The Nature of the Vital Mind

Most people are not cognizant of the different types of mental processes that go on all the time. Sri Aurobindo, however, has stratified these types of mentality and defined the first type as the “physical mind” (which was the subject of yesterday’s post), the second as the “vital mind” and a third as the true mental action of mind. Each of these three in fact is not only different in the way it functions, but also in the focus and type of thought process it undergoes.

Sri Aurobindo defines the vital mentality as “an instrument of desire: this is not satisfied with the actual, it is a dealer in possibilities; it has the passion for novelty and is seeking always to extend the limits of experience for the satisfaction of desire, for enjoyment, for an enlarged self-affirmation and aggrandisement of its terrain of power and profit. It desires, enjoys, possesses actualities, but it hunts also after uneralised possibilities, is ardent ot materialise them, to possess and enjoy them also. It is not satisfied with the physical and objective only, but seeks too a subjective, an imaginative, a purely emotive satisfaction and pleasure. If there were not this factor, the physical mind of man left to itself would live like the animal, accepting his first actual physical life and its limits as his whole possibility, moving in material Nature’s established order and asking for nothing beyond it.”

This vital mind brings with it unrest and the dissatisfaction of desire. Because it deals in possibilities and just actualities, it is willing and able to go beyond the strict limitations imposed by the physical mind on the nature of “what is real and actual.” And with this seeking and dissatisfaction comes an increasing sense that the physical reality is not the sum total of the Real, and that there are goals, objectives, and manifestations beyond which can be sought, strived for and achieved.

reference: Sri Aurobindo, The Life Divine, Book 2, Part I, Chapter 5, The Cosmic Illusion; Mind, Dream and Hallucination, pg. 414


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