The Three Stages of the Practice of Integral Yoga

The Integral Yoga, by its very nature as a synthesis to achieve comprehensive transformation of the entire nature, does not rely on the type of very specific practices and procedures found in the more specialized yogic paths. While it may from time to time make use of some of these specific practices for achieving very defined steps in the transformation of one part of the being or another, one cannot characterize the yoga by these specifics as one can for the various yogic disciplines.

Sri Aurobindo clarifies the general methodology of the integral yoga: “In psychological fact this method translates itself into the progressive surrender of the ego with its whole field and all its apparatus to the Beyond-ego with its vast and incalculable but always inevitable workings. Certainly this is no short cut or easy Sadhana. It requires a colossal faith, an absolute courage and above all an unflinching patience.”

He goes on to define the stages of the practice: “For it implies three stages of which only the last can be wholly blissful or rapid,–the attempt of the ego to enter into contact with the Divine, the wide, full and therefore laborious preparation of the whole lower Nature by the divine working to receive and become the higher Nature, and the eventual transformation.”

The difficulties are daunting as the ego is at the core of all our normal human ways of seeing and acting, and thus, everything is colored by its presence, the entire weight of past history and social conditioning and the expectations put upon the individual by friends, family and the social order. Add to this the desires and cravings in the physical and vital body, and the demands of the emotion and intellect for their own satisfaction.

There is however the unseen aid of the Divine consciousness which supports, upholds, reinforces the effort and spurs the progress, even during the most difficult periods. “He who chooses the Divine has been chosen by the Divine” as Sri Aurobindo has elsewhere stated.

“Therefore this path is at once the most difficult imaginable and yet, in comparison with the magnitude of its effort and object, the most easy and sure of all.”

Sri Aurobindo, The Synthesis of Yoga, Introduction: The Conditions of the Synthesis, Chapter 5, Synthesis, pg. 41