The Perfection of the Yoga of Works

The ultimate perfection of the yoga of works occurs when there is a complete identity with the divine Spirit and a total surrender of the human instrument to the Will and action seen and manifested by that Spirit. The preparatory steps, consisting of the non-attachment to the fruits, followed by non-attachment to being the “doer” of the works, are intended to transition the human being to that divine standpoint.

Sri Aurobindo explains the requirement: “Let your natural being be an occasion, an instrument, a channel of power, a means of manifestation. Offer up your will to him and make it one with his eternal will: surrender all your actions in the silence of your self and spirit to the transcendent Master of your nature. This cannot be really done or done perfectly so long as there is any ego sense in you or any mental claim or vital clamour. Action done in the least degree for the sake of the ego or tinged with the desire and will of the ego is not a perfect sacrifice. Nor can this great thing be well and truly done so long as there is inequality anywhere or any stamp of ignorant shrinking and preference.”

This results in a radically different basis of any action: “To allow your every act to be shaped through you by the divine Will in its immaculate sovereignty is the highest degree of perfection that comes by doing works in Yoga. That done, your nature will follow its cosmic walk in a complete and constant union with the Supreme, express the highest Self, obey the Ishwara.”

This way of works is preferable to the attempt to renounce or abandon works, as it identifies the being with the divine manifestation. It also must be recognised that total renunciation of works is not even possible while one lives in the body. Those seeking the highest divine realisation also have an obligation to support the divine manifestation and set the example for the rest.

The Gita points out that “The best, the greatest set the standard which the rest of humanity strive to follow. Then, since action is the nature of the embodied spirit, since works are the will of the eternal Worker, the great spirits, the master-minds should set this example. World-workers should they be, doing all works of the world without reservation,–God-workers free, glad and desireless, liberated souls and natures.”

Sri Aurobindo, Essays on the Gita, Second Series, Part II, Chapter 24, The Message of the Gita, pp. 568-569

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