Atman Nityananda Posts En Sri Aurobindo

Vital Sheath, emotions and compulsive thinking

🌺 Peace, Love, Harmony

August 31, 2012

Vital Sheath, emotions and compulsive thinking by Nityananda Atman

What really emotions are?

Emotions are our unconscious vital (psychic vital energy) reactions towards external, stimulus and external situations. They are expressed mainly through the heart (outer), navel and throat chakras (energy centers). Of course the vital-emotional energy it is spread through the energy channels (nadis) all over the vital body (which is a little bigger than the physical body) and in the mind .

‘’Not a single emotion exists that is not related to something else. There is always some external object involved. Not a single emotion is your own. When you take in a sensation, the sensation finally leads to emotion.’’  ~ Swami Rama 

There are the authentic feelings deriving from our soul such as love, compassion, joy, devotion, happiness, and the lower or negative emotions of anger, depression, fear, anxiety, irritability, hatred, impatient, etc. which in reality are vital formations expressed at the level of heart and navel. 

All the negative emotions  are only expressions of the impure vital (psychic vital energy) through the chakras of heart, navel and thymus. The vital formations  at the level of mind are expressed as compulsive mechanical thinking.

Emotions cloud our mind and intellect and its ability to see things as they are. Our intellect hypnotized and distorted by the emotions such as fear, anger, jealousy etc. loses its capacity to discern the true from the false and realize the consequences of our actions.  Without clear vision we think and act erroneously creating unnecessary suffering to us and our fellows. 

Emotion is our personal reaction to sensory data, giving us fear of what causes pain and desire for what brings pleasure. 

Sensation gives rise to emotion. If we contact something pleasurable, it makes us happy. If we contact something painful, we feel sad.

Repeated emotions move from reactions of the outer mind into conditions of the inner consciousness.

The emotional side of the mind connects more with pranas (vital energies) and the motor organs, which serve mainly to fulfill various pranic activities.

~ Dr. David Frawley

Emotions are compulsive vital (vital psychic energy) formations conditioned from previous experiences and circumstances that are stored in our subconscious mind and are associated with certain sensory inputs, thoughts, images and thinking patterns. 

What is this vital?

The vital is the energy in every being and does all functions, physiological and psychological. The heart, the muscles, the digestion and all other bodily functions become possible by the physical vital-energy. Similarly feelings, thoughts and all mental processes are possible because of the psychic vital-energy.

When the vital energy is polluted by the degraded sexual energy takes the form of lust and desire.

In the natural state the vital enable us to experience the bliss of our true Self or Consciousness. But the humans on earth since the age of Adam and Eva developed an unnatural state of vital. Gurdieff and Samael Aun Weor have said that this degradation happened due to the organ of kundartiguador or kundabaffer.

Sri Aurobindo refers to the vital as the vital proper* (read about at the end of the post) , which is  the life-force acting in its own nature, impulses, emotions, desires, ambitions, etc., having as their highest centre what we may call the outer heart of emotion, while there is an inner heart where are the higher or psychic feelings and sensibilities, the intuitive yearnings and impulses of the soul.

The impure vital is the center of the EGO and all its expressions. Lust, desire, pain-body and the sense ‘the body is me’ which are the main expressions of ego are all vital formations. In reality ego, desire, lust, ‘Iness’ and negative emotions are one and the same thing -LUST- which is modified sexual energy.

All other innumerable expressions of ego such as likes, dislikes, repulsion, attraction, fear, anger, greed, impatience, irritability, depression, guilty, etc. are only modifications of the above.

What causes the compulsive thinking?

Most teachers say that emotions are based on thoughts. From my own experience I found that what happens is exactly the opposite. The vital impulses are the origin of the lower emotions and the compulsive thinking. Compulsive or mechanical thinking happens due to the pressing of the vital impulses to the mind, which deluded by the vital is used by it in order to satisfy its demandings.

 It is well known that when someone is angry loses the control of his mind; he thinks and speaks compulsively. Of course what he says is stuff stored in the subconscious mind. The energy of anger makes the mind see others as enemies, to think compulsively, negatively and the same things again and again.

The vital is not operating only when there is a strong emotion like anger or fear but it operates all the time, in a very subtle way. Almost in every situation there is a vital reaction, such as like-dislike, attraction-repulsion etc. (maybe very subtle) which cause the mind to think compulsively. Because of it the intellect loses its clarity and the ability to discern the true from the false, the right from wrong, reality from imagination.

Thoughts (I mean the compulsive mechanical thinking, the noise in the head) are based on vital emotions as well as on vital desires, vital impulses, vital passions etc. All these vital reactions drive the mind to repeat compulsively the same thought patterns again and again, so as to intensify the pleasure or the pain (Nisargadatta) that the vital ego wants to experience.

A part of the psychic vital is so perverted that likes also pain and suffering. 

The vital uses the thoughts to intensify the pleasure or the pain that derives of any situation.  In reality, the external situations are only opportunities for the vital to reproduce the same formations of pleasure and pain(Swami Sivananda) which are stored in the subconscious.  

When there is not a strong enough external stimulus to give pleasure to the vital, the vital energy contracts and creates a feeling of incompleteness, discontentment, dissatisfaction, depression or boredom. This inner state drives the mind to think and find some appropriate stimulus to give pleasure to the vital (Usually eating some sweet is the easiest stimulus).

If the external life does not give the vital any chance to experience what it likes, the vital manipulates the imagination and thoughts to experience it virtually (and this happen most time of the day, every day.) In fact all this continuous moment to moment compulsive thinking which is accompanied with mental images is created by the pressure of the vital on the mind and thus the vital experiences the same feelings, desires, passions, pleasures and pains again and again.

The tv and the cinema are two very useful tools for the vital to experience pleasure when there is no possibility for real sense stimulus. For example if the ego likes sex pleasure and a mate is not available the vital-ego uses the technology (video-movie) to substitute the real stimulus with a virtual one.

This lower or impure vital is the pain- body that Eckhart Tolle refers very often. All expectations, ambitions, desires, fears, anger, jealousy, impatience, discontent, agony, anxiety, greed, possessiveness, domination, violence etc. and the sense ‘I am the body” are only expressions of the vital. 

The sense ‘I am the body’

 The notion “I am the body” is not only a thought. It is also a belief or a conviction in the intellect, an emotion in the heart level and a vital sense in the upper body and face. All the above are the different expressions of the same vital-ego energy.

This vital-ego energy has been created by degradation of the sexual energy from the time of Adam and Eva.

The dense energy of the impure vital clouds the empty space of pure consciousness and at the same time creates this strong sense ‘I am the body”, or better to say “the body is me” the so called “ego” which is the common experience of every one.

The vital-ego energy is strongly mixed up with the body, and thus it is very difficult to be recognized us something that not belongs to the body. Furthermore the vital-ego energy keeps the mind most of the time clouded, agitated and extroverted. This makes almost impossible for ordinary people to discern this energy as something different from the physical body and something different of themselves. This is the reason that everyone say I am angry, I am sad etc. Unfortunately people accept the vital impulses and emotions as something that belongs to them or as their own self

Another very important point I would like to mention is that the impure vital energy creates both, the sense of ego (the body is ‘Me’) and all lower emotions such as desire, fear, anger, anxiety, depression, etc.) The ‘Me’ and the lower emotions, desires etc. are the two sides of the same coin. Because of it, every time that an emotion or desire functions in our psych we feel more strongly the sense of “me”. Emotions, desires and ego are in reality are one energy taking these different expressions.

The vital not only manipulates the outer mind (manas) but also the intellect (buddhi)The intellect is used by the vital to invent thousand of different ways for its satisfaction through food, sex, clothes, comforts, sound and visual entertainment etc. The intellect also is used by the ego to justify the brutality of the ego-vital actions.

The intellect cannot function properly if it does not function independent of the vital impulses. Reasoning, discrimination and understanding are clouded by the vital and thus the intellect functions in a very limited way.

“Most of us are dominated by the vital body and its deep-seated urges that are necessary for us to remain alive. It is also the home of the vital or subconscious ego which holds the various fears, desires and attachments which afflict us. We most of our spend our time in life seeking enjoyment through the vital in the form of sensory enjoyment and acquisition of material objects.

The vital body  by David Frawely

Emotions (the lower) in reality are formations of the vital. These vital formations are responses to sensory inputs and instinct urges. The vital formations become thoughts at the level of mind and emotions at the level of heart. Real emotions are only the positive emotions of love, joy, peace, contentment, compassion, devotion. 

Thoughts usually are stored in the subconscious in conjunction and association with some vital reaction (this is the heart of the problem about the egoic mind). After some repetitions, the thoughts and the vital reactions create a strong relation between each other and function as a chain in a vicious cycle and thus mechanical patterns are created. These mechanical patterns function independently of our conscious will.  These patterns come in play due to sense stimulus, imagination, memory, etc.

The speed of thinking process is slower than the emotional and vital one. So it is easier for ordinary men to notice the thoughts than the subtler vital and emotional reactions.  That’s why seems that the thoughts create the emotions or vital reactions. Of course when the emotions are fully and strongly expressed are easily recognized by ordinary people too. 

Surely the vital reactions cannot survive for a long time in our psych, after the end of the external stimulus and without the aid of the thoughts. But as the mind has the capacity to reproduce the external situation due to its power of thinking, imagination and memory, the vital-ego uses the mind in order to recreate the external experience so as to continue experience the pleasure or the emotion that likes. Thus the vital-ego almost continuously ‘eats’ the amount of energy it likes.

Another thing that proves that emotions are not created by thinking is the animals. Animals have also emotions but not thoughts. This makes clear that the emotions are not created by thoughts. Thoughts or thinking is a tool for the vital-ego to reproduce the pleasure and the emotions. In human beings the vital-ego uses the thoughts, the thinking, imagination and memory to lengthen its life in the psych of humans as much as possible and play its games.

Vital formations also make associations with all senses. That’s why for example the smelling of a scent can draw of the memory a feeling of happiness or sadness which was recorded in the subconscious in association with this scent. 

The vital hypnotizes and uses the mind as a servant to satisfy its pleasures, ambitions, passions and pains. And because the vital is the life force itself and rajasic by nature is very powerful. This powerful vital keeps the mind constantly agitated. That’s why to control and conquest the mind is very difficult, especially when the vital is impure and brutal (and it is, in the majority of earthlings).

The mind by its nature is sattvic, pure and calm but polluted by rajas and tamas and due the power of the vital becomes impure, agitated and moves constantly outwards to grasp the sensual objects. So the intellect deluded by the vital does not live in its own sphere. The intellect cannot function independently of the vital and loses its capacity to reveal the truth of every incident and interprets most of the time wrongly all events inner or outer.

But the worst of all is that the impure intellect loses its capacity to reflect the light of consciousness and realize its identity with it. Thus instead of experiencing the bliss of our true Self (Consciousness), we experience illusory sense-pleasure and enormous suffering with it.

When the ego and all vital formations in the form of desire, anger, fear etc. are eliminated by intense spiritual practices for a long time, the intellect regain its pristine state of purity (sattva) and reflects without distortion the peace and bliss of consciousness. We realize our identity with consciousness and we live in eternal peace and bliss, liberated from the circle of pleasure and pain, birth and death.


the vital proper* : According Aurobindo the vital is the life-force acting in its own nature, impulses, emotions, desires, ambitions, etc., having as their highest centre what we may call the outer heart of emotion, while there is an inner heart where are the higher or psychic feelings and sensibilities, the intuitive yearnings and impulses of the soul.

The vital proper has four parts: 

1. The mental vital which gives a mental expression by thought, speech or otherwise to the emotions, desires, passions, sensations and other movements of the vital .
2. The emotional vital which is the seat of various feelings such as, love, joy, sorrow hatred and the rest.
3. The central vital which is the seat of the stronger vital longings, and reactions e.g. ambition, pride, fear, love of fame, attractions repulsions, desires, passions of various kinds and the field of many vital energies.
4. The lower vital which is occupied with desires and emotions such as make the greater party of the daily life e.g. food desire, sexual desire, small likings and dislikings, vanity, quarells, anger at blame, little wishes of all kind and a numberless host of other things.

Their respective seats are:
1. Mental vital the region from the throat to the heart.
2. Emotional vital its seat is the outer heart and the inner heart behind it it is related with the soul.
3. The central vital has as its seat the region from the heart to navel.
4. The lower vital below the navel.

We must not confuse the mind with the vital although the vital has a mind element transfused in it. Mind and vital are mixed up on the surface of the consciousness, but they are quite separate forces in themselves.

The mental vital is a sort of mediator between vital emotion, desire, impulsion, etc and the mind. It expresses the desires, emotions, feelings, passions, ambitions, possessive and active tendencies of the vital and throws them into mental .- the pure imaginations or dreams of greatness, happiness, etc. in which men indulge are one peculiar form of the mental vital. It is through the mental vital that the vital passions, emotions, impulses, desires, rise up and get into the buddhi (intellect) and either cloud it or distort it.

You can find more about the vital-ego in the books of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother: THE INTEGRAL YOGA & LIVING WITHIN

 Peace, love, harmony