The Role of the Teacher In the Integral Yoga

The teacher, the guide uses the instrumentality of instruction, personal example and his own influence on the seeker of the integral Yoga. This follows the general methodology used by a teacher of any subject, or of other paths of Yoga. The differences arise in the practical application inasmuch as it is not the goal of the teacher to indoctrinate the seeker into a specific set of rules or practices, but to help awaken the seeker to the inner Guide and the spiritual consciousness, following the student’s own nature, capacities and limitations.

Sri Aurobindo details the role of the teacher thus: “He will seek to awaken much more than to instruct; he will aim at the growth of the faculties and the experiences by a natural process and free expansion. He will give a method as an aid, as a utilisable device, not as an imperative formula or a fixed routine. And he will be on his guard against any turning of the mans into a limitation, against the mechanising of process. His whole business is to awaken the divine light and set working the divine force of which he himself is only a means and an aid, a body or a channel.”

He also reminds us that of the three instrumentalities, “The example is more powerful than the instruction: but it is not the example of the outward acts nor that of the personal character, which is of most importance…..what will most stimulate aspiration in others is the central fact of the divine realisation within him governing his whole life and inner state and all his activities. This is the universal and essential element; the rest belongs to individual person and circumstance.”

The seeker thereby should take up, not the outer forms of action of the guide, but the inner fire of aspiration and the inner light of awareness, make it his own, and let that dictate his own mode of being and acting.

“Influence is more important than example. Influence is not the outward authority of the Teacher over his disciple, but the power of his contact, of his presence, of the nearness of his soul to the soul of another, infusing into it, even though in silence, that which he himself is and possesses. This is the supreme sign of the Master. For the greatest Master is much less a Teacher than a Presence pouring the divine consciousness and its constituting liht and power and purity and bliss into all who are receptive around him.”

At the same time, the teacher in the integral Yoga does not place himself on a pedestal or arrogate to himself pride of place: “And it shall also be a sign of the teacher of the integral Yoga that he does not arrogate to himself Guruhood in a humanly vain and self-exalting spirit. His work, if he has one, is a trust from above, he himself a channel, a vessel or a representative. he is a man helping his brothers, a child leading children, a Light kindling other lights, an awakened Soul awakening souls, at highest a Power or Presence of the Divine calling to him other powers of the Divine.”

Sri Aurobindo, The Synthesis of Yoga, Part One: The Yoga of Divine Works, Chapter 1, The Four Aids, pp. 60-61