An Integral Approach to management and human development based on the spiritual vision of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother with an emphasis on its application to various domains of knowledge and life.
[Published in Next Future, May 2007]
Yoga of the Body
But how to realize this ideal? What is the path or process by which this ideal of physical transformation can be made real in the body? The gap between the present condition of the body and the ideal is too big, so there have to be levels of preparation and transformation before the final goal is achieved. Let us begin with the preparatory stages.
All attempt towards making the body more conscious of itself, its movements and potentialities are helpful in preparing the body. Our human body has an instinctive intelligence of its own which knows what is good for its health, well-being and progress, much better than all doctors and experts. But this instinct of the body is warped by the aggressive interference of the conceptions, emotions and passions of our mind and heart. We have to awaken this inborn intelligence in our body and listen to its voice in all matters, like for example, food, health, exercise. This is the first step. Here, a well-designed system of physical education made of physical exercises, sports and games, done with full consciousness, with the aim of making the body plastic and flexible to the inner will and awakening the body-consciousness to its higher destiny can go a long way in preparing the body.
There is at present a great revival of interest in physical fitness all over the world. There is also a growing awareness of the “psychosomatic” principle, the interdependence of the body and mind. Many sportsmen, athletes and physical educators are becoming aware of the inner potentialities of the body. Some of them have experienced “heightened awareness” during “peak performances” or when the body is stretched to its utmost limits. All these are only a tip of iceberg. In the future, we may see surprising new discoveries on the inner potentialities of the body. The Mother, in her spiritual exploration of the body, made many such discoveries which we will discuss a little later.
But physical education through exercises, games and sports can only prepare and not transform the body. For transforming the body, it has to go through a radical process of Yoga. We will briefly outline here the basic principles, and some of the major difficulties of this Yoga of physical transformation.
This Yoga of the Body for physical transformation should not be confused with Hatha-yoga which is also a Yoga of the Body. This popular and well-known form of Yoga can be a powerful element in the preparatory discipline for the body, but it cannot transform the body. Hatha-yoga’s potential for enhancing the health, energy, well-being of the body is now a scientifically verified fact. But what is not equally recognized is that Hatha-yoga is not just a system of physical and breathing exercises (Asanas and Pranayama) for enhancing the health of the body but a psycho-physical discipline for spiritual liberation. The original treatise on Hatha-yoga contains not only of instructions on Asanas and Pranayams but also a regimen of moral, psychological and spiritual practices for awakening the Kundalini, the vital energy coiled up in the abdominal centre of the body and raising it to the head centre, where the human soul attains liberation. This process of awakening the Kundalini is not a purely psychological phenomenon but a psycho-physical process which occurs in the subtler parts of our body. Thus, awakening of the Kundalini through Hatha-yoga or other systems like Raja-yoga or Tantras-yoga 1, may bring about a certain amount of transformation in the energies of the body and lead to a considerable enhancement of the psycho-physical potentialities of the body and the human organism as a whole. However, even this Kundalini-yoga cannot entirely transform the material substance of the body.
We have said earlier that the key to the ultimate evolutionary destiny of humanity lies in our body. Paradoxically, the key to the transformation of our body lies not in the body or in matter but in Consciousness. For, as we have already discussed, the source of Matter is sat-chit, the conscious substance of the Spirit. But it is Chit-shakti, the consciousness force of the Spirit which holds the substance within her creative field and shapes it according to the Will and Vision of the Spirit. So the light and power to master and transform our bodily substance has to be drawn not from the body or matter or the mind but from the conscious force of the Spirit. For only the consciousness and power of the supreme Spirit has the ultimate and absolute force for transformation. And our bodily matter, which is the point of highest unconsciousness, resistance and inertia in us, requires such an absolute force of consciousness for its transformation.
So the process of physical transformation begins only after becoming fully conscious of our inner being and the spiritual source of our being. 2 This brings us to the practical dimensions of the problem. Most of the traditional spirituality stops at the stage attaining spiritual consciousness in the inner being. But to realize our integral spiritual destiny, we have to return with the spiritual consciousness to our body and awaken also the body and the cellular organism of which it is made to the consciousness of the Spirit within it. This is also the path for immortalizing the body. First, we have to become conscious of and identify with the immortal element within our consciousness; next, with this immortal consciousness return to our mortal body and awaken the immortal Spirit within it; and then, patiently prepare the body to receive the consciousness, energy and substance of the immortal Spirit within it, until the body is also immortalized. How easy to say or write this in a few sentences! But how unbelievably difficult and perilous an adventure it is, we will realize, when we go through the experiences of Mother’s Yoga of the cells 3!
1. Hatha-yoga is only one of the paths for awakening the Kundalini. And it is not an easy or the best path for awakening the serpent power. Awakening of the Kundalini is done with more psychological and less physical methods in Raja-yoga and Tantra-yoga.
2. The physical transformation of the body can begin only after spiritual transformation of the inner being. The mind and heart have to be transformed first before proceeding with the transformation of the body. For only the like can awaken the like. Only the Spirit can awake the Spirit in the body. So to undertake the arduous journey of physical transformation, we must in some part of the being, in mind, heart, or the soul have to be consciously united or identified with the Spirit and possess the consciousness of the Spirit. It can not be done by the ordinary mental consciousness. Thus, any attempt to transform the body by infusing ordinary mental consciousness into the body will lead to disorder of the body and mind.
3.The Mother used a very radical method to awaken the cells of the body to the Spirit. She sent off the mind and vital and exposed her body directly to the supreme Power of the Spirit. But very few have the spiritual power or the strength in the body to adopt this method.