To the extent we fail to see the underlying motivations and desires that drive our thoughts and our actions, we tend to take a relatively benign view of who we are and how we respond to life. Similarly, to a great degree we tend to assign a similar motivation to others, although, it must be said, we tend to be more critical of others than of ourselves, and we do tend to project our own faults upon others.

We do not actually enjoy digging into the deeper vital motivations that drive us, as we prefer to remain ‘blissfully ignorant’ and have a measure of deniability through ignorance, of what is really going on.

All of this changes when we start to become conscious and can observe both our own external nature, our thoughts, feelings, desires, drives, motivations, etc. and by extension those of others with whom we interact in the world. What an eye-opener it is!

Of course, not everything is bad or evil, and we can also observe the true movements of compassion, aspiration, consecration, that arise within us and others. Yet, the current state of humanity makes it clear that, at least for now, there is much more to observe that is weak, depraved or deformed from its true meaning, as this insight awakens within us.

A disciple asks: “What is one to do to prepare oneself for the Yoga?”

The Mother writes: “I replied to the person who put to me this question: ‘Become conscious first of all.’ So the person tried to become conscious and a few months later came and told me, ‘Oh, what a nasty present you gave me! Formerly, in the relations with people, they all used to seem so nice, I had goodwill, they were so nice towards me, and now, since becoming conscious, I see all kinds of things in myself that are not quite pretty, and at the same time I see in others things that are not at all beautiful!’ I answered her, ‘Quite possible! If you do not want trouble, it is better not to come out of your ignorance.’ “

“The first step therefore is to find out whether one wants to see and know the truth or wants to remain comfortably in one’s ignorance.”

Sri Aurobindo and the Mother, Our Many Selves: Practical Yogic Psychology, Chapter 4, Becoming Conscious, pg. 127

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 17 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.