When we view the history of seekers and enlightened beings and their attempts to suppress or overcome the vital powers of life as obstacles to their higher development, it is easy to recognize that such attempts only succeed within a very limited range, and eventually they fail. As Sri Aurobindo noted, the long-term effects of suppression are the degeneration of the race and the failure of the evolutionary cycle. The vital force is a necessary element, albeit with a different starting point and criteria for its action than the developed reasoning faculties. Reason has tried, and failed, at controlling the vital energies of man, and at best, it can provide a veneer of civilizing influence or some limited direction and guidance. Perhaps we are looking at the issue incorrectly! If we assert that every aspect of the creation manifests the Divine Reality, then we have to eventually accept that the vital force too is an element, with its own characteristics and significance that must play its role in the evolution of consciousness in the individual and in society, and that it must grow in its own characteristic way, not through an artificial control imposed on it from an aspect of development that does not and basically cannot understand the vital force in and of itself, its role, and its destined future.
Sri Aurobindo observes: “We can see at once that what we have described is the first stage of the vital being, the infrarational, the instinctive; this is the crude character of its first native development and persists even when it is trained by the growing application to it of the enlightening reason. Evidently it is in this natural form a thing of the earth, gross, earthy, full even of hideous uglinesses and brute blunders and jarring discords; but so also is the infrarational stage in ethics, in aesthetics, in religion. It is true too that it presents a much more enormous difficulty than these others, more fundamentally and obstinately resists elevation, because it is the very province of the infrarational, a first formulation of consciousness out of the Inconscient, nearest to it in the scale of being. But still it has too, properly looked at, its rich elements of power, beauty, nobility, good, sacrifice, worship, divinity; here too are high-reaching gods, masked but still resplendent.”
Reason has tried over the centuries to culture, manage, control, guide and train this vital energy, but has not fully succeeded.
“These endeavours cannot indeed be truly successful if our theory of life is right an if this great mass of vital energism contains in itself the imprisoned suprarational, if it has, as it then must have, the instinctive reaching out for something divine, absolute and infinite which is concealed in its blind strivings. Here too reason must be overpassed or surpass itself and become a passage to the Divine.”
Sri Aurobindo, The Human Cycle: The Psychology of Social Development, Chapter 16, The Suprarational Ultimate of Life, pp. 164-165