The Ignorance of the Egoistic Soul

For a long time in human history, the earth was considered to be the center of the universe. Science now tells us that this conception is inaccurate. For an even longer time, human beings have considered themselves to be the center of the universe, and this conception, rooted in the daily experience of the ego-consciousness, has proven to be much harder to shake. Yet, it is quite as inaccurate as the earth-centric view of the cosmos.

Sri Aurobindo describes this state: “Acutely conscious of himself he sees the ego as the cause and whole meaning of life and not the Divine. He sees himself as the doer of works and does not see that all the workings of existence including his own internal and external activities are the workings of one universal Nature and nothing else. He sees himself as the enjoyer of works and imagines that for him all exists and him Nature ought to satisfy and obey his personal will; he does not see that she is not at all concerned with satisfying him or at all careful of his will, but obeys a higher universal will and seeks to satisfy a Godheard who transcends her and her works and creations; his finite being, his will and his satisfactions are hers and not his, and she offers them at every moment as a sacrifice to the Divine of whose purpose in her she makes all this the covert instrumentation.”

The consequences of this view and standpoint are that the human being disregards or forgets the basic law of Oneness and interchange, the law of sacrifice and works to aggrandise himself and his own portion at the expense of both the other beings and the environment within which we all exist. As mankind develops greater technology to exploit the world, and as humanity extends its reach across more and more of the surface of the planet, this grasping, egoistic viewpoint becomes more and more obviously a challenge to our very survival. Today we consume the resources of the planet so rapidly that we are rapidly reaching the point where fresh water, energy, food, basic sanitation and dealing with refuse become enormous problems. A very small number of people control and consumer a vast proportion of the resources, and there is little regard for the rest of the people, not to speak of the other beings and the planet’s health for the long term.

Sri Aurobindo points out: “The egoistic soul in a world of sacrifice is as if a thief or robber who takes what these Powers bring to him and has no mind to give in return. He misses the true meaning of life and, since he does not use life and works for the enlargement and elevation of his being through sacrifice, he lives in vain.”

Sri Aurobindo, Essays on the Gita, First Series, Chapter 13, The Lord of the Sacrifice, pp. 119-120