Author: Alok Pandey

Alok Pandey

A Consciousness-based Approach
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A Consciousness-based Approach

The Tent-House of Matter The modern scientific view of the human body is taken so much for granted that we hardly ever pause to consider that the body could be viewed from so many other standpoints. There is little doubt that modern medicine has been remarkable in making accurate observations about the material processes that govern the body. The grey area however is the inferences it has drawn from those observations. The inferences suffer the serious lacuna of being drawn upon a presumptuous premise of the sole reality of matter as we know it and its processes. The material world-view seen in isolation is much like a tent house hanging in mid-air with a vast and frightening unknown space within and around it. It is neither rooted to the ground below nor supported by a rope from above. Such is the figure of the human body drawn by our present day Science. Thus, we are told today of the inevitable fatalism of our genetic makeup. Convincing voices from some of the most sophisticated laboratories shout at us (or hypnotise us in believing) that our minutest reactions, from the first rush of love to the fits of post-partum blues, the immune response and the allergic response, the excess proliferation of cells as in Cancer or their under development, are all written somewhere in the genetic script of our destiny waiting for its hour to unfold. We are but our genes and our true identity is our genetic identity. Sounds familiar, like the racism of the old world in a new guise. And yet, ask the astute geneticist about identical twins that are Nature’s clones in a way and you have elaborate theories to explain (or explain away) the difference in psychological makeup, self-experience and the world-view of these genetically identical but psychologically different people. Multifactorial, we are told, a term no better than guess work. A guessing within boundaries of course. The boundaries are the walls of matter; the tent-house hanging in mid-air. The space within and around, the forces at play that hold and support and even build the fabric of the tent-house are as yet a forbidden territory. To probe them, even to question about them is a taboo, an unscientific speculation. But not for long! The materialist view of matter itself has led us to the point where fact and fantasy, the tangible and the intangible begin to mingle. The solidity of matter vanishes into the atomic void. The atomic void in turn collapses into a world of energy dancing in empty space. The seeming orderliness, the fixity of sequences, the links of cause and effect, the so called laws are nothing else but a trick of the brain, an illusion woven by the senses and supported by a limiting mind that cannot observe the totality and the whole as one movement. Or perhaps they are habits mimicking cause and effect! The mind only perceives events successively and divides them on the basis of the time of observation into a past, present and future. Thus it sees a person coming in contact with someone having flu, it sees next this person himself begin to show signs and symptoms of flu. It therefore feels it logical to presume that flu is contagious and spreads from one person to another. Further based upon the nature of the physical contact it feels that it can safely conclude about the mode of transmission. Finally, it administers a drug to the patient and sees a curative response repeated in a ‘statistically significant way’ and again feels confident in patenting a physical remedy to cure us of a physical illness with a physical cause. But this is incorrect. We can imagine or even consider a scenario as vast as Time itself — at least from the time since man appeared upon earth. Then, if we could somehow see how the symptoms of illness and ‘illnesses’ itself are a pattern thrown up during certain spaces of time, we may observe many new and unknown factors. The upsurge in the flu virus, the lowering of our body defences, the epidemic, may all be linked to a third or fourth factor, for example war, that we fail to see or co-relate since we observe things in small spaces of time. This third or fourth factor that we fail to see is the other side of physical phenomenon. In other words each phenomenon has its physical and its occult side. These do not cancel each other, they often complement and explain each other. This occult side is composed of certain psychological states or rather conditions that exist in the cosmos parallel to the physical world which is simply one kind of organisation of Reality or rather our experience of it. Ischemic heart disease is another case in point. It is barely a few decades back that the medical pundits were convinced about smoking, obesity and dietary habits as being the prime factor in causing or precipitating a heart attack. The pattern however changed soon enough within a few decades. The clinician began to see more younger people, appearing physically quite fit with no history of smoking, suffering from major coronary blocks. And consequently they discovered a new factor — the type A personality. It was the kind of person created by the competitive world of today; a person driven by time, critical of everyone and everything with no time to release his emotional life. These persons had blocked their emotions, at least the positive ones and the blocked coronaries well reflected and recorded this inner state. So things began to fall in place. Smoking, wrong eating habits and IHD were all common symptoms of an unknown factor — an impoverished and constricted emotional life driven by the mad rush of ambition. It is then that one began to observe and understand why quite a few people escaped an assault on their hearts despite the intake of high fat content, despite the nicotine and of course, despite being as obese as Sumo wrestlers. But then, where are the limits of the behind and the beyond? Our physical probes, even the most accurate and the minutest ones, stop at the threshold of the mind. They paused at the doorsteps of that grey passage where thoughts, feelings, attitudes mingle with molecular currents and electro-magnetic waves within the brain and reach out from there through a complex neuro-circuitry to the remotest cell, perhaps penetrating even deeper, touching the nucleus with its genetic core? We yet do not know and may never know as long as we limit our science to a study of physical vibrations alone. The vibrations of thoughts and feelings may and do affect our cells without the necessary support of a material medium just as the feelings aroused in one person can awaken and engulf another person who is emotionally or physically close without the aid of a physical medium. Or, perhaps like the vibrations of an ‘ultrasound’ which can go right up to the cells and resonate back without any visible physical evidence of penetration. So much for ‘Evidence-Based Medicine’. Evidence, yes, but is physical evidence alone enough is the question. We need to dig deeper into the dumb and dark depths of matter, beyond the cellular mechanisms and processes, beyond genes and electrical currents, beyond molecules and electrons, beyond the vast unknown that almost frighteningly occupies with a fathomless emptiness our physical atomic and sub-atomic space. The seer-poet probing thus, illumining by the inner Light of the Self the fathomless dark unknown, beautifully observes: I saw the electric stream on which is run The world turned motes and spark-whirls of a Light, A Fire of which the nebula and sun Are glints and flame-drops, scattered, eremite; And veiled by viewless Light worked other Powers, An Air of movement endless, unbegun, Expanding and contracting in Time’s hours And the intangible ether of the One. The surface finds, the screen-phenomenon, Are Nature’s offered ransom, while behind Her occult mysteries lie safe, unknown, From the crude handling of the empiric Mind. Our truths discovered are but dust and trace Of the eternal Energy in her race. [Sri Aurobindo, Collected Poems: ‘Discoveries of Science’] Probing Deeper A day may well arrive when we are able to map each and every gene that determines some physical attribute and psychological event. We may also find the key that triggers into an amazing and unbelievable order the genetic concert and fine tunes the music of life down to the minutest details of its melody. We may, with stretches of imaginative fiction filling the factual gaps, relate each mental event to a precise neurochemical pathway. Perhaps, we may rather discover the varying intensity of molecular movements and electrical currents in the same pathway correlating with forming the material basis for an essentially mental experience. Having done that and thereby manipulating the chemistry to alter physiological events and psychological experience, we may sit back and congratulate ourselves at the wonders of molecular biology and its extreme limits! But where are the limits? The extreme limit is only a limit of our creative insight. As the horizons recede, the unknown is pushed a little further. And so will it be as long as we extend our gaze outward and outward. But where is the centre of this ever expanding circle of infinity? For having answered all questions about the mechanism we would still have the most fundamental question left unanswered: ‘Who or what is this Self that experiences the mental events?’ ‘Who is the witness, the thinker, the dreamer, the doer, the seer?’ Confining ourselves to the chemistry we may move within the confines of a closed system with no issue or scope of any authentic evolution and certainly none of a Self-experience. A group of cells, tissues, organs and even a totality of all these functioning in perfect order and harmony does not lead to the sense of Self. Just as a conglomeration of all the atoms and elements in the physical universe does not explain a single movement of life. However life can and does explain the movement of the cosmos, the forces holding it, the forces moving it apart — the breath of life expanding and contracting the living pulsating universe. So too with the entire physiological processes and events of life. Mind can explain the logic behind the magical movements of life. Yet all the processes of life, in plants and animals and all the genes from the yeast to the ape cannot explain the logic of logic itself. And what lies beyond the logic of logic itself and holds the key to the magic of the Infinite and the finite in a single embrace? What is it that can explain the gaps in our mind’s logic, the gaps in the rhythms of life and the gaps in our understanding of matter itself? This gap in our knowledge as well as the gap within the atom is filled by consciousness. Consciousness explains thought and mind and life and matter itself. Since it is Consciousness that has become these things — in the deeper view of things — it is indeed Consciousness that becomes all these myriad phenomenon, physical, psychological or any other. How are we to probe consciousness? It is evident that if consciousness is anterior and superior to phenomenon then naturally any amount of investigation of one phenomenon by another phenomenon will not lead us to any definite conclusion. Consciousness would always escape the grasp of phenomenon. Or we may at most understand only that much of ‘It’ as is involved in the process of the phenomenon, yet it is possible to study and understand consciousness and, having done that, it is possible to understand and know each and every phenomenon from the perspective of consciousness. Not only can one understand better, one can relate better, master better, this phenomenal world with the help of consciousness because consciousness is, in its essence, not only awareness or knowledge but also the force, the primal Conscious-Force that assumes and becomes the limited mind force and awareness and consciousness or life force and body force, etc. We have an analogy here. When the physical scientist began to perceive matter not as matter alone but as one pole of matter-energy continuum, he could understand better, manipulate better, the world of physical phenomenon. So too when we begin to understand physical matter not just as matter-energy but as matter-energy-consciousness, we would understand even better. For consciousness is neither just in the mental world, nor is it a chance by-product of an aberrant gland acting in conjunction with the brilliant babble of a billion neurons. Consciousness is there in the instinct of the beast holding it in a cyclic chain of oneness with the rest of the biological world. Consciousness is also there in the gaps between atoms and molecules and in the seemingly empty space within the atom upholding this ocean of quarks and electrons and drifting particles of energy and weaving them all together with the fabric of ether. Properties vs. Quality: The Unseen Factor If matter is nothing else but a condensation of consciousness (just as ice crystals are condensed vapour), each and every form has its correlate in terms of consciousness as well. While a phenomenal study of matter, can give us its quantitative attributes (for example weight, shape, properties, etc.), the qualitative aspects of matter or any material form can only be rightly and fully understood in terms of consciousness. The ancient seers knew it well. So, when they worshipped a stone idol they saw in it a living expression of the deity behind the form. It was not just another stone for them that can be hurled to hurt or huddled with other stones to build a wall. By appeal to the attribute of consciousness, they could use the stone idol to receive earthly and unearthly boons as if the stone suddenly came alive and were charged with a power that exceeded even the limited average human consciousness. On its obverse side, totems and amulets were charmed (charged) by people through an inner act of consciousness giving it properties to harm or heal. Elaborate studies exist that even classified metals and stones into categories that could attract and hold helpful or harmful vibrations of consciousness. The use of marble in places of worship because of its property to receive and hold spiritual vibrations is well known. Of course, it is understood that the object had to be charged by those who had a capacity to do so. And when a patient having faith and receptivity in the method used the amulet or the stone he could receive the vibrations of consciousness entrapped in it. So much so that instances are on record wherein a glass of plain water, a small leaf of Tulsi (a sacred plant), a flower, a thread, or for that matter any material object could be used to heal even difficult cases. We all have witnessed these things but choose to ignore since the bandage of a material science had covered our eye. But the bandage does get ripped off, the scales begin to fall off, the dust is cleared and we begin to truly see and know instead of, as we do now, know and see or rather still worse, think and see. Most of the time we see only the heap of dust thrown into our eyes as facts of truth but fail to see the force of wind behind and the luminous sun above. Or else we give the name of chance to our ignorance (or unwillingness to probe and know). Perhaps we feel safe within the limits of our material well till it collapses into the water underground and we suddenly see a very different, much vaster horizon and the world. The walls of the well are nothing else but the limits of our faith for in the end it is faith that precedes knowledge and not vice versa. Thus, we see and observe what we wish to see and observe. We draw inferences based on what will strengthen and support our basic belief about life. We see matter as matter alone because it absolves us of all except a minimum material responsibility. If we look deep into matter, we shall see that it is composed of electric charges spinning in 99% empty space (the ‘Nihil womb’). It is strange that something that is so unsubstantial gives rise to the sense of solidity. It is due to a complex interplay of material forces (the five subtle forces of Indian thought that corresponds to similar material forces in modern physics). The point is whether these forces, delicately balancing themselves and creating the atomic foundation of solid substance, are unconsciously driven or else are the result of Consciousness reducing Itself to form and qualities. The Nihil womb of atom is after all a cosy place to rest if we wish to pass off the burden of our life to a mechanical inconscient force of Nature. But we can equally and with greater force of mastery see matter as an act of consciousness and thereby open doors of our science to a conscious handling of the forces of life. Thus, we can use pure material means to master a sea-storm, a flood, an earthquake, or rain and gale. We can equally approach these seemingly material phenomenon from the pole of consciousness. We can then master the sea, the wind, the rain, the earth and the sky by an appeal to the consciousness behind these phenomenal forms. Or else, we can integrate both using matter as an instrument and means to hold and convey a particular mode of energy, a certain vibration of consciousness. Matter and material means are like a vehicle carrying different personages and housing different personalities. And in each age mankind has used it differently. It has observed the same matter from one or the other of many points of views and supported by the faith of the age-created mental systems, sciences and philosophies. After all each age had its own unique and successful system of science, valid for that epoch of time but denied and denounced in another age. Each system of science, of medicine, is nothing else but a special way of looking at the same phenomenon. The real truth however escapes unobserved since it is not trapped in the phenomena at all. Each system is valid and invalid depending upon the age and the faith mankind puts into it. Each system is nothing else but a certain bridge thrown across to fill the gap between the mental consciousness of man and the higher consciousness that is present everywhere but unseen and unfelt by us. The system is more like a movement in the wind that makes us aware of the air upon which our very existence depends, even though unseen and unfelt by us routinely. The ‘movement’ makes us sense what is otherwise insensible to our crude and limited senses. We however start relying too much on the ‘movement’ and not on that which moves and that which is the movement. Now it blows in one direction, now from another. And we look helplessly for the direction and search with a hopeless despair if the direction changes. But the thing that gives life is always there. Perhaps, we would do better if we stopped looking for directions and rather looked at the thing itself. Perhaps, we would recover much faster and better if we stopped relying so much on this or that system and rather put our trust in ‘That’ which acts through all the systems and acts even when we have dispensed away with them. For at the end of our search we discover only two things holding as an indispensable and solid pillar the different bridges and roads we take towards health and wholeness. On this side, it is the pillar of ‘Faith’, while on the other side it is the pillar of ‘Grace’. All the rest is a dispensable necessity in between. Systems are interim truths that change from time to time. But Faith and Grace are the eternal unchangeables that forever endure. Towards a Holistic View Neither is complete without the other. We need to understand matter afresh in terms of consciousness. We also need to extract the latent possibilities of consciousness and translate them in material terms. Not just consciousness as we know it today — that is the limited mental awareness. And not just the material matter or physical matter that our limited senses are accustomed to experience through evolutionary conditioning but also subtler matter appropriate to other planes of existence. The consciousness approach (if one may say so for want of a better term) therefore opens the doors to a much vaster understanding and mastery of the forces around us. It is a completer understanding and therefore truly holistic. All other forms of knowing are limited and therefore valid within a limited range and for a limited time. Even a combination of all the systems is not holistic since there will always be many other systems that are undiscovered or forgotten and lost through which consciousness can travel or has travelled once. Many pathways and by-lanes are yet to manifest since the One Consciousness is potentially infinite and can use all methods. To know the One Consciousness is therefore to know all in essence and principle. To know the parts is only to know intermediary details whose ends are missing from our sight. And to know the One Consciousness, the only known way is to identify with ‘It’ through whatever method. True knowledge therefore begins with knowledge of the One Consciousness that has become the many. And true science accordingly is the knowledge of the relationships of the One Consciousness in its application with the many. In other words, not only our self-view and world-view but also our understanding and means of mastery over phenomenon depend largely upon the level of consciousness with which we are habitually or instinctively identified. This identification varies from species to species, from race to race, from one period of Time to another; but also varies from individual to individual. The variation can sometimes be so marked as to make some individuals very distinctly different (for better or worse) from the age and the environment in which they are born or live. This creates one kind of disequilibrium at a social and psychological level and continues in the form of a seeking, (sometimes even a restless seeking or rebellion with its own share of experimentation and error) till the individual consciousness either discovers its own type in the world, or if a rarer variety, isolates himself or creates its own kind around it. Our extension into other bodies and minds is not only through the physical unit and genes but also and perhaps even more commonly and importantly through consciousness. Consciousness reproduces itself into other bodies through a continuous interchange of which we are largely unaware. That can explain many things about individual and group psychology if we wish to. Also many of the seeming anomalies of life arise because of an apparent dislocation of our inner consciousness from the outer; or the consciousness of the different parts of our being. A wide and generous heart may find itself stifled when surrounded with mean and selfish thoughts, within or around it. A high and clear thinking mind may get pulled back by narrow and limited perceptions and feelings arising within or in those around it. A strong and noble vital may feel frustrated when its natural impulse is curbed in a cramped up environment or a weak and fragile body. And, of course, a body full of natural ease and grace may lose its innate beauty due to a rough vital misusing it. All these and so many other forms of disequilibrium of consciousness may arise in a human being leading to various forms of inner and outer maladies of the body and mind. A disease, from a consciousness perspective is essentially an inner disequilibrium. This inner disequilibrium sometimes translates itself as the aberrant movement of molecules, genes, chemistry and physiology. Whether this disequilibrium is triggered by inner or outer causes matters little for in essence it is always an inability of the inner to respond to the challenge from outside. And at a certain point, the sharp distinctions we draw between inner and outer, within and without, ourselves and others begin to fall and we see all as a single extension, a single oneness and a single plan. Yet, for convenience we speak of individual pathologies and individual diseases. In reality it is not only the individual’s but also a larger disequilibrium within the humanity of which he is a part. No man is an island and that is much truer of our inner being. All the same, the human body is a symbol and an instrument. As a symbol it reflects faithfully the truth of our inner being, our inner strengths and weaknesses, our unique inheritance (psychological as well) and constitution; above all, it reflects the changes in our thoughts and feelings and impulses in the pattern of our consciousness. As an instrument it can be likened to a machine (as science does see it but unfortunately as an inconscient machine alone) driven by various forces — physical, vital, mental, spiritual forces of consciousness. When it opens too much to the forces of a lower order, in short, forces of division, and disintegration, it falls ill. The nature of illness then becomes a symbolic pointer to the level of consciousness at which the forces of disintegration are active. Thus, when we use our mouth and tongue to project very harsh and crude vibrations, the teeth and oral cavity become susceptible to decay and illness. When we hold tight our feelings and let ourselves be governed by excessive ambition, we develop tight and choked coronaries hurting our heart. The stifling smoke of anger (and proneness to it) can stifle our lungs. Depression depresses every healthy function in general but specifically the immune and the cardiovascular system. Anxiety erodes the stomach and gastrointestinal (GI) tract in general. The fire of desire finishes the bodily fuel much too early than warranted. Unkindness, jealousy, hate, fear, greed and lust in general attack the abdominal organs just as a weak and selfish sentimentalism adversely affects our liver. And so on and so forth. Equally, an opening of the body and mind to a higher spiritual or a deeper soul-consciousness can protect and heal and strengthen and succour. One may do it through prayers, meditation, contact with someone inwardly developed, but it works best when the opening comes naturally and spontaneously as an inner need of the soul. This way, the illness can itself become one of the gateways to a deeper consciousness, a turning point that helps us depart from our ordinary mental to a higher spiritual consciousness. To put the whole thing in an apparent paradoxical reconciliation, we may say that the price of opening to the lower forces is illness and the prize of illness is a possibility of opening to the higher forces, out of sheer necessity. This alone (and not the theories of God’s curse and punishment) justifies the presence of pain and illness in a world built by an all compassionate God and woven by His consciousness with the fabric of Love. This alone justifies our passage through the hell of suffering as a shortcut to heaven, a rough and bumpy road through which we move ahead when our feet are unwilling to tread the smooth and sunlit path. The Healer and the Healed The healer therefore has a threefold task. First, to understand the truth and level of inner dislocation from the outer illness. By doing so, he assists the patient’s entry into his own inner life and its unique features. Second, to induce faith and assist in opening the patient through the rickety and narrow wicket gate of illness to the higher and deeper forces of health and healing. Here he may use whatever means or system comes naturally to him and to which the patient himself may be receptive. Thirdly, and most importantly, he cannot accomplish the first two tasks unless he himself is open and progressing towards deeper and higher zones of consciousness. If the physician is himself entrapped in a narrow and limited self-view and world-view, he obviously cannot become a truly powerful catalyst for the inner change. To work upon others one has to work upon oneself for in fact there are no others but the One carrying the all. And each particle and unit of all that liberates itself from its fears and bondage automatically helps liberate others. Besides, we can give to the world only that which we have. Only one who has peace and harmony can potentially impart these to others. Only the strong can give strength to others. Only who save themselves can others save. [Sri Aurobindo, Savitri: Canto III, Book 4] For the rest there is the usual physical view of health and illness, physical remedies and drugs, physical doctors knowing and replacing body parts with astounding precision but who miss the ‘One’ and the ‘whole’. Just as we have the individual consciousness of the doctor and the patient so also there is the collective consciousness of the environment in which each of us dwells (our psychological dwelling place). The vibrations of consciousness and the quality of forces that cohabit and surround our inner dwelling are of importance in health and healing. This environmental consciousness may exist in a certain place as a formation from the past. Or else and in addition it is largely created by the consciousness of the patient and the people around him including the health care personnel. Interestingly, there is a reciprocal effect between our physical and psychological environment. A clean and simple environment full of sunlight and fresh air may well be conducive in attracting forces of beauty and harmony and health. So can certain colours and patterns and designs attract vibrations of peace and strength. The lighting of incense is not just a symbolic act of worship but a concrete physical means to purify the atmosphere. Equally, and in an obverse way, dirt, smoke, alcohol may make us ill not just by physical means alone but even more through a secret affinity to forces of disorder, confusion and disintegration. A whole world of consciousness based preventive hygiene is waiting to be explored! The End or the Beginning? Finally, at the end of this day, the debate continues about which came first — consciousness or matter. The ghost of Phineas Gage still haunts the scientific world [1]. And so the miracle cures and sudden conversions of history like St. Paul and King Ashoka. The phenomena of a Hitler and Bin Laden on the one hand and that of a Buddha and Christ on the other hand continue to baffle the average humanity. Not to speak of the various hue and range though which the spectra of this world moves reflecting the shades of the viewer’s glass. Like the subjective-objective and the impersonal-personal dilemma it is unlikely to be resolved at the level at which we stand today. The mental consciousness of man stands at a strange crossroad. The problem and the solution move in a narrow arc of a modicum of few necessities. The animal does not carry the burden of its past or the load of a future destiny. Likewise, beyond man there is no need of answers just as there are no questions since all is self-explained, self-known in the light of a luminous Self. But here, in man, the mental self is like a blind man moving through a virgin forest with sometimes the staff of faith and at other times the touch of a half-lit ignorance full of reasoned guesses as his support. The eye of knowledge is however missing and therefore he knows not his map or his compass. He feels ever unsure in the midst of a thousand million cosmic forces around him. He sees nothing in the atomic space and stumbles over each idea that holds him for a while. His knowledge only pushes the unknown further and the ‘Thing’ always escapes his infant grasp. He knows not who he is or why he is or perhaps even where he is. Yet, unlike the animals he is aware that he is. And this is the source of his misery. He therefore has questions but no definite answers; problems with temporary solutions but no resolution of the enigma’s knot which ties his fate. He is defeated in the midst of his conquests and having fallen and failed finds himself victorious. Diseases and germs multiply even as drugs and remedies do. He only plays at pushing death for a while till it stares at his face again in another form mocking at his efforts. The issue cannot be resolved at the level of the mental man. The mental man must rise and become the spiritual man or man-divine to undo the Gordian knot. The script of the earth indeed seems to be written in double terms — the material and the spiritual. Both must embrace each other to complete each other. And that seems possible only in the common matrix of consciousness. Otherwise we have to rest content with playing with the mud of the earth or the mud of the stars and forget about the path of light that links the two. This however cannot be. The debate over ‘Consciousness’ may now be divided 50-50 in two camps. But there is a growing effort to genuinely link the two. The debate and the effort are themselves indicative that the resolution is near. It may not be just around the corner. And truly speaking how do 20, 40, 50 or a 100 years matter so long as we as a race are moving forward? How does it matter whether we, as we know ourselves today, would live to see the resolution? In the consciousness view of things, we all will be there as we have always been speaking and working and sensing through one body or another, through one form or another. The worm is nothing else but a forerunner and precursor of the now extinct dinosaur. So too, the dolphin and the ape are nothing else but humans in disguise awaiting the hour of an evolutionary knock that would shatter the simian mask and disclose the human face of analysis and reason from behind. And who or what is man? The Infinite wearing a finite mask; God denying his godhead; the Divine wearing the shape of a limited intelligence and power! On the answer to this question rests the future of science and of man. The Sphinx calls to man and to his science: … Thou thinkest term and end for thee are not; But though thy pride is great, thou hast forgot The Sphinx that waits for man beside the way. All questions thou mayst answer, but one day Her question shall await thee. That reply, As all we must; for they who cannot, die. She slays them and their mangled bodies lie Upon the highways of eternity. Therefore, if thou wouldst live, know first this thing, Who thou art in this dungeon labouring?” [Sri Aurobindo, Collected Poems: ‘A Vision of Science’]   Reprinted with permission from Dr. Alok Pandey’s book “Veda of the Body” Publications
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The Human Body: A Mystery’s Workshop
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The Human Body: A Mystery’s Workshop

We are so used to seeing the body so much as organs, tissues, cells and their functions that we fail to observe any consciousness inherent in it.  Is the body something unconscious, a machine driven by mechanical energy?  It may appear so at first, but a deeper probe reveals that a consciousness stands behind the seemingly unconscious machine.  The first impression itself is of a battalion of cells that has repeatedly rehearsed their drill and execute it to the minutest perfection.  Or of an orchestra playing a concert with various musical instruments.  What we see is the final performance, but what we do not see are the years of patient practice.  This programming of each cell (in our body’s case) to perform a certain drill or strike a certain note in the concert of the body’s movements has come through aeons of conditioning.  The fixity of laws and processes are the result of an adaptive conditioning over the years. Whether this conditioning and memory is passed down through the genetic mechanism or in some other way is open to discussion. But the fact of adaptation in one body acquired through years being transmitted to others of the species in a rapid and spontaneous way is an undisputed thing. Whatever be the mechanism behind this evolutionary adaptation this conditioning has its advantages. It provides stability essential for useful and coordinated function.  It also provides a rapidity of response to known environmental cues and so enhances survival.  But the flip side of this is a fixity, which prevents us from discovering new ways of understanding and meeting the challenges of life. The horns and the tail so useful to animal life become meaningless at the human level with the full development of hands and its power to hold and grasp. Again, for example, even when we eliminate fear of an object or social situation from our mind, the body still gives the response of fear in the form of a tremor.  But once this fear is deconditioned from the physical body, it is done for good.  The body is difficult to decondition but once done, the lesson is permanent.  The memory of the mind may fail but the body’s imprints remain. The Physical Consciousness So where is the seat of physical imprint and memory? Where is the blueprint which registers all the changes and transmits it down the line and even horizontally? One can still stretch one’s imagination to conceive of reverse t-RNA, a strand of RNA that carries information from the cell surface to the nuclei. Its importance is that it is perhaps the micro-chip linking the outside world with the inside of a cell. Thus our environment (physical and psycho-spiritual) can induce changes within the cell itself, carrying messages from the outside to the nucleus and effectuating genetic changes to be subsequently passed down the generations. What is not so easily conceivable is the transmission of the evolutionary changes horizontally as if our very physical being extended into one another as a single continuum! The only way to understand this is that behind the gross and visible physical body is a layer of subtle physical consciousness extending as the archetype holding the imprints and images of our past as well as the present and the future. It is this physical consciousness that mingles with the gross physical body and becomes one with it. In fact the gross body is nothing but a derivative product precipitated through the condensation of this physical consciousness. The physical consciousness is like the healthy background against which the changing patterns of our physical being are matched and certified as healthy or sick. A consequent directive follows to correct the imbalance and the entire body’s processes adjust to its dictates. Or else we may visualize the physical consciousness as the uncorrupted original file containing the plans and processes of the gross body. Genes, chemical reactions, the various functions are only intermediary processes that adjust of themselves in accordance with the central directive. The real map and contours, the inner geography and history of each form is there in the individual physical consciousness. Perhaps, considering the great importance of this subtle body, Nature has kept this original file in secrecy lest our all too human curiosity corrupts it. Yet Nature does lend all its secrets if we pursue it rightly. So too the physical consciousness can be studied, awakened and called upon to assist in the healing as well as the evolutionary process. It is the last frontier where the sense of a separate body is preserved without losing the innate sense of oneness behind all physical existence and within the different parts of the body itself.  Just as computer programming is not on the display screen or circuits, but in the mind of the programmer, the fixity of patterns in body movements and functions is not in the gross structure or genetic code (which are mainly transcripts), but in the physical consciousness that receives and transmits influences from subtle levels of consciousness. If subtlety and an incessant urge to progress are the hallmarks of mind and fluidity and an ever expanding plasticity are the hallmarks of life, then it may well be said that fixity and inertia are the hallmarks of the physical consciousness and the body. It is only natural that this be so because the very purpose of the body is to provide a stable basis for our individual existence. The human body is much like the take-off field for various types of aircrafts in the form of thoughts, feelings, desires, impulses, etc. If the field is not good then the forces of life and mind suffer a diminution and labour under great duress. The solidity of the field may not guarantee an equally robust and healthy life and mind but it does open such a possibility. In contrast, a handicap at the physical level generally (exceptions apart) does limit the possibilities. To take a common experience, while it is possible for us to turn our thoughts and emotions upwards or downwards when we are in a state of physical health, our thinking and feeling get grossly constricted when we are sick, say with fever! The significance of the body can therefore never be underestimated. The hardware has to be commensurate with the software we wish to install. The Hardware of the Body and its Future Possibilities Much of the body’s evolutionary hardware still pertains to our animal past and life in the jungles. If developed we can still recover many of the lost capabilities of animal life. A methodical programme of physical exercises can turn our muscles into steel, our legs into powerful wheels and our heart into an extraordinary pumping machine. But that would not really be a forward march but a sliding back to a left behind past. The physical consciousness has however not only the imprints of the past but also and more importantly the blueprints of the future. Any evolutionary change must first transit itself through the subtle physical consciousness and then trickle to the gross body through a complex system of nerves. The subtle body has many other possibilities than merely those of our animal past. It can, for example, escape the laws of gravity, change its size according to need, create additional covering for itself as a cloth wrapped around us, extend a portion of itself into other things, prolong its existence, reconstitute itself into different shapes, reach out through the subtle senses far beyond our limited sense, draw energy directly without food, transmute the experience of pain into delight, multiply itself and possibly exist indefinitely. We find these exceptional and higher possibilities manifested in the case of rare yogis. These rare possibilities, often mocked by our arrogant and limited science as fantasy and myths, are yet the things that would manifest in the future. The hidden possibility must one day come out and the concealed and latent energies release themselves. The human body may have an animal past; it yet has a god’s future. It is in this evolutionary direction that we need to develop the hardware of the body. This would need a twofold effort. First, an awakening and development of the body to its own highest human possibilities, that is, to bring the now automatic functions under a wilful, conscious and voluntary control. Next, to further sublimate the possibilities by the pressure of higher and higher energies accessible to us. The body consciousness has first to be awakened out of its animal sleep and next opened to the spiritual influences from above. It would need again a twofold labour. A deconditioning of the body from many of the animal instincts, which hinder the full play of higher energies in us, is the first requirement. The next requirement is to link our thus purified physical consciousness with the spiritual existence above through an aspiration and surrender. In fact, all physical culture properly pursued, awakens physical consciousness, makes it subtler and less obscure, introducing into it a certain plasticity and control, thereby making it more receptive to higher influences.  Dancing is one such ‘exercise’ that reintegrates body, mind, life energy and even the higher consciousness.  Yogasanas also reintegrate body, mind and deeper levels of consciousness. It is no easy task and needs persistence and perseverance. What is of utmost importance however is not the fact of doing this or that exercise but rather adopting a certain attitude within us and a concentrated aspiration in the physical consciousness towards its own higher future. Key to Educating the Body The mind with its dogmas, its rigid and arbitrary principles, the vital with its passions, its excesses and dissipations soon destroy the natural balance of the body and create in it fatigue, exhaustion and disease. It must be freed from this tyranny and this can be done only through a constant union with the psychic centre of the being. The body has a wonderful capacity of adaptation and endurance. It is able to do so many more things than one usually imagines. If, instead of the ignorant and despotic masters that now govern it, it is ruled by the central truth of the being, you will be amazed at what it is capable of doing. Calm and quiet, strong and poised, at every minute it will be able to put forth the effort that is demanded of it, for it will have learnt to find rest in action and to recuperate, through contact with the universal forces, the energies it expends consciously and usefully. In this sound and balanced life a new harmony will manifest in the body, reflecting the harmony of the higher regions, which will give it perfect proportions and ideal beauty of form. And this harmony will be progressive, for the truth of the being is never static; it is a perpetual unfolding of a growing perfection that is more and more total and comprehensive. As soon as the body has learnt to follow this movement of progressive harmony, it will be possible for it to escape, through a continuous process of transformation, from the necessity of disintegration and destruction. – The Mother, On Education: ‘The Science of Living’ Evolutionary Transformation or Disintegrative Destruction This therefore is the real challenge before the human body and every body. The animal body faced this challenge in its earlier leap towards the human form. The human body faces the same challenge today leading to an upsurge in the many forms of illnesses. Seen outwardly these illnesses are threats to survival to be crushed out by powerful medicines that eliminate germs and toxins (and perhaps the body itself in the long run). We forget that animal life knew nothing of all this consciously and yet it overcame the challenges and evolved to a greater possibility of life. The same evolutionary force is once again active in the earth atmosphere calling us to exceed our human limitations. Disease is merely a shadow showing us where we stand in this process. It is an inability of the physical parts to respond with a sufficient plasticity to the evolutionary pressure, firstly due to inertia and secondly due to the long standing habit of response to forces of a lower order. Unfortunately much of our present culture continues to strengthen our animal instincts and thereby making things even more difficult for the body that obeys these extravagances of our vital life of night clubs and late parties with the docility of a tamed animal and an obedient slave. The only way it can make noise or make itself heard is through the agency of illness. But do we listen and make the corresponding change in our lifestyle that precipitated the illness in the first place? The final conquest would not be therefore in eliminating the outer causes of illnesses or our ability to contain them through powerful drugs. The real conquest would be to eliminate the inner causes of illnesses by a spontaneous immunity to every force of disease and disintegration. This demands an evolutionary transformation of the body itself without which we will only replace one illness with another, create one mutant strain of virus after another, substitute one powerful chemical by another, change one form of illness into another without really eliminating them. The inner reasons for physical deterioration and aging therefore are: (i) An inability of the body to follow, due mainly to its fixity the progressive movement of other parts of the being.  The body has learnt to obey the vital impulses (from its animal past) and thought-movements (in our human present).  It does not yet respond to the forces of the higher consciousness (the superconscience). There are yet no centres in the body to respond to the higher touches.  The superconscient is not yet organised in the body. In fact that is why traditionally, the body is required to be stilled so as to escape into a trance of superconscience. However the future body will be able to directly manifest the superconscience without resistance, in its waking, active state.  Governed by the truth above, it will be able to respond much more surely and effectively. (ii) A conditioning of the physical consciousness due to past programming. (iii) A secret necessity of life to have infinite experience on a finite basis can also be the cause of aging and death.  No form, however great and powerful, can provide this varied opportunity for infinite growth.  Therefore, death is used as a device to assume new and different forms under different psychological and physical conditions.  This cyclical return of growth through experience is the rationale for rebirth.  In effect, nothing dies – all returns and reconstitutes itself, so that one day each element can manifest the highest harmony.   Reprinted with permission from Dr. Alok Pandey’s book “Veda of the Body” Publications
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The Human Body – a Spiritual View
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The Human Body – a Spiritual View

There is a scientist’s way of looking at the human body and there is a spiritual way to look at it. The two views, though different due to a difference in the angle of the vision, are nevertheless mutually complimentary if we take the larger interests of the human race in its evolutionary progression. The view of the scientist is of course more narrow, his angle of vision more focused on the details of physical processes, his field of enquiry the outward and the immediate. The scientist brings us to the detailed knowledge of the chemical blocks which build our physical body, the laws and processes that govern our physical existence and the means of physical interventions that can help it to remain fit and healthy and function normally. The yogi casts a wider look, his angle of vision is broader since his consciousness moves in a larger field of experience – the inner and cosmic. He may not necessarily be aware of the detailed chemical constitution or physical processes governing the body yet his intervention can be more direct, powerful and effective. This is so because he knows the play of the cosmic forces and their subtle laws and occult processes that work upon matter and govern it from behind. Yet his aim of intervention is not merely to secure fitness and normalcy for their own sake but for the fulfilment of a higher Purpose, of the cosmic Will in man. Therefore does a yogi seldom intervene under any pressure of personal will of the claimant to health but rather more and more in alignment to a deeper and larger cosmic Will which sees beyond the outward and the immediate. Unless of course the mere intensity of the personal will is enough to move the cosmic Will. There is of course an intermediate terrain between the physical and the spiritual, a domain of mixed possibilities. The physical scientist has begun to recognize this as higher than the physical domain and calls it ‘psychological’. What he means by the term is that our thoughts, will, emotions have their physical counterparts, and through these psychophysical components of our physiology, they can and indeed do influence the physical processes, the organs and their functioning. This is a great discovery and opens doors into deeper territories. As of now however the physical scientist is satisfied with studying only the physical components of our psychophysical parts. But just as there is a physical side of the psychological parts, there is a pure psychological side of our physical existence. It is occult to our physical vision and yet is teeming with rich and varied possibilities. It consists of a direct seizing upon of mind energies and life energies and other forms of an intermediate energy and their deft handling to heal and succour. This field known to the occultists, the alchemists and the tantrics of old had taken a backseat in the last few centuries that saw man preoccupied almost exclusively with the physical world and his material existence. The triumphant march of sciences based upon a study of gross matter and its possibilities almost blotted out this other type and even diminished faith in such deeper hidden possibilities. But now since we have explored and sounded the depths of the physical world we see a resurgence of interest in the hidden forces of life. As we have said, the view of the yogi is deeper and wider than even the psychological and the occult. This is so because to his unsealed vision there are disclosed not only the stray strands of mental and vital and other energies but also the forces and forms and beings and godheads at each of these universal planes of existence. Instead of simply channelling the ‘energies’ through his personal will, which besides may yet be an ignorant limited and egoistic will, he opens himself to the action and play of the Cosmic Divine and even the Will of the Transcendent Supreme by a progressive surrender of his psychological apparatus and the instrumentality of nature; by a progressive dissolution of the ego to that which is Beyond-ego. The sign of such a surrender is that he no more opens a healing shop or promises miracles to each and everyone who approaches since he can no longer be impelled any more by his own limited personal will or the limited and ignorant will of his clients. He begins to act or rather be acted upon, more and more directly in alignment to a higher Will, more and more silently, yet more and more powerfully. He can claim nothing, nor promise anything unless he sees and knows it as coming from the Transcendent Source of all things. What then is this deeper view of the human body, its necessity and its ultimate purpose? How does our health and illness relate with this Purpose? And how can we facilitate this great Purpose through both health and illness? This of course is another point of divergence. For while the scientist (physical and occult) hardly evinces any interest in the body other than its utility for survival and physical (vital existence for its own sake), the yogi, sees further. The yogi sees in the body the capacity to deliver the soul out of its self-willed confinement in matter. According to the yogi, the seemingly unconscious field of matter is pregnant with a conscious soul that has entered into a state of self-oblivion having identified with the unconscious state of matter. It has done this deliberately so that by a slow process of an evolutionary progression it can extract the divine possibilities hidden in matter. This is possible because, in the deepest vision of the seers, it is Spirit that has become matter. And therefore by a process of reversal (what we term as an evolution) matter can reclaim its spiritual status. This evolutionary unfolding takes place by the pressure of the growing soul. As it wakes up, it also wakes up the deeper possibilities of matter – the possibility of sensation, the possibility of impulse to live; of feelings; of thought and ideation. In other words, matter is the field in which seedlings of the Spirit are sown deep, carefully hidden in the folds of darkness of our material existence. These seedlings are watered and looked after by the Divine Gardener who pours down the Light and Breath and Force of a higher sphere of spiritual existence through the mediating agency of the soul. The soul holds the trust deed of this field whose ownership is with the Divine. But till the soul grows and is able to exercise a sufficient degree of influence and control over matter and physical existence, it has to act through the already developed agency of a caretaker mind and life. And herein lies the first knot of the problem of our bodily existence. The body has already developed from within itself the powers of life with its fairly elaborate and perfected processes. The powers of mind and their processes and neurological connections are still developing as some latest research tell us. In other words, unlike the processes of life, the processes of cognition are yet not fully laid down and new patterns are replacing old ones. But the soul-powers and soul faculties are still largely asleep except for occasional glimpses from time to time. The yogi’s efforts are therefore not focused so much on physical survival or health and fitness for vital enjoyment or to enhance comfort and sense-pleasure. In fact, the yogi may prefer the instrument to be broken rather than being used by reckless powers of an excess ambition and blind lust. His efforts are to first of all extract the soul out of its entrapment in matter and secondly, to exercise a spiritual control and mastery over material and bodily existence. Thirdly, and lastly, the aim put forward by Sri Aurobindo, to progressively spiritualise and then divinise matter. The problem of the bodily existence that the yogi had set to resolve are therefore different from those of the medical scientist. Though they work upon the same field, they work towards a different aim and with different principles and methods. The medical scientist’s job is to repair the damaged bodily equipment and enhance its lifespan for survival purposes or even to prolong the ability of sensory enjoyment, physical pleasures and comforts. Therefore the medical scientist multiplies outer methods of prolonging life, repairing defects, handling emergencies, change of organs, etc. To preserve and prolong is his aim. But the yogi’s interest lies elsewhere. Not survival for the sake of survival, not prolongation of life for fear of death, not a fresh lease so that he can indulge a little longer into sense pleasures. So, his first and foremost aim is to keep the body supple and fit, in a reasonable healthy and balanced state relatively free of serious disturbances so that he can concentrate upon his soul. Not that he cannot do so in a sick body. He can, if he has a strong will, but in the usual case, a sick body, and a body full of tamas and inertia drags the consciousness outward and downward. True, with practice it is not difficult to learn detaching the mind from our physical condition yet that makes the effort so much more difficult, especially if there is too much of inertia. Besides inertia and tamas naturally attract forces of disharmony and disruption, of greed and lust. A physical consciousness that is too tamasic preoccupies itself with food, sex and sleep, etc., attraction to things that make the body heavy and dull or damage the nerves such as alcohol, tobacco, narcotics, heavy or stale food, etc.. Some simple medicines as and when necessary to avoid too much discomfort are okay in this stage when one is simply learning to disengage the soul from the body and mind. Life, death, disease are in this stage mere passing incidents that temporarily block our view or pause for a short while our search for the soul. The second level of difficulty arises when having found his soul, the yogi strives to master each and every movement. The law of moderation is to be replaced here by a growing spiritual perfection. It is no more enough to eat in moderation but to eliminate greed completely. It is no more a regulated sex but an effort to completely master the sex impulse. It is no more having a sound refreshing sleep but to become conscious of that very period of rest. Even with regards to illness, the effort is to get rid of it by an inner control and exercise of a spiritual will and by the pressure of a higher consciousness and its forces. One may still need medicines but rarely and in lower dosages for short duration. As the change proceeds, the so-called normal laws of the body no more hold tight. The body itself is seen as a field and a symbol for the play of various forces and energies of different levels of consciousness reflected and represented in the body. This is a long and protracted battle. The vital and the mind do not easily let go off their old misrule. The subconscious caves where these traffickers and robbers hide raise their head again and again. The effort here is to link the physical consciousness to the soul and through it to the higher realms. This is done through aspiration and opening of the physical consciousness to change, a persistent, painstaking, rejection full of perseverance; a constant referral to Grace, its invocation to eliminate the many defects and impulses and a surrender to the Divine Will. As the psychic consciousness grows, as the inner being begins to change under the psychic pressure, as the higher forces accumulate, the task becomes relatively easier though by no means a simple one. A distinction has to be made between the psychic control vis-à-vis a mental and vital control of the body. For people with a strong vital will can impose it upon the body. Usually, this vital will in man being subject to the ego and desire, is used for all the wrong purposes. However, sometimes the vital will and the mind can exercise a strong control over the body. Such a control should not be confused with the control arrived at by a psychic and spiritual consciousness. The vital and mental will impose upon the body certain arbitrary rules based on preferred opinions. These rules may even be drastic ones like raw vegan vegetarianism, or breatharians, or food fads, or an extensive exercise programme without proper and adequate rest and sleep. Such a control may appear drastic and swift to arrive but is usually temporary, achieved by a locking up of mental and vital energy in suppressing something, done at the expense of the body’s health (even though people do not always realise it is as in cases of anorexia nervosa). Besides, such a control usually brings a certain rigidity and harshness in nature. The psychic control takes longer because it keeps the little grain of wheat while removing the chaff, but is more complete, carries a sense of harmony, sweetness, peace and joy. Nevertheless, mental and vital control have their own utilities in our evolutionary journey. The mental and vital control is more external such as not eating certain things even though you like them, while the psychic control is more intrinsic such as eliminating greed. Both may therefore complement each other. The psychic control is usually in the form of an invitation, a subtle indication of the gesture to be made, the thing to be done and the right way to do it. It has neither the harsh insistence of the mind nor the vehemence of the vital but acts more as a subtle but sure compulsion which we (the mind-vital-body ego) may or may not follow. But if persisted and followed, it leads a harmony and grace to the body, a ring of authentic sweetness and peace in the voice and speech, an unerring impulsion to our bodily movements and a spontaneous resetting of the body’s rhythms in accordance with deeper truths. The food becomes more nourishing and in the right quantity without our thinking or calculating of calories, the sleep becomes much more refreshing and the dreams change their quality, one develops a “natural’ (as contrasted with enforced and artificial) distaste for certain crude impulses such as sex and anger. Fear tends to diminish and finally vanish. The very limbs feel a subtle sweetness flowing through them as a rejuvenating sap of some immortal life, and even the taste and other senses may undergo a corresponding change. A new and deeper sense of beauty comes that is no more deceived by charming appearances and can easily see through them. A spontaneous knowledge, a more subtle but effective will, a quality of tranquillity in feeling and impulsion, a natural state of peace and joy, an uplifting of everything towards the Divine, a clarity that the intellect cannot offer, a goodwill, wideness and love that the heart has not known before, a native generosity of the soul that is equal-visioned towards all and therefore at peace and ease with itself and the world are some of the profound physical and psychological changes that arises with the progressive awakening of the psychic. This itself is a great gain and makes us so much more free from many maladies. But since it is difficult for man to remain in constant touch with the soul, there are lapses and recoils, the revolts of the vital, the surfing up of the mind’s anxieties and fears, the hearts hopes and expectations, the body’s maladies. The subconscient throws up the old ills and habits again in such vulnerable moments and the maladies return. Nevertheless, once the passage is seated for the psychic streams to pour upon the body it becomes easier and easier to get back to the psychic poise and heal the body from within. This becomes possible because unlike the mind and the vital, the psychic consciousness can directly link us to the healing forces of a higher consciousness. It can even call down the touch of Grace upon matter and redeem it from its fallen state. And if for some reason it (the soul) decides to leave the body, then one is put in the best and most favourable inner conditions to do so. Then death itself becomes a leap, an opportunity, and crisis an evolutionary lever. If this is combined with a strong faith and will in the mind and the vital then it can make an almost impregnable fortress against almost all illnesses. Such a fortunate combination is however very rare. Often in fact, the story may well be different. A person with a great psychic possibility may be endowed with a great difficulty of nature that is like a shadow which he must conquer to realize his own true strength. And in Nature’s great economy and wisdom the obstacle is so arranged so that it may hasten the inner possibility which would remain dormant if it did not meet the friction and resistance of an opposing force which acts as a stimulant or a challenge to facilitate the psychic emergence. To conquer this rock-like obstacle to facilitate the flow of the soothing streams of the nectar of delight that secretly even now supports and heals our existence is the work of the yogi. This work needs time, patience, faith and courage. It is the work of bringing into the frame of our mortal existence that which exceeds all frames. It is the work of preparing our earthly field called the body to receive and implant seeds of light from another realm whose harvest is not yet known to man. But once it begins to blossom and bloom it will solve all problems of disease, incapacity and death by striking at the very roots of the malady that lie embedded and entangled in the dark concealment of the rock caves of our subconscient nature. Medicines cannot do it, nor can any alternate system of therapy or exercises of techniques of breathing do it for us. These may be and are helpful in their own place and time but only temporarily and perhaps immediately so. But the yogi looks beyond the temporal and the immediate. He looks at concealed parts, parts of light and parts of night and reuniting them becomes a whole. From the Yogic point of view each part of the body is symbolic of a higher movement that is reflected here in a more or less distorted manner. Yet there is a subtle correspondence between the two. Now the effort of evolution translates itself in physical terms to create a perfect body that is truly representative of the higher states of consciousness, a body moved entirely by the higher forces and energies rather than by their lower and lesser counterparts as of now. This would naturally lead not only to a perfect immunity that could practically extend to everything but also to a free and full play of Divine Consciousness and its forces and energies in matter. It would bring, in other terms, a complete freedom from all animality and also death-bound, disease prone, desire driven humanity. How will this come about? The first step is to accumulate the forces and energies of a higher consciousness by a constant aspiration, psychic purification and a spiritual opening of the embodied human consciousness right up to the physical. There must increase simultaneously the receptivity of the body-cells to this higher consciousness. A conscious and methodical physical education is one of the means to achieve that. The pressure of the transformed inner consciousness will begin to mould and remould the physical stuff till it finally admits the transformation of each part into a corresponding physical centre of energy. Secondly, to a deeper spiritual sight, each part contains the whole in itself. There is a whole universe contained or rather crammed within us. In a transformed body it may be possible to effectuate changes in one part of the world by concentrating on a corresponding part of the body and releasing the higher forces locked there. Each body can become then a representative body of the earth. This is the deeper work of the yogi – to awaken and release the spiritual forces locked in the prison house of matter. And by that release turn this prison into a camp or temple-house of God. The scientist’s work is simply to study and repair the prison-bars, make them strong and lasting. The yogi’s work is to change them and in its place erect something new, something far more beautiful and true.   Reprinted with permission from Dr. Alok Pandey’s book “Veda of the Body” Publications
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Health – The Spiritual Perspective
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Health – The Spiritual Perspective

Introduction The recognition of a spiritual dimension of health by the World Health Organization (WHO) has indeed been a landmark event. It is doubtful, however, that the full import and significance of this fundamental aspect of human existence has been grasped even by well-intentioned persons.  The reason is very simple. The spiritual dimension is still a concealed possibility in the race as a whole. Even though its emergence is the inevitable next step in Nature’s scheme of things; yet it is a slow emergence. There have been individuals no doubt, who have experienced a greater spiritual consciousness. It is also true that such individuals have cut across the barriers of race and gender, language and culture. Yet for the majority of humankind, the spiritual dimension still remains a possibility which many do not care to explore. Most of us confuse it with philosophy, religion, morality and occultism. While these four approaches can prepare man and even throw open a window to the spiritual truth, in themselves they are insufficient to solve the riddle of man and conquer for him freedom from suffering, limitation, death, disease and incapacity. Philosophy, religion and ethics prepare man’s thoughts, emotions and will for an awakening to the true spiritual impulse. Occultism explores the inner hidden dimension of existence and its forces and powers and faculties. All of these however miss the deepest truth.  At best they throw some reflection or hint and thereby act as a preparatory catalyst. At worst they distract and confuse us by offering an imitation in lieu of the real spiritual truth. Defining the Indefinable The first need is therefore to get rid of this misconception of confusing the spiritual dimension with philosophy, religious values, ethical morality and even occultism. When we thus get rid of these elementary misconceptions and understand the spiritual reality by self-identification, we discover that there is a unity of experience that cuts across the barriers of time and space. The real figure is seen only if we sound the depths ourselves and try to fathom the vastness that hides behind the human persona of those who have truly experienced and lived a spiritual life. Since such men have been few and scattered (though always present), it is doubtful if the statistical approach of interviewing the average or even an above average intellectual can help us understand this dimension better. Such a process may even be counterproductive by diluting or, worse still, falsifying or replacing the real thing by an imitative mimicry. “The spirit is other than the mind” affirm the seers. It is unity and oneness while the mind is duality and division.  It is peace and bliss while the mind dwells in pain, pleasure and indifference. It is harmony and truth while the mind fumbles through error and ignorance. It is easy to understand from this that the spiritual dimension defies any simple definition. In fact, the spiritual reality does not necessarily need a language to communicate itself. Rather, it is best communicated and understood in the silence and stillness of our being. This inability to define and describe the spiritual reality is not any limitation as many suppose. It stems because firstly speech itself is a lesser term and faculty. Secondly, since it belongs still to the mental domain in its manifestation, it evokes different meanings and images in different human beings. To obviate this dual difficulty, we can attempt to define the spiritual dimension as the highest perfection man is capable of through self-evolution. This too, however, runs the risk of contamination by the mind which constantly confuses the human ideas of perfection with a spiritual one. Human perfection is a quantitative thing. It is the development of human capacities to their utmost pitch. Spiritual perfection is however a qualitative thing. It is the emergence of new faculties and capacities better and superior to what the human mind can at present imagine. For example, the Sanskrit word for health –  ‘Swasth’ – literally means “rooted in the (true) self”. That is to say, true health exists only when man’s consciousness is firmly fixed in the spiritual self, the ‘sva’. Short of it, there can be absence of disease ‘Arogya‘ or, physical prowess and fitness ‘bala’ but not health. As Dr Bisht rightly pointed out in his recommendation to the WHO that “a pack of wolves are physically strong, mentally alert and socially well-knit but there is something more in man which marks him apart“. And that ‘something more’ in him is not just the maximum development of his mind through education and learning but the wisdom and power of his soul. Spirit and Body: A False Opposition We have also to understand spirituality not as an escapist-illusionist tendency but the awareness of a fundamental spiritual Reality behind every form and name. This is supported by the experience that it is the spirit that has become all beings and things including matter. This is well reflected in the evolutionary Indian parable of the ‘Dasavatara’ where the incarnation of the One Divine becomes the fish, the tortoise, the boar, the half-animal, half-man etc., through evolution to a perfect mental man. The missing link in our evolutionary journey may not be the Archaeopteryx but the mediatrix Consciousness that runs as a common thread through all phenomena. The story of evolution is still a half-told tale. The adventure of the Spirit upon earth is not yet over. It will continue till Nature evolves a body capable of manifesting the Perfect Consciousness. Unless we grasp this, we will continue the mistake of regarding the spiritual dimension not only as a separate but also an exclusive dimension that exists in isolation without any hold upon the creature that inhabits it. If that is so then all hope of spiritual health remains a chimera and the great utterance of the spiritual dimension of health becomes only an idealistic doctrine. The spiritual dimension includes the material and can and does intervene subtly to alter the laws and processes of the material universe and to change the course decreed by the so called purely material and biological forces. Measuring the Immeasurable If defining spiritual reality is difficult, studying its complex effects is even more difficult. Statistics are useful for recording phenomena. The present scientific methods and equipments register gross events. To pursue and discover subtler truths and spiritual laws we have to follow another method whose usefulness has been verified since ancient times. Firstly, we need to trust the word of those who have awakened the spiritual consciousness in themselves. Secondly, we must begin to observe ourselves and the movements of subtler levels in us.  The effects of those subtle movements escape conventional data collection since most of us are not conscious of these subjective psychological events. ‘We are asleep there’, to use an Upanishadic image.  The scientist must first and foremost make himself the field of his observation and record his experiences.  Such cumulative records over a period of time would be very helpful for all who wish to explore this dimension. But simultaneously we should avoid the rash attempt to codify too rigidly the experiences.  Our mind always likes to formulate laws but the spiritual field being very subtle and plastic escapes the rigidities of human logic.  Thus, if in a certain state of consciousness, say ‘peace’, the patient recovers faster or is even cured of an acute emergency like a heart attack or appendicitis, we can truthfully record it. We can equally record the effect of negative emotions on health and disease. But we should not rush to reduce it into a system.  Peace for example may not always cure.  It may not always be readily accessible either. But even though not reproducible, a single event of ‘cure by peace’ is significant and opens doors of enormous possibilities for those who can and will. The Law of Averages The method of studying, analysing and understanding physical phenomena has its great utility in the physical domain.  The accuracy and predictability are somewhat more reliable here because in gross matter, there is not the free play of other subtler domains.  But to extrapolate the same method mechanically in the spiritual domain may lead to gross errors. The reasons are threefold. Firstly, our equipments are not yet geared to register and record subtler energy impacts.  However in these we can find the presence of the anomalous and the unpredictable.  As all practitioners of medicine know, medicine is not an exact science like mathematics. Secondly, there is a whole range of phenomena which are subjective and cannot be measured. And yet these may be quite crucial in matters of health and healing. For instance, peace and faith are two such non-measurable units that do determine our state of health. Thirdly, and most importantly, scientific methods deal with phenomena.  But as spiritual experience constantly affirms, behind the phenomena of name and form there is a supporting and sanctioning consciousness and force.  It is difficult to envisage how we could possibly measure the quantum of spiritual consciousness and force in units of grams or kilograms or god-knows-what, that goes into healing a malady. Even where a method is used, there is always the secret force and consciousness that makes all the difference. The force can use one particular method or another.  It may even dispense with all methods and techniques. A given method is after all only one condition of spiritual awakening. Just as clouds and lightning are one condition for the emergence of electricity.  Besides, the force and power of electricity exist as principles even if we have not discovered the method to tap them and likewise, spiritual force and power are a latent possibility in every human being. They can be awakened and brought to the fore by a number of methods. The method is however only an excuse for the emergence.  The real essence escapes the technique. When human evolution reaches a certain crucial and critical inner point the pressure of the spiritual consciousness bursts the limited bounds of our ego and we emerge in a larger and freer consciousness. Spirituality is essentially this change of consciousness from the human to that which is greater than man and beyond him. The Truth that Escapes Us It is a fact that human consciousness is not the highest and man not the last word of creation. Man is a transitional being to be surpassed by a more perfect being. Till that new step in evolution happens, man’s life will be riddled with death, his efforts at outer conquest marred with inner defeats, his glorious successes sum up into specious failure. Man’s commerce with life and forces around him will remain precarious at his own level of evolution. Even at best, he may arrive at a healthy equilibrium with his environment as a pack of wolves or a species of plants.  But Nature would not allow this. It is thus that disease, death and infirmity pursue man. All stress and strain that besieges this race is in essence a call to evolve. All crisis is a challenge and stimulus to growth and liberation. All pain and suffering is Nature’s hint and reminder that the joy we experience is imperfect and the power we command is yet a narrow and limited one. Each limitation we experience is a pointer towards our own incomprehension and ignorance.  To remove this stamp of death and seal of suffering, we must remove ignorance and divinise this dust that wakes to life in plant and climbs to thought in man. This is the inner significance of disease and illness as seen from a spiritual consciousness. The Central Disease The central root of our difficulty lies mainly in our sense of separateness and its attendant problems of want, greed, lust and desire. It is this that translates itself physically and psychologically as self and not-self. The sense of ‘not-self’ leads to effort for adaptation as well as imbalances of various kinds at physical, vital and mental levels leading to disease and death. Our true identity is neither physical nor psychological but a spiritual one. And this spiritual individuality is not opposed to other spiritual individualities but is conterminous with a sense of universality and oneness. It widens us and by widening liberates us from suffering and makes us more capable of receiving the peace and bliss that heal our maladies of body and mind. For spiritual health to emerge we have to dissolve the false sense of ego-self and replace it by the true “I”, the soul in us. The emergence brings, as testified by all who have had the contact, its attendant effects of peace and fullness and joy, and openness towards truth and harmony and light, a freedom from the stress and strain of want and desire. This spiritual change has a positive effect on our entire constitution bringing health and fitness in the body, quietude and goodwill in the vital, clarity of understanding, generosity and broadness as well as balance in the mind. Overall it results in progress and harmony and a general sense of well-being, security and satisfaction. The effects are there so long as the contact remains. But it is difficult for most of us to retain a constant contact. The old person that we are comes back to the surface with all its habits, conditioning and unhealthy preoccupations and preferences. The peace is replaced by restlessness, clarity by confusion, generosity and goodwill by narrowness and bigotry, and health by want of balance and illness. These periods of light and darkness alternate till the spiritual element is fully freed in us and once purified of all egoism it sets the other parts of our nature to its own harmonious rhythm.  The spiritual self holds the key to release the forces of progressive harmony and health in us.  Under the stress of the soul the human consciousness begins to grow deeper, wider and higher. All our values of understanding, sensing, feeling and living start undergoing a marked qualitative change which is superior to the mere philosophising idealism, ethical and moral piety, emotional fervour and exalted sentimentalism. The mind opens to intuition, illumination, visionary revelation and prophetic inspiration. The heart opens to a deep, pure and calm capacity to love without possessiveness and turbulent attachment.  The life-force and will, bereft of the heaving disturbance of desire, becomes a dynamo for selfless Divine work in the world. Even the body shares the spiritual touch which translates itself in terms of calm and balance, trust and an absence of fear, things that help us immensely in healthy living and even cure us of disease.  Yet this is not enough. More is needed. A greater perfection can emerge by the total transformation of nature wherein an immunity from all types of diseases is possible, not just for a few exceptional individuals, but as a potentiality for the entire race. Search versus Research How are we going to do that?  By research or by search, by convincing statistical proofs or by living example?  This is a question everyone has to answer for oneself.  However, history shows that one example in this regard is far more convincing than a whole mass of data and statistics. Data and statistical analysis reach out only to a small section of the human mind — the scientific one.  Often, it only helps to convince the already convinced. The sceptic continues to disbelieve, for such is the nature of mind that it can interpret the same truth differently, and by a subtle twist of logic and change of premises arrive at totally different and even opposite conclusions.  But example touches much deeper and has a wider range of action. It is like fire. Talking about fire can ignite only curiosity but actual contact with it can light up a similar fire and convince one of the mass of heat and light that fire is.  One such living fire is of far greater value than a whole pile of figures that often gather dust in our libraries. Thus it is the pressure of the spirit that wakes up the sleeping soul of man. There are no other means for it. A Practical Programme for the Future How are we going to implement all this in our collective health programmes? This is not a simple question and perhaps there are no easy answers. A few approaches can however help us integrate the spiritual dimension with the others.  Here are some suggestions: Subjective psychological experiences like peace, joy, faith, etc. should be included in our research designs. So far, scientific studies have largely ignored personality factors of the patient and therapist in health and illness. These need to be included.There is a need for health education programmes creating greater awareness about the role of our psychological states in health and illness. This awareness needs to reach both physicians and health educators as well as their clientele.From a scientific point of view it may be better to approach the spiritual dimension through a better understanding of our subjective psychological states than through an understanding of religion. Psychological states are universal whereas religions have become a source of misunderstanding, confusion and division rather than being one of the means of arriving at higher states of consciousness.At least, a minimum stress should be put in our medical education curriculum on the spiritual aspects of human existence. This can be done by inviting guest speakers to give lectures or perhaps going on experiential tours for a couple of weeks to places which carry a spiritual atmosphere.Medical training should include knowledge of self-help techniques that would help physicians develop greater calm and confidence. They can in turn extend and apply it to patients. Many such methods for self-development and self-mastery exist but need implementation.Individuals and institutions with expertise in the field of self-mastery and self-growth and willing to help impart the necessary knowledge and skills to selected workers can be identified. These trained workers can then serve as a link between the community and the public health system.A serious and sincere study of the psychic sciences and their interface with other aspects of our biology and psychology needs to be undertaken. So far, mainstream science has only maintained distance, seeing it with a sceptic’s eye and denying it even before exploration.Above all, a paradigm shift is needed about our concept of man himself. One could work towards this end by inviting more constructive debates amongst leading men in each field, who feel the necessity to go beyond the present notion of man and life. These alternative views need to be publicised and presented to the health workers. At present they are made aware (as if almost deliberately) only about the physical side of man even though enough data and material already exist to show that man is not just a biological organism but something more.An open minded study of ‘consciousness’ and ‘self-experience’ will be of great help. The study and corresponding literature and publications could be funded through world bodies dealing with health and education, like the WHO and UNESCO. The persons identified to study this must be those having a reasonably good understanding about these aspects.We have to understand that even a highly qualified person with good standing in his specialised field may know next to nothing about ‘consciousness’ and ‘spirituality’. His opinion carries little or no meaning. On the contrary, there are specialists in ‘consciousness’ and ‘spirituality’ just as in other fields.  It is on these that initially the responsibility for a deeper exploration of the spiritual dimension must rest.Finally, serious efforts should be made to study the psychological evolution of the human race, especially as it is happening now. The key to the spiritual dimension may well be found there. Conclusion The task therefore before us as physicians is not just the relief of symptoms but to seek deeper into the layers of our psychology where the roots of health and illness lie.  The illness is a crisis point which leads us, as if by Nature’s irony, to the doors of our own concealed possibilities.  We suppress one form of illness but another returns.  It is so because we have failed to take note of the hint and refused to learn from the wisdom of Mother Nature. We can avoid this responsibility of learning what Nature intends to teach, only at our own peril. We can ignore the lesson and the leading, only to face the threat of extinction. But if we are to not only survive but progress and evolve beyond our religions and ideological cults, then we must open the doors to this greater and vaster spiritual consciousness and allow its influx in us. It is in this spiritual emergence that lies our hope and future as a race. The spiritual dimension holds the key to the enigma called ‘man’ and the solution to the paradox called ‘life’.   Reprinted with permission from Dr. Alok Pandey Publications
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Growth of Consciousness
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Growth of Consciousness

The body can change by the power of consciousness from within. In fact, we see this happening more often than we believe. A blind man performs the function of sight by the development of other organs. The consciousness involved in the organ of sight withdraws itself and puts a pressure on other centres and organs for them to develop. Even the normal functioning of the body reveals that the seemingly blind and mechanical movements of the organ-systems are secret with a tremendous intelligence. There is a conscious manipulation, an intelligent adaptation even at the most minute level, in the molecular dealings. Many organs even directly respond to thought suggestions, feelings, desires and emotions, movements which we associate with a certain degree of developed awareness. Quantitatively too, we have already alluded to the fact that the body can be made to do things which appear impossible. And this happens not only as a result of methodical training but also during moments of intense crises. A sense of danger or an overwhelming emotion (conscious experience) triggers a cascade of physical responses through glandular secretions. Perhaps the links are there through ‘nadis’ (subtle nerve sheaths) in the energy body. These subtle nerve sheaths serve to mediate between the universal forces and the individual. They are like so many knots or centres through which the physical consciousness and other levels of consciousness pass into the gross body and influence its behavior and change it. What we observe and record as symptoms are the end point of processes in a chain of events. This was well demonstrated by the famous experiment of Sanger. Two groups of subjects were injected adrenaline. One was shown a pleasant film while the other a horror movie. Adrenaline gave rise to joy in the former group and fear in the latter. Thus the body processes have common pathways to accommodate many types of experiences and forces and vibrations. The difference is not due to the pathways but due to the intensity of the energy-stimulus. The human body has been designed to interpret certain intensities of vibrations and leave out others. Sight for example responds to a very narrow range of visual energies; so with hearing and touch and other senses. Even the sense of pain, pleasure and indifference are a limitation, necessary for the body in our present stage of evolution but not an absolute truth in itself. It is possible to neutralise pain by conscious will. Instances are known wherein people could pierce their tongue with needles, walk on burning coal and not get hurt or burnt. It is also known that our conscious will can modify pain by a certain psychological process into joy. One can go as far as changing the action of a chemical through consciousness. In an experiment, saccharin was paired with cyclophosphamide (an immunosuppressant). Later, cyclophosphamide was removed and only saccharin given. The body still responded with immuno-suppression. Such a learning would not be possible if the body was a fixed structure. In fact the body is much more plastic than we usually believe it to be. It responds wonderfully to psychological forces. Only we do not utilise this capacity and disbelieve this knowledge. Growth – the Physical Dimension To learn how to alter the body processes to our advantage is therefore possible. But for this, two things are necessary. One, we must be able to disengage, discover and develop the powers of the hidden physical consciousness in us. Second, we must rediscover the now lost knowledge which links the body-organ systems to the different levels of consciousness and the effects of their corresponding movements. All physical culture and discipline is essentially a means to develop the physical consciousness and through it make the body strong and healthy, more plastic and adaptable. It is also a means to infuse consciousness into the very cells of the body. Many parts of the body are not yet under conscious voluntary control of the mind or will. It is however possible to do so through the power of suggestion and imagery. Over a period of time, through practice, the body can be made to respond to the power of thought-will in those parts also which are normally not under its control. Just as anastomoses develop to meet the increased demands of oxygen, so too new nerve channels can develop to link up the organ. This is not an impossibility – nerves too are known to respond to necessities of growth. New dendrites are known to develop in the brain to accommodate a greater pressure of information and learning. Yogis less restricted in approach and less conditioned to the idea of physical fixity know this very well. Elaborate techniques (pranayama, for instance) have been developed to clear the nerve channels, open them and create new ones. It is, thus, that through rigorous and painstaking discipline and practice even the most autonomous organs can be brought under conscious control. Not only that but the body can also draw energy directly through the senses and live without food. The art/science of converting this directly drawn energy into gross material substance was however not known and hence a minimal intake of food became necessary to provide the substance for the material stuff of the body. An instance is known in the life of Sri Aurobindo wherein during one such experiment with the body consciousness, he took nothing for 21 days and carried on with hours of walk, regular writing and all other activities without the least diminution of energy. One can also learn to conserve the energy normally lost through sex, speech and other forms of restless, incessant, meaningless dissipative activities transmute it into forms of emotional, vital, mental and spiritual energy for corresponding actions. Growth — the Spiritual Dimension But most of all the consciousness can grow and develop by opening itself to a consciousness higher than the mind. This it can do by two methods. One method is to first bring the body under the control of the mind. Next, one can use the mind as a mediating link by opening it to higher ranges of consciousness through faith, aspiration, invocation or offering. The mind of man can, instead of moving in fixed, narrow circles of conditioning, open to wider and higher movements. Thus, one can bring down the power of ‘peace’ and ‘stillness’ into the body through the mind. Peace and stillness are concrete forces that can actually alter the sense-perception, cancel pain, give a sense of rest and well-being, create conditions of harmony and the early return of balance and health, even effectuate a cure. A disturbance of the body’s normal rhythm can arise due to strong and violent internal forces like anger and fear (observe how our breath becomes irregular under the influence of these movements) or the impact of strong external forces impinging and crowding upon us. Peace, if invoked, restores the inner rhythm by calming the system and its violent upheaval. But it can also create a wall of stillness that separates us and our senses from contact with strongly violent forces that come from outside. Whatever enters the atmosphere of peace and wherever peace penetrates there it creates a quietening effect. Peace however is only one such higher force which our body-mind conglomerate is not normally aware of. There are other even stronger forces that can help the body consciousness to grow and develop—the forces of Wideness, Harmony, Strength, Love, Beauty, Delight and the mysterious and wonderful power of Grace. However the Mind is not the only way through which one can open the body-consciousness to the action of higher forces. The body contains in itself its own principle of divinity and if one can, through practice learn to still the body and concentrate its energy on a point, a moment comes when the physical consciousness is disengaged and can directly open to higher forces. This originally was the principle of Hatha Yoga. But it requires a very arduous, painstaking difficult and time-consuming labour. The method of opening through the mind is easier and swifter. Apart from these two methods is the discovery of the secret soul, the psychic being within oneself. This is the divine principle in man, the secret psychological centre which is the key to everything else. It holds all the movements of our complex nature together. Once discovered, the psychic being can spontaneously bring the body into contact with the highest forces to which even the mind and life in us has no access. Our body has learned to respond to ignorant forces like fear, desire, pain and pleasure, greed and lust. The price it pays for this contagion is a wearing out, exhaustion, premature decay, disease and illness. But it can also learn to open to the influence of higher forces and develop harmoniously and function smoothly under their pressure. For a fuller understanding of the process of a consciousness approach to health and healing, we have to turn for a while towards understanding of the principle and power of consciousness itself. Source of Consciousness We have been referring to a higher as well as lower consciousness and its action upon the body. All this may present a picture as if there are different types of consciousness and also that the body is different from the consciousness. This may be true from a strictly pragmatic point of view. It is also easier for our sense-experience mind to understand things by contrast and comparison. But it is not the whole truth of the matter and leaves many gaps and unresolved questions. The original truth is essentially oneness, whatever we call it. Yet, right up to the atom we find differentiation and differences (even the constituting charges are not one but two or three or more). This problem arises because we have been working the creation backwards. But once we open to the other end of the experience we see that the roots of creation are not in the atomic void but elsewhere. We then begin to discover through hidden faculties that at the origin there is something that nothing can describe. It is supremely undifferentiated, an infinite and eternal, concealing or showing itself through infinite ways. No law can be made of it, no symbol or language or formula describe it. It simply ‘is’ or ‘is not’. The ancients gave it the name of ‘Parabrahman’—the Reality that transcends all and yet contains all. Consciousness is the power of this Reality. The one consciousness becomes many by a process of differentiation and concentration or we may say absorption and involution. Thus, we have the many levels and layers of ‘consciousness’ arising out of the one consciousness, yet supported by it. Thus is also created a hierarchy of planes’ and substances’ and energies and systems of worlds that finally precipitate themselves into the atomic void or gross matter as we know it. Thus matter and its processes are the last step, in the process of differentiation and involution making them dense and limited. So an emergence out of it brings forth all the hidden possibilities. Each hidden possibility that emerges alters matter, making it more pliable, capable and subtle. This is another process of evolution. The Evolutionary Transformation of the Body A perfectly healthy body as we envisage it now is a body fit, open and receptive to higher forces. Short of it there is only an absence of disease or its presence. The concept of health has shifted therefore from a passive to a dynamic one. Passive adaptation is the equilibrium that Nature creates between the organism and the world around it. Evolution follows by a temporary dissolution of this equilibrium! An active adaptation would therefore mean the ability of the body to not only survive but also to evolve by a collaboration with nature. The stress of survival is born because of a sense of separateness. Each organism therefore tries to overpower or ‘outsmart’ others in the competitive game of life. This leads to an equal adaptive reaction in other forms of life that assert their right to existence. The individual unit, holds out for a while against the rest, but, sooner or later succumbs as it must, since no individual form of life can be greater than the whole. But while the individual form cannot be greater than the whole, the individual can rediscover its link with the whole and thus arrive at a new mode of mastery. Elimination versus Assimilation If we step back from our excessive preoccupation with the individual forms and their differences, we find that all life is essentially one. So, as evolution proceeds, clash and strife are replaced more and more by assimilation, accommodation and transmutation. Growth, at a lesser level assumes the appearance of eliminative competition. Growth, at a higher level, assumes the appearance of acceptance and assimilation. At present, our body has developed capacities to fight and reject whatever is to it ‘not self’. In future, the body will develop the capacity to absorb and change the disparate elements into a harmonious element. But for this, we have to discover a new station of consciousness. Out of the strong separative sense, we have to grow into wholeness and oneness. Out of division and knowledge based upon division we have to grow into oneness and knowledge based upon unity. Obviously, there will be a period of transition and its attendant difficulties but once the body has discovered the new mode of functioning based upon oneness, there will the power of spontaneous immunity rather than simply a power to cure. A Newer Reality Thus seen, we understand many happenings in this world in a new way. The human body, on the one hand is being forced to bear the onslaught of a large number of toxins and poisons as never before. Bacteria and viruses have taken a backseat. There are enough self-generated poisons: the industrial wastes, nuclear fall outs, drugs, insecticides, cosmetics (to name just a few), that threaten to eliminate the entire race. Or challenge it to evolve! At another level, there are scientific studies to work on the oneness of physical matter. Organ transplants, cloning, breaking of biological boundaries through cross matings are all obscure ways through which a subconscious foundation for oneness is being laid. All this should not be taken to mean that this crisis is a good thing for there are simpler, safer, direct and better ways to evolve towards oneness. But Nature has taken this risky, bumping course only because man refuses to admit a straight, smooth road to evolution. Everything in us resists the evolutionary pressure and most of this resistance comes from our notion of distinct separateness that makes us blind to everything else in the universe. Yet, man can collaborate in this great transition and evolutionary transformation of the body. How? That is the secret Sri Aurobindo had set about to discover in the ‘cave of tapasya’ at Pondicherry. He saw it with the lens of truth-vision that awakens in the yogi and the seer. The Mother practically applied this ‘secret’ on her own body. It is hardly possible to describe their yoga of the body-cells here. The true understanding however grows only through experience or identification with the truths thrown as powerful hints. Sri Aurobindo writes, “The essential purpose and sign of the growing evolution here is the emergence of consciousness in an apparently inconscient universe,…. As we rise we have to open to them our lower members and fill these with those superior and supreme dynamisms of light and power; the body we have to make a more and more and even entirely conscious frame and instrument, a conscious sign and seal and power of the spirit. As it grows in this perfection, the force and extent of its dynamic action and its response and service to the spirit must increase, the control of the spirit over it also must grow and the plasticity of its functioning both in its developed and acquired parts of power and in its automatic responses down to those that are now purely organic and seem to be the movements of a mechanic inconscience.”[1]   Reprinted with permission from Dr. Alok Pandey First printed here  Publications
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