The Ego-Personality Is Not Our Real Self

The seeker who takes up the practice of Karma Yoga needs to be able to distinguish between the promptings of desire and the egoistic personality and the true spiritual impulse coming through the nexus of the individual. The action of the ego can at times be extremely subtle and misleading. Sri Aurobindo explains the difficulty: “Ordinarily, we conceive of ourselves as a separate “I” in the universe that governs a separate body and mental and moral nature, chooses in full liberty its own self-determined actions and is independent and therefore sole master of its works and responsible. it is not easy for the ordinary mind, the mind that has not thought nor looked deeply into its own constitution and constituents, it is difficult even for minds that have thought but have no spiritual vision and experience, to imagine how there can be anything else in us truer, deeper and more powerful than this apparent “I” and its empire.”

“This ego, or “I” is not a lasting truth, much less our essential part; it is only a formation of Nature, a mental form of thought-centralisation in the perceiving and discriminating mind, a vital form of the centralisation of feeling and sensation in our parts of life, a form of physical conscious reception centralising substance and function of substance in our bodies. All that we internally are is not ego, but consciousness, soul or spirit. All that we externally and superficially are and do is not ego but Nature.”

The nexus created by the sense of ego in body-life-mind, despite its superficial subjective experience of control and mastery of its life and actions, is really a receiving and transmitting station for universal forces. “An executive cosmic force shapes us and dictates through our temperament and environment and mentality so shaped, through our individualised formulation of the cosmic energies, our actions and their results. Truly, we do not think, will or act but thought occurs in us, will occurs in us, impulse and act occur in us; our ego-sense gathers around itself, refers to itself all this flow of natural activities. it is cosmic Force, it is Nature that forms the thought, imposes the will, imparts the impulse. Our body, mind and ego are a wave of that sea of force in actino and do not govern it, but by it are governed and directed.”

The practitioner of Yoga eventually must recognize this dynamic in order to free himself from the bondage of the ego-sense. “He gives up the idea of a mental, vital, physical “I” that acts or governs action; he recognises that Prakriti, Force of cosmic nature following her fixed modes, is in him and in all things and creatures the one and only worker.”

Sri Aurobindo, The Synthesis of Yoga, Part One: The Yoga of Divine Works, Chapter 8, The Supreme Will, pp.202-203