Limitations of the Mental Power in the Transformation of the Vital and Physical Elements of Existence

It is possible for a person to develop the mental powers to such a degree as to create what appears to be an extraordinary capacity in the field of art, music, philosophy, intellectual pursuits or science.  This development must, in some way or another, address the propensities, impulses and desires of the vital-physical complex that underlies the mental level.  We see in the science of Raja Yoga, as found in Patanjali’s Yoga Aphorisms, that the development of the powers of concentration in the mind require preliminary activities to reign in the impulsions of the physical and vital nature.  What we observe here is that the physical and vital nature is controlled and suppressed and generally not permitted to develop in a way natural to its own capacities, in order to further the pursuits favored by the mental nature.  Other approaches have simply focused the energy on the mental development without caring particularly for the body or the vital being of man, and thus, allowing them more or less free reign within a limited field.  Spiritual and religious seekers around the world have also generally retreated to the cave, the monastery, the mountain-top or the desert to achieve their results, thereby severely limiting the scope of the physical and vital aspects of their nature.

Sri Aurobindo observes:  “Either they impoverished the vital and physical life in them in order to give play to one element of their being, lived a one-sided and limited existence, or else they arrived at a compromise by which, while the higher life was given great prominence, the lower was still allowed to graze in its own field under the eye more or less strict or the curb more or less indulgent of the higher power or powers: in itself, in its own instincts and demands it remained unchanged.  There was a dominance, but not a transformation.”

Sri Aurobindo, The Human Cycle: The Psychology of Social Development, Chapter 22, The Necessity of the Spiritual Transformation, pg. 237