Passivity and Weakness of Will-Power Can Be a Disturbance of the Physical Consciousness

People struggle all the time with the force of desire and how to deal with it in their lives. For the yogic practitioner this becomes an even greater concern as desire causes countless difficulties in bringing the inner being to a state of peace in which the yogic consciousness can flourish. Stoicism has been tried. Indulgence has been attempted. Some try to control desire by accepting “whatever comes” without question or either attraction or aversion. Many wind up accepting the idea that one can only overcome desire by rejecting the use of will-power; while others believe that it is a weakness of will-power that causes desires to control one’s action despite a wish to avoid carrying out those desires. It is not through an absence of the use of will-power that the solution is found, but it also must be recognised that will-power operates in a different part of the being from those parts most directly driven by the force of desire.

When tamas is predominant in the being, such as when the physical consciousness is in front, there can be a profound lack of will to do anything, to accomplish anything or to participate in anything. The physical consciousness is more driven by whatever force dominates the being at any time than a driver of the action. The action of tamas in the physical consciousness can also impact the higher functions of mind and restrain or at least partially throttle them from their true native power of action.

Dr. Dalal writes: “An aspect of inertia is passivity, which manifests as a weakness of the will. Sri Aurobindo speaks of this as follows: “It [the weakness of the will] is a first result of coming down into the physical consciousness or of the physical consciousness coming up prominently…. The physical consciousness is full of inertia — it wants not to move but to be moved by whatever forces and that is its habit.”

“The physical consciousness or at least the more external parts of it are, as I have told you, in their nature inert — obeying whatever force they are habituated to obey, but not acting on their own initiative. When there is a strong influence of the physical inertia or when one is down in this part of the consciousness the mind feels like the material Nature that action of will is impossible.”

Dr. Dalal concludes: “Weakness of the will may be regarded by some as pertaining to the province of ethics and morality rather than that of psychopathology. However, we must recognize that weakness of the will is a disturbance of volition and as such it is as relevant to psychopathology as disorders of the other two major psychological functions, namely, thinking and feeling.”

Sri Aurobindo and The Mother, Living Within: The Yoga Approach to Psychological Health and Growth, Introduction, Disturbances Associated with the Physical, pp. xxv-xxvii

7 thoughts on “Passivity and Weakness of Will-Power Can Be a Disturbance of the Physical Consciousness

  1. I don’t understand. J Krishnamurti I think he points out that will is a manifestation of desire. And desire seems to be one of the sources or causes of human conflict. So is there a teaching opposition between Aurobindo and Krishnamurti on this matter of will and desire? Greetings.

    • i do not think there is so much an “opposition” as a different standpoint of view or possibly just a different terminology and manner of explaining it. The desire-soul of the vital exercises its “will” to achieve its desires. I suspect that both Sri Aurobindo and J. Krishnamurti would tend to agree on this point. Sri Aurobindo also identifies the separate constitution and nature of the mental being from the vital being. In the mental being, there is an exercise of will which is the active form of consciousness manifesting itself. The ancient scriptures refer to “chit-shakti”, consciousness-force. The “force” side manifests through the mental being as “will”. Then there is the shift of standpoint from the human normal standpoint to the divine standpoint, and when a unification comes about, the Divine Will, which is the force of universal creation, manifests through the individual node or nexus and this there is an expression of the Divine Will through the human individual. In terms of the specific issue raised here about the disturbance of the physical consciousness, the question really comes down to the forces of Nature, the 3 gunas and the way they manifest. Evolution favors strength and requires it for forward movement. Rajas has more potential for manifestation and growth than tamas in that sense. Will-power is not necessarily tied to desire. To the extent it is so tied, at the vital level, it can be a cause of disturbance, as everyone seems to agree. Yet the solution is not absolute passivity and inertia, but an evolution beyond the hold of the desire-soul to the expression of the higher Will. There is a lot to reflect on here, and it is actually good to wrestle with these issues, not so much at the level of mental argument or opposition, but within oneself to find the solution that represents growth in the Divine awareness over time.

  2. I hope you don’t mind if I provide a first text, at random, that can serve to signify that other position on the strength of the will. I don’t know if they mean the same thing. I am puzzled.

    Letters to Schools
    October 1, 1979
    One of the peculiarities of human beings is to cultivate values. From childhood we are encouraged to establish for ourselves certain deeply held values. Each person has their own designs and enduring purposes. Naturally, the values ​​of one differ from those of the other. They are cultivated either by desire or by intellect. They can be illusory, comfortable, comforting or factual. These values ​​obviously foster the division between man and man; values ​​are noble or ignoble according to one’s own prejudices and intentions. Without listing the various types of values, why do human beings have those values ​​and what are their consequences? The etymological root of the word value is strength. Strength is not a value. It becomes a value when it is the opposite of weakness. Strength – not character, which is a result of peer pressure – is the essence of clarity. Clear thinking is thinking without preconceived ideas, without prejudices; it is an observation without any distortion. Strength or courage is not a thing to be cultivated as one would cultivate a plant or a new species. It is not a result. A result has a cause, and when there is a cause, it indicates a weakness; the consequences of weakness are resistance or complacency. Clarity has no cause. Clarity is neither an effect nor a result; it is the para observation of thought and its total activity. This clarity is strength.

    If this is clearly understood, then why have human beings projected values? Is it for these to provide guidance in everyday life? Is it to be given a purpose, otherwise life becomes insecure, vague and totally directionless? But the direction is set by the intellect or the desire, and therefore the direction itself becomes a distortion. These distortions vary from man to man, and man clings to them in the restless ocean of confusion. One can observe the consequences of having values: they separate man from man and set one human being against another. As it spreads, this leads to misery, violence and ultimately war.

    Ideals are values. Ideals of any kind are a set of values ​​- national, religious, collective, personal – and one can see what the consequences of these ideals are as they take their place in the world. When one sees the truth of this, the mind becomes free of all values; and for such a mind there is only clarity. A mind that desires or clings to an experience is chasing the falsity of value, and thus becomes particular, secretive, and divisive.

    As an educator, can you explain this to a student? Explain to him that he should not have values ​​of any kind but live with clarity – which is not a value? This can be achieved when the educator himself has deeply felt the truth of this. If not, everything becomes merely a verbal explanation without any deep meaning. This has to be conveyed not only to the older students but also to the very young. Older students are already strongly conditioned by the pressure of society and that exerted by parents with their own values; or it is they themselves who have projected their goals, which become their prison. With the very young, the most important thing is to help them free themselves from psychological pressures and problems. Today, the very young are taught complicated intellectual problems; his studies become more and more technical; they are provided with more and more abstract information; multiple forms of knowledge are imposed on their brains conditioning them that way from childhood itself. While what interests us is helping the very young not to have psychological problems, to be free from fear, anxiety, cruelty, to be caring, to have generosity and affection. This is much more important than imposing knowledge on their young minds. This does not mean that the child should not learn to read, write, etc., but the accent must be placed on psychological freedom instead of putting it on the acquisition of knowledge, even if these are necessary. This freedom does not mean that the boy does what he pleases, but it means helping him to understand the nature of his reactions, of her wishes.

    This requires a great deal of clarity of discernment on the part of the teacher. After all, you want the student to be a complete human being without any psychological problems; otherwise he will misuse whatever knowledge is imparted to him. Our current education consists in living within the known and thus being a slave to the past with all its consequences.
    traditions, memories, experiences. Our life is from the known to the known, and thus we are never free from the known. If one constantly lives in the known, there is nothing new, nothing original, nothing that is not contaminated by thought. Thought is the known. If our education is the constant accumulation of the known, then our minds and hearts become mechanical without that immense vitality of the unknown. What has continuity is knowledge and it is perpetually limited. And what is limited must perpetually create problems. The cessation of continuity – continuity is time – is the blossoming of the timeless.

    Letters to Schools
    October 1, 1979
    Jiddu Krishnamurti, Letters to the Schools. Texts books conversations philosophy. Letters to Schools 1978…1983. Jiddu Krishnamurti in Spanish.

    • Krishnamurti appears to be describing the effects of the play of the gunas, weakness and darkness is the expression of tamas. Strength and activity are the expression of rajas. Clarity and discernment are the expression of sattwa. Clearly the evolutionary path lies in the movement of consciousness from a phase that is primarily tamasic (material nature), to one that is primarily rajasic (vital nature) to one that is primarily sattwic (mental nature) and eventually to one that is beyond the play of the three gunas and which can thereby transform them into their purer action of “sat-chit-ananda” which goes beyond the physical weakness, the vital desire and the mental rule-making.

  3. i would add one more point and that is we are in the INTRODUCTION to the text that raises the issues to be dealt with later on. Thus, there will be very substantial opportunity to reflect on and view the issues here from a comprehensive standpoint as we reach further into the text.

    • Thanks for answering. It is not the first time that statements by different teachers seem to collide. My attitude, at the moment, is only one of intellectual understanding of the postulates of each other. I want to suppose that, if the truth is one and living, the statements of those we take for teachers must be understood and carried out by each one or each one. Of course, I am not the one to elucidate: 1st) if there is a real contradiction between the teachings of the different teachers or 2nd) if there were such a contradiction, I do not know who would be right in that matter (for example, that of desire).
      3º) In the end, the own discovery about all this is pending.
      If there is a truth, and living, the contradictions would have to be either apparent or resolvable.
      Again, thank you very much and I will continue to read your contributions with interest. With the difficulty of not knowing English and having to use google translate to follow it.
      Greetings.

      • It is a journey of understanding for all of us, and your efforts and questions are very positive for everyone reading these posts. I would add that different teachers may look at things from a different angle, be responding to a different set of circumstances or need of the time, and thus, what is an apparent surface contradiction is simply a shift of perspective. For instance, teachers in the past held that the sun revolved around the earth, which was self-evident to our senses. They built methodologies of coordination and time that work well based on that understanding and which have survived to this day! Later teachers, with new tools available for their review, updated the understanding to show the earth revolves around the sun and also rotates. Yet each was “correct” in its own way, the one based on actual physical perception, the other based on technology and science to enhance the perception. There are also different paths of inner growth, some emphasizing the heart, others the mind, others the dedicated effort in work. While they may differ in their emphasis, they each are correct in their own view and for various individuals, or at different times for the same individual, they may adopt one or another of these standpoints to move their inner growth forward.

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