As long as an individual lives ‘aimlessly’, without recognising a higher purpose in life, there is no way to appreciate and measure the actions of the external nature with respect to any variance from that aim or purpose. The aim or purpose comes with the identification with the soul, the psychic being, which is connected to the divine spiritual being that is One and which is manifesting in the universal creation through all the individual points of reference that we consider to be individual beings.

Once the individual has found this source and reference point, it becomes relatively easy to recognise the ways that the mind-life-body complex diverge from expressing that purpose in all ways. This divergence is what the Mother calls a ‘disharmony’ between the outer surface nature and the inner spiritual essence of the being. In actuality, the disharmonies exist at a number of levels and operate in the mind, the life-energy and in the physical body in a variety of ways.

The Mother writes: “You must become aware of the points where this harmony does not exist; you must feel them and understand the contradiction between the inner consciousness and certain outer movements. You must become conscious of this first, and once you are conscious of it, you try to adapt the outer action, outer movements to the inner ideal. But first of all you must become aware of the disharmony. For there are many people who think that everything is going well; and if they are told, ‘No, your outer nature is in contradiction with your inner aspiration’, they protest. They are not aware. Therefore, the first step is to become aware, to become conscious, of what is not in tune.”

“To begin with, most people will say, ‘What is this inner consciousness you are telling me about? I don’t know it!’ So, obviously, they cannot establish any harmony if they are not even conscious of something within which is higher than their ordinary consciousness. This means that many preparatory stages are needed, preparatory states of awareness, before being ready for this harmonisation.”

“You must first of all know what the inner aim of the being is, the aspiration, the descending force, what receives it — everything must become conscious. And then, afterwards, you must look at the outer movements in the light of this inner consciousness and see what is in tune and what is not. And then, when you have seen what does not harmonise, you must gather the will and aspiration to change it and begin with the easiest part. You should not begin with the most difficult thing, you should begin with the easiest, the one you understand best, most easily, the disharmony which seems most evident to you. Then from there, gradually, you will go to the more difficult and more central things….”

Sri Aurobindo and the Mother, Our Many Selves: Practical Yogic Psychology, Chapter 5, Organisation, Harmonisation, Unification, pp. 131-132

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.