Rejection of the calls and demands of the ego personality under the impulsion of the rajasic vital desires, can be considered the “negative” side or pole of the yogic practice. It is important, but there is another “positive” side or pole of the effort which involves re-tuning the being toward the higher, the divine consciousness. In his book The Mother, Sri Aurobindo describes the steps involved as “aspiration, rejection, surrender”. Aspiration encapsulates the positive side or tuning toward the higher consciousness and calling it to act through one’s being. Rejection is the negative side of refusing to accept the signal from the lower nature as it sets forth its habitual needs, desires and demands. Surrender represents the fixed focus on the higher consciousness and keeping the being tuned to that vibratory pattern rather than any other.

Sri Aurobindo observes: “I think you still give an exaggerated importance and attention to the ego and other elements that are interwoven in the nature of humanity and cannot be entirely got rid of except by the coming of a new consciousness which replaces them by higher movements. If one rejects centrally and with all sincerity the ego and rajas, their roots get loosened and sattwa can prevail in the nature, but the expulsion of all ego and rajas cannot be done by the will and its effort. After a certain stage of preparation, therefore, one must stress more on the positive side of the sadhana than on the negative side of rejection, — though this of course must remain to help the other. Still what is important is to develop the psychic within and bring down the higher consciousness from above. The psychic, as it grows and manifests, detects immediately all wrong movements or elements and at the same time supplies almost automatically the true element or movement which will replace them — this process is much easier and more effective than that of a severe tapasya of purification. The higher consciousness in descending brings peace and purity into all the inner parts; the inner being separates itself from the imperfect outer consciousness and at the same time the peace that comes carries in it a power which can throw out what contradicts the peace and purity. Ego can then slowly or swiftly but surely disappear — rajas and tamas change into their divine substitutes.”

Sri Aurobindo, Integral Yoga: Sri Aurobindo’s Teaching and Method of Practice, Chapter 10, Difficulties in Transforming the Nature, The Ego, pp. 286-289

Author's Bio: 

Santosh has been studying Sri Aurobindo's writings since 1971 and has a daily blog at and podcast at He is author of 16 books and is editor-in-chief at Lotus Press. He is president of Institute for Wholistic Education, a non-profit focused on integrating spirituality into daily life.