Vital immobility

After the anguish of the soul’s long strife
At length were found calm and celestial rest
And, lapped in a magic flood of sorrowless hours,
Healed were his warrior nature’s wounded limbs
In the encircling arms of Energies
That brooked no stain and feared not their own bliss.

(Sri Aurobindo, Savitri, Book II, Canto IX)

The Mother defines vital  immobility

…And there is a very small superficial application of this which perhaps you will understand. Someone comes and insults you or says unpleasant things to you; and if you begin to vibrate in unison with this anger or this ill-will, you feel quite weak and powerless and usually you make a fool of yourself. But if you manage to keep within yourself, especially in your head, a complete immobility which refuses to receive these vibrations, then at the same time you feel a great strength, and the other person cannot disturb you. If you remain very quiet, even physically, and when violence is directed at you, you are able to remain very quiet, very silent, very still, well, that has a power not only over you but over the other person also. If you don’t have all these vibrations of inner response, if you can remain absolutely immobile within yourself, everywhere, this has an almost immediate effect upon the other person.

(Collected Works of the Mother, vol. 8, p 67)

Image by Oxherder Arts (flickr). Click for source

Excerpt from Satprem’s Adventures of Consciousness

…Behind this childish, restless, easily exhausted vital, we will find a quiet and powerful vital–what Sri Aurobindo calls the true vital–that contains the very essence of the Life Force devoid of its sentimental and painful byproducts. We enter a state of peaceful, spontaneous concentration, like the sea beneath the movement of the waves. This underlying stillness is not a dulling of the nerves, any more than mental silence is a numbing of the brain; it is a basis for action. It is a concentrated power capable of initiating any action, of withstanding any shock, even the most violent and prolonged, without losing its poise. Depending on the degree of our development, all kinds of new capacities can emerge from this vital immobility, but first of all we feel an inexhaustible energy; any fatigue is a sign that we have fallen back into the superficial turmoil. The capacity for work or even physical effort increases tenfold. Food and sleep are no longer the single and all-absorbing source of energy renewal. (The nature of sleep changes, as we will see, and food can be reduced to an hygienic minimum.) Other powers, often considered “miraculous,” may also manifest, but they are miracles with a method; we will not attempt to discuss them here, as it is better to experience them directly. Let us simply say that one who has become capable of controlling a certain vital vibration in himself is automatically capable of controlling the same vibration anywhere he meets it in the world. Further, in this stillness, another sign will appear permanently: the absence of suffering and a kind of inalterable joy. When an ordinary person receives a blow, whether physical or moral, his immediate reaction is to double up in pain; he contracts and begins to seethe inside, increasing the pain tenfold. On the contrary, the seeker who has established some immobility within himself will find that this immobility dissolves all shocks, because it is wide; because the seeker is no longer a small constricted person, but a consciousness overflowing the limits of its body. Like the silent mind, the quieted vital universalizes itself spontaneously: In yoga experience the consciousness widens in every direction, around, below, above, in each direction stretching to infinity. When the consciousness of the yogi becomes liberated, it is not in the body but in this infinite height, depth and wideness that he lives always.

[…]

Finally, when we have mastered vital immobility, we find that we can begin to help others with some effectiveness. For helping others has nothing to do with sentimentality or charity; it is a matter of power, of vision, of joy. In this tranquillity, we possess not only a contagious joy but a vision that dispels the shadows. We spontaneously perceive all vibrations; and distinguishing what they are enables us to manipulate them, quiet them, avert or even alter them. Tranquillity, says Mother, is a very positive state; there is a positive peace which is not the opposite of strife–an active and contagious and powerful peace, which subdues and calms, straightens and puts things in their place. We will give an example of this “contagious peace”, although it belongs to a somewhat later stage in Sri Aurobindo’s life. It was in Pondicherry, many years ago, in the season when tropical rains and sometimes cyclones sweep down suddenly and bring devastation. Doors and windows have to be barricaded with thick bamboo laths. That night, a cyclone erupted with torrents of rain, and Mother hurried to Sri Aurobindo’s room to help him shut his windows. He was seated at his table, writing (for years Sri Aurobindo spent twelve hours a day writing, from six in the evening till six in the morning, then eight hours walking up and down “for the yoga”). The windows were wide open, but not a drop of rain had come inside his room. The peace that reigned there, recalls Mother, was so solid, so compact, that the cyclone could not enter.

(Satprem, Adventures of Consciousness, Chapter on True Vital)

29 thoughts on “Vital immobility

  1. Pingback: Handling Rejection by the Guru | Integral Yoga of Sri Aurobindo & The Mother

  2. mike

    That cyclone story always impresses me. You just can’t imagine that kind of Peace – even though l have experienced descents of peace.
    “Finally, when we have mastered vital immobility, we find that we can begin to help others with some effectiveness. For helping others has nothing to do with sentimentality or charity; it is a matter of power, of vision, of joy. In this tranquillity, we possess not only a contagious joy but a vision that dispels the shadows. We spontaneously perceive all vibrations; and distinguishing what they are enables us to manipulate them, quiet them, avert or even alter them”
    l suppose this refers to ‘Helping people consciously rather than the Force working through us to help people without our knowledge or manipulation. l’ve seen what appears to be a ray of Force or Shakti or whatever, coming down and entering people around me and they were helped with some serious problems.

    Reply
  3. Mike-3

    There is a difference between vital immobility and just plain indifference and ignoring the chaos of the world, yet how is to be defined? From what I experienced I would say that in a state of ignoring you just don’t look at it, whereas in a state of vital immobalitiy you look at something, it may trigger a deep intense emotion, but that emotion will not effect you, you just remain….. unmoved and the emotion in neutraly integrated into your perspective on life and your long term ambitions. Is this correct or are you not suppose to feel any emotion at all during vital immobility? Cause then you would be close to indifference and ignoring.

    Reply
    1. Sandeep Post author

      Vital immobility comes naturally when there is a “reversal of consciousness” – when the inner vital is activated (i.e.when the Chakras are awakened) and one begins to commune with the cosmic vital planes.

      Sri Aurobindo said: “Complete equality takes long to establish and it is dependent on three things – the soul’s self-giving to the Divine by an inner surrender, the descent of the spiritual calm and peace from above and the steady, long and persistent rejection of all egoistic, rajasic and other feelings that contradict equality” (from the post on equanimity)

      There is another beautiful passage which goes as follows:

      There are certain semblances of an equal spirit which must not be mistaken for the profound and vast spiritual equality which the Gita teaches. There is an equality of disappointed resignation, an equality of pride, an equality of hardness and indifference: all these are egoistic in their nature. Inevitably they come in the course of the sadhana, but they must be rejected or transformed into the true quietude. There is too, on a higher level, the equality of the stoic, the equality of a devout resignation or a sage detachment, the equality of a soul aloof from the world and indifferent to its doings. These too are insufficient; first approaches they can be, but they are at most early soul-phases only or imperfect mental preparations for our entry into the true and absolute self-existent wide equal oneness of the spirit
      (Synthesis of Yoga, Self-Surrender in Works)

      Reply
      1. mw

        “when the inner vital is activated (i.e.when the Chakras are awakened)….” Is there a difference between ‘awakened’ and ‘open’ chakras? Here Sri Aurobindo mentions their opening:

        “All the inner centers must have burst open and released into action their capacities;….”

        Their awakening may be an initial status before their opening fully.

        Thank You!

  4. Pingback: Dharana Shakti : the capacity to sustain spiritual experiences | Integral Yoga of Sri Aurobindo & The Mother

    1. Sandeep Post author

      No, there are people without psychic realization who are brave and fearless in the face of danger. It can be a consequence of the “vital Purusha”, which is a projection of the immobile Witness on the vital plane.

      Reply
      1. Somak

        So does this mean that people who are naturally courageous and upto the task are vitally stronger by default?

      2. Sandeep Post author

        Yes, that is the definition of vital strength. (Vital = Prana)

        See https://auromere.wordpress.com/2012/02/09/why-do-we-feel-afraid-and-how-to-overcome-it/

        Question: When one feels frightened, what should one do?

        Mother: That depends upon who you are. There are many ways of curing oneself of fear.
        […]
        Now, there are people having a strong vital power in them and they are fighters who immediately lift up their heads and say: “Ah! an enemy is here, we are going to knock him down.” But for that one must have the knowledge and a very great vital power. One must be vitally a giant. That does not happen to everyone.

      3. Sandeep Post author

        Sri Aurobindo himself was a mellow youth who did not participate in sports during his college years. His classmates in England were surprised when they learnt that he had transformed into a fiery nationalist of the Indian freedom struggle and had been involved in the Alipur bomb case. He became courageous because he was driven by the inspiration to free the country.

        Sri Aurobindo once said there is a “coward in every human being” who has to be overcome.

        Nirodbaran: Forgive me if I quarrel with you today; you have hinted that I am a coward.

        Sri Aurobindo:There is a coward in every human being — precisely the part in him which insists on “safety” — for that is certainly not a brave attitude. I admit however that I would like safety myself if I could have it — perhaps that is why I have always managed instead to live dangerously and follow the dangerous paths dragging so many poor Nirods in my train.

        (Nirodbaran, Correspondence with Sri Aurobindo, page 92)

        What can be done to strengthen the vital?
        1) Do Pranayama and physical exercise
        2) Read works of people who overcame adversity after a long struggle, and strive to emulate them by never giving up amidst suffering.
        3) Find a sport which you have aptitude for and excel at it over time.

      4. Arpan

        Sandeep: I guess, being brave and fearless in face of danger does not necessarily indicate vital immobility. Aren’t there many people who are brave and fearless and yet are given in to anger and agitation ?

      5. Sandeep

        It is a step in the development process. Developing a vital Purusha helps bring vital immobility but its not perfect.

  5. amsha

    Could concentration on manipura help? There is similar technique in martial arts; obviously there is a reason for that except of keeping physical body balance.

    Reply
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  9. mike

    ““All the inner centers must have burst open and released into action their capacities;….”

    Mark, just wondering where that quote is from [probably ‘the Letter’s’], and what the full quote is?

    From everything l’ve read on ‘Chakra’s’ l believe ‘Opening’ usually refers to them, and ‘Awakening’ is used for Kundalini. Although, the words are interchangeable, l suppose..

    Reply
    1. mw

      Mike: The Life Divine (American Edition), p.967 I randomly selected that quote, merely intended to contrast the two expressions side by side for clarity’s sake.

      ” the words are interchangeable, l suppose..” I think you are saying they mean the same thing. Thanks Mike.

      Reply
  10. Mike

    Thanks mark.

    Yes, l did mean that. In the book on Kundalini by Swami Saraswati he describes both processes as ‘Awakening’ –

    “When we talk about awakening we should not confuse awakening of kundalini with other forms of awakening. Awakening of the chakras is completely different from awakening of kundalini. Awakening of sushumna is also quite a different event, and awakening of mooladhara chakra is not awakening of kundalini. Even if all the chakras from mooladhara up to ajna are awakened this does not mean that kundalini is awakened.
    In the systematic process of awakening kundalini, the first step is to purify ida and pingala nadis and create harmony in their functioning. Next, all the chakras have to be awakened. Then sushumna nadi is awakened, and when there is a clear pathway for its ascent, kundalini can be awakened.
    If the first three steps have been taken, awakening of kundalini will only have positive effects. But if they have been neglected and kundalini awakens, there will definitely be some negative results. Supposing you have awakened kundalini before sushumna awakening has taken place, then the shakti will not find a channel towards Shiva. It will remain obstructed in mooladhara chakra and will create tremendous sexual and neurotic problems. This is a negative result because you wanted to unite with Shiva and have higher experiences, whereas now you are experiencing the grosser things. And if the chakras are not awakened before kundalini, the shakti will get blocked in one of the chakras and remain stagnant, possibly for years. Some siddhis may develop and you may not be able to transcend them at all. This is also a negative effect.
    Each form of awakening has its own psychic potential. Every nerve and fiber of your body is psychic; it is capable of producing psychic manifestations. There is a possibility of awakening the entire physical body. Every cell of the body is one individual. You are the macro-cosmic body for that microcosmic individual”..

    Reply
  11. mw

    “A person with a strong vital nature becomes prominent in life and is able to impress their personality upon the world. Those with a weak vital lack the power to accomplish much of anything and have little effect upon life, usually remaining in a subordinate position. Generally people with strong and egoistic vitals run the world, while those with weak vitals follow them. Such a strong egoistic vital is one of the greatest obstacles to the spiritual path.

    A strong vital or Pranamaya kosha, however, is important for the spiritual path as well, but this is very different than the egoistic or desire oriented vital. It derives its strength not from our personal power but from surrender to the Divine and its great energy. Without a strong spiritual vital we lack the power to do our practices and not fall under worldly influences. In Hindu mythology this higher Prana is symbolized by the monkey God Hanuman, the son of the Wind, who surrendered to the Divine in the form of Sita-Rama, can become as large or small as he wishes, can overcome all enemies and obstacles, and accomplish the miraculous. Such a spiritual vital has energy, curiosity and enthusiasm in life along with a control of the senses and vital urges, with their subordination to a higher will and aspiration.”

    source: https://vedanet.com/2012/06/13/secrets-of-the-five-pranas/

    *I only learned of Dr Frawley yesterday. This could go under this blog too (*this is where I first heard his name – under comments): https://auromere.wordpress.com/techniques/pranayama/

    Reply
  12. mw

    regarding the True Vital, esp.: “Depending on the degree of our development, all kinds of new capacities can emerge from this vital immobility, but first of all we feel an inexhaustible energy; any fatigue is a sign that we have fallen back into the superficial turmoil. The capacity for work or even physical effort increases tenfold. Food and sleep are no longer the single and all-absorbing source of energy renewal.” -Satprem

    Is this “inexhaustible energy” the same which the body needs to “sustain spiritual experiences” as describe in Sandeep’s blog on Dharana Shakti (found here: https://auromere.wordpress.com/2012/03/16/dharana-shakti-the-capacity-to-sustain-spiritual-experiences/)?

    Reply

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