The First Step of Liberation from the Modes of Nature Through the Witness Consciousness

When the seeker decides to apply the leverage of the bifurcation of the Witness from the action of Nature, there is a process that takes place to systematically disentangle oneself from attachment to and involvement with the changes in the three Gunas and their corresponding reactions. The change also does not take place overnight, and appears to progress in stages, as the habit of non-attachment takes hold on ever-deeper levels.

Sri Aurobindo describes this first step: “The soul is inwardly separated and free from the lower Prakriti, not involved in its coils, indifferent and glad above it. Nature continues to act in the triple round of her ancient habits,–desire, grief and joy attack the heart, the instruments fall into inaction and obscurity and weariness, light and peace come back into the heart and mind and body; but the soul stands unchanged and untouched by these changes. Observing and unmoved by the grief and desire of the lower members, smiling at their joys and their strainings, regarding and unoverpowered by the failing and the darknesses of the thought and the wildness or the weaknesses of the heart and nerves, uncompelled and unattached to the mind’s illuminations and its relief and sense of ease or of power in the return of light and gladness, it throws itself into none of these things, but waits unmoved for the intimations of a higher Will and the intuitions of a greater luminous knowledge. Thus doing always, it becomes eventually free even in its dynamic parts from the strife of the three modes and their insufficient values and imprisoning limits.”

By withholding any sanction, but simply observing and noting, the seeker sends a message to the external nature that causes it to begin to recognise that it must turn towards a higher light and sanction and not continue its habitual round of the desire-filled life of the ego in the external personality. This prepares the way for further steps that begin to receive and respond to the higher Will.

Patience and persistence are required to carry out this change in standpoint and achieve true equality and non-attachment, as this action contradictions millenia of habitual patterns bred into all human action and all forms and forces of the external world of manifestation.

Sri Aurobindo, The Synthesis of Yoga, Part One: The Yoga of Divine Works, Chapter 10, The Three Modes of Nature, pp. 227-228

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