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Correspondence with Sri Aurobindo

The Complete Set

From what you say about the subconscient, it would seem that its conquest would lessen and minimise our troubles to a great extent. But are there not periods or moments when we consciously bring back to memory certain things of the past, or are these impressions only due to the waves from the subconscious reaching up?

That is the conscious action of the mind.

I mean are our conscious or unconscious movements entirely influenced by the subconscious?

No certainly not – the subconscious is the evolutionary basis in us, it is not the whole nature. But things can rise from the subconscient and take shape in the conscious parts.

I also understand that this subconscient is more directly concerned with what we may call the more obscure and darker movements of our being. What is then the origin of the higher movements? Where do they remain lodged – inner mind, life and body? Do all the higher impulses – service, fame, ambition, etc., come from these inner planes? In the making of a being, I suppose then, the subconscient impressions and sanskaras of previous lives are carried forward. In that case, how far will it be right if I say that my desires, my impulses, formations and tendencies of lower nature are mostly due to old debts of past life, some due to impressions of this life? What about heredity then? Do we not say that usually sensual parents have sensual issues, etc., etc.?

Another point – even if this subconscient is managed, is there not also universal nature which acts and reacts on individual consciousness and brings back from somewhere what is thrown away from here?

There are three sources of our action – the superconscient, the subliminal, the subconscient of which we are not aware. What we are aware of is the surface being which is only an instrumental arrangement. The source of all is the general Nature, but the general Nature deposits certain habits of movement, personality, character, faculties, dispositions, tendencies in us. That is what we usually call ourselves. Part of this is in habitual movement and use in our conscious part, part is concealed in the other three. But what we are on the surface is being constantly set in motion, changed, developed or repeated by the waves of the general Nature coming in on us either directly or else indirectly, through others, through circumstances etc. Some of this comes straight into the conscious part and acts there, our mind appropriating it as our own; part comes into the subconscient or sinks into it and waits for an opportunity of rising up into the conscious, part goes into the subliminal and may at any time turn up or may not. Part passes through and is rejected. It is a constant activity of forces supplied to us out of which (or rather out of a small amount of it) we make what we will or can. But in reality it is all a play of forces, a flux, nothing fixed or stable; the appearance of stability is given by constant repetition and recurrence of the same vibrations and formations. That is why our nature can be changed in spite of Vivekananda and Horace and the subconscient, but it is a difficult job because the master mode of Nature is this obstinate repetition and recurrence.

As for the things thrown away from us that come back, it depends on where you throw them. Very often there is a sort of procedure about it. The mind rejects its mentalities, the vital its vitalities, the physical its physicalities – these usually go into the corresponding domain of general Nature. It all stays in the environmental consciousness, which we carry about with us, by which we communicate with the outside Nature, and persistently rushes back from there – until it is so absolutely rejected that it can't return. But when what the mind rejects is strongly supported by the vital, it sinks down into the vital, rages there and tries to rush up again and reoccupy the mind. When the vital rejects it, it sinks from the higher to the lower vital. When the lower vital too rejects it, it sinks into the physical consciousness and tries to stick by inertia or mechanical repetition. Rejected from there it goes into the subconscient and comes up in dreams, in passivity, in extreme tamas. The Inconscient is the last resort of the Ignorance.

As for the general Nature it is of course the natural tendency of its inferior forces to try and perpetuate their action in the individual, so they return on him when they find their influence rejected. But they cannot last long once the environmental consciousness is cleared – unless the Hostiles take a hand. Even then these can attack, but if the sadhak has established his position in the inner self, they can only attack and retire.

It is true that we bring most of ourselves from past lives. Heredity only affects the external being and all the effects of heredity are not accepted, only those that are in consonance with what we are to be or not preventive of it at least. I may be the son of my father or mother in certain respects, but most of me is as foreign to them as if I had been born in New York or Paraguay.

R complains that his head is aching more than ever – he can't sleep – he feels tired, he feels ill. I may observe that he seems to remain with all his windows closed – not the way to cure headache at any time and least of all in this weather, one would think.

P.S. By the way, on the 1st, I sent the medical reports. They came back without your signature.

I simply forgot to hand them over to the Mother for inspection. Send them again.


1935 06 03 Exact Writting Letter Nirodbaran