Vital (Sri Aurobindo)

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The Vital or Life faculty or part of the being, in Sri Aurobindo's philosophy, refers not simply to the life force as to the various passions, desires, feelings, emotions, affects, compulsions, and likes and dislikes that strongly determine human motivation and action through desire and enthusiasm.

It would seem to correspond to the "animal soul" or "irrational soul" of Platonic, Neoplatonic, Christian, and Islamic thought, the Nefesh Habehamis of Chabad Hassidism and Kabbalah, Blavatsky's Kama or desire principle (see the Septenary), Leadbeater's (and later New Age) Emotional body, and Théon's Nervoux or Nervous Principle.

Unlike Western psychology, in which mind, emotions, instincts, and consciousness are all lumped together, Sri Aurobindo strongly distinguishes between the "Vital" and the "Mental" faculties.

In addition to the individual Vital faculty, Sri Aurobindo refers to a Vital Plane or Vital world, which would seem to be partly equivalent to the Astral Plane of popular occultism and New Age thought.


  • Sri Aurobindo, (1972), Letters on Yoga, Volumes 22, 23, and 24, 1972, Sri Aurobindo Ashram Trust

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