Opening of the Inner Being and Its Centres of Action

Struggling with the resistance of the various parts of the outer being is a thankless task when attempted by using the powers of the outer being itself to effect changes. Overcoming the force of habit, cravings, desires, physical resistance, laziness, illness, and the limited and one-sided, extreme views taken by the outer mind is not something that can be accomplished while fully enmeshed in the action of these forces. Sri Aurobindo points out: “An indispensable step towards overcoming this difficulty is the opening up of the inner being and its centres of action; for there the task that the surface mind could not achieve begins to be more possible. The inner mind, the inner life-consciousness and life-mind, the subtle-physical consciousness and its subtle-physical mentality, once liberated into action, create a larger, finer, greater mediating awareness able to communicate with the universal and with what is above them, able also to bring to bear their power on the whole range of the being, on the submental, on the subconscient mind, on the subconscient life, even on the sunconscience of the body: they can, though not wholly enlighten, yet to some extent open, penetrate, work upon the fundamental Inconscience. The spiritual Light, Power, Knowledge, Delight from above can then descend beyond the mind and heart, which are always the easiest to reach and illumine; occupying the whole nature from top to bottom, they can pervade more fully the life and the body and by a still profounder impact shake the foundations of the Inconscience.”

While this action does not have the complete transformative power, it is a major step towards bringing the outer being to its required readiness for the greater power of the supramental force acting directly on the nature to complete the transformation.

It should be noted that during the process of yogic development, these inner forces can become active. Many paths of yoga discuss the “opening of the chakras”. While they make this out to be something sensationalistic, in reality the “opening of the chakras” is creating the capacity to receive, hold, and utilise the higher forces that become active at each level of the being. Each of the chakras corresponds to a nexus or focus of energy in the inner being related to the respective powers that act on the physical, vital, emotional, and mental levels. As the chakras open in the lower strata, the force can penetrate and act upon these lower levels, normally subject to the subconscient or the inconscient, to begin their change.

Sri Aurobindo, The Life Divine, Book 2, Part 2, Chapter 26, “The Ascent Towards Supermind”

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The Slow and Difficult Work of Transforming the Lower Nature

Each part of the being has its own natural foundation and mode of response that is habitual and deeply ingrained. Just because the mind and even the heart begin to turn toward a spiritual ideal and feel the influence of the spiritual and overmental forces in terms of their orientation, it does not imply that the entire nature in all its parts is transformed instantly, overnight, or completely. What we know of as an individual personality is actually a complex amalgam of patterns and habits of the different parts of the being fused together in a more or less functional set of responses to circumstances. Some of the reactions are almost entirely unconditioned reflexes from the lower physical or vital basis, in fact. The higher forces have their effect. “But even this intervention of a new dynamic principle and this powerful imposition may take long to succeed; for the lower parts of the being have their own rights and, if they are to be truly transformed, they must be made to consent to their own transformation.” Supression or a forceful mastery of the lower parts tends to be partial and in most cases leads to a reaction that can be quite harmful to the long-term goal. Sri Aurobindo continues: “This is difficult to bring about because the natural propensity of each part of us is to prefer its own self-law, its dharma, however inferior, to a superior law or dharma which it feels to be not its own; it clings to its own consciousness or unconsciousness, its own impulsions and reactions, its own dynamisation of being, its own way of the delight of existence.” In fact, there is a tendency to become more entrenched when these ways are ways of pain and suffering! “for that too has acquired its own perverse and opposite taste, rasa, its pleasure of darkness and sorrow, its sadistic or masochistic interest in pain and suffering.”

Even if the consent is obtained from the lower parts in principle, they are still very much bound by their habitual, natural course of action and response. “A complete and radical change can only be brought about by bringing in persistently the spiritual light and intimiate experience of the spiritual truth, power, bliss into the recalcitrant elements until they too recognise that their own way of fulfilment lies there, that they are themselves a diminished power of the Spirit and can recover by this new way of being their own truth and integral nature.”

Sri Aurobindo, The Life Divine, Book 2, Part 2, Chapter 26, “The Ascent Towards Supermind”