Stages of Development of the Human Personality, Part 1

Each of the gradations of consciousness forms its own “body” within the overall framework of the human being. Thus, there is the physical body, the vital body and the mental body, each with a surface formation and each with a corresponding inner formation. The complex we call our “personality” is actually an amalgam of these various bodies. Sri Aurobindo describes the differences attributable to one or the other of these taking the lead or providing the basic standpoint of a particular individual. “In some human beings it is the physical Purusha, the being of body, who dominates the mind, will and action; there is then created the physical man mainly occupied with his corporeal life and habitual needs, impulses, life-habits, mind-habits, body-habits, looking very little or not at all beyond that, subordinating and restricting all his other tendencies and possibilities to that narrow formation.” Of course, no one is “all of a piece” so the other elements, the vital, mental, psychic or spiritual elements, to the extent they are at all at work, will still have some role and influence on the final “end result” in that particular individual. It is these other influences which can begin to shape the evolutionary progress of the individual through their impact on the outer being, however small or tentative to begin with. Sri Aurobindo provides the example of the inner subtle-physical Purusha exerting its influence: “If the inner subtle-physical Purusha insists, he can arrive at the idea of a finer, more beautiful and perfect physical life and hope or attempt to realise it in his own or in the collective or group existence.” Similarly if it is the vital self that is predominant in an individual, the personality so ruled would be “concerned with self-affirmation, self-aggrandisement, life-enlargement, satisfaction of ambition and passion and impulse and desire, the claims of his ego, domination, power, excitement, battle and struggle, inner and outer adventure…” And in this case, if the inner vital being insists, there can be an uplifting movement in this sphere. “A vigorous vital mind and will can grasp and govern the kinetic vital energies, but it is more by a forceful compulsion and constraint than by a harmonisation of the being.” A further step can be achieved if the vital being gets the support of the reasoning intelligence: “…then a certain kind of forceful formation can be made, more or less balanced but always powerful, successful and effective, which can impose itself on the nature and environment and arrive at a strong self-affirmation in life and action.”
Sri Aurobindo, The Life Divine, Book 2, Part 2, Chapter 25, “The Triple Transformation”

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