Living In Our Spiritual Being Is the Meaning of Yoga

The Gita, having denied the possibility of solving the contradictions of human existence at the normal mental level, bound within the action of the lower nature and the play of the Gunas, presents another solution. This solution is in line with modern philosophical understanding as well, which states that one cannot fully understand and “see” the elements of one’s situation so long as one is fully involved in a particular frame of action; rather, we must find a way to step outside or above that frame to be able to truly observe it and act upon it without distortion. The Gita’s proposal in this regard is that the practice of yoga should be done to experience and eventually shift one’s standpoint of action to the spiritual divine consciousness above and outside the mental framework of the lower nature, and from that place one can observe, act and master that lower nature.

Sri Aurobindo describes this process in more detail: “The Gita’s solution is to rise above our natural being and normal mind, above our intellectual and ethical perplexities into another consciousness with another law of being and therefore another standpoint for our action; where personal desire and personal emotions no longer govern it; where the dualities fall away; where the action is no longer our own and where therefore the sense of personal virtue and personal sin is exceeded; where the universal, the impersonal, the divine spirit works out through us its purpose in the world; where we are ourselves by a new and divine birth changed into being of that Being, consciousness of that Consciousness, power of that Power, bliss of that Bliss, and, living no longer in our lower nature, have no works to do of our own, no personal aim to pursue of our own, but if we do works at all,–and that is the one real problem and difficulty left,–do only the divine works, those of which our outward nature is only a passive instrument and no longer the cause, no longer provides the motive; for the motive-power is above us in the will of the Master of our works.”

This is not to be realized by an intellectual exercise: “We can only know this greater truth by living it, that is to say, by passing beyond the mental into the spiritual experience, by Yoga. For the living out of spiritual experience until we cease to be mind and become spirit, until, liberated from the imperfections of our present nature, we are able to live entirely in our true and divine being is what in the end we mean by Yoga.”

Sri Aurobindo, Essays on the Gita, First Series, Chapter 24, The Gist of the Karmayoga, pp. 238-239

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