What is the Integral Yoga?
It is the way of a complete God-realisation, a complete Self-realisation, a complete fulfilment of our being and consciousness, a complete transformation of our nature—and this implies a complete perfection of life here and not only a return to an eternal perfection elsewhere.
This is the object, but in the method also there is the same integrality, for the entirety of the object cannot be accomplished without an entirety in the method, a complete turning, opening, self-giving of our being and nature in all its parts, ways, movements to that which we realise.
Our mind, will, heart, life, body, our outer and inner and inmost existence, our superconscious and subconscious as well as our conscious parts, must all be thus given, must all become a means, a field of this realisation and transformation and participate in the illumination and the change from a human into a divine consciousness and nature.
This is the character of the integral Yoga.
Sri Aurobindo – Essays Divine and Human: CWSA, Vol. 12, p358
By this Yoga we not only seek the Infinite, but we call upon the Infinite to unfold Himself in human life….
Sri Aurobindo – The Synthesis of Yoga: CWSA, Vol. 23, p57
Newness of Sri Aurobindo’s teaching:
…I have called it the integral Yoga and that means that it takes up the essence and many procedures of the old Yogas—its newness is in its aim, standpoint and the totality of its method….
It is new as compared with the old Yogas
(1) Because it aims not at a departure out of world and life into a Heaven or a Nirvana, but at a change of life and existence, not as something subordinate or incidental, but as a distinct and central object. If there is a descent in other Yogas, yet it is only an incident on the way or resulting from the ascent—the ascent is the real thing. Here the ascent is the first step, but it is a means for the descent. It is the descent of the new consciousness attained by the ascent that is the stamp and seal of the sadhana. Even Tantra and Vaishnavism end in the release from life; here the object is the fulfilment of life.
(2) Because the object sought after is not an individual achievement of divine realisation for the sake of the individual, but something to be gained for the earth consciousness here, a cosmic not a supra-cosmic achievement. The thing to be gained also is the bringing in of a Power of consciousness (the supramental) not yet active directly in earth-nature, even in the spiritual life, but yet to be organised and made directly active.
(3) Because a method has been preconised for achieving this purpose which is as total and integral as the aim set before it, viz., the total and integral change of the consciousness and nature, taking up old methods but only as a part action and present aid to others that are distinctive….
Sri Aurobindo – Letters on Himself and the Ashram: CWSA, Vol. 35, p154
…. There are other paths that offer more immediate results or at any rate, by offering you some definite kriyā you can work at yourself, give your ahaṅkāra the satisfaction of feeling that you are doing something, so many more prāṇāyāmas today, so much longer a time for the āsana, so many more repetitions of the japa, so much done, so much definite progress marked. But once you have chosen this path, you must cleave to it. Those are human methods, not the way that the infinite Shakti works, which moves silently, sometimes imperceptibly to its goal, advances here, seems to pause there, then mightily and triumphantly reveals the grandiose thing that it has done. Artificial paths are like canals hewn by the intelligence of man; you travel easily, safely, surely, but from one given place to another. This path is the broad and trackless ocean by which you can travel widely to all parts of the world and are admitted to the freedom of the infinite….
Sri Aurobindo – Essays in Philosophy and Yoga: CWSA, Vol. 13, pp 87-88
The Process of Sadhana:
This however cannot be done at once or in a short time or by any rapid or miraculous transformation. Many steps have to be taken by the seeker before the supramental descent is possible. 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. In doing so he discovers in himself his true soul which is not this outer mixture of mental, vital and physical elements but something of the Reality behind them, a spark from the one Divine Fire. He has to learn to live in his soul and purify and orientate by its drive towards the Truth the rest of the nature. There can follow afterwards an opening upward and descent of a higher principle of the Being. But even then it is not at once the full supramental Light and Force. For there are several ranges of consciousness between the ordinary human mind and the supramental Truth-consciousness. These intervening ranges have to be opened up and their power brought down into the mind, life and body. Only afterwards can the full power of the Truth-consciousness work in the nature. 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.
Many Things of Older Systems Necessary in Sadhana:
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 is indispensable. There is a combination of the old systems: the way of knowledge through the mind’s discernment between Reality and the appearance, the heart’s way of devotion, love and surrender and the way of works turning the will away from motives of self interest to the Truth and the service of a greater Reality than the ego. For the whole being has to be trained so that it can respond and be transformed when it is possible for that greater Light and Force to work in the nature.
The Role of The Master:
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 Aurobindo’s teaching and method of practice. It is not his object to develop any one religion or to amalgamate the older religions or to found any new religion, for any of these things would lead away from his central purpose. 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.
Sri Aurobindo – Autobiographical Notes and Other Writings of Historical Interest: CWSA, Vol. 36, pp 548-50
The Aim of the Integral Yoga
The way of Yoga followed here has a different purpose from others,—for its aim is not only to rise out of the ordinary ignorant world-consciousness into the divine consciousness, but to bring the supramental power of that divine consciousness down into the ignorance of mind, life and body, to transform them, to manifest the Divine here and create a divine life in Matter….
Sri Aurobindo – Letters on Yoga: CWSA, Vol. 29, pp 19-20
One of the two great steps in this yoga is to take refuge in the Mother.
When Sri Aurobindo was asked, on a later occasion, what the second great step is, he replied, “Aspiration of the sadhak for the divine life.”
Sri Aurobindo – The Mother with Letters on The Mother: CWSA, Vol. 32, p36
Keep yourself open to the Mother, remember her always and let her Force work in you, rejecting all other influences—that is the rule for Yoga.
Sri Aurobindo – Letters on Yoga: CWSA, Vol. 29, p109
A divine life in a divine body is the formula of the ideal that we envisage….
Sri Aurobindo – Essays in Philosophy and Yoga: CWSA, Vol. 13, p536