The Practical Necessity For the Three Stages Of Development of Integral Yoga

In our usual goal-oriented approach to action, it is tempting to try to leap over the earlier stages and settle oneself in the final status that results from the practice of the integral Yoga. This is particularly true for those who have strong development of the mental capacities, as they take the acceptance of the thought in the mind as representing the actual result in the rest of the being.

The action of the three Gunas in the lower Nature continues and ensures that various movements will be either clouded by delusion or darkness, desire or fear, or the assurance of rightness, all of which actually count as obstacles to the complete realisation of the results of the yogic practice in the entire being.

The human instrument is also quite complex, and just because we “think” something, it does not mean that at the level of physical or vital reaction or response, that thought is effective and being carried out without deformation.

These issues lead Sri Aurobindo to conclude that the seeker should be prepared to follow through diligently and systematically on the three stages and give the changes that occur time to ripen and take firm hold of the entire being.

“It will not do, it cannot be safe or effective to begin with the last and highest alone. It would not be the right course, either, to leap prematurely from one to another. For even if from the beginning we recognise in mind and heart the Supreme, there are elements of the nature which long prevent the recognition from becoming realisation.”

“And even if realisation has begun, it may be dangerous to imagine or to assume too soon that we are altogether in the hands of the Supreme or acting as his instrument. That assumption may introduce a calamitous falsity; it may produce a helpless inertia or, magnifying the movements of the ego with the Divine Name, it may disastrously distort and ruin the whole course of the Yoga.”

Once the process of aspiration has begun, the next phase involves taking up each movement of the mind, heart, vital being and physical body and overcoming the resistance and obstructions they put up: “The mental energies, the heart’s emotions, the vital desires, the very physical being have to be compelled into the right attitude or trained to admit and answer to the right influences. It is only then, only when this has been truly done, that the surrender of the lower to the higher can be effected, because the sacrifice has become acceptable.”

“The personal will of the Sadhaka has first to seize on the egoistic energies and turn them towards the light and the right; once turned, he has still to train them to recognise that always, always to accept, always to follow that.” Once that step has been mainly accomplished, the egoistic personality still remains in evidence, but can begin to respond to the demands of the higher Force in the actions carried out. “At the end of the progress, with the progressive disappearance of egoism and impurity and ignorance, this last separation is removed; all in the individual becomes the divine working.”

Sri Aurobindo, The Synthesis of Yoga, Part One: The Yoga of Divine Works, Chapter 1, The Four Aids, pp. 53-55