Vital plane

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(Disciple, 1926:) “Can one know and see these forces?

(Sri Aurobindo:) Of course, you can. If something in you can put itself in touch with these planes you can know them and see them. I hope you don't believe that your physical self is the only being in you. These forces have their own plane and they are not all the time busy with your earth plane. You must not exaggerate the importance of the earth-plane.
         Even for us the external, physical life of man does not matter much. Not that the earth-plane is not important. It is important according to what you can put into it. Otherwise, how is the physical life of man better than that of an ant? In order to bring down any higher spiritual force into the earth-plane you require to sit down to it, you have to call down and hold the Power in you. You have to allow it to organise your being and transform it. Then you can think of action.”[1]

(Sri Aurobindo:) “The place where you were [in a dream] is as much a world of fact and reality as is the material world and its happenings have sometimes a great effect on this world. What an ignorant lot of disciples you all are! Too much modernisation and Europeanisation by half!
         These things are meetings on the vital plane, but very often in the transcription of what happened some details get in that are contributed by the subconscient mind. I rather suspect all that about X was such a contribution. The rest seems all right.”[2]

(Medhananda:) “The vital world is like a big aquarium, a big soup where beings are mingled and rather indistinct. There it is part of the game for the gazelle to turn into a lion. That world remains harmonious so long as no human being, even one of goodwill, interferes, imposing their mind on the vital – a mind that does not have the capacity to control anything at all. Only the truth-consciousness would have the power to intervene.”[3]

(Mother, 1955:) “Of course, here too it is a question of people going in their sleep to places of the vital worlds which are very bad, and then, when they return, sometimes they are more than tired, at times they are ill, or they are absolutely exhausted. This is because they were in bad places and had a fight. But this surely has something to do with the state of the consciousness during the waking hours. If, for example, you have been angry during the day, you see, there are many chances that at night you will be in a vital fight for some time. This happens.”[4]

(Mother, 1955:) “What is the use of the same things happening on both planes; it would be superfluous and otiose. The vital plane is a field where things can be done which for some reason or other can’t be done now on the physical.
         There are of course hundreds of varieties of things in the vital as it is a much richer and more plastic field of consciousness than the physical, and all are not of equal validity and value. I am speaking above of the things that are valid. By the way, without this vital plane there would be no art, poetry or literature — these things come through the vital before they can manifest here.”[5]

(Sri Aurobindo:) “In this world forms do not determine the conditions of the life, but it is life which determines the form, and therefore forms are there much more free, fluid, largely and to our conceptions strangely variable than in the material world. This life-force is not inconscient material force, not even, except in its lowest movements, an elemental subconscient energy, but a conscious force of being which makes for formation, but much more essentially for enjoyment, possession, satisfaction of its own dynamic impulse. Desire and the satisfaction of impulse are therefore the first law of this world of sheer vital existence, this poise of relations between the soul and its nature in which the life-power plays with so much greater a freedom and capacity than in our physical living; it may be called the desire-world, for that is its principal characteristic.”[6]

(Sri Aurobindo:) “Enjoyment of one kind or another being the whole object of desire, that must be the trend of the desire-world; but since wherever the soul is not free, — and it cannot be free when subject to desire, — there must be the negative as well as the positive of all its experience, this world contains not only the possibility of large or intense or continuous enjoyments almost inconceivable to the limited physical mind, but also the possibility of equally enormous sufferings.”[7]

(Sri Aurobindo:) “Nature being a complex unity and not a collection of unrelated phenomena, there can be no unbridgeable gulf between the material existence and this vital or desire world. On the contrary, they may be said in a sense to exist in each other and are at least interdependent to a certain extent. In fact, the material world is really a sort of projection from the vital, a thing which it has thrown out and separated from itself in order to embody and fulfil some of its desires under conditions other than its own, which are yet the logical result of its own most material longings. Life on earth may be said to be the result of the pressure of this life-world on the material, inconscient existence of the physical universe. Our own manifest vital being is also only a surface result of a larger and profounder vital being which has its proper seat on the life-plane and through which we are connected with the life-world. Moreover, the life-world is constantly acting upon us and behind everything in material existence there stand appropriate powers of the life-world; even the most crude and elemental have behind them elemental life-powers, elemental beings by which or by whom they are supported. The influences of the life-world are always pouring out on the material existence and producing there their powers and results which return again upon the life-world to modify it. From that the life-part of us, the desire-part is being always touched and influenced; there too are beneficent and malefic powers of good desire and evil desire which concern themselves with us even when we are ignorant of and unconcerned with them. Nor are these powers merely tendencies, inconscient forces, nor, except on the verges of Matter, subconscient, but conscious powers, beings, living influences. As we awaken to the higher planes of our existence, we become aware of them as friends or enemies, powers which seek to possess or which we can master, overcome, pass beyond and leave behind. It is this possible relation of the human being with the powers of the life-world which occupied to so large an extent European occultism, especially in the Middle Ages, as well as certain forms of Eastern magic and spiritualism. The ‘superstitions’ of the past — much superstition there was, that is to say, much ignorant and distorted belief, false explanations and obscure and clumsy dealing with the laws of the beyond, — had yet behind them truths which a future Science, delivered from its sole preoccupation with the material world, may rediscover. For the supra-material is as much a reality as the existence of mental beings in the material universe.”[8]

  1. Evening Talks with Sri Aurobindo, p.468, “On the Gods and Asuras”, 13 July 1926
  2. Letters on Yoga – III, p.194
  3. On the threshold of a new age with Medhananda, p.30
  4. Questions and Answers 1955, p.120
  5. Ibid.
  6. The Synthesis of Yoga, p.452, “The Planes of Our Existence”
  7. Ibid.
  8. Ibid., p.453, “The Planes of Our Existence”

See also