Some people believe that an intense aspiration is all that is needed to overcome the obstacles that prevent seekers from seeing, understanding and effectively responding to the forces that drive the outer life they lead. Others emphasize the details of the methodology to gain the needed insights and convert them into action items in the life. In reality, it is a combination of aspiration, and a specific and detailed methodology that together effectuate the needed consciousness changes. The aspiration energizes the will and focuses the attention. Learning to channel this focused attention into detailed observation and understanding is equally important. The psychic sense is then able to separate those movements which are based in the surface vital or ego-consciousness from those that originate from the true aspiring soul-consciousness.

In his book The Mother, Sri Aurobindo codifies the effort of the practitioner of yoga as “aspiration, rejection, surrender”. These terms basically encapsulate this process of aspiration, observation, discrimination of the source of the forces that are active, the rejection of those that disrupt or delay the spiritual process, and the eventual bringing of the entire external being under the influence and control of the spiritual consciousness.

The Mother observes: “… to become conscious of anything whatever, you must will it. And when I say ‘will it’, I don’t mean saying one day, ‘Oh! I would like it very much’, then two days later completely forgetting it.”

“To will it is a constant, sustained, concentrated aspiration, an almost exclusive occupation of the consciousness. This is the first step. There are many others: a very attentive observation, a very persistent analysis, a very keen discernment of what is pure in the movement and what is not.”

Sri Aurobindo and the Mother, Our Many Selves: Practical Yogic Psychology, Chapter 4, Becoming Conscious, pg. 126

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 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.