In the biblical story of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, we find human beings innocent and acting out of their natural instincts, predilections, and their basic intelligence as human beings. They have no social setting or training to which they need to conform. They are essentially ignorant about the forces at work in the world, their potential role in adopting or furthering any of those forces or their agenda. Therefore, the serpent, representing a hostile vital force, is able to take advantage of their ignorance and encourage them to eat of the fruit of the one tree in the garden forbidden to them, the tree that gives them the ability to discriminate ‘right from wrong’ and therefore, removes their basic innocence.

Once they have the knowledge and have lost their innocence, they cannot regain it in that simple form, but must now work to apply the knowledge they have gained and determine those forces that work towards their, and the general, welfare, and those which are detrimental and have hostile or inimical intentions. Humanity is essentially in this phase. We have the capacity to understand and judge the forces around us, at least to some degree, and to make a conscious choice to align ourselves with those forces that increase harmony, knowledge, cooperation, compassion, etc. as opposed to those that enhance division, hatred, greed, fear, etc.

Most people, even though the basic capacity may be there, remain asleep to these choices and become subjected to the forces, both good and evil, if you will, in a somewhat haphazard manner. Those who take up the integral yoga are asked to become conscious, to observe the forces at work within themselves and in the world of which they are a part, and to make those conscious choices that align with the soul, the psychic being, in its growth and maturation process for spiritual development and alignment with the divine intention in the world.

A disciple asks: “What is one to do to prepare oneself for the Yoga?”

The Mother responds: “To be conscious, first of all. We are conscious of only an insignificant portion of our being; for the most part we are unconscious. It is this unconsciousness that keeps us down to our unregenerate nature and prevents change and transformation in it. It is through unconsciousness that the undivine forces enter into us and make us their slaves. You are to be conscious of yourself, you must awake to your nature and movements, you must know why and how you do things or feel or think them; you must understand your motives and impulses, the forces, hidden and apparent, that move you; in fact, you must, as it were, take to pieces the entire machinery of your being. Once you are conscious, it means that you can distinguish and sift things, you can see which are the forces that pull you down and which help you on. And when you know the right from the wrong, the true from the false, the divine from the undivine, you are to act strictly up to your knowledge; that is to say, resolutely reject one and accept the other. The duality will present itself at every step and at every step you will have to make your choice. You will have to be patient and persistent and vigilant — ‘sleepless’, as the adepts say; you must always refuse to give any chance whatever to the undivine against the divine.”

Sri Aurobindo and the Mother, Our Many Selves: Practical Yogic Psychology, Chapter 4, Becoming Conscious, pp. 119-120

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.