The Process of Abandoning the Sense of the Ego As the Doer of Works

When Sri Aurobindo sets forth the requirement that the seeker abandon the consciousness of being the “doer” of works, and recognize the Supreme as the actual doer, he makes it clear that this cannot be simply an intellectual recognition. It is one thing to hold a belief in the mind that the Divine does all, while yet living and acting from the inherent standpoint of the ego; it is yet another to experience this realisation at all times and in all forms of action.

“The Sadhaka has not only to think and know but to see and feel concretely and intensely even in the moment of the working and in its initiation and whole process that his works are not his at all, but are coming through him from the Supreme Existence. he must be always aware of a Force, a Presence, a Will that acts through his individual nature.” For those who have not had any experience of this Force, it may seem to be something metaphorical; however, for those that have felt its action and recognised the action as something beyond and outside the realm of his normal actions and capacities, it is clear that this Force is real, palpable and manifest.

Sri Aurobindo cautions, however, that the vital ego is expert at misleading the seeker into believing that the action is being done by the Divine Presence, when it is actually a sublimated or disguised form of ego that is acting. “He may fall into a common ambush of this lower nature and distort his supposed surrender to a higher Power into an excuse for a magnified and uncontrolled indulgence of his own self-will and even of his desires and passions. A great sincerity is asked for and has to be imposed not only on the conscious mind but still more on the subliminal part of us which is full of hidden movements. For there is there, especially in our subliminal vital nature, an incorrigible charlatan and actor. The Sadhaka must first have advanced far in the elimination of desire and in the firm equality of his soul towards all workings and all happenings before he can utterly lay down the burden of his works on the Divine. At every moment he must proceed with a vigilant eye upon the deceits of the ego and the ambushes of the misleading Powers of Darkness who ever represent themselves as the one source of Light and Truth and take on them a simulacrum of divine forms in order to capture the soul of the seeker.”

We see in the traditional teaching of Raja Yoga, that the first stages are various forms of internal and external discipline of purification, “yamas” and “niyamas”. These form the basis upon which any higher powers may safely come into action within the practitioner of the Yoga. In the Integral Yoga, these restraints are not external moral or ethical codas, but the development of true non-attachment and the dissolution of the motive force of desire as the central driver of action.

Sri Aurobindo, The Synthesis of Yoga, Part One: The Yoga of Divine Works, Chapter 9, Equality and Annihilation of Ego, pg.217

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