The Witness Consciousness Masters the Emotional Mind

There is a solution to the admixture of the play of the vital prana into the emotional mind, and the consequent distortions that this causes. It is possible for the mental Purusha to abstract itself from the play of these forces and adopt the poise of a witness of the action of the emotional mind. Sri Aurobindo explains: “He has to say ‘I am not this thing that struggles and suffers, grieves and rejoices, loves and hates, hopes and is baffled, is angry and afraid and cheerful and depressed, a thing of vital moods and emotional passions. All these are merely workings and habits of Prakriti in the sensational and emotional mind.’

With practice and attention, the mind is able to establish a habit of separation and distance from the upheavals of the vital mind. “The mind then draws back from its emotions and becomes with these, as with the bodily movements and experiences, the observer or witness.”

No matter how insistent the emotional mind is, it is essential in this case for the witness consciousness to be purely an observer. “It observes them as if in a sort of action and play on a mental stage of personages other than itself, at first with interest and a habit of relapse into identification, then with entire calm and detachment, and, finally, attaining not only to calm but to the pure delight of its own silent existence, with a smile at their unreality as at the imaginary joys and sorrows of a child who is playing and loses himself in the play.”

Eventually the poise of witness can take on another aspect; namely, that of “giver of the sanction”. From this poise, the witness may withdraw the sanction entirely, and then the inner play of the emotional mind and its reactions must come to a halt. “When the sanction is withdrawn, another significant phenomenon takes place; the emotional mind becomes normally calm and pure and free from these reactions, and even when they come, they no longer rise from within but seem to fall on it as impressions from outside to which its fibres are still able to respond; but this habit of response dies away and the emotional mind is in time entirely liberated from the passions which it has renounced. Hope and fear, joy and grief, liking and disliking, attraction and repulsion, content and discontent, gladness and depression, horror and wrath and fear and disgust and shame and the passions of love and hatred fall away from the liberated psychic being.”

Sri Aurobindo, The Synthesis of Yoga, Part Two: The Yoga of Integral Knowledge, Chapter 8, The Release from the Heart and the Mind, pp. 337-338