Understanding the Larger Being of Man and the Process of Transformation of the Subconscious

Western psychoanalysis focused on a specific segment of the overall human psychological makeup, an area that deals with vestigial instincts and suppressed desires and urges. Obviously any opening and examination of this aspect is fraught with both concerns and dangers for the individual seeking to deal with these subconscious forces. Sri Aurobindo has pointed out that human psychology is much more complex than just fixating on this one aspect, and that there is the surface being, the mind-life-body that acts in the world, and a subliminal being that is an inner mind, inner vital and inner physical, and also encompasses a subconscient realm (the primary area of focus of the psychoanalytic school) and a superconscient region, and that all of this together makes up the true human psychological framework.

The action of opening up and transforming the subconscient regions can be much more safely and effectively dealt with if one does not go down to that level and wallow in all the mire that is collected there. Bringing down a higher force of peace, knowledge, and wideness of understanding, joy of existence, harmony can help clear this area. We can harken back to the labour of Hercules in cleaning out the Augean stables. He did not shovel away the muck at its own level, but brought in an outside force of water to wash everything clean. This is analogous to what needs to happen in the human psychology in dealing with the lower subconscient regions.

Sri Aurobindo writes: “It is true that the subliminal in man is the largest part of his nature and has in it the secret of the unseen dynamisms which explain his surface activities. But the lower vital subconscious which is all that this psycho-analysis of Freud seems to know, — and even of that it knows only a few ill-lit corners, — is no more than a restricted and very inferior portion of the subliminal whole. The subliminal self stands behind and supports the whole superficial man; it has in it a larger and more efficient mind behind the surface mind, a larger and more powerful vital behind the surface vital, a subtler and freer physical consciousness behind the surface bodily existence. And above them it opens to higher superconscient as well as below them to lower subconscient ranges. If one wishes to purify and transform the nature, it is the power of these higher ranges to which one must open and raise to them and change by them both the subliminal and the surface being. Even this should be done with care, not prematurely or rashly, following a higher guidance, keeping always the right attitude; for otherwise the force that is drawn down may be too strong for an obscure and weak frame of nature. But to begin by opening up the lower subconscious, risking to raise up all that is foul or obscure in it, is to go out of one’s way to invite trouble. First, one should make the higher mind and vital strong and firm and full of light and peace from above; afterwards one can open up or even dive into the subconscious with more safety and some chance of a rapid and successful change.”

Sri Aurobindo, Integral Yoga: Sri Aurobindo’s Teaching and Method of Practice, Chapter 9, Transformation of the Nature, Transformation of the Subconscient, pp. 262-267

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