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Namah Journal

Inner approach to health


James Anderson

Editor's note

Joy is rarely a subject for medical journals. Yet this is certainly the hoped for end-result of all treatment. In this article, the author uses 'joy' to help him heal, i.e. become whole.

Our beings are comprised of missing links. Mine is certainly no exception. Sri Aurobindo saw that a human being made up of many parts. Broadly speaking, the mind, vital and body constitute the outer being. On a subtler level, behind these frontal parts, almost in secret chambers, lie the inner realms of our being. These contain far more potent powers. Vast potentialities remain untapped, but most of us are unaware even of their existence. Most significant of all, at the centre of these inner domains, stands our evolving soul which is constantly seeking to place its touch on the frontiers of the surface nature, i.e. the material body. A harmonious functioning of all these parts reflects as good health. Sometimes, however, the links between and within the different parts can get tangled and blocked. Consequently the picture we present is not one of unity and harmony; the being gets fragmented and disjointed. So, illness ensues.

I aspire to be whole. I yearn to be a worthy instrument for the Divine’s work. That is the calling of my being. So one day, I questioned the Mother about this, “Sweet Mother, how can these links be made?” Being in a quiet space, the answer came very quickly. “Through joy!” Because of these words, I now know that there is indeed a way of making my being whole.

Natural state

The state of joy comes when I am present, unfettered by the past and not lost in anticipation of the future. It rises when I am grounded, fully alive in the body. Joy is spontaneous: it can’t be contrived. It rises like a spring from deep within the heart itself. It comes also when I am relaxed and at peace, when the mind is stilled and the lower vital quiescent. There is no disturbance, not even a ripple. Peace and joy come hand in hand.

Joy is a natural state; misery and suffering are not. When clear and aspiring I feel joy, when cloudy or dispersed I don’t. When I am able to drop my baggage and gaze straight into the eyes of the Divine Mother, I feel joy. It simply happens. It rests upon waves of love, so can’t be forced. Love and joy become one.

Above all joy comes with gratitude. This knowledge came when I read the Mother’s beautiful words:

“There is nothing which gives you a joy equal to that of gratitude. One hears a bird sing, sees a lovely flower, looks at a little child, observes an act of generosity, reads a beautiful sentence, looks at the setting sun, no matter what, suddenly this comes upon you, this kind of emotion — indeed so deep, so intense — that the world manifests the Divine, that there is something behind the world which is the Divine (1).”

This joy can vibrate throughout the whole body. When I close my eyes and call Her presence into it, a joy courses through my veins. I then implicitly understand the meaning of the word, ‘rapture’. It is like a flame igniting the very tissues and cells, filling the body with Light and Force. Joy can unite with love to become the heart and body’s offerings to the Mother.

Joy comes from the heart. But I also feel that this joy can be a gateway to the even deeper treasures of the psychic being. Perhaps there is no better way of inviting it to come forward. This is because, being seated so close, the psychic being responds so readily to the heart’s calling. From my experience, there is no emotion the psychic being resonates to more than a joyful love. It elevates the heart’s offering, placing it upon the altar of divine love. The psychic being transforms the lower parts and once its mastery is established over the entire being, vast horizons will open before us so the body too can at last claim its promised place in the divine life upon earth.

The whole process can’t be coerced, it simply unfolds.


I believe that the body has been given to us to project beauty in form. Through joy, the body can then become a vehicle for expression. It expresses joy best too through movement. Even the simplest of motions can reflect this state. The most mundane exercise then becomes a dance. Above all though, when movement ceases to be just a mechanical means of getting from A to B and becomes a sincere offering, I am able to tap the source of this radiant joy. When I am present in the body, allowing no outside interference to intrude on my awareness, it can happen automatically.

In movement, if called,the Mother’s Force works in a most radical and dynamic way. If I am conscious and attentive, I can then witness the Mother’s work simultaneously unfolding before my eyes. It is truly work in progress. At that point, a lightness pervades the whole being. The body becomes supple, energetic and plastic to the divine Grace. It is almost as if I were floating on air.

It is through joy that the body can find its true way. It recaptures its innate rhythm and consequently emits such a positive vibration. From this base, the body moves into a flow. The psychic being then starts to guide my steps. It is such a relaxed state: my struggle and effort diminish and it is as if I were being carried in Her arms.

Joyful breath

Our lives are sustained by breath. Breath is the very substance of our life-force. If worked upon consciously, I find it can give an incredible lift to the body. Instead of the mind imposing its premeditated demands on the physical, I occasionally find the breath supporting and carrying it through the motion itself. With the withdrawal of the mental will, my personal effort desists and a simple joy arises. A sense of weightlessness emerges in the body, a true feeling of poise and plenitude.

I find that this work is founded primarily on awareness: an awareness of where the breath comes from. I try to go deep within the core of heart to centre this consciousness. I plunge into my inner being. From that perspective, the awareness can then be shifted throughout the whole body in order to make the breath whole. By breathing ‘into’ a knot or stab of pain, the resistance gradually dissolves. Combined with conscious and gentle movement around that locality, the effect becomes quite magical.

As the breath deepens and expands, I then ask the Mother to carry me on its wings. I do find this work very challenging at times so I invariably ask for Her help. Spontaneously the body starts to vibrate to a lighter touch and joy intervenes. My movement becomes more truly conscious.

So elusive

But sometimes the reality is very different. Why does this joy so often prove to be elusive? For some perhaps, there is a great deal standing in the way of this natural state. I find myself, like a lot of other people I suppose, now and then enmeshed in a round of dull routine and self-imposed ultimatums. For me particularly, it is evident that it is the mind that chiefly throttles this state of joy. On rare occasions even, it can leave the heart as barren as a desert. With that, any life-energy fades away into oblivion, leaving the body as lifeless as a stone. This can be a major missing link.

So how can I free myself from the mind’s vice-like grip? Personally speaking, I’ve done with battling with it: that tends only to leave me fatigued or depressed. After all, I’ve noticed that it is only one part of the mind imposing on another: such a futile exercise! So it is clear that the mind (and lower vital for that matter) need to be stilled as any form of agitation only hinders the emergence of a true sense of joy.

Perhaps a good dose of awareness helps. In this way, I try just to observe and don’t fight. Very often, something then miraculously shifts. In awareness and remembrance, the object of my observation is automatically offered at the feet of the Mother. The alchemy of Consciousness-Force simultaneously unfolds. Through consciousness, the Mother’s Force works the resistance out and a solution emerges. If I am able to catch the restricting thought in midstream and place my awareness upon it, the Mother instantly dissolves it. Knowing this, I can now understand why the Mother said a good way of stilling the mind is to concentrate within the heart. Joy arrives when the heart is free. Because of this, I usually prefer to resort more to the heart than the head.

Vital being

A healthy vital is full of joy: indeed joy is its very nectar. I feel that nothing can enjoin its collaboration more than this state. When it invades the nature, it emboldens and purifies, encouraging the obscurities of the lower parts to cooperate and change. It manifests in waves of enthusiasm, instilling the drive and urge to work. When joy arrives, the vital being doesn’t get depressed or go on strike. In such conditions, it can impart such support and energy to the body. Indeed, it can inspire the body to climb previously insurmountable heights. The converted vital is a true warrior: nothing daunts it. I sometimes find its spirit of élan can become so infectious, stirring the physical being out of its inbred torpor. The body then becomes the ‘happy worker’ and the entire lower nature can be single-pointedly offered to the Divine.

When a feeling of joy prompts the inner being to step forward, I find myself in a state of the deepest beatitude. I feel so blessed. In a state of joy, the body, illumined by the psychic presence, can at last step forward and dare to take the lead. The natural affinity between the psychic being and body explains this. The yoke of the mind and vital can then be cast away and the body, in full freedom, starts to express its innately divine nature.

Final answer

However I know from Sri Aurobindo that this state of joy is not the final answer. Perhaps it marks only a transitional stage. It is still a vibration that manifests from the vital being and consequently is usually subject to many vicissitudes. It is susceptible to the capricious swings of duality. But it is obvious that a healthy vital is essential to our physical and psychological well-being. I don’t know whether joy can be made a permanent feature in our lives. I’d like to think so. Perhaps for joy to be constant, something more is required.

For this, I try to plunge still further to unlock the hidden treasures of the inner being. For me, the heart is the best window for discovering it and I feel that nothing can induce the psychic being to step forward more than spontaneous tides of love and joy. Both Sri Aurobindo and the Mother frequently advised that the most straightforward way of finding and uniting with the soul is to penetrate deep within the recesses of the heart. As I dwell more within, the psychic being gradually begins to extend its rightful mastery over the entire lower nature. The vital being is certainly not immune from its embrace and as it is slowly converted, a sense of joy does start to endure. It can indeed be a long process. However, as I get gradually closer to that aim, unmistakable glimpses of a much more supernal state begin to emerge.

These hints and flashes of Delight are altogether more rarefied and, from my brief experience, quite impossible to put into words. The Mother assures us that Ananda can indeed be felt in the physical body too. I believe that a wholeness of the being can only be completely achieved through this state.

Ananda is the very beginning and final destination. Sri Aurobindo wrote:

“Delight is the secret. Learn of pure delight and thou shalt learn of God (2).”

Joy is not extinguished; it is simply superceded. Delight is the final rung in the ladder. As Sri Aurobindo says, it is the very reason for existence too. It is the counterpart to divine love. I find that nothing can manifest it more than a feeling of tender gratitude. I sincerely offer my love to Her and Ananda spontaneously descends and returns. This Ananda is the very stamp of the Divine Mother. It comes from a feeling of complete oneness, an absence of all duality. So imagine a body fully imbued with such Delight...that is the prospect that Sri Aurobindo and the Mother are offering us. Oh, what a joy it is to attempt to follow their steps!


1. The Mother. Collected Works of the Mother, Volume 8. Pondicherry; Sri Aurobindo Ashram Trust, 1978, p. 40.

2. Sri Aurobindo. Collected Works of Sri Aurobindo, Volume 16. Pondicherry; Sri Aurobindo Ashram Trust, 1971, p. 384.

James Anderson is a member of SAIIIHR and coordinating editor of NAMAH

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