During the Olympic games in the summer of 2021, we were able to hear about the separate consciousness of the various parts of the being. One of the premier gymnasts in the world withdrew from events by saying that she had lost, at least temporarily, the body consciousness that basically oriented her to where she was in her routine, and thus, was putting her well-being into danger with the complex gymnastic routines she normally performed. This is an illustration of the understanding of human consciousness as described by Sri Aurobindo. We know also that when we train certain behaviors, and don’t try to “overthink” them, but let the “reflexes” act, that they operate flawlessly. The body has its own consciousness and any deeper understanding of human psychology should take this into account. Similarly, we find that our nervous response or our vital impulses contradict what we ‘know’ with our minds. This disconnect, from a standard Western viewpoint, is attributed to weak ‘will power’ and causes substantial internal conflict for people who do not recognise that they are dealing with different parts of the being. The phenomenon of physical addictions clearly has attributes that show separate bodily, vital and mental components involved.

Dr. Dalal notes: “Our being is a complex amalgam of many different elements. We are vaguely conscious of only the more superficial ones. Apart from the body and its sensations, we are to some extent conscious of various psychological elements, such as thoughts, feelings, desires, impulses, etc., all of which are lumped together and generally referred to as the ‘mind’. However from the viewpoint of Integral Yoga, our being is made up of various distinct parts. As Sri Aurobindo remarks:”

‘The ‘Mind’ in the ordinary use of the word covers indiscriminately the whole consciousness, for man is a mental being and mentalises everything…’

‘Each plane of our being — mental, vital, physical — has its own consciousness, separate though interconnected and interacting, but to our outer mind and sense, in our waking experience, they are all confused together.’

Sri Aurobindo and The Mother, Living Within: The Yoga Approach to Psychological Health and Growth, Introduction, Parts of the Being, pp. x – xiii

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 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.