Swabhava and Swadharma As the True Basis of Action

When we understand the mechanism of the outer Nature and the impact of the Gunas on the action that we are steered or driven to undertake, it becomes quite clear that we have not yet discovered the true basis of action. Sri Aurobindo points out that it is necessary to identify with the inner being: “The real truth of all this action of Prakriti is, however, less outwardly mental and more inwardly subjective. It is this that man is an embodied soul involved in material and mental nature and he follows in it a progressive law of his development determined by an inner law of his being; his cast of spirit makes out his cast of mind and life, his Swabhava. Each man has a Swadharma, a law of his inner being which he must observe, find out and follow. The action determined by his inner nature, that is his real Dharma. To follow it is the true law of his development; to deviate from it is to bring in confusion, retardation and error.”

We see here, then, that we can discover our true nature of being and acting by focusing on and identifying our Swabhava and Swadharma, and then acting in accordance with them, regardless of what our mind and vital reaction to the outer forms, forces and actions may be.

There is a period of time when we have come to identify in consciousness with our true inner self, that the outer nature still acts based on its habitual patterns and remains thus linked to the action of the three Gunas; however, this is something that we observe and treat it as the sacrifice to the Master as Sri Aurobindo has described: “It is true that even when you have found yourself and live in your self, your nature will still continue on its old lines and act for a time according to its inferior modes. But now you can follow that actino with a perfect self-knowledge and can make of it a sacrifice to the Master of your existence.”

The difference that arises is we no longer identify with these things from the point of view of the ego-personality. “Reject all motive of egoism, all initiation by self-will, all rule of desire, until you can make the complete surrender of all the ways of your being to the Supreme.”

Sri Aurobindo, Essays on the Gita, Second Series, Part II, Chapter 24, The Message of the Gita, pp. 573-574

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