Vital education aims at training the lifeforce (that normally vibrates in emotions, desires and impulses) in three directions: to discover its real function and to replace its egoistic and ignorant tendency so as to become the master by willingness and capacity to serve higher principles of the psychological constitution; to subtilise and sublimate its sensitivity which expresses itself through sensuous and aesthetic activities; and to resolve and transcend the dualities and contradictions in the character constituted by the vital seekings, and to achieve the transformation of the character.
The usual methods of dealing with the vital have been in the past those of coercion, suppression, abstinence and asceticism. But these methods do not give lasting results. Besides, they only help in drying up the drive and dynamism of the life-force; and thus the collaboration of the life-force in self-fulfilment is eliminated.
The right training of the vital then is much more subtle and much more difficult, needing
endurance, endless persistence and an inflexible will. For what is to be aimed at is not the negation of life but the fulfilment of life by its transformation.
First, the powers of the senses have to be developed, subtilised and enriched. Next, there are inner and latent senses which are to be discovered and similarly developed. Third, the seekings of these senses have to be trained to reject grossness and coarseness and to enjoy the finer tastes and higher aesthetic experiences. Finally, there has to be a deeper and piercing observation of the desires, passions, ambitions, lusts, etc., their risings, revolts and contradictions, and an attempt by various methods to separate out in each movement the elements that contribute to the concord and harmony from those tending in the opposite direction, and to eliminate the latter from the very nature and fibre of our psychological constitution.
The effective methods of this last aspect are:
• To instil in the child, as soon as possible, the will towards progress and perfection;
• Rational arguments, sentiment and goodwill, or appeal to the sense of dignity and self
respect according to the nature of the child in question;
• To insist on the idea that the will can be developed, and that no defeat should be taken as final;
• To demand from the will the maximum effort, for the will is strengthened by effort;
• Above all, the example of the educator shown constantly and sincerely.
But still the direction in which the effort has to be made can be known only by the training of the mind and by the opening of the secret knowledge that is within our psychic being. To develop therefore in the vital the habit to open to this light and to act in that light would be to place the vital in its proper place as a will-force executing the inner and higher knowledge.
Vital education is greatly aided by stress on different kinds of fine arts and crafts. Sri Aurobindo has written at length on the contribution that Art can make to the integral education in his important book, The National Value of Art. He has pointed out that the first and the lowest use of Art is purely aesthetic, the second is the intellectual and the third and the