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356. Mental Nature

Those who take to Sri Aurobindo's yoga first meet with the word 'vital' and ask what it is. In our vernacular conversation we use two words -- 'buddhi' and 'manas'. Buddhi is intelligence; manas is feelings. In English 'mind' and 'heart' are equally clear concepts. In spite of such clarity that exists in the language, a good number of devotees raise the above question, "What is the vital?" To them, the distinction comes almost as a revelation. Vital simply represents the nervous centre whose subtle chakra resides in the stomach. It is known as the solar plexus.

I have sometimes met with a question in discussions addressed to people who raise fresh issues. "Where do you get all these questions from? Are you always thinking?" When it was recurring more regularly, I began to think about it. I myself was asked that question once or twice. Suddenly one day, it struck me, "Perhaps thinking is not a common faculty found in all minds." The simple answer that not all people think dawned on me after considerable analysis. It is said of Vivekananda that he used to see a light between his brows when his eyes were shut. In the beginning, he assumed everyone saw similar light. He was a Vibhuti. In his forehead a light resided.

The question for me was if people do not think, how do they act? They act out of habit, unguided by thought. That is how the vital functions. People working in offices, especially in government offices, readily refer to the rules. They are trained to go by the rules. Their bosses will restrain them if they apply their minds originally to the issue on hand. Their duty is to implement the rules, not to exercise their brains. That way, the mind remains unexercised. If one has to exercise his mind at all, it is to implement the rule. He is permitted to think for the purposes of upholding the rule, not to analyse its validity. The Spirit is above the Mind. The Spirit we invoke is of a further stage, the Spirit in Life or Mind. Still, that Spirit, the Psychic Being, listens to our call and responds to it in its benevolence. Hence the vast power it unleashes. One is lucky to be able to call it. When its Touch descends on us, it gives a heavenly sweetness that is new to the human experience.

story | by Dr. Radut