Stages of Development of the Human Personality, Part 2

If we move beyond the predominance of the physical being or the vital being, we come to the mental being as the possible leader and organiser of the personality. “Man is a mental being and the mind is the leader of his life and body…” This does not mean, however that there is absolute or perfect control of these earlier elements. “The mental man lives predominantly in the mind as the others live in the vital or the physical nature. The mental man tends to subordinate to his mental self-expression, mental aims, mental interests or to a mental idea or ideal the rest of his being: because of the difficulty of this subordinatino and its potent effect when achieved, it is at once more difficult for him and easier to arrive at a harmony of his nature. It is easier because the mental will once in control can convince by the power of the reasoning intelligence and at the same time dominate, compress or suppress the life and the body and their demands, arrange and harmonise them, force them to be its instruments, even reduce them to a minimum so that they shall not disturb the mental life or pull it down from its ideative or idealising movement. It is more difficult because life and body are the first powers and, if they are in the least strong, can impose themselves with an almost irresistible insistence on the mental ruler.”

Within the framework of these limitations, the mind also does not have the complete power of harmonising the outer nature because it is itself an incomplete and limited force. What occurs is an intermediate step whereby some advancement in the development of the personality is possible under the mind’s guidance and control, but this is done within strict limits based on the divided, mental capabilities.

Sri Aurobindo points out that the true harmonisation of the outer personality can only really begin to occur when we begin to operate from our true center, the seat of the soul, the psychic being. “For the true central being is the soul, but this being stands back and in most human natures is only the secret witness or, one might say, a constitutional ruler who allows his ministers to rule for him, delegates to them his empire, silently assents to their decisions and only now and then puts in a word which they can at any moment override and act otherwise.”

At a certain point in this developmental process, the soul becomes strong enough to take a more dominating and central role, and thereby “can come forward and control the nature. It is by the coming forward of this true monarch and his taking up the reins of government that there can take place a real harmonisation of our being and our life.”

Sri Aurobindo, The Life Divine, Book 2, Part 2, Chapter 25, “The Triple Transformation”