The exchange of vital forces during social interactions

There is a stage in the yogic transformation when the inner being awakens (i.e. when Chakras begin to open) but the consciousness is not fully centered in the Atman (Self).   This half-way mark is an extremely vulnerable phase of life because now you become exposed to the vital forces which are being continuously exchanged between human beings during all social interactions.  You may find yourself becoming angry for no reason whatsoever after talking to an eccentric and turbulent man or you may become worried about your own life after listening to the dejected musings of some depressing and ineffectual person.

Human beings function as invisible conduits for the exchange of anger, sex and depression, as Sri Aurobindo and the Mother repeatedly pointed out, and it is only when our inner being opens up that we discover the rich and voluminous nature of this commerce.  This exchange occurs through the higher vital (pranamaya kosha) and mental sheaths (manomaya kosha) in the human consciousness.

In the following correspondence, Sri Aurobindo explains to a disciple, Nagin Doshi, how to negotiate this perilous stage of the yogic transformation.

Nagin: Yesterday I was talking with A before I went to bed. This morning when I got up, I found my vital unusually restless. But there had been no conflict or opposition in our talk. Why then such a strong turmoil in the vital?

Sri Aurobindo: It is not only talk that creates a turmoil – disturbing forces can come in by contact also. There may be restlessness or confusion of consciousness in the person who talks with you to which he does not give expression or is not even aware that he is like that, or he may bring forces from others. Again it may be that you met or contacted in your sleep the vital of others or some vital forces in the atmosphere. Turmoil may come in many ways.

Nagin: How does one “bring forces from others” and then pass them on while talking?

Sri Aurobindo: There is no how to it; it so happens. Whenever one mixes with others, things are passing from one to the other. If I talk with a number of people, I bring away with me in my atmosphere many forces that were around them; they may affect me or not, but they remain for a time at least. If in that time I speak with another man, he may receive them from me. It is like a man carrying germs with him from a person he has visited; he may not fall ill himself (or he may), but, even if he does not, he can pass them on to another man he visits afterwards – who falls ill. It is the same thing here in the supraphysical parts.

Nagin: After talking with X, I often feel empty or uneasy or a kind of disturbing restlessness.

Sri Aurobindo: The disturbing restlessness may come from him for he has always been restless; the uneasiness may come from the contact with his obscure atmosphere; but the emptiness can only come from the reasons aforesaid.

Nagin: The last three days I talked so much that all my inner energy was exhausted.

Sri Aurobindo: Talking has a very exhausting effect for the inner energies -unless the inner itself controls the talk.  Everyone who lives much inside tends to feel too much talking a fatiguing thing and quite shallow and unnecessary unless it is talk that comes from within. Of course if you make a practice of talking much, that will bring you outside, externalise you and then you will no longer find it fatiguing even if you talk for 18 hours out of the 24.

Nagin: It is my perpetual experience that the less I speak, the better my inner being feels. If I talk more than usual, it brings a headache! Is this not a sign of disability?

Sri Aurobindo: It is not a sign of disability. It is a characteristic of the inward consciousness in sadhana not to throw itself out too much in speech, as that tends towards externalisation and dispersion. The headache is a sign that this is being too much done.

Nagin: Why does even a slight casual talk create a disturbance in my work?

Sri Aurobindo: It is because by talking one passes into another consciousness. That is so long as the inner being has not attained a constant and even calm poise.  It is no use giving up talking altogether – the proper course is to speak usefully to people but not to talk for the sake of talking.

Nagin: Can one maintain peace within, even while talking and mixing with others?

Sri Aurobindo: Possible only if the inner being can separate itself in the peace and remain unaffected by the outer movements and contacts.

One has to go inside into the inner being and one can minimise contacts, if necessary, not as an absolute rule – provided there is a real living in the inner being and sufficient contact with outside things not to lose one’s hold of practical realities. But if there is an isolation which brings depression, inertia, unhappiness, gloom or else morbidity of any kind, then it is evident that the retirement is not wholesome.

Nagin: If one tries to deal with the outer world without that poise of peace and silence, is he not likely to be entangled by the vital forces?

Sri Aurobindo: Yes, but in retirement from the outside things also vital forces can get hold of you.

Nagin: Have not the sadhaks to exchange their sympathy, kindness, etc. when they talk or mix with each other? Otherwise there will be only dryness.

Sri Aurobindo: What if they exchange other things also along with the sympathy and kindness? In a psychic feeling there is no question of anything so commercial as an excuse.

(NOTE: The goal of worldly life is to be socially well-adjusted (i.e. be friendly with everyone and eat food with them, etc.) whereas the goal of yogic life is to conserve one’s energy and redirect it to awakening the Atman.  These two goals can conflict as we can see in the following exchange where Nagin gets conflicting advice. A Doctor advises Nagin to express himself freely while Sri Aurobindo patiently informs him to do otherwise.)

Nagin: Dr R has asked me to talk freely. Will it help my sadhana(askesis)?

Sri Aurobindo: R asks you from the medical point of view. He thinks not talking makes you morose, moody, depressed, without vital force. If so and talking will mend that, you must talk.  To talk and take pleasure in talking is a natural vital impulse.

Nagin: The Doctor advises me to talk more. Will talking remove the inertia and depression or bring in the vital force necessary to remove them?

Sri Aurobindo: I don’t know whether it will. The Doctor goes upon ordinary psychological grounds, viz. that talking and mixing with others helps to keep the vital active and cheerful, whereas solitude and repression of the social instincts makes one shut up in oneself and can lead to moroseness and melancholy. One can forgo the ordinary freedom of vital interchange only if one has something to support one within, peace or joy or the satisfaction of the inner life. When this inner peace, sukha, or satisfaction (atma-rati) is there, then the need of social talk etc. disappears and it becomes even disturbing or lowering to the consciousness – only talk from the source within or with a true meaning must be felt as tolerable [1].


So next time you find yourself getting depressed or angry for no legitimate reason, ask yourself whether

  1. it is because you were recently chatting with a person who was a conduit for these aberrant movements.
  2. OR it is a cyclical rhythm which is triggered within your consciousness every once in a while, as explained in an earlier post.


  1. Nagin Doshi. Guidance from Sri Aurobindo, vol 3, pp 94-97.

Related Posts

  1. Spiritual peace is unknown to theoretical philosophers
  2. Surmounting the unpleasant images and negative thoughts which occur during meditation
  3. Vital immobility
  4. Sri Aurobindo on synchronicity
  5. Stabilizing the body before meditation
  6. Gita, Chapter 2, Verse 69 – Inversion of day and night
  7. Triple movement of Integral Yoga (Witness, Consenter, Enjoyer)
  8. The equipoise required for Yoga
  9. Four austerities and four liberations
  10. Self-control over speech
  11. All thoughts come from outside
  12. Identifying the signs of spiritual progress
  13. Transcending the work-leisure cycle
  14. Why do we feel afraid and how to overcome it
  15. The phenomenon of double consciousness
  16. Rising above ennui or boredom
  17. Four epistemic methods of consciousness
  18. On absent-mindedness, instinctive and willful actions
  19. Why spiritual experiences do not repeat?
  20. Why does depression last longer than pleasure?

25 thoughts on “The exchange of vital forces during social interactions

  1. kehnebuske

    Thank you. I have been occasionally experiencing this. When I have been disturbed by someone else’s energy, close observation shows that there is some residual disturbance of my own that is activated. Awareness of the energy without a sense of disturbance is actually very useful. It is just information that lets me know what is happening and enriches my ability to respond appropriately and often more compassionately .

  2. amsha

    Perfectly true, a while ago I had one clear experience of this
    kind, one man was angry around and immediately I saw like
    greyish currents trying to enter in region about from feet to knees
    but force that was felt like pure air pushed it away and I was
    able to remain completely calm and undisturbed. Constantly
    people project these things on each other, if somebody has a bad
    will towards you, you feel depressed (not by your own virtue obviously),
    your mind becomes clouded until all this clears up.

  3. Mansee

    Some time back i had developed a bad habit of blaming the vibrations coming from people or places and stealing my peace of mind 😀 Then with time i understood that it is me who is carrying the opening for such things to act on. So now i try to take it as an exercise (when something makes me react forcefully), to fish out my samskaras and understand them. And this part is really something!
    I found an interesting quote by Paramhansa Yogananda –
    The deeper the Self-realization of a man, the more he influences the whole universe by his subtle spiritual vibrations, and the less he himself is affected by the phenomenal flux.

    1. amsha

      True, it is lack of positive aspiration and strength, but it is a bit like saying if somebody hits you it is your own fault and this idea indirectly justifies and upholds violence, all the same as does victim according to this logic.

      1. amsha

        What I meant that you shouldn’t blame anybody including
        Yourself. It is rather negative way – sort of helplessness.

      2. Mansee

        I did not blame myself but was looking for ways to improve the situation. And i think the easiest way is to work on the receiving instrument. To try to improve things is not helplessness. On the contrary to accept things as they are or to leave them on external conditions may be taken as helplessness? (Not too sure here though)
        In any case you have a point too as we are all living in the collective muddled consciousness there are times when one may not be held responsible for the things or effects happening immediately around him.

      3. Mansee

        ok. I just noticed your earlier post. What i had written was not at all in reference to your post, though it can be taken as a ‘preachy’ reply for it 😀 Sorry here. I just wanted to share my experience. Yours can be as true as mine or mine as true as yours. In any case, i am new to IY, i lack spiritual experiences and when i reply it comes more from the reasoning of my ‘worldly’ experiences. So ofcourse my reply was limited in its own way.

    1. Sandeep Post author

      No, see the conclusion. Some disturbances come from outside while others arise from regular cycles within(Rhythms of our consciousness).

      Most people feel no disturbance whatsoever. Their personality is so integrated with their family and friends that they live in the ocean of turmoil and call it “empathy” or “love”. It is only when you practice Yoga and start separating yourself from society that you become aware of these movements which come from outside.

      1. Kian

        ^^I couldn’t help myself Sandeep–you aren’t the only one who enjoys making the occasional joke. I’m glad it got a laugh. “I pray you to” forgive me 🙂

  4. S

    Wowwww … thanks a million for posting that one … that exchange between the Guru and His disciple … i almost felt as if i was having that exchange with The Guru considering i have been facing similar issues in the last few years and wasnt sure how to deal with them. All i kept hearing from everyone around me was to be social, interact with more n more people even if it meant idle talk, make new friends, etc etc. While all i wanted, more often than not, was to be by myself coz often it would be a draining experience interacting with others! I think most people make or maintain friends or a social circle to form a support structure, for their own entertainment, to beat boredom as well. A person who sort of feels “complete” (cant think of a better word) from within maynot need a social circle? Then there r certain times (rarer ones) when u feel like u want people to talk to or be with or whatever. I dont know?!

  5. Ahmed

    A person who suffers stress and has anxiety attacks many times but also very, very creative … is that person’s vital weak or strong?

    1. Sandeep Post author

      I would say the vital is weak because it is not in equilibrium condition.
      Creativity without mood fluctuations is possible and attainable.

      1. ahmed

        I think you’re right. On a good day I can write a string quartet.
        But the anxiety is always there, troubling my stomach area.

        Even little things could trigger anxiety.
        That’s why I assumed my vital is very weak, because I can’t withstand shocks.

        Asuric beings also belong in the vital realms… so possible they are at it?

      2. Sandeep Post author

        I have found that it is better to first locate the internal source of the anxiety before ascribing the blame to invisible external forces.

        What is the source of the anxiety ?
        Is it fear of failure, addiction to smoking or alcohol, general restlessness, inability of the nervous being to engage in long periods of effort ?

        Try practising Pranayama to stabilize the breath. That might help to stabilize the vital being.

      3. Ahmed

        Sandeep, it’s usually the fear of humiliation, that someone might attack me verbally or physically. Sometimes, it may even be a simple thing like going out a few meters away to buy bread – even the prospect of going out for two minutes to buy something may suddenly trigger anxiety (and my stomach hurts and I need to go to the restroom). Yeah, I know it’s weird but that’s how it is


        It affects the stomach area in the sense that it makes me wanna relieve myself. I know it sounds crass but that’s the way it is. Yes, I think I should chant their names because other methods require concentration which I don’t currently possess (my mind is always racing).

    2. Mark

      Ahmed, here is a quote from the Mother that may or may not service you:

      “It is an inexpressible joy not to have any responsibility for onself, no longer to think of oneself. It is so dull and monotonous and insipid to be thinking of oneself, to be worrying about what to do and what not to do, what will be good for you and what will be bad for you, what to shun and what to pursue – oh, how wearysome it is! But when one lives like this, quite open, like a flower blossoming in the sun before the Supreme Consciousness, the Supreme Light, the Supreme Love, which knows all, which can do all, which takes charge of you and you have no worries – that is the ideal condition.
      And why is this not done?
      One does not think of it, one forgets to do it, the old habits come back. And above all, behind, hidden somewhere in the inconscient or even the subconsciet, there is this insidious doubt that whispers in your ear: “Oh! if you are not careful, some misfortune will happen to you. If you forget to watch over yourself, you do not know what may happen” – and you are so silly, so silly, so obscure, so stupid that you listen and you begin to pay attention to yourself and everything is ruined.
      You have to begin all over again to infuse into your cells a little wisdom, a little common sense and learn once more not to worry” MO 3:257-57

      ***BTW, this quotation was intended as encouragement.

      “Each time we feel an impossibility, a limitation or a barrier, we can be sure it is tomorrow’s victory, for without feeling the obstacle we could not concuer it;…” Adventure of Consciousness, p.123

      Lastly, Sandeep wrote this encouraging blog: The ability to withstand hardships in the spiritual path.

  6. mike

    l believe Sri Aurobindo refers to this in the ‘Letters on Yoga’ as neurasthenia. lt’s under His discussionon on the subconscient.
    lf it’s affecting your stomach, that would be the ‘vital’ area (solar plexus). lt’s best to call down the peace and calm and use their names (SA and M) like a mantra when the attack occurs, because this will create a habit that will counter the adverse movement.


Join the discussion!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s