Mastery over one’s lower nature is no doubt indispensable for the yoga of transformation though certain yogas do not much insist on this. Some degree of mastery is of course important even otherwise in human life. Without it man remains a plaything of forces and a pawn in the hands of destiny. Normally, in ordinary life people use Reason for arriving at some ‘reasonable’ control over their nature. Though Reason itself belongs to the lower nature, yet it is its highest point, the highest for man for his present level of evolution. It is only reasonable therefore to start with this faculty given to man. The Gita also suggests this when it speaks of the discerning intellect, buddhi, which must be turned inward and upwards instead of outwards and downwards as in average humanity. By doing this, by shifting the center of our focus and goal we slowly begin to reorient our nature in such a way that it acts like a sieve that automatically filters out many undesirable movements in our being. The next thing is about practicing niskama karma of the Gita whereby one engages in works not for any personal profit, though that is bound to come, but as an offering and service to the Divine. These two things that are relatively easy take away the iron grip of lower nature making it supple and open the Higher Consciousness. Cultivating a sattwic temperament is also very helpful.
Then one should create a field in which the storms of passion and the turbulence of rajasic nature will find it difficult arise or if they do arise they can be easily tackled. This can be done, first by regular practice of meditation, especially by invoking Peace, calm, quietude and a sincere practice of equanimity. At this stage Naam japa helps much by gradually merging the separate ego in the Greater Self of the Divine. If by Her Grace there is a gift of true bhakti then the task of melting the ego becomes easy since then one no more lives for oneself but for the Divine and His work. When one stops referring things to the ego and stops seeing the value of events from the point of view of the satisfactions of the ego then one is getting ready for its merger. By this stage the psychic being is almost invariably released from the prison house of lower nature and one feels now the division between one’s true inner self and the outer personality that is still moved by the lower nature, be it forces of tamasic, rajasic or sattwic nature, since even sattwa is a bondage and often one of the most difficult to go.
Along side this one has to, on the one hand try pushing the lower movements and impulse as much as one can with whatever limited will is at one’s disposal while developing this will at the same time. Or one can offer one’s will to the Divine Will with a sincere prayer to supplement it. One has to offer and expose these lower movements to Her Light and Grace with an aspiration to take them away. All this however does not happen in a day or two. It needs years and decades (for some movements at least) of persistent effort for this longed for clearing to happen. Therefore perseverance and endurance that is full of trust in the Grace and the eventual victory are most important. At the same time one should take care not to be too much preoccupied with the lower movements or rolling into guilt each time one succumbs of getting into despair and giving up attitude. the Adverse forces will find no better ground to enter in that state. Lower nature is still nature normal to man but adverse forces that enter through doors of guilt and depression are far worse. The real preoccupation should be with the positive side of the sadhana such as Peace and Light and Faith and Devotion and Wideness and the means of developing these and growing towards the Divine. The lower is left behind as we grow into the higher. This growth also gives us more clarity and power to overcome the forces of lower nature. But in the end the victory is certain. All that is needed is to keep moving, sometimes slowly and at other times fast.
In the end it is important to remember that personal effort has its limits and nobody can change one’s nature by one’s own efforts. But with the Divine Grace there is truly nothing impossible. To open to Her Grace more and more is therefore the last and ultimate secret.