The unregenerate vital nature is the cause of much pain and suffering, both for the individual and for the society. The society tries to gain control over this vital nature by erecting a set of rules, norms, laws, creeds, and regulations and then enforcing these through the use of force and control such as incarceration, or through creation of an enormous societal peer pressure that leads to ostracism when the norms are not followed. For the spiritual seeker, it is axiomatic that progress must come through control and mastery of the vital impulses. Raja Yoga sets as preliminary practices what are known as yamas and niyamas, which are a series of controls or restraints placed on the vital nature in order to prepare the being for higher realisation. All religious traditions, virtually without exception, include various practices to control the vital being, up to and including asceticism or isolation and suppression of vital impulses in a variety of ways. Some even go to the extent of prescribing physical punishment, such as flagellation, to master the unregenerated vital nature. The Tantra, recognising the need for a different approach than traditional suppression, and which grapples with the vital forces through practice, requires the practitioner to gain an inner mastery and exercise a discipline upon the vital impulses. It may be true that humanity must pass through a period of discipline and restraint of the vital nature in order to gain a foothold in a higher life and expression, yet eventually the true solution, as Sri Aurobindo points out, comes through the voluntary adherence of the vital nature to the higher principles and realisation, a result that requires freedom to grow, experience, and fail, for the vital being.
“Even with the lower nature of man, though here we are naturally led to suppose that compulsion is the only remedy, the spiritual aim will seek for a free self-rule and development from within rather than a repression of his dynamic and vital being from without. All experience shows that man must be given a certain freedom to stumble in action as well as to err in knowledge so long as he does not get from within himself his freedom from wrong movement and error, otherwise he cannot grow. Society for its own sake has to coerce the dynamic and vital man, but coercion only chains up the devil and alters at best his form of action into more mitigated and civilised movements; it does not and cannot eliminate him. The real virtue of the dynamic and vital being, the Life Purusha, can only come by his finding a higher law and spirit for his activity within himself; to give him that, to illuminate and transform and not to destroy his impulse is the true spiritual means of regeneration.”
Sri Aurobindo, The Human Cycle: The Psychology of Social Development, Chapter 21, The Spiritual Aim and Life, pg. 230