The Foundation of the Integration of Knowledge, Works and Devotion

Generally, we segment the spiritual path of growth along lines of our predominant temperament or cultural background. Those of a more practical nature tend to gravitate toward achieving spiritual realisation through works. Those of a more intellectual bent tend to try to understand the spiritual reality through philosophical or scientific pursuits. And those who have a more emotional personality generally tend to go more toward the ways of devotion. There are in fact different religious and spiritual paths that embody one or another of these principles as their primary line of development. Not infrequently, the practitioners of these paths tend to regard their own way as the absolute best and in some cases, to look down upon or try to dismiss the legitimacy of the others. This is of course an illustration of the fragmenting and dividing nature of the mental consciousness, which tries to segment, analyze, define and distinguish, rather than trying to unify, integrate and harmonize, as its primary functional methodology.

The Gita recognizes that these three paths do not conflict with one another and, while they each rely on a different starting point in the human personality, they actually find their own fulfillment in the integration of the other two aspects.

The foundation of this integration is explained by Sri Aurobindo: “All act and becoming which proceed directly from this spiritual force are a divine becoming and a pure and spiritual action. Therefore it follows that in actino the effort of the human individual must be to get back to his true spiritual personality and to make all his works flow from the power of its supernal Shakti, to develop action through the soul and the inmost intrinsic being, not through the mental idea and vital desire, and to turn all his acts into a pure outflowing of the will of the Supreme, all his life into a dynamic symbol of the Divine Nature.”

The flower of knowledge is acting for the benefit of the entire manifestation through one’s works, and the result, and eventually the impetus, of this dedication with knowledge is a profound spiritual love and devotion.

Sri Aurobindo, Essays on the Gita, Second Series, Part I, Chapter 2, The Synthesis of Devotion and Knowledge, pp. 265-266