Sri Aurobindo, The Life Divine, The Triple Transformation - Track 101

Body, life, mind and soul

The Life Divine - Book Two, Part Two, Chapter 25 The Triple Transformation - Text

Each one of us is given three instruments, the body, life and mind. And each one of these three instruments has its natural activities. For example the body has instincts, which are untaught, they are there. I get hungry whether I am taught to feel hungry or not. It is a natural instinct, untaught. And it is because of that instinct that I am preserved. I feel hungry, I eat and I maintain myself physically. These are ordinary activities of maintaining ourselves physically. Then there are instincts of which you are not even aware, for example instincts by which you can digest your food. We simply eat and digestion which is a long process takes place automatically. And now modern science has found out hundreds of activities of this kind going on in our body which are automatic activities of which we are not aware at all, but they are constantly taking place.

Similarly there are other activities of life in as, which are called the vital activities.  The vital part in us provides the basic force of breathing. The breath of life we call life. The real life in us is that which causes the breathing that also takes place automatically, it is unlearned. We are not taught how to breathe, it is going on automatically. But apart from this basic activity of breath of life there are numerous desires which constantly arise in us automatically, the spontaneous likes and dislikes. Even a small child right from the beginning begins to like and dislike certain things automatically. At a certain other stage there are attractions and repulsions, these also happen automatically. At a still higher level there are longings which arise, longstanding longings. We feel that there is a longing for somebody, longing for some kind of a victory, some kind of an ambition to be first or to rise to the highest position. There are various kinds of longings which arise automatically, and they are very powerful. Human beings are as it were swayed by them.

 Mind also has its own automatic activities. The basic activity of the mind is sensation. Smell, touch, sight, hearing are automatic functions of the mental activity in our body. Then there are perceptions and image-formation. When I see an object, then even if I am withdrawn from that object I can recall that object, by means of an image of that object. Then I am able to connect a word with an image and I am able to think with the words. All these activities are quite normal activities of our mind. At a higher level I begin to conceive in the mind. Conception is a higher activity of the mind, and this also at a certain stage is automatic. The higher development of concepts takes a lot of effort but certain concepts are quite easy and they take place automatically.

These three elements are in us, but behind these three elements, there is something else in us of which we are hardly aware but which is the real instrument of experience, it is that which is permanent in us and that is what is normally called soul. There is a soul in us.