INSTITUTE FOR INTEGRAL YOGA PSYCHOLOGY

(a project of Mirravision Trust, Financed by Auroshakti Foundation)

 
Chapters
Chapter I
Chapter II - Part 1
Chapter II - Part 2
Chapter II - Part 3
Chapter II - Part 4
Chapter III - Part 1
Chapter III - Part 2
Chapter III - Part 3
Chapter III - Part 4
Chapter III - Part 5
Chapter III - Part 6
Chapter IV - Part 1
Chapter IV - Part 2
Chapter IV - Part 3
Chapter IV - Part 4
Chapter V-Part 1
Chapter V - Part 2
Chapter V - Part 3
Chapter V - Part 4
Chapter V - Part 5
Chapter VI - Part 1
Chapter VI - Part 2
Chapter VI - Part 3
Chapter VI - Part 4
Chapter VI - Part 5
Chapter VII - Part 1
Chapter VII - Part 2
Chapter VII - Part 3
Chapter VII - Part 4
Chapter VII - Part 5
Chapter VIII - Part 1
Chapter VIII - Part 2
Chapter VIII - Part 3
Chapter VIII - Part 4
Chapter IX - Part 1
Chapter IX - Part 2
Chapter X - Part 1
Chapter X - Part 2
Chapter X - Part 3
Chapter X - Part 4
Chapter X - Part 5
Chapter X - Part 6
Chapter XI - Part 1
Chapter XI - Part 2
Chapter XI - Part 3
Chapter XI - Part 4
Chapter XII - Part 1
Chapter XII - Part 2
Chapter XII - Part 3
Chapter XII - Part 4
Chapter XII - Part 5
Chapter XIII - Part 1
Chapter XIII - Part 2
Chapter XIV - Part 1
Chapter XIV - Part 2
Chapter XIV - Part 3
Chapter XIV - Part 4
Chapter XIV - Part 5
Chapter XV - Part 1
Chapter XV - Part 2
Chapter XV - Part 3
Chapter XV - Part 4
Chapter XV - Part 5
Chapter XV - Part 6
Chapter XV - Part 7
Chapter XV - Part 8
Chapter XV - Part 9
Chapter XVI - Part 1
Chapter XVI - Part 2
Chapter XVI - Part 3
Chapter XVI - Part 4
Chapter XVI - Part 5
Chapter XVI - Part 6
Chapter XVI - Part 7
Chapter XVI - Part 8
Chapter XVI - Part 9
Chapter XVI - Part 10
Chapter XVI - Part 11
Chapter XVI - Part 12
Chapter XVI - Part 13
Chapter XVII - Part 1
Chapter XVII - Part 2
Chapter XVII - Part 3
Chapter XVII - Part 4
Chapter XVIII - Part 1
Chapter XVIII - Part 2
Chapter XVIII - Part 3
Chapter XVIII - Part 4
Chapter XVIII - Part 5
Chapter XVIII - Part 6
Chapter XVIII - Part 7
Chapter XVIII - Part 8
Chapter XVIII - Part 9
Chapter XVIII - Part 10
Chapter XIX - Part 1
Chapter XIX - Part 2
Chapter XIX - Part 3
Chapter XIX - Part 4
Chapter XIX - Part 5
Chapter XIX - Part 6
Chapter XIX - Part 7
 

A Psychological Approach to Sri Aurobindo's

The Life Divine

 
Chapter XIX Part 5

Life

Life and Death

Life is an energy that is not only present in what we call the living systems but also in non-living systems though in different denouements. In living systems, we can discern the presence of life through its myriad processes like breathing, locomotion and eating. In the non-living systems, life-energy is incipient in the atomic matrix, in the electronic orbits, in the molecular variety. Life-energy becomes explicit in the inter-relations between living and non-living systems that balance existence. ‘The fact would seem to be, then, that as there is a constant dynamic energy in movement in the universe which takes various material forms more or less subtle or gross, so in each physical body or object, plant or animal or metal, there is stored and active the same constant dynamic force; a certain interchange of these two gives us the phenomena which we associate with the idea of life. It is this action that we recognise as the action of Life-Energy and that which so energises itself is the Life-Force. Mind-Energy, Life-Energy, material Energy are different dynamisms of one World-Force’ (The Life Divine, pg 194).

The very fact that today a subject who had been technically dead for a few moments can be revived with life-support systems shows that life-energy was potentially present though not decipherable. ‘Within certain limits that which is dead can be revived; the habitual operations, the response, the circulation of active energy can be restored; and this proves what we call life was still there in the body, latent, that is to say, not active in its usual habits...’ (Ibid).

It has been a custom with health workers to designate a subject in coma to be in a ‘vegetative’ state, ostensibly implying a suspension of consciousness from where death would be the next state. It has been only as late as 2010 when the European Task Force on Disorders of Consciousness acknowledged that the term ‘vegetative’ had too many negative connotations and sought to officially substitute it by the term ‘unresponsive wakefulness syndrome’. This step was initiated after some severely brain damaged patients showed residual cortical processing in the absence of behavioural signs of consciousness (Laureys S, et al : Unresponsive wakefulness syndrome; a new name for the vegetative state or apallic syndrome, BMC Medicine, 2010,8:68). This echoed what Sri Aurobindo had written a century earlier, ‘In certain cases, such as catalepsy, we see that the outward physical signs and operations of life are suspended, but the mentality is there self-possessed and conscious although unable to compel the usual physical responses’ (The Life Divine, pg 194-195).

One interesting area is the trance state. It is an altered state of consciousness lasting a certain spell. Once the spell is over, there is a return to the pre-trance status quo. Trance states can be cultural phenomena as during religious rituals subjects neither bleed nor feel pain when they jump on a bed of thorns, walk through fire or pierce their tongues. Trance states can also reflect deep spiritual states like the experience of Samadhi in Raj Yoga. Sri Aurobindo had observed like an expert clinician, ‘in certain forms of trance, both the physical functionings and the outward mental are suspended, but afterwards resume their operation, in some cases by external stimulation, but more normally by a spontaneous return to activity from within. What has really happened is that the surface mind-force has been withdrawn into subconscious mind and the surface life-force into sub-active life and either the whole man has lapsed into the subconscious existence or else he has withdrawn his outer life into the subconscious while his inner being has been lifted into the superconscient’ (Ibid, pg 195).

How does the body die?

The bodily form can die or disintegrate in three ways:

(a) The bodily form has been damaged in such a way that it can no longer be a fit receptacle to hold the quantum of life-energy necessary for animating it: ‘a lesion has been inflicted on the body as makes it useless or incapable of the habitual functionings’ (Ibid, pg 195);

(b) The life energy does not get the correct milieu to maintain the homeostasis: ‘the Force that should renew the life-action becomes entirely inert to the pressure of the environing forces with whose mass of stimulation it was wont to keep up a constant interchange (Ibid)’. However, during the process of disintegration [in both (a) and (b)], Life-Energy has to itself conduct the process of de-linking and disentangling its roots and points of attachment from the body –that is also a designated task : Life has to be ‘busy only with the process of disintegrating the formed substance so that it may escape in its elements and constitute with them new forms’ (Ibid) ;

(c) Death finally ensues when the Universal Will withdraws its fulcrum of support to the individual bodily form: ‘The Will in the universal force that held the form together, now withdraws from constitution and supports instead a process of dispersion. Not till then is there the real death of the body’ (Ibid).

Death therefore is a disintegration and dispersion of the bodily form so that the Life-Energy so long supporting the form gets disentangled and free to reconstitute new forms.

Date of Update: 12-Aug-17

- By Dr. Soumitra Basu

 

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