The body-life-mind complex is the nexus and the container for the divine force in manifestation. The force, when it descends into the conscious awareness of the devotee, requires that the instrument be stable, pure and ready to receive and transmit the force without diminution or distortion. Contrary forces, forces that are disruptive to this stable basis, act to diminish the action of the divine force.

Patanjali, in his Yoga Sutras, describes the qualities associated with the first two stages of yogic practice in his description of the yamas and niyamas. These are generally interpreted as some kind of moral code or precepts, but in reality the essence of these two stages is to create an instrument that can receive, hold without spilling and utilize the divine forces that develop during the practice of the yoga. Without these preparatory steps, the individual can, through his egoistic reactions, misuse the forces for lesser objects and for various forms of vital enjoyment or satisfaction.

If the force descends into an individual who is not ready, it can cause serious disruptions, in terms of breakdown of physical health, vital imbalances or mental disturbances. The force can be wasted and spilt and not have the desired or intended effect on the soul’s development. In such instances, the force may withdraw and wait for further maturity of soul before it returns to take up the next stage in the yogic process of the individual.

An observant individual can actually quite easily determine where the issues are by looking at what kind of reactions arise when the force descends, and what part of the being has been disrupted. Tracing back the threads of this disruption will lead to the deformation that needs to be addressed or removed.

The Mother writes: “One must never neglect to clean one’s room, it is very important; inner cleanliness is at least as important as outer cleanliness.”

“Vivekananda has written (I don’t know the original, I have only read the French translation): ‘One must every morning clean one’s soul and one’s body, but if you don’t have time for both, it is better to clean the soul than clean the body.”

A disciple asks: “How can one know whether the little dirty things have hidden themselves or have gone?”

The Mother responds: “One can always try little experiments. I have said that one must use a torch, a strong light; then one must take a round within one’s being. If one is very attentive, one can very easily find these ugly corners. Suppose you have a beautiful experience, that suddenly in answer to your aspiration a great light comes; you feel all flooded with joy, force, light, beauty, and have the impression that you are on the point of being transfigured… and then, it passes away — it always passes away, doesn’t it? especially at the beginning — suddenly, it stops. Then you tell yourself, when you are not vigilant, ‘There, it came and it has gone! Poor me! it came and has gone, it just gave me a taste of the thing and then let me fall.’ Well, that’s foolish. What you should tell yourself is, ‘Look, I was not able to keep it, and why was I not able to keep it?’ So, you take your torch and go on a round within yourself trying to find a very close relation between the change of consciousness and the movements accompanying the cessation of the experience. And if you are very, very attentive, and make your round very scrupulously, you will find that suddenly some part of the vital or some part of the mind or of the body, something has not kept up, in this sense that mentally, instead of being immobile and attentive, something has begun to ask, ‘Wait a minute, what is this experience? What does it mean?’, begun to try to find an explanation (what it calls an ‘understanding’). Or maybe in the vital something has begun to enjoy the experience: ‘How pleasant it is, how I would like it to grow, how good if it were constant, how…’ Or something in the physical has said, ‘Oh! it is a bit hard to endure that, how long am I going to be able to keep it?’ It is perhaps not as obvious as all this, but it is a wee bit hidden like this, somewhere. You will always find one of these three things or others analogous. Then, it is there the lantern is needed: where is the weak point? where is the egoism? where is the desire? where is that old dirt we do not want any longer? where is that thing which turns back upon itself instead of giving itself, opening itself, losing itself? which turns back upon itself, tries to take advantage of what has happened, wants to appropriate to itself the fruit of the experience? Or rather which is too weak, too hard, too rigid to be able to follow the movement?… It is that, you are now on the track, you begin precisely to put the light you have just acquired upon it; it is that you must do, focus the light upon it, turn it in such a way that the thing cannot resist it.”

“You won’t be able to succeed the very first day but you just do it persistently and little by little or perhaps suddenly one day it will vanish. Then you will find out after a time that you are another person.”

Sri Aurobindo and the Mother, Our Many Selves: Practical Yogic Psychology, Chapter 4, Becoming Conscious, pp. 122-124

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.