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Namah Journal


Align Your Will

James Anderson


To achieve anything worthwhile in life we need a true will. In the integral context, everything we are has to be addressed in order to develop this will. A unified being brings a unified will, one aligned to our divine Presence. This Will is an arrow that always hits its target. Nothing can stop it. Realising this Will requires sustained practice. We need to develop our consciousness and learn how to deploy it. Practice necessitates effort but we reach a stage when effort becomes a hindrance and realise that surrender is the only way to achieve a will that reflects our innate divinity.

Nothing can be done in Integral Yoga without aligning the will. To align our will we have to unify it. We need a true will to achieve anything significant in life:

“In order to accomplish something, one must have the will to do it, and to have the will to do it, one must know what one wants to do, and then one must will to do it and then one can do it (1).”

Without it, we are like driftwood on a vast ocean. We are completely at the mercy of outside influences. We become a toy for all the cosmic forces. We have no authentic control over our being and cannot move forward in a straight line. We dither; we procrastinate; we lapse to the depths and cannot truly aspire for the heights. We continually fall prey to desires and impulses and mistake our puny “willings”1 for the authentic will. In short, we cannot progress.

As the Mother says, the only way to unify our divided will is to unify the being itself:

“To learn how to will is a very important thing and to will truly you must unify your being. In fact to be a being one must first unify oneself. If one is pulled by absolutely opposite tendencies, if one spends three-fourths of his life withoutbeing conscious of himself and the reason why he does things, is one a real being? One does not exist. One is a mass of influences, forces, actions, reactions, but that is not a being.One begins to become a being when he begins to have a will. And one can’t have a will unless he is unified.

And when you have a will, you will be able to say, say to the Divine: ‘I want what You want.’ But not before that. Because in order to want what the Divine wants, you must have a will, otherwise you will have nothing at all (3).”

In ‘The Book of Fate’ in Savitri, King Aswapati affirms that there is always a “Secret Will (4)”at work. Its labour goes largely unnoticed for we live clouded in ignorance. It is up to each of us to take off our blind folds and identify with it. Our gross senses will not be able to manage this; something radical to take over. Really, it is only the cloud of our ignorance that makes it secret. This Will is one, supreme and indivisible and presides over the entire evolutionary process. By identifying with it, we find our true anchor in life. So in turn we have to unify our will and make it one.It is our indispensable vehicle for progress. So before all else on this path, we have to align our will.


This will bases itself upon a sustained inner presence. We aim to connect with the source of our will so the first step of our practice is to orient our attention inside.We have to change direction. We have to withdraw from the surface and firmly establish our camp inside. Initially, it may seem like we are turning our life upside-down! Every link in our conditioning has so far reinforced us to live on the surface. It seems so natural. But truly it is the opposite. Living on the surface we are not much more than automatons. We need to find our true Self and become conscious of everything that is going on within.

However, what we initially notice is not a comfortable experience. If we enquire in a sincere light, we recognise considerable discord and conflict. We see much division. How can a will base itself on so much confusion? However we don’t shrink; we just see what is there. We need to detach from what we see, otherwise we will get sucked into this very disturbing play. We just stay present with what we observe.

In truth, we had always been aware of this noise that keeps reverberating inside our head. It can really get incessant. This commotion gets very disturbing and we reach a critical juncture when we realise that we have to address it. This is a decisive moment in the initiation. It is perhaps one major reason why many have embarked on this path in the first place. It is however only part of a complex jigsaw. Deep down, there is an aspiration for a truer and more fulfilling life. We withdraw from the surface and learn to detach and by shifting our attention more exclusively inside, these jarring vibrations start coming to the forefront of our awareness. We learn to endure and as these formations emerge, we step back and place our station above them and simply observe.

We find a more secure station in this witness poise. It is the first necessary point in our spiritual ascent. As long as we remain subject to the modes of nature, the witness will always be present. We don’t judge or recoil; we just witness.The state falls short of control but we remain immobile and totally intact. We stop getting tossed and turned by every circumstance in life. This is how we cross this uneasy threshold and get to calmer waters. This is the first step to initiating our true will.

It is only when we develop equanimity to outer shocks that we can start to reach the source of our will in a more consistent way.When we do not get so easily disturbed, we can plunge more deeply inside and begin to truly experience what is behind the camouflage presented by our nature. A nascent discernment starts to come forward. We gradually move beyond witnessing and start to identify. It is the identity with our Truth that makes our awareness more dynamic. We identify with the psychic being, our true Peron and evolving soul. This entity is the embodiment of Truth. Once we build a relationship with our psychic being, we can start to tackle the inner malaise.

From Witness to Warrior

This is the transition from awareness to consciousness and it takes time. We progress from Witness to Warrior. It is the progressive identity with the psychic presence which facilitates the process. Whenever there is sincerity, the soul over time assumes a more executive role. The consciousness starts to effectuate. It is not an immediate handover but as we move forward, our nature becomes ever more and more malleable to its influence. It presents a torch light to shine over our entire being, imparting a light wherever it is directed. This light gets brighter as we evolve. It imparts a knowledge which provides the capacity for true change.

Through repeated and successive enquiries, a deeper connection starts to get forged. It is a progressive process and may take lifetimes but as we move forward and edge closer to this source, our will can simultaneously evolve. This source is our psychic being, our evolving soul, and this entity should always be the focal point of our will as it is the true master of our being. It is from the psychic being that we are able to more truly align our will because, as this happens, the knowledge of our consciousness really starts to change what is going on inside. It is not coercion but spontaneous transmutation. A persistent approach is very necessary, because lapses and temporary reversals are inevitable on this path. However, whenever we align our will we have a clear sight of our goal and the necessary means to get there.

It is through harmony that our will gets unified. Our will is always governed by the condition of our being. As the being unifies, the will automatically aligns with the psychic being. It is a function of the psychic being to harmonise all the disparate parts of our being. It is the way that the multiplicity of our nature is embraced. Our being does not emerge as a standardised uniformity but evolves into a vibrant, diverse but integrated whole. The opposing tendencies are harmonised into a unified accord.

We should start working on unifying our will as soon as we get an inkling of the psychic presence. How else can we change our nature? Any effort we make doing this brings the psychic being forward and in turn makes our consciousness more active. No effort is wasted.

The will needs to be exercised. It requires “methodical exercise”.It is a dynamic process. It cannot be left idle; particularly at the early stages, it demands exercise. There is little purpose in establishing this connection if it is not engaged in our daily activities. The litmus test of the will lies in its application and it evolves and develops through exercise and usage. Every time we apply our will in a true and sustained way, it strengthens its force for the next application.

As the Mother says, it is like strengthening our muscles. You start with something small, “…. you insist on it and compel yourself to do it as you compel yourself to lift a weight — it’s the same thing. You make the same kind of effort, but it is more of an inner effort. And after having taken little things like this — things relatively easy, you know — after taking these and succeeding with them, you can unite with a greater force and try a more complicated experiment. And gradually, if you do this regularly, you will end up by acquiring an independent and very strong will (5).”

All this progress implies considerable and prolonged practice. Practice is nothing but the deployment of our consciousness: whenever we are conscious we practise. It is much more than a matter of reflection and meditation. It transcends even the yogic parameters of knowledge, works and love: it is truly a poise we should hold within us at all times.

Unifying the being

This truth is worth repeating: to unify our will we have to unify our being. We unify our being through practice. This is inner work and can more effectively be done through the vehicle of the body. The body can produce such a clear channel for our inner states. The body is a blueprint for our entire being, a map of our inner psychology. We observe and enquire into the body in every detail. The torch light scans every ‘hidden corner’. The Consciousness observes the divisions and conflicts that arise on it from these inner states. What the consciousness sees it knows and what it knows, it effects. What it effects, it transmutes into its own image, which is psychic in quality. It works through harmony and leaves behind a legacy of dynamic Peace.

Another practice is to remember and offer. This too is an exercise in consciousness. The driving-force behind this movement is aspiration. It is aspiration which sets the pace of our endeavour: it burns at the core of our being. It has to be experienced. It is our fuel for progress; it is what sustains our sādhanā. We must tend to it at all times. We need to be present with this aspiration always. Unless it is nurtured, it will wither with neglect and our practice will implode. If this happens, our will inexorably disintegrates.

We offer both our aspiration and our will to this Inner Fire. The practice of offering our aspiration and our will is simultaneous and almost synonymous. Go deep within the recesses of your heart. You will find the Fire there. You may have a different image. This is where the Mother resides.

As we offer all our negativities to Her and as through continuous sacrifice to the Flame, our aspiration rises and expands. Likewise, our will sharpens and becomes more single-pointed. Like an arrow directed at the target it doesn’t deviate and comprises immense force.

When we finally perceive that what we currently represent is little more than a bundle of impulses and desires, we are getting somewhere. This is what we offer. It is only a half-truth, the current reality of our superficial front. We let everything rise to the surface in this conscious sacrifice. We have to strip ourselves bare so that the Truth can step forward. Yes, this is what we really are!

With continued practice, offering will become an indispensable tool for our growth. We need to find a way of offering always. Make it your first impulse, your initial trigger response, whenever any movement, of whatever disposition, rises to the surface. Don’t let it linger. Learn to catch the impulse as soon as it arises. Offer everything when in the throes of confusion. Try to offer everything when you are in your darkest gloom. It is dynamic practice.

Ultimately it is aspiration and will that make our practice truly effective. If it is done consciously, the relation between these two states join in an ever-evolving and widening circle. The movement constantly rotates from one to the other. The two states merge and almost become one. The aspiration becomes our will and the will our aspiration.

The will is what deploys and effects but it is entirely reliant on our aspiration. For a considerable amount of time, aspiration necessitates effort. However, it shouldn’t remain an unremitting toil. The effort will become a joy and when the joy is sustained it builds a self-perpetuating momentum of its own. This is a hallmark of surrender. We start to be carried! The Mother is like the mother-cat who picks the kitten up with her jaws to place it on higher ground.

“The will to conquer”

It is always the body which completes the equation in the integral context. It is the last to transform and probably the last to yield completely to our will. Changing the body presents the supreme test for our will. A firm resolution is called upon us when we deal with it. The work comes down to microscopic detail and the “will to conquer” extends to the very cells of the body:

“Wake up in yourself the will to conquer. Not a mere will in the mind but a will in the very cells of the body. Without that you can’t do anything, e.g. you may take a hundred medicines but they won’t cure you unless you have a will to conquer the physical illness (6).”

Working on the body may necessitate a total reconstruction. We have to be ready for that. Every toxic conditioning and influence seeks residence in the body. Every imprint from outside has been left there. It requires a will that is resolute to the point of complete obstinacy.

But it can be done. With the infusion of consciousness, anything is possible! Perhaps this is where we realise that effort can take us no further. As soon as it becomes a “bar” (we go back to the footnote on page 17), we understand that something new has to take over. Nothing is done until everything is done. When we realise that we can do nothing, we give all of ourselves. It is through self-giving that we truly and conclusively align our will, all our blemishes and all our virtues, because everything is a mixture after all. We hand over everything that we are and everything that we believe we are.

So, not least of all, we need this will to awaken the aspiration in the body. It is there, present but buried and hidden beneath a thick crust of inertia. It is present within the subtle physical and this needs to translate to the gross physical. A conscious will needs to get imparted into every physical movement. The physical body needs to be made increasingly more supple and subtle.

Ultimately it is not effort that will succeed in this. It is surrender. We surrender completely to the Mother and the Mother extends her Will directly through us. We can’t stay with the mind and try to superimpose our mental will. We give all that up. We align and allow ourselves to be carried beyond nature. Only then can our Will reach eternal identity with her burning Flame inside.


1. The Mother. The Collected Works of the Mother, Volume 9. 2nd ed. Sri Aurobindo Ashram Trust; 2003, p. 259.

2. Sri Aurobindo. Birth Centenary Library, Volume 16. Pondicherry: Sri Aurobindo Ashram Trust; 1971, p. 377.

3. The Mother. Collected Works, Volume 6; 2003, pp. 347-48.

4. Sri Aurobindo. Birth Centenary Library, Volume 29. Pondicherry: Sri Aurobindo Ashram Trust; 1970, p.424.

5. The Mother. Collected Works, Volume 6; pp. 347-48.

6. The Mother. Collected Works, Volume 15; 2004, p. 146.

1“When we have passed beyond willings, then we shall have Power. Effort was the helper: effort is the bar (2).”

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

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