Editor’s Note: In these selections, Sri Aurobindo helps us understand the conditions under which the spiritual force works to cure illnesses. We also get a glimpse of how the Mother and Sri Aurobindo were using the Divine Force to help sadhaks in their healing process. The faith and inner receptivity of both the patient and the instrument that is used to apply such force, namely the doctor, are important factors in determining the efficacy of the spiritual or yogic force.
Appropriate headings have been added for ease of online readability.
Body and Mind and Life – Part of the Divine Whole
Perhaps I might say a word about Ramakrishna’s attitude with regard to the body. He seems always to have regarded it as a misuse of spiritual force to utilise it for preserving the body or curing its ailments or taking care for it.
Other Yogis—I do not speak of those who think it justifiable to develop Yogic siddhis, but of those who think that that should be avoided—have not had this complete disregard of the body: they have taken care to maintain it in good health and condition as an instrument or a physical basis for their development in Yoga.
I have always been in agreement with this view: moreover, I have never had any hesitation in the use of a spiritual force for all legitimate purposes including the maintenance of health and physical life in myself and in others—that is indeed why the Mother has given flowers, not only as a blessing but as a help in illness.
Body as instrument of dharmasādhana
I put a value on the body first as an instrument, dharmasādhana, or, more fully, as a centre of manifested personality in action, a basis of spiritual life and activity as of all life and activity upon the earth, but also because for me the body as well as the mind and life is a part of the divine whole, a form of the Spirit and therefore not to be disregarded or despised as something incurably gross and incapable of spiritual realisation or of spiritual use.
Matter itself is secretly a form of the Spirit and has to reveal itself as that, can be made to wake to consciousness and evolve and realise the Spirit, the Divine within it.
Divinising of the body, life and mind
In my view the body as well as the mind and life has to be spiritualised or, one may say, divinised so as to be a fit instrument and receptacle for the realisation and manifestation of the Divine. It has its part in the divine Lila, even, according to the Vaishnava sadhana, in the joy and beauty of Divine Love.
That does not mean that the body has to be valued for its own separate sake or that the creation of a divine body in a future evolution of the whole being has to be contemplated as an end and not a means—that would be a serious error which would not be admissible. In any case, my speculations about an extreme form of divinisation are something in a far distance and are no part of the preoccupations of the spiritual life in the near future.
Conditions for Working of the Healing Force
It is a pity that X could not write all this time. Formerly when she wrote often she used to get better after writing.
It is also a pity that she has been told by the doctors that she is not going to live; even if it is true, such a thing should not be told unless in case of necessity (which does not exist in her case), for it takes away much of the power of resistance and diminishes what chances of cure and survival there were.
X’s physical destiny has always been against her but this is a thing that can be cancelled if one can have sufficient faith and inner strength and openness and receive the spiritual force.
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Only Supramental Force works absolutely
As for the Force,. . . I have told you that it is not always efficacious, but works under conditions like all forces; it is only the supramental Force that works absolutely, because it creates its own conditions.
But the Force I am using is a Force that has to work under the present world conditions. It is not the less a Force for that.
I have cured myself of all illnesses except three by it and those too when they come I have kept in check; the fact that I have not succeeded yet in eliminating the fact or probability of those three does not cancel the fact of my success with the others.
As for the Mother, she used formerly to cure everything at once by the same Power—now she has no time to think about her body or to concentrate on it. Even so when she makes a certain inner concentration she can see, read etc. perfectly well without glasses, but she has no time to work out the possibility which that shows.
Illness, part of the struggle in the domain of Matter
The prevalence of illness just now is a fact; it is part of the struggle that is going on in the domain of Matter. But even so there are plenty of people in the Asram who get rid of their ills by reliance on the Mother. If all cannot do it, what does that prove or disprove? It only proves that the Power does not work absolutely, miraculously, impossibly, but it works by certain given means and under conditions. I have always said that, so what is there in that that is new or that annihilates the truth of the Yoga?
Three Ways of Working of the Force
Disciple: In several recent cases you have insisted on knowing this or that about the patient’s condition. But what is the need of your knowing these things? Is not Yogic vision more powerful and accurate than our external optical capacities?
Sri Aurobindo: As for me, I have no medico in me, not even a latent medico. If I had, I would not need an external one but diagnose, prescribe and cure all by my solitary self. My role in a medical case is to use the force either with or without medicines.
There are three ways of doing that—one by putting the Force without knowing or caring what the illness is or following the symptoms—that however needs either the mental collaboration or quiescence of the victim.
The second is symptomatic, to follow the symptoms and act on them even if one is not sure of the disease. There an accurate report is very useful.
The third needs a diagnosis—that is usually where the anti-forces are very strong and conscious or where the patient himself answers strongly to the suggestions of the illness and unwittingly resists the action of the Force.
This last is usually indicated by the fact that the thing gets cured and comes back again or improves and swings back again to worse. It is especially the great difficulty in cases of insanity and the like. Also in things where the nerves have a say—but in ordinary illnesses too.
The Intervening Spiritual Force and a Complex Nexus of Forces
. . . the Force does not act in a void and in an absolute way, like a writing on a blank paper or in the air, the “Let there be light and there was light” formula.
It comes as a Force intervening and acting on a very complex nexus of forces that were in action and displacing their disposition and interrelated movement and natural result by a new disposition, movement and result. It meets in so doing a certain opposition, very often a strong opposition from many of the forces already in possession and operation.
Overcoming the opposition to the Force
To overcome it three factors are needed, the power of the Force itself, i.e. its own sheer pressure and direct action on the field of action (here the man, his condition, his body), the instrument (yourself) and the instrumentation (treatment, medicine).
I have often used the Force alone without any human instrument or outer means, but here all depends on the recipient and his receptivity—unless as in the case of many healers there are unseen beings or powers that assist.
If there is an instrument in direct touch with the patient, whether the doctor or one who can canalise the force, then the action is immensely assisted,—how much depends on the instrument, his faith, his energy, his conveying power. Where there is a violent opposition, this is frequently not enough or at least not enough for a rapid or total effect, the instrumentation (treatment or medicine) is needed.
Resistance of the body or the doctor
It is especially where the resistance of the body or the forces acting on the body-consciousness is strong that the medicine comes in as an aid.
But if the doctor is non-psychic or the medicine the wrong one or the treatment unplastic, then they become an added resistance which the Force has to overcome. This is a very summary and inadequate statement, but it gives the main points, I believe.
P.S. I forgot to say that the surroundings, especially the people around the patient, the atmosphere, the suggestions it carries or they give to him, are often of a considerable importance.
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सर्वे सन्तु निरामयाः – May All be Free from Illness
Resistance in the Vital to the Force
There has been no negligence on our part in putting the force for X’s change—the Mother has been doing that daily; nor is the trouble she has contracted one for which we are in any way responsible—it is not imposed as an ordeal or anything else.
If there is so obstinate a persistence of her attachment and the demands it makes, it is because there is in her own vital a resistance to the Force that would remove it. If there were the complete consent in the being for giving it up (not only mental wish or prayer, however strong), it could not possibly last—at any rate in this form,—only at most for a time in fragments of the old habit.
Resistance which refuses to yield to the soul’s aspiration
There is in her vital a certain violence of temperament—I do not mean merely a tendency to violence of speech or act, but an exaggerated intensity in the feelings and vital reactions, and this is the source of the trouble. For it is this that when asked to give up the claim and attachment, has reacted vehemently calling in an outside Force to support its resistance.
When this rises, her mind also begins to justify the claim and demand, her vital feels very hurt and angry with the Mother because she does not support it. All that is proof of a very familiar kind of resistance which refuses to yield to the mind’s will or the soul’s aspiration. . . .
Conditions for the working of the Divine Force must be met
The Divine Force does not act now in an omnipotent ease regardless of conditions—it might do that if it were the pure supramental Force in its native action; but that is not yet.
Here conditions have been created and it acts under those conditions. You speak of the Force acting in the case of the illnesses you have treated. No doubt, but here too it is under conditions—only, favourable conditions.
Assent of the recipient important
For you believe and are conscious of the Force, your whole will is to cure, the patient’s will is to get well—the more he assents to the treatment, the more quickly the Force acts—the one obstacle is the force of the illness itself and the patient’s habitual subjection to it.
But with everything else against it, that does not succeed in remaining. It is quite otherwise in these things where the consent of the being is far from being complete, where the mind often consents to and justifies the illness when it comes, even takes strongly sides with it, where the vital is there with its revolt and clamour and tempest.
Physician as instrument must be patient, firm and persistent
It is only if the sadhak’s resolution is firm and one-minded, not to assent to the attack when it comes, to refuse all mental justification of it, to detach himself from the vital movement in the very time of its action that the liberation can be done with the clarity and ease which you desire.
Otherwise, the only thing to be done is to keep up the pressure of the force quiet and strong and persistent until it gets into the vital itself and makes it reject its own movement.
For that you [the doctor] must help by getting rid of the violence and impatience in your own nature and being yourself patient, firm and persistent. You are here to change your nature and the difficulty is no reason for throwing up the spiritual endeavour.
 The woman referred to here as X lived until 1993. — Editorial note as given in CWSA
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