The Mother provides a clear approach to transforming the vital nature. In part 1 she addresses how to gain perspective, the necessary steps involved and the kind of resistance that arises and what can be done about it.

The Mother notes: “The first step: will. Secondly, sincerity and aspiration. But will and aspiration are almost the same thing, one follows the other. Then, perseverance. Yes, perseverance is necessary in any process, and what is this process? … First, there must be the ability to observe and discern, the ability to find the vital in oneself, else you will be hard put to it to say: ‘This comes from the vital, this comes from the mind, this from the body.’ Everything will seem to you mixed and indistinct.”

“After a very sustained observation, you will be able to distinguish between the different parts and recognise the origin of a movement. Quite a long time is necessary for this, but one can go quite fast also, it depends upon people. But once you have found out the different parts ask yourself, ‘What is there if the vital in this? What does the vital bring into your consciousness? In what way does it change your movements; what does it add to them and what take away? What happens in your consciousness through the intervention of the vital? Once you know this, what do you do? … Then you will need to watch this intervention, observe it, find out in what way it works. For instance, you want to transform your vital. You have a great sincerity in your aspiration and the resolution to go to the very end. You have all that. You start observing and you see that two things can happen (many things can happen) but mainly two.”

“First, a sort of enthusiasm takes hold of you. You set to work earnestly. In this enthusiasm you think, ‘I am going to do this and that, I am going to reach my goal immediately, everything is going to be magnificent! It will see, this vital, how I am going to treat it if it doesn’t obey!’ And if you look carefully you will see that the vital is saying to itself, ‘Ah, at last, here’s an opportunity!’ It accepts, it starts working with all its zeal, all its enthusiasm and … all its impatience.”

“The second thing may be the very opposite. A sort of uneasiness: “I am not well, how tedious life is, how wearisome everything. How am I going to do all that? Will I ever reach the goal? Is it worthwhile beginning? Is it at all possible? Isn’t it impossible? It is the vital which is not very happy about what is going to be done for it, which does not want anyone to meddle in its affairs, which does not like all that very much. So it suggests depression, discouragement, a lack of faith, doubt — is it really worth the trouble? … These are the two extremes, and each has its difficulties, its obstacles.”

Sri Aurobindo and The Mother, Living Within: The Yoga Approach to Psychological Health and Growth, Disturbances of the Vital, Transforming the Vital, pp. 69-85

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.