The Sovereign Control of the Soul Over Its Nature

The Shwetashwatara Upanishad declares: “For He who is the Womb of the World bringeth each nature to its perfection and He matureth all those that are yet to be perfected. He indwelleth and presideth over all this His world and setteth all the modes of Nature to their workings.” (Sri Aurobindo, The Upanishads, Shwetashwatara Upanishad, Ch. 5, v. 5, pg. 375)

For most people, it seems that in their lives they are always subject to Nature. The idea of mastery over Nature is the province of imagination, dream or hallucination. When we observe the workings of instinct and rote behavior in the animal kingdom we see little evidence there of any free will, much less any sign of mastery of nature. With the advent of the higher reason in human beings, there comes the ability to begin to detach oneself from the mechanical workings of nature, to apply will-power and to bring about change, to some degree. This power can grow over time with the growth of the consciousness and the development of a purposive action, such as is contemplated in the science of Yoga. Sri Aurobindo observes: “This power of the soul over its nature is of the utmost importance in the Yoga of self-perfection; if it did not exist, we could never get by conscious endeavour and aspiration out of the fixed groove of our present imperfect human being; if any greater perfection were intended, we should have to wait for Nature to effect it in her own slow or swift process of evolution.”

The soul “…awakes to a sense of something in itself which can command Nature; but it is only when it arrives at self-knowledge that this free will and control becomes a complete reality. The change effects itself through process of nature, not therefore by any capricious magic, but an ordered development and intelligible process. When complete mastery is gained, then the process by its self-effective rapidity may seem a miracle to the intelligence, but it still proceeds by law of the truth of Spirit,–when the Divine within us by close union of our will and being with him takes up the Yoga and acts as the omnipotent master of the nature. For the Divine is our highest Self and the self of all Nature, the eternal and universal Purusha.”

Sri Aurobindo, The Synthesis of Yoga, Part Four: The Yoga of Self-Perfection, Chapter 3, The Psychology of Self-Perfection, pg. 602

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