Renunciation of Self-Will in Thought and Action

If we observe our own internal mental working we can easily identify the predilection to accept certain ideas, thoughts, ideologies, sentiments, feelings, emotions, concepts and opinions as being what we would identify as “our own”. We are attached to these and consider the collective bundle of these things to be what makes us “unique” and “ourselves”. These represent the knot of the ego in the individual personality and while they may help us form a sturdy ego and individuality,–an advantage at a certain stage of evolution,–they become a liability for the seeker who wants to go beyond the limitations of the outer life, the action of the three Gunas, and the pre-determined thought-patterns into which they have developed or been indoctrinated.

A form of this ego, the Sattwic-ego, can actually be a very serious obstacle because we become attached to the form of teaching or truths and believe so whole-heartedly in them that we find it difficult to let them go.

Sri Aurobindo observes that at some point, the seeker must be prepared to abandon all these limited truths in order to achieve the status of the unlimited: “Not only must we give up the ordinary attitude to the world and life to which the unawakened mind clings as its natural element; but we must not remain bound in any mental construction of our own or in any intellectual thought-system or arrangement of religious dogmas or logical conclusions; we must not only cut asunder the snare of the mind and the senses, but flee also beyond the snare of the thinker, the snare of the theologian and the church-builder, the meshes of the Word and the bondage of the Idea. All these are within us waiting to wall in the spirit with forms; but we must always go beyond, always renounce the lesser for the greater, the finite for the Infinite; we must be prepared to proceed from illumination to illumination, from experience to experience, from soul-state to soul-state so as to reach the utmost transcendence of the Divine and its utmost universality. Nor must we attach ourselves even to the truths we hold most securely, for they are but forms and expressions of the Ineffable who refuses to limit himself to any form or expression; always we must keep ourselves open to the higher Word from above that does not confine itself to its own sense and the light of the Thought that carries in it its own opposites.”

Sri Aurobindo, The Synthesis of Yoga, Part Two: The Yoga of Integral Knowledge, Chapter 5, Renunciation, pp. 315-316