Distinguishing Action From the Soul and Action From the Desire-Soul

The philosophical framework of the Gita is not intended to simply educate the intellectual faculty; rather, it is intended to provide insight to the ultimate goal of freeing oneself from the limitations of the lower nature and thereby allowing the higher Nature to carry out pure, powerful action to support the intention of the universal Being manifested in the world.

When we hear that we need to act from the “intrinsic nature” we tend to confuse the action of the lower nature with the true sense of the term “Swabhava”, which relates to the higher Nature, unclouded and undefiled by the desire-soul of the lower Nature or the play of the three Gunas which operates there.

Sri Aurobindo explains: “Then, freed so from the ego personality, we can find the relation of the true individual to the Purushottama. It is one with him in being, even though necessarily partial and determinative, because individual, in action and temporal manifestation of nature. Freed too from the lower nature we can realise the higher, the divine, the spiritual. Therefore to act from the soul does not mean to act from the desire-soul; for that is not the high intrinsic being, but only the lower natural and superficial appearance. To act in accordance with the intrinsic nature, the Swabhava, does not mean to act out of the passions of the ego, to enact with indifference or with desire sin and virtue according to the natural impulses and the unstable play of the Gunas. Yielding to passion, an active or an inert indulgence of sin is no way either to the spiritual quietism of the highest impersonality or to the spiritual activity of the divine individual who is to be a channel for the will of the supreme Person, a direct power and visible becoming of the Purushottama.”

Sri Aurobindo, Essays on the Gita, Second Series, Part I, Chapter 2, The Synthesis of Devotion and Knowledge, pg. 266