Separation of Purusha and Prakriti

The current chapter is focused on the transformation of our surface human being to its divine fulfillment and realisation through accomplishment of the inner opening, and the consequent impacts the psychic, and eventually the spiritual and supramental influences resulting therefrom have on the surface personality and action. Sri Aurobindo describes a powerful technique to facilitate this inner opening, which he calls the separation of Purusha and Prakriti. This is one of the signature practices to implement the yogic effort.

“If one stands back from the mind and its activities so that they fall silent at will or go on as a surface movement of which one is the detached and disinterested witness, it becomes possible eventually to realise oneself as the inner Self of mind, the true and pure mental being, the Purusha; by similarly standing back from the life-activities, it is possible to realise oneself as the inner Self of life, the true and pure vital being, the Purusha; there is even a Self of body of which, by standing back from the body and its demands and activities and entering into a silence of the physical consciousness watching the action of its energy, it is possible to become aware, a true and pure physical being, the Purusha. So too, by standing back from all these activities of nature successively or together, it becomes possible to realise one’s inner being as the silent impersonal self, the witness Purusha. This will lead to a spiritual realisation and liberation, but will not necessarily bring about a transformation; for the Purusha, satisfied to be free and himself, may leave the nature, the Prakriti, to exhaust its accumulated impetus by an unsupported action, a mechanical continuance not renewed and reinforced or vivified and prolonged by his consent, and use this rejection as a means of withdrawing from all nature.”

While many spiritual disciplines hold this as the goal of liberation, Sri Aurobindo, seeking the transformation of life and all existence, treats this realisation as a way-point, not the end, of the yogic effort.

The Upanishads have a beautiful image of the Purusha and Prakriti concept when they describe “two birds, beautiful of wing sit together on a common tree. One eats the sweet fruit thereof, while the other watches.”

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