Conditions For a Synthesis of the Various Yogic Paths

The various yogic paths and traditions each focus on one leading aspect of our human instrument, using that as the focus and lever of the effort to achieve a divine realisation. While they have acquired something of a habit of opposition to one another in the minds of the practitioners, they could be seen more as complementary to one another, rounding out the full human potential, if a method can be found to achieve their harmonious integration and support for one another.

Sri Aurobindo points out that the differences in focus, practices and efforts involved, if simmply clubbed together would achieve confusion and little else. Further, that the idea of sequentially taking up one and then the next is not practical nor efficient in achieving the goal of the aspiration, given the enormous effort that each of these disparate paths must require of the practitioner.

“The synthesis we propose cannot, then, be arrived at either by combination in mass or by successive practice. It must therefore be effected by neglecting the forms and outsides of the Yogic disciplines and seizing rather on some central principle common to all which will include and utilise in the right place and proportion their particular principles, and on some central dynamic force which is the common secret of their divergent methods and capable therefore of organising a natural selection and combination of their varied energies and different utilities. This was the aim which we set before ourselves at first when we entered upon our comparative examination of the methods of Nature and the methods of Yoga and we now return to it with the possibility of hazarding some definite solution.”

With our view of the various paths, their basis, principles and practices in mind, as well as the specific goals and aims they set in front of themselves, it will be our task to extract the common essential principles and utilise the practices, from whichever school or path it may stem, to achieve these realisations, keeping in mind the starting point of the individual, the natural strengths and weaknesses that he must address, and the needs of the individual in his own cycle of development and the relationship of that development to the general tendency and needs of the time.

Sri Aurobindo, The Synthesis of Yoga, Introduction: The Conditions of the Synthesis, Chapter 5, Synthesis, pp. 36-37