|THE BASICS OF INTEGRAL YOGA
by Sri Aurobindo
The Basic Concept of Integral Yoga
The Teaching of Sri Aurobindo starts from that of the ancient sages of India that behind the appearances of the universe there is the Reality of a Being and Consciousness, a Self of all things, one and eternal.
Sri Aurobindos teaching states that this One Being and Consciousness is involved here in Matter. Evolution is the method by which it liberates itself; consciousness appears in what seems to be inconscient, and once having appeared is self-impelled to grow higher and higher and at the same time to enlarge and develop towards a greater and greater perfection. Life is the first step in this release of consciousness; mind is the second; but the evolution does not finish with mind, it awaits a release into something greater, a consciousness which is spiritual and supramental.
The next step of the evolution must be towards the development of Super-mind and Spirit as the dominant power in the conscious being. For only then will the involved Divinity in things release itself entirely and it become possible for life to manifest perfection.
It is not, however, by the mental will in man that this can be wholly done, for the mind goes only to a certain point and after that can only move in a circle. A conversion has to be made, a turning of the consciousness by which mind has to change into the higher principle. This method is to be found through the ancient psychological discipline and practice of Yoga. In the past, it has been attempted by a drawing away from the world and a disappearance into the height of the Self or Spirit.
Man lives mostly in his surface mind, life and body, but there is an inner being within him with greater possibilities to which he has to awake for it is only a very restricted influence from it that he receives now and that pushes him to a constant pursuit of a greater beauty, harmony, power and knowledge.
The first process of Yoga is therefore to open the ranges of this inner being and to live from there outward, governing his outward life by an inner light and force. There can follow afterwards an opening upward and descent of a higher principle of the Being. There are several ranges of consciousness between the ordinary human mind and the supramental Truth-Consciousness. The process of this self-discipline or Sadhana is therefore long and difficult, but even a little of it is so much gained because it makes the ultimate release and perfection more possible.
There are many things belonging to older systems that are necessary on the way an opening of the mind to a greater wideness and to the sense of the Self and the Infinite, an emergence into what has been called the cosmic consciousness, mastery over the desires and passions; an outward asceticism is not essential, but the conquest of desire and attachment and a control over the body and its needs, greeds and instincts are indispensable.
In this discipline, the inspiration of the Master, and in the difficult stages his control and his presence are indispensable for it would be impossible otherwise to go through it without much stumbling and error which would prevent all chance of success. The Master is one who has risen to a higher consciousness and being and he is often regarded as its manifestation or representative. He not only helps by his teaching and still more by his influence and example, but by a power to communicate his own experience to others.
This is Sri Aurobindos teaching and method of practice. The one aim of his Yoga is an inner self-development by which each one who follows it can in time discover the One Self in all and evolve a higher consciousness than the mental, a spiritual and supramental consciousness which will transform and divinise human nature.
Yoga is directed towards God, not towards man. If a divine supramental consciousness and power can be brought down and established in the material world, that obviously would mean an immense change for the earth including humanity and its life. The object of the Sadhana can only be to live in the divine consciousness and to manifest it in life.
This is a slow and difficult process: the road is long and it is hard to establish even the necessary basis. The old existing nature resists and obstructs and difficulties arise one after another and repeatedly until they are overcome. It is therefore necessary to be sure that this is the path to which one is called before one finally decides to tread it.
This excerpt from the book The Integral Yoga: Sri Aurobindos Teaching and Method of Practice is used for educational and research purposes. © 1993 Sri Aurobindo Ashram Trust, Pondicherry, India