The Proper Function of the Psychic Prana

Sri Aurobindo’s examination of the instruments of human nature is not done with a view toward suppressing them, but toward determining the right and proper function of each instrument and its relation to the entirety of human action. While some yogic practices work toward elimination of the outer relations to the world and a one-pointed focus and fixation on the silent Absolute, the integral Yoga seeks to take up and fulfill the divine purpose in the world. The psychic Prana, which is a major cause of the admixture of desire into the working of the higher reasoning intelligence, has its own right and proper action.

Sri Aurobindo observes: “The proper action of the psychic Prana is pure possession and enjoyment, bhoga. To enjoy thought, will, action, dynamic impulse, result of action, emotion, sense, sensation, to enjoy too by their means objects, persons, life, the world, is the activity for which this Prana gives us a psycho-physical basis. A really perfect enjoyment of existence can only come when what we enjoy is not the world in itself or for itself, but God in the world, when it is not things, but the Ananda of the spirit in things that forms the real, essential object of our enjoying and things only as form and symbol of the spirit, waves of the ocean of Ananda. But this Ananda can only come at all when we get at and reflect in our members the hidden spiritual being, and its fullness can only be had when we climb to the supramental ranges.”

For those who are still living in the purely human levels of the physical, vital and mental existence, there is of course an appropriate action for the psychic Prana as well: “Meanwhile there is a just and permissible, a quite legitimate human enjoyment of these things, which is, to speak in the language of Indian psychology, predominantly sattwic in its nature. It is an enlightened enjoyment principally by the perceptive, aesthetic and emotive mind, secondarily only by the sensational nervous and physical being, but all subject to the clear government of the Buddhi, to a right reason, a right will, a right reception of the life impacts, a right order, a right feeling of the truth, law, ideal sense, beauty, use of things. The mind gets the pure taste of enjoyment of them, rasa, and rejects whatever is perturbed, troubled and perverse. Into this acceptance of the clear and limpid rasa, the psychic Prana has to bring in the full sense of life and the occupying enjoyment by the whole being, bhoga, without which the acceptance and possession by the mind…, would not be concrete enough, would be too tenuous to satisfy altogether the embodied soul. This contribution is its proper function.”

Sri Aurobindo, The Synthesis of Yoga, Part Four: The Yoga of Self-Perfection, Chapter 6, Purification–the Lower Mentality, pp. 628-629

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