(Sri Aurobindo:) “The gross body is an engine, a means of communication and action of the spirit upon the world and it is only a small part of the instrumentation.”
- (Shyam Sundar:) “I am made of dust, but it is a dust which can change at your contact...
(Sri Aurobindo:) “To cease to be identified with the body, to separate oneself from the body-consciousness, is a recognised and necessary step whether towards spiritual liberation or towards spiritual perfection and mastery over Nature. But, this redemption once effected, the descent of the spiritual light and force can invade and take up the body also and there can be a new liberated and sovereign acceptance of material Nature. That is possible, indeed, only if there is a changed communion of the Spirit with Matter, a control, a reversal of the present balance of interaction which allows physical Nature to veil the Spirit and affirm her own dominance. In the light of a larger knowledge Matter also can be seen to be the Brahman, a self-energy put forth by the Brahman, a form and substance of Brahman; aware of the secret consciousness within material substance, secure in this larger knowledge, the gnostic light and power can unite itself with Matter, so seen, and accept it as an instrument of a spiritual manifestation. A certain reverence, even, for Matter and a sacramental attitude in all dealings with it is possible.”
(Satprem to interviewer:) “What, in fact, is the ‘body’?
It seems utterly simple, but it is actually the thing we know the least. It's the one thing we know nothing about.
What do we know about our body? We are wrapped in an... accumulation of successive layers. And we live mainly in the upper layer, the mental, intellectual layer. Actually, our entire life takes place in the mind. We never touch the body directly – we touch it THROUGH all sorts of ideas and habits. But what do we really know of the body itself, AS IT IS?
Hence if we want to start discovering the body ‘as it is’, biology ‘as it is’ – not through a microscope, but as it lives – we must begin, obviously, by piercing through that mental ‘layer’. That first layer, expressed by the whole racket of our ideas, prejudices, everything we constantly live in, including all the medical suggestions, every... conceivable suggestion – the whole life in which we are confined.
That is the FIRST layer to break through in order to get closer to the body. We must first begin by silencing all that mental racket that envelops the body.
Then, if you continue that ‘descent’ – the ‘path of descent’, as she called it – you encounter a SECOND layer, which is the emotional layer. It's all the feelings we have, all the emotional reactions we have. It's a whole teeming world, and quite a bit stickier than the intellectual layer. But that, too, constantly conditions our existence. And it covers up the body. It's like a web covering the body. How can we see anything of the cellular milieu, so to speak, as long as it is obscured and covered over by all those layers? We have to get through those layers.
And so, that second web, that second layer of emotions and feelings has to be broken through in order to reach the body.
And the descent gets more and more difficult. That is, we have to silence, or break through, all that emotional din in us, all those reactions we are hardly aware of because they come to us so naturally.
Then we encounter a THIRD layer. It's the layer of all the ‘sensations’. We are getting quite close to the body. All the sensations of the body, its spontaneous reactions: fear, anxiety, aggression... We discover a whole swarming world, which has NOTHING to do with the body itself.”
(Mother:) “It is the conscious will which acts on matter, not the material fact.
But you only have to try it, you will understand very well what I mean. For instance, all the movements you make when dressing, taking your bath, tidying your room... no matter what; make them consciously, with the will that this muscle should work, that muscle should work. You will see, you will obtain really amazing results.
Going up and down the stairs — you cannot imagine how useful that can be from the point of view of physical culture, if you know how to make use of it. Instead of going up because you are going up and coming down because you are coming down, like any ordinary man, you go up with the consciousness of all the muscles which are working and of making them work harmoniously. You will see. Just try a little, you will see! This means that you can use all the movements of your life for a harmonious development of your body.
You bend down to pick something up, you stretch up to find something right at the top of a cupboard, you open a door, you close it, you have to go round an obstacle, there are a hundred and one things you do constantly and which you can make use of for your physical culture and which will demonstrate to you that it is the consciousness you put into it which produces the effect, a hundred times more than just the material fact of doing it. So, you choose the method you like best, but you can use the whole of your daily life in this way.... To think constantly of the harmony of the body, of the beauty of the movements, of not doing anything that is ungraceful and awkward. You can obtain a rhythm of movement and gesture which is very exceptional.”
(Mother:) “When one is normal, that is to say, unspoilt by bad teaching and bad example, when one is born and lives in a healthy and relatively balanced and normal environment, the body, spontaneously, without any need for one to intervene mentally or even vitally, has the certitude that even if something goes wrong it will be cured. The body carries within itself the certitude of cure, the certitude that the illness or disorder is sure to disappear.”
(Mother:) “Each spot of the body is symbolical of an inner movement; there is there a world of subtle correspondences. But this is a long and complex subject and we cannot enter into its details just now. The particular place in the body affected by an illness is an index to the nature of the inner disharmony that has taken place. It points to the origin, it is a sign of the cause of the ailment. It reveals too the nature of the resistance that prevents the whole being from advancing at the same high speed. It indicates the treatment and the cure. If one could perfectly understand where the mistake is, find out what has been unreceptive, open that part and put the force and the light there, it would be possible to re-establish in a moment the harmony that has been disturbed and the illness would immediately go.
The origin of an illness may be in the mind; it may be in the vital; it may be in any of the parts of the being. One and the same illness may be due to a variety of causes; it may spring in different cases from different sources of disharmony.”
(Mother:) “[The soul's] descent into the physical body is necessarily a descent into darkness, ignorance, unconsciousness; and for a very long time it must labour simply to bring a little consciousness into the material substance of the body, before it can make use of it for the experience it has come for. So, if we cultivate the body by a clear-sighted and rational method, at the same time we are helping the growth of the soul, its progress and enlightenment.
Physical culture is the process of infusing consciousness into the cells of the body. One may or may not know it, but it is a fact. When we concentrate to make our muscles move according to our will, when we endeavour to make our limbs more supple, to give them an agility, or a force, or a resistance, or a plasticity which they do not naturally possess, we infuse into the cells of the body a consciousness which was not there before, thus turning it into an increasingly homogeneous and receptive instrument, which progresses in and by its activities. This is the primary importance of physical culture. [...]
I do not say that people who practise physical culture necessarily do it for this purpose, because very few are aware of this result. But whether they are aware of it or not, this is the result. Moreover, if you are at all sensitive, when you observe the moving body of a person who has practised physical culture in a methodical and rational way, you see a light, a consciousness, a life, which is not there in others.”
- Letters on Yoga – I, p.233
- En Route (On the Path): The Mother's Correspondence with Shyam Sundar, p.139
- The Life Divine, p.1022, “The Gnostic Being”
- Satprem, My Burning Heart: Interview by Frédéric de Towarnicky, p.92
- Questions and Answers 1957-1958, p.156
- Ibid., p.164
- Questions and Answers 1929-1931, p.88
- On Thoughts and Aphorisms, p.30