“All Life Is Yoga”

Specialisation has both advantages and disadvantages. The benefit arises from the ability to concentrate exclusively on a particular line of endeavor and optimize the fruits and results thereby. This takes place in Western scientific endeavor and the development of technology, as well as in the practice of the specialized forms of Yoga. This type of exclusive concentration, however, tends to narrow the vision and ability to embrace the entirety of our existence. We see then, in terms of technology, a restriction of our interaction with life and the world, which arises from our constant interaction with the technology and what it produces. Similarly with Yoga, this focus has frequently implied abandonment or withdrawal from the flow of life and action in the world, and the yogic practitioner has for the most part been someone who has given up any major active role in the development and support of the human endeavor.

Sri Aurobindo describes the traditional understanding: “In fact, when a man turns his vision and energy inward and enters on the path of Yoga, he is supposed to be lost inevitably to the great stream of our collective existence and the secular effort of humanity.”

He takes strong exception to this approach, however. While a temporary form of exclusive concentration may be required, and where specific individuals even are called upon to take the extreme step in order to advance the common opportunity for bringing the evolutionary progress into a general capability, he asks us to bring about a synthesis that embraces yoga while maintaining the action in the world: “No synthesis of Yoga can be satisfying which does not, in its aim, reunite God and Nature in a liberated and perfected human life or, in its method, not only permit but favour the harmony of our inner and outer activities and experiences in the divine consummation of both. For man is precisely that term and symbol of a higher Existence descended into the material world in which it is possible for the lower to transfigure itself and put on the nature of the higher and the higher to reveal itself in the forms of the lower.”

“The true and full object and utility of Yoga can only be accomplished when the conscious Yoga in man becomes, like the subconscious Yoga in Nature, outwardly conterminous with life itself and we can once more, looking out both on the path and the achievement, say in a more perfect and luminous sense: ‘All life is Yoga.’ ”

Sri Aurobindo, The Synthesis of Yoga, Introduction: The Conditions of the Synthesis, Chapter 1, Life and Yoga, pp. 3-4

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