The will power is a real and important part of the effort by the individual. Will power can be developed through exercise, just as we develop the physical muscles through exercise and weight training. In our development of the mental will, we frequently become frustrated when something we try to accomplish does not work out quickly or easily. How many people have tried to control their diet, or change some habit of reaction through exercise of the will, and lamented their failure! But this is simply an incorrect understanding of the process. Artificial intense suppression, which is one of the ways we tend to try to enforce our will on our mind-life-body complex, actually does not work very well. Eventually the suppressed forces rebound with an increased strength. The will needs to be a consistent, patient, and persistent turning of the awareness toward the proposed result, rather than a focus on the obstacle standing in the way. The more attention we give to the negative force or habit we want to change, the stronger we make it!

The true action of the will, therefore, is to use it to turn the attention toward the higher realisation. Aspiring for the advent of the higher spiritual force into one’s life, turning the focus toward the peace, light and joy of the higher realm, and opening the mind, life and body to that influence is a primary and effective use of the will-power.

Our mind is akin to a radio tuner in that it receives information and energy from whichever direction it focuses on. The will acts as the power that determines where we focus our attention and how we prepare to receive that energy.

Sri Aurobindo writes: “So long as there is not a constant action of the Force from above or else of a deeper will from within, the mental will is necessary. … The Force also produces no definite and lasting fruit unless there is the will and resolution to achieve within the sadhak. … If there is a constant use of the will the rest of the being learns however slowly to obey the will and then the actions become in conformity with the will and not with the vital impulses and desires. … The will is a part of the consciousness and ought to be in human beings the chief agent in controlling the activities of the nature. … There is only one way if you cannot exert your will — it is to call the Force; even the call only with the mind or the mental word is better than being extremely passive and submitted to the attack, — for although it may not succeed instantaneously, the mental call even ends by bringing the Force and opening up the consciousness again. For everything depends upon that. In the externalised consciousness obscurity and suffering can always be there; the more the internalised consciousness reigns, the more these things are pushed back and out, and with the full internalised consciousness they cannot remain — if they come, it is as outside touches unable to lodge themselves in the being.” Sri Aurobindo, Integral Yoga: Sri Aurobindo’s Teaching and Method of Practice, Chapter 5 Bases of Yoga, Will, pp. 106-107

Author's Bio: 

Santosh has been studying Sri Aurobindo's writings since 1971 and has a daily blog at He is author of 16 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.