The Method and Aims of the Yoga of Works

The Yoga of Works focuses on the Will Power as the motive engine of the change of consciousness. Sri Aurobindo explains the method: “The Path of Works aims at the dedication of every human activity to the supreme Will. It begins by the renunciation of all egoistic aim for our works, all pursuit of action for an interested aim or for the sake of a worldly result.”

This starts out as a discipline, but eventually leads to the recognition that the individual is not actually the true “doer” of works; rather it is the Prakriti through the three Gunas of Nature that is the effective actor carrying out the Will of the Supreme. The role of the individual is to be a nexus for a specific formulation in the universal play. Eventually, as the Yoga of Works progresses, “The choice and direction of the act is more and more consciously left to this supreme Will and this universal Energy. To That our works as well as the results of our works are finally abandoned.”

This results in the freeing of the individual from the bondage of the chain of cause and effect, karma, that results from action. “Karmayoga is used, like the other paths, to lead to liberation from phenomenal existence and a departure into the Supreme.”

The individual aim of liberation however is not the sole possible route for the Karmayogin. “The end of the path may be, equally, a perception of the divine in all energies, in all happenings, in all activities, and a free and unegoistic participation of the soul in the cosmic action. So followed it will lead to the elevation of all human will and activity to the divine level, its spiritualisation and the justification of the cosmic labour towards freedom, power and perfection in the human being.”

As each of the three paths develops they converge and harmonise with one another, so that Knowledge brings in Devotion and Works, and in a similar way, whichever path is the starting point, it leads to the others when followed in an all-embracing and integral manner. “It is in this triple path that we come most readily to the absolute knowledge, love and service of the One in all beings and in Its entire manifestation.”

Sri Aurobindo, The Synthesis of Yoga, Introduction: The Conditions of the Synthesis, Chapter 4, The Systems of Yoga, pp. 34-35