Attaining self-mastery and self-surrender in the terms outlined by Sri Aurobindo is usually undertaken through emphasis on the silent witness consciousness and unity with the Divine through what may be considered the “passive” route. It is also possible to achieve this status through the active nature, or prakriti. Sri Aurobindo has outlined three stages in this progressive process of unification with the Divine in manifestation. This is a progression from the original status of the ego-personality believing it is the actor and in charge of its own decisions, to the eventual result of recognising that the individual action is an expression of the Divine manifestation through the action of the divine Shakti. The intervening transitional stages are different psychological standpoints that represent the move from the one viewpoint to the other.
“In the first the Jiva is aware of the supreme Shakti, receives the power into himself and uses it under her direction, with a certain sense of being the subordinate doer, a sense of minor responsibility in the action,–even at first, it may be, a responsibility for the result; but that disappears for the result is seen to be determined by the higher Power, and only the action is felt to be partly his own. The Sadhaka then feels that it is he who is thinking, willing, doing, but feels too the divine Shakti or Prakriti behind driving and shaping all his thought, will, feeling and action: the individual energy belongs in a way to him, but is still only a form and an instrument of the universal divine Energy. The Master of the Power may be hidden from him for a time by the action of the Shakti, or he may be aware of the Ishwara sometimes or continually manifest to him. In the latter case there are three things present to his consciousness, himself as the servant of the Ishwara, the Shakti behind as a great Power supplying the energy, shaping the action, formulating the results, the Ishwara above determining by his will the whole action.”
Sri Aurobindo, The Synthesis of Yoga, Part Four: The Yoga of Self-Perfection, Chapter 17, The Action of the Divine Shakti, pg. 740