All Life Is Yoga

If we can summarize the crux of the Gita’s teaching, it is in the memorable phrase coined by Sri Aurobindo: “All life is yoga.” Whatever one’s circumstances, actions, station in life, and relationships, the essential aspect is to constantly see and remember the Divine at all times. When one observes the myriad individual forms, they must be seen as forms of the Divine. The individual, the universal and the transcendent are all the Divine.

In his Tales of Prison Life, Sri Aurobindo illustrated this concept as he sat in jail awaiting a trial brought against him by the British Raj during India’s struggle for independence in the early 20th Century. He tells of observing a spreading tree and seeing Sri Krishna sheltering him from the sun. He saw Sri Krishna in the Judge on the bench and in the defense and prosecution, and this perception kept him at peace and confident throughout the ordeal.

It is not possible, for someone embedded in the normal human mental consciousness, to see and act with this vision at all times. Sri Aurobindo puts forth the conditions required: “If we have become in our consciousness one self with all, one self which is always to our thought the Divine, and even our eyes and our other senses see and sense the Divine Being everywhere so that it is impossible for us at any time at all to feel and think of anything as that merely which the unenlightened sense perceives, but only as the Godhead at once concealed and manifested in that form, and if our will is one in consciousness with a supreme will and every act of will, of mind, of body is felt to come from it, to be its movement, instinct with it or identical, then what the Gita demands can be integrally done. The remembrance of the Divine Being becomes no longer an intermittent act of the mind, but the natural condition of our activities and in a way the very substance of the consciousness.”

Sri Aurobindo, Essays on the Gita, Second Series, Part I, Chapter 3, The Supreme Divine, pp. 285-286