With all the complexity surrounding the reactions we have to impressions and pressures we receive from the world, it is important to both understand the seed causes of our reactions and find a way to systematically gain control over these reactions. One of the techniques recommended by Sri Aurobindo is to develop the standpoint of the witness observing the nature. The witness can then work to view what takes place in the surface nature as if it is happening outside oneself. This helps to attain objectivity and thereby insight into what is taking place in the nature, as well as makes it easier to separate oneself from the action in a way that can eventually bring about peace. This does not happen overnight, and we can see various stages in the progression, which Sri Aurobindo proceeds to outline.

Sri Aurobindo writes: “Quietness is when the mind or vital is not troubled, restless, drawn about by or crowded with thoughts and feelings. Especially when either is detached and looks at these as a surface movement, we say that the mind or vital is quiet.”

“Calmness is a more positive condition, not merely an absence of restlessness, over-activity or trouble. When there is a clear or great or strong tranquility which nothing troubles or can trouble, then we say that calm is established.”

“It is quite usual to feel an established peace in the inner being even if there is disturbance on the surface. In fact that is the usual condition of the yogi before he has attained the absolute samata in all the being.”

Sri Aurobindo and the Mother, Growing Within: The Psychology of Inner Development, Chapter IV Growth of Consciousness First Steps and Foundation, pg. 73

Author's Bio: 

Santosh has been studying Sri Aurobindo's writings since 1971 and has a daily blog at http://sriaurobindostudies.wordpress.com and podcast at https://anchor.fm/santosh-krinsky 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.