We tend to internalize and “own” our weaknesses or internal struggles. This is the ego-consciousness at work. We also fail to recognise that there are multiple different sources of pressures on us, some of which are ingrained habits we have accepted into our surface being, others are seeds we have dormant in our subconscient levels, and yet still others are pressures from the external environment that attempt to gain entry and acceptance within our being.

Wise proverbs remind us that we have no control over how others press upon us, or how circumstances impact us, but we do have control over how we react. It is however not so simple! When we are provoked, we tend to react due to long-standing habit of the external being. We have a deeply rooted set of vital and nervous reactions, emotions and mental biases which try to defend themselves and become themselves predominant (or remain predominant).

The secret to achieving the status of detachment is the shift of consciousness to one that is not part of the ego-personality and separate from the surface being. This shift tends to take place slowly and deliberately over time, and Sri Aurobindo recognises this fact as he recommends conscious programming of our mental and emotional being to enhance the sense of separation from the surface being.

Sri Aurobindo observes: “These things rise because either they are there in the conscious part of the being as habits of the nature or they are there lying concealed and able to rise at any moment or they are suggestions from the general or universal Nature outside to which the personal being makes a response. In any case they rise in order that they may be met and cast out and finally rejected so that they may trouble the nature no longer. The amount of trouble they give depends on the way they are met. The first principle is to detach oneself from them, not to identify, not to admit them any longer as part of one’s real nature but to look on them as things imposed to which one says ‘This is not I or mine — this is a thing I reject altogether’. One begins to feel a part of the being inside which is not identified, which remains firm and says ‘This may give trouble on the surface, but it shall not touch me’. If this separate being within can be felt, then half the trouble is over — provided there is a will there not only to separate but to get rid of the imperfection from the surface nature also.”

Sri Aurobindo and The Mother, Living Within: The Yoga Approach to Psychological Health and Growth, General Methods and Principles, Detachment and Rejection, pp. 22-27

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 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.