The mind is the characteristic power exercised by the human race. While the higher reasoning and abstract mind is somewhat limited in its action across the broad spectrum of human individuals, the basic mental powers are widespread, providing the capability to review, categorize and classify, and decide. What we do not generally recognize is how much the mind is under the influence or control of the vital nature and even the status of the physical body, although modern science has begun to acknowledge and recognise the mind-body connection.

When the body is out of sorts, in pain, or in some form of ill-health, the mind finds it difficult to focus, concentrate and make good decisions. When the vital nature is active an pushing for fulfillment of some desire, it too has the ability to influence and sway the mind, make the mind its instrument of realisation and a tool for justification of what it wants.

For those who take up spiritual practice, the idea in the mind is frequently treated as if it is a stable realisation of the being, when in fact, other aspects of the nature are following different guidance or may be totally at odds with and defying the mind’s focus. Until a recognition of this variance awakens in the individual, he is left with an incomplete realisation and a spiritual practice that advances and retreats constantly under the impulsion of one or another of the varying aims of the various parts of the being.

Once the variance between the different parts of the being is recognized, the mind frequently tries to utilize brute force to bring the other parts under control, through various forms of suppression, exercise of will or even forms of self-torture. Yet such a process tends to backfire and may actually increase those very movements, or their latent potency, that the mind is trying to suppress.

Eventually it becomes clear that a serious, detailed, long-term process may be required which refocuses the attention on the psychic and spiritual parts of the being, emphasizes and increases the action of the powers they bring to the being, and develops a separation and withdrawal from the vital and physical movements that weaken or obstruct those psychic and spiritual powers. This is to be accomplished, not by denying the various parts of the being, but by understanding their native powers and fundamental importance in the manifestation, and thereby finding ways to integrate their action in a pure, focused and consistent way. Disinterested observation as the witness of the nature, coupled with a tuning and focusing of the attention on the spiritual and psychic powers, and a steady, calm and long-term will for untransformed movements to modify or leave the being, is the general approach.

The Mother observes: “A human being is made of many different parts and it takes time and conscious effort to harmonise and unify all these parts.”

Sri Aurobindo and the Mother, Our Many Selves: Practical Yogic Psychology, Chapter 5, Organisation, Harmonisation, Unification, pp. 128-129

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.