A transcript of the Global Satsang: The Transformation of the Vital Ego [LISTEN TO THE TALK]
“What we’re going to look at today is we’re going to open up to the challenges of what the vital are, and they are many, and they are everywhere and it will be familiar territory for some of you, especially if you’ve done good psychological work on yourself.”
Namaste. Welcome, good to see you all of you. You can kind of tell my mood already.
Satyamayi: “Is that “a mood” or is that ‘a state’?”
Yeah, maybe it’s a state. I think it’s probably what happens when you turn your moods into service of Divine they become something else. Well, that’s actually in the vicinity of what we’re going to explore today. There’s probably no more challenging conversation than the one we’re going to open up today. And we’re going to open it up because we’re entering into a territory that collectively, perhaps most spiritual paths don’t directly address. However, the path of Sri Aurobindo does.
And this is why, since we are now in a transition from individual to our own individual spiritual development, but in the recognition that our own individual spiritual development is actually part of a collective spiritual process that is going on.And therefore we’re inter-related.
And what’s happening now is I’m noticing more and more people who are linked with me are going into universal planes of consciousness, being subject to the forces and the influences that go beyond just the normal expansion of awareness and the realizations, but actually, the transformation of the body and the vital system.
See, it’s really only in transformation that we can actually change the fundamental capacity to hold our spiritual awakening. Unless we have laid claim to our emotional nature, our physical nature, become aware of the nature of our emotional body and of the role of the structure of our physical embodiment and its addictions to the sensory world and mind, (it’s only then) that we can actually begin to claim the territory that takes us into these universal states in a stable way, in a way that we can hold them.
So for many of you…ah…some of you anyway, I don’t know who’s in the bleachers in these talks. But the…the core of my teaching is an injection of spiritual force into an open human system that sets into motion, a literal transformation of all the structures of the human system.
So, it’s the mental awareness, the intelligence, it’s the heart, it’s the physical vital forces that are part of having a body, and it’s the body itself.
So, these all get moved, they get injected with this what I call “the Sat force” as it enters into someone who’s system is open and can feel it. There is an outcome, there is when if you can feel spiritual energy, then an opening has already occurred in you. If you can feel or be aware of spiritual energy in your body, then you’re already in a process that has a beginning and a middle and an end.
And, of course, you may have started this process in other lives, and then in this life it gets awakened again fairly quickly, and then you catch up with what you had attained previously, but in this life, you then do the next level of the work. One of these is to break the habit of the mind’s domination over our consciousness, its story-making, its belief system, its ideas. And this can actually be handed to a great extent through regular practice of meditation. But it also can’t really become stable until we assert some control over our vital and physical natures, over our moods, over our reactions, over our repulsions, over our preferences or our habitual pleasures, our enjoyments of the physical. We have to find a place to stand other than the one they take us to. We have to come out of the paradigm of our human embodiment.
So, the quieting of the mind is mainly so that you have discernment. That means you develop the part of you that can witness, that can notice a mood is arising, that can notice that a reaction has happened and it’s creating a consequence in the person that you reacted to and in yourself. You start becoming aware of the the wiring of your emotional body, the wiring of that emotional body on your mental tranquillity. Because until you find that tranquillity, until the meditation takes you to a place of relatively stable silence, stillness, peace, then all of this will not last.It will just be a glimmer and it’ll be gone, because the one that has authority is the discerning intelligence. Our developed sense of self, to whatever extent we’ve been able to bring it to authority in our lives, to manage our negative structures, to show up for things that are important to us, that determines our ability to penetrate more deeply into the field of our embodiment.
So it’s from meditation, and as I say, I’ve a regular recommendation for everyone, anyone who hears me : If you meditate forty five minutes twice a day no matter how awful it is, in the morning and the night, if you practice meditation—it doesn’t mean you meditate, it could be the worst forty five minutes of the day—you will start developing the stable intelligence, that discerning knowingness, that knower.
Because without that, even if you have the most wonderful awakening, even if you have the greatest realizations, you cannot hold onto them. Because what’s holding them is your human embodiment, what’s holding them is your body. It’s your emotional body, it is your orientation and alignment, the unconscious structures that you’ve created about who you are and what the world is and what’s possible in life.
So if that has not…if you cannot stay awake, if you cannot be present, if you cannot come to responsibility, or what I call “come to cause” to these parts of yourself that are running you, then no matter how peaceful or how established you are in your awareness, it will not be able to set in motion the full possibility of what your spiritual awakening was all about.
A spiritual awakening is a door which you close or you open and there’s a two-way door. The universe opens it and closes it, and then we open it and close it, and sometimes the universe opens the door and we get it, our door blasts open, but then if we’re not in responsibility for our side of that door, we close it back. If you’re not aware of the parts of you that would close the door to the purpose and possibility of your life, then it will close. Or it’ll obscure your ability to receive what’s coming, you’ll put up filters. You’ll say it’s too much. You’ll go into fear or reaction. Or you’ll run away, because that’s the nature of the ego.
The nature of the human body is to preserve and protect its existing identity.
And of course, it never notices that that existing identity is changing moment to moment. It depends upon if you’re at work or at home or someone said something nice to you or if someone said something awful to you. That identity is always moving.
So, unless some part of you can be stable to recognize that you’re being thrown and run like a puppet on the string by forces that you’ve not paid attention to or even recognized were there, then it’s hopeless, which is not even a strong enough word. It means the opportunity of your life fails. The possibility of your awakening fails.
And it has been failing all along for all of us, because we’re embodied, because we carry the conditioning of all of humanity, each one of us, the lineage of our own piece of the ancestral karma that came through our parents and their parents and our culture and our race and our sex and all the rest of it.
We’re not just us in this battlefield, but we we are the principles, we are the individual expressions of what separates humanity from their divine nature. But not even that. What separates humanity from a possibility of a future that, right now, unless we wake up, will not be anything we would want ever for anyone.
So we’re going to open up, I’m going to start speaking to, specifically tonight, the lynch-pin today—tonight for some of you—see, I was already in Europe—the lynch-pin, the spring on the door that closes when our spiritual forces come in, the automatic rejection, reaction when the forces enter. So, instead of a self-closing door, it becomes a door that stays open unless we close it.
Coming to that place where we find that spring, that structure, then everything (which will) come, will come and go. And yes, there may be a growing, it just depends which part of you is aligned and committed to its own awakening.
So it’s not enough that it’s in your awareness, if your vital isn’t agreeing, if your heart’s not in alignment, if your body is still in its resistance, then you’re being bombarded, even if you make the choice “I choose to live for the divine awakening that has come to me.” You’ve got to battle. As a matter of fact, you’ve declared a battle when you’ve come to that awareness, even though you didn’t think it was a declaration, it was just sort of a “well, this is wonderful, I never want it to go away.” See, that doesn’t have the power you’re going to need to dismantle the things in you that are still resisting and opposing the awakening to your divine nature, and with it, to your divine responsibility, your ability to love, to be connected, to be alive, to be living purposefully.
I’ve been reading Sri Aurobindo’s Letters on Yoga, and in the last six months I have been in a treasure trove of information. One piece of this is transformation of the mental, transformation of the vital, transformation of the physical. It’s really clear that of all of them, the vital is the one that we, in this modern time, are the least aware of and least in responsibility for.
So to recognize its influence and the way it acts on you, of course, you have to find another place to stand than your emotional body, your reactive body, your desire body, your fear-driven structures, the power of your life, your own individual life, your endless preferences and your endless seeking of more, more, more, there’s the vital. It’s the rajas, but also the tamas, coated by the rajas, or the rajas coated by the tamas. The sattwa doesn’t have the same problem, but the sattwa can’t transform these. It has no power, it is the recorder, you know, the reporter on the battlefield, not the warrior in the battlefield.
So what we’re going to look (at) today is we’re going to open up to the challenges of what the vital are, and they are many, and they are everywhere and it will be familiar territory for some of you, especially if you’ve done good psychological work on yourself. If you’ve lived a life, and learned the lessons of life to know that maybe sometimes you’re wrong, or sometimes you don’t know, it’s a good start.
Then you begin to find that this information will be very useful, because when you awaken to the universal forces, whatever is left in you that you’re not in responsibility for, that means “awake enough to be able to notice it’s going on and to have sufficient self-restraint or control to deal with those things”, then you will be overtaken.
You will become an expression of those suppressed human structures that all of humanity are run by, everything that we know that is interesting or entertaining or awful or horrible is from the vital nature.
So we’re entering into awakening to the fact that Divine can’t do it all for us because what says “no” is still not…we’re not aware of it in ourselves. What is still in resistance is hiding it, that we even have a choice. Because we’re so “it”, there is no other reality than it. When it rises, when our mood is there, when we’re angry or we’re defensive or we’re reactive or we really want it now, we are lost in the vital impulse.
Okay, so Satyamayi is going to read extracts, and then I’m just going to comment.
Satyamayi : “Out of the air!”
Sri Aurobindo talks about this in his first chapters of The Mother book. But we’re going to dive into it where, kind of, you can (sound effect indicating a deeper contact) eat it, taste it, feel it, you know? We want to really make it there tangible in your own experience.
Satyamayi: “Okay. I just want to say it’s great seeing so many people online this morning, it’s a pretty full remote group today, so thanks for joining us.”
Satyamayi: “Well, so, am I going to just start reading and you’ll stop.
Transformation of the Vital – Challenges
The ordinary freshness, energy, enthusiasm of the nature comes either from the vital, direct when it is satisfying its own instincts and impulses, indirect when it co-operates with or assents to the mental, physical or spiritual activities.
If the vital resents, there is revolt and struggles.”
Pointing to the key point, that the guy in charge, the woman in charge, the part of you that’s in charge, that makes the call, that has the power is your vital. Your vital ego is the one that you absolutely, at the very core deep of your human embodiment, believe without question is the Truth of yourself. So, let that sink in.
The spiritual self is of a very different order. It’s the being. The being doesn’t care about power.If it cares about anything, it cares about connection. But the vital holds the key to our individual power, our individual capacity to make life happen in the way we would want it, even if it’s driven by fear, even if it’s driven by an idea of incapacity or “it’s not safe” or whatever, it’s the vital that assents to that and lives us from that place.
“The nervous being is under the influence of the vital forces; when they are denied or pushed out, it becomes depressed and wants to call them back for it is accustomed to get the pleasure and strength of life from the vital movements and not from the spiritual or divine Forces above.”
Depression is often frustration. Suppressed, dissatisfied, resentful, it is “I am not getting what I want when I want it.” And if you can’t, if it seems the circumstances don’t allow it, or you don’t have enough organization of your emotional body or your mental body to get what you want, then you get depressed, exhausted, defeated. Now, there’s another kind of…mm…“depression.” I would say there’s another kind of exhaustion that comes from spiritual force. Because the spiritual force comes in and it strips away the vital. So (that) the usual organization of our wants and needs and desires is at least temporarily stripped away when the force first enters.
When we feel the greater awake-ness, greater aliveness, greater connection to something beyond our individual ego, and then leaves. So when it leaves, then the for…when it was new, the vital goes with it, but when it’s not new, then the vital says, “why am I not getting what I want? Who’s in charge? Who can I blame? Who’s responsible? Somebody’s fucked up somewhere, because I’m not getting what I want.”
That’s what…I mean, maybe you don’t hear those words, but if you look at it, you can see the attitude of that kind of creature that inhabits you. It’s a creature. It’s an animal.
(The) vital comes from the animal side, the first form of life before mind, it’s life.
“It’s a creature, the creature you are. So we name the creature, the creature is not a zombie, if it is, it’s the scariest shit you’ve ever met.”
So it’s a creature, the creature you are. So we name the creature, the creature is not a zombie, if it is, it’s the scariest shit you’ve ever met. All you have to do is say the word “World War Z”, you know, see what it means. It’s unbridled organization of the mind and body for the vital to have what it wants. At all costs. If it’s human flesh or conquest or control, whatever it may be, and it’s endless in its pursuit. It’s why we’re such dangerous animals.
“It was inevitable that in the course of the sadhana these inferior parts of the nature should be brought forward in order that like the rest of the being they may make the crucial choice and either accept or refuse transformation. My whole work depends upon this movement; it is the decisive ordeal of this yoga. For the physical consciousness and the material life cannot change if this does not change. Nothing that may have been done before, no inner illumination, experience, power or Ananda is of any eventual value, if this is not done.”
I love this.
Satyamayi: “We can tell!”
We are in charge if we wake up to the fact that we’ve made choices that don’t serve us when we awaken spiritually. You’ve got to find that part of you that has willfully come into life for its own agenda, even in its defeat and its shame and its helplessness and its depression.
So the nature of this is that if we can discover the integrated quality of spirit in ourselves, we find the true cause, we find the true authority of what it means to be alive as a human being on the planet. Now, there are people, human beings, who have discovered or been supported positively enough that they have a certain authority in making things happen that are aligned with their desires, but in ways that work in the structure and the organization of society so that there actions are, at least to some extent, effective in serving more than just their own ego. Inevitably, that power has no limits unless there’s something other than the human ego. Because if you’re successful in the world, then that feeds on the unlimited craving of the vital nature to get more, more money, more power, more recognition, more control, more ability to effect change in the way you want it to happen.
I know, because that’s what’s talking to you right now. It is the vital of the person of Scott Barbour, awakened as a Sat Shree that has turned, made a decisive decision to surrender to the possibility of this huge love that came to me. And to be in collaboration with that huge love as a commitment for the rest of my life. So if I have any power, it’s because there was a decisive choice in my vital nature to live for this, to serve this.
So coming to that part, to organize to come to the int…“true” integrity, not the “moral” integrity, not the “idealistic” integrity, but the ownership of our own shit. The ownership of our own shit. Our own ship that traverses through life, and our own shit that’s in the way, that’s in the cargo hold of that ship. (I can’t help myself! I’ve got to play with this shit, it’s too heavy otherwise!)
Satyamayi: “There we go!”
But I have a different vantage point, and I have the freedom, but perhaps for you, it can bring a moment of humor. But it’s also, like, dark humor. Because it is a serious problem! If we don’t…I mean, this is what’s going on in the world right now, the consequences of unbounded ego. And of course it’s coming at New Dharma in lots of different forms right now, it’s just wonderful, both…whatever is left in us that naively…haven’t yet been exposed to the full depths of the treacheries of other human beings is still always in a process of awakening. So it’s a wondrous world we live in if you live to find the poison so light can be brought to it, so Truth can be brought to it. But otherwise, it’s a horror, the holocaust of Prakriti.
So how do we come out? We come out by finding the part of ourselves that can choose Divine over ego, can choose love over power, can choose self-giving over getting. That can choose to keep choosing the good for the goodness’ sake alone.
That means when you choose the good, the quality of that goodness comes to you.
That quality of goodness that comes to you is Grace. The Grace allows your system to relax in such a way that it can grow into the darkness and start claiming the territory, because other forces come in than our own egos when the Grace becomes available to us. They start giving us the cl…recognition, the clarity over the circumstances that wakes us up to the fact that we have been choosing the negative, choosing our resentment, choosing our anger, choosing our shame, and say, “hey, you can stop that.” You can say, “no, I’m not going to go there.” Even when you assign all the power away to other people, you can say, “look at me, I’m giving the power away to other people, to my memory, to my traumas, my stories about them, the evidence …” and so on and so forth, you know. That we recognize that we’ve been unwittingly giving it away and rationalizing and justifying, doing so, so that we don’t have to change.
And guess who benefits from not having to change? The vital ego, that “nobody can fuck with me, I don’t have to grow, I can keep in my little constricted cave and be assured that maybe…whatever happens, I will still be here.” In one way, paradoxically, it’s a Truth. In the other way, it’s the source of all our suffering.
Satyamayi: “Okay. That’s three paragraphs, let’s see how far we go.”
“The difficulty in the lower vital being is that it is still wedded to its old self and in revolt against the Light; it has not only not surrendered either to a greater Truth or to myself and the Mother, but it has up to now no such will and hardly any idea even of what true surrender is. When the lower vital assumes this attitude it takes its stand upon a constant affirmation of the old personality and the past forms of the lower nature.”
It’s a profound paragraph actually. Because there’s…(the) times when you’re proceeding rapidly on the spiritual path is usually when the vital becomes the most subtle, the most resistant, the most convincing that “what I’ve known is where I want to be, not here.” Because you’re piercing into new territory, and it does not know how to be in territory beyond the boundary of what it already has experienced, what it already has known. It loses its capacity to learn to live.
The nature of the ego, when it first was born, is wide open. And it’s actually—for the terms of the ego—when you become self-aware, it becomes very…less happy to be in a life when you’re open to everything and you don’t have any control over anything, including yourself. So this whole movement of organizing to become an ego brings some quietude to your embodiment, some “ah! I’m okay! Here I am! I have a name!”
You know “Other people call me by that name, therefore I exist,” you know. And we begin to organize as a child in creating a sense of self. And we aggregate. We take ideas, and we take things we saw on TV and we take on this and that. And we start assembling a personality, and we start assembling a way of existing in the world.
The things that we think about are many, many, many layers further. But if we look to those layers, we’ll eventually find the vital layer which is right next to the Truth of ourself.
And it’s such a papier-mache construct. With papier-mache you rip a piece of newspaper and you slap on some starch or glue and you slap it around the ball of a balloon and you start forming a superficial construct. Layers and layers and layers until you wouldn’t even ever know there was a balloon in the middle of it. It talks back, it acts like it’s a person. But it’s a shell of a thing, an assemblage that we unwittingly assembled to survive and to exist.
Yet, we lose our ability to know that we’re not the papier-mache. We are that space, the being in the body in which the papier-mache was constructed. It’s the outer personality. It’s the way we live in the superficial material life, and the little pleasures, and all the things that papier-mache…they draw their strength, they draw their aliveness from the being. Not the pleasure, not the person, not the circumstances, from the being. Which is always trying to come into existence, naively not knowing the difference between good or evil or what works and doesn’t work. It’s like a child, just wanting to play, to be in life. But it takes and enlivens all these structures about “should”s and “shouldn’t”s, “okay” “not okay”, “want” and “getting away”, whatever works. Whatever works draws its strength from the original purity of that construct that we were in consciousness when we were new and innocent.
So the problem is that we’re inhabiting and making real the papier-mache self. This is the core structure of ego. And the first layers of that papier-mache is the emotional vital nature. It is the reactive child, needing, crying, yelling, trying to get attention, trying to be heard, get what it wants. And this is the vital, the vital shroud.
The things that we think about are many, many, many layers further. But if we look to those layers, we’ll eventually find the vital layer which is right next to the Truth of ourself. Now, the vital layer, when we have a spiritual awakening, that empty space in us becomes enlivened with a spiritual force, and it permeates into the papier-mache self, and starts enlivening the papier-mache self.
So when spiritual energy comes in, (it) will create a movement in the quality of our being that will permeate, like as if someone injected water and it starts dissolving the glue in the newspaper and the newsprint or whatever was assembled to make the papier-mache self, and there starts opening up, and becomes an opening up from the inside out.
But there’s a decisive structure here that gets organized in the process of becoming. It is an accumulation of decisions about what’s possible for us. It didn’t happen when we were aware. It happened whenever you came into life and said, “I don’t want to be here.” Or “I want to be here.” Or “I want to be here, and these are my conditions.” “And if I don’t meet those conditions, then I don’t want to be here.”
There’s something there that chooses, and those moments of choice are the thorns on the toga that we wrap around ourselves. They’re the pain…they’re often forged in pain, frustration, loss, what we would call “trauma”, events that occur that we’re not able to be present with. And you can if you go back in yourself, when you’ve awakened sufficiently, you can begin to find these knots, these no’s, these structures of our own self-imposed torture whip that we keep bringing back to entangle or to harm ourselves.
So what I like to say is, “Just stop beating your head against the wall. Stop torturing yourself. Just stop, sit, be still, be silent and find that part of you that could say ‘stop.’ Because there’s nothing more difficult than to watch human beings cause their own suffering. That’s a felt experience for me.
Why do you do this to yourself? So many people leave angry and frustrated and projecting, and it’s just, like, “why do you throw yourself back into your own self-torture? Thinking that “this is the right thing to do”?” It’s just, like, “why would you do that?” But I remember my human self, I pull back to the memory of my own struggles and journey, and I remember, and then I know, “ah! Because we’re fuckin’ human!” And that’s the uniqueness : we’re the only animal that can torture itself, the only animal that it can eat itself for no reason.
“Every time they are discouraged, it supports and brings them back and asserts its right to freedom—the freedom to affirm and follow its own crude and egoistic ideas, desires, fancies, impulses or convenience whenever it chooses. It claims secretly or in so many words the right to follow its nature—its human unregenerate nature, the right to be itself—its natural original unchanged self with all the falsehood, ignorance and incoherence proper to this part of the being. And it claims or, if it does not claim in theory, it asserts in practice the right to express all this impure and inferior stuff in speech and act and behaviour. It defends, glosses over, paints in specious colours and tries to prolong indefinitely the past habitual ways of thinking, speaking and feeling and to eternise what is distorted and misformed in the character.
I love you Sri Aurobindo! I love you! You say it so perfectly! Ah! I feel a moment of not being alone! How strange! I was being almost facetious, but not really—because it is a language-ing that calls us on…calls us on it. And all those parts that we see outside, where people do this to themselves, to anybody you may be invested with, like a child —and I’ve been with a child who was invested in his vital ego, I’ve been with a brother who was vested in just this way, looking to see what was my role, in both of those cases, what was there to be done, and yet being helpless, because any act I took fed the problem, as the father or as the brother. So there was this recognition of how firmly gripped the vital ego is until a perspective, a shift has happened on their part.
“This it does sometimes by open self-assertion and revolt, branding all that is done or said against it as error or oppression or injustice, sometimes behind a cover of self-deception or a mask of dissimulation, professing one thing and practicing another. Often it tries to persuade itself and to convince others that these things are the only right reason and right way of acting for itself or for all or even that they are part of the true movement of the yoga.”
There is a way out, but I want this to sink in. There is a way we can shift this paradigm, and…and I will speak of that in a moment. But, if you can recognize this, if you can, like, feel it’s being called on as I speak it…Maybe some of you, you don’t know what I’m talking about or you don’t want to hear it, then you know who’s running the show at the moment. But if you’re open to this and you can see it, you’ll see that everything we’ve labelled as evil or destructive is an expression of the same qualities that are within yourself, if you can get to know them, if you can find them.
Even then, though, there’s no solution to the outer world. The only solution, it’ll be within yourself. And when you align that inner alignment, when you’ve learned to live your life for the good, for the positive, for something other than what the past had defined and limited you by, if you keep willing to venture into new territories, then you grow in your capacity to know that you have a choice.
Satyamayi: “Do you want to open it up, we have twenty minutes.”
Soon. Do you have anything you want to say?
Satyamayi: “No, but it’s just twenty minutes left.”
Satyamayi: “Oh! Do I want to say anything? Oh, this is like…I’m so familiar with, because…a very strong vital, it’s just tough to meet it, I mean it’s…it’s…after years and years of being battered by living next to Sat Shree, it has quieted considerably.
But…and I also knew that I use it to get things done. So it plays a purpose in the world. But spiritually, it also plays a purpose in that, it keeps the aspiration very front and centre. But when the human comes in and you just…when you go into that negative vital, it just destroys everything around it.”
[Returning to the material] So the…the path through the vital :
“Only two forces alone in their conjunction can accomplish this great task. A call from below and the response of Grace from above.” [Exact quote is ‘There are two powers that alone can effect in their conjunction the great and difficult thing which is the aim of our endeavor, a fixed and unfailing aspiration that calls from below and a supreme Grace from above that answers.’]
So we have to wake up to the fact that we’re in anguish. And then, that aspiration comes, and out of that aspiration, the universe responds. So to know this…Because what happens when the Grace comes is a direct and tangible experience of being found. It is not the ego that gets found, the being gets found. In the moment the Grace comes, it’s the beginning of the awakening of the true Self. The true Self is what feels longing, that strives, and aspires for something greater.
Now, in the early stages, it could be just an inspiration, it could be an admiration. But when it crosses the threshold into the universal it becomes devotion, it becomes a quest, a purposeful organization of yourself. It is only in this arena that true transformation of the vital is possible. So I bring this because some of you think, “well, let’s just go and enjoy Sat Shree’s energy or community and his program, and then, back to “same-old, same-old”, and just, you know, “everything’s good,” you know, “now I know Sat Shree’s there, and I’m living in this passive surrender state.”
But the fact is, nothing true and lasting will happen with a passive surrender.
If we’re not a conscious and willing collaborator with the sense of what’s at stake, then we are not going to be able to get the momentum that is needed to…for ourselves (to) walk the path, instead of being taken on this boat that I carry you all with. Because at some point, you have to. You have to swim the last distance to the far shore.
Okay, so now we can open it up to any of you who are willing to come forward.