The Initial Liberation of the Mental Being From Servitude to the Body

The separation of Purusha and Prakriti, when applied rigorously by the seeker, eventually brings about the experience of the Purusha as being separate and distinct from the body. At a certain stage, the body appears to be something external and somewhat remote, and its needs, while coming to the awareness of what is now a “witness consciousness” remain abstract, in some sense similar to the current experience of our human awareness in relation to the needs and experiences of another being. Sri Aurobindo observes: “…the mind will come to know the Purusha seated within it as, first, the witness or observer of the movements and, secondly, the knower or perceiver of the experiences. It will cease to consider in thought or feel in sensation these movements and experiences as its own but rather consider and feel them as not its own, as operations of Nature governed by the qualities of Nature and their interaction upon each other. This detachment can be made so normal and carried so far that there will be a kind of division between the mind and the body and the former will observe and experience the hunger, thirst, pain, fatigue, depression, etc. of the physical being as if they were experiences of some other person with whom it has so close a rapport as to be aware of all that is going in within him.”

This “externalization” of the body becomes a tremendous leverage to allow the mind to refocus its attention inward and upward and thereby contact and receive the influence and widening power of other levels of consciousness that pave the way for the eventual transition of the mind from the human to the divine standpoint.

“This division is a great means, a great step towards mastery; for the mind comes to observe these things first without being overpowered and finally without being at all affected by them, dispassionately, with clear understanding but with perfect detachment. This is the initial liberation of the mental being from servitude to the body; for by right knowledge put steadily into practice liberation comes inevitably.”

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