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What is Freedom?

Find your soul, unite with it, let it govern your life and you will be free. [1]

Meaning of Freedom

After all, what is freedom? To go about doing whatever you like? But do you know what is "you"? Do you know what is your own will? Do you know what comes from you and what comes from elsewhere? ….it is only impulses that move you and they are also not your own. They come from outside and make you do all sorts of stupid things. You fall into the hands of the Rakshasas. First they make you do stupid things and then they laugh. If you have a strong will, if your will, your impulses and all else are centred around the psychic, then and then alone can you have some taste of liberty and freedom; otherwise you are a slave. [2]


Liberty does not mean to follow one's desires but, on the contrary, to be free from them. [3]


Most people confuse liberty with licence. For the ordinary mind, to be free is to have the chance of committing every stupidity that one likes, without anybody intervening. I say one must be "absolutely free", but it is a very dangerous advice unless one understands the meaning of the words. Free from what?—free from attachments, evidently. It is exactly that. It is the story of the Buddha who answers the young man expert in all the arts, "I am an expert in the art of self-control. If men congratulate me or praise me, it leaves me tranquil and indifferent. If they blame me, that leaves me equally tranquil and indifferent." [4]


It is not only a freedom from all attachment, but a liberation from all bondage to the law of consequences. In the material field there is a determinism which comes from the law of consequences, from the law of cause and effect; hence inner liberation does not free you only from all attachment but from all consequences. As I have told you many a time, by your inner liberation your consciousness rises to a level far above the level which governs the material world and, from this high level, the Force can descend and cancel all the material consequences. [5]


To be free, one must come out of the prison. The prison is the ego, the sense of separate personality. To be free, one must unite consciously and totally with the Supreme and through this identification break the limits of the ego and eradicate the very existence of the ego by universalising oneself, even though the individualisation of the consciousness is preserved. [6]

Our Ignorant Notion of Freedom

…..every feeling of independence, of the need to look after oneself, of not wanting to submit to any discipline, any rule, of standing on one's own feet, not wanting any support except one's own, and being free, independent in one's movements: this is to stand back from the divine solicitude. To want to do what one likes, one's own will, in quite a free and independent way—"only doing what I want"—this is to stand back from the divine solicitude. [7]


These desires, these passions have no personality, there is nothing in them or their action that is peculiar to you; they manifest in the same way in everyone. The obscure movements of the mind too, the doubts and errors and difficulties that cloud the personality and diminish its expansion and fulfilment, come from the same source. They are passing waves and they catch anyone who is ready to be caught and utilised as their blind instrument. And yet each goes on believing that these movements are part of himself and a precious product of his own free personality. Even we find people clinging to them and their disabilities as the very sign or essence of what they call their freedom. [8]


Anything that suppresses, diminishes or lessens cannot bring freedom. Freedom has to be experienced in the whole of life and in all sensations. [9]


Our notion of free will is apt to be tainted with the excessive individualism of the human ego and to assume the figure of an independent will acting on its own isolated account, in a complete liberty without any determination other than its own choice and single unrelated movement. This idea ignores the fact that our natural being is a part of cosmic Nature and our spiritual being exists only by the supreme Transcendence. Our total being can rise out of subjection to fact of present Nature only by an identification with a greater Truth and a greater Nature. The will of the individual, even when completely free, could not act in an isolated independence, because the individual being and nature are included in the universal Being and Nature and dependent on the all-overruling Transcendence. [10]

An Image of Being Free

It is said that when one has realised… one becomes like the dry coconut which moves in the shell, which is free inside, no longer attached to the envelope and moving freely within. That's what I have heard; it is the image for there being no attachment any more. You have seen this, when a coconut becomes completely dry, the nut inside is no longer fixed to the shell; and so when you move it, it moves inside; it is completely free, it is absolutely independent of the shell. So the image of the being is given: the ordinary physical consciousness is the shell; and so long as the Atman is not completely formed it is attached, it holds on, it is stuck to the shell, and it cannot be detached; but when it is completely formed it is absolutely free inside, it rolls freely in the shell without being fixed to it. It must be this image. [11]

Absolute Determinism with Absolute Freedom

Everything is absolutely determined, for everything is from all eternity, and yet the path traversed has a freedom and unpredictability which is also absolute. [12]


You can shift your place if you will; instead of being below, crushed in the machinery or moved like a puppet, you can rise and look from above and by changing your consciousness you can even get hold of some handle to move apparently inevitable circumstances and change fixed conditions. Once you draw yourself up out of the whirlpool and stand high above, you see you are free. Free from all compulsions, not only you are no longer a passive instrument, but you become an active agent. You are not only not bound by the consequences of your action, but you can even change the consequences. Once you see the play of forces, once you raise yourself to a plane of consciousness where lie the origins of forces and identify yourself with these dynamic sources, you belong no longer to what is moved but to that which moves. [13]


All is free will or else all is destiny—it is not so simple as that. This question of free will or determination is the most knotty of all metaphysical questions and nobody has been able to solve it—for a good reason, that both destiny and will exist and even a free will exists somewhere—the difficulty is only how to get at it and make it effective. [14]

Morality and Freedom

Morality proceeds by a mental construction and, with a few ideas of what is good and what is not, sets up an ideal type into which all must force themselves. This moral ideal differs in its constituents and its ensemble at different times and different places. And yet it proclaims itself as a unique type, a categoric absolute; it admits of none other outside itself; it does not even admit a variation within itself. All are to be moulded according to its single ideal pattern, everybody is to be made uniformly and faultlessly the same. It is because morality is of this rigid unreal nature that it is in its principle and its working the contrary of the spiritual life. The spiritual life reveals the one essence in all, but reveals too its infinite diversity; it works for diversity in oneness and for perfection in that diversity. Morality lifts up one artificial standard contrary to the variety of life and the freedom of the spirit. Creating something mental, fixed and limited, it asks all to conform to it. All must labour to acquire the same qualities and the same ideal nature. Morality is not divine or of the Divine; it is of man and human. Morality takes for its basic element a fixed division into the good and the bad; but this is an arbitrary notion. It takes things that are relative and tries to impose them as absolutes; for this good and this bad differ in differing climates and times, epochs and countries. [15] … it is infinitely easier to be moral from the social point of view than to be moral from the spiritual point of view. To be moral from the social viewpoint one has only to pay good attention to do nothing which is not approved of by others; this may be somewhat difficult, but still it is not impossible; and one may be, as I said, a monument of insincerity and impurity while doing this; whereas to be pure from the spiritual point of view means a vigilance, a consciousness, a sincerity that stand all tests. [16]

Why is Freedom Important?

Freedom, equality, brotherhood are three godheads of the soul; they cannot be really achieved through the external machinery of society or by man so long as he lives only in the individual and the communal ego. [17]


When the soul claims freedom, it is the freedom of its self-development, the self-development of the divine in man in all his being. When it claims equality, what it is claiming is that freedom equally for all and the recognition of the same soul, the same godhead in all human beings. When it strives for brotherhood, it is founding that equal freedom of self-development on a common aim, a common life, a unity of mind and feeling founded upon the recognition of this inner spiritual unity. These three things are in fact the nature of the soul; for freedom, equality, unity are the eternal attributes of the Spirit. [18]


Liberty in one shape or another ranks among the most ancient and certainly among the most difficult aspirations of our race: it arises from a radical instinct of our being and is yet opposed to all our circumstances; it is our eternal good and our condition of perfection, but our temporal being has failed to find its key. That perhaps is because true freedom is only possible if we live in the infinite, live, as the Vedanta bids us, in and from our self-existent being; but our natural and temporal energies seek for it at first not in ourselves, but in our external conditions. This great indefinable thing, liberty, is in its highest and ultimate sense a state of being; it is self living in itself and determining by its own energy what it shall be inwardly and, eventually, by the growth of a divine spiritual power within determining too what it shall make of its external circumstances and environment; that is the largest and freest sense of self-determination. [19]

Inner Freedom

Freedom is a sort of instinctive need, a necessity for the integral development of the being. In its essence it is a perfect realisation of the highest consciousness, it is the expression of Unity and of union with the Divine, it is the very sense of the Origin and the fulfilment. [20]


With us the Freedom consists in Freedom from the darkness, limitation, error, suffering, transience of the ignorant lower Nature, but also in a total surrender to the Divine. Free action is the action of the Divine in us and through us; no other action can be free. [21]


When the human ego realises that its will is a tool, its wisdom ignorance and childishness, its power an infant's groping, its virtue a pretentious impurity, and learns to trust itself to that which transcends it, that is its salvation. The apparent freedom and self-assertion of our personal being to which we are so profoundly attached, conceal a most pitiable subjection to a thousand suggestions, impulsions, forces which we have made extraneous to our little person. Our ego, boasting of freedom, is at every moment the slave, toy and puppet of countless beings, powers, forces, influences in universal Nature. The self-abnegation of the ego in the Divine is its self-fulfilment; its surrender to that which transcends it is its liberation from bonds and limits and its perfect freedom. [22]


It is of supreme importance for the human spirit to be free to sound the depths of inner or subliminal reality, of spiritual and of what is still super conscient reality, and not to immure itself in the physical mind and its narrow domain of objective external solidities; for in that way alone can there come liberation from the Ignorance in which our mentality dwells and a release into a complete consciousness, a true and integral self-realisation and self-knowledge. [23]

Free Choice

It is said also—that is the continuation of the story or rather its beginning—that the Divine wanted his creation to be a free creation. He wanted all that went forth from him to be absolutely independent and free in order to be able to unite with him in freedom, not through compulsion. He did not want that they should be compelled to be faithful, compelled to be conscious, compelled to be obedient. They had to do it spontaneously, through the knowledge and conviction that that was much better. So this world was created as a world of total freedom, freedom of choice. And it is in this way that at every moment everyone has the freedom of choice—but with all the consequences. If one chooses well, it is good, but if one chooses ill, ah well, what's to happen happens—that is what has happened. [24]


Things have an inner value and become real to you only when you have acquired them by the exercise of your free choice, not when they have been imposed upon you. If you want to be sure of your religion, you must choose it; if you want to be sure of your country, you must choose it; if you want to be sure of your family, even that you must choose. If you accept without question what has been given you by Chance, you can never be sure whether it is good or bad for you, whether it is the true thing for your life. Step back from all that forms your natural environment or inheritance, made up and forced upon you by Nature's blind mechanical process; draw within and look quietly and dispassionately at things. Appraise them, choose freely. Then you can say with an inner truth, "This is my family, this my country, this my religion." [25]

Freedom in the Human Society: The Outer Freedom

….if from the first freedom of thought is denied, that means the end of the Age of Reason and of the ideal of a rational society. Man the mental being disallowed the use—except in a narrow fixed groove—of his mind and mental will, will stop short in his growth and be even as the animal and as the insect a stationary species. [26]


An exclusive or dominant emphasis is laid sometimes on the individual, sometimes on the collectivity or society, sometimes on a right and balanced relation between the individual and the collective human whole. One idea holds up the growing life, freedom or perfection of the human individual as the true object of our existence,—whether the ideal be merely a free self-expression of the personal being or a self-governed whole of complete mind, fine and ample life and perfect body, or a spiritual perfection and liberation. In this view society is there only as a field of activity and growth for the individual man and serves best its function when it gives as far as possible a wide room, ample means, a sufficient freedom or guidance of development to his thought, his action, his growth, his possibility of fullness of being. [27]


A static order of society would be the necessary consequence, since without the freedom of the individual a society cannot remain progressive. It must settle into the rut or the groove of a regulated perfection or of something to which it gives that name because of the rationality of system and symmetrical idea of order which it embodies. The communal mass is always conservative and static in its consciousness and only moves slowly in the tardy process of subconscient Nature. The free individual is the conscious progressive: it is only when he is able to impart his own creative and mobile consciousness to the mass that a progressive society becomes possible. [28]

Unification of Humanity

The uniformity of mankind is not an impossible eventuality, even though impracticable in the present circumstances and in certain directions hardly conceivable except in a far distant future. For certainly there is or has been an immense drive towards uniformity of life habits, uniformity of knowledge, uniformity political, social, economic, educational, and all this, if followed out to its final conclusion, will lead naturally to a uniformity of culture.

… there is a revival nowadays, due to the growing subjectivism of the human mind, of the principle of free variation and refusal of uniformity. If this tendency triumphs, the unification of the race will have so to organise itself as to respect the free culture, thought, life of its constituent units. But there is also the “...” possibility of a dominant uniformity which will allow or even encourage such minor variations as do not threaten the foundations of its rule. And here again the variations may be within their limits vital, forceful, to a certain extent particularist though not separatist, or they may be quite minor tones and shades, yet sufficient to form a starting-point for the dissolution of uniformity into a new cycle of various progress. [29]

For a Perfect Social State

….the more the outer law is replaced by an inner law, the nearer man will draw to his true and natural perfection. And the perfect social state must be one in which governmental compulsion is abolished and man is able to live with his fellow-man by free agreement and cooperation. But by what means is he to be made ready for this great and difficult consummation? Intellectual anarchism relies on two powers in the human being of which the first is the enlightenment of his reason; the mind of man, enlightened, will claim freedom for itself, but will equally recognise the same right in others. A just equation will of itself emerge on the ground of a true, self-found and unperverted human nature. [30]


The solution lies not in the reason, but in the soul of man, in its spiritual tendencies. It is a spiritual, an inner freedom that can alone create a perfect human order. It is a spiritual, a greater than the rational enlightenment that can alone illumine the vital nature of man and impose harmony on its self-seekings, antagonisms and discords. A deeper brotherhood, a yet unfound law of love is the only sure foundation possible for a perfect social evolution, no other can replace it. [31]

Freedom and Education

The freedom of which I speak is the freedom to follow the soul's will and not that of mental and vital whims and fancies. [32] The school should be an opportunity for progress for the teacher as well as for the student. Each one should have the freedom to develop freely. [33]

For Finding their True Nature

Of course this freedom of choice can be given to all the children, and after all it is a good way to find their true nature; but most of them will prove to be lazy and not very interested in studies. But, on the other hand, they may be skilful with their hands and be willing to learn to make things. This too should be encouraged. In this way the children will find their true place in society, and will be prepared to fulfil it when they grow up. [34]

Mechanical System of Education

We see this flaw in State-governed education. It is right and necessary that education should be provided for all and in providing for it the State is eminently useful; but when it controls the education, it turns it into a routine, a mechanical system in which individual initiative, individual growth and true development as opposed to a routine instruction become impossible. The State tends always to uniformity, because uniformity is easy to it and natural variation is impossible to its essentially mechanical nature; but uniformity is death, not life. A national culture, a national religion, a national education may still be useful things provided they do not interfere with the growth of human solidarity on the one side and individual freedom of thought and conscience and development on the other; for they give form to the communal soul and help it to add its quota to the sum of human advancement; but a State education, a State religion, a State culture are unnatural violences. And the same rule holds good in different ways and to a different extent in other directions of our communal life and its activities. [35]


You see, the great thing here is that the principle of education is a principle of freedom, and to put it briefly, the whole life is organised on the maximum possible freedom in movement; that is, the rules, regulations, restrictions are reduced absolutely to the minimum. If you compare this with the way in which parents usually educate their children, with a constant "Don't do this", "You can't do that", "Do this", "Go and do that", and, you know, orders and rules, there is a considerable difference. [36]

Freedom in Spiritual Life

Spirituality respects the freedom of the human soul, because it is itself fulfilled by freedom; and the deepest meaning of freedom is the power to expand and grow towards perfection by the law of one's own nature, dharma. This liberty it will give to all the fundamental parts of our being. It will give that freedom to philosophy and science which ancient Indian religion gave,—freedom even to deny the spirit, if they will,—as a result of which philosophy and science never felt in ancient India any necessity of divorcing themselves from religion, but grew rather into it and under its light. It will give the same freedom to man's seeking for political and social perfection and to all his other powers and aspirations. Only it will be vigilant to illuminate them so that they may grow into the light and law of the spirit, not by suppression and restriction, but by a self-searching, self-controlled expansion and a many-sided finding of their greatest, highest and deepest potentialities. For all these are potentialities of the spirit. [37]


The Shastra erects a collective and external standard; it ignores the inner nature of the individual, the indeterminable elements of a secret spiritual force within him. But the nature of the individual will not be ignored; its demand is inexorable. The unrestrained indulgence of his outer impulses leads to anarchy and dissolution, but the suppression and coercion of his soul's freedom by a fixed and mechanical rule spells stagnation or an inner death. Not this coercion or determination from outside, but the free discovery of his highest spirit and the truth of an eternal movement is the supreme thing that he has to discover. [38]


The existence of a social law external to the individual is at different times a considerable advantage and a heavy disadvantage to the development of the divine in man. It is an advantage at first when man is crude and incapable of self-control and self-finding, because it erects a power other than that of his personal egoism through which that egoism may be induced or compelled to moderate its savage demands, to discipline its irrational and often violent movements and even to lose itself sometimes in a larger and less personal egoism. It is a disadvantage to the adult spirit ready to transcend the human formula because it is an external standard which seeks to impose itself on him from outside, and the condition of his perfection is that he shall grow from within and in an increasing freedom, not by the suppression but by the transcendence of his perfected individuality, not any longer by a law imposed on him that trains and disciplines his members but by the soul from within breaking through all previous forms to possess with its light and transmute his members. [39]


A spiritual religion of humanity is the hope of the future. By this is not meant what is ordinarily called a universal religion, a system, a thing of creed and intellectual belief and dogma and outward rite. Mankind has tried unity by that means; it has failed and deserved to fail, because there can be no universal religious system, one in mental creed and vital form. The inner spirit is indeed one, but more than any other the spiritual life insists on freedom and variation in its self-expression and means of development. A religion of humanity means the growing realisation that there is a secret Spirit, a divine Reality, in which we are all one, that humanity is its highest present vehicle on earth, that the human race and the human being are the means by which it will progressively reveal itself here. [40]

How to Cultivate Freedom

Law cannot save the world, therefore Moses' ordinances are dead for humanity and the Shastra of the Brahmins is corrupt and dying. Law released into freedom is the liberator. Not the Pundit, but the Yogin; not monasticism, but the inner renunciation of desire and ignorance and egoism. [41]


One can be free only by soaring to the heights, high above human passions. Only when one has achieved a higher, selfless freedom and done away with all desires and impulses does one have the right to be free. [Comment by the Mother based on Aphorism 6 — Late, I learned that when reason died then Wisdom was born; before that liberation, I had only knowledge.] [42]


If your aim is to be free, in the freedom of the Spirit, you must get rid of all the ties that are not the inner truth of your being, but come from subconscious habits. If you wish to consecrate yourself entirely, absolutely and exclusively to the Divine, you must do it in all completeness; you must not leave bits of yourself tied here and there. You may object that it is not easy to cut away altogether from one's moorings. But have you never looked back and observed the changes that have taken place in you in the course of a few years? When you do that, almost always you ask yourself how it was that you could have felt in the way you felt and acted as you did act in certain circumstances; at times, even, you can no longer recognize yourself in the person you were only ten years ago. [43]


….the only true freedom possible to man,—a freedom which he cannot have unless he outgrows his mental separativeness and becomes the conscious soul in Nature. The only free will in the world is the one divine Will of which Nature is the executrix; for she is the master and creator of all other wills. Human free-will can be real in a sense, but, like all things that belong to the modes of Nature, it is only relatively real. [44]


….there is only one solution: to unite ourselves by aspiration, concentration, interiorisation and identification with the supreme Will. And that is both omnipotence and perfect freedom at the same time. And that is the only omnipotence and the only freedom; everything else is an approximation. [45]

Process of Achieving Freedom

In reality, the freedom and the determination are only two sides of the same thing—for the fundamental truth is self-determination, a self-determination of the cosmos and in it a secret self-determination of the individual. The difficulty arises from the fact that we live in the surface mind of ignorance, do not know what is going on behind and see only the phenomenal process of Nature. There the apparent fact is an overwhelming determinism of Nature and as our surface consciousness is part of that process we are unable to see the other term of the biune reality. For practical purposes, on the surface there is an entire determinism in Matter—though this is now disputed by the latest school of Science. As Life emerges a certain plasticity sets in, so that it is difficult to predict anything exactly as one predicts material things that obey a rigid law. The plasticity increases with the growth of Mind so that man can have at least a sense of free will, of a choice of his action, of a self-movement which at least helps to determine circumstances. But this freedom is dubious because it can be declared to be an illusion, a device of Nature, part of its machinery of determination, only a seeming freedom or at most a restricted, relative and subject independence. It is only when one goes behind away from Prakriti to Purusha and upward away from Mind to spiritual Self that the side of freedom comes to be first evident and then, by unison with the Will which is above Nature, complete. [46]

By Purification of Nature

Śuddhi is the condition for mukti. All purification is a release, a delivery; for it is a throwing away of limiting, binding, obscuring imperfections and confusions: purification from desire brings the freedom of the psychic prana, purification from wrong emotions and troubling reactions the freedom of the heart, purification from the obscuring limited thought of the sense mind the freedom of the intelligence, purification from mere intellectuality the freedom of the gnosis. But all this is an instrumental liberation. The freedom of the soul, mukti, is of a larger and more essential character; it is an opening out of mortal limitation into the illimitable immortality of the Spirit. [47]


To cast out of us the ego idea is not entirely possible or not entirely effective until these instruments have undergone purification; for, their action being persistently egoistic and separative, the buddhi is carried away by them,—as a boat by winds on the sea, says the Gita,—the knowledge in the intelligence is being constantly obscured or lost temporarily and has to be restored again, a very labour of Sisyphus. But if the lower instruments have been purified of egoistic desire, wish, will, egoistic passion, egoistic emotion and the buddhi itself of egoistic idea and preference, then the knowledge of the spiritual truth of oneness can find a firm foundation. Till then, the ego takes all sorts of subtle forms and we imagine ourselves to be free from it, when we are really acting as its instruments and all we have attained is a certain intellectual poise which is not the true spiritual liberation. Moreover, to throw away the active sense of ego is not enough; that may merely bring an inactive state of the mentality, a certain passive inert quietude of separate being may take the place of the kinetic egoism, which is also not the true liberation. The ego sense must be replaced by a oneness with the transcendental Divine and with universal being. [48]


Each time there is a purification of the outer nature, it becomes more possible for the inner being to reveal itself, to become free and to open to the higher consciousness above. [49]

By Discovering the Psychic Being can realise the psychic being as a portion of the Divine seated in the heart with the Divine supporting it there—this psychic being takes charge of the sadhana and turns the whole being to the Truth and the Divine, with results in the mind, the vital, the physical consciousness which I need not go into here,—that is a first transformation. We realise it next as the one Self, Brahman, Divine, first above the body, life, mind and not only within the heart supporting them—above and free and unattached as the static Self but also extended in wideness through the world as the silent Self in all and dynamic too as the active Divine Being and Power, Ishwara-Shakti, containing the world and pervading it as well as transcending it, manifesting all cosmic aspects. But, what is most important for us, is that it manifests as a transcending Light, Knowledge, Power, Purity, Peace, Ananda of which we become aware above and which descends into the being and progressively replaces the ordinary consciousness by its own movements—that is the second transformation. We realise also the consciousness itself as moving upward, ascending through many planes physical, vital, mental, overmental to the supramental and Ananda planes.

….in this Yoga we become aware not only of this taking up but of a pouring down of the powers of the higher Self, so that there comes in the possibility of a descent of the Supramental Self and nature to dominate and change our present nature and turn it from nature of Ignorance into nature of Truth-Knowledge (and through the supramental into nature of Ananda)—this is the third or supramental transformation. It does not always go in this order, for with many the spiritual descent begins first in an imperfect way before the psychic is in front and in charge, but the psychic development has to be attained before a perfect and unhampered spiritual descent can take place, and the last or supramental change is impossible so long as the two first have not become full and complete. That's the whole matter, put as briefly as possible. [50]

By Developing Aspiration and Will

...aspiration is a thing to be developed, educated, like all activities of the being. One may be born with a very slight aspiration and develop it so much that it becomes very great. One may be born with a very small will and develop it and make it strong. must choose, and the choice is constantly put before you and constantly you must choose, and if you do not choose, well, you will not be able to advance. You must choose; there is no "force like that" which chooses for you, or chance or luck or fate—this is not true. Your will is free, it is deliberately left free and you have to choose. It is you who decide whether to seek the Light or not, whether to be the servitor of the Truth or not—it is you. Or whether to have an aspiration or not, it is you who choose. And even when you are told, "Make your surrender total and the work will be done for you", it is quite all right, but to make your surrender total, every day and at every moment you must choose to make your surrender total, otherwise you will not do it, it will not get done by itself. It is you who must want to do it. When it is done, all goes well, when you have the Knowledge also, all goes well, and when you are identified with the Divine, all goes even better, but till then you must will, choose and decide. [51]

By Surrender

Surrender means a free total giving with all the delight of the giving; there is no sense of sacrifice in it. If you have the slightest feeling that you are making a sacrifice, then it is no longer surrender. For it means that you reserve yourself or that you are trying to give, with grudging or with pain and effort, and have not the joy of the gift, perhaps not even the feeling that you are giving. When you do anything with the sense of a compression of your being, be sure that you are doing it in the wrong way. True surrender enlarges you; it increases your capacity; it gives you a greater measure in quality and in quantity which you could not have had by yourself. This new greater measure of quality and quantity is different from anything you could attain before: you enter into another world, into a wideness which you could not have entered if you did not surrender. It is as when a drop of water falls into the sea; if it still kept there its separate identity, it would remain a little drop of water and nothing more, a little drop crushed by all the immensity around, because it has not surrendered. But, surrendering, it unites with the sea and participates in the nature and power and vastness of the whole sea. [52]


If we surrender our conscious will and allow it to be made one with the will of the Eternal, then, and then only, shall we attain to a true freedom; living in the divine liberty, we shall no longer cling to this shackled so-called freewill, a puppet freedom ignorant, illusory, relative, bound to the error of its own inadequate vital motives and mental figures. [53]


The only way of being truly free is to make your surrender to the Divine entire, without reservation, because then all that binds you, ties you down, chains you, falls away naturally from you and has no longer any importance. [54]


…..when one is perfectly surrendered to the Divine one is perfectly free, and this is the absolute condition for freedom, to belong to the Divine alone; you are free from the whole world because you belong only to Him. And this surrender is the supreme liberation, you are also free from your little personal ego and of all things this is the most difficult—and the happiest too, the only thing that can give you a constant peace, an uninterrupted joy and the feeling of an infinite freedom from all that afflicts you, dwarfs, diminishes, impoverishes you, and from all that can create the least anxiety in you, the least fear. You are no longer afraid of anything, you no longer fear anything, you are the supreme master of your destiny because it is the Divine who wills in you and guides everything. But this does not happen overnight: a little time and a great deal of ardour in the will, not fearing to make any effort and not losing heart when one doesn't succeed, knowing that the victory is certain and that one must last out until it comes. [55]


In life you do something—whatever you do, good, bad, indifferent, it doesn't matter—whatever it may be, it immediately has a series of consequences. In fact you do it to obtain a certain result, that is why you act, with an eye to the result. For example, if I stretch out my hand like this to take the mike, I am looking for the result, you see, to make sounds in the mike. And there is always a consequence, always. But if you loosen the knot and let a Force coming from above—or elsewhere—act through you and make you do things, though there are consequences of your action, they don't come to you any longer, for it was not you who initiated the action, it was the Force from above. And the consequences pass above, or else they are guided, willed, directed, controlled by the Force which made you act. And you feel absolutely free, nothing comes back to you of the result of what you have done. [56]

By Developing Detachment

If you are anxious for them [material possessions], that means that you have desire and are bound. Ananda is one thing and vital enjoyment is another. One can have the rasa of a beautiful thing, for instance a picture, without wanting or needing to possess it or turn it to one's own purpose. Where that want comes in, there is vital desire. The sign of freedom from attachment is that one has no craving and can do without things without feeling anything for that or disappointment at their loss or absence or hankering or wish to have them. If one has, one takes the rasa in a free unattached way—if one does not get or loses them, it makes not the slightest difference. The true Ananda is the Ananda of the Divine and when one has the Yogic consciousness, it is the Divine one sees everywhere and has the Ananda of that, but there is no attachment to objects as objects. [57]


All the complexity of our emotions and their tyranny over the soul arise from the habitual responses of the soul of desire in the emotions and sensations to these attractions and repulsions. Love and hatred, hope and fear, grief and joy all have their founts in this one source. We like, love, welcome, hope for, joy in whatever our nature, the first habit of our being, or else a formed (often perverse) habit, the second nature of our being, presents to the mind as pleasant, priyam; we hate, dislike, fear, have repulsion from or grief of whatever it presents to us as unpleasant, apriyam. This habit of the emotional nature gets into the way of the intelligent will and makes it often a helpless slave of the emotional being or at least prevents it from exercising a free judgment and government of the nature. This deformation has to be corrected. By getting rid of desire in the psychic prana and its intermiscence in the emotional mind, we facilitate the correction. For then attachment which is the strong bond of the heart, falls away from the heart-strings; the involuntary habit of rāga-dveṣa remains, but, not being made obstinate by attachment, it can be dealt with more easily by the will and the intelligence. The restless heart can be conquered and get rid of the habit of attraction and repulsion. [58]


The ego is by its nature a smallness of being; it brings contraction of the consciousness and with the contraction limitation of knowledge, disabling ignorance,—confinement and a diminution of power and by that diminution incapacity and weakness,—scission of oneness and by that scission disharmony and failure of sympathy and love and understanding,—inhibition or fragmentation of delight of being and by that fragmentation pain and sorrow. To recover what is lost we must break out of the walls of ego. The ego must either disappear in impersonality or fuse into a larger I: it must fuse into the wider cosmic "I" which comprehends all these smaller selves or the transcendent of which even the cosmic self is a diminished image. [59]


How to cut it? Take a sword and strike it (laughter), when one becomes conscious of it. For usually one is not; we think it quite normal, what happen to us; and in fact it is very normal but we think it quite good also. So to begin with one must have a great clear-sightedness to become aware that one is enclosed in all these knots which hold one in bondage. And then, when one is aware that there's something altogether tightly closed in there—so tightly that one has tried in vain to move it—then one imagines his will to be a very sharp sword-blade, and with all one's force one strikes a blow on this knot (imaginary, of course, one doesn't take up a sword in fact), and this produces a result. Of course you can do this work from the psychological point of view, discovering all the elements constituting this knot, the whole set of resistances, habits, preferences, of all that holds you narrowly closed in. So when you grow aware of this, you can concentrate and call the divine Force and the Grace and strike a good blow on this formation, these things so closely held, like that, that nothing can separate them. And at that moment you must resolve that you will no longer listen to these things, that you will listen only to the divine Consciousness and will do no other work except the divine work without worrying about personal results, free from all attachment, free from all preference, free from all wish for success, power, satisfaction, vanity, all this... All this must disappear and you must see only the divine Will incarnated in your will and making you act. Then, in this way, you are cured. [60]


You are born in India. Being born in India you are born with a certain religious and philosophic attitude. But if for some reason or other you want to free yourself from this atavism and influence, if you begin to follow, study, practise the religion or philosophy of another country, you can change the conditions of your inner development. It is a little more difficult, that is, it asks for a greater effort for liberation, but it is very far from being impossible. In fact there are many people who do it, who love to free themselves from what comes to them from their present birth; by some sort of special taste they like to seek elsewhere what they think they won't be able to find at home. And in this way you change the consequences of your birth completely. [61]

By Developing Equality

The test it lays down is an absolute equality of the mind and the heart to all results, to all reactions, to all happenings. If good fortune and ill fortune, if respect and insult, if reputation and obloquy, if victory and defeat, if pleasant event and sorrowful event leave us not only unshaken but untouched, free in the emotions, free in the nervous reactions, free in the mental view, not responding with the least disturbance or vibration in any spot of the nature, then we have the absolute liberation to which the Gita points us, but not otherwise. The tiniest reaction is a proof that the discipline is imperfect and that some part of us accepts ignorance and bondage as its law and clings still to the old nature. Our self-conquest is only partially accomplished; it is still imperfect or unreal in some stretch or part or smallest spot of the ground of our nature. And that little pebble of imperfection may throw down the whole achievement of the Yoga! [62]

By Transformation

Transformation means that the higher consciousness or nature is brought down into the mind, vital and body and takes the place of the lower. There is a higher consciousness of the true self which is spiritual, but it is above; if one rises above into it, then one is free as long as one remains there, but if one comes down into or uses mind, vital or body—and if one keeps any connection with life, one has to do so, either to come down and act from the ordinary consciousness or else to be in the self but use mind, life and body—then the imperfections of these instruments have to be faced and mended; they can only be mended by transformation. [63]

Bodily Transformation

The bodily transformation will be the supreme spiritual rebirth—an utter casting away of all the ordinary past. For spiritual rebirth means the constant throwing away of our previous associations and circumstances and proceeding to live as if at each virgin moment we were starting life anew. It is to be free of what is called Karma, the stream of our past actions: in other words, a liberation from the bondage of Nature's common activity of cause and effect. To be reborn means to enter, first of all, into our psychic consciousness where we are one with the Divine and eternally free from the reactions of Karma. Without becoming aware of the psychic, it is not possible to do so; but once we are securely conscious of the true soul in us which is always surrendered to the Divine, all bondage ceases. Then incessantly life begins afresh, then the past no longer cleaves to us. To give you an idea of the final height of spiritual rebirth, I may say that there can be a constant experience of the whole universe actually disappearing at every instant and being at every instant newly created! [64]

Freedom in Education

Do not mistake liberty for license and freedom for bad manners: the thoughts must be pure and the aspiration ardent. [65]


The student should not arrive half an hour late just because he is free, because this kind of freedom Is not freedom, it is simply disorderliness. Each one must have a very strict discipline for himself. But a child is not capable of self-discipline, he must be taught the habit of discipline. So he should get up at the same time, get ready at the same time and go to school at the same time. That is indispensable; otherwise it becomes an impossible muddle. [66]

Inner Discipline

….it is very difficult to know how to organise one's own freedom oneself. Still, if you were to succeed in doing that, in giving yourself your own discipline―and for higher reasons, not in order to pass exams, to make a career, please your teachers, win many prizes, or all the ordinary reasons children have: in order not to be scolded, not to be punished, for all that; we leave out all those reasons―if you manage to impose a discipline upon yourself―each one his own, there is no need to follow someone else's―a discipline simply because you want to progress and draw the best out of yourself, then... Oh! you will be far superior to those who follow the ordinary school disciplines. ….there is something you must find out; it is the necessity of an inner discipline. Without discipline you won't be able to get anywhere, without discipline you can't even live the normal life of a normal man. But instead of having the conventional discipline of ordinary societies or ordinary institutions, I would have liked and I still want you to have the discipline you set yourselves, for the love of perfection, your own perfection, the perfection of your being. [67]

Choosing the Middle Path

It is a very difficult problem. There was someone who had ideas like this, on freedom in education and who made theories to tell me that individual freedom should be respected to the extent of never making use of past experience for new people, and that we ought to leave them to make all their experiments themselves. This goes very far and they criticised me very much because I was trying to prevent accidents. So they told me, "You are absolutely wrong in preventing them." So I said, "But if someone dies?"—"Well, it means he had to die. You have no right to intervene in their destiny and the freedom of their development. They want to commit stupidities, let them do stupid things. When they realise that these are stupidities, they won't do them." And there are cases in which one is sure never to do it again, because one has gone beyond the limit. [68]


So, probably, one needs to find a middle term between the two, between the two extremes: that of watching over him all the time and that of leaving him absolutely free to do what he likes, without even warning him against the accidents which are likely to occur. An adjustment to make every minute! Difficult. [69]

Helpful Practices

Surely only a consciousness identified with the supreme Consciousness can have this feeling of absolute freedom. [70]

Widening The Consciousness

Widening the consciousness is necessary for all who want to live a free and intelligent life, even without there being any question of Yoga or aspiration for the Divine Life. [71]


I knew somebody who wanted to widen his consciousness; he said he had found a way, it was to lie flat on his back at night, out-of-doors, and look at the stars and try to identify himself with them, and go away deep into an immense world, and so lose completely all sense of proportion, of the order of the earth and all its little things, and become vast as the sky—you couldn't say as vast as the universe, for we see only a tiny bit of it, but vast as the sky with all the stars. And so, you know, the little impurities fall off for the time being, and one understands things on a very vast scale. It is a good exercise. [72]

Positive Attitude

What I have been wanting you to do now is to get the right positive attitude within at the centre free from these things. Its basis must be what I have said, "I want the Divine and the Divine only; since I want and need, I shall surely arrive, however long it takes, and till I do, I shall persist and endure with patience and courage." I do not mean by that that you should have no activity but prayer and concentration; few can do that; but whatever is done should be done in that spirit. [73]

Attitude of a Witness

One can pass into the Self, leaving the ignorant Nature or reducing it to silence. Or else, one can live in the peace and freedom of the Self and watch the action of Nature as a witness. Even one may put some sattwic control, by tapasya, over the action of the Prakriti; but the impersonal Self has no power to change or divinise the Nature. For that one has to go beyond the impersonal Self and seek after the Divine who is both personal and impersonal and beyond these two aspects. If, however, you practise living in the impersonal Self and can achieve a certain spiritual impersonality, then you grow in equality, purity, peace, detachment, you get the power of living in an inner freedom not touched by the surface movement or struggle of the mental, vital and physical nature, and this becomes a great help when you have to go beyond the impersonal and to change the troubled nature also into something divine. [74]

Silencing the Mind

The emptiness, silence and peace are the basic condition for the spiritual siddhi—it is the first step towards it. It enables the Purusha to be free from the movements of Prakriti, to see and know where they come from since they no longer rise from within the mind, heart etc., these being in a state of quietude, and to reject the lower movements and to call in the knowledge, will etc. of the higher Consciousness which is above. [75]


It is quite natural that at first there should be the condition of calm and peace only when you sit for concentration. What is important is that there should be this condition whenever you sit and the pressure for it always there. But at other times the result is at first only a certain mental quiet and freedom from thoughts. Afterwards when the condition of peace is quite settled in the inner being—for it is the inner into which you enter whenever you concentrate—then it begins to come out and control the outer, so that the calm and peace remain even when working, mixing with others, talking or other occupations. For then whatever the outer consciousness is doing, one feels the inner being calm within—indeed one feels the inner being as one's real self while the outer is something superficial through which the inner acts on life. [76]


The Gita promises us freedom for the spirit even in the midst of works and the full energies of Nature, if we accept subjection of our whole being to that which is higher than the separating and limiting ego. It proposes an integral dynamic activity founded on a still passivity; a largest possible action irrevocably based on an immobile calm is its secret,—free expression out of a supreme inward silence. [77]

Opening to the Divine

These [calling the Mother, praying to her] are acts of the mind, openness is a state of consciousness which keeps it turned to the Mother, free from other movements, expecting and able to receive what may come from the Divine. [78]

Being Free from Expectations

If you expect a return for your kindness, you are bound to be disappointed. It is only those who give love or kindness for its own sake without expecting a return who escape from this experience. A relation also can be established on a sure basis only when it is free from attachment or when it is predominantly psychic on both sides. [79]

Work done in the Yogic Spirit

Men usually work and carry on their affairs from the ordinary motives of the vital being, need, desire of wealth or success or position or power or fame or the push to activity and the pleasure of manifesting their capacities, and they succeed or fail according to their capability, power of work and the good or bad fortune which is the result of their nature and their Karma. When one takes up the Yoga and wishes to consecrate one's life to the Divine, these ordinary motives of the vital being have no longer their full and free play; they have to be replaced by another, a mainly psychic and spiritual motive, which will enable the sadhak to work with the same force as before, no longer for himself, but for the Divine. If the ordinary vital motives or vital force can no longer act freely and yet are not replaced by something else, then the push or force put into the work may decline or the power to command success may no longer be there. For the sincere sadhak the difficulty can only be temporary; but he has to see the defect in his consecration or his attitude and to remove it. Then the divine Power itself will act through him and use his capacity and vital force for its ends. [80]


To act in God and not in the ego. And here, first, not to choose action by reference to personal needs and standards, but in obedience to the dictates of the living highest Truth above us. Next, as soon as we are sufficiently founded in the spiritual consciousness, not to act any longer by our separate will or movement, but more and more to allow action to happen and develop under the impulsion and guidance of a divine Will that surpasses us. [81]

Hatha Yoga to Free the Body

The chief processes of Hatha Yoga are āsana and prāṇāyāma. By its numerous āsanas or fixed postures it first cures the body of that restlessness which is a sign of its inability to contain without working them off in action and movement the vital forces poured into it from the universal Life-Ocean, gives to it an extraordinary health, force and suppleness and seeks to liberate it from the habits by which it is subjected to ordinary physical Nature and kept within the narrow bounds of her normal operations. In the ancient tradition of Hathayoga it has always been supposed that this conquest could be pushed so far even as to conquer to a great extent the force of gravitation. By various subsidiary but elaborate processes the Hathayogin next contrives to keep the body free from all impurities and the nervous system unclogged for those exercises of respiration which are his most important instruments. These are called prāṇāyāma, the control of the breath or vital power; for breathing is the chief physical functioning of the vital forces. Pranayama, for the Hathayogin, serves a double purpose. First, it completes the perfection of the body. The vitality is liberated from many of the ordinary necessities of physical Nature; robust health, prolonged youth, often an extraordinary longevity are attained. On the other hand, Pranayama awakens the coiled-up serpent of the Pranic dynamism in the vital sheath and opens to the Yogin fields of consciousness, ranges of experience, abnormal faculties denied to the ordinary human life while it puissantly intensifies such normal powers and faculties as he already possesses. These advantages can be farther secured and emphasised by other subsidiary processes open to the Hathayogin. [82]

Love and Service

Unity has manifested in the many—in the multiplicity—something had to serve as a link between the Origin and the manifestation, and the most perfect link one can conceive of is love. And what is the first gesture of love? To give oneself, to serve. What is its spontaneous, immediate, inevitable movement? To serve. To serve in a joyous, complete, total self-giving. [83]


….the power of service to others, the will to make our life a thing of work and use to God and man, to obey and follow and accept whatever great influence and needful discipline, the love which consecrates service, a love which asks for no return, but spends itself for the satisfaction of that which we love, the power to bring down this love and service into the physical field and the desire to give our body and life as well as our soul and mind and will and capacity to God and man, and, as a result, the power of complete self-surrender, ātma-samarpaṇa, which transferred to the spiritual life becomes one of the greatest most revealing keys to freedom and perfection. In these things lies the perfection of this Dharma and the nobility of this Swabhava. Man could not be perfect and complete if he had not this element of nature in him to raise to its divine power. [84]

Challenges in the Path of Freedom

The whole world yearns after freedom, yet each creature is in love with his chains; this is the first paradox and inextricable knot of our nature.[85]

External Challenges

Difficulties associated with the Material World

The course of evolution proceeding from the vegetable to the animal, from the animal to the man, starts in the latter from the subhuman; he has to take up into him the animal and even the mineral and vegetable: they constitute his physical nature, they dominate his vitality, they have their hold upon his mentality. His proneness to many kinds of inertia, his readiness to vegetate, his attachment to the soil and clinging to his roots, to safe anchorages of all kinds, and on the other hand his nomadic and predatory impulses, his blind servility to custom and the rule of the pack, his mob-movements and openness to subconscious suggestions from the group-soul, his subjection to the yoke of rage and fear, his need of punishment and reliance on punishment, his inability to think and act for himself, his incapacity for true freedom, his distrust of novelty, his slowness to seize intelligently and assimilate, his downward propensity and earthward gaze, his vital and physical subjection to his heredity, all these and more are his heritage from the subhuman origins of his life and body and physical mind. It is because of this heritage that he finds self-exceeding the most difficult of lessons and the most painful of endeavours. Yet it is by exceeding of the lower self that Nature accomplishes the great strides of her evolutionary process. [86]

Opposition from Matter

...when Life awakes and seeks to impose itself on physical form and material force and to use all things at its own will and for its own need, when Mind awakes and seeks to know the who, the why, the how of itself and all things and above all to use its knowledge for the imposition of its own freer law and self-guiding action upon things, material Nature seems to yield, even to approve and aid, though after a struggle, reluctantly and only up to a certain point. But beyond that point it presents an obstinate inertia, obstruction, negation and even persuades Life and Mind that they cannot go farther, cannot pursue to the end their partial victory. Life strives to enlarge and prolong itself and succeeds; but when it seeks utter wideness and immortality, it meets the iron obstruction of Matter and finds itself bound to narrowness and death. Mind seeks to aid life and to fulfil its own impulse to embrace all knowledge, to become all light, to possess truth and be truth, to enforce love and joy and be love and joy; but always there is the deviation and error and grossness of the material life-instincts and the denial and obstruction of the material sense and the physical instruments. Error ever pursues its knowledge, darkness is inseparably the companion and background of its light; truth is successfully sought and yet, when grasped, it ceases to be truth and the quest has to continue; love is there but it cannot satisfy itself, joy is there but it cannot justify itself, and each of them drags as if its chain or casts as if its shadow its own opposites, anger and hatred and indifference, satiety and grief and pain. The inertia with which Matter responds to the demands of the Mind and Life, prevents the conquest of the Ignorance and of the brute Force that is the power of the Ignorance. [87]

Pressure of the Social Mass

Individualism is as necessary to the final perfection as the power behind the group-spirit; the stifling of the individual may well be the stifling of the god in man. And in the present balance of humanity there is seldom any real danger of exaggerated individualism breaking up the social integer. There is continually a danger that the exaggerated pressure of the social mass by its heavy unenlightened mechanical weight may suppress or unduly discourage the free development of the individual spirit. For man in the individual can be more easily enlightened, conscious, open to clear influences; man in the mass is still obscure, half-conscious, ruled by universal forces that escape its mastery and its knowledge. [88]


But when we start from the natural and temporal life, what we practically come to mean by liberty is a convenient elbow-room for our natural energies to satisfy themselves without being too much impinged upon by the self-assertiveness of others. And that is a difficult problem to solve, because the liberty of one, immediately it begins to act, knocks up fatally against the liberty of another; the free running of many in the same field means a free chaos of collisions. That was at one time glorified under the name of the competitive system, and dissatisfaction with its results has led to the opposite idea of State socialism, which supposes that the negation of individual liberty in the collective being of the State can be made to amount by some mechanical process to a positive sum of liberty nicely distributable to all in a carefully guarded equality. The individual gives up his freedom of action and possession to the State which in return doles out to him a regulated liberty, let us say, a sufficient elbow-room so parcelled out that he shall not at all butt into the ribs of his neighbour. It is admirable in theory, logically quite unexceptionable, but in practice, one suspects, it would amount to a very oppressive, because a very mechanical slavery of the individual to the community, or rather to something indefinite that calls itself the community. [89]

Internal Challenges

Difficulties Associated With The Physical, Vital And The Mental Being

The psychic has always been veiled, consenting to the play of mind, physical and vital, experiencing everything through them in the ignorant mental, vital and physical way. How then can it be that they are bound to change at once when it just takes the trouble to whisper or say, "Let there be Light"! They have a tremendous negating power and can refuse and do refuse point-blank. The mind resists with an obstinate persistency in argument and a constant confusion of ideas, the vital with a fury of bad will aided by the mind's obliging reasonings on its side, the physical resists with an obstinate inertia and crass fidelity to old habit, and when they have done, the general Nature comes in and says, "What, you are going to get free from me so easily? Not if I know it," and it besieges and throws back the old nature on you again and again as long as it can. [90]


It cannot be done if you insist on 'freedom' for your human mind and vital ego. All the parts of the human being are entitled to express and satisfy themselves in their own way at their own risk and peril, if he so chooses, as long as he leads the ordinary life. But to enter into a path of yoga whose whole object is to substitute for these human things the law and power of a greater Truth and the whole heart of whose method is surrender to the Divine Shakti, and yet to go on claiming this so-called freedom, which is no more than a subjection to certain ignorant cosmic Forces, is to indulge in a blind contradiction and to claim the right to lead a double life. [91]


There is an impression that one has become impersonal and free from ego, while the whole tone of the mind, its utterance and spirit are full of vehement self-assertiveness justified by the affirmation that one is thinking and acting as an instrument and under the inspiration of the Divine. Ideas are put forward very aggressively that can be valid to the mind, but are not spiritually valid; yet they are stated as if they were spiritual absolutes. For instance, equality, which in that sense—for Yogic Samata is a quite different thing—is a mere mental principle, the claim to a sacred independence, the refusal to accept anyone as Guru, the opposition made between the Divine and the human Divine etc., etc. All these ideas are positions that can be taken by the mind and the vital and turned into principles which they try to enforce on the religious or even the spiritual life, but they are not and cannot be spiritual in their nature. There also begin to come in suggestions from the vital planes, a pullulation of imaginations romantic, fanciful or ingenious, hidden interpretations, pseudo-intuitions, would-be initiations into things beyond, which excite or bemuse the mind and are often so turned as to flatter and magnify ego and self-importance, but are not founded on any well-ascertained spiritual or occult realities of a true order. This region is full of elements of this kind and, if allowed, they begin to crowd on the sadhak; but if he seriously means to reach the Highest, he must simply observe them and pass on. [92]


But the real difficulty even for those who have progressed is with the external man. Even among those who follow the old ideal, the external man of the sadhak remains almost the same even after they have attained to something. The inner being gets free, the outer follows still its fixed nature. Our Yoga can succeed only if the external man too changes, but that is the most difficult of all things. It is only by a change of the physical nature that it can be done, by a descent of the highest light into this lowest part of Nature. It is here that the struggle is going on. The internal being of most of the sadhaks here, however imperfect still, is still different from that of the ordinary man, but the external still clings to its old ways, manners, habits. Many do not seem even to have awakened to the necessity of a change. It is when this is realised and done, that the Yoga will produce its full results in the Ashram itself, and not before. [93]

Difficulties with the Mental Being

It is of course because of the old habit of the mental consciousness that it goes on receiving the thoughts from outside in spite of its being a fatigue—not that it wants them, but that they are accustomed to come and the mind mechanically lets them in and attends to them by force of habit. This is always one of the chief difficulties in Yoga when the experiences have begun and the mind wants to be always either concentrated or quiet. [94]


...even the man who is capable of governing his life by ideas, who recognises, that is to say, that it ought to express clearly conceived truths and principles of his being or of all being and tries to find out or to know from others what these are, is not often capable of the highest, the free and disinterested use of his rational mind. As others are subject to the tyranny of their interests, prejudices, instincts or passions, so he is subjected to the tyranny of ideas. Indeed, he turns these ideas into interests, obscures them with his prejudices and passions and is unable to think freely about them, unable to distinguish their limits or the relation to them of other, different and opposite ideas and the equal right of these also to existence. Thus, as we constantly see, individuals, masses of men, whole generations are carried away by certain ethical, religious, aesthetic, political ideas or a set of ideas, espouse them with passion, pursue them as interests, seek to make them a system and lasting rule of life and are swept away in the drive of their action and do not really use the free and disinterested reason for the right knowledge of existence and for its right and sane government. [95]


One cannot be a fully developed mental being even, if one has not a control of the thoughts, is not their observer, judge, master,—the mental Purusha, manomaya puruṣa, śakṣī, anumantā, īśvara. It is no more proper for the mental being to be the tennis ball of unruly and uncontrollable thoughts than to be a rudderless ship in the storm of the desires and passions or a slave of either the inertia or the impulses of the body. I know it is more difficult because man being primarily a creature of mental Prakriti identifies himself with the movements of his mind and cannot at once dissociate himself and stand free from the swirl and eddies of the mind whirlpool. It is comparatively easy for him to put a control on his body, at least a certain part of its movements: it is less easy but still very possible after a struggle to put a mental control on his vital impulsions and desires.. [96]


You must first have a great deal of perseverance in the search, for usually when one begins searching for these things the mind comes to give a hundred and one favourable explanations for your not needing to search. It tells you, "Why no, it is not at all your fault; it is this, it is that, it is the circumstances, it is the people, these are things received from outside—all kinds of excellent excuses, which, unless you are very firm in your resolution, make you let go, and then it is finished; and so, after a short time the whole business has to be started again, the bad impulse or the thing you didn't want, the movement you didn't want, comes back, and so you must begin everything over again—till the day you decide to perform the operation. When the operation is done it is over, one is free. But, as I said, you must distrust mental explanations, because each time one says, "Yes, yes, at other times it was like that, but this time truly, truly it is not my fault, it is not my fault." There you are. So it is finished. You must begin again. The subconscient is there, the thing goes down, remains there, very comfortably, and the first day you are not on your guard, hop! it surges up again and it can last—I knew people for whom it lasted more than thirty-five years, because they did not resolve even once to do what was necessary. [97]

Difficulties with the Vital Being

In fact, the vast majority of men are like prisoners with all the doors and windows closed, so they suffocate, which is quite natural. But they have with them the key that opens the doors and windows, and they do not use it.... Certainly there is a time when they don't know they have the key, but long after they have come to know it, long after they have been told about it, they hesitate to use it and doubt whether it has the power to open the doors and windows or even that it is a good thing to open them! And even when they feel that "after all, it might be good", there remains some fear: "What will happen when these doors and windows are opened?..." and they are afraid. They are afraid of being lost in that light and freedom. They want to remain what they call "themselves". They like their falsehood and their bondage. Something in them likes it and goes on clinging to it. They still have the impression that without their limits they would no longer exist. [98]


To choose without preference and execute without desire is the great difficulty at the very root of the development of true consciousness and self-control. To choose in this sense means to see what is true and bring it into existence; and to choose thus, without the least personal bias for anything, any person, action, circumstance, is exactly what is most difficult for an ordinary human being. Yet one must learn to act without any preference, free from all attractions and likings, taking one's stand solely on the Truth which guides. And having chosen in accordance with the Truth the necessary action, one must carry it out without any desire. [99]


Note that things are arranged in such a way that if the tiniest atom of ambition remained and one wanted this Power for one's personal satisfaction, one could never have it, that Power would never come. Its deformed limitations, of the kind seen in the vital and physical world, those yes, one may have them, and there are many people who have them, but the true Power, the Power Sri Aurobindo calls "supramental", unless one is absolutely free from all egoism under all its forms, one will never be able to manifest. So there is no danger of its being misused. It will not manifest except through a being who has attained the perfection of a complete inner detachment. [100]


… if you have an aspiration, say, suddenly you think of the possibility of progress and have an aspiration for progress; but if a desire is mixed with your aspiration, you will have the desire to progress for the powers this will give you or the importance it will give you or the improvement in your living conditions. You go and immediately mix all kinds of little very personal reasons with your aspiration. And to tell the truth, very few people have a very pure aspiration. An aspiration, a will to progress, just that; it stops there. Because one aspires for progress and then, there we are, let us not go farther. We want progress. But usually there get mixed up with it all kinds of desires for the results of this progress. And so desire comes in, you see; this brings exactly what he says, a consciousness which is impure and muddy, and inside this nothing higher can come. This must be completely eliminated to begin with. If one looks at himself very sincerely, very straightforwardly and very severely, he very quickly perceives that very few things, very few movements of consciousness are free from being mixed with desires. Even in what you take for a higher movement, there is always... no, happily not always, but most often there is a desire mixed. The desire of the sense of one's importance, if only this, that kind of self-satisfaction, the satisfaction of being someone superior. [101]


Fundamentally, this is why we always come back to the same thing: one must do all one can, as well as possible, and do it as an offering to the Divine, and then, once all this is settled and organised, well, if there is really an aspiration in the being, and a being that is a being of light, it can counteract all bad influences. But once one puts one's foot into this world, one can't hope very much to be quite pure and free from bad influences. Every time one eats, one absorbs them; every time one breathes, one absorbs them. Then, essentially, what is necessary is to do the work of cleansing, progressively, as much as possible. [102] As for living a free outer life it cannot be said that that is good for everybody at every stage any more than living a retired life is good for everybody or at every stage. The disadvantage of a free jolly outward social life without restrictions is that one becomes entirely or mostly externalised and that all sorts of vital interchanges are part of it which can hamper the inner growth or the total self-consecration to the Divine. The disadvantage of too complete a retirement is that it makes the person one-sided and shut up in himself, subjective, without the stabilising contact with earth and consequently with the danger of morbidity and self-delusion. A middle path with the rule of living more and more within, standing back from outward things but not throwing them aside, looking at them with a new consciousness, a new view and acting on them from this inner consciousness is the best way. But there is need for some at some stages to minimise outward contacts without abolishing them during part of the process of this shifting of the consciousness. No absolute rule can be laid down in this matter. [103]

Difficulties with the Physical Being

The physical is the slave of certain forces which create a habit and drive it through the mechanical force of the habit. So long as the mind gives consent, you do not notice the slavery; but if the mind withdraws its consent, then you feel the servitude, you feel a force pushing you in spite of the mind's will. It is very obstinate and repeats itself till the habit—the inner habit revealing itself in the outward act—is broken. It is like a machine which once set in motion repeats the same movement. You need not be alarmed or distressed; a quiet persistent aspiration will bring you to the point where the habit breaks and you are free. [104]

Practices followed in IE Schools

The following activities conducted in Auroville schools give us an insight into how to develop freedom in children by - creating a free school environment, designing a classroom with free choices and how to implement the principle of free progress and develop freedom through art. Designing an Environment of Freedom

A Quiet and Safe Atmosphere

Creating a room that is quiet, noise-free and relaxing in which children feel safe and protected. A safe atmosphere helps children to express themselves freely and to grow fearlessly.

Creating a homely environment for younger children based on love and trust.

Consciously creating a supportive, harmonious working space for children that supports freedom.

Creating a "Prepared Environment" in which children can do things for themselves. The prepared environment makes learning materials and experiences available to children in an ordered way. This encourages children to take charge of the their own learning process. [105]

"Planning Day's Schedule" in a way that has sufficient time for children to freely choose and explore amongst a variety of activities. For instance, keeping afternoons totally free for students to choose as per their interests from various artistic activities (such as clay, crafts, embroidery, painting, tie & dye, cooking, origami, soft-toys & puppet making so on..).. Allowing children to have a minimum understanding of all the activities before they make their choices helps them use their freedom consciously. [106]

Creating a Constructive, Free Space with Free Choices

Arranging all the furnitures in the classroom against the walls and making space in the centre that is completely free and open. This arrangement for younger children invites them to run through the classroom, sliding, wrestling and using it almost as a playground space.

Another way is to break the big classroom space into small activity corners that are better defined, dividing the spaces with the help of furniture, leaving just enough space in the center for holding a circle. This kind of classroom design provides greater options allowing the children to choose more clearly where they want to go during their free time; permits free movement from one activity corner to another or free play with the peers; still keeping them grounded and focused. [107]

Creating Activity Corners

Creating activity corners in the school campus or within the classroom helps create spaces that are accessible to children to freely choose amongst different activities, move from one activity to another; [108]

Activity corners can be created by arranging the classrooms to have different activities For instance, classroom 1: doll house, big Lego blocks, clay or beads; classroom 2: books, colouring, stitching, building with wooden blocks; classroom 3 : painting (on easel, spray painting, printing), games, crafts with recycled boxes and plastics, modelling clay; [109]

In each area the teachers carefully set up the materials, explain to the children how to use them and observe the children. This helps to make sure that the children do not just hop from one thing to the other but also cultivate an ability to concentrate; [110]

Activity corners must be created according to children’s needs; [111]

In these activity corners, children are able to handle material independently and go more in depth with their exploration; [112]

In these activity corners, children play individually and in small groups, in a spontaneous manner; [113]

Making the classroom a stable point of reference along with the class teacher and the classmates. The children moving around and exploring the different activity centers and corners, closely supported by the class teacher allows the children freedom as much as possible without giving them the feeling of being anchorless; [114]

A few examples of activity corners are art and craft center, drama center, block center, science center, cooking and gardening center, quiet room, reading corner, sandpit, a corner for play dough and clay, sand and water, games and puzzles, self-study corners for individual studies on subjects like art, maths, science etc. with all available resources; [115][116]

Activity corners in a Quiet Room

Creating a quiet, focused and safe space and offering different materials and different proposals for children to choose from; The special feature of the quiet room is that the children are allowed two at a time, or sometimes only one while the others are following the regular class. The child is free to select any material or game that one likes to play with and is free to change at any point of time. This helps them to work individually at their own pace without the group pressure. [117]

Within the quiet room, an indoor and a small courtyard can be created to offer a wide variety of materials according to children’s interests. Few materials which can be used for children aged between 4 and 6 are a doll house, sand bags, wooden blocks, jigsaw puzzles, puppets, musical instruments, masks, drawing materials and a small courtyard outdoor that is equipped with tap, sink, sandpit, sand toys, skating boards, animal toys, bottles and funnels. [118]

This kind of a space helps shy children, who most probably are in need of personal attention, to become more open and talkative, without fear of expressing their thoughts and needs. [119]

Creating Open Classes and Open Learning Spaces

Conducting regular classes which are open for drop-in students. Students can walk in at any point during a specified time period; [120]

Creating open learning spaces within the school campus where children can walk in freely and volunteer to learn. For example, allowing children to freely walk in and observe materials and specimens in the Laboratories such as– insects, fish, amphibians and reptiles in the life science lab and inviting children's participation in regular cleaning and maintaining of aquariums, terrariums and outdoor pit based on individual's interest. [121]

Activities Helpful in Nurturing Free Progress

Free Play

Providing free space and time for children to play on their own. Free play is crucial for a developing child, it provides a medium to understand the world as well as discover one's own nature. [122] [123]

"Playing Freely with Wooden Blocks" in a room dedicated to build with wooden blocks.

The room is equipped with sound proof panels under the roof and rubber mats on the floor. The children are invited in small groups to build for a stipulated time (30-45 minutes), once every week or during free time. This unstructured play with wooden blocks provides them the freedom to be original and develop their creativity. [124]

Qi Gong

Breathing with gentle movements, working to bring subtleness and freedom to the body. This process activates the chi (energetic body) to bring balance to the physical, mental and emotional realms. [125]

Individualised Personal Learning Strategies

Each child is unique and has a different learning style and learning pace. Individualised and personal approach to learning provides each child with the freedom to learn and develop in their own unique way. Adapting "Individualized Personal Learning Techniques" in the classroom for subjects such as Music, Awareness Through Body’, Mathematics, and Reading program for younger children. [126]

"Designing Classrooms and Instructions" for students to learn as per their preferred learning techniques and styles. [127]

Adapting the physical layout of the classroom in a way that address the diverse needs and abilities of students. For instance, children‘s desks can be dispersed around the classroom to promote more independent and focused learning; quiet and private reading corners to encourage regular silent reading can be set up. Addressing different learning styles of children by implementing different methods such as individual work, class projects, outings etc. [128]

Developing and Arranging Classroom Materials

Working towards developing and classifying the classroom materials to meet particular needs of students after observing the students for a longer time period; Materials such as games, worksheets, DVD‘s, puzzles, compilations for various subject areas can be developed by teachers which are appropriate for different learning styles, abilities and interests of every student in the class; [129]

Materials for different subjects such as Math, English, Science, Geography etc. can be placed in specific locations and made easily available on the shelves and labeled. It can include things that help reinforce and practice learned material, teach a new skill, develop creativity etc;

Providing an instruction sheet that children need to follow in order to understand the task along with the materials, facilitates independent and focused work; Further new materials can be developed to address the constantly changing needs of children and should be introduced to the children before placing it in a particular shelf. [130]

Study Plan Development and Goal Setting

Inviting students to generate their own plan for individual development. [131]

Allowing the students to choose their schedule to offer more flexibility in their learning process.

Allowing the students to choose an activity that they wish to do during most of the class hours and developing plan for the chosen activity with the help of the teachers. Giving each child a work/learning chart that clearly states the expectations and give suggestions for alternative materials that they might want to use. This brings a positive change in the atmosphere of the class as students organize themselves, work in small groups or individually to do the diverse assignments. Children enjoy the freedom offered to decide what to do instead of having to do a particular activity at any given time. [132]

Giving students a copy of their work plan prepared by teachers, communicating about what needs to be accomplished within a time frame in all of the subject areas and at the same time providing them the space for free choice of work.

For instance, after a day’s lesson, discussion and/or review in a certain subject area, the students are free to continue with the same topic or choose to do something else on their work plan that they are interested to take up. This freedom encourages the students to be self disciplined and they begin to learn how to use their time efficiently. This way they are able to cover a range of topics and at the same time free to pursue their interest; [133]

It is up to the students to look in their work plan and find what they have finished and what still needs to be done. This allows them to work at their own pace, including taking short breaks from work if they need it; When a student finishes all the work on their work plan before the end of the given time, he or she can choose to work on anything from a variety of enrichment activities drawn from various disciplines; [134]

Giving children the freedom to choose the subject that they want to study and plan for the same for a particular time period. [135]

Children can also be encouraged to become teachers for the chosen subjects and give lessons to either the younger children or to their own classmates, depending on the subject they are confident with. This training can have a deep impact on their personality and support the development of true identity. [136]

Art-based Activities that Develop Freedom

Free Drawing and Painting

Regular drawing and painting classes that allow children to express themselves freely. [137]

Painting freely together with a few adults in a safe space. The space is enclosed in such a way that it promotes free expression without any fear of judgment, but with a stimulating presence of a practitioner. This activity allows free discovery of organic memory by going deeper and deeper in the discovery of one’s true being through painting. [138]

Arts and Crafts for Faculty Development

Allowing children to choose from from various art classes such as crafts, paintings, clay, carpentry and pottery activities through which the latent faculties of the children can be addressed; [139]

Creating an opportunity to freely express themselves by involving the children exclusively in one of the art works such as clay work; [140]

Conducting art-based activities in a joyful atmosphere that supports children’s freedom, nourishes their creative capacities, promotes the expression of something deeper and is crucial for the children to come in contact with one's Psychic Being; [141] [142]

Inviting children to create one‘s own ‘’’Universe in a Sandbox’’’, with objects and figurines displayed on shelves. [143]

Stories and Narration

Allowing children to bring in their own stories to read, or without a script relate a story to themselves and share it with other students; Encouraging children to choose and read a passage from classical texts in literature such as Thirukkural and share its meaning to the whole group; These activities provide children with opportunities to freely express themselves through story and speech and also to become free from fear. [144]

Integral Liberation: The Purusha and The Prakriti

Dual Being: The Soul And The Nature

There seems to be a dual being in us; Soul and Nature, Purusha and Prakriti, seem to be half in agreement, half at odds, Nature laying its mechanical control on the soul, the soul attempting to change and master nature. And the question is what is the fundamental character of this duality and what the issue. [145] …For the highest relation of the Soul to existence is the Purusha's possession of Prakriti, when he is no longer ignorant and subject to his nature, but knows, transcends, enjoys and controls his manifested being and determines largely and freely what shall be his self-expression. [146]

Becoming the Master

To be active master of the nature he must evidently rise to some higher supramental poise where there is possible not only a passive, but an active identity with the controlling spirit. To find the way of rising to this greater poise and be self-ruler, Swarat, is a condition of his perfection. [147] ….If one stands back from the mind and its activities so that they fall silent at will or go on as a surface movement of which one is the detached and disinterested witness, it becomes possible eventually to realise oneself as the inner Self of mind, the true and pure mental being, the Purusha; by similarly standing back from the life activities, it is possible to realise oneself as the inner Self of life, the true and pure vital being, the Purusha; there is even a Self of body of which, by standing back from the body and its demands and activities and entering into a silence of the physical consciousness watching the action of its energy, it is possible to become aware, a true and pure physical being, the Purusha. So too, by standing back from all these activities of nature successively or together, it becomes possible to realise one's inner being as the silent impersonal self, the witness Purusha. This will lead to a spiritual realisation and liberation, but will not necessarily bring about a transformation; for the Purusha, satisfied to be free and himself, may leave the Nature, the Prakriti, to exhaust its accumulated impetus by an unsupported action, a mechanical continuance not renewed and reinforced or vivified and prolonged by his consent, and use this rejection as a means of withdrawing from all nature. The Purusha has to become not only the witness but the knower and source, the master of all the thought and action, and this can only be partially done so long as one remains on the mental level or has still to use the ordinary instrumentation of mind, life and body. A certain mastery can indeed be achieved, but mastery is not transformation; the change made by it cannot be sufficient to be integral: for that it is essential to get back, beyond mind-being, life-being, body-being, still more deeply inward to the psychic entity inmost and profoundest within us—or else to open to the superconscient highest domains. For this penetration into the luminous crypt of the soul one has to get through all the intervening vital stuff to the psychic centre within us, however long, tedious or difficult may be the process. The method of detachment from the insistence of all mental and vital and physical claims and calls and impulsions, a concentration in the heart, austerity, self-purification and rejection of the old mind movements and life movements, rejection of the ego of desire, rejection of false needs and false habits, are all useful aids to this difficult passage: but the strongest, most central way is to found all such or other methods on a self-offering and surrender of ourselves and of our parts of nature to the Divine Being, the Ishwara. [148]

Transcending the three Modes of Nature

The gunas have to be transcended if we would arrive at spiritual perfection. Tamas evidently has to be overcome, inertia and ignorance and incapacity cannot be elements of a true perfection; but it can only be overcome in Nature by the force of rajas aided by an increasing force of sattwa. Rajas has to be overcome, egoism, personal desire and self-seeking passion are not elements of the true perfection; but it can only be overcome by force of sattwa enlightening the being and force of tamas limiting the action. Sattwa itself does not give the highest or the integral perfection; sattwa is always a quality of the limited nature; sattwic knowledge is the light of a limited mentality; sattwic will is the government of a limited intelligent force. Moreover, sattwa cannot act by itself in Nature, but has to rely for all action on the aid of rajas, so that even sattwic action is always liable to the imperfections of rajas; egoism, perplexity, inconsistency, a one-sided turn, a limited and exaggerated will, exaggerating itself in the intensity of its limitations, pursue the mind and action even of the saint, philosopher and sage. There is a sattwic as well as a rajasic or tamasic egoism, at the highest an egoism of knowledge or virtue; but the mind's egoism of whatever type is incompatible with liberation. All the three gunas have to be transcended. Sattwa may bring us near to the Light, but its limited clarity falls away from us when we enter into the luminous body of the divine Nature. [149]

The Mutable, the Immutable and the Highest

The Gita makes a distinction between three Purushas who constitute the whole state and action of the divine Being, the Mutable, the Immutable and the Highest which is beyond and embraces the other two. That Highest is the Lord in whom we have to live, the supreme Self in us and in all. The Immutable is the silent, actionless, equal, unchanging self which we reach when we draw back from activity to passivity, from the play of consciousness and force and the seeking of delight to the pure and constant basis of consciousness and force and delight through which the Highest, free, secure and unattached, possesses and enjoys the play. The Mutable is the substance and immediate motive of that changing flux of personality through which the relations of our cosmic life are made possible. The mental being fixed in the Mutable moves in its flux and has not possession of an eternal peace and power and self-delight; the soul fixed in the Immutable holds all these in itself but cannot act in the world; but the soul that can live in the Highest enjoys the eternal peace and power and delight and wideness of being, is not bound in its self-knowledge and self-power by character and personality or by forms of its force and habits of its consciousness and yet uses them all with a large freedom and power for the self-expression of the Divine in the world. Here again the change is not any alteration of the essential modes of the Self, but consists in our emergence into the freedom of the Highest and the right use of the divine law of our being. [150]

Read Summary of Freedom

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  1. http://
  3. http://
  5. cwm/04/5-march-1951#p11
  6. cwm/10/aphorism-178#p2
  7. #p11
  8. 4-august-1929#p5
  9. aphorism-103-104-105-106-107#p18
  12. 09/5-february-1958#p6
  13. /cwm/03/28-april-1929#p28
  14. fate-free-will-and-prediction#p24
  15. 03/4-august-1929#p6
  19. cwsa/25/self-determination#p2
  20. http://
  21. cwsa/29/christianity-and-theosophy#p10
  22. cwsa/23/the-four-aids#p15
  23. /cwsa/22/reality-and-the-integral- knowledge#p21
  24. http://
  26. #p6
  29. the-problem-of-uniformity-and-liberty#p12
  36. http://
  38. -and-spiritual-freedom#p27
  39. http://
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  43. /cwm/03/9-june-1929#p12
  44. #p13
  46. sa/28/fate-free-will-and-prediction#p20
  52. http://
  53. self-surrender-in-works-the-way-of-the-gita#p14
  55. 07/20-july-1955#p10
  57. /cwsa/31/desire#p13
  59. 23/the-release-from-the-ego#p2
  60. http://
  61. 07/16-november-1955#p71
  62. the-way-of-the-gita#p29
  63. ascent-and-descent#p28
  64. supramental-plasticity-spiritual-rebirth#p3
  66. -november-1967#p43
  67. 13-june-1956#p52
  68. 06/24-november-1954#p26
  75. -blankness-and-silence#p38
  76. and-meditation#p70
  77. gita#p11
  79. with-others-and-the-practice-of-yoga#p25
  80. cwsa/29/work-and-yoga#p14
  81. self-surrender-in-works-the-way-of-the-gita#p24
  83. 6-march-1957#p7
  84. /soul-force-and-the-fourfold-personality#p8
  85. cwm/09/30-january-1957#p1
  87. /cwsa/21/the-knot-of-matter#p7
  88. freedom#p15
  89. 25/self-determination#p2
  91. /cwm/04/21-april-1951#p1
  94. -and-meditation#p28
  95. /cwsa/25/the-reason-as-governor-of-life#p9
  96. /cwsa/31/thought-and-knowledge#p8
  98. /cwm/09/26-november-1958#p14
  99. december-1950#p6
  100. cwm/04/3-may-1951#p28
  101. /cwm/06/22-september-1954#p53
  103. -of-yoga#p70
  104. nature#p80
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  117. -12_Vol._1.pdf (p.11)
  118. Report_2009-10_Vol._1.pdf (p.31)
  119. _1.pdf (p.31)
  120. Education_Centre
  122. Vol._1.pdf
  123. _-_Vol._1.pdf
  124. _Report_2009-10_Vol._1.pdf (p.35)
  128. Vol._1.pdf (p.121)
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  131. _Report_2009-10_Vol._1.pdf
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  133. _-_Vol._1.pdf (p.122)
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  146. http://
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  148. #p19
  149. /cwsa/24/the-liberation-of-the-nature#p6
  150. cwsa/23/the-modes-of-the-self#p8