NAMAH Journal
Moving Forward
New Issue
About us
Contact us
Publication Ethics
Other Publications

Namah Journal

The inner approach to health

The yearning for freedom

James Anderson


The yearning for freedom can only be truly satisfied by the soul. However the integral way presents unique challenges as the whole nature needs to be liberated. Freedom lies in the divine consciousness. First, by constant remembrance, and second, by inner work, the individual nature can be liberated from the restrictions that currently enslave it. The author shares his impressions and experiences.

Tasting freedom fulfils a mandate of the soul. To be free inwardly and outwardly, in other words integrally, is a sure way to health and well-being. Most people settle for a very external freedom and remain chained to a wheel of illusion throughout the course of their lives. They do not know how enslaved they really are. The inside always governs the outside so freedom has to be established inwardly for any outer change to truly manifest:

“Freedom does not come from outer circumstances but from inner liberation:

Find your soul, unite with it, let it govern your life and you will be free (1).”

However, this freedom has its toll and the road to inner freedom is every bit as tortuous as any external liberation. Everyone must find their way and overcome their own peculiar ‘impossibilities’. Humanity claims freedom as its birthright but very few people are sincere enough to truly possess it. To live freely in an integral way is no easy task. Indeed, for most of us, freedom is a totally illusory concept. “At best we have only the poor relative freedom which by us is ignorantly called free will (2).” There is nothing superficial about authentic freedom but there are different gradations within this state.

“Most people confuse liberty with licence (3).” We need to be clear about what freedom actually involves. To be free, the Mother says, is to be clear of attachments (4).When attached, we turn back on our inner oneness and the entire existence around us. We remain hooked to our inner traumas while clinging helplessly to the outside world. It is the ego nature that opens the door to these imaginary props. It believes they hold the individual nature together. This leads to enslavement because there is no such thing as ‘free choice’ in this context, not even of an “independent ego”, as the “modes of Nature” determine everything that is expressed and driven through our personal will (5). The bondage lies in separation and there is almost a hierarchy of slavery. There is really no ‘independent ego’ as it is governed by the collective ego, which is in turn a slave to Universal Nature herself.

The solution, Sri Aurobindo writes, is to become a “conscious soul in nature”. By growing beyond the ego and expanding beyond Nature, we become spirit which is superior to all of Nature’s modes and forces, and, through the soul’s equality, we wake up to the oneness that pervades everything and ultimately sets us free (6). It is in oneness that true freedom resides. When we live in oneness and equality, we live in the divine consciousness and live consciously in nature. Our individual nature gets reflected in Universal Nature. She collaborates and is ultimately transformed.

At that point, one steps into the divine consciousness where, “you suddenly find yourself in a state of perfect freedom where everything is possible (7).” At the highest plane, at the supreme Consciousness, everything is absolutely free. “It is the Plane where there are no more contradictions, where all things are and are in harmony without contradicting one another (8).”

Freedom and growth

So one decides, ‘This is what I want. I want to live freely in the divine consciousness.’ What can he or she expect along the way? What is required to build this freedom? From an integral viewpoint, what is the relationship between this process and our health? I shall look at this subject from a more personal angle. Our true nature or svabhāva determines the approach that each of us takes towards this peak of consciousness. The tendencies of our individual nature will influence the difficulties we experience in making this climb. The patterns may vary but the process is always the same. But sooner or later, we have to return always and face the knots of our individual nature; every part must be addressed in unison. So freedom in the integral context is a much more demanding task.

My first effort towards this state was inspired by the body because, to some degree at least, I felt imprisoned by it. This view was tainted with judgment. The surface mind can be narrow indeed and I began to see clearly that this was the true nexus of the problem. The body was a captive of it. I also saw my nature vividly as a prisoner of the past, enmeshed in memories and associations. It was embedded with so many hooks of attachment. I realised how my upbringing and education had shaped my thinking into cramping structures. It was difficult to know where to begin.

The way to liberation is spherical, starting from inside and spreading outwards. It is a gradual expansion and not a linear process. The development unwinds with reversal waiting in the wings at every inch of progress. It is truly an exercise in staying awake. I found it helped to compare it to the breath with its never-ending movement of expansion and contraction. It is all only a part of the process. The vital with its traps of desire might throttle the being now and then but I found that it was the surface mind and its rigidity that presented the biggest obstacle to liberation. At times, there seemed little escape from its censorial postures. In truth, it seemed sometimes to offer nothing but restriction. At a baser level, its senseless chattering would also continue non-stop. How to be free of this? I noticed also how the mind would often conveniently give sanction to the vital’s caprices. As I became more conscious of all these patterns, I began to experience and understand the way Sri Aurobindo so succinctly compartmentalised the various parts of our nature that are so interconnected and have such a vested interest in one another.

Frequently I experience an imbalance of freedom over the being as a whole. It is not evenly distributed. Often I might feel liberated inside but hampered on a physical level. The body consciousness needs to be saturated by the inner light. I have chosen an integral path and it is in that context that progress must be made. The body can never get left behind. If I identify with the friction, it immediately claws the consciousness downwards and it strangles the rest of the being. The contact with the body can be, and indeed should be, loving but disinterestedness must be present too. This kind of detachment and later equality must be the way forward to total liberation.

It’s almost as if, as soon as it doesn’t matter, that the freedom descends. And perhaps I mean freedom in a total manner, with the body rising up too in the integral way. I say ‘perhaps’ because the realisation hasn’t come, just pre-emptive glimmerings of a complete truth behind this absorbing riddle. Whatever the case, the body, for me, is quite clearly a lonely pioneer and demonstrates to the other parts of my nature the necessity for true inner freedom. It is almost as if the body gives the rest of the nature no choice!

I feel that once freedom starts to settle inside and as soon as the aspiration expands for the total experience, the complete solution is not just possible but inevitable. At least this is my impression. Time is the variable and in the vast scheme of things is perhaps insignificant even if it takes more than one lifetime to reach fruition. However, I believe that if it is written in one’s agenda, there is no reason why the task cannot be concluded in a single life.

Soul and nature

So the whole being yearns for freedom. The soul knows it and wants to share it; nature on the other hand has its own ideas and rather wants to appropriate it. The nature needs to be educated by the soul before she can be set free. She moves forward with blinkered eyes. The aim throughout is perfection, but many ignorant interpretations are present in our surface nature. The object is always to align oneself as closely as possible to the divine consciousness, the only failsafe means of achieving freedom. Sincerity is the framework which holds it all together. To undertake this work, I find that I have two tasks. I need to maintain remembrance as a ceaseless condition: this is the essential backdrop. I have found the journey to freedom starts from here. Meanwhile I strive to work consciously at freeing my being from these cramping structures inside. This is a more specific and active process. But remembrance provides the essential soil for the roots of freedom to get enriched and established. With the inner work, on the other hand, one can stretch out and expand. It is an accumulative process, a true way for healthy living.

When one is in the process of growth, the sense of inner freedom will inevitably ebb and flow. There are many times when one feels oneself passing through a very narrow gorge. It can be very disconcerting because one might be unable to lay a finger on the reason why this is taking place. Our nature has a way of camouflaging its numerous defects. We swing between dualities and edge forward tentatively between states of darkness and light.


Such is the game of hide and seek that man continually plays with his soul. Every time he forgets the Truth, a shadow casts on him inside. True freedom comes when he surrenders to it. Truly, it is a game of remembrance where the task is to fill in these gaps of missing consciousness. By treating it as a game, the task becomes more interesting and enjoyable. The game is won when the remembrance becomes realised and turns into settled experience. Then remembrance rises from being passive to something quite dynamic. This is, after all, what all yoga is about and it should be a path of joy. It makes our way to liberation so much easier. The divine consciousness and divine laughter is always the key.

What I found was, as the consciousness first started to expand, I became uncomfortably aware of how unfree I apparently was. I saw my body and nature encased in habit; attachments started peeking out like open sores. To this day, I find myself witnessing the captive nature. It is endless! How many of its reactions are conditioned by the subconscious. Consider how rooted the body is in inconscience. This viewpoint is a necessary and inevitable part of growing, but if it becomes chronic then one loses all detachment and balance. Whenever I identify with the limitations of nature I forget the freedom that lies inside. Once one reverses the shift, one starts to become free. As soon as one makes this stand, the nature begins to reflect the light of the soul. Inch by inch, we move forward and we start with remembrance.

When that happens, the fulcrum in our nature shifts too and true change takes place. When the entire change consolidates and settles, it paves the way to transformation. Only a free soul can transform. The nature slowly starts to reflect the light of the soul. At that point, all the old structures collapse into insignificance. There can be no greater freedom than to release one’s attachment to the past. It can happen in the physical too. Only the true Light can dispel the shadows of the past over the body. Every time I make a progress, I must dig in my heels to ensure that no reversal takes place there. Truly though, something new has to take over other than this personal effort. When we struggle and strain, we can hardly claim to be free, although it can be indispensable for a long time.

Inner work

Gradually I have come to realise that the yearning for freedom can only be quenched by the soul. It is the only part of our being which truly knows it. When soul and nature connect, the nature becomes freer and the medium for this process is always our consciousness. There can be no set procedure to this process. Each must find his or her way in this work. To connect body and soul is the supreme aim of Integral Health and it is open to each one of us to make it a reality. In this work, when the body is set right, inwardly we are healed; when healing takes place inside, the body is healed too.

So, to release the entire nature, this methodology concentrates on the body itself. I find the body to be a perfect channel for this work. Channels need to be uncomplicated and the body can certainly claim this simple virtue. I use the body to read the promptings of the soul. Every conceivable distortion and obstacle appears there. The body is an ideal barometer of all our inner states. What a gift it is! Really, for me, it is much more than just a gateway to freedom: it is the vehicle for transformation because whatever we see there can be transformed with true consciousness. Everything blocking our freedom can be demolished with permanent and immediate effect. It is simply a matter of aligning the consciousness with the Truth. I say ‘simply’, but large doses of sincerity are required for this task. When one aspires to live truly, the alchemy will surely start to unfold and the necessary procedures will inevitably come.

I try to observe through this lens. It is observation in detail and when something is noticed it automatically becomes free. The consciousness is the key: my tortured psychology becomes a baby in its hands. But this work cannot really be conducted part-time. If one aspires for total freedom, this observing consciousness, deeply rooted in the Truth, needs to be kept on always to become truly effective. The practice needs to be built up over time. It needs to be brought into the province of our daily activities. Its antennae need to be operative even during sleep.

Our pathway to freedom should be one of joy. The path is difficult enough without moving around with a sad face. Really, it is such a difficult game that only a small child can perform it. Children have such an in-built spontaneity and trust that gives them solutions to the most complex of problems. They always win at games. Discover the inner child and one recaptures the joy of existence and the easiest way to freedom.


1. The Mother. Collected Works of the Mother, Volume 14. 2nd ed. Pondicherry: Sri Aurobindo Ashram Press; 2004, p. 188.

2. Sri. Aurobindo. Birth Centenary Library, Volume 20. Pondicherry: Sri Aurobindo Ashram Trust; 1970, p. 88.

3. The Mother. Collected Works, Volume 4, p. 90.

4. Ibid.

5. Sri Aurobindo. SABCL, Volume 20, pp. 88-9.

6. Ibid., p. 89

7. The Mother. Collected Works, Volume 9; 2003, pp. 176-7.

8. The Mother. Collected Works, Volume 5; 2003, p. 86.

James Anderson is a member of SAIIIHR and coordinating editor of NAMAH.

Share with us (Comments,contributions,opinions)

When reproducing this feature, please credit NAMAH,and give the byline. Please send us cuttings.

body mind and spirit
Freedom body mind and spirit






Sri Aurobindo


The variable


Hide and seek


The soul


Our psychology