Equality in the Vital Being: Purification of the Vital Prana

It is the Prana active in the vital and emotional levels of our being that is subject to the most intense disturbance through the action of desire and passion, in both a positive sense of attraction and the negative sense of repulsion. The vital cravings or oppositions, the emotional ties and aversions are the center of the knot of attachment that everyone faces in their lives, whether they are conscious seekers of spiritual realisation or not.

Sri Aurobindo describes the process and means for bringing equality to the vital Prana: “The equality of these parts of our nature comes by purification and freedom….To be free from the domination of the urge of vital desire and the stormy mastery of the soul by the passions is to ahve a calm and equal heart and a life-principle governed by the large and even view of a universal spirit. Desire is the impurity of the Prana, the life-principle, and its chain of bondage. A free Prana means a content and satisfied life-soul which fronts the contact of outward things without desire and receives them with an equal response; delivered, uplifted above the servile duality of liking and disliking, indifferent to the urgings of pleasure and pain, not excited by the pleasant, not troubled and overpowered by the unpleasant, not clinging with attachment to the touches it prefers or violent repelling those for which it has an aversion, it will be opened to a greater system of values of experience. All that comes to it from the world with menace or with solicitation, it will refer to the higher principles, to a reason and heart in touch with or changed by the light and calm joy of the spirit.”

Sri Aurobindo cautions that this process is not one of going to the extreme of asceticism or even an active stoicism. The vital principle must remain dynamic and active, but changed in its nature of response and focus of direction. “The function of the Prana is enjoyment, but the real enjoyment of existence is an inward spiritual Ananda, not partial and troubled like that of our vital, emotional or mental pleasure, degraded as they are now by the predominance of the physical mind, but universal, profound, a massed concentration of spiritual bliss possessed in a cal ecstasy of self and all existence. Possession is its function, by possession comes the soul’s enjoyment of things, but this is the real possession, a thing large and inward, not dependent on the outward seizing which makes us subject to what we seize.”

“The egoistic possession, the making things our own in the sense of the ego’s claim on God and beings and the world,…, must be renounced in order that this greater thing, this large, universal and perfect life, may come….by renouncing the egoistic sense of desire and possession, the soul enjoys divinely its self and the universe.”

The Isha Upanishad summarizes nicely: “By that renounced thou shouldst enjoy; lust not after any man’s possession.” (Sri Aurobindo, The Upanishads, Isha Upanishad, v. 1, pg. 19)

Sri Aurobindo, The Synthesis of Yoga, Part Four: The Yoga of Self-Perfection, Chapter 11, The Perfection of Equality, pp. 675-676