First Aspect of Individual Personal Effort in Integral Yoga

“The personal effort required is a triple labour of aspiration, rejection and surrender.–”

Sri Aurobindo defines the first aspect, “aspiration” as follows: “an aspiration vigilant, constant, unceasing–the mind’s will, the heart’s seeking, the assent of the vital being, the will to open and make plastic the physical consciousness and nature;”

Whatever we focus on in life gets attracted to us and we can become that. It is a matter of “tuning” or “concentrating”. Patanjali, in his Yoga Sutras, talks about “one pointed concentration” as being the secret to success in yoga. Sri Aurobindo defines the term “aspiration” to encompass all of this and more.

Many people engage in prayer on a daily or weekly basis. This is generally a form of aspiration, but in between, the other drives and forces that motivate the various parts of the being, the mind, the heart, the will-power, the vital drives and the physical being, tend to occupy the primary attention. The aspiration is thus diffused and weakened through conflicting areas of focus.

Sri Aurobindo points out that success in this yoga requires continuous, unceasing and actively focused concentration, “aspiration”, to be exercised, not just at separate times and places, but essentially in all aspects of life; further, that it must eventually encompass not just the heart or the will, but the very vital drives and physical being.

There are many forms of “focusing” in the world, and we have names for them depending on where in the psychological framework they fit. There are ambition, anger, love, greed, lust, hunger, thirst, craving, desire generally under any number of names. Each of these needs to be addressed and a corresponding aspiration for the highest Divine Force to enter in and take over these drives needs to be developed, cultivated and made firm in the life and focus of the aspirant to the yoga.

The personal effort thus begins with a focusing, tuning or concentrating effort to turn all towards the Divine, and to bring the Divine Force into one’s life, integrally, and consistently.

Yogic disciplines that have the eventual goal of dropping the physical body and life efforts simply tend to disregard or suppress these urges, in many cases purely through avoidance; but Sri Aurobindo’s yoga, with a stated goal of transforming human life into a divine life, needs to take up all fields of life and bring the higher aspiration to each level and each impulsion over time, with persistent and dedicated personal effort.

Sri Aurobindo,