What is Integral Yoga

What is Integral Yoga?
Sri Aurobindo’s Teaching and Method of Sadhana
(in his own words)

The teaching of Sri Aurobindo starts from that of the ancient sages of India that behind the appearances of the universe there is the Reality of a Being and Consciousness, a Self of all things, One and Eternal. All beings are united in that One self and Spirit but divided by a certain seperativity of consciousness, an ignorance of their true self and Reality in the mind, life and body. It is possible by a certain psychological discipline to remove this veil of seperative consciousness and become aware of the true self, the Divinity within us and all.


Sri Aurobindo’s teaching states that this One being and Consciousness is involved here in Matter. Evolution is the method by which it liberates itself; consciousness appears in what seems to be inconscient, and once having appeared in self-impelled to grow higher and higher and at the same time to enlarge and develop towards a greater and greater perfection. Life is the first step of this release of consciousness; mind is the second; but the evolution does not finish with mind, it awaits a release into something greater, a consciousness which is spiritual and supramental. The next step of the evolution must be towards the development of Supermind and Spirit as the dominant power in the conscious being. For only then will the involved Divinity in things release itself entirely and it become possible for life to manifest perfection.


But while the former steps in evolution were taken by Nature without a conscious will in the plant and animal life, in man Nature becomes able to evolve by a conscious will in the instrument. It is not, however, by the mental will in man that this can be wholly done, for the mind goes only to a certain point and after that can only move in a circle. A conversion has to be made, a turning of consciousness by which mind has to change into the higher principle. This method is to be found through the ancient psychological discipline and practice of Yoga. In the past, it has been attempted by a drawing away from the world and a disappearance into the height of the self or Spirit. Sri Aurobindo teaches that a descent of the higher principle is possible which will not merely release the spiritual self out of the world, but release it in the world, replace the mind’s ignorance or its very limited knowledge by a Supramental Truth-Consciousness which will be a sufficient instrument of the inner self and make it possible for the human being to find himself dynamically as well as inwardly and grow out of his still animal humanity into a diviner race. The psychological discipline or Yoga can be used to that end by opening all the parts of the being to a conversion or transformation through the descent and working of the higher still concealed Supramental principle.


This, however, cannot be done at once or in a short time or by any rapid or miraculous transformation. Many steps have to be taken by the seeker before the Supramental descent is possible. Man lives mostly in his surface mind, life and body, but there is an inner being within him with greater possibilities to which he has to awake -for it is only a very restricted influence from it that he receives now and that pushes him to a constant pursuit of a greater beauty, harmony, power and knowledge. The first process of Yoga is therefore to open the ranges of this inner being and to live from there outward, governing his outward life by an inner light and force. In doing so he discovers in himself his true soul which is not this outer mixture of mental, vital and physical elements but something of the Reality behind them, a spark from the one Divine Fire. He has to learn to live in his soul and purify and orientate by its drive towards the Truth and rest of the nature. There can follow afterwards an opening upward and descent of a higher principle of the Being.


But even then it is not at once the Full Supramental Light and Force. For there are several ranges of consciousness between the ordinary human mind and the Supramental Truth-consciousness. These intervening ranges have to be opened up and their power brought down into the mind, life and body. Only afterwards can the full power of Truth-consciousness work in the nature. The process of this self-discipline or Sadhana is therefore long and difficult, but even a little of it is so much gained because it makes the ultimate release and perfection more possible.


There are many things belonging to older systems that are necessary on the way – an opening of the mind to a greater wideness and to the sense of the self and the Infinite, an emergence into what has been called the cosmic consciousness, mastery over the desires and passions; an outward asceticism is not essential, but the conquest of desire and attachment and a control over the body and its needs, greeds and instincts are indispensable. There is a combination of the principles of the old systems, the way of knowledge through the mind’s discernment between Reality and the appearance, the heart’s way of devotion, love and surrender and the way of works turning the will away from motives of self-interest to the Truth and the service of a greater Reality than the Ego. For the whole being has to be trained so that it can respond and be transformed when it is possible for that greater Light and Force to work in the nature.


In this discipline, the inspiration of the Master, and in the difficult stages his control and his presence are indispensable – for it would be impossible otherwise to go through it without much stumbling and error which would prevent all chance of success. The Master is one who has risen to a higher consciousness and being and is often regarded as its manifestation or representative. He not only helps by his teaching and still more by his influence and example but by a power to communicate his own experience to others.


This is Sri Aurobindo’s teaching and method of practice. It is not his object to develop any one religion or amalgamate the older religions of to found any new religion – for any of these things would lead away from his central purpose. The one aim of his Yoga is an inner self-development by which each one who follows it can in time discover the One Self in all and evolve a higher consciousness than the mental, a spiritual and supramental consciousness which will transform and divinise human nature.


Courtesy: Sri Aurobindo On Himself (pages:95-97),copyright by Sri Aurobindo Ashram Trust

Supramental Transformation according to the Integral Yoga of Sri Aurobindo

“The Supramental Transformation (is that) in which all becomes supramentalised in the divine Gnostic consciousness.

“The Supramentalisation of the consciousness.. means rising above mind to SUPERMIND and the DESCENT of the supermind into the NATURE.”

“The Supramental change is the ultimate stage of SIDDHI.”

“The release from subconscient ignorance and from disease, duration of life at will, and a change in the functionings of the body must be among the ultimate elements of a supramental change.”


– Sri Aurobindo[from the Glossory of terms,p 161]


“These are the main conditions of preparation for the Supramental change, but none of them is easy, and they must be complete before the Adhara can be said to be ready. If the true attitude (psychic, unegoistic, open only to the Divine Force) can be established, then the progress can go on much more quickly: –


1. Get the psychic being in the front and keep it there, putting its power on the mind, vital and physical, so that it shall communicate to them its force of single minded aspiration, trust, faith, surrender, direct and immediate detection of whatever is wrong in them and turned towards ego and error, away from Light and Truth.


2. Eliminate egoism in all its forms and from every movement of the consciousness.


3. Develop the cosmic consciousness – let the egocentric outlook disappear in wideness, impersonality, the sense of the cosmic divine, the perception of the Universal force, the realization and understanding of the cosmic manifestation, the play.


4. Find in place of ego the true-being – a portion of the Divine, issued from the World-Mother and an instrument of the manifestation. This sense of being a portion of the Divine and an instrument should be free from all pride, sense of claim of ego or assertion of superiority, demand or desire. For if these elements are there, then it is not the true thing.


5. Most in doing Yoga live in the mind, vital, physical, lit up occasionally or to some extent by the higher mind and by the illumined mind; but to prepare for the Supramental change, it is necessary to open up to the intuition and the overmind, so that these may make the Adhara ready for the Supramental change. Allow the consciousness quietly to develop and widen and the knowledge of these things will progressively come.


6. Calm, discrimination, detachment(but not indifference) are all very important, for their opposites impede very much the transforming action. Intensity of aspiration should be there, but along with these, no hurry, no inertia – neither rajasik over-eagerness nor tamasic discouragement – a steady and persistent but quiet call and working. No snatching or clutching at realization, but allowing realization to come from within and above, and observing accurately its field, its nature, its limits.


7. Let the power of the Mother work in you, but be careful to avoid mixture or substitution in its place of either a magnified ego-working or a force of ignorance presenting itself as Truth. Aspire especially for the elimination of all obscurity and unconsciousness in the Nature.


“So long as the lower nature is active the personal effort of the sadhak remains necessary. The personal effort required is a triple labour of Aspiration, Rejection and Surrender: –


(1) An Aspiration vigilant, constant, unceasing.
(2) Rejection of the movements of the lower nature.
(3) Surrender of oneself and all one is and has”.


“The Sadhana of this Yoga does not proceed through any set of mental teaching or prescribed forms of meditation, mantras or others, but by aspiration, by a self-concentration inwards or upwards, by self-opening to an Influence, to the Divine power above us and its workings, to the Divine presence in the heart and by the rejection of all that is foreign to these things. It is only by faith, aspiration and surrender that this self-opening can come.”


“…There is no method in this Yoga except to concentrate, preferably in the heart, and call the presence and power of the Mother to take up the being and by the workings of her force to transform the consciousness. When the mind falls quiet and the concentration becomes strong and the aspiration intense, then there is a beginning of experience. The more the faith, the more rapid the result is likely to be. The bhakta does not rely on his own effort alone, but on the grace and power of the Divine whom he adores.”


-Sri Aurobindo Courtesy: A practical guide to Integral Yoga, extracts published by Sri Aurobindo Ashram.


“..Evolution, as we see it in this world, is a slow and difficult process and, indeed, need usually ages to reach abiding results; but this is because it is in its nature an emergence from inconscient beginnings, a start from nescience and a working in the ignorance of natural beings by what seems to be an unconscious choice. There can be, on the contrary, an evolution in the light and no longer in the darkness, in which the evolving being is a conscious participant and cooperator, and this is precisely what must take place.


…There is then no longer any necessity for the slow pace of the ordinary evolution; there can be rapid conversion, quick Transformation after transformation, what would seem to our normal present mind, a succession of miracles. An evolution on the Supramental levels could well be of that nature; it could be equally, if the being so chose, a more leisurely passage of one supramental state or condition of things to something beyond but still supramental from level to divine level, a building up of divine gradations, a free growth to the Supreme Supermind or beyond it to yet undreamed levels of being, consciousness and Ananda.”


“For a Divine life on earth need not be a thing apart and exclusive having nothing to do with the common earthly existence: it will take up human being and human life, transform what can be transformed, spiritualise whatever can be spiritualised, cast its influence on the rest and effectuate either a radical or an uplifting change, bring about a deeper communion between the universal and the individual, invade the ideal with the spiritual truth of which it is a luminous shadow and help to uplift into or towards a greater and higher existence. Mind it will uplift towards a diviner light of thought and will, life towards deeper and truer emotion and action, towards a larger power of itself, towards high aims and motives. Whatever cannot yet be raised into its own full truth of being, it will bring nearer to that change, will still see the possibility open to it whenever is not ready even for that change, will still see the possibility open to it whenever its still incomplete evolution has made it ready for self-fulfillment. “


“Even the body, if it can bear the touch of Supermind, will become more aware of its own truth,- for there is a body consciousness that has its own instinctive truth and power of right condition and action, even a kind of unexpressed occult knowledge in the constitution of cells and tissues which may one day become conscious and contribute to the transformation of the physical being.


“New powers have to be acquired by the body which our present humanity could not hope to realize, could not even dream of or could only imagine. ….The body itself might acquire new means and ranges of communication with other bodies, new processes of acquiring knowledge, a new aesthesis, new potencies of manipulation of itself and objects”.


“There could be an evolution from a first apprehending truth-consciousness to the utmost heights of the ascending ranges of supermind and it may pass the borders of the supermind proper itself..”


Courtesy: The Supramental Manifestation upon Earth by Sri Aurobindo (the Bible of Supramental Transformation and Deathless Body in the Integral Yoga)- published by Sri Aurobindo Ashram, p.81,73,38