Aurobindo and Integral Yoga

During the early part of this century another great figure, in a field other than psychology, was exploring what resulted from consciousness opening to the self-regulating ‘evolutionary energy’. Writing and working from the dual standpoint of an Eastern yogi and Western thinker Aurobindo explains what he found in forty years of investigating the depths and heights of inner experience. In some approaches to homeostasis such as Pentecostalism, there is an emphasis on the transcendental, the higher potential of human nature. In other approaches the emphasis is on tile cleansing or catharsis of past experience, pain and conditioning. Aurobindo finds a balance between these two which well suits the name of Integral Yoga which lie gave to his system. In the book The Adventure of Consciousness, Satprem describes Aurobindo’s statement of how the ‘evolutionary force’ acts on one who opens to it. “We feel around the head” he says, “and more particularly around the nape of the neck, an unusual pressure which may give the sensation of a false headache. At the beginning we can scarcely endure it for long and shake it off. Gradually this pressure takes a more distinct form and we feel a veritable current which descends — a current of force not like an unpleasant electric current but rather like a fluid mass.”

To allow this spontaneously active force to work in us, Aurobindo tells us we must be quiet and open our restless mind or consciousness. In Aurobindo’s own words, “When the Peace is established, this higher or Divine Force from above can descend and work in us. It descends usually first into the head and liberates inner mind centres, then into the heart centre, then into the navel and other vital centres, them into the sacral region and below. It works at the same time for perfection as well as liberation. It takes up the whole nature part by part and deals with it, rejecting what has to be rejected, sublimating what has to be sublimated, creating what has to be created. It integrates, harmonizes, establishes a new rhythm in the nature.

. · The surest way toward this integral fulfillment is to find the Master of the Secret who dwells within us, open ourselves constantly to the Divine Power which is also the Divine Wisdom and Love, and trust it to effect the conversion. But it is difficult for the egoistic consciousness to do this at all at the beginning. And, if done at all, it is still difficult to do it perfectly and in every strand of our nature. It is difficult at first because of our egoistic habits of thought, of sensation, of feelings blocking up the avenues by which we arrive at the perception that is needed. It is difficult afterwards because the faith, the surrender, the courage requisite in this path are not easy to the ego clouded soul. The divine working is not the working the egoistic mind desires or approves, for it uses error to arrive at truth, suffering in order to arrive at perfection. The ego cannot see where it is being led; it revolts against the leading, loses confidence, loses courage. These failings would not matter; for the Divine Guide within is not offended by our revolt, riot discouraged by our want of faith or repelled by our weakness; it has the entire love of the mother and the entire patience of the teacher. But by withdrawing our assent from the guidance we lose the consciousness, though hot all the actuality of its benefit.

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