The individual drops of water that make up the ocean do not determine the movement or action of the ocean. They are carried along and partake of the larger forces that act upon and through the ocean. The are a small pinpoint ‘nexus’ of the ocean action but not the motive or driving force.

Similarly, human individuals are not the motive or driving force of action, but are more the ‘nexus’ of action of larger universal forces that manifest themselves through all of the individual body-life-mind complex individuals that together make up our human race.

The illusion of freedom that accompanies our ego-centric viewpoint quickly dissolves when we recognise that we are the plaything of these larger forces. As long as we remain rooted in the ego-personality and ego-complex, and identify with it, we are bound by the forces that are actually driving the action. It is only when we can shift our standpoint away from the individual ‘nexus’ to the wider and higher divine standpoint that we can begin to see and relate to those larger forces and identify with them.

There was a popular song in the 1960’s which had the lyric “I’d rather be a hammer than a nail”, implying that there was an aspiration to identify with the driving force, rather than with the object being driven. As long as we remain fixed and fixated in the ego-consciousness we are the ‘nail’ in this sentiment. When we can shift our standpoint to that of the Divine, we can identify with the ‘hammer’.

True freedom, true individuality, true “personhood” can only come about when we can rise above and detach ourselves from the individual nexus, the drop of water in the ocean of existence we inhabit and identify with.

Sri Aurobindo notes: “All life is the play of universal forces. The individual gives a personal form to these universal forces. But he can choose whether he shall respond or not to the action of a particular force. Only most people do not really choose — they indulge the play of the forces. Your illnesses, depressions etc. are the repeated play of such forces. It is only when one can make oneself free of them that one can be the true person and have a true life — but one can be free only by living in the Divine.”

Sri Aurobindo and the Mother, The Hidden Forces of Life, Ch. 1 Life Through the Eyes of the Yogin, pg. 8

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 20 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.
More information about Sri Aurobindo can be found at
The US editions and links to e-book editions of Sri Aurobindo’s writings can be found at