The Mother clarifies a distinction between receiving the universal vital forces directly and receiving them through a vital interchange with other individuals. These two methods represent two entirely different statuses of consciousness. To receive the universal vital forces directly, a wide and receptive consciousness is needed. Many people do not appreciate that this is an actual, palpable experience of wideness, not restricted to a mental status. As the yogic practice develops, it is possible to have glimpses of this experiential state, and eventually to live constantly in that wideness, not limited to the awareness of the physical frame of the body.

Most individuals, however, identify themselves with the physical body and its limited frame. In such cases, they do not openly and consciously receive the universal vital forces (although these forces are constantly active and working on a subliminal level). They engage for the most part in interchange with other individuals similarly situated and draw in vital energies from those other individuals and pass along the vital energies they are holding to their associates. The Mother describes the limitations and the issues involved with such a process.

The Mother observes: “But those who draw back upon themselves, who turn and double up on themselves, cannot do this. One must live all the time in a very vast and very expansive consciousness (I don’t know if you understand the word, it means something which extends very homogeneously and quietly, as when the tide is at its height and the water spreads like that, quietly — that’s the impression). The vital must be like that — then one is open to the universal forces. But if, for example, one has the very bad habit of exchanging vital forces with one’s fellowmen, then one loses the capacity altogether. So unless one is in relation with someone, one receives nothing at all. But naturally if you receive forces through others, you receive at the same time all the difficulties of the other person, perhaps sometimes his qualities also, but these are less contagious. This indeed is something that shuts you up most.”

“Some people… unless they have more or less social relations with others, relations of friendship, conversing… and then it goes still farther… they don’t receive any forces; and this is how they receive them. But this always makes a soup. The forces one receives are already half digested, in any case they don’t have their primal purity, and this affects your own capacity.”

Sri Aurobindo and the Mother, The Hidden Forces of Life, Ch. 4 Cosmic and Universal Forces, pp 94-95

Author's Bio: 

Santosh has been studying Sri Aurobindo's writings since 1971 and has a daily blog at and podcast located at
He is author of 20 books and is editor-in-chief at Lotus Press. He is president of Institute for Wholistic Education, a non-profit focused on integrating spirituality into daily life.
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More information about Sri Aurobindo can be found at
The US editions and links to e-book editions of Sri Aurobindo’s writings can be found at Lotus Press