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

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

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

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

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

“Your description of the solid cool block of peace pressing on the body and making it immobile makes it certain that it is what we call in this yoga the descent of the higher consciousness. A deep, intense or massive substance of peace and stillness is very commonly the first of its powers that descends and many experience it in that way. At first it comes and stays only during meditation or, without the sense of physical inertness or immobility, a little while longer and afterwards is lost; but if the sadhana follows its normal course, it comes more and more, lasting longer and in the end as an enduring deep peace and inner stillness and release becomes a normal character of the consciousness, the foundation indeed of a new consciousness, calm and liberated.” Sri Aurobindo, Integral Yoga: Sri Aurobindo’s Teaching and Method of Practice, Chapter 8, The Triple Transformation: Psychic, Spiritual and Supramental, The Spiritual Transformation, pp. 209-229

Author's Bio: 

Santosh has been studying Sri Aurobindo's writings since 1971 and has a daily blog at http://sriaurobindostudies.wordpress.com and podcast at https://anchor.fm/santosh-krinsky He is author of 16 books and editor-in-chief at Lotus Press. He is president of Institute for Wholistic Education, a non-profit focused on integrating spirituality into daily life.