After intensive mental awakening, vital experiences of spiritual significance, and the emotional uplift and fervour of devotion, there comes a period when the work shifts to the physical mind and framework, and change, that seemed to be so close and real, now seems to be illusory and just about impossible. A sense of emptiness, of uselessness, of wasted time and effort overwhelms the mind and the being is caught up in what seems to be an utterly ordinary life devoid of any deeper meaning or significance. For an individual who has not had any spiritual opening, this represents a quite normal life and such an individual can find satisfaction in working for survival, fulfilling desires, chasing various forms of enjoyment and carrying out the life of work, family and friends that constitutes the vast majority of existence for most people. Once someone begins to experience the spiritual realm and recognises that there is a deeper meaning to life, the former activities take on less importance and become, to a great degree, a burden or a hindrance to the spiritual efforts. Thus, when one is suddenly thrown back into the ordinary life, without the uplifting force of the spiritual impetus, it is a blow and a source of depression and bewilderment that needs to be dealt with. The risk here is that the individual interprets this stage as a rejection or failure and gives up the quest.
The great Tibetan Yogi, Milarepa, had to undergo long and difficult physical trials under the guidance of his guru Marpa. While others came and were given the teachings and taught the meditations, he was made to labour away at building and taking apart, and rebuilding various structures of stone, all done by hand, alone, with backbreaking effort. Eventually he reached a point of crisis of faith and was on the cusp of giving up, after years of dedication. Only then his guru reached out his hand to him and reassured him, gave him the teachings and sent him for deep meditation, which involved further long years of intense effort. What if Milarepa had not stuck out the long, dry, difficult period of physical labour? That is how many seekers come to a crisis when the higher experiences disappear and they are left with just the physical demands and needs of the day to day life, and they cannot see their way forward any longer.
Sri Aurobindo has stated elsewhere: “He who chooses the Divine has been chosen by the Divine.”
Sri Aurobindo observes: “It is always the effect of the physical consciousness being uppermost (so long as it is not entirely changed) that one feels like this — like an ordinary man or worse, altogether in the outer consciousness, the inner consciousness veiled, the action of yoga power apparently suspended. This happens in the earlier stages also, but it is not quite complete usually then because something of the mind and vital is active in the physical still, or even if the interruption of sadhana is complete, it does not last long and so one does not so much notice it. But when from the mental and vital stage of the yoga one comes down into the physical, this condition which is native to the physical consciousness fully manifests and is persistent for long periods. It happens because one has to come down and deal with this part directly by entering into it, — for if that is not done, there can be no complete change of the nature. What has to be done is to understand that it is a stage and to persist in the faith that it will be overcome. If this is done, then it will be easier for the Force, working behind the veil at first, then in front to bring out the yoga consciousness into this outer physical shell and make it luminous and responsive. If one keeps steadily the faith and quietude, then this can be more quickly done — if the faith gets eclipsed or the quietude disturbed by the long difficulty, then it takes longer but even then it will be done; for, though not felt, the Force is there at work. It can only be prevented if one breaks away or throws up the sadhana, because one becomes too impatient of the difficulty to go through with it. That is the one thing that should never be done.”
Sri Aurobindo, Integral Yoga: Sri Aurobindo’s Teaching and Method of Practice, Chapter 9, Transformation of the Nature, Transformation of the Physical, pp. 259-262