Now this entire field – instinct, desire, emotions and feelings is called pranamaya – prana means breath – it all depends upon breathing basically. According to the Indian science, if breathing stops, all these things will disappear because breathing is the real cause of what we call nervous reactions. If you examine our physiology you will find that all emotions, feelings, desires are nothing but reactions of the nerves, if nerves become dead then feelings stop. For example, if someone is paralyzed, the nerves are affected, they become numb, and they do not function. Therefore even if you touch, there is no feeling. This paralysis happens because the breath has stopped in that part of the body. Therefore prana is very important for the entire field of instincts, desires, emotions and feelings.
There is one more element in the field of vital or pranamaya and that is will. There is a difference between desire and will. I may desire a glass of wine but I may not will it. I may have a desire for it but I know it is injurious to health, I know that it upsets my mind; I come out of my own self as it were; I lose control over myself. Knowing all these consequences, even though I may desire it, I may not will it. For a desire to become a will, you must weigh the consequences of desires and then make a choice to put the desire into action or not and when you do that, then that takes the form of will. Normally, human beings are moved by instincts, just like animals. Animals are only instinctive, they have very little of thought or any kind of memory or any imagination. Human beings are also very largely instinctive, but these instincts develop into desires and some of these desires become very powerful in some human beings, for example, desire turning into ambition; a kind of a longing. Instinct becomes not only a desire for immediate satisfaction but also a longing, which can last for twenty five years, thirty years, maybe fifty years. A person may have the ambition to become the prime minister of his country. It may take fifty years to realise that ambition and one can sustain that kind of a desire for a long time if there is a great longing for it. There are certain kinds of love where even if you are separated for many years, but if it is a true love, and there is a longing to meet, then even if it takes years and years and there are hurdles and hurdles, you overcome them. So, certain desires become longings, attractions, long standing attractions. Similarly, certain repulsions also become longstanding; it can remain for thirty, forty years. There are many people who fulfill their revenge after twenty or thirty years and then they feel satisfied in their life. So there can be longstanding ambitions, longstanding attractions, longstanding repulsions or short lived desires or short lived repulsions. So we see that most human beings are instinctive but when they become more conscious they are ruled by desires. Out of desire they begin to have many emotions, some of which human beings begin to value more. There are many things that I experience – out of them I select for example, "I would like to be with so and so for such and such time whenever I am free", or, "Whenever A. is present I feel very comfortable so I always go to him whenever I have time." Emotions, which are more stable, arise out of experiences of desires, from which emerge the consequences of desires. Then one considers the pros and cons. One can decide to satisfy ones desire taking into consideration the consequences, or control the desire, master it, eliminate it; all this is the operation of will. It is therefore said that a human being, as long as he is only instinctive, is purely animal. And when he begins to have some desires, he starts becoming human. But it is only when he begins to develop the will that his manhood really comes into picture. A man who has no will or has not developed his will power has not yet entered into manhood; he is carried over by desires, instincts, impulses, passions – he is not in his self possession. That is why it is said that the most important thing in education is to develop the will power of the child because a child is normally instinctive and gradually has to grow into manhood and therefore there is so much insistence upon the development of will power. Now this is true of all human beings because we are also like children, and we also need to develop quite a lot. The most important thing for human beings is to develop will power.
All this is the subject matter of pranamaya. There is a huge complexity in our whole vital life. And if we really open the drawer of our vital being, pranamaya, we will find all kinds of things littered almost in a chaotic manner – papers and pencils of various colours, some papers torn and some papers crumpled. This is what we are normally. But the will power develops basically when the third element develops, that is manomaya, the mental.