The Ego Is Not the True Spiritual Individual

Having provided the rationale for the importance of the individual in the manifested universe, Sri Aurobindo takes care at this point to ensure that there is no confusion about the nature of the individual. Since most of us associate the ego-personality as our individuality, such confusion easily could ensue.

“Still, to find his egoistic individuality is not to know himself; the true spiritual individual is not the mind-ego, the life-ego, the body-ego: predominantly, this first movement is a work of will, of power, of egoistic self-effectuation and only secondarily of knowledge. Therefore a time must come when man has to look below the obscure surface of his egoistic being and attempt to know himself; he must set out to find the real man: without that he would be stopping short of Nature’s primary education and never go on to her deeper and larger teachings; however great his practical knowledge and efficiency, he would be only a little higher than the animals.”

As the ego-individual becomes aware of the need for further explanation to his life, his awareness, his purpose of living, he starts with an exploration of his own psychology, his mind, life and physical being, and the goals towards which they are oriented. However, this does not take him very far, and eventually the seeker turns his sights either to a higher fulfillment in Nature or in the greater term of humanity, mankind. Or he begins to seek a fulfillment in God,–some kind of unity with the Divine or the term of supernature.

On a practical basis, the seeker in fact winds up following both individual and greater lines of fulfillment more or less alternately, successively or side-by-side for a long time, as the calls upon the mind, life and body dictate the focus and effort. All through this process, we see an expansion or growing of the term of the seeking, and the goal of knowledge continually widens his horizons.

Sri Aurobindo, The Life Divine, Book 2, Part 2, Chapter 17, The Progress to Knowledge–God, Man and Nature”