Those who have an aspiration for spiritual growth, for the change of human nature within themselves, eventually find that they cannot live haphazardly, at the mercy of whatever forces, impulses, ideas or thoughts happen to be moving within them at any point in time, regardless of the source or the intention behind those movements. The aspiration becomes a will to grow, a will to change, a will to progress, and this involves several steps to ensure that the being is coalescing around the aspiration and not random vital impulses or ideas.
The first step is to learn how to observe one’s own being, so that one can see those impulses, thoughts and drives in action, see where they come from, how they impact the being, and what result they bring about. After some time of observation, it becomes clear that these impulses, actions and reactions do not really have a coordinated goal, but in many cases are actually opposed to one another and thus, create internal conflict within the being, or a sense that one is unable to succeed in one’s goals or aspirations because of drives, habits, tendencies, etc. that drive the being in a totally different direction. This observational stage needs to occur without the mental bias or overlay that tries to explain away or justify all these things. Rather, it needs to more and more shift the standpoint away from the ego-centre to that of the independent witness consciousness.
The Mother responds to the following statement: In oneself, there are contradictory wills.
The Mother observes: “Yes, many. That is one of the very first discoveries. There is one part which wants things this way; and then at another moment another way, and a third time, one wants still another thing! Besides, there is even this: something that wants and another which says no. So? But it is exactly that which has to be found if you wish in the least to organise yourself. Why not project yourself upon a screen, as in the cinema, and then look at yourself moving on it? How interesting it is!”
“This is the first step. You project yourself on the screen and then observe and see all that is moving there and how it moves and what happens. You make a little diagram, it becomes so interesting then.”
Sri Aurobindo and The Mother, Living Within: The Yoga Approach to Psychological Health and Growth, Exercises for Growth and Mastery, Self-Observation and Self-Organisation, pp. 126-131