It is said in the “Sanatsujatiya” that four things are necessary for siddhi — sastra, utsaha, guru and kala—the teaching of the path, zeal in following it, the Guru and time. Your path is that which I am pointing out, the utsaha needed is this anumati and this nityasmarana, the Guru is God himself and for the rest only time is needed. That God himself is the Guru, you will find when knowledge comes to you; you will see how every little circumstance within you and without you has been subtly planned and brought about by infinite wisdom to carry out the natural process of the yoga, how the internal and external movements are arranged and brought together to work on each other, so as to work out the imperfection and work in the perfection. An almighty love and wisdom are at work for your uplifting. Therefore never be troubled by the time that is being taken, even if it seems very long, but when imperfections and obstructions arise, be apramatta, dhıra, have the utsaha, and leave God to do the rest. Time is necessary. It is a tremendous work that is being done in you, the alteration of your whole human nature into a divine nature, the crowding of centuries of evolution into a few years. You ought not to grudge the time. There are other paths that offer more immediate results or at any rate, by offering you some definite kriya, you can work at yourself, give your ahankara the satisfaction of feeling that you are doing something, so many more pranayamas today, so much longer a time for the asana, 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. All that you need are the ship, the steering-wheel, the compass, the motive-power and a skilful captain. Your ship is the Brahmavidya, faith is your steering-wheel, self-surrender your compass, the motive-power is she who makes, directs and destroys the worlds at God’s command and God himself is your captain. But he has his own way of working and his own time for everything. Watch his way and wait for his time. [Sri Aurobindo, CWSA 12: 87 – 88]
Essentially then one can gain from the Master only to the extent one is open and receptive to His Influence. Here again we see that there is no standard mathematical formula of progress, no fixed law that determines the same end result for everyone just because the Master and the Path are the same. The real formula of progress lies in the faith and the will of man. As is our faith so does the Divine receives, responds and reveals Himself to us. So too if the will to go through to the end persists and one is ready to persevere regardless of challenges, difficulties and obstacles that one can be sure of arriving.
And yet there is that incalculable factor of Grace that overrides everything. Even when one does not recognise the presence of Grace, it is still there working from behind to help us move. In the integral Yoga which is at once the most difficult and the most comprehensive Path the mainstay of the practice is an opening and surrender, an entire reliance and dependence upon the Divine Mother’s Grace. The quintessence of the integral yoga, the key to the Supramental transformation is best described at the close of the book The Mother which may well be considered as the mool mantra of the Yoga.
The supramental change is a thing decreed and inevitable in the evolution of the earth-consciousness; for its upward ascent is not ended and mind is not its last summit. But that the change may arrive, take form and endure, there is needed the call from below with a will to recognise and not deny the Light when it comes, and there is needed the sanction of the Supreme from above. The power that mediates between the sanction and the call is the presence and power of the Divine Mother. The Mother’s power and not any human endeavour and tapasya can alone rend the lid and tear the covering and shape the vessel and bring down into this world of obscurity and falsehood and death and suffering Truth and Light and Life divine and the immortal’s Ananda. [CWSA 32: 26]
Finally we come to the third important element of the Yoga which in a way is the matrix in which the Yoga unfolds. It is what we term as Nature. In fact Nature is everywhere just as the Divine is everywhere and in everything. Though universal, yet each individual is like a differentiating point that makes a particular selection out of the universal nature creating a unique constitution that has both beneficial and harmful materials, forces and movements that help or hinder, accelerate or retard the advance. That is why no two journeys of Yoga are alike and hence there cannot be one single standardized guidance that would be equally applicable to each and every individual for all times. Yoga takes place in real time. As in life so too in Yoga the journey moves through several unpredictable elements.
Yet the unpredictability of the journey and the difficulty of the path neither means an uncertainty of the eventual arrival nor the impossibility of walking through. What is needed is the dual action of certain powers below and above. Sri Aurobindo reveals here beautifully:
To walk through life armoured against all fear, peril and disaster, only two things are needed, two that go always together—the Grace of the Divine Mother and on your side an inner state made up of faith, sincerity and surrender. [CWSA 32: 8]
It is this background that has to be kept in mind as one engaged in various practices whose details can be found in the various Scriptures. Surely sincerity in the practice counts but what counts even more is the sincerity of the aspiration. The guidance of the Guru or the Divine is the power that carries us through the turbulent storms and whirlpools of life towards the safe shores of Peace and Vastness and Light but what opens us to receive the Divine Help is faith in the leading and the eventual destiny through all the stumbles of the passage. The past preparation of our nature no doubt can be helpful but what ultimately assures the spiritual destiny is the hand of Grace and the heart of Love that are always there behind the seeker, with the aspirant even when unseen due to the apparent darkness. To put it in a more modern language, the contract of Yoga is between the human soul and the Divine and it is based on the eternal promise of the Divine to every struggling soul when it plunged into the great adventure of consciousness and joy. The Divine has not forgotten his promise and not only keeps leading man even when man is misleading himself but also descends upon earth from time to time to lead from the front.
It is now our turn to do what we need to do from our side according to the clause of the contract. The clause of course is very simple and beautifully summed up in the Gita:
My Yoga will deliver you from the great fear and even a little of it will bring deliverance. When you have once set out on this path, you will find that no step is lost; every least movement will be a gain; you will find there no obstacle that can baulk you of your advance. A bold and absolute promise and one to which the fearful and hesitating mind beset and stumbling in all its paths cannot easily lend an assured trust; nor is the large and full truth of it apparent unless with these first words of the message of the Gita we read also the last, “Abandon all laws of conduct and take refuge in Me alone; I will deliver you from all sin and evil; do not grieve.” [CWSA 19: 95]