscient [that the past memories come]. When these memories arise, they should be treated on the basis that they have arisen in order to be dissolved and dismissed, so that by their persistent dissolution one may not be tied by the impressions in the subconscient to the past (that is the machinery of Karma) but free for the spirit‘s unbound future.

The best is when you can get the true knowledge about it, why it happened and what purpose it served; then it goes easily.
***

Reject them [past memories] from their roots with the idea that they have come up in order to be abolished from the subconscient. It may take a little time to get rid of some memories which are persistent and recurrent, but usually this process has an effect of clearance after a time.
***

If you do not pay attention, they [past memories] fall into the background and become a mechanical action which it is more easy to get rid of.
***

This review of the past is a very good sign, for it usually comes when there is a preparation of the physical consciousness and subconscient for change. One has not to regret the stumbles of the past but look with a quiet eye and understand, for all came—the stumbles included—as part of the necessary experience by which the being learns and advances through error to the Light and through the imperfections of Nature towards the divine perfection.
***
Clearing or Emptying the Subconscient

There is always a great deal to do in the subconscient, but if you specially feel it [the need to clear the subconscient], it must be that the time for clearing it has come. If the other parts keep open and responsive, this should not give too much trouble.
***

It is only if the mind is silent that the subconscient can be empty. What has to be done is to get all the old ignorant unyogic stuff out of the subconscient.
***

If the subconscient is emptied, it would mean that you have got beyond the ordinary consciousness and the subconscient itself is prepared to be an instrument of the Truth.
***
Illumining the Subconscient

The subconscient is a dark and ignorant region, so that it is natural that the obscurer movements of the Nature should have more power there. It is so indeed with all the lower parts of the nature from the lower vital downwards. But it does send up good things also though more rarely. It has in the course of the sadhana to be illumined and made a support of the higher consciousness in the physical nature instead of a basis of the instinctive lower movements.
***

The work [going on in the subconscient] is of a general nature, not individual, but necessarily everyone here is to some extent affected by it.1 If consciousness and light is not brought into the subconscient, then there can be no change. For it is in the subconscient that there are the seeds of all the old lower vital instincts and movements and however much they may be cleared in the lower vital itself, they may sprout up again from below. Also the subconscient is the secret basis of the bodily consciousness. The subconscient must admit into itself the higher consciousness and the Truth light.
***

[First effects of the Light penetrating and changing the subconscient:]

1) The subconscient begins to show more easily what is in it.

2) Things rising from there come to the awareness of the mind before they can touch or affect the consciousness.

3) The subconscient becomes less the refuge of the ignorant and obscure movements and more an automatic response of the material to the higher consciousness.

4) It gives less covert and less passage to the suggestions of the hostile forces.

5) It is more easy to be conscious in sleep and to have higher forms of dream experience. Hostile dreams—e.g. sexsuggestions can be met and stopped in the dream itself and any result like emission prevented.

6) A waking will put on the dream state before sleeping becomes more and more effective.
***

The subconscient is to be penetrated by the light and made a sort of bedrock of truth, a store of right impressions, right physical responses to the Truth. Strictly speaking, it will not be subconscient at all, but a sort of bank of true values held ready for use.

  This letter was written in November 1937.—Ed. ↩

***
Psycho-analysis and the Integral Yoga

Your practice of psycho-analysis was a mistake. It has, for the time at least, made the work of purification more complicated, not easier. The psycho-analysis of Freud is the last thing that one should associate with Yoga. It takes up a certain part, the darkest, the most perilous, the unhealthiest part of the nature, the lower vital subconscious layer, isolates some of its most morbid phenomena and attributes to it and them an action out of all proportion to its true role in the nature. Modern psychology is an infant science, at once rash, fumbling and crude. As in all infant sciences, the universal habit of the human mind—to take a partial or local truth, generalise it unduly and try to explain a whole field of Nature in its narrow terms—runs riot here. Moreover, the exaggeration of the importance of suppressed sexual complexes is a dangerous falsehood and it can have a nasty influence and tend to make the mind and vital more and not less fundamentally impure than before.

It is true that the subliminal in man is the largest part of his nature and has in it the secret of the unseen dynamisms which explain his surface activities. But the lower vital subconscious which is all that this psycho-analysis of Freud seems to know—and even of that it knows only a few ill-lit corners,—is no more than a restricted and very inferior portion of the subliminal whole. The subliminal self stands behind and supports the whole superficial man; it has in it a larger and more efficient mind behind the surface mind, a larger and more powerful vital behind the surface vital, a subtler and freer physical consciousness behind the surface bodily existence. And above them it opens to higher superconscient as well as below them to lower subconscient ranges. If one wishes to purify and transform the nature, it is the power of these higher ranges to which one must open and raise to them and change by them both the subliminal and the surface being. Even this should be done with care, not prematurely or rashly, following a higher guidance, keeping always the right attitude; for otherwise the force that is drawn down may be too strong for an obscure and weak frame of nature. But to begin by opening up the lower subconscious, risking to raise up all that is foul or obscure in it, is to go out of one’s way to invite trouble. First, one should make the higher mind and vital strong and firm and full of light and peace from above; afterwards one can open up or even dive into the subconscious with more safety and some chance of a rapid and successful change.

The system of getting rid of things by anubhava can also be a dangerous one; for on this way one can easily become more entangled instead of arriving at freedom. This method has behind it two well-known psychological motives. One, the motive of purposeful exhaustion, is valid only in some cases, especially when some natural tendency has too strong a hold or too strong a drive in it to be got rid of by vicāra or by the process of rejection and the substitution of the true movement in its place; when that happens in excess, the sadhaka has sometimes even to go back to the ordinary action of the ordinary life, get the true experience of it with a new mind and will behind and then return to the spiritual life with the obstacle eliminated or else ready for elimination. But this method of purposive indulgence is always dangerous, though sometimes inevitable. It succeeds only when there is a very strong will in the being towards realisation; for then indulgence brings a strong dissatisfaction and reaction, vairāgya, and the will towards perfection can be carried down into the recalcitrant part of the nature.

The other motive for anubhava is of a more general applicability; for in order to reject anything from the being one has first to become conscious of it, to have the clear inner experience of its action and to discover its actual place in the workings of the nature. One can then work upon it to eliminate it, if it is an entirely wrong movement, or to transform it if it is only the degradation of a higher and true movement. It is this or something like it that is attempted crudely and improperly with a rudimentary and insufficient knowledge in the system of psychoanalysis. The process of raising up the lower movements into the full light of consciousness in order to know and deal with them is inevitable; for there can be no complete change without it. But it can truly succeed only when a higher light and force are sufficiently at work to overcome, sooner or later, the force of the tendency that is held up for change. Many, under the pretext of anubhava, not only raise up the adverse movement, but support it with their consent instead of rejecting it, find justifications for continuing or repeating it and so go on playing with it, indulging its return, eternising it; afterwards when they want to get rid of it, it has got such a hold that they find themselves helpless in its clutch and only a terrible struggle or an intervention of divine grace can liberate them. Some do this out of a vital twist or perversity, others out of sheer ignorance; but in Yoga, as in life, ignorance is not accepted by Nature as a justifying excuse. This danger is there in all improper dealings with the ignorant parts of the nature; but none is more ignorant, more perilous, more unreasoning and obstinate in recurrence than the lower vital subconscious and its movements. To raise it up prematurely or improperly for anubhava is to risk suffusing the conscious parts also with its dark and dirty stuff and thus poisoning the whole vital and even the mental nature. Always therefore one should begin by a positive, not a negative experience, by bringing down something of the divine nature, calm, light, equanimity, purity, divine strength into the parts of the conscious being that have to be changed; only when that has been sufficiently done and there is a firm positive basis, is it safe to raise up the concealed subconscious adverse elements in order to destroy and eliminate them by the strength of the divine calm, light, force and knowledge. Even so, there will be enough of the lower stuff rising up of itself to give you as much of the anubhava as you will need for getting rid of the obstacles; but then they can be dealt with with much less danger and under a higher internal guidance.
***

I find it difficult to take these psycho-analysts at all seriously when they try to scrutinise spiritual experience by the flicker of their torch-lights,—yet perhaps one ought to, for half-knowledge is a very powerful thing and can be a great obstacle to the coming in front of the true Truth. This new psychology looks to me very much like children learning some summary and not very adequate alphabet, exulting in putting their a-b-c-d of the subconscient and the mysterious underground super-ego together and imagining that their first book of obscure beginnings (c-a-t=cat, t-r-e-e=tree) is the very heart of the real knowledge. They look from down up and explain the higher lights by the lower obscurities; but the foundation of these things is above and not below, upari budhna eṣām. The superconscient, not the subconscient, is the true fountain of things. The significance of the lotus is not to be found by analysing the secrets of the mud from which it grows here; its secret is to be found in the heavenly archetype of the lotus that blooms for ever in the Light above. The self-chosen field of these psychologists is besides poor and dark and limited; you must know the whole before you can know the part and the highest before you can truly understand the lowest. That is the province of a greater psychology awaiting its hour before which these poor gropings will disappear and come to nothing.
***



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