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Letters on Yoga – IV
“Ego and Its Forms”

Letters on Yoga IV - Ego and Its Forms.jpg
PDF (34 pages)

(Satyendra was smiling at Nirodbaran without any apparent reason.)
Nirodbaran: What is the matter? What makes you smile?
Satyendra: I was thinking, ‘Nirod thinks himself so important but if he knew how much empty space there is in his body, he wouldn't.’”[1]

“Purani: Is there any difference between the two methods of effacement of ego: realisation of the Spirit above and its nature of purity, knowledge, etc., and realisation of humility in the heart? Isn't it possible to get rid of egoism by the second method too?

Sri Aurobindo: Egoism may go... (Then after a short silence) Yes, egoism may go...

(We caught the significance of the unfinished sentence and said, “Oh, you mean ego may remain?”)

Ego remains but becomes harmless. It may help one spiritually. Complete removal of ego is possible when one identifies oneself with the Atman and realises the same Spirit in all. Also when the mental, vital and physical nature is known to be a derivation from the universal mental, vital and physical. The individual must realise also his identity with the transcendental or the cosmic Divine, whatever you may call it.
          From the mental plane, when one rises and realises the Spirit, it is generally the mental sense of ego that goes, not the entire ego-sense. The dynamic nature retains ego, especially the vital ego. When the psychic attitude of humility comes in and joins with it, it helps in getting rid of the vital ego.
          The complete abolition of ego is not an easy thing. Even when you think that it is entirely gone, it suddenly comes into your actions and movements. Especially important is the removal of the mental and vital ego; the others, the physical and subconscient, don't matter very much: they can be dealt with at leisure, for they are not so absorbing.”[2]

“How many blows are needed in life for one to know to the very depths that one is nothing, that one can do nothing, that one does not exist, that one is nothing, that there is no entity without the divine Consciousness and the Grace. From the moment one knows it, it is over; all the difficulties have gone. When one knows it integrally and there is nothing which resists... but till that moment... And it takes very long.

Why doesn’t the blow come all at once?

Because that would kill you. For if the blow is strong enough to cure you, it would simply crush you, it would reduce you to pulp. It is only by proceeding little by little, little by little, very gradually, that you can continue to exist. Naturally this depends on the inner strength, the inner sincerity, and on the capacity for progress, for profiting by experience and, as I said a while ago, on not forgetting. If one is lucky enough not to forget, then one goes much faster.”[3]

  1. Talks with Sri Aurobindo (Vol. 2), p.578, 29 March 1940
  2. Talks with Sri Aurobindo, p.110, 6 January 1939
  3. Questions and Answers 1954, p.324

See also