“A sound mind in a sound body” was the motto of the ancient Greek philosophers. They recognised that there was an intimate connection between the mind and the body and that a weak body would necessarily impact the individual’s ability to realize the fruits of his mental capacities. Similarly, as evolutionary powers beyond the mind begin to manifest, they necessarily will put new stresses on the physical frame and capacities, and will be limited to the extent they need to rely on the body if it is not prepared to hold the force and express it fully.
The development of a fit, active, responsive and energetic physical frame is therefore extremely helpful to the expression of the mental or the spiritual forces. One step is to optimize the physical body within its normal framework; another step is to take it beyond its current limits through changes wrought by the higher powers in their molding and transforming action.
As long as we are acting in a physical body, we are impacted by its ability to respond fully and effectively. The phenomenon of “brain fog” is one that virtually everyone experiences from time to time, but this is just one example of what may manifest either to a lesser or a greater degree. Fatigue, ill health, impact of poor diet, congenital limitations all eventually have their effect. Obviously, there are examples of powerful minds overcoming severe physical limitations, but the question remains as to what more they could have accomplished without the hindrances they had to fight to overcome. A case can also be made that the limitations helped push them to exceed the limits, but such cases are rare.
Sri Aurobindo notes: “Wherever limitations recede and in proportion as they recede, the body becomes a more plastic and responsive and in that measure a more fit and perfect instrument of the action of the spirit. In all effective and expressive activities here in the material world the cooperation of the two ends of our being is indispensable. If the body is unable whether by fatigue or by natural incapacity or any other cause to second the thought or will or is in any way irresponsive or insufficiently responsive, to that extent the action fails or falls short or becomes in some degree unsatisfying or incomplete. In what seems to be an exploit of the spirit so purely mental as the outpouring of poetic inspiration, there must be a responsive vibration of the brain and its openness as a channel for the power of the thought and vision and the light of the word that is making or breaking its way through or seeking for its perfect expression. If the brain is fatigued or dulled by any clog, either the inspiration cannot come and nothing is written or it fails and something inferior is all tht can come out; or else a lower inspiration takes the place of the more luminous formulation that was striving to shape itself or the brain finds it more easy to lend itself to a less radiant stimulus or else it labours and constructs or responds to poetic artifice. Even in the most purely mental activities the fitness, readiness or perfect training of the bodily instrument is a condition indispensable. That readiness, that response too is part of the total perfection of the body.”
Sri Aurobindo, The Mind of Light, The Perfection of the Body, pp. 37-38