Transitioning From Personal Effort to Divine Action In the Practice of Yoga

The seeker, starting from the consciousness of the limited and separated human individual, has to take up the practice of the integral Yoga through what he considers to be his own personal effort. Just as each form or path of yoga has specific practices or techniques, the integral Yoga also has its own techniques, which in this case are essentially psychological standpoints that will eventually aid the seeker in making the transition from the circumscribed human to the unlimited divine standpoint of action. Sri Aurobindo describes these three practices as “aspiration”, “rejection” and “surrender”.

Aspiration orients the seeker towards the Divine and the divine realisation, as a sunflower orients itself towards the sun. This practice creates the conscious link and opens the pathway for the divine response.

Rejection acts as a tuning and filtering mechanism so that the various parts of the being respond only to the divine impulsions and not the promptings of desire and ego.

Surrender is the ultimate practice that accepts the force of the divine that descends into the being through the action of the aspiration and rejection, and allows it to carry out the needed activities and make the necessary adjustments.

To the extent that one is still immersed in the ego consciousness, these three practices are necessary and constitute the core sadhana or practice of the integral Yoga. At some point, as they take hold of the being, a shift occurs that makes it clear that the divine is actually the true doer of the yogic practice, and the aspiration and rejection become perfected, as also the surrender. This involves the progressive release of the ego-personality.

“As long as the ego is at work in us, our personal action is and must always be in its nature a part of the lower grades of existence; it is obscure or half-enlightened, limited in its field, very partially effective in its power. If a spiritual transformation, not a mere illumining modification of our nature, is to be done at all, we must call in the Divine Shakti to effect that miraculous work in the individual; for she alone has the needed force, decisive, all-wise and illimitable.”

Sri Aurobindo, The Synthesis of Yoga, Part One: The Yoga of Divine Works, Chapter 2, Self Consecration, pp. 79-80

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