A Truth of the Spirit, Not an Intellectual Knowledge

As long as we are bound by the limitations of the egoistic consciousness, we continue to try to understand things from the perspective of how it affects the limited personality that sees itself as distinct and separate from everything else. This limitation occurs even for those who have developed a predominantly sattwic intelligence. The type of disinterested action from the spiritual standpoint cannot actually take place until the individual has gained the basis of self-knowledge in the Spirit.

Sri Aurobindo explains the issue: “For this is a truth of the spirit, this is an action from a spiritual basis. A spiritual, not an intellectual knowledge is the indispensable requisite for this way of works, its sole possible light, medium, incentive.”

Sri Krishna’s first step in moving Arjuna away from the basis of ego, is to explain to him that all the reactions he habitually experiences, the dualities of joy and sorrow, sin and virtue, the impulsions of desire and aversion, and the attachment that comes with it, the running of the mind and senses after the things of the world, are all founded in that egoistic consciousness and are not seeing the reality in a true or proper sense. “These reactions create a tangled web of perplexity in which the soul is lost and bewildered by its own ignorance; it has to guide itself by partial and imperfect solutions that serve ordinarily with a stumbling sufficiency in the normal life, but fail when brought to the test of a wider seeing and a profounder experience. To understand the real sense of action and existence one must retreat behind all these appearances into the truth of the spirit; one must found self-knowledge before one can have the basis of a right world-knowledge.”

Sri Aurobindo, Essays on the Gita, Second Series, Part II, Chapter 16, The Fullness of Spiritual Action, pp. 437-438