The first step towards self-mastery

The first necessity is to disengage from surface movements that jostle about in our head and heart and excite the passions and stimulate further agitation. To discover the priceless pearls one must dive deep within and be willing to lose, for some time at least, the surface bonds that keep us tied to the small and narrow outposts of life and its little pleasures and joys and griefs. His detachment or stepping back from the whorl of forces in which we are caught leads us to a double discovery. First we see what a chaos and mess, a disorderly order, is our life. Thoughts confused and unsure of their direction and goal like a public square in the mind-space. Feelings heave and surge in our heart releasing with the heart beats jets of joy and sorrow that rise and fall like waves upon a sea. Passions drive our moods with pricks of lust, ambition, jealousy, fear, excitement, aggression, despair, distress, pleasure, thrill and all the cheaper fuel of life that is readily available from the world’s subconscious stores. Yet it is a polluted fuel that throws up much smoke even as it drives the chariot of the body. No wonder the bodily machine tends to break down more often and much before its scheduled expiry date written in the pre-programmed genetic code.

This of course is only one side of the discovery. As we learn to step back and disengage from the surfaces of life, we also discover a deeper, quieter space within, a vast expanse where peace is effortlessly found and a felicity that is very different in nature than the surface thrills and pleasures or even the mind born happiness and the joy that a satisfied emotion gives. This inner peace and felicity develop and grow as we learn to live in this new-found inner space. Initially there is an alternation between the two, our being pulled outwards by strings of surface nature that still have a strong enough hold upon us. Gradually the frequency and intensity of the alternation decreases and we begin to live more and more in this quieter inner space. We discover a new self so to say of which we were not initially aware. It is our inner being which is our true personality of which we begin to become aware. What others still see however is our surface personality which is nothing but a bundle of habits and behaviours repeating mechanically impelled by our past momentum. But we slowly become aware that this is not what we are. We see these surface waves as if from outside without being caught up in them. Some waves of course can still arise like a mini tsunami temporarily sweeping us off our feet but their power is weakened and we are able to get back on our feet soon enough.

Alok Pandey

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1 Response to The first step towards self-mastery

  1. SURANJAN says:

    Sri Aurobindo always reiterated the importance of stepping back. He used a metaphor of a person sitting on the river bank watching the stream flowing under. Separated, detached. In another he described a temporary stir like a bus arriving in a tiny sleeping village, and with its departure the hamlet restoring it’s tranquility and silence. Detached observance is absolutely necessary.

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