Three Steps In the Transition From Ego-Person to True Self

Sri Aurobindo has described three essential steps in the yogic process as the seeker works to disentangle himself from the snare of the ego and the bondage to mechanical Nature and proceed toward the realisation of the true spiritual immortal Self that is actually the Master of Nature.

The first step is to work on getting rid of the ego-sense in the action. Recognising that his identification with the surface ego-personality and its sense of will-power, decision-making and choice is illusory, and that in fact, the choices made are determined and conditioned by the forces of universal Nature working through the three modes or Gunas, the individual begins to disassociate himself from that surface personality and its stresses and demands. “There is a personality on his surface that chooses and wills, submits and struggles, tries to make good in Nature or prevail over Nature, but this personality is itself a construction of Nature and so dominated, driven, determined by her that it cannot be free.”

The second step is to begin to identify with the witness consciousness, the Purusha and become an observer of the Nature, Prakriti. The detachment eventually grows into an awareness that the sanction of the Purusha is what upholds the action of Nature and even long-standing habits of Nature can be modified through persistent will of the witness-consciousness. “He must succeed in being inwardly quiescent, detach himself as the observer from the outer active personality and learn the paly of the cosmic forces in him by standing back from all blinding absorption in its turns and movements. Thus calm, detached, a student of himself and a witness of his nature, he realises that he is the individual soul who observes the works of Nature, accepts tranquilly her results and sanctions or withholds his sanction from the impulse to her acts….Thus he learns in place of mental control or egoistic will an inner spiritual control which makes him master of the Nature-forces that work in him and not their unconscious instrument or mechanic slave.”

The third step is to become aware and begin to identify with the true Self: “Finally, he becomes aware of that highest dynamic Self within him and within Nature which is the source of all his seeing and knowing, the source of the sanction, the source of the acceptance, the source of the rejection. This is the Lord, the Supreme, the One-in-all, Ishwara-Shakti, of whom his soul is a portion, a being of that Being and a power of that Power.”

Sri Aurobindo, The Synthesis of Yoga, Part One: The Yoga of Divine Works, Chapter 8, The Supreme Will, pp.205-206