Understanding and Addressing the Difficulties of Gaining Control of the Ordinary Human Nature and Life, Part 1

Sri Aurobindo provided advice to an individual who was trying to sort out the direction for his life and how to face the difficulties that confronted him, particularly with respect to certain vital weaknesses to which he was prone. Sri Aurobindo analyzed the condition of this individual in great detail and provided both general and specific advice for addressing the situation. The general advice is here:

Sri Aurobindo notes: “This ideal involves the building of mind and character and is always a slow and difficult process demanding patient labour of years, sometimes the better part of the life-time. The chief difficulty in the way with almost everybody is the difficulty of controlling the desires and impulses of the vital being. In many cases as in yours, certain strong impulses run persistently counter to the ideal and demand of the reason and the will. The cause is almost always a weakness of the vital being itself, for when there is this weakness it finds itself unable to obey the dictates of the higher mind and obliged to act instead under waves of impulsion that come from certain forces in nature. These forces are really external to the person but find in this part of him a sort of mechanical readiness to satisfy and obey them. The difficulty is aggravated if the seat of the weakness is in the nervous system. There is then what is called by European science a neurasthenia tendency and under certain circumstances it leads to nervous breakdowns and collapse. This happens when there is too great a strain on the nerves or when there is excessive indulgence of the sexual or other propensities and sometimes also when there is too acute and prolonged a struggle between the restraining mental will and these propensities. This is the illness from which you are suffering and if you consider these facts you will see the real reason why you broke down at Pondicherry. The nervous system in you was weak; it could not obey the will and resist the demand of the external, vital forces, and in the struggle there came an overstrain of the mind and the nerves and a collapse taking the form of an acute attack of neurasthenia. These difficulties do not mean that you cannot prevail and bring about a control of your nerves and vital being and build up a harmony of mind and character. Only you must understand the thing rightly, not indulging in false and morbid ideas about it and you must use the right means. What is needed is a quiet mind and a quiet will, patient, persistent, refusing to yield either to excitement or discouragement, but always insisting tranquilly on the change needed in the being. A quiet will of this kind cannot fail in the end. Its effect is inevitable. It must first reject in the waking state, not only the acts habitual to the vital being, but the impulses behind them which it must understand to be external to the person even though manifested in him and also the suggestions which are behind the impulses. When thus rejected, the once habitual thoughts and movements may still manifest in the dream-state, because it is a well-known psychological law that what is suppressed or rejected in the waking state may still recur in sleep and dream because they are still there in the subconscient being. But if the waking state is thoroughly cleared, these dream-movements must gradually disappear because they lose their food and the impressions in the subconscient are gradually effaced. This is the cause of the dreams of which you are so much afraid. You should see that they are only a subordinate symptom which need not alarm you if you can once get control of your waking condition.”

Sri Aurobindo and The Mother, Living Within: The Yoga Approach to Psychological Health and Growth, Disturbances of the Body and Physical Consciousness, Healing the Nerves, pp. 101-107


Medicine, and Beyond, in the Treatment of Bodily Illness

It is easy, in fact, quite normal, for an individual to turn toward medical treatments once an illness presents itself. The mind-set of the entire society is based on the idea that illness must be defeated and that medicine, through its long history, has increasingly gained powers and tools to defeat illnesses. With the advent of antibiotics, anti-viral medicines, vaccines, Western medicine has shown remarkable ability to address scourges that once ravaged humanity such as smallpox, the Bubonic plague, and polio. Vaccination results for what are termed childhood diseases, such as measles, mumps, rubella clearly have reduced the severity and incidence of such diseases wherever these vaccines have been deployed. Tetanus and rabies have also been brought under substantial control with prompt vaccine treatment. It is not just Western medicine that has shown a remarkable ability to respond to illness. Ayurveda, Siddha medicine, Chinese Traditional Medicine, Shamanic medicines, herbal cures abound and the profession of medicine, in whatever form it is practiced, has gained a great reputation and substantial credibility. Even acute conditions such as simple headache, indigestion, etc. have seen the rise of medicines to take the pain away!

Thus, we are inculcated in the idea that any bodily imbalance or difficulty, any illness, should resort to the use of medicines as a first line of action, to quickly and effectively treat and respond to pain and disease. Of course, medicine has not solved all possible conditions, and has a less than stellar performance on long-term chronic metabolic conditions, but they promise us that these conditions will come under control in the future.

It is difficult therefore to overcome the suggestion that lies deeply embedded in our being that medicine is the first and major curative power and that we should turn to it at need. Sri Aurobindo, in his own experience, relates a change that took place in his own outlook on the matter, and the results he obtained through that change of view. He provides us courage to try a different approach when appropriate for us in dealing with the pains and acute illnesses that arise, without negating the potential need or benefit of medicines under circumstances where the practitioner has not yet achieved full and complete freedom and mastery over the body and its energies and immune powers.

We may look upon the immune system as we do with building muscle: regular practice and effort in reliance upon the innate capacities of the body will eventually build up that strength; and regular practice and effort in reliance upon the Divine Force in the universe to provide a cure and restore and maintain harmony in the body will eventually allow us to experience that Force in our lives, and thereby find the true curative agent behind all the medicines.

Sri Aurobindo notes: “For nearly forty years behind the wholly good I was weakly in constitution; I suffered constantly from the smaller and the greater ailments and mistook this curse for a burden that Nature had laid upon me. When I renounced the aid of medicines, then they began to depart from me like disappointed parasites. Then only I understood what a mighty force was the natural health within me and how much mightier yet the Will and Faith exceeding mind which God meant to be the divine support of our life in this body.”

Sri Aurobindo and The Mother, Living Within: The Yoga Approach to Psychological Health and Growth, Disturbances of the Body and Physical Consciousness, Faith and Suggestion, pp. 98-101

The Healing of the Body With the Divine Force

The mental consciousness likes to make ‘black and white’ decisions. Thus, it tends to set up oppositions between reliance on the spiritual force for healing, and the use of physical means such as medicines or other medical interventions. When we recognise, however, the complexity of the human instrument, and the variable rate at which the different parts of the being open with receptivity to a higher spiritual force and are able to assimilate it, it becomes clear that taking a dogmatic approach is not productive.

There are times and moments when the receptivity brings a Force into action. There are other times and moments when the body is unable to assimilate and utilize the Force directly and needs some kind of physical symbol or substance to help it focus and achieve the energetic response to the healing force it needs to overcome the manifestation of illness or weakness. The persistent effort eventually can bring about a new relationship that allows the body to heal and maintain its health and balance without any longer requiring the physical support of medicine. Until that time, the practitioner needs to recognise both the complexity and the varying stages of readiness of the human instrument.

There are numerous examples of yogis who have exhiibited various powers of healing and control over the wellness of the body. Sri Aurobindo has related specific instances within his own experience, as have also Paramahamsa Yogananda and others. Energetic healing also shows the ability of the body to respond to forces other than physical medicines. Homeopathy works on a subtle physical level. Practices such as reiki also rely on channeling a divine force to facilitate healing. These represent some of the wide variety of approaches as we experiment with making the body receptive and opening it to healing forces that do not rely on physical means.

Sri Aurobindo writes: “It is very good if one can get rid of illness entirely by faith and yoga-power or the influx of the Divine Force. But very often this is not altogether possible, because the whole nature is not open or able to respond to the Force. The mind may have faith and respond, but the lower vital and the body may not follow. Or, if the mind and vital are ready, the body may not respond, or may respond only partially, because it has the habit of replying to the forces which produce a particular illness, and habit is a very obstinate force in the material part of the nature. In such cases the use of the physical means can be resorted to, — not as the main means, but as a help or material support to the action of the Force. Not strong and violent remedies, but those that are beneficial without disturbing the body.”

“Certainly, one can act from within on an illness and cure it. Only it is not always easy as there is much resistance in Matter, resistance of inertia. An untiring persistence is necessary; at first one may fail altogether or the symptoms increase, but gradually the control of the body or of a particular illness becomes stronger. Again, to cure an occasional attack of illness by inner means is comparatively easy, to make the body immune from it in future is more difficult. A chronic malady is harder to deal with, more reluctant to disappear entirely than an occasional disturbance of the body. So long as the control of the body is imperfect, there are all these and other imperfections and difficulties in the use of the inner force.”

“If you can succeed by the inner action in preventing increase, even that is something; you have then by abhyasa to strengthen the power till it becomes able to cure. Note that so long as the power is not entirely there, some aid of physical means need not be altogether rejected.”

Sri Aurobindo and The Mother, Living Within: The Yoga Approach to Psychological Health and Growth, Disturbances of the Body and Physical Consciousness, Faith and Suggestion, pp. 98-101

The Power of Affirmations in Healing the Body and Achieving Positive Results in Life

Emile Coue was a French psychologist who used the power of positive affirmations to heal his patients of numerous diseases. He created a program to be repeated a number of times during the day to turn the mind and the emotions into a positive direction to create a healing vibration and energy for the body. The Mother expands upon the implications of Coue’s work by adding that it not only works on the body, but also on the mental, emotional and vital process. The underlying principle is to tune the mind and the feelings toward a vibration of health, wellness, wholeness, and uplifting energies rather than letting them languish in a state of negativity or passivity.

The Mother observes: “Coue was a doctor. He used to treat by psychological treatment, auto-suggestion, and he called this the true working of the imagination; and what he defined as imagination was faith. And so he treated all his patients in this way: they had to make a kind of imaginative formation which consisted in thinking themselves cured or in any case on the way to being cured, and in repeating this formation to themselves with sufficient persistence for it to have its effect. He had very remarkable results. He cured lots of people; only, he failed also, and perhaps these were not very lasting cures, I don’t know this. But in any case, this made many people reflect on something that’s quite true and of capital importance: that the mind is a formative instrument and that if one knows how to use it in the right way, one gets a good result. He observed — and I think it is true, my observation agrees with his — that people spend their time thinking wrongly. Their mental activity is almost always half pessimistic, and even half destructive. They are all the time thinking of and foreseeing bad things which may happen, troublesome consequences of what they have done, and they construct all kinds of catastrophes with an exuberant imagination which, if it were utilised in the other way, would naturally have opposite and more satisfying results.”

“If you observe yourself, if you… how to put it?… if you catch yourself thinking all of a sudden, spontaneously, unexpectedly, you will notice that nine times out of ten you are thinking something troublesome. It is very rarely that you are thinking about harmonious, beautiful, constructive, happy things, full of hope, light and joy; you will see, try the experiment. Suddenly stop and look at yourself thinking, just like that: put a screen in front of your thought and look at yourself thinking, off-hand, you will see this at least nine times out of ten, and perhaps more. (It is very rarely, very rarely that one has in the whole day, suddenly, a dazzling thought about what is going to happen or the state one is in or the things one wants to do or the course of his life or world circumstances — it depends, you see, on your preoccupation). Well, you will see, it is almost always foreseeing a bigger or smaller, more or less vast catastrophe.”

“Say you have the slightest thing that is not getting on quite well; if you think of your body, it is always that something unpleasant is going to happen to it — because when everything goes well, you don’t think about it! You will notice this: that you act, you do all that you have to do, without having a single thought about your body, and when all of a sudden you wonder whether there isn’t anything that’s going wrong, whether there is some uneasiness or a difficulty, something, then you begin to think of your body and you think about it with anxiety and begin to make your disastrous constructions.”

“Whereas Coue recommended… It was in this way that he cured his patients ; he was a doctor, he told them, ‘You are going to repeat to yourself: ‘I am being cured, gradually I am getting cured’ and again, you see, ‘I am strong, I am quite healthy and I can do this, I can do that.’ “

Sri Aurobindo and The Mother, Living Within: The Yoga Approach to Psychological Health and Growth, Disturbances of the Body and Physical Consciousness, Faith and Suggestion, pp. 94-98

Suggestion and Illness, Spiritual Force for Healing and the Use of Medical Treatment

Whether consciously or subconsciously, suggestions reach the being from the outside world, in some cases impacting directly on the body, and in others through the mind or the vital being. When these suggestions arrive subconsciously, we only recognise the thought or feeling when it arises within us and we take “ownership” of it as our own. At this point, it is much more difficult to reject it as we have already let it in and made it part of our being! The first step, therefore, in overcoming the impact of suggestion on the being and its health is to actually begin to see and recognise it as it tries to enter and see that it is coming from an external source. Some people are able to develop the sensitivity of the vital envelope so they can feel the pressure on that vital sheath, and thus, use that to identify the incoming suggestion and reject those that are inimical to the health of the body, life or mind.

There is also the force of suggestion, in fact a very palpable force that can aid the being in strengthening it, supporting it and building up its ability to grow and resist the forces of illness and disintegration that pressure the being. Ideally, as one becomes sensitive to the incoming play of forces, the difference can be distinguished and those that are supportive allowed to work, while those that are harmful are rejected.

Some practitioners of yoga determine to rely entirely on this healing force and thus, avoid the use of medicinal substances. For many however, this is not workable as parts of the being may not have fully embraced and adapted to the working of the higher force, and thus, they continue to suffer under the pressure of illness or disease even though the mind and the heart potentially have recognised the need to open to that higher potentiality. The body in particular has a direct relationship to the physical, material world and thus, is particularly receptive to the use of medicines to act as physical carriers of an energy and vibration of healing. These medicines in some cases play an active role in and of themselves by releasing certain powers of healing and immunity within the being; while in other cases, they simply focus the being on the inner strength and, although not containing any specific active ingredients, help the body fend off the assault.

Sri Aurobindo writes: “A suggestion is not one’s own thought or feeling, but a thought or feeling that comes from outside, from others, from the general atmosphere or from external Nature, — if it is received, it sticks and acts on the being and is taken to be one’s own thought or feeling. If it is recognised as a suggestion, then it can be more easily got rid of. This feeling of doubt and self-distrust and hopelessness about oneself is a thing moving about in the atmosphere and trying to enter into people and be accepted; I want you to reject it, for its presence not only produces trouble and distress but stands in the way of restoration of health and return to the inner activity of the sadhana.”

“As for medical treatment it is sometimes a necessity. If one can cure by the Force as you have often done it is the best — but if for some reason the body is not able to respond to the Force (e.g. owing to doubt, lassitude or discouragement or for inability to react against the disease), then the aid of medical treatment becomes necessary. It is not that the Force ceases to act and leaves all to the medicines, — it will continue to act through the consciousness but take the support of the treatment so as to act directly on the resistance in the body, which responds more readily to physical means in its ordinary consciousness.”

Sri Aurobindo and The Mother, Living Within: The Yoga Approach to Psychological Health and Growth, Disturbances of the Body and Physical Consciousness, Faith and Suggestion, pp. 94-98

The Action and Power of Suggestion

Suggestions are not just directed at the mind; nor are they restricted in their impact on just the mind. We are used to the process of people making suggestions to us constantly about what we could, or should, do or how we could, or should, respond to a situation. We weigh these suggestions not solely with mental logic, but with emotional reactions, vital feelings and even, in some cases, physical responses.

Some suggestions are non-verbal in nature. They may take the form of a concentrated exercise of mental will. A ‘pressure’ is created in the atmosphere which is not always recognised as the power of suggestion, but people nevertheless respond to it. It can also take the form of an emotional energy or vital intensity that makes one want to respond in certain ways. This can be easily seen in mob psychology where the very presence of the mob, and its rising intensity of feelings, creates a reaction in individuals who might otherwise not support the kind of actions that they eventually undertake! There is yet another type of suggestion which is more of an impact of a physical force on the vital envelope, or aura. A very virulent infection or virus pushes on this envelope and we feel like there is some illness in our environment. In some cases this is supported by a mental acknowledgement of a disease vector going around, but in others, it is purely the subjective feeling of possibly becoming ill. If one is aware of this and is able to strengthen the response of the vital envelope, the illness does not actually take hold; if not, then the individual eventually may succumb to a bout of illness.

Of course, not all suggestions, overt or subtle, are negative. In the presence of a concentrated field of focus, one naturally is aided in achieving inner concentration. A spiritual teacher, or guru, may guide his disciples through the force of inner suggestion, non-verbally, yet powerfully, palpably and without leaving any room for doubt. If the disciple is receptive to such guidance, it can aid the sadhana immensely. Sometimes these suggestions come in the form of ‘teachings’ during the dream state. In Tibetan Yoga they have a term for this type of support, which they call (as translated) ‘gift waves’. It is not unique to Tibetan Yoga however, and visitors to Sri Aurobindo Ashram have frequently remarked about the pressure of the atmosphere to open their awareness and uplift the consciousness to new and unexpected levels.

Sri Aurobindo notes: “By suggestion I do not mean merely thoughts or words. When the hypnotist says ‘sleep’, it is a suggestion; but when he says nothing, but only puts his silent will to convey sleep or makes movements of his hands over the face, that also is a suggestion. … When a force is thrown on you or a vibration of illness, it carries to the body this suggestion. A wave comes in the body — with a certain vibration in it, the body remembers ‘cold’ or feels the vibration of a cold and begins to cough or sneeze or to feel chill — the suggestion comes to the mind in the form ‘I am weak, I don’t feel well, I am catching a cold.’ “

Sri Aurobindo and The Mother, Living Within: The Yoga Approach to Psychological Health and Growth, Disturbances of the Body and Physical Consciousness, Faith and Suggestion, pp. 94-98

Suggestions Can Cause Illness, or Cure Illness: the Link Between Mind, Emotions and the Physical Body

There are names for various impacts that the mind has on the health of the physical body. For instance, there is hypochondria, which is noted when an individual accepts a suggestion in the mind that they are suffering from a particular illness. Even if they are not at the time having that particular illness, the very suggestion tends to create an imbalance and can make them very sick and lead to various types of physical symptoms. Fear of illness is another causative factor of actual illness, as it opens up a hole in the protective vital envelope. This is particularly visible when there is a pandemic and everyone is talking about and fixated upon a particularly virulent disease.

In many cases, the suggestions are subtle and not noticed by the active mind when they arrive. For instance, one may see someone suffering from influenza and not actively dwell on it, but the impression gets into the being and the physical body reacts over time.

Just as suggestions can help to cause illness, they can also help to cure. One of the most telling of these is the functioning of what Western medicine calls the ‘placebo effect’. They find that giving a harmless pill to an individual can actually lead to the body’s prompt immune response and cure! The placebo effect is actually a very significant causative factor in healing from an illness.

Some people try to lump homeopathy into the “placebo” category, but the results on horses and dogs shows that it is something more than that. The subtle vibration that homeopathic medicines set up in the being, although not measurable, seems to provide a “suggestion” to the body about how to vibrate a cure for itself!

Another known phenomenon is placing a sick or weak plant in an environment surrounded by strong and healthy plants. In many cases, the plant will quickly recover its strength when it picks up the vibration of the healthy plants in its environs.

Many modern-day practitioners utilize the power of conscious affirmation or suggestion to aid in the healing process, while in the past, doctors relied heavily on what is euphemistically called their “bedside manner” to project confidence and healing energy to the patient.

Sri Aurobindo writes: “The suggestions that create illness or unhealthy conditions of the physical being come usually through the subconscient — for a great part of the physical being, the most material part, is subconscient, i.e. to say, it has an obscure consciousness of its own but so obscure and shut up in itself that the mind does not know its movements or what is going on there. But all the same it is a consciousness and can receive suggestions from Forces outside, just as the mind and vital do. If it were not so, there would not be any possibility of opening it to the Force and the Force curing it; for without this consciousness in it it would not be able to respond. In Europe and America there are many people now who recognise this fact and treat their illnesses by making conscious mental suggestions to the body which counteract the obscure secret suggestions of illness in the subconscient. There was a famous Doctor in France who cured thousands of people by making them persistently put such counter-suggestions upon the body. That proves that illness has not a purely material cause, but is due to a disturbance of the secret consciousness in the body.”

Sri Aurobindo and The Mother, Living Within: The Yoga Approach to Psychological Health and Growth, Disturbances of the Body and Physical Consciousness, Faith and Suggestion, pp. 94-98

The Body Heals Best When We Do Not Fixate Upon It With Anxiety and Worry

Where the mind focuses and attention is given, energy flows. Thus, when we focus on our physical body and its health issues, when we create fear or anxiety over our health status, we are actually opening up a pathway for the very concerns we are worried about. Positive healthy attention to the needs of the body is one thing, but when we shift over to a negative state of worry, we get in touch with the things that cause the worry, and thus, create a link that allows them to enter. We are in effect ‘inviting them in’ with this type of attention.

When we shift our focus away from these things, and concentrate on our higher interests, on thoughts and emotions that are uplifting and energizing, we bring into play the higher forces that carry these healthy and healing vibrations, and thus, actually allow healing to occur much more effectively.

The Mother observes: “My advice is not to worry. The more you think of it, the more you concentrate upon it and, above all, the more you fear, the more you give a chance for the thing to grow. … If, on the contrary, you turn your attention and your interest elsewhere you increase the possibilities of cure.”

“Do not torment yourself and do not worry; above all try to banish all fear; fear is a dangerous thing which can give importance to something which had none at all. The mere fear of seeing certain symptoms renew themselves is enough to bring about this repetition.”

Sri Aurobindo and The Mother, Living Within: The Yoga Approach to Psychological Health and Growth, Disturbances of the Body and Physical Consciousness, Preoccupation with Illness, pp. 91-93

Pain Management

When the body is disturbed in its balance, through illness, injury, or other causes, it causes signals to be sent through the nervous system to the brain, broadcasting the perception we perceive as pain. Some people never experience pain, however, due to either a failure of the nervous pathway, or some blocking mechanism within the awareness. The inability to experience pain, although rare, can be seriously life-threatening, as pain, as one of its functions, is intended to send a warning to the individual to take some kind of corrective action to preserve the integrity of the body and the life-force. Some individuals believe that it would be a blessing not to be able to experience pain, but those with such a constitution are at serious risk. Pain serves a real purpose in the economy of nature!

At the same time, focus on pain can also be, not only a serious distraction for the being, but also can increase the experience and intensity of the pain. Pain continues until the situation is fully resolved, and in some cases, this can take a considerable time. Western medicine has developed a scale for describing pain on a 1-10 level, in an attempt to understand the subjective experience of the pain by the individual they are treating. They use both a numeric scale and what they call the “Wong-Baker FACES pain rating scale.” Depending on the intensity and the acute or chronic nature of the pain, a different approach, generally reliant on pain medications, will be recommended. One way or the other, the individual must understand how to deal with pain.

Some people resort to chemical substances that are known to block the experience of pain, through one pathway or another. Some numb the pain receptors at the site of the pain; some block the nervous channels that transport the pain signals, and some block the receptors in the brain that receive and decode these signals as pain. Some pain medication has a secondary effect of reducing the inflammatory response at the site of a wound or injury, which naturally reduces the pain signals as well. Opioid pain medications are extremely powerful and not only block the pain but also induce lethargy, a dreamy-state of reduced general awareness and are highly addictive as people who take them report being cushioned in a pain-free state of awareness not worried about events in the world, but absorbed in an inner reality of seemingly peaceful rest, until such time as the drug wears off! One of the issues with opioid use is that the experience creates both a psychological and a physical craving, and thus, can lead to a fixation on the drug use that goes beyond the initial pain management.

There are other ways, without use of medicines, by which pain can be either reduced or eliminated. The more we remain fixated and focused on the body and its reactions, the more we will be subjected to the experience of its pain. As with everything else, the consciousness has the role, and the ability, to tune itself to one vibrational level or another. It is thus possible to shift the focus away from the body to the higher levels of the being. This happens naturally when someone is absorbed in listening to music, or concentrating on some area of deep interest, whether a project, or a hobby or some intellectual pursuit, or in the case of a spiritual seeker, through a refocusing of the awareness toward the Divine Reality.

There are actually several benefits to shifting the awareness away from the pain of the body. First, it frees the individual from the constant experience of the pain, once initial notice and corrective action, as possible, has been taken. Second, it allows the body to undertake its automatic healing actions without undue interference from the mind which may not fully understand the complex mechanisms involved in healing the situation, and thus, may actually undertake actions which set back the healing process.

The Mother writes: “You may have been told that certain bodily complaints will give you a great deal of pain. Things like that are often said. You then make a formation of fear and keep expecting the pain. And the pain comes even when it need not.” … But in case it is there after all, I can tell you one thing. If the consciousness is turned upward, the pain vanishes. If it is turned downward, the pain is felt and even increases. When one experiments with the upward and the downward turnings, one sees that the bodily complaint as such has nothing to do with the pain. The body may suffer very much or not at all, although its condition is exactly the same. It is the turn of the consciousness that makes all the difference.”

“I say ‘turned upward’ because to turn towards the Divine is the best method, but what can be said in general is that if the consciousness is turned away from the pain to one’s work or anything that interests one, the pain ceases. … And not only the pain but whatever damage there may be in an organ is set right much more easily when the consciousness is taken away from the trouble and one is open to the Divine. There is the Sat aspect of the Divine — the pure supreme Existence above or beyond or behind the cosmos. If you can keep in contact with it, all physical complaints can be removed.”

Sri Aurobindo and The Mother, Living Within: The Yoga Approach to Psychological Health and Growth, Disturbances of the Body and Physical Consciousness, Preoccupation with Illness, pp. 91-93

Addressing the Subconscient Fear of the Body Consciousness

Fear opens up pathways for whatever is feared to enter the being, as it creates a vibrational ‘link’ between the individual and the feared event or circumstance. Fear also opens holes in the vital envelope, or aura, that helps protect the individual from catching illnesses. We have all heard of instances where doctors wade into a contagious environment without fear and are able to remain healthy while treating innumerable sick individuals. Fear thus is part of the mechanism that spreads disease and can help create the development of pandemics. This is not to minimize the virulence of the disease, but to indicate another pathway for it to enter the being and overcome the immune strength.

The fear need not be an overt mental reaction or even a vital reaction in order to be operative. The body itself can respond with fear at the cellular level. Many people have experienced the phenomenon of an uncontrolled reaction in the body when a circumstance occurs that reminds the body of past traumatic events. For instance, if one had a bad experience with a doctor or a hospital, one will have an automatic reaction the next time one goes to a doctor or hospital. It even has a name ‘white coat syndrome’. The blood pressure will go up, the pulse increases, the breathing becomes more irregular, all while the mind, emotions and conscious vital parts are at peace with the situation or even supporting the need for the visit. These reactions represent a release of past trauma held in the cells of the body into a current circumstance, and are not generally subject to conscious control.

At a certain point in the yogic process, the work must proceed to the cellular level and begin to adjust the very way the body reacts to circumstances. As long as we hold the standpoint of being a body rather than a spiritual being taking and using a body for its own purposes, these automatic bodily reactions will find a basis for acceptance and thus, be able to recur. Underlying all of this is an existential fear of death, which must eventually be overcome in order to accomplish the shift to the spiritual consciousness. The Mother addresses this issue with some considerations based on her own insight and experience.

The Mother notes: “You must not fear. Most of your troubles come from fear. In fact, ninety per cent of illnesses are the result of the subconscient fear of the body. In the ordinary consciousness of the body there is a more or less hidden anxiety about the consequences of the slightest physical disturbance. It can be translated by these words of doubt about the future: ‘And what will happen?’ It is this anxiety that must be checked. Indeed this anxiety is a lack of confidence in the Divine’s Grace, the unmistakable sign that the consecration is not complete and perfect.”

“As a practical means of overcoming this subconscient fear each time that something of it comes to the surface, the more enlightened part of the being must impress on the body the necessity of an entire trust in the Divine’s Grace, the certitude that this Grace is always working for the best in our self as well as in all, and the determination to submit entirely and unreservedly to the Divine’s Will.”

“The body must know and be convinced that its essence is divine and that if no obstacle is put in the way of the Divine’s working, nothing can harm us. This process must be steadily repeated until all recurrence of fear is stopped. And then even if the illness succeeds in making its appearance, its strength and duration will be considerably diminished until it is definitively conquered.”

Sri Aurobindo and The Mother, Living Within: The Yoga Approach to Psychological Health and Growth, Disturbances of the Body and Physical Consciousness, Preoccupation with Illness, pp. 91-93