We have numerous historical anecdotes about individuals who were creative and productive in their own field, but who had elements of their being that seemingly could not hold the creative force easily and devoted into various forms of dissipation when they were not directly engaged in their creative pursuits. Many of these anecdotes relate to great artists in one field or another, painters, actors, musicians, composers, etc. It is apparent from their creative output that they were able to receive and communicate a great power of inspiration. It seems quite clear that their being was unprepared to hold the force that descended into them and thus, they ‘spilled’ considerable amounts of that force through their dissipative actions.

It is one of the basic principles set forth by Patanjali in the yoga sutras, that the basis must be prepared so that as the yogic practice progresses, the practitioner is able to hold and channel the ever-increasing force that develops through the practice of yoga. First come the ‘yamas’ and ‘niyamas’ which provide the vital basis for holding, not spilling, the force that develops. This is followed by development of a solid ‘seat’ or ‘asana’ to ensure that the physical framework in particular, but more generally, the foundational basis of the being at all levels, can hold the force.

The dispersal or dissipation is not solely the result of spilling force that the seeker cannot hold effectively, however. There is also the element of various parts of the being having conflicting objectives, not fully accepting the psychic focus and guidance, and wanting to achieve their own satisfactions and desires. In such cases, elements that are suppressed by the consciousness in its fully engaged, waking state may arise and take over control, at least temporarily, when the awareness wavers for any reason, including falling into states of inattention or even during the state of sleep, when the conscious mind recedes. This is a sign that more work needs to be done to convert and upgrade the reactions of the external being in all its parts, so that there are no hidden reactions waiting to rise up when the opportunity presents itself.

The Mother observes: “There are people who in a certain state of being are constructive, for example, and capable of organising their life and doing very useful work, and in another part of their being they are absolutely destructive and constantly demolish what the other has constructed. I knew quite a number of people of this kind who, apparently had a rather incoherent life, but it was because the two parts of the being, instead of completing each other and harmonising in a synthesis, were separated and in opposition, and one undid what the other did, and all the time they passed like this from one to the other. They had a disorganised life. And there are more people of this kind than one would think!”

“There are very outstanding examples, striking ones, so clear and distinct they are; but less totally opposed conditions, though all the same in opposition to one another, occur very, very often. Besides, one has oneself the experience, when one has tried to make progress; there is one part of the being which participates in the effort and makes progress, and suddenly, without rhyme or reason, all the effort one has made, all the consciousness one has gained, capsizes in something which is quite different, opposed, over which one has no control.”

“Some people can make an effort the whole day through, succeed in building something within themselves; they go to sleep at night and the next morning all that they had done on the previous day is lost, they have lost it in a state of unconsciousness. This happens very often, these are not exceptional cases, far from it. And this is what explains, you see, why some people — when they withdraw into their higher mind for instance — can enter into very deep meditation and be liberated from the things of this world, and then when they return to their ordinary physical consciousness, are absolutely ordinary if not even vulgar, because they haven’t taken care to establish any contact, and to see that what is above acts and transforms what is below.”

Sri Aurobindo and the Mother, Our Many Selves: Practical Yogic Psychology, Chapter 5, Organisation, Harmonisation, Unification, pp. 138-139

Author's Bio: 

Santosh has been studying Sri Aurobindo's writings since 1971 and has a daily blog at http://sriaurobindostudies.wordpress.com and podcast at https://anchor.fm/santosh-krinsky He is author of 19 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.