Four Common Forms of Resistance by the Lower Vital to the Transformation Required

Sri Aurobindo considers yoga to be, in a certain sense, applied psychology. The review and understanding of one’s own actions and deeper motives and motivations is essential if one is going to overcome the limitations and habits of the lower nature and eventually receive and manifest new ways of knowing and acting, and thereby transforming the nature. The resistance of the lower vital is a critical element that must be overcome. Sri Aurobindo provides insight to four of the most common forms that this resistance takes.

Sri Aurobindo writes: “In the nature the resistance [of the lower vital being] takes certain characteristic forms which add to the confusion and to the difficulty of the transformation. it is necessary to outline some of these forms because they are sufficiently common, in some in a less, in others in a greater degree, to demand a strong and clear exposure.”

“1. A certain vanity and arrogance and self-assertive rajasic vehemence which in this smaller vital being are, for those who have a pronounced strength in these parts, the deformation of the vital force and habit of leading and domination that certain qualities in the higher vital gave them. This is accompanied by an excessive amour-propre which creates the necessity of making a figure, maintaining by any means position and prestige, even of posturing before others, influence, controlling or ‘helping’ them, claiming the part of a superior sadhak, one with greater knowledge and with occult powers….”

“2. Disobedience and indiscipline. This lower part of the being is always random, wayward, self-assertive and unwilling to accept the imposition on it of any order and discipline other than its own idea or impulse. Its defects even from the beginning stand in the way of the efforts of the higher vital to impose on the nature a truly regenerating tapasya….”

“3.. Dissimulation and falsity of speech. This is an exceedingly injurious habit of the lower nature….”

“4. A dangerous habit of constant self-justification. When this becomes strong in the sadhak, it is impossible to turn him in this part of his being to the right consciousness and action because at each step his whole preoccupation is to justify himself. His mind rushes at once to maintain his own idea, his own position or his own course of action. This he is ready to do by any kind of argument, sometimes the most clumsy and foolish or inconsistent with what he has been protesting the moment before, by any kind of mis-statement or any kind of device. This is a common misuse, but none the less a misuse of the thinking mind; but it takes in him exaggerated proportions and so long as he keeps to it, it will be impossible for him to see or live the Truth.”

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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