Addressing the Difficulties of the Transformation of the Vital Nature

To effectuate a total transformation of the mind-life-body and its action in the world, it is necessary for the seeker to address and solve the issue of the vital being, its desires, and the ego-standpoint that it fosters and maintains.

Methods that essentially try to fight with the vital nature tend to not succeed. Suppression or methods of penalizing the vital being for its recalcitrance wind up backfiring and causing more disruption or a total stance of non-interest and non-cooperation. It is best to find a way to engage the vital nature in the value, purpose, benefit and necessity of cooperation in the endeavour and thereby obtain its willing and whole-hearted support. The mind and heart may be willing, but there may simply not be the capacity in those instruments to carry through this work on their own. This will necessitate the direct action of the Force in the vital arena.

Sri Aurobindo notes: “However that be, the descent of the sadhana, of the action of the Force into the vital plane of our being becomes after some time necessary. The Force does not make a wholesale change of the mental being and nature, still less an integral transformation before it takes this step: if that could be done, the rest of the sadhana would be comparatively secure and easy. But the vital is there and always pressing on the mind and heart, disturbing and endangering the sadhana and it cannot be left to itself for too long. The ego and desires of the vital, its disturbances and upheavals have to be dealt with and if not at once expelled, at least dominated and prepared for a gradual if not a rapid modification, change, illumination. This can only be done on the vital plane itself by descending to that level. The vital ego itself must become conscious of its own defects and willing to get rid of them; it must decide to throw away its vanities, ambitions, lusts and longings, its rancours and revolts and all the rest of the impure stuff and unclean movements within it. This is the time of the greatest difficulties, revolts and dangers. The vital ego hates being opposed in its desires, resents disappointment, is furious against wounds to its pride and vanity; it does not like the process of purification and it may very well declare Satyagraha against it, refuse to co-operate, justify its own demands and inclinations, offer passive resistance of many kinds, withdraw the vital support which is necessary both to the life and the sadhana and try to withdraw the being from the path of spiritual endeavour. All this has to be faced and overcome, for the temple of the being has to be swept clean if the Lord of our being is to take his place and receive our worship there.”

Sri Aurobindo, Integral Yoga: Sri Aurobindo’s Teaching and Method of Practice, Chapter 9, Transformation of the Nature, Transformation of the Vital, pp. 246-259

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