NAMAH Body, mind and spirit journal Consciousness and Health

PrDKa — life-energy or vital energy Dr. Soumitra Basu With the growth of health awareness, there has been a contemporary interest in experimenting with newer methods of healing based on energy. Conventional medicine works at the level of biochemical energy but the new-age techniques opt for subtler forms of energy. This has resulted in a renewed interest in esoteric methods with its inherent dangers of glorifying superstitions. Yet, a growing disenchantment with the chemical bombardment of the body with drugs, pollutants and intoxicants necessitates an understanding of the dynamics of life-energy (or prDKa as described in ancient Indian texts). It would be interesting to study prDKa in the light of Sri Aurobindo who has presented a synthesis of Eastern and Western traditions. Background In the hierarchy of evolution, the first to appear is Matter — the expression of the physical plane of consciousness. Next comes Life or vitality which animates Matter. Whatever emerges at each stage of evolution is already ‘involved’ in the antecedent stages. These ‘involved’ potentialities also exert their pressure, albeit, in a subtle way, to supplement the evolutionary urge that presses from below. Yogic wisdom reveals that it is due to their subtle pressure that ‘forms’ are produced in Matter.(1) When such ‘forms’ are ready, the life-principle manifests to animate them.(2) Life was all long ‘involved’ in the sub-vegetal world but in an unindividualised and mechanical way.(3) When ‘form’ becomes ready in the material world, the higher unmanifested principles put their ‘creative touch’ upon Matter. "Then there comes a rapid and sudden efflorescence of Life; the plant, the animalcule, the insect, the animal appear. A Life-Soul and a Life-Force with its many and always more complex movements are manifested in what seemed once to be inert and inanimate substance. Life souls, life minds, animal existences are born and evolve; a new world appears that is born and contained in this world of Matter and yet surpasses it in its own dynamic nature''.(4) It is in plant-life that the true vital consciousness manifests first.(5) Yet, the plant cannot possess life fully. There is a vibrant sensitivity in plant-life which stands in stark contrast to the inertia of Matter. However, it is a dumb vitality. With the emergence of animal-life, there comes an awakened sense and free mobility. Hunger, sex, aggression, pain and pleasure develop instinctively. (6) The stage is now set for the mind-principle to manifest. The phenomenon starts with a rudimentary mind in animals. Mind cannot manifest directly in matter, it can only manifest when life-energy has animated matter to a certain optimal point. At the onset,

For other articles please visit http://www.namahjournal.com

Consciousness and Health
the mind begins to function in a very elementary way. Gradually, the life-energy and the material form modify themselves to support an increasing flowering of the mind as evolution progresses. ''The animal achieved a first form of mind, but could not possess it, because this first organised mind consciousness was enslaved in a narrow scope, tied to the first functionings of the physical body and brain and nerve, tied to serve the physical life and its desires and needs and passions, limited to the insistent uses of the vital urge, to natural longing and feeling and action, bound by its own inferior instrumentation, its spontaneous combinings of association and memory and instinct. It could not get away from them, could not get behind them as man’s intelligence gets behind them to observe them; still less could it turn down on them from above as do human reason and will to control, enlarge, reorder, exceed, sublimate''.(7) However, the powers of mind are still incomplete and imperfect. He continues to be a divided being with ''...uncertain thought and half-successful will,..''.(8) Sri Aurobindo affirms that man is a transitional being. An inner evolution in consciousness can enable him to surpass his mental plane through successive stages towards a higher supramental consciousness. ''Man is a transitional being; he is not final. As it did not begin with him, neither does it end with him. He is not its evident crown, not its highest issue, not the last clear sum of Nature. Nature has not brought out in man her highest possibilities; she has not reached in him the supreme heights of consciousness and being; as there was before him the infrahuman, the insect and animal, so there shall be after him the superhuman, the superman''.(9) The place of life-energy in the evolutionary hierarchy Life-energy (described as 'prDKa' in the Indian tradition) which characterises the vital plane of consciousness is thus actually a second power that supplements the material energy of the physical plane.(10) As evolution progresses, the life-energy is again surpassed by the mental energy. The life-energy thus acts as an intermediary between Matter and Mind. The ideas of the mind, remain theoretical unless worked out through this vital plane. Compared to material energy which is the ‘stuff’ of physics and chemistry, ‘life-energy’ seems to be an abstract concept. Yogic psychology describes two operations of the lifeenergy that serve the purpose of mentality:(11) a. Life-energy links matter and mind through the physiological apparatus, epitomised in an increasingly complex nervous system. Life-energy is not a product of the nervous system but is a power that uses the nervous system as a vehicle or instrument. Without it the mind could not have exercised control over the body.

For other articles please visit http://www.namahjournal.com

Consciousness and Health

b. Life-energy itself has a creative stress. This creative urge is not only explicit in dynamism and action but also as a ‘capacity of instrumental development and modification’. Life develops and modifies the organs and capacities of the body in such a way that the human mind can express its full potential. A good instrument but a bad master Life-energy by itself is a neutral force that has to be harnessed properly and put under right guidance. If left unchecked, it can run riot. ''Ordinarily, the vital energy serves the common obscure or half-conscious movements of the human mind and human life, its normal ideas, interests, passions and desires. But it is possible for the vital energy to increase beyond the ordinary limits and, if so increased, it can attain an impetus, an intensity, an excitation or sublimation of its forces by which it can become, is almost bound to become an instrument either of divine powers, the powers of the gods, or of Asuric forces. Or, if there is no settled central control in the nature, its action can be a confused mixture of these opposites, or in an inconsequent oscillation serve now one and now the other.... The vital energy by itself leads nowhere, runs in chequered, often painful and ruinous circles, takes even to the precipice, because it has no right guidance; it must be connected with the dynamic power of the higher consciousness and with the Divine Force acting through it for a great and luminous purpose".(12) That is why the vital is considered to be a good instrument but a bad master. Life-energy and death What happens to the life-energy of a person who is in a cataleptic state? Apparently, the life-energy has suspended its outer activities and retreated into a sub-active life.(13) But it can go on supporting the activities of the inner consciousness. The recent reportings of a sizable number of NDE (Near Death Experience) cases provide interesting study. Subjects who were technically dead recount novel experiences when resuscitated back to life. They describe having life-reviews, meeting beings of light, getting future premonitions and exhibit lasting personality changes after the NDE. It seems that the vital energy in these individuals was outwardly inactive but supporting an inner activity. What happens to the life-energy at death? ''A point comes, however, at which it is no longer possible to restore the suspended activities; and this occurs when either such a lesion has been inflicted on the body as makes it useless or incapable of the habitual functionings or, in the absence of such lesion, when the process of disintegration has begun, that is to say, when the Force that should renew the life-action becomes entirely inert to the pressure of the environing forces with whose mass of stimulation it was wont to keep up a constant interchange. Even then there is Life in the body, but a Life that is busy only with the process of

For other articles please visit http://www.namahjournal.com

Consciousness and Health
disintegrating the formed substance so that it may escape in its elements and constitute with them new forms. The Will in the universal force that held the form together, now withdraws from constitution and supports instead a process of dispersion. Not till then is there the real death of the body".(14)

Life-energy and health The vital energy or life-energy is depleted in ill-health and disease. That is why it is customary to take rest after a serious illness so that one can recuperate one’s lost energies. There has been a growing interest all over the world to avoid unnecessary use of strong medicines which drain out the energies and prefer therapies like homeopathy, acupuncture, flower remedies, reiki etc. which are believed to exert their beneficial actions by enhancing the life-force. While food continues to be an indispensable source of energy, yogic science reveals that there are other ways of acquiring energy. Two such ways are: ''The first is to put oneself in relation with the energies accumulated in the terrestrial material world and to draw freely from this inexhaustible source. These material energies are obscure and half unconscious; they encourage animality in man, but, at the same time, they establish a kind of harmonious relationship between the human being and material Nature. Those who know how to receive and use these energies are usually successful in life and succeed in everything they undertake. But they are still largely dependent on their living conditions and their state of bodily health. The harmony created in them is not immune from all attack; it usually vanishes when circumstances become adverse. The child spontaneously receives this energy from material Nature as he expends all his energies without calculating, joyfully and freely. But in most human beings, as they grow up, this faculty is blunted by the worries of life, as a result of the predominant place which mental activities come to occupy in the consciousness. ''However, there is a source of energy which, once discovered, is never exhausted, whatever the outer circumstances and physical conditions of life may be. It is the energy that can be described as spiritual, and is received no longer from below, from the inconscient depths, but from above, from the supreme origin of the universe and man, from the all-powerful and eternal splendours of the superconscient. It is there, all around us, permeating everything; and to enter into contact with it and to receive it, it is enough to aspire sincerely for it, to open oneself to it in faith and trust, to widen one’s consciousness and identify it with the universal Consciousness''.(15) However, unless one is practising yoga, it is difficult to be in communion with the higher forces. Usually, we do not know the art of channelising the life-energy in the correct direction. The necessity of surpassing the vital energy

For other articles please visit http://www.namahjournal.com

Consciousness and Health
As man is a mental being, his material (physical) and vital energies must be controlled by the mind. Ordinarily, however, the vital energy takes a dominating role. Sri Aurobindo explains the metapsychology of this phenomenon: ''Most people live in the vital. That means that they live in their desires, sensations, emotional feelings, vital imaginations and see and experience and judge everything from that point of view. It is the vital that moves them, the mind being at its service, not its master".(16) The mental energy can be developed and refined in a way so that it can control the physical and vital energies. For that it is necessary for the mind to rise above the clutches of rationality and open to the supra-rational faculties like intuition and inspiration. Moreover, the mental energy itself can be an instrument of even higher forces like the psychic energy and the spiritual energy. It must however be emphasised that all the different types of energy viz. material, vital and mental are different gradations of the same universal energy.(17) We have seen that the vital which is the repertoire of life-energy connects matter with mind. The nervous system is used as an instrument by the vital to make the sensations of the body meaningful to the mind. However, the mind’s control over the body is exercised through the Will. Will is the force of mind that can modify matter. It can only be executed through a developed vital.(18) Unless the mind’s Will is allowed to act through the vital, the mind’s theoretical constructs can never be effectuated in reality. Mastering the vital energy As man is not satisfied with what nature has provided him, he consciously attempts to modify the workings of the life-energy for greater gains. These attempts can be graded in three groups: a. Universalisation of the individual vitality Ordinarily, an optimal amount of vital energy is available to drive the human engine for one life-span. Hathayoga breaks this equilibrium for a higher equilibrium so that the physical frame can sustain the inrush of a greater vital energy that is tapped from the universal energy in nature. Hathayoga utilises techniques like Asanas and Pranayama for this purpose. If the vitality can be released from the clutches of the ordinary habitual reactions, ‘robust health, prolonged youth and an extraordinary longevity are attained’.(19) b. Activation of the chakras The system of chakras was revealed by Tantra and accepted in yogic techniques.(20) Chakras are subtle condensations or vortices of energy hierarchically arranged. If they are activated, a huge capacity for dynamism ensues. One is capable of supraphysical phenomena or traversing hereto inaccessible ranges of consciousness. The opening of the chakras awakens the dormant kundalini or yoga-shakti that lies coiled or asleep in the inner ranges of our being. In conventional Tantra, the chakras are opened and the

For other articles please visit http://www.namahjournal.com

Consciousness and Health
kundalini is awakened by a special process. As this yoga-force arises, it is felt like a snake uncoiling and lifting itself upwards. ''When it meets the Divine Consciousness above, then the force of the Divine Consciousness can more easily descend into the body and be felt working there to change the nature".(21) c. The yoga of transformation Tantra has attempted to awaken the kundalini (the yogic force) that lies dormant within the individual. The same force is also present above us as a ''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...".(22) The descent of this universal kundalini force in us can achieve a greater effect on our nature than the awakening of the dormant kundalini in the individual. This can result not only in a psychological change but also in a corporeal change. Sri Aurobindo in his essay `The Divine Body’ has hinted at how the physiological organs can become more supple and subtle instruments of dynamism. Speaking of the changes that can happen to the material organs, he states: ''To begin with, they might become more clearly outer ends of the channels of communication and action, more serviceable for the psychological purposes of the inhabitant, less blindly material in their responses, more conscious of the act and aim of the inner movements and powers which use them and which they are wrongly supposed by the material man in us to generate and to use. The brain would be a channel of communication of the form of the thoughts and a battery of their insistence on the body and the outside world where they could then become effective directly, communicating themselves without physical means from mind to mind, producing with a similar directness effects on the thoughts, actions and lives of others or even upon material things. The heart would equally be a direct communicant and medium of interchange for the feelings and emotions thrown outward upon the world by the forces of the psychic centre. Heart could reply directly to heart, the life-force come to the help of other lives and answer their call in spite of strangeness and distance, many beings without any external communication thrill with the message and meet in the secret light from one divine centre. The will might control the organs that deal with food, safeguard automatically the health, eliminate greed and desire, substitute subtler processes or draw in strength and substance from the universal life-force so that the body could maintain for a long time its own strength and substance without loss or waste, remaining thus with no need of sustenance by material aliments, and yet continue a strenuous action with no fatigue or pause for sleep or repose. The soul’s will or the mind’s could act from higher sources upon the sex-centre and the sex organs so as to check firmly or even banish the grosser sexual impulse or stimulus and instead of serving an animal excitation or crude drive or desire turn their use to the storing, production and direction towards brain and heart and life-force of the essential energy, (ojas), of which this region is the factory so as to support the works of the mind and soul

For other articles please visit http://www.namahjournal.com

Consciousness and Health
and spirit and the higher life-powers and limit the expenditure of the energy on lower things. The soul, the psychic being, could more easily fill all with the light and turn the very matter of the body to higher uses for its own greater purpose''.(23) Eventually, the material organs themselves would be transformed into subtle organs "...that would be forms of dynamism or plastic transmitters rather than what we know as organs".(24) — Dr. Soumitra Basu References: 1. Sri Aurobindo. Essays Divine and Human. Pondicherry; Sri Aurobindo Ashram, 1994, p.250. 2. Ibid. p.262. 3. Ibid. p.264. 4. Ibid. p.262. 5. Ibid. p.264. 6. Ibid. p.267. 7. Ibid. 8. Ibid. p.278. 9. Ibid. 10. Ibid. p.326. 11. Ibid. p.325. 12. Sri Aurobindo. Letters on Yoga III. Pondicherry; Sri Aurobindo Ashram, 1970, pp.1289-90. 13. Sri Aurobindo. The Life Divine. Pondicherry; Sri Aurobindo Ashram, 1977, p.180. 14. Ibid. p.181. 15. The Mother. Collected Works of the Mother, Vol. 12. Pondicherry; Sri Aurobindo Ashram, 1978, pp.263-264. 16. Op.Cit. Letters on Yoga III. p.1297. 17. Op.Cit. Essays Divine and Human. p.320. 18. Op.Cit. The Life Divine. p.187. 19. Sri Aurobindo. The Synthesis of Yoga. Pondicherry; Sri Aurobindo Ashram, 1970, pp.28-29. 20. Sri Aurobindo. The Supramental Manifestation upon the Earth. Pondicherry; Sri Aurobindo Ashram, 1992, pp.49-50. 21. Pandit, M.P. (Compil.) Dictionary of Sri Aurobindo’s Yoga. Pondicherry; Sri Aurobindo Ashram, 1973, p.144. 22. Sri Aurobindo. The Mother. Pondicherry; Sri Aurobindo Ashram, 1972, p.140. 23. Op.Cit. The Supramental Manifestation. pp.53-55. 24. Ibid. pp.55-56.

For other articles please visit http://www.namahjournal.com

NAMAH Body, mind and spirit journal Consciousness and Health

The new dawn
Dr. Soumitra Basu An assessment of the past At the end of the century, one is tempted to ask — what did we gain? At the beginning of a new millennium, one is tempted to ask — where do we go? The triumph of Science and Reason could not stop the gruesome killing of the World Wars and our memory still lingers in the war and terrorism with which we have entered the 21st century. The counter-culture movement of the nineteen-sixties broke every known convention though its memory still lingers in that echo of internationalism which rings in that worldanthem of the youth, “We are the world”. But where are we today? What are we thinking? When racism and apartheid are disappearing, how can an ethnic crisis still trouble Europe? Strangely, the book shops from New York to London do not offer any new insight on such subjects. It seems that the demand for the original works of Marx, Freud, even Russell has decreased. There appears to be an increasing turn towards the study of mysticism. Why are more and more intellectuals turning to the Native American, Buddhist and other ancient cultures? What gives these cultures the sustaining power through the vicissitudes of time? The answer might lie in the consciousness behind. For example the war of Kurukshetra with its larger-than-life size characters who shaped national ideas, like the divinity of Krishna, the truthfulness of Yudhishtira, the surrender of Arjuna, the chivalry of Karna, the will of Bhishma, the sanctity of Draupadi still motivates future world schemes through the Indian ethos. The archetypes of Zeus and Athena linger in the memory. The symbolism of the Native American Indians which considers the whole world as One is again being revived as it was based on a perennial truth seen in all cultures. However this interest in mysticism and new age things is not global. There are places in the world where medieval ideas seem to dominate, albeit, militantly. Why should it be so? This opens another important dimension to the problem. When we look through the vision of Sri Aurobindo we realize that cultures evolve through a sequence of 3 stages: infra-rational, rational and supra-rational. The infra-rational stage is one “...in which men have not yet learned to refer their life and action in its principles and its forms to the judgment of the clarified intelligence; for they still act principally out of their instincts, impulses, spontaneous ideas, vital intuitions or else obey a customary response to desire, need and circumstance....”(1) The infra-rational phase moves towards the rational phase through the symbolic, typal and conventional stages. The rational phase is marked by an era of individualism. In

For other articles please visit http://www.namahjournal.com

Consciousness and Health
Europe, the individualistic age began with a revolt of Reason and culminated in the triumph of physical science leading to “...the great endeavour to bring the power of the reason and intelligence to bear on all that we are and do and to organise in their light and by their guiding force the entire existence of the race.”(2) However, reason also exerts its bias by considering the society as a mechanical instead of an organically growing structure. At present, different nations and cultures are at different points along the dimension of individualism. While individualism has hardly arrived in some cultures, there are certain cultures where the emergence of individualism is being threatened by a return to barbaric medieval practices. However, in certain Western cultures like the American, individualism has reached such a crescendo that together with its positive effects, the negative effects have become ostensible and explicit through boredom, alienation and meaninglessness in life, increase in suicides, senseless violence, search for a chemical solution to existential problems, diseases like bulimia and AIDS and in dilemmas like euthanasia and abortion. The present paradigm shift What is the remedy? The remedy spontaneously presents itself in the move towards the supra-rational, the spiritual age en route an era of subjectivism. The transition from the 19th to the 20th century was marked by the progress of physical science riding on the crest of reason. The scientific marvels of the 20th century point to a peak of human endeavour. We have discovered the potentiality of the atom, ventured into space odysseys, cloned animals and studied man through computer analogues. But we also continue to pile up nuclear arsenal, we opt for euthanasia and suicides to escape life, we prefer divorces to life-long comradeship, we harbour terrorism and still swear in the name of religion to indulge in ethnic conflicts. This happens because life has both aspects: the infra-rational and supra-rational. Our infra-rational roots are seen in our atavistic past and so we continue to be subject to our taboos, dogmas, superstitions, prejudices despite our intellectuality. Again our ethical, aesthetic and spiritual urges seem to point out that there must be a greater god-head than reason. It is this pull of the supra-rational that is pressing man to outgrow the individualistic age and move towards the spiritual age en route an era of subjectivism. One of the hallmarks of the subjective age is its opening to subtle immortal truths like ‘consciousness’. This subtle but definite paradigm shift is beginning to occur in the fields of knowledge. Thus, we find that transpersonal psychology influenced by Eastern traditions especially, Buddhism, is attempting to redefine psychology as the science of consciousness; physicists have become interested in the occult forces behind phenomena (page — shows how in a field like atomic exploration, mystical insights can be revelatory); and in the field of health, new age therapies ranging from Reiki, Pranic therapy, to Acupuncture and Homoeopathy are steadily gaining a wider acceptance. This phenomena manifests easily in the field of health because health includes life itself which is the largest field of all human endeavour. The new dawn

For other articles please visit http://www.namahjournal.com

Consciousness and Health
The twenty-first century signifies the age when the barrier between Matter and Spirit is disappearing. It is a privilege to be in tune with the Time Spirit and acknowledge this new dawn. References 1. Sri Aurobindo. The Human Cycle, The Ideal of Human Unity; War and Self-determination. p. 173. 2. Ibid., p. 179.

For other articles please visit http://www.namahjournal.com

NAMAH Body, mind and spirit journal Consciousness and Health
Health management Dr. Alok Pandey Editor ‘s note Can an individual take care of his or her own health? Nowadays, it is certainly in vogue. Health is in our own hands. This article discusses the various aspects of health management with an inlook. Introduction The human being can be viewed from different perspectives. The WHO has already included in its definition of health, the dimensions of social, mental and spiritual wellbeing, in addition to the purely physical state. It is also agreed that health is a positive condition and not merely an absence of disease. However, the concept of what constitutes a positive state is not clear. Today we know that the line between health and illness is indistinct as there is a range of more subtle pre-disease conditions. This is so because the human body is not static but in a continuous flux, a dynamic state of precise and accurate balance. The body has enormous reserves to adjust and accommodate in times of need. For example, the normal heartbeat is 60-100 per minute. But if the need arises, the heart can double its gallop, stretch its muscles and thereby increase its function without much difficulty. In times of emergency, most of the organs can adapt to the increased demand. And once the demand stops, the system reverts back to status quo. Not only that, the body can be methodically trained to exceed its limits. We know for instance, that athletes have healthier hearts; their average pulse rate is slower and cardiac output higher than the normal. Similarly, those who do regular exercise can increase their lung capacity. Muscle bulk too can be increased through regular training. Even without training, the body, in times of severe stress, as in war, can perform nearly miraculous things. Also with proper training, the body can become conscious of its own deeper possibilities. Yet we still fear that the body is all the time prone to this or that illness. A slight cough, a mild fever, a minor pain is enough to set our minds ruminating about all possible horrors. We contribute to our illness as well as its cure through our thoughts, emotions and attitudes. Our lifestyle has much to do with disease. So we too have a role to play in health and disease. Body — a physical perspective The body has a consciousness of its own — the body consciousness. We have to awaken this latent body consciousness because, despite the body’s capacity, something limits and hinders and things go wrong. This is true even for those who have

For other articles please visit http://www.namahjournal.com

Consciousness and Health
tried to lead a balanced life. Even if diseases are kept away, the process of aging still catches up. There is wear and tear, errors are made so that over a period of decades, the toxins accumulate and the system decays. Here arises the need for preparing the body and opening it to higher energies. The body works best when a regular routine is fixed. There is a time when our juices flow, a time for sleep and a time for rest, one for repair and reconstitution. There is a time and cycle for everything. One can take advantage of these biological clocks. Whatever new is introduced can be done with a regularity so that it gradually integrates with the other cycles and rhythms of the body and translates into a habit. Let us take a look at some of these activities. Sleep The cycle of sleep and wakefulness has a biological rhythm. A disruption of this natural rhythm upsets the body functions. The quality of sleep is disturbed by common things like a heavy supper; use of substances like tobacco, alcohol, tea etc.; late night television; worries, anxieties, self-preoccupying thoughts; and the use of sedatives and tranquillisers (which disturb the cycle of sleep and dream). If anything, a cup of warm milk, soup or fruit juice are the best sedatives, they do not suppress the dream-phase and hence help natural sleep. An additional way of slipping smoothly into good quality sleep is through the use of relaxation techniques or light, gentle, classical music played at a low pitch in a well-ventilated room. It is preferable that the bed should be neither too hard nor too soft. A soft pillow should be used. All this is a matter of personal habit and conditioning. But sleep has another function apart from rest. It is a time for dreams. During sleep, our consciousness withdraws from the surface mind and is left free to explore other states and domains. These states help the process of self-discovery. So one should consciously prepare oneself for a qualitatively better sleep by a regular practice of relaxation and focusing within. “If before retiring to bed one has talked a lot or had a lively discussion, if one has read an exciting or intensely interesting book, one should rest a little without sleeping in order to quieten the mental activity, so that the brain does not engage in disorderly movements while the other parts of the body alone are asleep. Those who practice meditation will do well to concentrate for a few minutes on a lofty and restful idea, in an aspiration towards a higher and vaster consciousness. Their sleep will benefit greatly from this and they will largely be spared the risk of falling into unconsciousness while they sleep” (1). The transition between sleep and wakefulness is an important period too. To wake up suddenly with a start or after an alarm call is not pleasant. Another habit that can be avoided is the tendency to stay lying in bed after waking. Even if one needs to relax, it is better to get out of bed and sit in a chair. This prevents ‘tamas’ or inertia. Food

For other articles please visit http://www.namahjournal.com

Consciousness and Health
Among all habits, the one of eating affects the body most. Yet, “In the effect of food on the body, 90% belongs to the power of thought” (2). We hardly ever enjoy the food we eat. Most of the time, whilst at the dining table, either our thoughts are elsewhere or we are motivated by greed. Food should be approached leaving the world outside. The Mother has more to say, “Physically, we depend upon food to live — unfortunately. For with food, we daily and constantly take in a formidable amount of inconscience, of tamas, heaviness, stupidity. One can’t do otherwise — unless constantly, without a break, we remain completely aware and, as soon as an element is introduced into our body, we immediately work upon it to extract from it only the light and reject all that may darken our consciousness. This is the origin and rational explanation of the religious practice of consecrating one’s food to God before taking it. When eating one aspires that this food may not be taken for the little human ego but as an offering to the divine consciousness within oneself. In all yogas, all religions, this is encouraged. This is the origin of that practice, of contacting the consciousness behind, precisely to diminish as much as possible the absorption of an inconscience which increases daily, constantly, without one’s being aware of it” (3). Exercises Next we come to the schedule of exercise. There is much that has been written and spoken about it. The market is flooded with so many books on the subject. However exercise is not just a specialised activity. Our daily walk, climbing the stairs, taking a bath, the postures we adopt, moving around, all kinds of physical activities can become fruitful if done consciously. To bring the body under conscious control awakens it to a greater harmony. There is a whole world of literature on body-language and the role of specific Dsanas and mudrDs in linking us to certain inner states. Then there are specialised forms of isometric and isotonic exercises which can be judiciously combined. Sports and games offer an additional advantage of instilling into us healthy attitudes and psychological qualities necessary for team-work. Similarly, dance offers the advantage of creating in the body a sense of beauty, harmony and rhythm. Equally important is the inner attitude we have whilst doing a particular activity. The Mother observes: “Any rational system of exercises suited to one’s need and capacity will help the participant to improve in health. Moreover it is the attitude that is more important. Any well-planned and scientifically arranged programme of exercises practised with a yogic attitude will become yogic exercises and the person practising them will draw full benefit from the point of view of physical health and moral and spiritual uplift (4)”. Work Work itself has to alter its character by a change of motivation. Work can be made as creative as play.

For other articles please visit http://www.namahjournal.com

Consciousness and Health
“...It is said that one only does well what one is interested in doing. This is true, but it is truer still that one can learn to find interest in everything one does, even in what appear to be the most insignificant chores. The secret of this attainment lies in the urge towards self-perfection” (5). Sex A word about sex. From an inner standpoint, one can say that the energy that goes into procreation or furthering the race is the same that, if conserved, can provide the basis for the evolution of the race. This is the rationale for control or mastery over the sex impulse.

The energy perspective Apart from the purely material standpoint, the modern world has entered into the domains of energy and consciousness. So the body should also be viewed from these angles. From the standpoint of energy states, life-energy is a separate principle which shapes and holds the material form. In fact, according to this view, physical matter itself is only a condensation of energy. So a harmonious balance of energy is necessary for health. It is important to be aware of the channels through which we gain and lose energy. Externally, we receive an influx of energy through food, thoughts, sensory inputs and subtle vibrations. Nourishing food, positive thoughts, a clear observation of sensory inputs and, if possible, the subtle vibrations would help us maintain a healthy body. There is an intricate and complex working of energies in the human body. It is as if the whole functioning is governed by a remarkably precise dynamic force that is supremely intelligent. One approach to health management would thus be to awaken these energies. This is possible partly by a study of energy states and movements with a view to exceed limits. Another way would be to put the pressure of a higher consciousness on the body. This ‘pressure’ brought down by an opening of the body to higher forces through aspiration and surrender will awaken a response in the corresponding level of consciousness now concealed and active only indirectly from behind. As a first intermediary step, the subconscious working of the body has to be brought increasingly under a deliberate control of the mental consciousness. It is here that the role of biofeedback, imagery etc. can be envisaged. But finally the body has to learn to open itself to higher spiritual forces and be governed by the psychic consciousness. This will create conditions for the physical transformation and the emergence of a new body that is naturally immune to illness, disease and decay. Another way of balancing the energy states is by bringing peace, detachment from the ego-sense and attuning to a higher urge in us through an inner widening. A consciousness perspective

For other articles please visit http://www.namahjournal.com

Consciousness and Health
Consciousness expresses itself on the material level as the physical body. At a higher one, it is explicit in the dynamic workings of life-energy. At a still higher level, consciousness expresses itself through the mind and its functions; cognition, imagination, aesthesis, ethics etc. We have attempted to develop our physical consciousness by a methodical pursuit of physical culture. This led to extending our physical abilities. We have harnessed our life-energy by balancing the energy inputs and outputs. This led to an increased repertoire of life-energy. Likewise, we have to control the functionings of the mind. This involves: (a) Freeing the mind from the clutches of physical necessities and demands of lifeenergy, (b) Refining the use of reason and the intelligent will, and (c) Silencing the mind so that it is made ready for faculties that surpass reason, like intuition, inspiration and revelation. An evolutionary model of health conscious-ness does not stop at the level of the physical consciousness, but increases the repertoire of life-energy and controls the functionings of the mind so that it is made receptive to higher influences. Such a dynamic view is necessary because health does not denote a mere absence of disease. Rather it is a positive state of harmony that supports a growth in consciousness. Conclusion “... the development of the form and its functioning or its fitness to survive, although indispensable, is not the whole meaning or the central motive. The greater and greater awakening of consciousness and its climb to a higher and higher level and a wider extent of its vision and action is the condition of our progress towards that supreme and total perfection which is the aim of our existence. It is the condition also of the total perfection of the body. There are higher levels of the mind than any we now conceive and to these we must one day reach and rise beyond them to the heights of a greater, a spiritual existence. As we rise we have to open to them our lower members and feel these with those superior and supreme dynamisms of light and power; the body we have to make a more and more and even entirely conscious frame and instrument, a conscious sign and seal and power of the spirit” (6).

References 1. The Mother. Collected works of the Mother, Vol. 12. Pondicherry; Sri Aurobindo Ashram, p. 52. 2. The Mother. Health and Healing in Yoga. Pondicherry; Sri Aurobindo Ashram, 1991, p. 186. 3. Ibid. p. 199.

For other articles please visit http://www.namahjournal.com

Consciousness and Health

4. Op. cit. Collected works of the Mother, Vol. 12, p. 287. 5. Op. Cit. Collected works of the Mother, Vol. 12, p. 53. 6. Sri Aurobindo. Essays in Philosophy and Yoga. Pondicherry; Sri Aurobindo Ashram Trust, 1998, p. 531. Dr. Alok Pandey is a psychiatrist trying to base his life and practice on the vision of Integral Yoga as given by Sri Aurobindo and the Mother.

For other articles please visit http://www.namahjournal.com

NAMAH Body, mind and spirit journal Consciousness and Health
Natural catastrophes Someone has said that disasters and catastrophes in Nature, earthquake and deluge and the sinking of continents, are the consequence of a discordant and sinful humanity and with the progress and development of the human race a corresponding change will come about in physical Nature. How far is this true? Perhaps the truth is rather that it is one and the same movement of consciousness that expresses itself in a Nature ridden with calamities and catastrophes and in a disharmonious humanity. The two things are not cause and effect, but stand on the same level. Above them there is a consciousness which is seeking for manifestation and embodiment upon earth, and in its descent towards matter it meets everywhere the same resistance, in man and in physical Nature. All the disorder and disharmony that we see upon earth is the result of this resistance. Calamity and catastrophe, conflict and violence, obscurity and ignorance — all ills come from the same source. Man is not the cause of external Nature, nor external Nature the cause of man, but both depend on the same one thing that is behind them and greater, and both are part of a perpetual and progressive movement of the material world to express it. Now if there is awakened somewhere upon earth a receptivity and openness sufficient to bring down in its purity something of the Divine Consciousness, this descent and manifestation in matter can change not only the inner life, but the material conditions also, the physical expression in man and Nature. This descent does not depend for its possibility upon the condition of humanity as a whole. If we had to wait for the mass of humanity to reach a state of harmony, unity and aspiration, strong enough to bring down the Light and change the material conditions and the movement of Nature, there would be little hope. But there is a possibility that an individual or a small group or limited number may achieve the descent. It is not quantity or extension that matters. One drop of the Divine Consciousness entering into the consciousness of the earth could change everything here. It is the mystery of the contact and fusion of the higher and the lower planes of consciousness that is the great secret, the hidden key. Always it has a transforming force; only here it would be on a larger scale and reach a higher degree. If there is someone on earth who is capable of coming consciously into contact with a plane that has not yet been manifested here and if by rising into it in his consciousness he can make that plane and the material meet and harmonise, then the great decisive movement of Nature’s yet unrealised transformation can take place. A new power will descend and change the conditions of life upon earth.* — The Mother * The Mother. Collected Works of the Mother, Vol.3. Pondicherry; Sri Aurobindo Ashram, 1977, pp. 37-9.

For other articles please visit http://www.namahjournal.com

NAMAH Body, mind and spirit journal Consciousness and Health
Flower blessings: a glimpse (A note on flower remedies from SAIIIHR) Dr. Vandana Editor's note: This article is an experiential exposition of the work being done at SAIIIHR. The writer takes us on her journey through the flower remedies with different people. Flowers are a gift of nature, an expression of the soul of the plant in a myriad colours, fragrances and feelings… a whole marvellous universe. They spill their joy and spontaneous laughter. Light fills us. Love embraces us. Disease and disharmony melt away. We can sense a deep, simple harmony and peace inside. Our environment changes. Our relationships change. Our work changes. Life changes. A miracle is wrought by a deeper contact with them. So simply! The dance of life flows through their essences — the flower remedies. Case I There was a beautiful woman with habitual constipation since childhood. She had lost more than three kilos in the year and had severe exhaustion after an attack of hepatitis. Born to parents who absolutely did not want children (her mother tried to abort her 2-3 times and her father was disturbed when she was born despite everything), she almost died at birth and was revived by the doctors. She was born with a pectum cavum which was operated unsuccessfully many times. Her father was constantly critical and her mother depressive. All her child-hood passed with a feeling of being cut off from the world. Outwardly perfect, in dress, manner and behaviour, she always had difficulties with people she loved. They put her down psychologically and even sometimes beat her physically. She could not come out of these bad relationships because she did not want to hurt them by leaving them. On 19th June 2004, she started the flower remedy Intimacy with the Divine, when she was thirty-eight years old. About twenty minutes after the first dose, she felt, “A strong boiling and bubbling sensation in the stomach with noise, which continued in changing intensity throughout the day. I had the image of a chemical reaction in the laboratory.” Immediately after the second dose, a burning sensation around the chest began — as if someone had pulled the threads together. This lasted a few minutes only. There was no motion that day. “The next day I had a sudden feeling of sadness, with crying which had no reason. I passed stool twice, but it was a little painful. That night I had an interesting dream: a friend of mine develops a gigantic water-treatment plant where all used water will be changed into drinking water. He discovered that by infusing large amounts of oxygen into the dirty water, impurities would be cleared out again. This project is about to be

For other articles please visit www.namahjournal.com

Consciousness and Health
finished. I am standing on the rim of a gigantic pool-like basin. The basin is tiled with shining light blue tiles. All around the sides of the basin, I can see big jets coming out of the walls which would infuse the oxygen into the water. It is the day when the basin is to be tested to see if there are any leaks. For this, clear water is pumped into the basin in big, big streams. Suddenly I notice that the ground of the basin is not clean. I see that some panels of wood, like those used for shutterings in buildings, are floating in different sizes in the quickly- filling basin. I am angry that the workers had not cleaned the basin before. Then I find myself standing in the basin. The water has already reached the height of my ankles and literally bathes my ankles by swift moves. It feels nice and soft to stand like this in the water. I am grasping some big panels of wood. Holding a few of them in my hands already, I suddenly get distracted. My hands hold the pieces of wood very tight so as not to lose them. Turning my eyes upwards, I realize the immense size of the basin — so huge. I see myself standing in a bird’s-eye view of the basin; being so, so small compared to the big basin. Again I look with my own eyes: all is huge in here and I am small. But I am not afraid of this, I am very quiet and watch the basin getting filled with wonder.” The next day she felt emotionally quiet. Hunger increased which is satisfied by eating, but only for a short time. In fact the next night she had to get up twice with a strong physical feeling of hunger. “The stomach is roaring and bubbling as if starving. I waited until the feeling became unbearable. Then I got up with dizziness to eat two bananas”. Motion once. This extreme hunger lasted two days. Then the sleep became calm. On waking the next day, “I felt immediately that something had calmed down. As if a storm had become quiet. But you should have seen me… I looked like a towel taken out from a washing machine which has just tumbled.” There has been no more constipation since then. The weight has come back. She has managed to come out of a traumatic relationship to build a healthier one. She has taken up interesting and challenging work that gives her much joy. As she says, “The past is falling off. Old relationships are dissolving. New people and structures are taking shape in a positive way.” She continued Intimacy with the Divine for two months regularly, then intermittently. Her life has changed a lot in this time. Now she is a radiantly happy woman. The mind is linear. Experiences are multifaceted. One has to express happenings and experiences through the mind, so some distortion is inevitable. The closest expression is through patterns or evocative words that resonate to the true experience. Like sunlight on leaves moving in the wind, the remedies have shown themselves. The different shades and patterns have become clearer to me in the last fifteen years of working with

For other articles please visit www.namahjournal.com

Consciousness and Health
them. For example with the remedy of the Indian country rose — Loving Surrender or Surrender — one notices that people needing it resemble the rose itself. Delicate, gentle, soft-spoken, sensitive, powerful women who appear to have no problems at all till you start listening to their complaints. Then a host of problems might emerge. The digestive system seems to be the most affected. They are sharp, critical and jealous inside. They want to be the best. They seem to create a protective feeling in the onlooker. Some people to whom this remedy was given reported: “An inner calm despite outer upheavals” “This flower remedy carried me, I was like a baby” “I see that my problems come from a repetitive pattern. I fear lack of love”. Behind, deep inside, is a beauty and fragrance of the soul towards which they have struggled. Case II She had come to me for indigestion that had been since ever. Only a little acidity. A gentle charming teacher of thirty-five years. “ I was born in west India. For five years I lived there with my parents and younger sister. From 1970 till today I have been staying in south India. I had a very happy, simple childhood and with divine Grace till today I outwardly had a pretty smooth-sailing life. I was never and am not a person who desires too much material comfort in things. I enjoy wearing good simple clothes, eat good food etc… but don’t crave for these things. All my suffering or struggle has always been on an emotional-vital level .Right from my early childhood, I had problems with moods swinging from one end to the other. My temperamental nature has affected all my close relationships. Earlier it was my parents and aunt. Now with my friends. I had been brought up by my aunt, and share a deeper bond with her than with my parents. As a child and teenager I was very quiet; I was allergic to human beings. I liked being a loner, to sit by myself at home. I loved to dream as a child of fairies. I used to read lots of fairytales and was absolutely unaware of the so-called harsh realities of life. Now I have changed. I am quite a talkative person. I like to analyse myself and others. I like to discuss interesting characteristics in human beings. I am a person who easily gets influenced. However I have an inner discernment which somehow saves me or, let’s say, keeps a check. It tires me to be talkative. If I talk about my state of being, it’s either when I am on a superficial emotional level, in which I am prone to anger, irritation, moods and disappointments, or I am in an inner deeper emotional state, where things are turned towards the Divine. In this state I see everything in its proper light: circumstances and relationships. Then my mind is exercised well: to understand, to tolerate, to read, to discriminate. Somebody once asked me, ‘What do you really transmit to the children in your work?’ I spontaneously feel it is love. This is the most precious thing. For me human love at its peak touches Divine Love.”. Another day she realised that, “All my emotions and hurt are due to a focus on myself.”

For other articles please visit www.namahjournal.com

Consciousness and Health
She started the remedy Loving Surrender on 7th August 2000. She felt the indigestion subside immediately. She also felt very calm. Later, in the same month, she dreamt of vomiting, walking in the dirt, someone else vomiting; children spoiling the area with stools and urine. She was cleaning it. She said, “I am not disturbed by these dreams. Despite them, I feel very good. I feel as if all the dirt inside me is coming out. I can be conscious of it. The sleep is very good. The dreams are very clear. I am more relaxed in the day.” For all her problems, every time, it was Loving Surrender that helped. No other remedy gave the same immediate or long-lasting effects. Since 2001, she has felt more stable emotionally. Yet the whole problem is not resolved. There is much work to be done. The fabric of consciousness pervades all life. It links us to plant-life. It flows through the fabric of living and non-living matter. The water in which the flowers have been kept transmits their vibration to us in this simple manner. And like the flower, we too blossom. The effects can be profound, gentle or sudden, subtle or gross and long lasting or short, depending upon the thread of consciousness of which one is aware. In the beginning, I was aware only of the physical effects. So the work with the flower remedies started from problems on the physical level. There were cures like the removal of mouth ulcers that had been there from childhood, relief of pain in many arthritic patients, blood sugar coming to normal, hypertension coming down, relief from life-long constipation etc. But there was no reason why a flower such as Integral Immortality (Gomphrena) should cure mouth ulcers, or Divine Love (Punica granatum) cure one person of constipation and have apparently no effect on another’s. Questions like this shifted the work onto an inner vibrational level. The Mother had given significances to flowers by entering into contact with them and giving a precise meaning to what She felt by coming into contact with the nature of the flower, its inner truth. So the inner exploration had to be done. In the last eight years, some people have joined the work. They can freely speak of their inner states while taking the remedy and are aware of the changes. They seem to vibrate to the flower essence and can express it. For example, a person narrated the effect of Spiritual Ascension on her as: “I felt as if I was in another place: where I used to be when I was a child. A state of blank nothingness, into which I could escape. Nothing would touch me from the external world… a complete abstraction. I expected light in this state but there was none because some links were missing… and I know I must come down into the physical world to build those links. This place has light but I could not contact it. It is a matter of connecting to the whole — the whole must be conscious before the light comes. When I was in that state, I was not whole and this was unbearable. I was sheared.”

For other articles please visit www.namahjournal.com

Consciousness and Health
And then another person who took Spiritual Power of Healing off and on for nearly two months, followed by Peace in the Physical: “On 21/11/1998, I took Spiritual Power of Healing. There was immediately a light, vastness, tenderness, everywhere in the physical especially in the head bones, like melting power everywhere. Also in parts of resistance (neck, wrists, ankles), there was a deep calmness. The physical form changed to a soft calm shining substance without hard contours. It is an exact form of light, a soft expanded feeling of harmonious oneness, a fusion of all parts or all points. The feeling was very precise (clear dots). All the planes were clearly demarcated horizontally with the spine vertical and full of space. Feeling of an opening in all centres continued, mainly throat, medulla and basic (earth) cakra. Flow of power everywhere in the body (inside and out was one space). Harmonious pulsations from above to below which were also one space. Joyful sweet strong descent. I focused on Sri Aurobindo’s name. It came like a sinuous, spiral descent (the word, its sound and intonation were very exact). The throat centre extroverted itself after Spiritual Power of Healing. A strong and wide opening into space. This mantra of ‘Sri Aurobindo’ came again. There came the feeling that ‘the spirit of the flower is one with the Supreme Spirit’. I felt one with the flower and with Sri Aurobindo. The mantra was a ‘power’ — strong, big, round. It was coming down. Then I asked, ‘What is the effect of the remedy and what of the Lord?’ This experience continued in the individual and universal body with the possibility of concentration on everything as one big conscious energy, but with all possible possibility of discrimination of parts, points and sections, depending on what one is looking or on what one wants to concentrate. A living, pulsating SILENCE in countless points in unending space. This feeling stayed all the time but each time I took the essence, it intensified. When I was in the outer world, permanently I was of the SUN world rather than in the bluff: I was aware of the continuous manifestation of the Truth in matter or the unfolding of possibilities in the new world. This perception increases when I take Spiritual Power of Healing. It gives a feeling of freedom. All the time, which is no time, I feel thankful and free. Knowledge of eternal harmony is not realised yet but waits for realisation here in the world. Constant inspiration. The whole body feels free and present. The neck is slower to join this movement. I have a very Indian way (accepting, allowing time to flow, an eternal connection to old civilizations, their essence). Very very free. I continued the remedy from 21.11.98 – 16.12.98 I feel that my physical identity is changing. The feeling that comes is ‘Giving all into Thy Will’. I left this remedy on 16/12/98. These processes continued. I felt a very strong pressure (tears from left eye, burning inside the face) on 28/12. As the pressure was strong, I started Peace in the Physical. A slow mild vibration in the body. Parts where the pressure was strong could relax. A feeling of opening in the soft depths of the physical like entering the night, as an open space full of peace and the warm sun (shiny) tenderness. In the neck, there was much relief. This happened immediately.

For other articles please visit www.namahjournal.com

Consciousness and Health
Entering that soft darkness was like a promise of entering into beauty and being with someone very near and dear (the psychic?). The feeling becomes more and more conscious (it was like a promise) and replaces the pressure.” In this way the work goes on with more people joining in a conscious inner exploration with the flower essences. We hope that these flower remedies will open the gate in us for Truth to manifest on the earth in the matter of our bodies. It is becoming increasingly clear that they have the capacity to align people and help them to feel the soul — within and without. Disease melts away, disharmonies and discords dissolve; joy, light, peace and vastness can then progressively become a natural state. Dr. Vandana has been working on the flower remedies for the last 15 years.

For other articles please visit www.namahjournal.com

NAMAH Body, mind and spirit journal Consciousness and Health Preventing illness*

Sweet Mother, when one sees an illness coming, how can one stop it? Ah! First of all, you must not want it and nothing in the body must want it. You must have a very strong will not to be ill. This is the first condition. The second condition is to call the light, a light of equilibrium, a light of peace, quietude and balance, and to push it into all the cells of the body, enjoining them not to be afraid, because that again is another condition. First, not to want to be ill, and then not to be afraid of illness. You must neither attract it nor tremble. You must not want illness at all. But you must not because of fear not want it; you must not be afraid; you must have a calm certitude and a complete trust in the power of the Grace to shelter you from everything, and then think of something else, not be concerned about this any longer. When you have done these two things, refusing the illness with all your will and infusing a confidence which completely eliminates the fear in the cells of the body, and then busying yourself with something else, not thinking any longer about the illness, forgetting that it exists... there, if you know how to do that, you may even be in contact with people who have contagious diseases, and yet you do not catch them. But you must know how to do this. Many people say, “Oh, yes, here I am not afraid.” They don’t have any fear in the mind, their mind is not afraid, it is strong, it is not afraid; but the body trembles, and one doesn’t know it, because it is in the cells of the body that the trembling goes on. It trembles with a terrible anxiety and this is what attracts the illness. It is there that you must put the force and the quietude of a perfect peace and an absolute trust in the Grace. And then, sometimes you are obliged to drive away with a similar force in your thought all suggestions that after all, the physical world is full of illnesses, and these are contagious, and because one was in contact with somebody who is ill, one is sure to catch it, and then, that the inner methods are not powerful enough to act on the physical, and all kinds of stupidities of which the air is full. These are collective suggestions which are passed on from one person to another by everybody. And if by chance there are two or three doctors, then it becomes terrible. (Laughter).

— The Mother1 1. The Mother. Collected Works of the Mother, Vol. 7. pp. 144- 45.• * Heading is given by the editor.

For other articles please visit http://www.namahjournal.com

NAMAH Body, mind and spirit journal Consciousness and Health Equality of the body – Equality of the soul•

Equality of the external being means good health, a solid body, controlled nerves — when you are not shaken by the least shock, when you are calm, quiet, poised, balanced. In that condition you can receive into you a great force in yourself from above (or, from the environing energy around you) and yet not get upset. If one of you at any time had received some such force, he must have known by experience that without a perfectly sound physical health, one could not contain or hold it. You cannot remain still, you are restless, you move about, talk, cry, weep, jump or dance, just to throw out the energy you are unable to hold. You scatter about what it is not possible for you to gather and assimilate. In order to be able to gather and assimilate the force, the body and the nerves must be quiet and strong.

Equality of the soul is different; it is psychological, not physical. It is the power to bear the impact of things, good or bad, without being grieved or elated, discouraged or enthused, without any upsetting or disturbance. Whatever happens you remain serene and at peace. But both the equalities are necessary. There are many equalities, in fact. Apart from the equality of the vital and the equality of the body, there is also the equality of the mind proper. That is to say, all ideas from all quarters may come into your head, even the most contradictory: yet you remain quiet, untroubled, and even unconcerned. You are a witness, you see them, sort them, arrange them, put each idea in its proper place, appreciate the value of each, determine the relation of each to the other, and to the whole, but you are not swayed by any particular one. — Nolini Kanta Gupta (Collected works of Nolini Kanta Gupta, Vol.3. Nolini Kanta Gupta Birth Centenary Celebrations Committee, Calcutta; 1989, p. 373)

For other articles please visit www.namahjournal.com

NAMAH Body, mind and spirit journal Consciousness and Health Body and soul
James Anderson Editor's note This article is written by a person who looks at life from the inner perspective. Normally the soul is supposed to be far removed from the body. Can it affect the body? This article explores the author's own beliefs and experiences. “The body is the chrysalis of a soul.”1 I have a feeling that it was my soul that brought me here2. I have a feeling too it wanted me, in this lifetime at least, to bathe in this magical atmosphere and lay my head down at Her feet. I believe that the soul has brought me back to its true home. Because of this, at times I find it a little perplexing that the soul had found it provident to install itself inside a Western body. Such an apparent mismatch has led to some intriguing complications! But I trust that these are the kind of disparities upon which a true knowledge can be laid. I say this, because deep down, I feel a great sense of belonging here. In spite of my Western upbringing, I indeed feel a deep kinship with the people of this country. I have gradually come to recognise those at the ashram as my true spiritual family. Now, with the gift of experience, I can observe this situation with the deepest reverence and am able to vividly understand how the soul totally organises every circumstance of my life. I know that the soul is immutable and free. But having said that, I do feel it sometimes may choose to witness the lower nature being imprisoned. Only then, of course, can the prakriti also rise up and partake in the joys of liberation! At least, that, I believe, is what is happening in this particular life. Trapped inside patterns of the past and what some might consider difficult physical circumstances, the soul has always pointed me the way to true freedom. Ever since I received the first touches of the soul, I have wanted to follow its example. I have tried to place my gaze upon that alone. That to me is what the Mother means when She says the soul should be one’s true guide. From my first days here, I felt it must be sought so that its intimations could become clear. That search can indeed be painstaking and very long. In a sense however, I don’t find the soul: the soul finds me. Whatever the case, I have found that I move forward gradually upon the stepping stones of experience. As soon as I embrace the soul, I become conscious of the Mother: it is as basic as that. The only thing I have to do then, once I realise this fact, is remain attentive

1 2

Sri Aurobindo. Savitri. Pondicherry, Sri Aurobindo Ashram Trust, 1970, p.623. To the Sri Aurobindo Ashram.

For other articles please visit http://www.namahjournal.com

Consciousness and Health
and always follow Her call. Anyway, it is the soul which helps me progress and not vice versa: “To have any action on your soul you must be first conscious of it. And then when you will be conscious of your soul, you will probably find out that instead of you making your soul progress, it is your soul who will help you to progress (1).” The realisation of the soul is such a critical aim of my life; it is the truth upon which everything else will rest. But the soul now is telling me that, as soon I realise that Truth inside, I must then go further! Liberation is not sufficient. The soul must be lived, the soul must manifest and the soul must transform. So that is why I am here, lying prostrate at the Mother’s feet. Beginnings When I first arrived at the ashram, I became aware of something, albeit veiled, which sustained me. It gave me the strength to endure. Now contact with it brings rapture and a sense of boundless felicity. It also gives me that precious glimpse of total physical wellbeing. For this body, now, it has become the only true panacea. As the soul comes forward, the body seems to find its only refuge in its arms. This core of truth simply harmonises the being and restores equilibrium. My physical wellbeing now seems to depend upon that alone. But it would be incorrect to state that the soul immediately assumed a leading influence from my first days here. In a way, I was stumbling in the dark. So although my search for the soul had already begun, the mind assumed a more prominent role particularly (though not exclusively) with regard to the body itself. Some methodical discipline was indeed required. I needed a greater order and regularity in my life. I also needed to be brought back to ground level in order to start afresh. The body had been surviving for some time on dwindling doses of vital force: its condition was haphazard to say the least. So the sense of reason, for some time, took the seat of control. The Mother states that this reason can then be the only safe guide when one is engulfed in haze: “This is what we call an enlightener: one who gives light. When you are not sure of something, when you are in darkness, in a confusion, if you call to reason, it can guide you very well, make you see clearly where you were in darkness; therefore it is an enlightener. Now, ‘minister of the spirit’ means… that it can be transformed into an instrument for revealing the spiritual reality in the lower parts of the being; ‘minister of the Spirit’ – that’s what it means; a minister is an instrument of something, you see, it means the instrument of the Spirit. And it can prepare the paths for the coming of the rule of the Spirit, precisely make the being balanced and peaceful, right in its judgments, right in its way of acting, so that being in a state of luminous equilibrium, it becomes capable of receiving the Spirit. A being who is in a whirlwind of darkness is obviously not ready to receive the Spirit. But when by the use of reason one has managed to organise his being logically and reasonably, in a balanced and wise way — reason is essentially an instrument of wisdom — well, this is an excellent preparation for going beyond, on condition that one knows

For other articles please visit www.namahjournal.com

Consciousness and Health
that it is not a culmination, that it is only a preparation. It is like a base, you see; people who have spiritual experiences, who have a contact with the higher worlds and are not ready in the lower domains, have a lot of trouble, because they have to fight constantly against a heap of elements which are neither organised nor purified nor classified; and each one pulls its own way, there are impulses and preferences and desires, and so this light which has come from above has to organise all this; whereas if the reason had worked to begin with and made the place at least a habitable one, when the Spirit came it would have been more easily installed (2).” The mind had fixed the notion that systematic exercise, amongst other things, was the key to the body’s cure. I don’t know whether the body would have fallen prey to inertia and atrophy without it, but it did give a sense of order and such a regime provided a more constructive channel for whatever energy I found at my disposal. Most pertinently of all, it also taught the body to obey. Personal will The personal will became paramount too; there was a great deal of effort consumed in those days! Perhaps it was all necessary, I don’t know, but at least it did provide a sound base and ensured that I would not give up the body as a lost cause. Gradually though, I began to admit that its stamp was beginning to become more of a hindrance to the body’s progress. Even now, I find the mind reluctant to relinquish its role as teacher. I feel this ‘will’ has to be recognised for what it really is. This calls to my attention Sri Aurobindo’s words: “When we have passed beyond willings, then We shall have Power. Effort was the helper; Effort is the bar. (3)” In any case, as the Mother says, this personal will amounts to little more than a hotchpotch of inherited constructions and influences. I feel that the ordinary mind too only fixes limits. I have always held that transformation is the business of turning possibilities into realities. I don’t think I’ll get very far as long as I remain caged in by the surface mind. So I began to wonder whether, by stripping these influences bare, I might reach a much deeper well. This has become the essence of my inner work. To be honest, I am now just a passive bystander in this process. I can only observe the Mother do this for me. But as I observed deeper with the work inside, I had the feeling that something truer was beginning to emerge. A more resonant Will started to manifest. The spontaneous command of the soul started to appear at odd moments, moments when my being was more in tune with the rhythm of the truth inside. I now feel that it is only the soul, or the Mother, that now can truly change and transform the body. I no longer look for outside agencies or ‘miracle cures’. Material remedies, it seems to me, have become almost superfluous. The ‘miracle’, if that’s how it is to be put, has to happen first inside. But then I also find from Sri Aurobindo that this process is not really a miracle after all. It is more of an inevitable transition, a consequence of the

For other articles please visit www.namahjournal.com

Consciousness and Health
soul spreading outwards. So now, as my soul gradually moves forward, the body becomes more and more dependent on it; the affinity draws closer. Soul’s affinity It is not altogether surprising that this should be so, as the soul is involved in every part of matter, down to the smallest cell. The Mother describes the nature of this relationship very clearly: “In fact the physical being has a simplicity and even a goodwill (which is not always very enlightened, far from it), but still a simplicity and goodwill which put it in a closer relation with the psychic than the passions of the vital and the pretensions of the mind (4).” I often picture the body as a sleepy carthorse — dull and slow-footed, but so steady and faithful to its calling! At least, that is my impression. I can’t expect it to become a racehorse overnight: that will surely take years of work and preparation. Due to its tardiness, the body is a much maligned instrument but it has an admirable capacity for endurance. It can brave the most terrible hardships. The word ‘stoic’ also comes to mind. Most important of all, it is in the body that the soul will manifest. That is one of the functions of the psychic being: to educate, master and finally transform the physical. In that role, the soul is indeed such a patient teacher! I sometimes visualise the immortal Saraswatn’s painstaking attention to detail and compare that with the hand of the soul. Nothing flusters Her. I can also witness this trait in the most experienced craftsmen. They treat their materials with such skill and care. Matter has to be given its due consideration and respect and the soul possesses this capacity in abundance. The work inside The purpose of this work, I feel, is very simple. It is to unbind what Sri Aurobindo terms the ‘teguments of the soul’ so that the Truth (for that, I believe, is what the soul represents in us) can come forward and govern the entire nature. Something new is implanted and a delight intervenes. When the entire nature is illuminated in that Light, harmony is restored. True balance is attained and wholeness returns. The body will naturally share that lustre too. Because of this, I now find, in my case, that psychological health is totally synonymous with physical health. I also find that those elements which mask the soul become more visible and evident with practice. They also weigh heavier on the being. They can now retard the body to terrible degrees. So often I find myself wrapped up in knots without being conscious of what is going on! In such circumstances, I have to simply cope and trudge on. So, for me, the work entails stopping and taking a good clear look at myself, nothing more than that. I simply observe what is before me. But there can be a glorious alchemy too, because if the work is done with consciousness, the hand of the Mother invariably intervenes and can turn everything to gold.

For other articles please visit www.namahjournal.com

Consciousness and Health
So my practice presently seems to involve two processes: observation and execution. The remarkable thing is, however, they both seem to happen at the same time. This, I feel, is the ‘Consciousness-Force’ that Sri Aurobindo often speaks about: the two go hand in hand. By turning the consciousness onto the body, by scanning each energy centre from top to bottom, the Force spontaneously intervenes and I witness these knots getting disentangled. I do this by simply observing what is not in place. An indefatigable patience is required, though, as the process may take some time. If I can look at whatever distortion is surfacing on the body from the poise of the soul, the Force will inevitably part these strands. They tangibly separate and become clear. With a quiet mind, the consciousness can even go right down to the root of the trouble. I can then see the distortion for what it really is. Everything gets traced back to its source. The root cause of the affliction becomes evident; a knowledge spontaneously dawns. Just being present with the distortion usually suffices. A single affirmation or word of recognition can also often trigger the intervention of the Truth. With that knowledge, the inner house is put back in order. The pressure of the consciousness draws every stray element up to the surface. It then dissolves into the Mother’s Light. Everything then finds its true place, aligning itself around the soul and starts radiating outwards. A beautiful feeling of delight is implanted into the body and entire being. The body almost visibly expands under the touch of this caress. My Teachers The soul also never forgets its Teachers and that is why I always do this work with Sri Aurobindo and the Mother by my side. The atmosphere becomes pregnant with a beautiful solicitude and love. My body is there, physically in Their Presence and They are showering it with all the Light and Force that it is capable of absorbing. I find that if I do not do this work repeatedly, the nature can become suffocated and, as a consequence, the body is liable to fall out of alignment. The lustre of the Truth seems to fade without this steady consciousness being consistently infused into the outer being. I have already stated that patience is essential. Sometimes I find that the answers do not come very readily, particularly when the lower nature is enshrouded in such dense fog. The mind may be restless or agitated too. No words seem to adequately convey what I am confronting. I am unable to identify the root cause and all I know is that I’m out of equilibrium and the picture is not so pleasant. I then have to look with whatever consciousness I can muster and call for the Mother’s help. In such circumstances, I can only humbly entreat the Mother to put the situation right and hand it over to Her. There is no point in trying to pretend otherwise. Indeed once I admit this, the knowledge very often comes. In this context, I remember the Mother’s words: “To come closer to the Truth you must often accept not to understand (5).”

For other articles please visit www.namahjournal.com

Consciousness and Health
The digging seems to be getting deeper too. The awareness often unearths very incoherent patterns from the past. Their very nature is hazy and unclear. Sri Aurobindo states that these kinds of subconscious patterns can truly cramp the physical being. For me, like everyone else, they have such a debilitating influence on the nature. If they rise up high enough, I sometimes feel that they are capable of engulfing the being into complete darkness. With these kinds of elements, I try to get inside the essence and feeling that is being evoked by the distortion. I don’t identify myself with it and just try to look at it with a disinterested eye. I observe and wait. The picture gradually softens and the darkness dissolves. On other occasions, where there is distortion, I might feel compelled to just hold it with love or offer it at Her feet. If it is hard and resistant, I may feel inclined to melt it under the warmth of the Mother’s Love. Withdrawing There comes a time to withdraw the intensity of this gaze. I cannot presently maintain such levels of consciousness at all times. Maybe one day that state may arrive, I don’t know, but one observation, I feel, is in the meantime worth making. When I conclude this work, I am usually mindful of allowing the force field to settle and spread outwards. I try to remember that the soul is present in that gaze too. I have occasionally experienced a break in this connection when I have allowed myself to withdraw too abruptly. Something snaps and all the good work gets completely wasted. The threads can be very delicate and a steady vigilance is always required to keep them intact. I feel that the soul must spread outside too. An unbroken connection is my aim and, ideally, this should be sustained in everyday life. It is not an easy process but I don’t believe it impossible. This, I feel, is the challenge presented by Sri Aurobindo’s Yoga: the soul must manifest in every aspect of life itself. There are simply no half measures. So I withdraw by slowly opening the eyes and by allowing the vastness and expansion to spread around me. I usually get up slowly from my sitting position and try to stand in true alignment. I do this whilst still maintaining my connection with this thread. I then gradually initiate some gentle movement in a relaxed way. Only when the connection is well-established do I usually permit more dynamic or vigorous action. If the soul is present, if I am allowing the Mother to guide my body, there can sometimes be a radical shift and definitive progress can be made. The Mother repeatedly tells us that, with bodywork particularly, an unflagging perseverance is essential if the necessary outcome is to be achieved. I don’t believe one should even attempt to count how many times this work must be repeated! This Light must be performed so regularly that the light and rapture of the soul can percolate down into every hidden pore of the being. No detail can be missed. I have to look at time as my friend and try to live in the eternal day. With persistent repetition, experience has proven the efficacy of this work. As with any work on the physical, I should try to move a little forward at each time. But with the soul as my guardian, the results can only

For other articles please visit www.namahjournal.com

Consciousness and Health
endure and stick. As long as I am progressing towards a state of total harmony, I trust that there is no prospect of relapse. Working outside By working with consciousness on the outside too, the Mother’s Force can penetrate the body. It also supplements and reinforces the inner work. Sri Aurobindo’s dictum of ‘the two ends can meet’ comes to mind. This, I believe, is really how essential connections are made. The reality though is that I am trying to work on the outside but with an inner eye. The same criteria are followed. If the soul starts to take command, that systematic exercise I spoke about earlier can then become a joy and not a tiresome routine. To reach that stage, I feel, initial effort is often required, but once the early barriers are surmounted, the soul can then capture the body’s imagination. The body has an abundance of goodwill and once caught by the soul, I trust that its innate aspiration will truly awaken. The soul is, after all, only awakening what is already there. A unique kind of light then emanates from the physical being. The body can then truly become the ‘face’ of the soul: an image of grace and beauty. Everything matters I also feel that every contact I have with the world has the power to influence and modify my relationship with the soul. I believe that this work is not just a matter of living inside. I feel I should also try to manifest, in every detail, the soul on the outside too. It is obvious that this cannot be contrived. I believe that every thought, every deed and every action has the power to modify this relationship. The slightest recoil affects it too. The soul can be lived. If I accept this truth, then every imprint I leave on the world influences the body’s passage towards wholeness and health. When the soul and body become more intertwined, I find that such details seem to matter so much more. Nothing is trivial. In this Yoga, one often has to face wave upon wave of the fiercest adversity and attack. But I have been told that it can often be the merest trifle that can lead a man to his fall! So I feel that no stone can be left unturned in this journey with the soul. Nowhere, I believe, is this more evident than through speech. Certain individuals certainly carry the Mother’s Presence with them. There is a kind of emanation, if you like. The atmosphere can become very charged in their company. No words are really necessary but if spoken they come from that seat of truth. Their very aura seems to encourage the soul forward. On the other hand, with others, this is obviously not the case. If a falsehood is uttered too, the air becomes contaminated and ugly. As a consequence, the soul can get smothered in darkness. All these things, I feel, have an effect on the body. At least, they have an effect on mine. What is experienced by the soul automatically influences the body. The soul’s alignment determines the body’s vigour and state. So, to keep this psychic poise when a tempest is blowing all around is a challenge I am increasingly being asked to confront. It is as if the Mother is putting me on the spot and saying, “Now, try this!” When there is an atmosphere of anger around me, for example, something in me automatically recoils. The body even freezes. These are the sort of tests that confront me virtually every day of my life. I don’t believe I’m an

For other articles please visit www.namahjournal.com

Consciousness and Health
exception. There’s no point trying to “bribe the examiner” too (as Sri Aurobindo writes in one of His Aphorisms3), you have to pass the examination to finally emerge in a way that is totally whole and true. Mother’s bubble Thankfully, experience tells me that there can be a way. Once I had experienced some degree of contact with the soul, I started to entreat the Mother to envelop me in Her Presence. Once I started asking Her for this, my life became so much simpler! If I ask humbly and sincerely enough, She will always protect me inside Her bubble of Love. From my point of view, living in the soul really amounts to the same thing. I believe that one can remain poised in any circumstance as long as this state is maintained. It is the ultimate protection against all attacks. To tell you the truth, once I am in this idyllic state, I don’t even notice if anything ‘hostile’ is waiting in the wings. I am just so immersed in Her Grace. However, if the cord gets twisted or broken, a state of disequilibrium ensues with all its unpleasant consequences. This cramps the body terribly and I fall outside Her protection, like a child that has wrestled its way out of its mother’s arms. Something adverse will surely find a weak spot inside. It will seek out some stain or knot hidden deep within my nature, piercing a hole through this once impregnable armour. So with the Mother by my side, I trust the way is sure. When I am inside Her bubble, She concretely walks my steps. Something new can then take over: the body is almost carried in Her arms. My natural rhythm returns and I can walk straight on my truth. A fresh foundation for true change is being laid. Once it had woken up from its drowse, the aspiration of this body has become more and more clear. It now thirsts for the touch of the soul. It wants the soul to express itself in every action and movement. My life can then become a dance. It is no longer about ‘wonder cures’: it awaits the day when it can live in constant delight. Just to be a small part of Her work evokes such gratitude and joy; it is truly the supreme adventure. Call of the impossible? This is a difficult path—we can’t really pretend otherwise. By heeding the call of the soul am I following the call of the impossible? I can’t believe that. Indeed if it is impossible, it’s solely because my level of consciousness has not arrived there yet. As the Mother says: “There is nothing impossible in the world except what is outside your consciousness (6).” The complete transformation of the body is as yet unrealised; it is still but a possibility. But deep down, something tells me that today’s possibilities are surely the certainties of
3

“ He who would win high spiritual degrees, must pass endless tests and examinations. But most are anxious only to bribe the examiner.” (Sri Aurobindo. Thoughts and Aphorisms, p.47).

For other articles please visit www.namahjournal.com

Consciousness and Health
tomorrow. That is the whisper of my soul. So I believe that the moment we sincerely fix our intention upon something with the fullest consciousness, not only does it become possible but it transforms into a truth. The only variable is time. So by being conscious of my soul, I am holding on tight to every possibility: it is an entirely new realm. The power of the Truth is limitless; I just have to learn to tap it. I refuse to accept that truly changing this body is an impossibility! How can it be when the Mother is working by my side, day and night, to bring it back to wholeness? So the body awaits the golden dawn when it will unite with the soul and become one. This oneness is surely the truth of my being: it is the immortal aspiration of my soul. “Never forget the goal. Never stop aspiring. Never halt in your progress, and you are sure to succeed (7).”

References: 1. The Mother. Collected Works of the Mother, Volume 14. Pondicherry; Sri Aurobindo Ashram Trust, 1980, p. 352. 2. Op cit. Collected Works of the Mother, Volume 7. Pondicherry; Sri Aurobindo Ashram Trust, 1979, p.173. 3. Sri Aurobindo. SABCL, Volume 16. Pondicherry; Sri Aurobindo Ashram Trust, 1971, p.377. 4. Op cit. Collected Works of the Mother, Volume 6. Pondicherry; Sri Aurobindo Ashram Trust, 1979, p.6. 5. Op cit. Collected Works of the Mother. Volume 14. Pondicherry; Sri Aurobindo Ashram Trust, 1980, p.212. 6. Op cit. Collected Works of the Mother, Volume 8. Pondicherry; Sri Aurobindo Ashram Trust, 1977, p.384. 7. Op cit. Collected Works of the Mother, Volume 15. Pondicherry; Sri Aurobindo Ashram Trust, 1980, p.86.

Mr. James Anderson, a sadhak, is following the Yoga of Sri Aurobindo and working at SAIIIHR, Pondicherry.

For other articles please visit www.namahjournal.com

Sign up to vote on this title
UsefulNot useful