Sri Aurobindo identifies what may be considered to be three stages in the progression of the change from the human ego-personality to the individuality acting solely as a nexus of the divine manifestation. These three stages are not absolutely sequential. Due to the complexity of the transitions and the requirements of implementation over time, there may be overlap or even something of a “dual-action” whereby one aspect of the being is responsive to what would occur in a subsequent stage, while other aspects remain mired in an earlier form of action.
The first stage is generally seen as the one involving the personal effort of the seeker. As previously noted, this personal effort involves the turning of the being and all its parts toward the divine, a filtering process to permit only the divine force and no lesser or hostile energies from taking hold of the being, and a progressive process of integration of the divine force into the action of the being, which Sri Aurobindo terms “aspiration”, “rejection” and “surrender”.
“An entire consecration of all that we are, think, feel and do will be the result of this persistence.”
The second stage is characterized as being “transitional” in nature. “In the second stage of the Yoga, transitional between the human and the divine working, there will supervene an increasing purified and vigilant passivity, a more and more luminous divine response to the Divine Force,–but not to any other; and there will be as a result the growing inrush of a great and conscious miraculous working from above.”
The third stage is one controlled by the Divine which has taken charge of the individual and the working: “In the last period there is no effort at all, no set method, no fixed Sadhana; the place of endeavour and Tapasya will be taken by a natural, simple, powerful and happy disclosing of the flower of the Divine out of the bud of a purified and perfected terrestrial nature.”
It is important to note that while many traditional practices of Yoga seek to raise up the forces from below, moving up the spinal column from the base chakra to the crown chakra, the integral Yoga is characterized by what can only be termed a descent of the Force from above, through and into the being, and moving systematically down from the crown to the lower energy centers in the being.
The seeker may become conscious of the guidance and action of the higher Force, either at times, or even consistently, particularly as the process develops. “But it is the constant and complete and uniform action of the great direct control that more and more distinguishes the transitional stage as it proceeds and draws to its close. This predominance of a greater diviner leading, not personal to ourselves, indicates the nature’s increasing ripeness for a total spiritual transformation. It is the unmistakable sign that the self-consecration has not only been accepted in principle but is fulfilled in act and power. The Supreme has laid his luminous hand upon a chosen human vessel of his miraculous Light and Power and Ananda.”
Sri Aurobindo, The Synthesis of Yoga, Part One: The Yoga of Divine Works, Chapter 2, Self Consecration, pp. 80-81