In the material world, the laws of physics state that ‘for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction”. Is it possible to extend the working of the law of the physical world into the vital, or even the mental, realm? We recognise the dualities, both on the physical level and in our psychological elements, such that we go beyond ‘hot and cold’ and ‘wet and dry’ into states such as ‘happy and sad’ and ‘good and evil’, etc. We can see how oppositions form when one condition or another is developing or holding sway. This implies that when a force of destruction, a force of domination, a force of cruelty arises, there will necessarily be a countervailing force that eventually brings things back into balance. This also happens in reverse. When there is a strong force for progress in some direction, whether toward the achievement of a sense of mutual goodwill and support, or equality, or an advance of positive forces of the growth of consciousness, those powers that have traditionally held sway will rise up to obstruct, oppose and destroy the potential positive movement and thereby continue to exercise dominion.

Those forces that feed off of the release of vital energy certainly try to maintain their ability to generate those forces in humanity, and when a force for positive development begins to emerge, they naturally try to inhibit that. Thus we see times of great progress coupled with tremendous upheaval, the outbreak of major warfare, battles over resources and control, at the same time as we see tremendous new hope on the horizon. We can even see such forces at work in today’s world!

The symbol of yin/yang incorporates the ever-moving, ever-changing nature of the balance of life, and illustrates the seed of one element within the main body of the other. Whenever we see extreme forces, either for ‘good’ or for ‘evil’ we can look for its opposite, and we can then see the play of forces that determine so much of human destiny and development. The physical world, the vital domain, and the mental sphere all maintain these characteristics and we thus see things as ‘either/or’ and ‘black and white’ as long as we remain embedded in the consciousness of the body-life-mind complex. This is the nature of things in our world, until such time as the next level of consciousness is able to manifest to such a degree that it overcomes the law of dualities and action/reaction through a process of synthesis, integration and harmony.

The Mother writes: “… the First World War was the result of a tremendous descent of the forces of the vital world (hostile forces of the vital world) into the material world. Even those who were conscious of this descent and consequently armed to defend themselves against it, suffered from its consequences. The world, the whole earth suffered from its consequences. There was a general deterioration from the vital point of view, I could say, which was inevitable even for those who consciously knew whence the force came, whence the deterioration came, and who could therefore fight against it consciously — they could not prevent certain effects being produced in the earth atmosphere. Naturally, men do not know what happened to them; all that they have said is that everything had become worse since the war. That was all that they could affirm. For example, the moral level went down very much. It was simply the result of a formidable descent of the vital world: forces of disorder, forces of corruption, forces of deterioration, forces of destruction, forces of violence, forces of cruelty.”

Why this descent?

“Perhaps it was a reaction, for there was another Force coming down which wanted to do its work, and perhaps those forces did not want it — it disturbed their habits. It is like a government which fears that it will be thrown out and so intervenes violently in order to keep in power.”

Sri Aurobindo and the Mother, The Hidden Forces of Life, Ch. 1 Life Through the Eyes of the Yogin, pp. 6-7

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 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.
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