Peace in the Body’s Cells Can Cure Illness

When we conjure up, in our minds, the idea of peace, we tend to give it a form of inaction, a ‘negative’ status. Similarly, peace to our vital nature is the absence of excitement or any form of energetic expression. For the body, we believe peace is a state of quietness that does not ‘do’ anything.

For Sri Aurobindo and the Mother, however, peace is a dynamic, powerful status that can be palpably felt and experienced by the receptive soul. It is a Force, it is solid and immovable, and it fills the mind, the heart, the vital being and the body with a power that cannot be denied. This force is so powerful that it can overcome all manner of oppositions and distractions, and, despite our mental conceptualization of it, it is not restricted to a state of meditation or silent inaction.

Just as we do not generally understand or conceive of the dynamic nature of this peace, we generally have no idea, short of an insight gained through actual experience, of what peace infusing the cells of the body is actually like.

It is this peace infusing the cells that has the power to heal all dis-ease and illness, but it is not something that one gets from sitting for fifteen minutes for meditation!

Our mind, our emotions, our vital and nervous being and our body each have habits of reaction that automatically engage when the right stimulus reaches them. The power of peace, as experienced by the Mother, is one that can shut down these habits of reaction and thereby free the body from vibrating from a force that brings with it a sense of illness or disharmony into it.

The Mother notes: “Peace and stillness are the great remedy for disease. When we can bring peace in our cells, we are cured. … Catch hold of a peace deep within and push it into the cells of the body. With the peace will come back the health. …Establish a greater peace and quietness in your body, that will give you the strength to resist attacks of illness. … To keep quiet and concentrate, leaving the Force from above to do its work, is the surest way to be cured of anything and everything. There is no illness that can resist that if it is done properly, in time and long enough, with a steady faith and a strong will.”

Sri Aurobindo and The Mother, Living Within: The Yoga Approach to Psychological Health and Growth, General Methods and Principles, The One Way — Quiet, Calm, Peace, pp. 1-2

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The Influence of the Psychic Being’s Peace and Calm Can Overcome the Disturbances of Mind, Life and Body

If we observe how we tend to respond to provocations from outside, things, events or people who impact our lives, either mentally, emotionally, vitally or physically, we see that the first tendency is to internalize the provocation with a pattern of vibration at one or another level of our being. We respond with thoughts, emotions, nervous reactions, or physical symptoms. As long as we live primarily in the external being, we participate in this constant action-reaction pattern and do not find any solution. Sri Aurobindo provides a solution which takes us out of the framework of the external being and thereby puts us in a psychological position that is non-reactive, and which can infuse peace, calm and equality into the mind-life-body complex. The result is a new sense of quietude that overrules the normal vibration. This can work, not only for mental impulsions or emotional reactions, but even for physical illnesses, if the body’s cells can become receptive and if the calm is allowed to penetrate and maintain the body’s poise in the face of the physical disturbance.

Those who achieve this state of peace also report the descent of a palpable force into the being which brings with it many times a solid sense of immutable peace, and a power that fills the being.

Sri Aurobindo observes: “The way in which the pains went shows you how to deal with the whole nature, — for it is the same with the mental and vital as with the physical causes of ill-ease and disturbance. To remain quiet within, to hold on to the faith and experience that to be quiet and open and let the Force work is the one way.”

“The peace and spontaneous knowledge are in the psychic being and from there they spread to mind and vital and physical. It is in the outer physical consciousness that the difficulty still tries to persist and brings the restlessness sometimes into the physical mind, sometimes into the nerves, sometimes in the shape of bodily trouble into the body. But all these things can and must go. Even the illnesses can go entirely with the growth of peace and power in the nerves and physical cells — stomach pains, weakness of the eyes and everything else.”

Sri Aurobindo and The Mother, Living Within: The Yoga Approach to Psychological Health and Growth, General Methods and Principles, The One Way — Quiet, Calm, Peace, pp. 1-2

The Creative Power of the Silent Mind

For most people there is never a moment of silence in the mind. A constant churning of thoughts, ideas, desires, plans, wishes, concerns, feelings, emotions, perceptions, and needs keeps mental activity of one sort or another always going. We seem to actually fear the silence, so if the inner state seems to be slacking off, we seek out external excitement or sounds to fill the void that we fear. Many people live with a constant state of external sound surrounding them, whether it is a TV, or a radio station, or a podcast, whenever they cannot be in a situation that supplies sound such as sporting events or recreational venues including restaurants, bars or nightclubs. Most people do not even recognise the possibility, not to speak of the value, of a silent mind.

The practitioner of yoga will occasionally experience a state that provides a taste of silence and provides encouragement to develop this state. The silence seems to descend putting the mind into a state of calm awareness, a state of readiness, while at the same time, there is no agitation or any sense of deprivation. On the contrary, this silence seems to be full of possibilities and fills the seeker with a sense of a deep and abiding peace and focus.

We hear stories of the creative process of great artists or inventors. They do not struggle through an arduous mental process during their creative action. They report generally that they enter into what some call “the zone” where everything is suddenly clear, and seemingly effortless, where they can see what needs to be done and they can carry it out with no tension or disturbance in the clarity of their mood. In fact, they will frequently feel a sense of fulfillment, peace, and a wide receptivity that is based in the status of silence as their minds, emotions, vital desires and physical demands diminish or fall away under the impetus of the silent state of creative intuition.

Sri Aurobindo observes: “It is not possible for the spontaneous silent condition to last always at once but that is what must grow in one till there is a constant inner silence — a silence which cannot be disturbed by any outward activity or even by any attempt at attack or disturbance.”

“The condition you describe shows precisely the growth of this inner silence. It has to fix itself eventually as the basis of all spiritual experience and activity. It does not matter if one does not know what is going on within behind the silence. For there are two conditions in the yoga, one in which all is silent and there is no thought, feeling or movement even though one is acting outwardly as others do — another in which a new consciousness becomes active bringing knowledge, joy, love and other spiritual feelings and inner activities, but yet at the same time there is a fundamental silence or quietude. Both are necessary in the development of the inner being. The absolutely silent state, which is one of lightness, voidness and release, prepares the other and supports it when it comes.”

Sri Aurobindo, Integral Yoga: Sri Aurobindo’s Teaching and Method of Practice, Chapter 5 Bases of Yoga, Quiet, Calm, Peace and Silence, pp. 118-122

The Basis for Developing the Silence of the Mind

In today’s world, we tend to value those processes of mind, life and body which focus on the elements of success in the outer life. We educate children to remember facts of the past, to learn basic mathematics, and rules of grammar and spelling. We train students on how to utilize and implement various forms of technology into their lives, or to gain certain practical skills to maintain and install the powers that drive our society and economy. When people are not focused on learning or working, they are encouraged to focus their attention on a variety of forms of entertainment which tend to excite the vital nature and the mind. Quiet time for reflection or meditation is considered to be somewhat unusual or even abnormal for most people in the world. When there is not something going on to stimulate the mind’s activity and the vital energies, people become bored, or agitated, and try to find ways to respond to the lack of focus or activity with various forms of distraction.

For the spiritual seeker, the question is not one of distraction or entertainment, but of creating a means to get in touch with the inner being and to find ways and methods to contact the spiritual force and bring it into the life. Traditionally, this has meant avoiding and suppressing the energies and an attempt is then made to restrain the thoughts, restrain the vital energies and create a one-pointed focus through concentration, meditation, samadhi, or , potentially through a devotional practice, to open the heart and pour the emotional energy in the direction of the Divine, or else, there is a dedication of one’s work to the Divine while the mind and vital energies remain fully engaged.

The idea of silence of the mind as the basis for the realisations of the integral yoga stems from the need to overcome the framework of mind-vital-body and the limitations imposed by remaining bound within that framework. The achievement of the silent mind does not imply any kind of dullness, vacancy or torpor; rather it creates a focused, receptive and responsive state of awareness that can tune, receive and utilize the higher force that is attempting to manifest to transform the being. Neither distraction nor suppression tends to work when the goal is to create such a clear receptive state of awareness. Sri Aurobindo’s key to this is to recognise that these mental ideas and vital impulsions come from outside the being and to simply not accept them when they come. The silent mind provides a basis for both the higher spiritual realisations as well as full action in the world, but without the friction and loss of energy involved in the mental “noise” that permeates the normal existence.

Sri Aurobindo writes: “It is not an undesirable thing for the mind to fall silent, to be free from thoughts and still — for it is oftenest when the mind falls silent that there is the full descent of a wide peace from above and in that wide tranquility the realisation of the silent Self above the mind spreads out in its vastness everywhere. Only, when there is the peace and the mental silence, the vital mind tries to rush in and occupy the place or else the mechanical mind tries to raise up for the same purpose its round of trivial habitual thoughts. What the sadhak has to do is to be careful to reject and hush these outsiders, so that during the meditation at least the peace and quietude of the mind and vital may be complete. This can be done best if you keep a strong and silent will. That will is the will of the Purusha behind the mind; when the mind is at peace, when it is silent one can become aware of the Purusha, silent also, separate from the action of the nature.”

Sri Aurobindo, Integral Yoga: Sri Aurobindo’s Teaching and Method of Practice, Chapter 5 Bases of Yoga, Quiet, Calm, Peace and Silence, pp. 118-122

The Nature of Inner Peace

Most of us, when we reflect on the quality of “peace” think about finding an external situation that is quiet and isolated from the activities of the social body, whether it be politics, the economy, or inter-personal relationships. Peace for us is something that exists through the absence of disturbance. We then say we are “at peace”. We also tend to relegate “peace” to the dead and departed when we say “rest in peace”. The peace of death is, for many, the ultimate description of “peace”.

For Sri Aurobindo, however, peace is a stage in the progressive evolutionary development whereby we achieve a state of quiet, calm, receptive and even joyful harmony preparatory to moving beyond the limits of the existing body-life-mind complex and opening to the next level of consciousness. Peace is the foundation for detaching ourselves from the pressures and limitations that keep us boxed into the existing framework. Developing a basis of peace implies that we have shifted the standpoint away from our reactive vital nature and the mind’s attachments and habits.

The peace that Sri Aurobindo describes is not a “negative” state in any sense, but one that can be present and active even in the midst of activity and external events. Cultivation of this status is one of the important activities to be addressed by the practitioner of the yoga, as it involves overcoming all of the demands of the body, life and mind and freeing oneself from attachment even to specific outcomes or results. There is no peace if one has expectations or demands from life that are not being met. This is, however, not intended to imply some kind of avoidance or inaction; rather, it is the inner relationship to things, events and situations that is being addressed here.

Sri Aurobindo notes: “Peace is more positive than calm — there can be a negative calm which is merely an absence of disturbance or trouble., but peace is always something positive bringing not merely a release as calm does but a certain happiness or Ananda of itself. … There is also a positive calm, something that stands against all things that seek to trouble, not thin and neutral like the negative calm, but strong and massive. … In peace there is besides the sense of stillness a harmony that gives a feeling of liberation and full satisfaction. … It is quite usual to feel an established peace in the inner being even if there is disturbance on the surface. In fact that is the usual condition of the yogi before he has attained the absolute samata in all the being.”

“When the peace is fully established everywhere in the being, these things [reactions of the lower vital] will not be able to shake it. They may come first as ripples on the surface, then only as suggestions which one looks at or does not care to look at but in either case they don’t get inside, affect or disturb at all. … It is difficult to explain, but it is something like a mountain at which one throws stones — if conscious all through the mountain may feel the touch of the stones, but the thing would be so slight and superficial that it would not be in the least affected. In the end even that reaction disappears.”

Sri Aurobindo, Integral Yoga: Sri Aurobindo’s Teaching and Method of Practice, Chapter 5 Bases of Yoga, Quiet, Calm, Peace and Silence, pp. 118-122

The Power of a Calm Mind

If we observe our mental space for some time, such as when we sit for meditation, the first thing to be noticed is that the mind tends to jump around from one thought, idea or perception to another, seemingly randomly and impacted by sensory data coming to us through our sense organs. Some call it the “monkey mind”. This constant churn in the mental space is an obstacle to the meditation, as it also is an obstacle to receiving knowledge and force from higher levels of consciousness. In his lectures on Raja Yoga, Swami Vivekananda provides a very clear understanding of the “mind stuff” chitta, which is the basic mental substrate that must be brought to a state of tranquility as a prerequisite to achieving deeper states of meditation.

Any higher inspiration or intuitive insight, not to speak of the higher ranges of consciousness beyond them, must enter into a receptive space that is not being distracted or busied by the normal mental process. Sri Aurobindo relates a core experience when he observed that thoughts actually enter from outside, and can be rejected leading to a ready, receptive silence as the perfect foundation for the transformation of the consciousness.

There are a number of strategies for achieving a calm, quiet mind, if not a silent mind, including active rejection of thoughts, or detachment that allows them to enter and be observed but not taken up or sanctioned, until they fall quiet of themselves.

Some who take up the spiritual life are concerned that when the mind falls quiet, they will be unable to act or they will simply become dull. A clear distinction can be made between a mind that is “vacant” and one that is “quiet”, as Sri Aurobindo notes.

Sri Aurobindo observes: “The difference between a vacant mind and a calm mind is this: that when the mind is vacant, there is no thought, no conception, no mental action of any kind, except an essential perception of things without the formed idea; but in the calm mind, it is the substance of the mental being that is still, so still that nothing disturbs it. If thoughts or activities come, they do not rise at all out of the mind, but they come from outside and cross the mind as a flight of birds crosses the sky in a windless air. It passes, disturbs nothing, leaving no trace. Even if a thousand images or the most violent events pass across it, the calm stillness remains as if the very texture of the mind were a substance of eternal and indestructible peace. A mind that has achieved this calmness can begin to act, even intensely and powerfully, but it will keep its fundamental stillness — originating nothing from itself but receiving from Above and giving it a mental form without adding anything of its own, calmly, dispassionately, though with the joy of the Truth and the happy power and light of its passage.”

Sri Aurobindo, Integral Yoga: Sri Aurobindo’s Teaching and Method of Practice, Chapter 5 Bases of Yoga, Quiet, Calm, Peace and Silence, pp. 118-122

The True Solution for Humanity and Its Future Development

Humanity has attempted many solutions to bring about “human unity”, including empire-building, exploitation of those weaker or less technologically developed, genocide, slavery, religious fanaticism, “divide and conquer” strategies, warfare and economic imperialism.  None of these “solutions” have worked.  In today’s world, we see a growing power of authoritarianism and domination by a small economic elite in the world, with a carelessness about the future, or the consequences for humanity that is breathtaking.

Sri Aurobindo observes:  “We seem at the present moment to be very far away from such a rational solution (i.e. Sri Aurobindo’s proposal for true human unity as outlined in this book) and indeed at the opposite pole of human possibility; we have swung back to an extreme of international disorder and to an entire application of the vital and animal principle of the struggle for survival, not of the humanly fittest, but of the strongest.”

“But the very intensity of this struggle and disorder may be the path Nature has chosen towards the true escape from it; for it is becoming more and more evident that a long continuance of the present international state of humanity will lead not to any survival, but to the destruction of civilisation and the relapse of the race towards barbarism, decadence, an evolutionary failure.  The antipathy or hostility or distrust of nations, races, cultures, religions towards each other is due to the past habit of egoistic self-assertion, desire for domination, for encroachment upon the lebensraum one of another and the consequent sense of the oppression of the individuality of one by the other.  A state of things must be brought about in which mutual toleration is the law, an order in which many elements, racial, national, cultural, spiritual can exist side by side and form a multiple unity; in such an order all these antipathies, hostilities, distrusts would die from lack of nourishment.  That would be a true state of perfectly developed human civilisation, a true basis for the higher progress of the race.  In this new order India with her spiritual culture turned towards the highest aims of humanity would find her rightful place and would become one of the leaders of the human evolution by the greatness of her ideals and the capacity of her peoples for the spiritualisation of life.”

Sri Aurobindo, The Ideal of Human Unity, Part Two, Appendix, pg. 329

The Inevitable Fulfilment of the Ideal of Human Unity

Sri Aurobindo provides a closing statement outlining the inevitability of the fulfillment of human unity, and providing an overview of the primary issues and directions that this may take:

“We conclude then that in the conditions of the world at present, even taking into consideration its most disparaging features and dangerous possibilities, there is nothing that need alter the view we have taken of the necessity and inevitability of some kind of world-union; the drive of Nature, the compulsion of circumstances and the present and future need of mankind make it inevitable.”

“The ultimate result must be the formation of a World-State and the most desirable form of it would be a federation of free nationalities in which all subjection or forced inequality and subordination of one to another would have disappeared and, though some might preserve a greater natural influence, all would have an equal status.  A confederacy would give the greatest freedom to the nations constituting the World-State, but this might give too much room for fissiparous or centrifugal tendencies to operate; a federal order would then be the most desirable.  All else would be determined by the course of events and by general agreement or the shape given by the ideas and necessities that may grow up in the future.  A world-union of this kind would have the greatest chances of long survival or permanent existence.  This is a mutable world and  uncertainties and dangers might assail or trouble for a time; the formed structure might be subjected to revolutionary tendencies as new ideas and forces emerged and produced their effect on the general mind of humanity, but the essential step would have been taken and the future of the race assured or at least the present era overpassed in which it is threatened and disturbed by unsolved needs and difficulties, precarious conditions, immense upheavals, huge and sanguinary world-wide conflicts and the threat of others to come.  The ideal of human unity would be no longer an unfulfilled ideal but an accomplished fact and its preservation given into the charge of the united human peoples.  Its future destiny would lie on the knees of the gods and, if the gods have a use for the continued existence of the race, may be left to lie there safe.”

Sri Aurobindo, The Ideal of Human Unity, Part Two, A Postscript Chapter, pp. 324-325

The Evolutionary Urge Towards Human Unity Points to the Likely Outcome

It is quite self-evident that neither the League of Nations, nor the later development of the United Nations represents an unqualified success in the search for a stable world organisation to bring together all the diverse peoples and solve problems together rather than fight wars.  It is true that there has not been another major outbreak of world war since the end of World War II, a period now spanning 73 years, and this is a major accomplishment, but while some credit might be given to the United Nations, in fact, the primary driver of this fact is more likely the “Mutually Assured Destruction” capacity held by the United States and Russia and the fears surrounding any destabilising move.  This however has not prevented the outbreak of regional proxy wars.  We cannot however dismiss the United Nations entirely.  The multiple agencies in particular have done tremendous work to provide a forum for working out solution to world-issues or crises and this provides something of a template for future increased collaboration.  The veto power held by 5 permanent members of the Security Council has been misused, and certainly must eventually be removed or replaced with another mechanism that avoids the kind of misuse we have seen over the years.

Sri Aurobindo notes:  “There is nothing then in the development of events since the establishment of the United Nations Organisation … that need discourage us in the expectation of an ultimate success of this great enterprise.  There are dangers and difficulties, there can be an apprehension of conflicts, even of colossal conflicts that might jeopardize the future, but total failure need not be envisaged unless we are disposed to predict the failure of the race.  The thesis we have undertaken to establish of the drive of Nature towards larger agglomerations and the final establishment of the largest of all and the ultimate union of the world’s peoples still remains unaltered: this is evidently the line which the future of the human race demands and which conflicts and perturbations, however immense, may delay, even as they may modify greatly the forms it now promises to take, but are not likely to prevent; for a general destruction would be the only alternative destiny of mankind.  But such a destruction, whatever the catastrophic possibilities balancing the almost certain beneficial results, hardly limitable in their extent, of the recent discoveries and inventions of Science, has every chance of being as chimerical as any early expectations of final peace and felicity or a perfected society of the human peoples.  We may rely, if on nothing else, on the evolutionary urge and, if on no other greater hidden Power, on the manifold working and drift or intention in the World-Energy we call Nature to carry mankind at least as far as the necessary next step to be taken, a self-preserving next step: for the necessity is there, at l”east some general recognition of it has been achieved and of the thing to which it must eventually lead the idea has been born and the body of it is already calling for its creation.

Sri Aurobindo, The Ideal of Human Unity, Part Two, A Postscript Chapter, pp. 323-324

The Weakness of Socialism as an Organizing Principle of a World-

The rise of socialism as a governing model was one of the major defining events of the 20th century.  Various forms arose, from the strict State Socialism of the Communist attempts, to the Fascist form of State-control of the National Socialist movement in Germany, to the more balanced approach we have seen rise in Western European countries which brings together the concept of socialism with the respect for individual freedom.  At one point, the power of the idea of people sharing a “commons” for the benefit of all was strong and gaining traction; yet the strongly individualistic, egoistic and capitalistic creed, primarily based in the United States, was highly opposed to even the most moderate forms of socialism.  It may be argued that in the interim, the USA has in fact taken up certain key concepts of socialism, with the development of social security, medicare and children’s health care programs, food stamps, etc. but these programs continue to be treated with disdain by a large number of citizens and leaders of the USA, and the primary objection is the fact that they embody something of a socialist ideal within their forms.

Sri Aurobindo discusses the weaknesses of socialism for purposes of development of a World-State:  “Socialism has under certain stresses proved to be by no means immune against infection by the dividing national spirit and its international tendency might not survive its coming into power in separate national States and a resulting inheritance of competing national interests and necessities; the old spirit might very well survive in the new socialist bodies.  But also there might not be or not for a long time to come an inevitable tide of the spread of Socialism to all the peoples of the earth; other forces might arise which would dispute what seemed at one time and perhaps still seems the most likely outcome of existing world tendencies; the conflict between Communism and the less extreme socialistic idea which still respects the principle of liberty, even though a restricted liberty, and the freedom of conscience, of thought, of personality of the individual, if this difference perpetuated itself, might create a serious difficulty in the formation of a World-State.  It would not be easy to build a constitution, a harmonised State-law and practice in which any modicum of genuine freedom for the individual or any continued existence of him except as a cell in the working of a rigidly determined automatism of the body of the collectivist State or a part of a machine would be possible or conceivable.”

“…Socialism itself might well develop away from the Marxist groove and evolve less rigid modes; a cooperative Socialism, for instance, without any bureaucratic rigour of a coercive administration, of a Police State, might one day come into existence, but the generalisation of Socialism throughout the world is not under existing circumstances easily foreseeable, hardly even a predominant possibility; in spite of certain possibilities or tendencies created by recent events in the Far East, a division of the earth between the two systems, capitalistic and socialistic, seems for the present a more likely issue.  In America the attachment to individualism and the capitalistic system of society and a strong antagonism not only to Communism but to even a moderate Socialism remains complete and one can foresee little possibility of any abatement in its intensity.”

“A successful accommodation would demand the creation of a body in which all questions of possible dispute could be solved as they arose without any breaking out of open conflict.”

“…a creation of an effective world-union would still be possible; in the end the mass of general needs of the race and its need of self-preservation could well be relied on to make it inevitable.”

 

Sri Aurobindo, The Ideal of Human Unity, Part Two, A Postscript Chapter, pp. 321-323