Steps Toward Elimination of the Ego-Sense of the Individual As the Doer of Works

The difficulty we are faced with is that the Yoga calls for the elimination of the ego-sense, while at the same time, individual personality and the nexus of the individual interplay in the world should remain. Some spiritual paths try to resolve the issue of the ego by suppressing it ruthlessly and moving the seeker into a quiescent, passive state, or having the seeker step back from life in the world to one of divine contemplation. Whatever benefits these methods provide, they do not solve the essential difficulty of what is effectively a transition from ego-centred to divine-centred action within the framework of the manifested world. This transition is complicated because the seeker is framed within the ego-sense and thus, subject to the subtle (or not so subtle) manipulation that the ego provides to the action. it is an axiom of Western psychology that as long as one is locked into a framework, one cannot see that framework nor respond from outside the frame. Thus, some power of action that already resides outside the individual ego-consciousness must be active to effectuate the transition that is required, with aspiration, support and receptivity of the individual as the required qualities to aid this action.

Sri Aurobindo explains this: “Only the Divine Wisdom and Power can do this for us and it will do all if we yield to it in an entire faith and follow and assent to its workings with a constant courage and patience.”

He then sets forth the steps in this process: “The first step on this long path is to consecrate all our works as a sacrifice to the Divine in us and in the world; this is an attitude of the mind and heart, not too difficult to initiate, but very difficult to make absolutely sincere and all-pervasive. The second step is to renounce attachment to the fruit of our works; for the only true, inevitable and utterly desirable fruit of sacrifice–the one thing needful–is the Divine Presence and the Divine Consciousness and Power in us, and if that is gained, all else will be added. This is a transformation of the egoistic will in our vital being, our desire-soul and desire-nature, and it is far more difficult than the other. The third step is to get rid of the central egoism and even the ego-sense of the worker. That is the most difficult transformation of all and cannot be perfectly done if the first two steps have not been taken; but these first steps too cannot be completed unless the third comes in to crown the movement and, by the extinction of egoism, eradicates the very origin of desire. Only when the small ego-sense is rooted out from the nature can the seeker know his true person that stands above as a portion and power of the Divine and renounce all motive-force other than the will of the Divine Shakti.”

Sri Aurobindo, The Synthesis of Yoga, Part One: The Yoga of Divine Works, Chapter 11, The Master of the Work, pg. 235

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