Epilepsy and Insanity Under Pressure of the Spiritual Quest for an Unprepared Seeker

The divine Force that descends is not a theoretical event, but a real experience with consequences for the mind, life and body of the seeker. The seeker must be prepared mentally, vitally and physically for the action of this force in the being. The story of the unbaked jar, which cannot sustain the pressure of being filled is illustrative for the similar experience of the energy descending into a being not yet ready to hold that force.

Any weakness or unpreparedness can lead to psychological and physical disruptions that have labels slapped on them in Western medicine or psychology, but which are not fully explained as to their underlying causes.

Sri Aurobindo is focused on the results for the spiritual seeker, which is clearly a special case. The insights may be of more general use for those facing cases of epilepsy or insanity, as there are clearly correspondences between them, although spiritual seekers have to deal with the additional pressure of the spiritual forces they have called, and the impact of those forces on their physical instrument of the body-life-mind complex.

Sri Aurobindo observes: “Epilepsy is not possession — it is an attack or at most a temporary seizure. Insanity always indicates possession. The hereditary conditions create a predisposition. It is not possible for a vital Force or Being to invade or take possession unless there are doors open for it to enter. The door may be a vital consent or affinity or a physical defect in the being.”

“Those who fall into insanity have lost the true touch and got into the wrong contact. It is due either to some impurity and unspiritual desire with which the seeker enters into the way or some insincerity, egoism and false attitude or to some weakness in the brain or nervous system which cannot bear the Power it has called down into it.”

Sri Aurobindo, Integral Yoga: Sri Aurobindo’s Teaching and Method of Practice, Chapter 10, Difficulties in Transforming the Nature, Difficulties Due to the Hostile Forces, pp. 280-286