Vital Disturbances Arise from Universal Nature and Bring Forth Habitual Responses

In The Life Divine, Sri Aurobindo explores the boundaries of the Ignorance and a framework for attaining knowledge. He describes at some length, the ‘circumconscient’ influence on what we believe are our own internal actions and reactions. We view ourselves through the ego-consciousness and believe we are different and separate from the universal manifestation. Yet, we are formed by, and respond according to, the forces active in the wider creation. The ego represents a nexus or standpoint, but it does not originate the energies that are active. One of the implications of this is that the struggles the sadhak faces with the vital movements are not actually his own issues, but are forces that impinge from outside and call forth the habitual responses. To the extent the seeker can distance himself from taking personal “ownership” of these responses, the easier it is to reject them when they try to enter and take over the being.

Sri Aurobindo writes: “In fact all these ignorant vital movements originate from outside in the ignorant universal Nature; the human being forms in his superficial parts of being, mental, vital, physical, a habit of certain responses to these waves from outside. It is these responses that he takes as his own character (anger, desire, sex etc.) and thinks he cannot be otherwise. But that is not so; he can change. There is another consciousness deeper within him, his true inner being, which is his real self, but is covered over by the superficial nature. This the ordinary man does not know, but the yogi becomes aware of it as he progresses in his sadhana. As the consciousness of this inner being increases by sadhana, the surface nature and its responses are pushed out and can be got rid of altogether. But the ignorant universal Nature does not want to let go and throws the old movements on the sadhak and tries to get them inside again; owing to a habit the superficial nature gives the old responses. If one can get the firm knowledge that these things are from outside and not a real part of oneself, then it is easier for the sadhak to repel such returns, or if they lay hold, he can get rid of them sooner. That is why I say repeatedly that these things rise not in yourself, but from outside.”

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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