Our attempts to achieve the status of equality through the mentality are limited by the ever-present action of the three Gunas of Nature. Thus, when we try to establish a calm and equal poise in relation to stimuli from the world, we do so by suppressing the force of desire and with this approach, generally wind up with a passive, inactive, quiescent status. This however does not represent the fullness of spiritual equality, as Sri Aurobindo notes: “It is not mere quiescence and indifference, not a withdrawal from experience, but a superiority to the present reactions of the mind and life. It is the spiritual way of replying to life or rather of embracing it and compelling it to become a perfect form of action of the self and spirit. it is the first secret of the soul’s mastery of existence. When we have it in perfection, we are admitted to the very ground of the divine spiritual nature.”
The process proceeds as follows: “The mental being in the body tries to compel and conquer life, but is at every turn compelled by it, because it submits to the desire reactions of the vital self. To be equal, not to be overborne by any stress of desire, is the first condition of real mastery, self-empire is its basis.” Due to the action of the Gunas, the mental being is unable to accomplish this step.
“It is only the spirit which is capable of sublime undisturbed rapidities of will as well as an illimitable patience, equally just in a slow and deliberate or a swift and violent, equally secure in a safely lined and limited or a vast and enormous action. It can accept the smallest work in the narrowest circle of cosmos, but it can work too upon the whirl of chaos with an understanding and creative force; and these things it can do because by its detached and yet intimate acceptance it carries into both an infinite calm, knowledge, will and power. It has that detachment because it is above all the happenings, forms, ideas and movements it embraces in its scope; and it has that intimate acceptance because it is yet one with all things. If we have not this free unity, …, we have not the full equality of the spirit.”
Sri Aurobindo, The Synthesis of Yoga, Part Four: The Yoga of Self-Perfection, Chapter 13, The Action of Equality, pg. 693