Bringing the Higher Light to the Lower Nature

When the Life-Consciousness entered into Matter, it had to work within the limitations and obscurity of the material consciousness, thereby reducing its pure power of action. Similarly, when the Mind-Consciousness entered into Life and Matter, a reduction occurred in the pure power of Mind to carry out its action, as it had to frame itself within the scope and capacities of these lower members. The Spiritual-Consciousness has a similar circumstance when it descends to work in the Mind, Life and Body. “Neither Life nor Mind succeeds in converting or perfecting the material existence, because they cannot attain to their own full force in these conditions; they need to call in a higher power to liberate and fulfil them. But the higher spiritual-mental powers also undergo the same disability when they descend into Life and Matter; they can do much more, achieve much luminous change, but the modification, the limitation, the disparity between the consciousness that comes in and the force of effectuation that it can mentalise and materialse, are constantly there and the result is a diminished creation. The change made is often extraordinary, there is even something which looks like a total conversion and reversal of the state of consciousness and an uplifting of its movements, but it is not dynamically absolute.”

The work that can thus take place is preparatory for further stages of descend from the higher planes, where a more puissant and comprehensive force can act on a now prepared foundation.

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

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Working Out the Spiritual Change In Mind, Life and Body

We can relate to the difference between “ivory-tower” ideas and practical applications of them in our everyday experience. It is one thing to come up with a good idea or plan; it is another to actually address the real issues of implementation when dealing with real people and real circumstances. Similarly, the spiritual transformation of the lower nature faces more or less the same type of issues. The purity and power of the spiritual force in its own native sphere is extraordinarily effective. But the transformation of the lower planes of mind, life and body, each presenting its own characteristic action, level of development and resistances, is a totally different story.

In the Mahabharata there is a story about the teacher trying to educate young princes into higher principles of action. The teacher was giving the lesson “not to become angry”. All of the princes understood it intellectually, understood why it was important not to become angry and what the different methods of not becoming angry were, and all but one of them stated that they had understood the lesson. The last one, Prince Yudhisthira, normally the strongest intellect in the group, continually demurred, day after day, saying he had not understood it. One day the teacher, in a fit of exasperation that this student (the future king) was somehow not learning the lesson, struck the prince in a fit of anger. At that moment, the prince indicated that NOW he had understood the lesson. He was able to actually integrate the idea into his vital nature, something which had escaped even the revered and learned teacher!

What we are seeking is not an “ideal” solution imposed on the nature from above and subject to compulsion that allows it to vary when and if that outside compulsion is removed; rather, an integral transformation of the very nature of the action of each level of the lower nature. This involves a process of bringing the light, working through the obscurity and resistance, and developing an entirely new method of working for each element of our nature.

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