This October issue of our Newsletter takes a look at the Vital being. It is vital to establish at the beginning, what is meant by the vital, in this context. The root word of vital is “vit” or “vita” meaning, in Latin, life or live (https://www.google.co.in/webhp?sourceid=chrome-instant&ion=1&espv=2&ie=UTF-8#q=meaning20of%20 vital). In Sanskrit, it may be denoted as “PranaShakti”. The vital may entail “life-force”. In the parlance of Integral Psychology, it is a term used to denote one of the 5 primary parts and planes of the being, the others being the physical, the mental, the psychic and the spiritual. Sri Aurobindo defines the vital as that in us “…which seeks after life and its movements for their own sake and it does not want to leave hold of them if they bring suffering … or …. pleasure.” Desire is the vital’s principle support. All in us that is the substance of desire is, therefore, the vital. Further to this, Sri Aurobindo characterises the vital with these phrases: impulses, force-pushes, emotions, sensations, seeking after life-fulfillment, possession and enjoyment. Being the seat of desire and therefore passions, one can understand then the related tendencies of the vital towards disappointments and envisage violent impulses, violent reactions, revolt and depression as results of these disappointments.
According to Sri Aurobindo, many people live in their desires. They are wrapped in their own desires, in the thoughts, feelings, sensations, and the imaginations that these desires evoke and support. In The Synthesis of Yoga, he states that most of our works of life are a result of this soul of desire, including the ethical or religious and all those works that are garbed in altruism, philanthropy, self-sacrifice and self-denial. The desire soul is said to be a separative soul of the ego itself and therefore does everything for its own separate self–existence. What is our state of being like? Can we relate to this and arrive at some understanding at the way in which we operate?
On the opposite pole of Depression stands Enthusiasm as the vital’s driving force. When there is this enthusiasm, driven by whatever reason, one finds oneself full of power, of energy to get up and pursue the object of desire relentlessly. At such times, when one steps back to look within, one would recognize this force, this energy or power in us that drives us to carry out actions and actualize what was desired.
The Mother adds that the vital has three sources of subsistence. Firstly, the subsistence comes “from below, from the physical energies through the sensations”. This is probably best known to most of us, in the way we experience sensations received first by the sense organs of the body, the physical entity, and then translated into an enhanced experience, no matter of what level, by the brain. Secondly, the subsistence comes from the vital plane itself, from the universal vital forces. However, this is effected only when the vital is itself widened and vast enough, open and receptive enough to receive the forces from the universe. Thirdly, the subsistence comes from above, from spiritual forces and inspiration. To receive these high forces is possible only to a vital that is in a deep state of aspiration for progress.
What kind of vital does one wants to cultivate in oneself? The vital is said to be a great store-house of energy and of power when its instruments become more cultivated, sensitive, subtle, refined and illumined. This vital too can be “noble and heroic and disinterested” and ultimately turn exclusively to a high and elevated living, serving the Divine alone and not the ego.