From Bondage to Liberation of the Self

Normally the human consciousness, with its characteristic ego-sense, identifies closely with the Kshara Purusha, and in that poise, it is manipulated by the Gunas of Nature, the action of Prakriti, and is apparently bound. Even when it believes it is exercising “free will” at the level of the ego, a closer examination shows us that this is simply part of the machinery that Prakriti creates to carry out the manifestation for which it was created. Sri Aurobindo describes the situation: “He thinks that it is he and others who are doing all; he does not see that Nature is doing all and that he is misrepresenting and disfiguring her works to himself by ignorance and attachment. He is enslaved by the Gunas, now hampered in the dull ease of Tamas, now blown by the strong winds of Rajas, now limited by the partial lights of Sattwa, not distinguishing himself at all from the nature-mind which alone is thus modified by the Gunas. He is therefore mastered by pain and pleasure, happiness and grief, desire and passion, attachment and disgust: he has no freedom.”

A liberation from this bondage can only take place when he is able to move his field of reference and standpoint outside the “frame” of the manifestation, that is, from the standpoint of the involved Kshara Purusha self-identified with the ego-sense to the standpoint of the Akshara Purusha, free, unattached, beyond the play of the Gunas, observing, silently sanctioning the action, but separate and above. “Knowing himself as the Akshara Brahman, the unchanging Purusha, he will know himself as an immutable impersonal self, the Atman, tranquilly observing and impartially supporting the action, but himself calm, indifferent, untouched, motionless, pure, one with all beings in their self, not one with Nature and her workings.”

“By going back into the impersonal self the soul gets back into a greater self-knowledge and is liberated from the bondage of the works of Nature, untouched by her Gunas, free from her shows of good and evil, suffering and happiness. The natural being, the mind, body, life still remain, Nature still works; but the inner being does not identify himself with these, nor while the Gunas play in the natural being, does he rejoice or grieve. He is the calm and free immutable Self observing all.”

Sri Aurobindo, Essays on the Gita, First Series, Chapter 22, Beyond the Modes of Nature, pp. 220-221