The Four Parts of the Vital Being: Their Functions and Their Seats

For those who focus on liberation from the worldly life, it is not much of a consideration to understand the exact details of the vital nature. If they can find a way to eliminate or reduce its action overall, so that they can concentrate on the process of liberation, that is considered sufficient. For those, however, who take up the goal of the integral yoga to transform earthly life into a divine life, it is extremely helpful to understand the distinctions between different aspects of the vital nature, and thereby begin to work on the process of change in a very detailed manner.

Sri Aurobindo distinguished various parts of the vital being that represent the different elements of our vital nature. He correlated these generally to the energetic action of second through fifth chakras, governing the lower life-impulse needs, the drive for power, the heart’s emotional energy, and the vital skill of communication and linking of the mental and the vital in action.

Sri Aurobindo observes: “There are four parts of the vital being — first, the mental vital which gives a mental expression by thought, speech or otherwise to the emotions, desires, passions, sensations and other movements of the vital being; the emotional vital which is the seat of various feelings, such as love, joy, sorrow, hatred, and the rest; the central vital which is the seat of the stronger vital longings and reactions, e.g. ambition, pride, fear, love of fame, attractions and repulsions, desires and passions of various kinds and the field of many vital energies; last, the lower vital which is occupied with small desires and feelings, such as make the greater part of daily life, e.g. food desire, sexual desire, small likings, dislikings, vanity, quarrels, love of praise, anger at blame, little wishes of all kinds — and a numberless host of other things. Their respective seats are: (1) the region from the throat to the heart, (2) the heart (it is a double centre, belonging in front to the emotional and vital and behind to the psychic), (3) from the heart to the navel, (4) below the navel.”

“Higher vital usually refers to the vital mind and emotive being as opposed to the middle vital which has its seat in the navel and is dynamic, sensational and passionate and the lower which is made up of the smaller movements of human life-desire and life-reactions.”

Sri Aurobindo, Integral Yoga: Sri Aurobindo’s Teaching and Method of Practice, Planes of Consciousness and Parts of the Being, pp. 51-56


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