In ancient Greek mythology, there is the tale of the 12 labours of Hercules, one of which was cleaning out the Augean stables. He needed to accomplish this task in one day, but there were so many cattle that it was considered an impossible task. And every day the mess was renewed after the cattle returned from pasture in the evening. Hercules was undaunted as he had the help of Athena, the goddess of wisdom. He made a hole on each end of the stables and dug trenches that allowed a river to flow into and out of the stable. He used the flow of clean water to clear out the muck and succeeded in his task.
It is easy to be fixated on the difficulty of the task of sorting out and cleaning up the various vital energies of the being, but the more we fixate on dealing with them on their own level, the less chance we have of success. This is where the power of the receptive mind can aid the seeker by bringing new, wide understanding and insight, and thereby also supporting the descent of peace, rather than agitation, in the work to be done at the vital level.
Sri Aurobindo observes: “The one thing necessary is to arrive at a fixed and definite choice in the mind which one can always oppose to the vital disturbance. Disturbance in the vital will always come so long as the full peace has not descended there, but with a fixed resolution in the mind kept always to the front the acuteness of the disturbance can disappear and the road become shorter.”
“If you get peace, then to clean the vital becomes easy. If you simply clean and clean and do nothing else, you go very slowly — for the vital gets dirty again and has to be cleaned a hundred times. The peace is something that is clean in itself, so to get it is a positive way of securing your object. To look for dirt only and clean is the negative way.”
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