The Unification of Knowledge and Will

The human individual experiences a disconnect between his ideas and his ability to implement them, between “knowledge” and “will”. We frequently experience that we do something that we “know better than to do” because our understanding is at variance with our ability to execute that understanding in action. Sri Aurobindo observes: “There is no oneness, no full understanding between these powers in us; or else there is no perfect correspondence of initiation with effectuation.”

Similarly the individual is frequently at odds with the universal and strives to implement his will against the apparent will of the larger manifestation. “Nor is the individual will in harmony with the universal; it tries to reach beyond it or falls short of it or deviates from and strives against it. It knows not the times and seasons of the Truth, nor its degrees and measures.” All of this occurs due to the fragmented, and limited power of the mind-life-body when it feels itself to be separated from the rest of the creation and the higher Oneness of the manifestation.

This divergence between knowledge and will is one of the issues taken up and resolved by the gnostic consciousness: “The Vijnana takes up the will and puts if first into harmony and then into oneness with the truth of the supramental knowledge. In this knowledge the idea in the individual is one with the idea in the universal, because both are brought back to the truth of the supreme Knowledge and the transcendent Will. The gnosis takes up not only our intelligent will, but our wishes, desires, even what we call the lower desires, the instincts, the impulses, the reachings out of sense and sensation and it transforms them. They cease to be wishes and desires, because they cease first to be personal and then cease to be that struggling after the ungrasped which we mean by craving and desire. No longer blind or half-blind reachings out of the instinctive or intelligent mentality, they are transformed into a various action of the Truth-will; and that will acts with an inherent knowledge of the right measures of its decreed action and therefore with an effectivity unknown to our mental willing.”

Sri Aurobindo, The Synthesis of Yoga, Part Two: The Yoga of Integral Knowledge, Chapter 23, The Conditions of Attainment to the Gnosis, pg. 474