It has long been a focus of the evolved human soul to seek for mastery over the instruments of body, life and mind, and control over the relations he has with the outer world through increasing power and mastery of the instruments of knowledge and action. Sri Aurobindo takes the position that such mastery is not only possible, but is our spiritual destiny, yet it does not come purely from development and focus on the inherent powers of those instruments alone, as they will always remain limited unless a new standpoint from which to master and direct them has been achieved.
“The fundamental idea of a Yoga of self-perfection must be, under these conditions, a reversal of the present relations of the soul of man to his mental, vital and physical nature. Man is at present a partly self-conscious soul subject to and limited by mind, life and body, who has to become an entirely self-conscious soul master of his mind, life and body. Not limited by their claims and demands, a perfect self-conscious soul would be superior to and a free possessor of its instruments.”
The central aspect of the limitation that binds the seeker to the outer instruments of mind, life and body is the ego-sense. It is thus essential that the ego-sense be transcended by shifting the standpoint of the consciousness from the human to the divine standpoint. “In order to be possessor of his being with any complete reality of freedom and mastery, man must find out his highest self, the real man or highest Purusha in him, which is free and master of its own inalienable power. He must cease to be the mental, vital, physical ego; for that is always the creation, instrument and subject of mental, vital, physical Nature. This ego is not his real self, but an instrumentation of Nature by which it has developed a sense of limited and separate individual being in mind, life and body. By this instrumentation he acts as if he were a separate existence in the material universe.”
As long as the soul identifies itself with the ego, it remains stuck in the limitations of the formations of Nature that are built into the habitual round of action of mind, life and body. “For this reason an essential movement of the Yoga is to draw back from the outward ego sense by which we are identified with the action of mind, life and body and live inwardly in the soul. The liberation from an externalised ego sense is the first step towards the soul’s freedom and mastery.”
Sri Aurobindo, The Synthesis of Yoga, Part Four: The Yoga of Self-Perfection, Chapter 4, The Perfection of the Mental Being, pp. 606-607