Liberation Comes About From Synthesis of Yoga of Knowledge and Works

The traditional path of knowledge as a means of liberation has tended to lead away from the life of the world to a renunciation of worldly action and a dissolution into the infinite consciousness of the supreme Brahman. The traditional path of works has focused on dedicated actions to achieve specific goals, but again, has shied away from taking on the myriad actions and impulsions of the life of the world.

The Gita’s unique synthesis calls on us to act from knowledge: the knowledge of the illusory nature of the individual separated being acting under impulsions of desire to aggrandise the ego; to recognize the reality of the supreme,infinite and impersonal Consciousness that maintains all within it and is not disturbed by the actions of Nature.

The Gita at the same time enjoins us to carry out works, but not for the achievement of the fruits of action, or for personal gain or ego, but as “the work to be done” and with the understanding that this work is a movement of universal Nature, Prakriti, carrying out the intention and motive purposes of the Supreme Being who has created and cast all this energy into motion.

Sri Aurobindo discusses some of the issues involved in carrying out this yoga: “The real renunciation–for renunciation, sannyasa, there must be–is not the fleeing from works, but the slaying of ego and desire. The way is to abandon attachment to the fruit of works even while doing them, and the way is to recognise Nature as the agent and leave her to do her works and to live in the soul as the witness and sustainer, watching and sustaining her, but not attached either to her actions or their fruits.”

This results in the quieting, eventually the dissolution of the knot of the ego. “We have achieved by the slaying of ego impersonality in our being and consciousness; we have achieved by the renunciation of desire impersonality in the works of our nature. We are free not only in inaction, but in action; our liberty does not depend on a physical and temperamental immobility and vacancy, nor do we fall from freedom directly we act. Even in a full current of natural action the impersonal soul in us remains calm, still and free.”

Sri Aurobindo, Essays on the Gita, First Series, Chapter 13, The Lord of the Sacrifice, pp. 122-123

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