Mind and Body Struggle for Supremacy in the Manifestation

A subject of never-ending study and debate is the question of the primacy of the mind or the body in terms of our psychological actions. Psychologists have taken positions on both sides of this question, and everywhere in between. There are those who believe that the body is first, primary and the underlying cause and foundation of the emotions, the mind and our creative expressions. They try to explain everything by combinations of amino acids and the physical and physiological organisation of the body that means that mind is a function of the brain.

Others take the position that the body is more or less illusory, and despite a habitual pattern of thought, which leads to habitual bodily responses, it is actually the mind that creates the form and thus, the body can be changed or adjusted by changing the mental framework.

Still others, as we see in the Bhagavad Gita and the Upanishads, who busied themselves with this question, see a spiritual being evolving through time utilizing both the mind and the body as instruments of its expression and evolution.

Because of where we start in the physical body and its imperatives, we tend to look at things as based on the physical, and thus, we start with an immediate bias in our viewpoint toward the physical foundation, and then we struggle with the issue of how consciousness can arise and exceed the limits of the physical. This same issue was taken up in the Taittiriya Upanishad when the student was asked to meditate on the cause and basis of the world. His first response was the physical basis. When asked to continue his meditation, he successively saw that it was the vital life force, then the mind, then the knowledge consciousness and eventually the consciousness of bliss at the level of Sat-Chit-Ananda. This reorients the viewpoint toward the primacy of the spiritual being and has enormous consequences for how we understand psychology, the meaning of our lives, and the mode of our action.

reference: Sri Aurobindo, The Life Divine, Book 2, Part I, Chapter 1, Indeterminates, Cosmic Determinations and the Indeterminable


Forms Are Capable of Expressing Involved Consciousness

One issue that is inexplicable for most explanations of existence is the manifestation of consciousness in material forms. If we start from the original existent Sat-Chit-Ananda, we find that existence (Sat) implies forms and since Existence and Consciousness-Force (Chit) are co-existent, this implies that energy and consciousness are also implicit in forms as well. The Real-Idea resides inside the forms that have been consolidated through the action of Energy carrying out the will of Consciousness. Sri Aurobindo describes this when he states: “…design, quantity and number are powers of existence-substance, quality and property are powers of the consciousness and its force that reside in the existence; they can be made manifest and operative by a rhythm and process of substance. The growth of the tree out of the seed would be accounted for, like all other similar phenomena, by the indwelling presence of what we have called the Real-Idea; the Infinite’s self-perception of the significant form, the living body of its power of existence that has to emerge from its own self-compression in energy-substance, would be carried internally in the form of the seed, carried in the occult consciousness involved in that form, and would naturally evolve out of it.”

Based on this principle, we find that the infinitesimal building blocks of forms, whether we call it the seed, or go even further into the atomic world to call them chromosomes or genes, or even chemical elements and compounds, all carry the essence of that Real-Idea for whichever form they are intended to manifest and the development of the physical form also then implies the involved consciousness can manifest with it the psychological and energetic characteristics that are intended in that Real-Idea.

Matter is not purely unconscious or inanimate, but contains within it, the essence of consciousness and the impulsion of its intended manifestation. The hidden or occult consciousness creates forms that can support the manifestation of that consciousness over time, and as higher energies of consciousness have to manifest, they create ever more complex forms capable of holding and manifesting that consciousness.

reference: Sri Aurobindo, The Life Divine, Book 2, Part I, Chapter 1, Indeterminates, Cosmic Determinations and the Indeterminable