Body and Mind: The Physical and the Psychological

Psychology must be a complex narration of the science of mind, its operation and its relation to life and body

Published: 09th June 2014 07:44 AM  |   Last Updated: 09th June 2014 07:56 AM   |  A+A-


CHENNAI: Mind is a delegation from supermind, which primarily regards existence as an object fronting its vision. Mental being also need not regard the universe as quite separate from or outside its own being.  Subliminal mentality is capable by extension of a comprehensive relation with cosmic things and of entering into unity with the universe. Mind’s starting-point is not a containing universal vision or a knowledge by identity, but an individualised viewpoint from which it sees the universe. Still, mind can arrive at a sort of containing vision, a mentalised cosmic consciousness.

What then compels embodied mind to see objects externally and by separation? It is compelled by the fact of physical embodiment. Body is a self-limitation of conscious being by which mind is rigidly bound down to its own tendency of separative individuation.

Body, including all physical formations from the atom upwards, is a device of nature for the extreme of conscious individuation. Empirically it is immaterial whether it is an image created by consciousness or a real substance of being. For practical purposes, we may take it as a substantial formation. In fact body is a knot of conscious being built up by its own energy, instinct with nervous or subnervous life — because the energy is in dynamic actuality a living energy — cognising and cognised by subconscious or superficially conscious sense, because the energy is in a certain inherent reality a conscious energy.

It is a knot indivisible in reality from universal consciousness and force and substance, but in a certain empirical utility of selective action separative rather than separate. Body, not really separate, is limited by subconscious instinct of separation and energetic tendency of separation, but not capable of effecting real separation. All its movements are a practical result of selective experience and selective action which is based on a phenomenon of separate physical being. Body is separated from other bodies by intervention of universal matter, but both of the separate bodies are one with the indivisible intervening matter, therefore not separate in reality, but indivisibly connected in energy, and one matter in fundamental reality.

Put otherwise, two bodies are images or formations of one indivisible ethereal space, which is in reality one indivisible movement of material energy, life-energy, mind energy. This inseparable connection and fundamental unity of bodies become of immense importance when we examine the relation of the appearances of consciousness to its reality. Mind in body has to begin from the separation proper to body. Embodied mind is bound down in its root-action to a separative view of the universe. This is its waking view; subliminally, whether in subconscious mentality or where it approaches or touches the superconscient being, it is a capable of bridging the artificial separation.

Embodied mind is as if a walled house were to have a thinking soul and spirit (air and ether) and look at things not in itself as things outside through windows (the senses), receive the touches of the outside air (nervous life-impacts) as if other than the air in itself; even its own ether as other than the rest of ether (my soul and other souls). This is the self and not-self of our mentality.

Mind subliminal is able, though not normally habituated, to bridge the gulf between self and not-self; where it approaches the superconscient, this gulf lessens and conscience of oneness grows upon the being.

Body is only the instrument and basis of this extreme separative individuation, not its first cause. Mind itself is a prior cause; but mentality in itself need not be rigidly separative: especially, subliminal mind has a large integrating power. Mind in itself is only the basis of relatively separative plurality; mind in body increases this relation into a phenomenon of absolutely separative plurality.

From this basis of externalising individuation and separative plurality, waking mental consciousness in the physical universe commences its operations. Psychology is the knowledge of consciousness and its operations.

A complete psychology must be a complex of the science of mind, its operation and its relations to life and body with intuitive and experimental knowledge of the nature of mind and its relations to supermind and spirit.

A complete psychology cannot be a pure natural science, but must be a compound of science and metaphysical knowledge. This necessity arises from the difference between natural or physical sciences and psychology.

A physical science is a knowledge of physical processes which leads inevitably to action and use of physical processes.  The scientist may only regard scientific truth and not utility, but he can find only truth of the process of things, not truth of the nature of things. His discoveries bring about inevitably a utility for action; for all truth of process is a utility for action. Even when not the aim of science, process and utility are the soul and body of physical science. Matter itself is only a utility of spirit or being or nature for physical process and action.  Material energy is an instrumental dynamics for that utility or else an original dynamics which has no other sense of its operations. We get beyond to a higher sense only when (we) get beyond material to mental, psychical and spiritual energy, to mind, soul and spirit.

Excerpt from the book Essays Divine and Human by Sri Aurobindo


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