There are a number of different ways that physically alive beings draw and obtain energy. Human beings tend to rely heavily on eating food, and converting the food into other forms of energy to carry out work in the body. Plants, on the other hand, rely primarily on direct conversion of sunlight into physical energy to fuel the creation of their bodies and the operation of their energetic action. We can understand that there are other and higher forms of energetic reception and action which can provide ‘fuel’ for beings of various sorts. For example, certain beings on the vital plane are said to feed off of the emotional energy that human beings produce, and thus they try to provoke reactions of fear, lust, hatred, etc. to feed their ‘hunger’. Certain individuals, indeed, have been able to directly and consciously receive subtler energies than are provided by the physical food.

People experience constantly the enlivening power of uplifting ideas or ideals, and many people are energized in the presence of individuals who embody a powerful spiritual force and radiate an aura of light-filled energy. We tend to downplay the reality and importance of these subtle energies due to the limitations of our habits of thought. If we look at even simple evidence such as the increase in vital force that can occur through fasting, it becomes possible to break out of this limiting framework and recognize that there are multiple sources of energy upon which we can draw in our lives, and that energy derived from food is one, but not the only, such source.

The Mother notes: “Some people don’t know how to receive the forces at all. These live on the energies concentrated in the body — for there is some concentrated energy in all the cells of the body. They live upon that, but after some time, they are drained out completely if they don’t know how to recuperate; when they have spent all the energies which were concentrated inside them either they fall ill or they never recuperate them. So this cannot last very long; it lasts the average lifetime of human beings, and yet, at the end of a certain number of years they are no longer able to make the same effort or produce as much, or above all to make any progress.”

“But those who know instinctively or who have learnt to receive and accumulate the universal vital forces, these can last almost indefinitely. The wear and tear is very little, especially if they know how to do it and do it with knowledge and method: then here it can reach a certain degree of perfection. … When one knows, sometimes just two or three minutes are sufficient to recuperate the energies spent over a long period. Only, one must know how to do it.”

Sri Aurobindo and The Mother, Living Within: The Yoga Approach to Psychological Health and Growth, General Methods and Principles, Recuperating One’s Energies, pp. 17-22

Author's Bio: 

Santosh has been studying Sri Aurobindo's writings since 1971 and has a daily blog at and podcast at He is author of 16 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.