Self-Consecration In Works Is the First Necessity For the Surrender of the Ego

Having provided an overview of the steps required for the spiritual transformation from the human standpoint to the divine standpoint in both knowledge and action, Sri Aurobindo now takes up each step systematically and provides the methodology and the results to be achieved by its practice. The first step he calls “self-consecration in works”. The Yoga is not seen necessarily in outward forms, but in the inward turn of the nature towards the higher truth, and the psychological transformation that occurs through the inner change. “The first necessity is an entire spirit of self-consecration in our works; it must become first the constant will, then the ingrained need in all the being, finally its automatic but living and conscious habit, the self-existent turn to do all action as a sacrifice to the Supreme and to the veiled Power present in us and in all beings and in all the workings of the universe. Life is the altar of this sacrifice, works are our offerings; a transcendent and universal Power and Presence as yet rather felt or glimpsed than known or seen by us is the Deity to whom they are offered. This sacrifice, this self-consecration has two sides to it; there is the work itself and there is the spirit in which it is done, the spirit of worship to the Master of Works in all that we see, think and experience.”

The nature of the work itself is contingent on each individual’s character and should be the highest and best that the individual soul can conceive. There are many different ways that this determination comes about, based on the evolutionary stage of the individual soul. Some may be moved by a sense of duty, some by compassion or altruism, some by a sense of unity with all of humanity or of the world and all its beings as a whole. Some may respond based on a respect or love for a revered guide or teacher or an ideal that moves the soul. Whatever the actual form of the action, the inner essence must be one of true surrender to that higher motive or ideal without attachment or personal desire for specific benefit or result. “For so long as we work with attachment to the result, the sacrifice is offered not to the Divine, but to our ego. We may think otherwise, but we are deceiving ourselves; we are making our idea of the Divine, our sense of duty, our feeling for our fellow-creatures, our idea of what is good for the world or others, even our obedience to the Master a mask for our egoistic satisfactions and preferences and a specious shield against the demand made on us to root all desire out of our nature.”

Sri Aurobindo, The Synthesis of Yoga, Part One: The Yoga of Divine Works, Chapter 9, Equality and Annihilation of Ego, pp.209-210