The yoga of Sri Aurobindo, also known widely as the Integral Yoga, is a yoga of Earth transformation. The aim of this yoga is not an escape from life or a shunning of worldly existence, but a radical change in our life even while living amidst it. Traditional yoga views life either as an illusion or an incorrigibly distorted existence full of evil, pain and suffering. The only way out of this dismal state is to find an exit door, a means to quit the game of creation and be done with the cycles of birth and death. Techniques are given to unhinge the doors of nature and undo the giant mechanisms of creation in which the soul is trapped as a result of some mysterious Maya and the iron law of karma. While the individual soul thus escapes, the puzzle of creation, the mystery of Maya and the soul’s entry into it remains unsolved. The inner perfection of the soul does not help change our nature, which continues to move in limited groves set for it by past momentum until it halts by the growing pressure of a calm detachment and the eventual exhaustion of past tendencies. The grip once loosened, the soul can finally and at last undo the knot of material nature concretised in his physical body that binds it to earth and humanity, thereby escaping into the Silence of the Ineffable.
This aim, however appealing to our ego that considers only its narrow gains and benefits, cannot appeal to that larger instinct in us towards a terrestrial perfection, the deeper and grandiose urge that aspires for change in our individual and collective existence, here upon Earth. Sri Aurobindo, who had all the major experiences and realisations of traditional yoga, went far and deep in search of the definitive answer to this paradox that haunts human life. The answer which he found was that a divine life is perfectly possible upon earth, it is possible to replace the illusion with the truth behind it, the distortion can be corrected and our present life dogged with error and marred with limitation, ignorance, suffering and evil can be transmuted into a beautiful and diviner living. Sri Aurobindo and his spiritual collaborator, the Mother found the Way to realise this age-old dream of humanity of making earth and heaven equal and one. They became the bridge to fill the gap between our human limitations and the unlimited divine possibilities, waiting to be born. They became the pioneers of the New Race of supramental beings, who will embody the truths, now hidden beyond the mind, and live and act from an awakening intuition, just as man acts now with the help of thought and reason. This New Path, which will lead man to realise this inevitable divine destiny bequeathed to him, is known now as the Integral Yoga or the Yoga of Supramental Transformation.
The Integral Yoga is in its nature a synthesis that takes within itself all the past yogic efforts of man. It takes their essence, leaving out the details. It also steers clear of the later tendency to specialise and enter into extreme practices of yoga. Its aim being different, there has to be a right balance between the soul and nature, a poignant harmony between the inner and outer life, a divine rhythm between who we presently are and what we can become in the Future. Consequently, the seeker of this path has to focus not only on the discovery of the Divine Presence within and behind creation, but also work upon his nature so that it becomes an increasingly fit instrument and channel and vessel of the growing divine consciousness and power within. An inner perfection is not enough; the outer nature too must share the growing perfection within. The sincere seeker for this path will find more than enough material on the actual practice of this yoga. Sri Aurobindo and the Mother wrote extensively and freely conversed with disciples on any and every subject as it relates to the yogic endeavour, as well as to life in general, but seen from the vantage point of the supramental vision. Their thought is a rich legacy for the future, their subtle but mighty action still reverberates in the depths of matter and in the secret heart of man, if we care to attentively listen, attuning ourselves to the silence behind the noise of surface life.
It needs to be mentioned that the Supramental Vision is an all-comprehending Truth-Vision that sees the individual elements of the creation as well as its totality simultaneously and in their mutual relationships. At the same time, it also sees the individual and the cosmic truths as they relate and connect with the supreme Transcendent Omnipresent Reality behind and beyond creation. Our mind divides and therefore cannot find the reconciling formula between World and God, The Supermind is a unifying vision and hence reconciles the diverse and even mutually opposing strands of creation in a single harmonious whole. The ascent from Mind to Supermind and the descent of the Supramental truth-Consciousness into our very body and base and its expression in each and every activity is the basis of the New Supramental Creation as envisaged by Sri Aurobindo and the Mother.
Consequently this yoga does not reject life nor renounces it for the lure of nirvana beyond. It seeks to make life perfect with the Divine Perfection. The principle method is an offering and surrender of all that we presently are and do to the alchemic Power of the Divine Mother. By opening to the Mother and Her Consciousness through faith and an integral offering of our being, through aspiration and surrender we begin to come into contact with Her transforming Power. Once started, the process of transformation does not stop even though we can hasten or slow the pace, depending upon our sincerity and the difficulties of nature that the Divine Shakti encounters in the process. However, whatever be the difficulties, eventually they give way before the Divine Grace, supported by our persistent faith and aspiration, nay, they even become opportunities for progress, a means to grow aware of all that constitutes us and is not yet surrendered.
This yoga can be done anywhere and by anyone, regardless of his outer antecedents, provided one has the inner calling for it. One need not be a brilliant intellectual or a man with astounding capacities to be an entrant into this Path. Nor are we called upon to leave our vocations or abandon our work and present station or change outer situations but to see them in a New Light and to act upon them with a New Consciousness. This New Light and this New Consciousness naturally grow upon the genuine seeker as he is led and carried through this journey by the many-sided workings of the Divine Shakti, that gradually takes up the sadhana of this yoga and uses anything and everything, including the smallest of experiences, event and happening for the divine disclosure and the great hoped-for transmutation of our life and being. Meanwhile, it immensely helps to spend some time in reading the vast and luminous writings of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother and to spend some time in quiet reflection and meditation upon the real purpose of our existence. Their writings not only provide us with the knowledge base needed for any high endeavour, they are not only informative and instructive, but also inspiring and uplifting. They prepare us for the Path and also give us the strength to walk upon it.
What ultimately counts most is not the technique or the method as much as the aspiration in our heart. The doors of the Divine are always open to all who sincerely seek Him, not for selfish motives or limited gains, but a permanent answer to the enigma of man and the paradox of life. In answer to this persistent aspiration of man towards terrestrial perfection, Sri Aurobindo and the Mother have opened the gates of this New Consciousness, the Supramental Consciousness for earth and humanity. Now it is up to us to take advantage of this exceptional hour, this God-moment, so to say, by a reciprocal opening from our side. The more we can do so, the more we shall find our life transformed and fulfilled in the Divine image of which we are, at present, only a shadowy and distorted reflection. We may close with a small indicative passage from Sri Aurobindo’s ‘The Synthesis of Yoga”:
The method we have to pursue, then, is to put our whole conscious being into relation and contact with the Divine and to call Him in to transform our entire being into His. Thus in a sense God Himself, the real Person in us, becomes the sadhaka of the sadhana as well as the Master of the Yoga by whom the lower personality is used as the centre of a divine transfiguration and the instrument of its own perfection. In effect, the pressure of the Tapas, the force of consciousness in us dwelling in the Idea of the divine Nature upon that which we are in our entirety, produces its own realisation. The divine and all-knowing and all-effecting descends upon the limited and obscure, progressively illumines and energises the whole lower nature and substitutes its own action for all the terms of the inferior human light and mortal activity.