There is a complex game called ‘chess’. The modern form of the game reputedly developed from a strategic game that appears to have originated in India in around the 6th or 7th century, although there were likely precursor forms that existed prior to that time. As a game of strategy, the object for the two players is to deploy their various game pieces, each having different basic powers of action, in order to gain control of the field and eventually conquer the opposing king. It is a game, simultaneously, consisting of offense and defense. Most individuals see the game from their own perspective and they frequently run into difficulties as they miss the planning and execution of their opponent in the game. One of the training techniques used to learn the game effectively is to learn how to turn the board around and see the game from the other’s viewpoint. In so doing, one not only is able to identify the weaknesses of the opponent’s position, but also its strengths, the plan of execution that the other party is developing and the kind of holes in one’s own defensive strategy that need to be addressed. The game of chess has been honored for over 1500 years for its ability to enhance logical thinking, planning and strategic skills, and for forcing the individual to see things from both sides in order to successfully navigate the game. As a life skill, this can be extraordinarily beneficial. Applying this principle of development to life and relationship can aid one in widening, expanding one’s understanding and awareness, and eventually finding ways to create new levels of harmony that do justice to both viewpoints.

The Mother makes it clear that to develop this life skill one must be prepared to enter into the mind-set and understanding of the other party. This widens the consciousness. We tend to believe that by understanding another’s viewpoint we are somehow ‘losing’ our own, but that is not the case. We may grow and expand our viewpoint, but we still maintain our own background of experience and our own direction for development nevertheless.

The Mother observes: “It is the same for everything. In all that you do together with others, if you do not agree, take it as a divine Grace, a marvellous opportunity given you to make a progress. And it is simple: instead of being on this side, you are on the other; instead of looking at yourself, you enter the other person and look. You must have just a little bit of imagination, a little more control over your thoughts, over your movements. But that is not very difficult. When you have tried it out a little, after a while you find it very easy.”

“You must not just look and then make a mental effort, telling yourself: ‘Why is it like this and like that? Why does he do that? Why does he say that? You will never arrive at anything. You won’t understand, you will imagine all kinds of explanations which will be worthless and tach you nothing at all except to tell yourself: ‘That person is stupid or else wicked’ — things that lead nowhere. On the other hand, if you only make that little movement, and instead of looking at him as an object quite alien to you, you try to enter within, you enter within, into that little head that’s before you, and then, suddenly, you find yourself on the other side, you look at yourself and understand quite well what he is saying — everything is clear, the why, the how, the reason, the feeling which is behind the whole thing…. It is an experiment you have the opportunity of making a hundred times a day.”

Sri Aurobindo and The Mother, Living Within: The Yoga Approach to Psychological Health and Growth, Exercises for Growth and Mastery, Identification, pp. 144-149

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.