Matter, Subtle Matter, the Causative Level and the Ability of Mind-Power or Vital Power to Create, Modify, Influence and Dissolve Material Forms
Posted on May 30, 2024
We tend to look at things from the standpoint of the material formation it has taken. If we look deeper however, we see that the physical forms are a creation, or representation, of ideas, forces or processes that occur on a subtle level and manifest into physical form only at the end of the process of their creation, not the start. The Greek philosopher Plato contemplated that physical forms are not the ultimate reality, but are representations of an “idea” that has been solidified basically.

The Taittiriya Upanishad takes us through a journey of discovery by a young disciple who wants to understand the nature of reality. He begins with the idea that Matter is the reality, but through his concentration he eventually recognizes that Matter is a result, not a cause. He successively goes through several realisations that each represent more subtle causative levels, until he eventually reaches the “knowledge” level and then the “bliss” level of causation.

The Vedic Rishis indicated that Agni, the mystic fire, was contained within the material forms. Scientists concur, indicating that matter can be converted to energy. Burning of wood (or other material substances) represents the liberation of the force represented by Agni from the material form within which it is contained.

Scientists recognize that Matter is actually a ‘solidified’ form of Energy. They also describe various states of Matter in a variety of energetic phases, for instance, water can be a solid in the form of ice, a liquid in the form of what we call ‘water’, a gas in the form of water vapor in the atmosphere, etc. What water actually is at the ‘idea’ or ‘causative’ level may be something entirely different. We continue to learn about water, and recently it was revealed by a scientist who has studied the matter that while we consider water to be a ‘conductor’ of energy, it is actually not the water itself that is a conductor, but various ionic minerals dissolved in the water that are the conductors. Purified water, distilled from a process that combines the hydrogen and oxygen atoms, without these ionic minerals, is apparently not a conductor of electricity as we generally believe it to be! What indeed is water in its true essence or idea?

Numerous individuals have experienced things that defied explanation on the purely material, external level, but which make sense if we accept the subtler and causal states of energy and consciousness. Sri Aurobindo related at one point an incident he personally observed. His brother was extremely ill. A wandering Sannyasi came by and saw the brother’s status. He asked for a cup of water which he cut through with an implement while reciting certain mantras. He bade the brother drink the water. Within a short period of time, the brother quickly recovered from the acute illness.

The operations of homeopathic medicine are disputed by allopathic practitioners as they cannot see any physical means of action in these highly diluted substances. Yet, they have been shown to work, not only on humans, but on dogs and horses, thus eliminating the action of what is called the ‘placebo effect’ by those who need to put a name on a more subtle action that they do not understand…

Many people recognise the ability of certain individuals, through force of will, to gain ascendancy and control over other individuals. This power of will-domination can occur without any overt physical control over the individual. Clearly, the operation of mind-power on the vital or physical planes is evident and widely observed in this context. An incident highlights this point. A young woman gave birth in a hospital to a baby boy. The nursing staff tried to control access to the child and force vaccinations that the young mother clearly did not want. Her parents (the child’s grandparents) were visiting at one point when the nurses attempted to exercise this control over the child against the wishes of the mother. The grandfather of the child focused his attention on the nursing staff, while seated at the other end of the room, and spoke in a quiet, but firm, manner disputing the rights of the nursing staff to control the newborn in the way they wanted to. One of the nursing staff reacted saying that the grandfather would be banned from the hospital for ‘attacking’ her! All while the grandfather was seated 7 or 8 meters distant and speaking in a quiet voice! Clearly some other force was operative which the nurse interpreted as a form of pressure or attack.

Sri Aurobindo observes: “These extraordinary occurrences which go outside the ordinary course of physical Nature, happen frequently in India and are not unknown elsewhere; they are akin to what is called poltergeist phenomena in Europe. Scientists do not speak or think about such supernatural happenings except to pooh-pooh them or to prove that they are simply the tricks of children simulating supernatural manifestations.”

“Scientific laws only give a schematic account of material process of Nature — as a valid scheme they can be used for reproducing or extending at will a material process, but obviously they cannot give an account of the thing itself. Water, for instance, is not merely so much oxygen and hydrogen put together — the combination is simply a process or device for enabling the materialisation of a new thing called water; what that new thing really is, is quite another matter. In fact, there are different planes of substance, gross, subtle and more subtle going back to what is called causal (Karana) substance. What is more gross can be reduced to the subtle state and the subtle brought into the gross state; that accounts for dematerialisation and rematerialisation. These are occult processes and are vulgarly regarded as magic. Ordinarily the magician knows nothing of the why and wherefore of what he is doing, he has simply learned the formula of process or else controls elemental beings of the subtler states (planes or worlds) who do the thing for him. The Tibetans indulge widely in occult processes; if you see the books of Madame David Neel who has lived in Tibet you will get an idea of their expertness in these things. But also the Tibetan Lamas know something of the laws of occult (mental and vital) energy and how it can be made to act on physical things. That is something which goes beyond mere magic. The direct power of the mind-force or life-force upon Matter can be extended to an almost illimitable degree. It must be remembered that Energy is fundamentally one in all the planes, only taking more and more dense forms, so there is nothing a priori impossible in mind-energy or life-energy acting directly on material energy and substance; if they do, they can make a material object do things or rather can do things with a material object which would be to that object in its ordinary poise or ‘law’ unhabitual and therefore apparently impossible.”

Sri Aurobindo and the Mother, The Hidden Forces of Life, Ch. 5 Occult Forces, pp 102-103

Author's Bio: 

Santosh has been studying Sri Aurobindo's writings since 1971 and has a daily blog at and podcast located at
He is author of 20 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.
Video presentations, interviews and podcast episodes are all available on the YouTube Channel
More information about Sri Aurobindo can be found at
The US editions and links to e-book editions of Sri Aurobindo’s writings can be found at Lotus Press