Editor’s note: The author highlights the necessity of silencing the thoughts and vital movements as an essential foundation of the sadhana in the path of Integral Yoga. She reminds us that only a still and silent mind can be receptive to the descent of higher forces from above which is essential for any transformation of our outer nature.
Silence means freedom from thoughts and vital movements—when the whole consciousness is quite still.~ Sri Aurobindo, CWSA, Vol. 29, p. 158
The Parts Within
We human beings have a mind, have feelings/energy/emotions, and have a body. But what is often ignored is that we also have an inner consciousness, often termed as soul consciousness, or in Sri Aurobindo’s yoga, the Psychic Being, our inner guide, immanent Divine.
Most often than not, the thought patterns rule us, sway us, master us. This is why we have the term monkey mind which keeps jumping from here to there, trying to connect the dots through the limited and distorted sensory inputs and never really able to rest. We mostly are ruled by this monkey mind, our ordinary consciousness of the mind, which as Mother says, is more like a marketplace. We are unable to silence it at will and use it like a tool at one’s disposal.
The vital is another part in us, another instrument of nature. This is the part that has feelings, emotions, desires, energies. Wherever they take us, we go. And more often than not, we get wounded, we bleed and get many blows, being thrown up by their force and intensity. They rule us, as if we have no power over them at all.
And then we have the body, the physical being. There too, mostly we lack a physical culture, and resort to inertia and laziness, with mind and vital poking nose in the body’s regular needs as well.
Sri Aurobindo’s and Mother’s Integral Yoga demands from us, first, that the mind becomes a master, a regulator so that a relative degree of discipline and self-culture begins to develop. This way we begin to move from animal man to man. Then, the mind too, surrenders and opens itself to a higher light, a greater clarity and intelligence, that is our birth-right.
For this process to take place, an aspiration is needed. When the mind becomes aware of its incapacities, and its inability to have a complete mastery over the instrumentation and to transform the consciousness of the being, an aspiration arises in the being. The being is able to see its imperfections, defects, weaknesses, but does not know from where to have such power, force which can transform the being. And as Sri Aurobindo says, while we need an Ascent, an aspiration, there must also be a Descent, a response from above, which alone has the power to transform all the weaknesses of the lower nature.
I explore in this article the necessity of making the receptacle stable, still and silent. Only then it can become a solid and open/receptive container to allow the descent from above to happen and the immanent Divine to reveal itself in the silence of the being.
Stilling the being
If we say that we are the ones who have a mind, life and body, then we must have some amount of mastery over what we call our tools or instruments in this life. But when we sit with ourselves, we find ourselves assailed by the endless sense stimuli, taken in without any vigilance. And on top of it, we blindly buy into the interpretations of the narrow mind’s opinions, judgements and ideas on those sense perceptions.
When we step into Integral yoga (knowingly or unknowingly), and begin to become conscious of our being, we see how challenging it is to concentrate or focus the mind at will.
We see how challenging it is to let go of unnecessary active thinking, to let go of engaging in endless chatter or thoughts and feelings and sense perceptions. Although we think that we have the mind, we find that in reality the chattery mind has us. We are eaten up, consumed by the mind all the time. We have no control or mastery over it at all. And the same can be reiterated for the endless loop of feelings and emotions, which rule us all the time.
How then shall we tune in to a silent Self waiting for us to pay heed to it? An ever-persevering silence that doesn’t make itself pompous enough to come to forefront. A silence that waits patiently through the lifetimes to be seen one day, away from the blabber of the sense-mind.
We shall have to, sooner or later. For it is one of the essential steps of reclaiming our true Self.
After we have listened enough, believed enough in our sense perceptions and the interpretations and judgements of the mind, there comes a time when something in us no longer trusts those thoughts, feelings, opinions, ideas, sense perceptions. We arrive at a conviction that we do not need to endlessly connect dots in a futile attempt to resolve the unresolved threads of our lives.
It is only after enough running around here and there that I become aware that all that I see – my thoughts, feelings and sense perceptions – all are merely distorted images of the truth. My lens is unclean, and with unclean lenses whatever I look at is not truly seen. Hence, when I now want to empty the space in my mind, it becomes possible.
Now, when I sit, trying to focus my mind on the Divine Name, or breath, or any other centre, I can focus it better. When the ripples of old thought and feeling patterns come as habitual visitors, I don’t fuel them. I don’t engage in them and hence unattended, they slowly lose their grip on me. I recognise that I was the one buying into them, and engaging and fuelling them, making them real and solid and concrete.
Now, I would like to make real and concrete that peace, silence, and infinite vastness and pregnant emptiness. So that I can begin to talk to my so far hidden depths and vastness.
Now, I can make the mind still at will, to a relative degree, which can go on perfecting itself. The more we become unsure of our images, thoughts, and feelings, the more it becomes possible for us to tune in to our hidden being, waiting for us to reclaim our inner kingdom.
Stilling the mind can be a cultivation on our path, as an important baby step on the long journey of Integral Yoga.
As Sant Kabir says,
Daudat daudat daudiya, Jahaan lag mann ki daud
Daud thake mann sthir bhaya, Toh vastu thaur ki thaur
The mind made you scamper, You ran, as far as the mind could fare,
Tired of its flight the mind grew still, And the object was right there)
(Translation – Vipul Rikhi)
I close with Savitri’s revelatory lines for us to reflect upon. These lines reveal to us how we keep attending to all the chaos in our lives and always absorbed in the sense-mind, and stay away from our True being:
This mind no silence knows nor dreamless sleep,~ Sri Aurobindo, Savitri, CWSA, Vol. 34, pp. 478-479
In the incessant circling of its steps
Thoughts tread for ever through the listening brain;
It toils like a machine and cannot stop.
Into the body’s many-storeyed rooms
Endless crowd down the dream-god’s messages.
All is a hundred-toned murmur and babble and stir,
There is a tireless running to and fro,
A haste of movement and a ceaseless cry.
The hurried servant senses answer apace
To every knock upon the outer doors,
Bring in time’s visitors, report each call,
Admit the thousand queries and the calls
And the messages of communicating minds
And the heavy business of unnumbered lives
And all the thousandfold commerce of the world.
Read from our archives:
Sri Aurobindo on Peace, the First Foundation
About the author: Monica is a seeker and a learner, based in Gurgaon. She is the co-founder of www.livinglight.in, a free online platform for fellow seekers and learners on the path, to march continuously towards Truth, Light & Love.
~ Design: Beloo Mehra