Acting in the World Without the Ego-Sense

Those who follow the path of the ascetic renunciation of life to attain the status of the Transcendent, the Brahman, treat the world and all forms, forces and actions in the world as an illusion or a lesser reality. The integral seeker, however, although he too must break free of the ego-sense and achieve the transcendent Silence, also needs to be able to integrate this state of consciousness with action in the world. He recognizes that the world is not an illusion, but a manifestation of the Divine and the express intention of the Lord. Prakriti is seen by the integral seeker not as a maya of illusion, but as the executive force of the Divine.

Sri Aurobindo describes this relation: “In reality, the Prakriti does not act for itself or by its own motion, but with the Self as lord; for out of that Silence wells all this action, that apparent Void looses out as if into movement all these infinite riches of experiences.”

The question arises as to how the Jiva or individual Soul can act without ego. “There will be no ego-sense even if there is a sort of individualisation for the purposes of the play of universal consciousness in an individual mind and frame; and for this reason that all will be unforgettably the One and every Person or Purusha will be to him the One in many forms or rather in many aspects and poises, Brahman acting upon Brahman, one Nara-Naryana (The Divine, Narayana, making itself one with humanity even as the human, Nara becomes one with the Divine.) everywhere. In that larger play of the Divine the joy of the relations of divine love also is possible without the lapse into the ego-sense,–just as the supreme state of human love likewise is described as the unity of one soul in two bodies. The ego-sense is not indispensable to the world-play in which it is so active and so falsifies the truth of things; the truth is always One at work on itself, at play with itself, infinite in unity, infinite in multiplicity. When the individualised consciousness rises to and lives in that truth of the cosmic play, then even in full action, even in possession of the lower being the Jiva remains still one with the Lord, and there is no bondage and no delusion. He is in possession of Self and released from the ego.”

Sri Aurobindo, The Synthesis of Yoga, Part Two: The Yoga of Integral Knowledge, Chapter 9, The Release from the Ego, pg. 351