Overcoming the Inherent Bias of the Ego-Personality

Psychological tests and experiments have shown that each individual sees external events from their own perspective and thereby bring their personal biases, albeit unintentionally, to what they observe and how they understand situations. What the senses perceive is enhanced and filled in by the mind, using our store of experience, expectations, etc. to create a ‘picture’ of the event that we then interpret from our unique perspective. Even something as apparently simple as reporting on a traffic accident shows up with various descriptions based on how each individual saw it and what they ‘believe’ happened.

In order to get past this ego-centric bias, an individual has to achieve several changes in standpoint. A first stage is to cultivate an attitude of equality, whereby one does not allow anything to be taken personally and one abstracts oneself from the impact of anything that happens. This comes about through attaining the witness consciousness of the Purusha. A second stage is a shift of standpoint to the universal, the divine standpoint. This brings a wideness of vision and understanding that sees a bigger picture, can piece together a more complete sense of the meaning of anything that happens. Eventually, with the advent of the supramental consciousness, there can potentially come a viewpoint that can assume any position in the nexus of observation and thus, see things from multiple individual viewpoints, as well as the universal viewpoint simultaneously.

Sri Aurobindo writes: “Equality means another thing — to have an equal view of men and their nature and acts and the forces that move them; it helps one to see the truth about them by pushing away from the mind all personal feeling in one’s seeing and judgment and even all the mental bias. Personal feeling always distorts and makes one see in men’s actions, not only the actions themselves, but things behind them which, more often than not, are not there. Misunderstanding, misjudgment which could have been avoided are the result; things of small consequence assume larger proportions. I have seen that more than half of the untoward happenings of this kind in life are due to this cause. But in ordinary life personal feeling and sensitiveness are a constant part of human nature and may be needed there for self-defence, although, I think, even there, a strong, large and equal attitude towards men and things would be a much better line of defence.”

Sri Aurobindo and The Mother, Living Within: The Yoga Approach to Psychological Health and Growth, Disturbances of the Vital, Sensitiveness, pp. 65-68