The Walls of the Ego-Self

The ego-sense walls off the surface being from both the deeper, inner realms of awareness and the cosmic, infinite consciousness, to enable the creation of a framed and distinct individuality. Sri Aurobindo describes the reason for the imperfection of our knowledge of the world as related to this phenomenon: “If we look for the reason of this limitation and imperfection, we shall find first that it is because we are concentrated on our surface; the depths of self, the secrets of our total nature are shut away from us behind a wall created by our externalising consciousness,–or created for it so that it can pursue its activity of egocentric individualisation of the mind, life and body uninvaded by the deeper and wider truth of our larger existence: through this wall we can look into our inner self and reality only through crevices and portholes and we see little there but a mysterious dimness. At the same time our consciousness has to defend its ego-centric individualisation, not only against its own deeper self of oneness and infinity, but against the cosmic infinite; it builds up a wall of division here also and shuts out all that is not centred round its ego, excludes it as not-self.”

Of course, there must be interchange between the ego-self and its inner deeper self; as well as with the world outside, and thus, various means of commuincation and interaction are developed using the senses as a gateway to the world. “The mind uses these means and invents others that supplement them and it succeeds in establishing some construction, some system of knowledge which serves its immediate purpose or its general will to master partially and use this huge alien environmental existence or deal with it where it cannot master it.”

Despite these walls, there is no absolute barrier and waves of thought, feeling, energies, invade from outside this artificially constructed self, and from our deeper selves; and because of the walls we have erected we only perceive these impulses partially and darkly, thus, essentially isolating ourselves within a walled off enclosure that permits only limited knowledge and limited power of action.

Sri Aurobindo, The Life Divine, Book 2, Part I, Chapter 10, Knowledge by Identity and Separative Knowledge, pp. 530-531

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