Experiences of the Mind’s Increasing Detachment from the Body

As the seeker applies the recommended methodology to attain detachment of the mind from the body, various experiences arise that indicate the progress being made in this direction. The process must be continually repeated until it becomes habitual, and as that occurs, the experience takes on a palpable and constant presence.

Sri Aurobindo describes the correct attitude of the mental Purusha to the body: “…it will know the mental Purusha as the upholder of the body and not in any way the body itself; for it is quite other than the physical existence which it upholds by the mind through the agency of the vital force.” It should be noted that this is essentially the opposite relationship to that experienced by most human beings who are centered in the body consciousness and who treat the mind, not as the cause or upholder of the body, but as a result of the development of the body!

The development of the new habitual viewpoint brings about a radical transformation in the relation between mind and body: “This will come to be so much the normal attitude of the whole being to the physical frame that the latter will feel to us as if something external and detachable like the dress we wear or an instrument we happen to be carrying in our hand. We may even come to feel that the body is in a certain sense non-existence except as a sort of partial expression of our vital force and of our mentality. These experiences are signs that the mind is coming to a right poise regarding the body, that it is exchanging the false viewpoint of the mentality obsessed and captured by physical sensation for the viewpoint of the true truth of things.”

It is said in the ancient texts that “day” for the yogin is “night” for the normal consciousness, and vice versa. Similarly, that the Ashwattha tree, symbolizing the manifested universe and all its forms, has its roots above and branches and leaves down below. These provide the yogin with the insight that it is the mind (and beyond it the higher levels of consciousness) that forms, creates, upholds and supports the body and the material world, not the other way round.

Just as the human being, captured by the impressions of the senses, initially believes that the sun rises and circles the earth, the material man believes the body is the primary existence and the mind is a subordinated function; whereas, a further level of understanding teaches us that in fact, the earth both rotates and circles the sun, creating the illusion that confused our sense impressions and understanding; and that similarly, it is the mental consciousness that take primacy over the body.

Sri Aurobindo, The Synthesis of Yoga, Part Two: The Yoga of Integral Knowledge, Chapter 7, The Release From Subjection to the Body, pp. 329-330