When we are fixed in the external personality we take our cues about our role in life from our family, our friends, the social and economic environment and, with that framing, our particular interests and aptitudes. As a child we may want to emulate people in uniforms and thus, may want to be a pilot, or a service technician, or any of a number of ‘uniformed’ professions. As we mature, we begin to hear advice about what education we should receive and what career path we should follow. Much of this revolves around income potential and status. In his novel Bleak House, Charles Dickens portrays one character is uncertain about what direction to take, and he successively tries to go into the medical field, followed by equally failed forays into the military and the legal field. All of these were attempts to navigate the societal demand for a productive and lucrative direction in the external life, although he was unable to match up these demands with his own inner self, which, frankly, he was never able to discover in his short life. People fixate on their outer position and status as a measure of who they are, yet frequently they find that the life they are leading is empty, meaningless and frustrating to any deeper aspirations they may secretly have arising within them.

In the book Called to Heal: African Shamanic Healers, the author Susan Schuster-Campbell relates a tale of a Shamanic healer who tried to avoid the calling that kept pressing on her from within and who tried to develop a more outwardly acceptable career and life-pattern. She continued to have setbacks, obstacles and illnesses and finally she was told by someone who was counseling her that she was avoiding her true calling as a healer. As soon as she dropped her resistance to that inner pressure, her life turned around and she felt fulfilled on what turned out to be her true path.

The Mother notes: “The first thing to do then is to find out what it is that you are meant to realise, what is the role you have to play, your particular mission, and the capacity or quality you have to express. You have to discover that and also the thing or things that oppose and do not allow it to flower or come to full manifestation. In other words, you have to know yourself, recognise your soul or psychic being.”

“For that you must be absolutely sincere and impartial. You must observe yourself as if you were observing and criticising a third person. You must not start with an idea that this is your life’s mission, this is your particular capacity, this you are to do or that you are to do, in this lies your talent or genius, etc. That will carry you away from the right track. it is not the liking or disliking of your external being, your mental or vital or physical choice that determines the true line of your growth. Nor should you take up the opposite attitude and say, ‘I am good for nothing in this matter, I am useless in that one; it is not for me.’ Neither vanity and arrogance nor self-depreciation and false modesty should move you. As I said, you must be absolutely impartial and unconcerned. You should be like a mirror that reflects the truth and does not judge.”

“If you are able to keep such an attitude, if you have this repose and quiet trust in your being and wait for what may be revealed to you, then something like this happens: you are, as it were, in a wood, dark and noiseless; you see in front of you merely a sheet of water, dark and still, hardly visible — a bit of a pond imbedded in the obscurity; and slowly upon it a moonbeam is cast and in the cool dim light emerges the calm liquid surface. That is how your secret truth of being will appear and present itself to you at your first contact with it: there you will see gradually reflected the true qualities of your being, the traits of your divine personality, what you really are and what you are meant to be.”

“One who has thus known himself and possessed himself, conquering all opposition within himself, has by that very fact extended himself and his conquest, making it easier for others to make the same or a similar conquest. These are the pioneers or the elite who by a victorious campaign within themselves help others towards their victory.”

Sri Aurobindo and the Mother, Growing Within: The Psychology of Inner Development, Chapter VIII The Psychic Being and Inner Growth, pp. 153-154

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.