Self is a term used to denote Brahman as revealed to the human perception, the perception of the mind. Brahman is the infinite, eternal, unmanifest Origin. The human being is an entity formed at the fifth or sixth or even seventh remove in manifestation. Self is the Form or Formless spirit which the Absolute assumes to the perception of its own part. The form in which the whole reveals itself to its own created part is termed in our philosophy, Self. It is perceived in the mutable and immutable states. It can be a Conscious Being or a conscious non-participating witness or even a creative Ishwara. This Self belongs to transcendence. In the universal plane it is known as Soul. As a general rule any inanimate form growing live acquires a being of its own which is a version of the Soul or Self.

Manifestation is a process where the whole becomes a part or many parts. Sri Aurobindo's theory declared the Absolute desired manifestation in pursuit of Joy through self-discovery. It is by Self-absorption, self-limitation and the ability to create anything that the Absolute achieves this purpose through the phases of descent and ascent. If the descent is the process of the whole becoming parts, the ascent is the process of the parts recovering their wholeness. Self-giving is a necessary strategy for this latter process.

Giving, or for that matter taking, is a strategy used by the part to relate with the other parts or to the whole. Giving is an expansive ACT. Expansiveness releases energy. Energy released from the same plane through an activity of the same plane facilitates growth in the same plane. This is the lowest part of the energy or the lowest type. Creative Energy released from its infinite nature is the highest type which enables evolution. Of the various evolutions - physical to the spiritual - spiritual evolution is the highest. Therefore self-giving is a strategy for the spiritual evolution.

Self-sacrifice and self-immolation are destructive but only aim at attraction of the other selves or the Self by a negative method. Selfishness is an act of organizing oneself for the security in protected limitations. Selflessness is the same act that seeks security in its opposite direction.

As everything else, Self exists at all levels from the physical to Being in both the directions of descent and ascent. Strategies differ, if not in essentials, from level to level and with differing directions.

Each strategy can be understood from every possible aspect, viz. structure, energy, force, form, knowledge, beauty, sensation, etc. Each of them admits of variations by levels as well as directions.

Series I

113) Self-offering and self-giving are the most beautiful acts that make Time into Eternity. It is the longing of the finite for the Infinite.

The part aspiring to become the whole can be seen in all planes -- the finite wishing to be the infinite, time moving to timelessness, manifestation to unmanifest condition. Certain acts are dull and others dynamic by the energy expressed therein. Other acts express beauty of form, beauty of sensation, widening comprehension, etc. Acts as they are situated in creation are capable of expressing various aspects.

The inner initiative of the self moving to the impulse of giving, better still offering can be self-giving or self-offering or Self-giving or Self-offering depending upon where it originates and what it seeks.

This statement in No. 113 speaks of the impulse which seeks to lose its identity and merge with the whole expressing the joy of being possessed. Such movement can be along the route of Time moving to Eternity. In emotional terms, it is a desire to be possessed.

Series I

604) Self-giving is one giving himself to another so that the other may expand. Now man is expanding his reign through ego. For him to realise that the Divine should expand in human life and for that purpose his coming forward to give up his own enjoyment of thought or habit, is self-giving for him.

605) At the point it is enjoyable it becomes self-giving. Till then it remains self-sacrifice.

One can give oneself for the purposes of his own growth or the growth of that to which he gives himself. The other, being a part as itself, can receive the self-giving and grow, leading to the death or shrinking of the giver. The other being the whole, will result in mostly the growth of the giver into the whole, unless the giver chooses annihilation for various reasons. Ego growing is taking; giving leads to the growing out of the ego.

Acts - the function of energy - move on a scale with two extremities. When the act crosses the center, it changes its character. Self-giving starts as selfish taking, assumes the character of self-sacrifice or self-immolation and finally emerges as self-giving. As long as it is the human that gives, it is self-giving. Instead of the self, the Self can give which is Self-giving. One is in Time and the other in Timelessness. Still, there is a third where the Self remains as Self, but not in Timelessness. It moves to the simultaneous integrality of Time-eternity and Timeless-eternity. While Self-giving in Timelessness leads to the self becoming the immutable Self, that in the simultaneous integrality helps the self to blossom into the Becoming of God.

In terms of emotions, the Self moves from pain to Delight, not to Bliss.

Series I

725) To serve selfishness is a weakness and a sin. It can also help you to destroy your selfishness at a later stage, while in the final stage the same act while fully wiping you out, will help destroy universal selfishness. All these are valid only when the ego is still in existence. After the extinction of ego, selfishness for you is like any other trait including selflessness.

Man is a limited being, a being separated from the One. His own limited being acquiring an individuality acquires it in the mind, organizes it in the vital, establishes it in the physical. In the spirit, it is a center, but a center not limited by walls that separate. Mind is not so subtle as the spirit. Mind has its own subtle parts, even causal planes. But, we know the seat of mind is the physical brain. There mind is material. It is matter. The vital is less conscious and is seated in the nerves while the body is dense and dark. Ego exists in all these planes. It is rooted in the thinking mind but its knot is there in the subtle heart.

Mind has a being. It has a self. Its ego is well defined. The being of the mind is spiritual. It is manomaya purusha. We call its self the mental self, I. Its ego we call mental ego. It even has a psychic, the evolutionary soul. We call it mental psychic.

Being is neutral, self is cosmic, ego is of the nature. Ego is the lowest and densest. Self, though not negative, is limited. Being, though not limited, does not have its due freedom unless there is a will for freedom.

The adventure that Brahman, the Absolute, has undertaken is to lose itself by self-absorption for which purpose it resorted to reversal of consciousness. Light, by a supreme self-awareness, ceased to be light and became the Absolute. The Absolute in the light chose to absorb light till all of it disappeared and became dark. As the light is infinite, the new phase that is now opened is also dark and infinite. The process of conversion proceeded until light was no longer aware it was once light. The Origin of light was consciousness which began in Being. The Being initiated the original process and ended in Non-Being as part of which inconscience and darkness and ignorance resulted. Now there is no longer a question of the darkness discovering itself as light. There is no chance of its even remembering that once it was light. That office is left to the Absolute which embarked on this adventure of Lila. It is for the whole to remind its lost part of its original status. When the part responds to the call, we call it awakening. The part has awakened because the whole is trying to remember Itself in the part. Sri Aurobindo says that he who chooses the Infinite has already been chosen by the Infinite. We call this Grace and the human response is aspiration.

This aspiration is feeble, transitory and in it, it has a stronger pull to return to the womb for a greater repose. The pull on man who has been chosen by the Infinite is both ways. The backward pull is agelessly long; the aspiration is of recent birth.

  • This pull expresses itself in the planes of spiritual individuality, mental self and the ego which is a formation of nature.
  • Man developing a stronger individuality moves away from the ego, becomes selfless and is on the way to discovering himself as Purusha.
  • Should he persist, the Purusha is seen as the universal soul and the Transcendent Spirit.
  • Should he yield, he tends towards selfishness and ego and is moving to his lower levels of ego that are most dense in the body.
  • Suppose a man is poised in his self and desires to be selfless, how does he act towards the selfishness that comes from another?

On the surface, it appears that one's own selfishness is different from others' selfishness. It is not so in truth or in the depth. They are ONE in the subtle reality. Serving another man's selfishness is, after all, an unconscious excuse for serving one's own selfishness. In this view, it is less pardonable than normal selfishness. As desire enjoyed is desire outlived, in the long run even this impermissible act helps destroy one's own selfishness.

Series I

55) The easiest way of getting anything in great measure is to give it to the Divine. Better still, give it to your fellow men. E.g. if you want affection, give your affection to others.

Giving is an outgoing act that relates either to others or to the life at large. It is an opposite movement of taking. Behind any act there is the vital energy that makes it possible, the mental idea that initiates and the spiritual sanction. The act, though done in the gross plane, exists in the subtle plane too. When an object is given to another, the act of giving moves to the plane determined by the giver as well as the receiver. Given to the Divine, the act moves to the causal plane. As the word spoken to another dies away, but that spoken into the microphone is carried wherever the loudspeaker is situated, acts are influenced by the plane in which they are done. The Divine is in the causal plane, i.e. the supramental plane. The power of that plane informs the object wherever it exists. So, similar objects, wherever they are, are put into relation with the giver which means such objects have a tendency to move to the giver. When another devotee of the Divine who lives in the gross plane like we do, receives a thing from us, it also has the similar effect on the object. Only that our relationship with the Divine lies in a gradient as there is a distance between us and the Divine. With another devotee such a gradient does not exist and so the movement of the article is faster and in a greater measure.

Series II.

75) Selfishness has a three-fold vision, outrageous, ordinary and benevolent. The same act done to you, if outrageous, appears benevolent when you do it to another, while between any two other persons, the same act appears neutral.

It is a common experience that victims of ill-treatment or cruelty extend the same treatment to others whenever possible. The only difference is what they felt to be outrageous in receiving they feel not only is not outrageous when it goes to another from them but it is benevolent. The same expression is felt in various ways. But the essence is that outraged feeling and benevolence are two sides of the same phenomenon. Either when the self is not there to respond personally or is a witness to a similar act between two other persons, the sensation is neutral.

If a victim who suffers ill-treatment can come out of his own organized selfishness, he will witness the phenomenon that the ill-treatment changes into ordinary treatment or at least is felt that way. Putting himself in the position of one who is a victim to his own ill-treatment, for which there must be plenty of examples, he would see his mind undergoing the reversal of consciousness which influences the outer situation.

A better way, rather a more powerful method to do the same, is to try to understand the 'benevolence' that comes to him through the ill treatment. Or he can examine what in him attracts that treatment.

The theory of yoga behind it is -- self-awareness makes one who is unconscious conscious. Mind is used here as an instrument of self-awareness while it is constituted as an instrument of ignorance.

Series II.

581) The most organised form of selfishness is that which refuses a big boon because it includes a small bit to another too.

Any vibration is infinite, is capable of perfection and can move to its own extremes. Selfishness is no exception. When partial life experiences when cross a limit, they change their character into the opposite, like the Touch of Midas. The Midas touch is harmful to Midas but shows that his own desire is capable of reaching perfection.

Perfection in a partial situation excludes itself more and more fully. One who receives a benefit often works with several others, sometimes with one or two. Occasionally the benefit is initiated by another while the circumstances are unhelpful or even hostile. The receiver sees the benefit that accrues to him and wishes to eliminate others who share it with him. This, in a social situation, he may not be able to do, but where he is in authority he may accomplish it. Such a move may or may not affect him, but his desiring it is biologically material. Suppose this is possible, the beneficiary sees the benefactor receiving the joy of giving, even if the benefit is given to him. Perfection of selfishness excludes even that, rather demands that.

Perceiving this behaviour in others can only give us information or knowledge, as we do not have any power over their behavior. The only occasion where there is any power for us is over ourselves.

  • Knowledge of the process as a universal vibration can mitigate the power of the impulse.
  • Should that knowledge lead to any sensation in the vital and generate a feeling of shame against any existing ideal, the vibration can be powerfully blunted.
  • The body's sensation of the Presence of the divine there, if hurt by the narrow vibration, can shed it quickly.
  • A practical procedure is to create projects where ALL the results of one's full work will go to others. It will be better if they cannot know the origin of their benefit.

Series II

30) Selflessness and selfishness express in attitudes of giving and taking. Physically they express as comfort or trouble for the other. A selfless man forging a contact with another makes that man's life flower, while that of the selfish man results in catastrophes.

Selfishness and selflessness are attitudes in relationships. It is natural that each attitude has its own result. How does selflessness expand another's life and selfishness bring catastrophes? It is a question of energy. A selfless touch pours energy into another and consequently the receiver blossoms. A selfish touch takes energy and makes the object shrink. Hence the loss for the person to be touched.

It can be seen at the level of energy, force, form, organisation, power and results. Some stray examples and general principles:

  • When the energy, interest, idea and ideal for a vast change are there in the mind, a suitable instrument can fully translate them into a reality in the environment that is emotionally covered. Ideas for national reconstruction fully developed in the mind of a youth transformed the atmosphere of a university from that of bonded labour into one of a pioneering, modern, democratic institution in 12 months soon after Indian freedom.

  • When selfishness takes, it takes the materials, energies, ideas and then the very life itself. Selflessness gives similarly. There is no moral in taking or giving. One goes by practical possibilities.
  • Selfishness as well as selflessness can be infinite, amoral, shameless, non-social.
  • Either of these principles can be used for social success if the rules of the game are understood.
  • He who worked for the betterment of academic qualifications of a totally selfish man, lost his own job in spite of the acknowledged merit of his service. Selfishness served bites into the bowels of the giver.
  • Work to sustain a hollow marriage over two decades, and the beneficiary ACTS to fully destroy the benefactor's marriage.
  • Give an evil selfish man a life he never dreamt of, and he takes your life, making several attempts at killing.
  • Work for an utterly selfish man to secure a bride at a higher level, and he turns on the instrument to do a disservice in the same area.
  • Restore to a man a lost property, and he successfully removes all the sources of your income.
  • In these cases, it is noteworthy to see the benefit given and the injury received will bear an exact correspondence. Even the relationship at both ends will have a good resemblance.

Series II

346) The selfish man cannot bring himself to give. When he transforms his selfishness into selflessness, it is not easy to find people or causes that are deserving. Hence the giving of the unselfish man is necessarily indiscriminate.

It is true that a selfish man cannot bring himself to give. So, when he wants to change, he does it abruptly and moves to the other end. At that end his experience is that there is no one deserving. Hence, having decided to give, he gives himself in an indiscriminate fashion. This will anyway serve his purposes of transformation. This is like the neo-rich man who spends indiscriminately as he does not have the cultural equipment collected over the years. Those who have risen to wealth over a long time, slowly gather the cultural expressions and the necessary inner poise to sustain that cultural expression. Let us consider an alternate path. Let the selfish man resort to introspection. He will gradually reach the roots of his selfishness in the process of which he would also see the gradual changes in the others. Then it will be possible for him to acquire the discrimination he now lacks.

Behaviour and character are formed over a long time compelled by material circumstances. Man mostly lives in one set of circumstances for a long time. Experience of men in public life or in power offers a variety of situations for him to learn. Introspection, which we call past consecration, offers the same opportunity to the inner effort.

Series III.

918) The expansive, generous self-giving of a vain poor man turns into cautious self-preservation and later miserliness when affluence comes to him.

919) True generosity of a poor person turns into compassionate self-giving when wealth replaces poverty.

920) Compassionate self-giving is seated in the substance and multiplies infinitely.

Vanity is lack of emotional stability. Hence it emphasizes volume. When one earns money, the lack of emotional stability is replaced by material security. No longer is there any instability urging him to action. Hence he turns to preservation. Self-giving and compassion are seated in the substance. They cannot be substituted as instability. What is established seeks growth. Therefore it multiplies infinitely.

Series III

950) Self-giving, a spiritual act of the being, can generate the thrill inside without needing the external stimulus.

951) Acts of self-giving accomplish the most.

The external, internal division is only for the divided being. For the inner being, that division is not valid or is not necessary. Being is spiritual. Spirit is infinite. In its existence, Being constantly expands by self-giving. It is complete without the external being. Thrill is a sensation. Mental sensation is seen as curiosity, observation, understanding, etc. Vital sensation is of pleasure or pain. Physical sensations of hunger, sleep or pain are known. Thrill is the sensation of spirit in the body. The divided being receives that from an external occasion.

Acts ascend in grade from the physical to the Spirit and continue their significance by a descent into the body. Thus, an act is most valuable when the Spirit expresses in the body whose sign is thrill.

Series III

55) Faith brings in Grace; absence of faith in one's capacities brings in Super Grace. By recognising Mother's slap, the perverse guru's black magic, the disciple's desire to bless, unfaithfulness' stolen pleasure as aspects of marvel, one is qualified to enjoy delight of self-giving in every cell of the vital. Often Mother offers their counterpart opportunities of enjoyment as wiping off Karma predicted by horoscope, triumvirate, suicide by black magic, flood of orthodox devotees, urge for service of GOODWILL. Having already enjoyed this much, one is qualified to reach the vision of the marvel.

Self-giving implies one is centered in the self. Recognising Mother's slap, etc. proves one is centered in the Self. Mother's slap is a negative expression of a positive act. Triumvirate is a positive expression of a positive act. The vision of the marvel is preceded by the positive and negative expressions of Grace.

Series III

173) What makes Mother effective in one's life depends on the plane we are in and the measure of endowment of that plane. The psychic is closest to Mother, next is mind and the grade goes down to vital and physical.

Mind represents the highest part of being and the psychic total being. Mind's highest endowment is organisation and gratitude is the highest psychic faculty.

The vital opens to Mother by self-giving and the body by its obedience. If these are the grades in the descent, different faculties arise in the ascent of transformation. There body is the ultimate when its material mind begins to learn.

Each part opens to each plane through a particular faculty. Mind opens to the environment as observation, while it opens to the spirit by Silence. To work out the different ways by which different parts open to different planes is a good exercise. In that list, the vital opening to Mother is by self-giving.

Series III

186) Gratitude is the soul's recognition of the Divine in the world. Soul's moving to the Self in adoration issues delight. Thus self-giving precedes delight.

Gratitude matures into self-giving by adoration resulting in delight. Inactive Bliss is of the soul; Delight is active Bliss experienced by the evolving spirit in the world.

Fear is the recognition of danger by the mind or vital. Silence is the recognition of a spiritual atmosphere by the soul. Under recognition, almost all aspects of life can be explained in terms of any part of our being. When the soul recognizes the Divine in the world of sensation, it is felt as gratitude.

Series III

182) The goodness of selfishness will be more of selfishness than of goodness, since goodness is passive and selfishness active.

When active and passive traits act together, the resulting act carries the flavour of the active trait.

Series III

412) The enjoyment of Ignorance is like the enjoyment of superstition, fear and the insecurity of poverty. If anything excels, it is the utter fulfilment one feels in being fully organised in selfishness. It is symbolised by the desire for popularity in the social plane you have left far behind or the desire for wreaking vengeance against ancient rivals.

Man exceeds a plane. His roots in the consciousness of the plane are easily uprooted, not those in the substance. Those relationships that linger express themselves as desire for popularity among those who are not in your present scheme of things, or vengeance which is meaningless. Instead of understanding these responses as desire for fame or vengeance, to understand them as lingering relationship with the past helps.

Series III

685) It is the realism of blindness trying to see.

Blindness trying to see REPEATS.

Series III

712) To serve selfishness is worse than being selfish because this service issues out of the servility of a selfish person.

To be selfish is to have it as a primary urge. To serve another's selfishness is to have it as an undeveloped tendency. For such a tendency to be shed, one needs to first raise it to being the primary urge. For this reason, it is less permissible.

Series III

775) God's rule is even in giving He should be anonymous and invisible. Man's unconsciousness and ingratitude fulfill God's aim.

776) God's intention in the world will be fulfilled when the giver knows the privilege of giving and the receiver knows how God enters him through receiving.

777) To expect the other man to receive as we intend is the counterpart of his expecting the gift to be on his terms.

778) Human giving is as much for self-aggrandisement as the receiver's greed.

779) Divine giving is to expand Himself into the receiver.

An act is personal in the measure it can be remembered by the doer and recognized by the receiver. All acts of God are impersonal and it is better an act is invisible. An act is done for a purpose. That purpose here is to grow into God. Awareness of the privilege enables it.

Expectation of any description vitiates the act.

Series IV

43) Self-giving reverses the order of direction of taking initiative even in the biological plane. No longer can the female wait if she is practising self-giving.

44) The power of self-giving is so great that even the infirmities of old age change into the vigour of youth.

Self-giving is in the reverse order of taking which is biological and physical. The female practicing self-giving has to initiate herself in the spiritual plane. Medicines invigorate the body and prolong life. Self-giving is spiritual. Theoretically it must be capable of giving a new lease of life. Practically too, it is true.

Series IV

48) Man can only be selfish. Only his selfishness can change its center.

Man, as he is constituted, cannot be other than selfish. He can change his motives of selfishness from money to fame or the field of selfishness from his own self to family.

Series IV

1) It is the selfishness of the intelligent animal which denies the right to the other person. It denies him even the right of doing what he himself does.

Selfishness can be narrow or wide. While it is narrow it is more irrational, denying the other the right of doing what he does.

Series IV

71) Man's selfishness finds its marked expression in his wanting the whole world to give him what he is not willing or capable of giving to the world.

72) All the pains man suffers from now are generated by the intensity of his selfish longing.

73) His pains will go not when he wants to give in return for a result or any result.

74) They will go when he wants to give not expecting any result, not even recognition.

75) Selfish human love that demands, changing into Divine Love that cannot resist giving is the remedy for all human suffering.

Selfishness is primarily a physical trait even as understanding is of the mind and enjoyment of the vital. Selfishness is the attempt to grow. It is naked. It wants, wants from everyone, everything. Cultural or personal variations may be there. A man who owned about 30 books, seeing another with 5000 books, expressed his wish to a third person, "Will you please see that those 5000 books find their way to my shelves?" An utterly selfish person, when he handles an object, i.e. touches it, feels it is his own, as it has come into his ken. Not getting what he wants generates pain. His pains cannot be abolished, they can only be reversed through giving.

Series IV

31) For those who try to overcome any trait, e.g. selfishness, sensitivity is a negative measure. Capacity to be offended by an act of another - betrayal, stinginess, dissipation - is a measure of selfish insincerity for one who tries to overcome selfishness.

Man grows from physical experience to mental knowledge. This knowledge later moves into the subtle planes of mind, vital or physical. They become sensitivities in the subtle plane. Thus, sensitivity is the last form of any knowledge. In periods of transition, people who are uncultured readily change from the old order to the new order as they have something to gain and nothing to lose. The more cultured population stagnates. Suppose a person is trying to transform himself, get rid of a trait, obviously his sensitivity stands in the way. Betrayal, stinginess, and dissipation are expressions of different dispositions. One who does not have any of these, even in traces, will let them pass by. The presence of their traces react, feel betrayed, etc.

Series IV

91- The selfish man cannot respond with any interest to a work whose results can also benefit in the least measure another.

92- Conscious transformation for him is to devise works from which NO result can issue at all for him by any possibility.

Enjoyment is the enjoyment of a vital trait. Also, enjoyment is accomplishment. A selfish person obviously will enjoy any accomplishment when it is more to his advantage. There are people who enjoy when they get, others who resent another getting anything. One is positive enjoyment and the other negative enjoyment. When a selfish person does a work with ten others and sees nine others also benefit by it, it is anathema to him. There is no rationality in it.

Series V

596) A short life of self-giving is better than a long life of self-aggrandisement.

Legend says that when Shankara's father was childless, Siva appeared in his dream and offered him 16 children of various deficiencies or one perfect child with only 8 years of life span. Of course Shankara accomplished in 32 years more than all these 16 children could have accomplished.

Series V

728) The selfish man evaluating others as selfish is worse than his own selfishness.

Perhaps this is the finest expression of my thought in all the 5500 messages from the point of view of expression. It is common that mad men call all others mad. The unconscious selfish man sees others obviously as selfish. The conscious selfish person, by a supreme act of intelligence, endeavours to enlist the most selfless person as a selfish one, thus totally disarming the other. Had he called him wicked, bad, dishonest, etc., maybe there would be some defence. When the selfless person is branded as selfish for any reason, the accuser SAFELY secures his own understanding from any possible breach.

Series V

819) Selfishness can be cultured or rudely boorish. In either case, its one demand of anyone is: give up what you have and leave me to myself.

Selfishness demands from anyone anything. It cannot even admit of allowing the giver a say in how it is to be used.

Series V

830)Selfishness is incapable of conceiving of selflessness even in others.

It is mental insularity and thus security.

Series V

918) The ultimate weapons of ego are selfishness, desire and pride. The weaker expressions of them are insecurity, greed and vanity. The ego is not constituted to be ashamed of them at any time. The person who is not the ego is to wean himself away from these which is an endless task. Instead, the person taking refuge in Mother automatically weans himself away from all these petty versions of the shell of ego.

No trait, when it is ITSELF, is ashamed; rather, it is proud, as Lydia and Wickham are. (in Austen's Pride and Prejudice)