What is Yoga – II (Passages from Sri Aurobindo’s Writings)

Photo by Suhas Mehra
Photo by Suhas Mehra

Continued from Part 1

Today we share some excerpts from one of Sri Aurobindo’s major works on the philosophy and practice of Integral Yoga titled, The Synthesis of Yoga. In the opening chapter, titled Life and Yoga, he writes:

In the right view both of life and of Yoga all life is either consciously or subconsciously a Yoga. For we mean by this term a methodised effort towards self-perfection by the expression of the secret potentialities latent in the being and—highest condition of victory in that effort—a union of the human individual with the universal and transcendent Existence we see partially expressed in man and in the Cosmos. But all life, when we look behind its appearances, is a vast Yoga of Nature who attempts in the conscious and the subconscious to realise her perfection in an ever-increasing expression of her yet unrealised potentialities and to unite herself with her own divine reality.

In man, her thinker, she for the first time upon this Earth devises self conscious means and willed arrangements of activity by which this great purpose may be more swiftly and puissantly attained. Yoga, as Swami Vivekananda has said, may be regarded as a means of compressing one’s evolution into a single life or a few years or even a few months of bodily existence.

A given system of Yoga, then, can be no more than a selection or a compression, into narrower but more energetic forms of intensity, of the general methods which are already being used loosely, largely, in a leisurely movement, with a profuser apparent waste of material and energy but with a more complete combination by the great Mother in her vast upward labour…

….Yogic methods have something of the same relation to the customary psychological workings of man as has the scientific handling of the force of electricity or of steam to their normal operations in Nature. And they, too, like the operations of Science, are formed upon a knowledge developed and confirmed by regular experiment, practical analysis and constant result.

All Rajayoga, for instance, depends on this perception and experience that our inner elements, combinations, functions, forces, can be separated or dissolved, can be new-combined and set to novel and formerly impossible workings or can be transformed and resolved into a new general synthesis by fixed internal processes.

Hathayoga similarly depends on this perception and experience that the vital forces and functions to which our life is normally subjected and whose ordinary operations seem set and indispensable, can be mastered and the operations changed or suspended with results that would otherwise be impossible and that seem miraculous to those who have not seized the rationale of their process.

And if in some other of its forms this character of Yoga is less apparent, because they are more intuitive and less mechanical, nearer, like the Yoga of Devotion, to a supernal ecstasy or, like the Yoga of Knowledge, to a supernal infinity of consciousness and being, yet they too start from the use of some principal faculty in us by ways and for ends not contemplated in its everyday spontaneous workings.

All methods grouped under the common name of Yoga are special psychological processes founded on a fixed truth of Nature and developing, out of normal functions, powers and results which were always latent but which her ordinary movements do not easily or do not often manifest.

CWSA, Vol. 23, pp. 6-7 (emphasis added)

To be concluded….  PART 3

8 thoughts on “What is Yoga – II (Passages from Sri Aurobindo’s Writings)

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  1. Thank you Beloo for selecting the parts from the Master’s writing which are comparatively easier to understand, for we know that he is not only difficult but sometimes obscure too…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Glad you enjoyed these passages! Yes the Master generally requires reading and re-reading and re-reading. But every time one reads the same passage, one finds so much more wealth in it that one is enriched over and over 🙂

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  2. I have been able to learnt so many things here, the most important being, that yoga is not just postures, our entire life is yoga, or can become yoga if we allow it to.

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