Effects of the Descent of the Higher Consciousness Into the Body

We observe the effects of training and conditioning the body to reach its peak of efficiency and perfection in action. The mind, the vital ambition, both play into the ability to bring the body to a state where it can undertake to achieve things that most people cannot even imagine. Recently in the 2021 Olympics in Tokyo, we were given the opportunity to examine the interaction of the mind with the trained bodily awareness, when one of the premier gymnasts in the world withdrew from a number of events due to, as she explained it, a case of the “twistees” which was, simply explained, the mind interfering in the moment of action to confuse the highly conditioned body from simply carrying out the skills the body had internalized deeply. The danger was that she would lose track of the motion in mid-stream and come crashing down, with the threat of injury or death.

We learn of many cases where, after extensive conditioning of the body, it enters into what is known as the “zone” and can virtually automatically, without conscious input, act automatically to do what it has been trained to do, but in a state of supreme perfection and fluid action that does not involve immediate mental intervention.

The natural question arises that if the mental training and conditioning can accomplish so much to awaken the innate capabilities of the body and enhance overall performance, would it be possible to actually awaken the individual cells to conscious awareness, particularly if the higher consciousness, with capacities well beyond that of the mental intelligence, takes an active part in that process.

Sri Aurobindo observes: “These are some of the effects of the descent of higher Consciousness into the most physical. It brings light, consciousness, force, Ananda into the cells and all the physical movements. The body becomes conscious and vigilant and performs the right movements, obeying the higher will or else automatically by the force of the consciousness that has come into it. It becomes more possible to control the functions of the body and set right anything that is wrong, to deal with illness and pain, etc. A greater control comes over the actions of the body and even over happenings to it from outside, e.g. minimising of accidents and small mishaps. The body becomes a more effective instrument for work. It becomes possible to minimise fatigue. Peace, happiness, strength, lightness come in the whole physical system. These are the more obvious and normal results which grow as the consciousness grows but there are as many others that are possible. There is also the unity with the earth-consciousness, the constant sense of the Divine in the physical, etc. …”

“It is, of course, not easy to make the physical entirely conscious in this way — for it is the seat of unconsciousness and obscurity and inertia — but a partial and sufficiently effective introduction of the higher Consciousness can be established as a basis and the rest of the ground conquered as its force increases on the body.”

Sri Aurobindo, Integral Yoga: Sri Aurobindo’s Teaching and Method of Practice, Chapter 8, The Triple Transformation: Psychic, Spiritual and Supramental, The Spiritual Transformation, pp. 209-229

The Experience of the Descent of the Higher Consciousness Into the Mind, Life and Body

The traditional paths of yoga have as a defining experience the rising of the energy from the lower chakras to the higher centres. Western psychology proposes that the creative force, that leads to art, as well as intellectual achievement comes through a process that is called ‘sublimation’ of the sexual energy, which corresponds generally to the traditional yogic experience of the energy of the Muladhara, the seat of the sexual energy, rising up through the higher chakras until it eventually reaches the crown of the head. As it opens each chakra, it liberates powerful forces of vital energy, emotion, speech, will and intellect.

Practitioners of the integral Yoga have a somewhat different experience generally, which is felt as a descent from above rather than as a rising up from below of the spiritual force. Many times they report a sense of pressure at the top of the skull, or even a sense of drilling through the skull as the higher force descends. Some describe a ‘dripping’ of peace from abovve through the crown chakra and others an inrush or sudden submerging of the awareness to a sense of Peace and Silence.

Sri Aurobindo writes: “It is the universal experience of sadhaks that force or consciousness or Ananda like this first comes from above — or around — and presses on or surrounds the head, then it pierces the skull as it were and fills first the brain and forehead and then the whole head and descends occupying each centre till the whole system is full and replete. Of course there are, or can be, preliminary rushes occupying the whole body for a time or some part of the system most open and least resistant to the influence.”

“It is possible that there may have been too much haste in this attempt to open the navel and the lower centre. In this yoga the movement is downward — first the two head centres, then the heart, then the navel and then the two others. If the higher experience is first fully established with its higher consciousness, knowledge and will in the three upper centres, then it is easier to open the three lower ones without too much disturbance.”

Sri Aurobindo, Integral Yoga: Sri Aurobindo’s Teaching and Method of Practice, Chapter 8, The Triple Transformation: Psychic, Spiritual and Supramental, The Spiritual Transformation, pp. 209-229

The Need for the Descent of Peace Into the Being

We see in tales of various spiritual paths of the past, and present, that even a slight opening to the divine Power, Knowledge or Ananda can lead to severe disruptions in the individual being. There are stories of people dancing with ecstasy when they cannot hold the force coming down, as well as those who receive a little knowledge and believe they have been chosen to lead the world; or those who gain some amount of Power and use it to control and lord over others. Knowledge, Power, Ananda all are needed, but first, there must be the ability cultivated to hold these things without “spilling” them, maintaining a balance in the being and allow them to fill and widen the consciousness without disruption or any deformations due to the weakness of the human instruments. There are risks to the health and well-being of the individual otherwise. There are cases where an individual has walked into traffic on a road with the feeling that “God will protect me” once some force comes down, as they feel they are “chosen as God’s instrument in the world”. There are cases where the Force opens up the lower vital chakras and people experience uncontrolled impulses of sex, violence, domination, or bullying behavior; or alternatively, they experience fear, submission, nervous tics or breakdowns and harm to themselves. Some of the imbalances can disturb not only the mind or the emotions, but even the body and lead to serious illness or even death..

All these reactions can only be understood and brought into harmony with the descent of the Peace of the Divine. That is why Sri Aurobindo first counsels developing “calm, peace and equality” in the small yoga manual Bases of Yoga. As the Peace deepens and moves into the entire being, the capacity to receive and hold the other needed powers of the Divine consciousness increases commensurately.

Patanjali in his Yoga Sutras, identifies 8 ‘limbs’ of the practice commonly called Raja Yoga. The first 4 are actually preliminary practices needed to bring a receptive and peaceful status to the mind, life and body. Yama and Niyama are generally considered to be ‘moral restraints’ or perfections, but the deeper intention is to bring the quality of peace and stability to the mind, the emotions and the vital being, overcoming the impulses that would lead to “spilling” of the energy when it comes through the yogic practice. Next, Asana, which means ‘seat’ is perfected to allow the physical body to receive and hold the energy. Then Pranayama is used to quiet the nervous channels and make them solid and able to bear more Force.

Sri Aurobindo notes: “The descent of Peace, the descent of Force or Power, the descent of Light, the descent of Ananda, these are the four things that transform the nature.”

“Quiet, quiet and more quiet, calm strength, calm gladness are what are needed in mind and nerve and body as a basis for the siddhi — precisely because the Force, the Light, the Ananda that comes down are extremely intense and need a great stillness in the body to bear and support.”

“Your description of the solid cool block of peace pressing on the body and making it immobile makes it certain that it is what we call in this yoga the descent of the higher consciousness. A deep, intense or massive substance of peace and stillness is very commonly the first of its powers that descends and many experience it in that way. At first it comes and stays only during meditation or, without the sense of physical inertness or immobility, a little while longer and afterwards is lost; but if the sadhana follows its normal course, it comes more and more, lasting longer and in the end as an enduring deep peace and inner stillness and release becomes a normal character of the consciousness, the foundation indeed of a new consciousness, calm and liberated.”

Sri Aurobindo, Integral Yoga: Sri Aurobindo’s Teaching and Method of Practice, Chapter 8, The Triple Transformation: Psychic, Spiritual and Supramental, The Spiritual Transformation, pp. 209-229

The Kundalini, the Tantra and the Integral Yoga

The opening and activation of the subtle energy centres described in the Tantras and known generally as Kundalini Yoga, differs from the practices of integral Yoga as to process, but not necessarily as to the end result. In both cases, the subtle centres, or chakras, are opened and energy is flowing. Whereas the tantric process starts from the first chakra and opens upwards, the integral Yoga starts from above the head, and descends downwards starting with the mental level, the emotional and then the higher vital, lower vital and physical, although in specific instances any individual may find one or more of the centres opening in a different order. Sri Aurobindo refers to 6 subtle centres here as he does not count the Brahmarandra, the chakra at the crown of the head in this recapping, as that is basically the connecting bridge to the higher energetic action and once the Kundalini reaches it, the connection to the higher forces is made; in other words, it is a semantic difference in how the chakras are being looked at here, not an ultimate disagreement about the chakra system itself.

Sri Aurobindo observes: “The sensation in the spine and on both sides of it is a sign of the awakening of the Kundalini Power. It is felt as a descending and an ascending current. There are two main nerve-channels for the currents, one on each side of the central channel in the spine. the descending current is the energy from above coming down to touch the sleeping Power in the lowest nerve-centre at the bottom of the spine; the ascending current is the release of the energy going up from the awakened Kundalini. This movement as it proceeds opens up the six centres of the subtle nervous system and by the opening one escapes from the limitations of the surface consciousness bound to the gross body and great ranges of experience proper to the subliminal self, mental, vital, subtle physical are shown to the sadhak. When the Kundalini meets the higher Consciousness as it ascends through the summit of the head, there is an opening of the higher superconscient reaches above the normal mind. It is by ascending through these in our consciousness and receiving a descent of their energies that it is possible ultimately to reach the supermind. This is the method of the Tantra. In our yoga it is not necessary to go through the systematised method. It takes place spontaneously according to the need by the force of the aspiration. As soon as there is an opening the Divine Power descends and conducts the necessary working, does what is needed, each thing in its time and the yogic Consciousness begins to be born in the sadhak.”

“In [this] yoga there may be an occasional current in the spine as in other nerve channels or different parts of the body, but no awakening of the Kundalini in this particular and powerful fashion. There is only a quiet uprising of the consciousness from the lower centres to join the spiritual consciousness above and a descent of the Divine Force from above which does its own work in the mind and body — the manner and stages varying in each sadhak.”

Sri Aurobindo, Integral Yoga: Sri Aurobindo’s Teaching and Method of Practice, Chapter 8, The Triple Transformation: Psychic, Spiritual and Supramental, The Spiritual Transformation, pp. 209-229

The Yoga-Shakti Active in the Integral Yoga

For the majority of individuals who live on the surface of their being, the energy they experience, the thoughts, emotions, feelings, perceptions are simply the working of the machinery, with no understanding about the process or source of this energetic action in their lives. For those who have some experience of the inner awareness, however, there begins to develop a perception of various energies being located in specific areas, and this perception actually carries through into the ordinary awareness as habitual sayings or thoughts. People speak of the emotions of the heart, the thoughts of the mind, the vital power in the solar plexus, etc. Various training techniques in the martial arts make a science of channeling and focusing the energy in a particular center or region. Thus, the knowledge of the chakras, and their action, actually permeates everyone’s awareness without it being specifically tied to the occult energy centers, per se.

Yoga practitioners traditionally look at the occult centers, which they call ‘chakras’ as being blocked or closed for the most part, and it is through techniques of yogic poses, various “locks” and routing of energy, the use of breathing techniques and mantras that they try to systematically open these centers. The rising of the occult energy of the Kundalini from its home in the Muladhara Chakra, through each successive chakra up to the crown of the head, is an experience that the Tantric tradition describes. Each chakra, as it is energized and opens under that pressure, releases powers of knowledge and action.

In the integral Yoga, the chakras also open, but in this case, under the pressure and impulsion of the higher force of consciousness that is situated above the crown chakra. Practitioners of the integral Yoga experience the descent of a concrete force from above and feel its influence first in the mind, then into the lower chakras, and they can identify definitive changes in their understanding, and in their active powers of expression and manifestation, as each chakra is energized, a process corollary to, but in a reverse order from, the rising of the Kundalini from below. Sri Aurobindo points out that this is actually a more sure and safe procedure as it uses the higher understanding and power of impulse management to reduce the chances of impure or misdirected energies arising as the lower chakras open.

Sri Aurobindo writes: “There is a force which accompanies the growth of the new consciousness and at once grows with it and helps it to come about and to perfect itself. This force is the Yoga-Shakti. It is here coiled up and asleep in all the centres of our inner being (Chakras) and is at the base what is called in the Tantras the Kundalini Shakti. But it is also above us, above our head as the Divine Force — not there coiled up, involved, asleep, but awake, scient, potent, extended and wide; it is there waiting for manifestation and to this Force we have to open ourselves — to the power of the Mother. In the mind it manifests itself as a divine mind-force or a universal mind-force and it can do everything that the personal mind cannot do; it is then the yogic mind-force. When it manifests and acts in the vital or the physical in the same way, it is there apparent as a yogic life-force or a yogic body-force. It can awake in all these forms, bursting outwards and upwards, extending itself into wideness from below; or it can descend and become there a definite power for things; it can pour downwards into the body, working, establishing its reign, extending into wideness from above, link the lowest in us with the highest above us, release the individual into a cosmic universality or into absoluteness and transcendence.”

Sri Aurobindo, Integral Yoga: Sri Aurobindo’s Teaching and Method of Practice, Chapter 8, The Triple Transformation: Psychic, Spiritual and Supramental, The Spiritual Transformation, pp. 209-229

The Experience of the New Higher and Wider Consciousness

The experience and descent of a higher consciousness is not a matter of philosophical argument but one of psycho-physical effects seen and noted by the individual, as well as palpable impacts in the basis of knowledge, action and implementation in the outer world. The seeker actually can feel the force entering and permeating his being. He can experience the widening of his awareness from a place above the mind. He begins to see and understand things from a new viewpoint which provides in some cases radically new insights and ways of doing things. The experience of Nikola Tesla, which he explained at one point, is illustrative. He indicated he did not gain his insights into the working of energy and how to utilize it from any kind of arduous thought, but through an insight or vision that he obtained. This mirrors the experience of many other creative individuals who attribute their breakthrough insights to a new way of seeing and understanding that originates outside the mental sphere. These are the realms of intuition, inspiration, creativity that reside in the higher levels of consciousness and which Sri Aurobindo has described both as to their psycho-physical effects and their results when they act through the mind, life and body.

Sri Aurobindo provides another insight about the process of the integral Yoga and the opening of the chakras, which should be noted. An arduous process of physical exercises, breathing techniques, etc. is not required for the opening of these occult centres to occur; rather, they open naturally under the influence of the psychic being coming forward and through the focus of the aspiration and subsequent connection with the higher forces of consciousness.

Sri Aurobindo notes: “An ascension of the consciousness to a position which is no longer in the body but above it. The consciousness can thus ascend and rise higher and higher with the awareness of entering regions above the ordinary mind; usually it does not go very far at first but acquires the capacity to go always higher in repetitions of this experience. At the close of the experience it returns to the body. But also there comes a definitive rise by which the consciousness permanently takes its station above. It is no longer in the body or limited by it; it feels itself not only above it but extended in space; the body is below its high station and enveloped in its extended consciousness. Sometimes indeed the extension is felt only above on the higher level and the enveloping extension below comes only afterwards as a later experience. But the nature of it is to be definitive, it is not merely an experience but a realisation, a permanent change. This brings a liberation from identification with the body which becomes only a circumstance in the largeness of the being, an instrumental part of it; or it is felt as something very small or even non-existent, nothing seems to be felt but a wide practically infinite consciousness which is oneself — or if not at once infinite, yet what is now called a boundless finite.”

“This new consciousness is open to all knowledge from above, but it does not think with the brain as does the ordinary mind — it has other and larger means of awareness than thought. No methodical opening of the centres is necessary — the centres are in fact open, otherwise there could not be this ascent. In this yoga their opening comes automatically — what we call opening is not that, but an ability of the consciousness itself on the various levels to receive the descent of the Higher Consciousness above. By the ascent one can indeed bring down knowledge from above. But the larger movement is to receive it from above and let it flow through into the lower mental and other levels. I may add that on all these levels, in mind, heart and below there comes a liberation from the physical limitation, a wideness which no longer allows an identification with the body.”

Sri Aurobindo, Integral Yoga: Sri Aurobindo’s Teaching and Method of Practice, Chapter 8, The Triple Transformation: Psychic, Spiritual and Supramental, The Spiritual Transformation, pp. 209-229

Ascent of Consciousness and the Descent of the Higher Consciousness Into Mind-Life-Body

Spiritual practices that focus on liberation from the nature attempt to achieve that liberation through abandonment of the external life and a one-pointed concentration on the spiritual consciousness. The integral Yoga has an additional goal of bringing the higher spiritual forces and knowledge, power, love and bliss into the life and transforming each element in the light of this new higher action. This comes about through a dual action of ascent and descent. There are periods when the focus is on moving the consciousness above into the wideness of the spiritual planes and shifting the standpoint there, essentially moving from the ego-standpoint to the divine standpoint. There are other periods where the focus is on bringing this spiritual standpoint and force into the mind, life and body and transforming their action in light of the manifestation of this next evolutionary principle. Just as the advent of mind transformed life and even the physical world, so the advent of the spiritual consciousness is intended to transform mind, life and body.

Sri Aurobindo observes: “The practice of this yoga is double — one side is of an ascent of the consciousness to the higher planes, the other is that of a descent of the power of the higher planes into the earth-consciousness so as to drive out the Power of darkness and ignorance and transform the nature.”

“It is the aim of the sadhana that the consciousness should rise out of the body and take its station above, — spreading in the wideness everywhere, not limited to the body. Thus liberated one opens to all that is above this station, above the ordinary mind, receives there all that descends from the heights, observes from there all that is below. Thus it is possible to witness in all freedom and to control all that is below and to be a recipient or a channel for all that comes down and presses into the body, which it will prepare to be an instrument of a higher manifestation, remoulded into a higher consciousness and nature.”

Sri Aurobindo, Integral Yoga: Sri Aurobindo’s Teaching and Method of Practice, Chapter 8, The Triple Transformation: Psychic, Spiritual and Supramental, The Spiritual Transformation, pp. 209-229

The Need for the Guidance of the Guru

The snares of the desire-soul of the vital nature are often subtle and can easily overpower the mind. Thus, motivations that represent the gratification of the ego are frequently justified by the mental processes and thus, can continue even when the seeker believes that he is carrying out the Divine Will and Action. The history of close-minded bigotry, and the wars that have been fought, and the tortures that have been undertaken in the name of God provide vivid examples of the ways that the vital desire-soul gains support and justification in the mind. It is not just these overt situations, however. The subtle workings of desire, greed, hunger for power, lust, as well as expressions of vanity and vainglory are just a few of the types of inner reactions that can continue under the color of some type of mental justification. As the sadhana progresses, and more powers manifest in the individual, the temptations and expressions of these vital drives that result can become even more active and pervasive, and thus, the seeker finds himself in a place of danger without, possibly, the ability to clearly interpret and distinguish these drives from the higher impetus.

The techniques of the separation of Purusha from Prakriti, as well as the mental practice of recognition that the seeker is not the body, not the life and not the mind that he experiences, can aid in keeping the seeker clear of these obstacles and deflected energies, but for most, this is simply not sufficient to navigate successfully through the minefield of the inner psychological experience. For this reason, the role of the Guru becomes important.

In his book The Synthesis of Yoga, Sri Aurobindo describes the role, the nature and the importance of the Guru for the spiritual seeker. The Guru can aid the seeker in cutting through the confusion and subtle webs woven by the vital desire-soul and thereby help the seeker carry out the rejection of the undivine movements and avoid coming under the influence of forces that are actively hostile or inimical to the divine action in the world. If the seeking is sincere and deep, the teacher or Guru will eventually come into one’s life and thus help the sadhana to overcome the difficulties. Sri Aurobindo discusses the nature, qualities and role of the Guru in the chapter titled ‘The Four Aids’.

Sri Aurobindo writes, in the current volume: “One thing more. In this process of the descent from above and the working it is most important not to rely entirely on oneself, but to rely on the guidance of the Guru and to refer all that happens.to his judgment and arbitration and decision. For it often happens that the forces of the lower nature are stimulated and excited by the descent and want to mix with it and turn it to their profit. It often happens too that some Power or Powers undivine in their nature present themselves as the Supreme Lord or as the Divine Mother and claim the being’s service and surrender. If these things are accepted, there will be an extremely disastrous consequence. If indeed there is the assent of the sadhak to the Divine working alone and the submission or surrender to that guidance, then all can go smoothly. This assent and a rejection of all egoistic force or forces that appeal to the ego are the safeguard throughout the sadhana. But the ways of nature are full of snares, the disguises of the ego are innumerable, the illusions of the Powers of Darkness, Rakshasi Maya, are extraordinarily skilful; the reason is an insufficient guide and often turns traitor; vital desire is always with us tempting to follow any alluring call. This is the reason why in this yoga we insist so much on what we call Samarpana — rather inadequately rendered by the English word surrender. If the heart centre is fully opened and the psychic is always in control, then there is no question; all is safe. But the psychic can at any moment be veiled by a lower upsurge. It is only a few who are exempt from these dangers and it is precisely those to whom surrender is easily possible. The guidance of one who himself is by identity or represents the Divine is in this difficult endeavour imperative and indispensable.”

Sri Aurobindo, Integral Yoga: Sri Aurobindo’s Teaching and Method of Practice, Chapter 8, The Triple Transformation: Psychic, Spiritual and Supramental, The Spiritual Transformation, pp. 209-229

Two Processes of Traditional Yogic Paths That Can Aid the Sadhana of the Integral Yoga

While the integral Yoga does not depend on the techniques or methods of the traditional yogic paths, Sri Aurobindo has identified several processes that can be of great help in some cases. They help the seeker achieve a state of separation from the outer ego-personality and vital desire-soul, to be able to recognise the motives, impulsions and habitual actions and reactions of the outer nature, so that they can be distinguished and either changed or transformed under the pressure of the yogic process. The separation can also aid in the focus and tuning effort as the seeker enters a status of disinterested observer of the action of the nature and thus, is free to move the attention to the divine reality which is the aim of the yoga. These techniques both have certain similarities. The separation of Purusha and Prakriti distinguishes the awareness from the active self, while the technique of jnana yoga to distinguish the Self from the mind-life-body helps create the needed detachment and focus on the omnipresent Reality rather than the transitory individuality.

Sri Aurobindo notes: “The result of the concentration is not usually immediate — though to some there comes a swift and sudden outflowering; but with most there is a time longer or shorter of adaptation or preparation, especially if the nature has not been prepared already to some extent by aspiration and Tapasya. The coming of the result can sometimes be aided by associating with the concentration one of the processes of the old yoga. There is the Adwaita process of the way of knowledge — one rejects from oneself the identification with the mind, vital, body, saying continually ‘I am not the mind’, ‘I am not the vital’, ‘I am not the body’, seeing these things as separate from one’s real self — and after a time one feels all the mental, vital physical processes and the very sense of mind, vital, body becoming externalised, an outer action, while within and detached from them there grows the sense of a separate self-existent being which opens into the realisation of the cosmic and transcendent spirit. There is also the method — a very powerful method — of the Sankhyas, the separation of the Purusha and the Prakriti. One enforces on the mind the position of the Witness — all action of mind, vital, physical becomes an outer play which is not myself or mind, but belongs to Nature and has been enforced on an outer me. I am the witness Purusha; I am silent, detached, not bound by any of these things. There grows up in consequence a division in the being; the sadhak feels within him the growth of a calm silent separate consciousness which feels itself quite apart from the surface play of the mind and the vital and physical Nature. Usually when this takes place, it is possible very rapidly to bring down the peace of the higher consciousness and the action of the higher Force and the full march of the yoga. But often the Force itself comes down first in response to the concentration and call and then, if these things are necessary, it does them and uses any other means or process that is helpful or indispensable.”

Sri Aurobindo, Integral Yoga: Sri Aurobindo’s Teaching and Method of Practice, Chapter 8, The Triple Transformation: Psychic, Spiritual and Supramental, The Spiritual Transformation, pp. 209-229

The Two Most Important Actions for Practice of the Integral Yoga

The integral Yoga does not depend, as many yogic paths do, on physical asanas or breathing techniques, nor on chanting of mantras, nor singing and dancing in ecstatic states of trance, nor deep philosophical inquiry or strict mental techniques. Nor does it depend on austerity or any kind of physical acts of penance such as flagellation or intense fasting. Religious rituals also are not a primary mechanism in the integral Yoga. In this regard, the integral Yoga is vastly different than other yogic paths or religious endeavours, although it does not deny or prohibit any practices that aid the seeker in achieving realisation, and thus, does not interfere with the religious or spiritual paths of the world.

The integral Yoga focuses on achieving a state of receptivity and responsiveness to the divine Force and Presence through what Sri Aurobindo has called in other places ‘applied psychology’. The main point, whether using traditional techniques as noted above, or not, is to achieve the right state of receptivity, the tuning of the consciousness, and the acceptance of the response when it comes. This is a process which Sri Aurobindo has called “aspiration, rejection, surrender”. Aspiration focuses and tunes and thereby opens up a link to the higher consciousness. This can come about through the action of the psychic being to open the heart and thereby through feelings of devotion, dedication, prayer or call. The rejection is to avoid the distracting energies and impulses that come from the outer being and impacts from the world at large that take one away from the one-pointed focus. Surrender is to accept and allow the higher influence to act upon the being and carry out its action without obstruction from the ego-personality and the desire-soul of the outer being.

Sri Aurobindo observes: “That is the fundamental rationale of the sadhana. It will be evident that the two most important things here are the opening of the heart centre and the opening of the mind centres to all that is behind and above them. For the heart opens to the psychic being and the mind centres open to the higher consciousness and the nexus between the psychic being and the higher consciousness is the principal means of the siddhi. The first opening is effected by a concentration in the heart, a call to the Divine to manifest within us and through the psychic to take up and lead the whole nature. Aspiration, prayer, bhakti, love, surrender are the main supports of this part of the sadhana — accompanied by a rejection of all that stands in the way of what we aspire for. The second opening is effected by a concentration of the consciousness in the head (afterwards, above it) and an aspiration and call and a sustained will for the descent of the divine Peace, Power, Light, Knowledge, Ananda into the being — the Peace first or the Peace and Force together. Some indeed receive Light first or Ananda first or some sudden pouring down of knowledge. With some there is first an opening which reveals to them a vast infinite Silence, Force, Light or Bliss above them and afterwards either they ascend to that or these things begin to descend into the lower nature. With others there is either the descent, first into the head, then down to the heart level, then to the navel and below and through the whole body, or else an inexplicable opening — without any sense of descent — of peace, light, wideness or power, or else a horizontal opening into the cosmic consciousness or in a suddenly widened mind an outburst of knowledge. Whatever comes has to be welcomed — for there is no absolute rule for all — but if the peace has not come first, care must be taken not to swell oneself in exultation or lose the balance. The capital movement however is when the Divine Force or Shakti, the power of the Mother comes down and takes hold, for then the organisation of the consciousness begins and the larger foundation of the yoga.”

Sri Aurobindo, Integral Yoga: Sri Aurobindo’s Teaching and Method of Practice, Chapter 8, The Triple Transformation: Psychic, Spiritual and Supramental, The Spiritual Transformation, pp. 209-229