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Integral Health

The metaphysical basis for Integral Health — freedom and fulfilment

Dr. Soumitra Basu

Traditionally, ‘liberation’ from a world of suffering, ill-health, evil, darkness, ignorance, falsehood and death has been eulogised in the Indian psyche. Psychologically, the concept of ‘liberation’ arises from a yearning for ‘freedom’. Freedom is the magic word that beckons the human being in spite of one’s bondage. We are bound to our ‘fate’, circumstances, social obligations, ‘biological’ and ‘cultural’ genes, ecological discrepancies, family ties, the political system, dependency needs, our own desires, the upsurges from our subconscious, collective suggestions and what not! It is a chimera to believe we are free! Yet, as Sri Aurobindo reiterates that ‘Freedom’ is one of those key guiding lights that return after all attempts to curb it, it is one of the quartette — “God, Light, Freedom, Immortality” that “survives the longest periods of scepticism and returns after every banishment (1)”.

As ‘Freedom’ in a world of bondage is dependent on many variables, seekers sought a freedom independent of both external (materialistic) and internal (psychological) variables. This freedom could only be discovered in the experiential realisation of the Spirit that is always free and one with the Divine. The ultimate freedom could only be found in the experience of Reality in the ‘Transcendental’ poise that surpassed both the individual and the universal (cosmic) consciousness. It is a unitary poise of perfect freedom, true liberty. That did not mean that the ‘liberated’ individual who had experienced the ‘Transcendental’ poise of Reality became insensitive to the plight of his fellow-brethren. In fact, liberty gave one the right to even transcend liberty with a poise of detachment. Thus was born the concept of the Jivanmukta — one who was liberated even while operating in the field of life. Sri Aurobindo speaks of the metaphysical value of such liberty for the Conscious Being:

“It is so free that it is not even bound by its liberty. It can play at being bound without incurring a real bondage (2).”

In the Indian tradition, liberation from existence to experience realisation of the Transcendent was the crowning movement in spirituality. In the Aurobindonian parlance, the experiential realisation of the Transcendent is just one movement among many other movements in the trajectory of transformation where the Transcendent has to be expressed in a new earthly denouement in a radicalisation of matter in spiritual terms or an integralist permeation of the Spirit in the matrix of matter. The liberation needed in this endeavour is freedom not from life or existence but a freedom from the ego. This is imperative as the ego is the harbinger of multiplicity, the fulcrum of divisibility and the integer of uniqueness.

The ego is the most important barrier to the realisation of the universal or cosmic consciousness as well as the Transcendental Unity. It is the Transcendent that gets expressed in a movement of diffusion as the universal and in a movement of concentration as the individual. The individual was destined to be unique and this exclusivity had to be maintained by the ego that acted as the lynchpin. In the process, the individual was cut off from the unity that pervades all creation and holds both the manifest and the unmanifest. In this context Sri Aurobindo provides a significant insight:

“This limitation of the universal ‘I’ in the divided ego-sense constitutes our imperfect individualised personality(3).”

In making this statement, Sri Aurobindo lays the foundation for a unique postulate of a consciousness-based Integral Yoga Psychology. It is not sufficient to study the human being merely in terms of the surface being, which is labelled as personality in psychological parlance, for two basic reasons:

a. What we label as the ‘personality’ limits the universal consciousness in an individuality whose fulcrum is the ego. To experience the universal consciousness without losing the sense of individuality, one has to outgrow the ego and be poised in the soul-principle;

b. The human being is not only represented by the dimension of personality, individualised in the ego or universalised beyond the ego. It is also represented by a dimension of impersonality poised in the transcendental consciousness that includes and surpasses both the individual and the universal.

A transformation of material life in spiritual terms as envisaged by Sri Aurobindo necessitates that the individual fulcrum of the being shifts from the ego to a fourth-dimensional principle that is the soul-principle in its evolving poise. The shift from the ego to this ego-surpassing principle is the real movement of liberation. It is a freedom needed not for rejecting life but for fulfilling life. Fulfilment can only come by a transformation of material life in spiritual terms, in the divinisation of life, in the manifestation of the Life Divine. This was a radical conceptualisation as so long fulfilment was never considered possible in earthly life. It resurrects freedom that reinstates the Transcendental Unity in individual terms through the saga of transformation of earthly life paving way for newer constructions, newer life rhythms and even new species that surpass the present limited human being. Newer integral paradigms of psychology and health need to be concomitantly constructed to face newer evolutionary challenges.


1. Sri Aurobindo. Birth Centenary Library, Volume 18. Pondicherry: Sri Aurobindo Ashram Trust, 1970, p. 1.

2. Ibid., p. 39.

3. Ibid.

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Freedom from the ego