The Spiritual Liberation From the Ego-Sense in the Integral Yoga

For those who recognize the need to overcome the ego-sense as a condition of spiritual liberation, there is usually an attempt to simply do away with the individual consciousness through merging it with the Absolute in a deep state of trance. Action in the world is antithetical to this pursuit, and the ego is simply treated as something to be discarded. Yet there is, as with everything that exists in the world, a truth that underlies and provides the foundation for what becomes the ego-sense. Sri Aurobindo takes the approach of understanding this basic truth and living according to that, rather than taking the approach that would do away with the individual awareness as a condition of liberation from the ego. “The truth of being is that there is a transcendent existence, supreme self or spirit, a timeless soul of existence, an eternal, a Divine, or even we may speak of it in relation to current mental ideas of the Godhead as a supra-Divine, which is here immanent, all-embracing, all-initiating and all-governing, a great universal Spirit; and the individual is a conscious power of being of the Eternal, capable eternally of relations with him, but one with him too in the very core of reality of its own eternal existence.”

In order to live in the Divine and thereby take on the divine nature, the seeker must move beyond intellectual conceptions which are symbolic representations of the truth, but not the truth in its own being. “…but it can only be entirely realised, lived and made effective in the spirit. When we live in the spirit, then we not only know, but are this truth of our being. The individual then enjoys in the spirit, in the bliss of the spirit, his oneness with the universal existence, his oneness with the timeless Divine and his oneness with all other beings and that is the essential sense of a spiritual liberation from the ego.”

The ego-sense arises when the soul shifts its standpoint of focus from the divine standpoint to the individual standpoint. “But the moment the soul leans towards the mental limitation, there is a certain sense of spiritual separativeness which has its joys, but may at any moment lapse into the entire ego-sense, ignorance, oblivion of oneness.”

For the seeker in the integral Yoga, therefore, Sri Aurobindo proposes the following method: “The way proposed for the integral Yoga is a lifting up and surrender of the whole being to him, by which not only do we become one with him in our spiritual existence, but dwell too in him and he in us, so that the whole nature is full of his presence and changed into the divine nature; we become one spirit and consciousness and life and substance with the Divine and at the same time we live and move in and have a various joy of that oneness. This integral liberation from the ego into the divine spirit and nature can only be relatively complete on our present level, but it begins to become absolute as we open to and mount into the gnosis. This is the liberated perfection.”

Sri Aurobindo, The Synthesis of Yoga, Part Four: The Yoga of Self-Perfection, Chapter 8, The Liberation of the Spirit, pp. 650-652