Four Aspects of Equality

Sri Aurobindo’s methodology involves the individual seeker in undertaking a detailed review of his progress in the practice of Yoga, the sadhana. Since equality is such an essential and foundational aspect of Yoga, he has not only devoted considerable effort to understanding what it is, but has also broken it down into elements which must be developed continually to achieve perfection in the process.

“The first business of the Sadhaka is to see whether he has the perfect equality, how far he has gone in this direction or else where is the flaw, and to exercise steadily his will on his nature or invite the will of the Purusha to get rid of the defect and its causes.”

He then identifies four aspects of equality which represent its action on various different levels of his psychological makeup: “There are four things that he must have; first equality in the most concrete practical sense of the word, samata, freedom from mental, vital, physical preferences, an even acceptance of all God’s workings within and around him; secondly, a firm peace and absence of all disturbance and trouble, shanti; thirdly, a positive inner spiritual happiness and spiritual ease of the natural being which nothing can lessen, sukham; fourthly, a clear joy and laughter of the soul embracing life and existence.”

Equality is equated with Yoga in the Gita, as this psychological status can only be achieved fully when one has transcended the normal limited human reactions and the interplay of the Gunas: “To be equal is to be infinite and universal, not to limit oneself, not to bind oneself down to this or that form of the mind and life and its partial preferences and desires.”

Obviously the normal human condition does not meet this definition, and as long as we live in the body-life-mind, we cannot expect to achieve the complete equality Sri Aurobindo is describing. The human being lives in a state of attachment, desire and mental conceptions. “To accept them is at first inevitable, to go beyond them exceedingly difficult and not, perhaps, altogether possible so long as we are compelled to use the mind as the chief instrument of our action. The first necessity therefore is to take at least the sting out of them, to deprive them, even when they persist, of their greater insistence, their present egoism, their more violent claim on our nature.”

Sri Aurobindo, The Synthesis of Yoga, Part Four: The Yoga of Self-Perfection, Chapter 13, The Action of Equality, pp. 693-694