Difficulties and the Integral Yoga

Selection from letters of Sri Aurobindo on difficulties in Yoga.
Recitation by Nolini Kanta Gupta.

 

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To suppose that the Yoga is dry and joyless because the struggles of your mind and vital have made your first approach to it dry is a misunderstanding and an error. The hidden springs of sweetness will reveal themselves if you persevere, even if now they are guarded by the dragons of doubt and unsatisfied longing. Grumble, if your nature compels you to it, but persevere.

[Sri Aurobindo: Letters on Yoga CWSA 31 The difficulties of yoga ]

The Supramental is not, as you imagine, something cold, hard and rock-like. It bears within it the presence of the Divine Love as well as the Divine Truth, and its reign here means for those who accept it, the straight and thornless path in which there is no wall or obstacle, of which the ancient Rishis saw the far-off promise.

The dark path is there and there are many who make, like the Christians, a Gospel of spiritual suffering; many hold it to be the unavoidable price of victory. It may be so under certain circumstances, as it has been in so many lives at the beginning, or one may choose to make it so. But then the price has to be paid with resignation, fortitude or a tenacious resilience. I admit that, if borne in that way, the attacks of the dark forces or the ordeals that they impose have a meaning. After each victory gained over them, there is then a sensible advance; often they seem to show us the difficulties in ourselves which we have to overcome and to say: ‘Here you must conquer’; but all the same it is a too dark and difficult way which nobody should follow on whom the necessity does not lie.

So many have done Yoga relying on Tapasya or anything else, but not confident of any Divine Grace. It is not that, but the soul’s demand for a higher Truth or a higher Life that is indispensable. Where that is, the Divine Grace whether believed in or not will intervene. If you believe, that hastens and facilitates things; if you cannot yet believe, still the soul’s aspiration will justify itself, with whatever difficulty and struggle.

[Sri Aurobindo: Letters on Yoga CWSA 29 Preparing the Sunlit Path ]

I have never said that Yoga or that this Yoga is a safe and easy path. What I say is that anyone who has the will to go through can go through. For the rest, if you aim high, there is always the danger of a steep fall if you misconduct your aeroplane. But the danger is for those who allow themselves to entertain a double being, aiming high but also indulging their lower outlook and hankerings. What else can you expect when people do that? You must become single-minded, then the difficulties of the mind and vital will be overcome. Otherwise those who oscillate between their heights and their abysses, will always be in danger till they have become single-minded. That applies to the “advanced” as well as to the beginner. These are facts of nature—I can’t pretend for anybody’s comfort that they are otherwise. But there is the fact also that nobody need keep himself in this danger. One-mindedness (ekaniṣṭhā), surrender to the Divine, faith, true love for the Divine, complete sincerity in the will, spiritual humility (real, not formal)—there are so many things that can be a safeguard against any chance of eventual downfall. Slips, stumbles, difficulties, upsettings everyone has; one can’t be insured against these things, but if one has the safeguards, they are transitory, help the nature to learn and are followed by a better progress.

[Sri Aurobindo: Letters on Yoga CWSA 31 Dangers, Falls and Failures]

Hardly anyone is strong enough to overcome by his own unaided aspiration and will the forces of the lower nature; even those who do it get only a certain kind of control, but not a complete mastery. Will and aspiration are needed to bring down the aid of the Divine Force and to keep the being on its side in its dealings with the lower powers. The Divine Force fulfilling the spiritual will and the heart’s psychic aspiration can alone bring about the conquest.

[Sri Aurobindo: Letters on Yoga CWSA 31 Will and the Divine Force or Power]

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