A particular propensity arises through affinity with an energetic flow through a particular energy center, or chakra. If the individual is receptive on that level, he is able to manifest the powers that are at play through that chakra centre. At the same time, it must be recognised that a propensity for the opposite also is tied to the same chakra. As the individual works to develop the positive aspect, he frequently finds that he is oppressed by the exact opposite of what he is wanting and trying to achieve. It can be a matter for depression, or, the seeker can appreciate that this opposite propensity can be a means to focus and spur progress in the development of the needed result.

It is possible for the seeker to recognise the focus or mission for his sadhana by observing those areas that represent the most difficult and trying of the actions and reactions he is able to observe within himself. If he is troubled by uprising of anger, he can see that he needs to work on peace, compassion, understanding, and otherwise defuse the propensity to anger. By working through this issue, he eventually makes the needed progress and finds that both the negative aspect has receded, and the positive attribute has been greatly enhanced.

There is a motto that says “what does not kill you, makes you stronger.” While there are of course limits to the application of this motto, it does contain a kernel of truth in that resistance strengthens the muscles, such as with physical muscles, developed through the resistance of gravity in the practice of weight-lifting, or through use of various tension ‘resistance bands’ to develop the musculature. The same principle applies to the metaphorical muscles of the vital nature, the emotional nature or the mental nature. Through meeting and overcoming resistance, with steady focus and application, each of these aspects can be strengthened and developed.

The Mother writes: “What is the meaning of this self-contradiction, this division in man? To understand that, we must know and remember that each person represents a certain quality or capacity, a particular achievement to be embodied. How best can it be done? What is the way by which one can acquire a quality at its purest, highest and most perfect? It is by setting an opposition to it. That is how a power is increased and strengthened — by fighting against and overcoming all that weakens and contradicts it. The deficiencies with respect to a particular quality show you where you have to mend and reinforce it and in what way to improve it in order to make it perfectly perfect. It is the hammer that beats the weak and soft iron to transform it into hard steel. The preliminary discord is useful and needs to be utilised for a higher harmony. This is the secret of self-conflict in man. You are weakest precisely in that element which is destined to be your greatest asset.”

Sri Aurobindo and the Mother, Growing Within: The Psychology of Inner Development, Chapter VIII The Psychic Being and Inner Growth, pp. 151-152

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.