There are apocryphal stories in the yogic traditions about ascetics who spent long years meditating in a cave and developing a palpable force of calm and silence around them; however, when they later went out into the world, they experienced anger, desire, frustration and all the other physical, vital, emotional and mental disturbances that are standard and habitual responses for the human being confronted with the overpowering force of stimuli from the world. This is not meant to deny the power of the meditation and the calm they were able to develop, but to point out that for the complex human being, establishment of calm, peace and equality is something that must be done throughout all the levels and aspects of the being and in all circumstances.
Sri Aurobindo stresses the importance of this absolute calm of the being as the foundation of yogic development: “The calm established in the whole being must remain the same whatever happens, in health and disease, in pleasure and in pain, even in the strongest physical pain, in good fortune and misfortune, our own or that of those we love, in success and failure, honour and insult, praise and blame, justice done to us or injustice, everything that ordinarily affects the mind.”
He provides several methods to help develop this status: “If we see unity everywhere, if we recognise that all comes by the divine will, see God in all, in our enemies or rather our opponents in the game of life as well as our friends, in the powers that oppose and resist us as well as the powers that favour and assist, in all energies and forces and happenings, and if besides we can feel that all is undivided from our self, all the world one with us within our universal being, then this attitude becomes much easier to the heart and mind. But even before we can attain or are firmly seated in that universal vision, we have by all the means in our power to insist on this receptive and active equality and calm.”
The importance cannot be over-emphasized: “Even something of it,…, is a great step towards perfection; a first firmness in it is the beginning of liberated perfection; its completeness is the perfect assurance of a rapid progress in all the other members of perfection. For without it we can have no solid basis; and by the pronounced lack of it we shall be constantly falling back to the lower status of desire, ego, duality, ignorance.”
Sri Aurobindo, The Synthesis of Yoga, Part Four: The Yoga of Self-Perfection, Chapter 13, The Action of Equality, pg. 696