There is a subtle interaction that takes place in any social setting. Even an individual who is awake and conscious of his own thought and expression may, and frequently is, subtle impacted and influenced by the physical, vital and mental forces with which he is in contact. When an individual winds up in a place of dissipation, such as a nightclub or bar, while he may hold himself somewhat in reserve, he is nevertheless influenced. He may do things that are “out of character” or, even if he is able to restrain himself in that setting, he may find that he is disturbed by vital disruptions, dreams, etc. afterwards. In modern society, with a rise in crude vulgarity of thought and expression, and with a rise in sexual ostentation, many find that they fall into feeling and expressing energies that are somewhat foreign to their nature.

One reason that seekers are advised to not partake in situations that can weaken them or pull them downwards, why they are asked to refrain from a lot of social intercourse, and certainly from boisterous, vital uprising energies, is that these things tend to disturb the spiritual focus and sadhana. This is more of an issue in earlier stages while the seeker is still very receptive to these energies and does not have the ability to see and minimize the disturbances that come through their subtle interactive relationships.

There are numerous instances of yogic practitioners or priests of various religious backgrounds, who have taken vows to refrain from sex, for instance, being influenced by their environment and relationships and entering into the very type of relationships that they have vowed to avoid! There are instances of gurus coming to the West, for instance, who have interacted with the much more sexually permissive culture of the West and succumbed to the temptation, and even used their developed powers to take advantage of the opportunities that arise under those circumstances. This is obviously not the case for everyone, but it clearly illustrates the kind of dangers that lurk in social settings when one is not entire conscious and under control of one’s vital nature.

The Mother writes: “Try this little exercise: at the beginning of the day, say: ‘I won’t speak without thinking of what I say.’ You believe, don’t you, that you think all that you say! It is not at all true, you will see that so many times the word you do not want to say is ready to come out, and that you are compelled to make a conscious effort to stop it from coming out.”

“I have known people who were very scrupulous about not telling lies, but all of a sudden, when together in a group, instead of speaking the truth they would spontaneously tell a lie; they did not have the intention of doing so, they did not think of it a minute before doing it, but it came ‘like that’. Why? — because they were in the company of liars; there was an atmosphere of falsehood and they had quite simply caught the malady!”

“It is thus that gradually, slowly, with perseverance, first of all with great care and much attention, one becomes conscious, learns to know oneself and then to become master of oneself.”

Sri Aurobindo and the Mother, Our Many Selves: Practical Yogic Psychology, Chapter 4, Becoming Conscious, pg. 119

Author's Bio: 

Santosh has been studying Sri Aurobindo's writings since 1971 and has a daily blog at and podcast at He is author of 17 books and is editor-in-chief at Lotus Press. He is president of Institute for Wholistic Education, a non-profit focused on integrating spirituality into daily life.