A talk at the 47th All Orissa Sri Aurobindo Study Circle Conference, Matrubhaban, Sri Aurobindo Marg, Cuttack.
In Sri Aurobindo’s integral yoga, work is an indispensable part of sadhana. Only bhakti and knowledge will not bring the necessary transformation. Work is body’s prayer and sadhana of the body even as meditation is for the mind. Here the aim is to transform the physical nature along with mental and vital. Initially all the work we do in the spell of ego, Individual or collective ego. But work has to be done only for divine. Then only it becomes the path of transformation.
Words of Sri Aurobindo
It is the spirit and the consciousness from which it is done that makes an action yogic – it is not the action itself.
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Spiritually there is nothing big or small. Such ideas are like those of the literary people who think writing a poem is a high work and making shoes or cooking the dinner is a small and low one. But all is equal in the eyes of the Spirit – and it is only the spirit within with which it is done that matters. It is the same with a particular kind of work, there is nothing big or small.
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The spiritual effectivity of work of course depends on the inner attitude.
What is important is the spirit of offering put into the work. If one can in addition remember the Mother in the work or through a certain concentration feel the Mother’s presence or force sustaining or doing the work, that carries the spiritual effectivity still farther.
But even if one cannot in moments of clouding, depression or struggle do these things, yet there can be behind a love or bhakti which was the original motive power of the work and that can remain behind the cloud and re-emerge like the sun after dark periods.
All sadhana is like that and it is why one should not be discouraged by the dark moments, but realise that the original urge is there and that therefore the dark moments are only an episode in the journey which will lead to greater progress when they are once over.
Letters on Yoga: Sadhana through Work