The Transformation of Our Being Through the Yogic Process

We normally see the world and respond to it from the viewpoint of a human individual, separated, fragmented, and limited facing an immensely complex and enormously large universal manifestation consisting of endless numbers of forms and forces, carrying out actions that go beyond the ability of any individual to truly understand and effectively respond to. This is called the “human standpoint”. The process of the integral Yoga involves the total shifting of our standpoint to the “divine standpoint”. From this view we are no longer separate or isolated individuals, but witnesses and participants in the larger being and consciousness that both transcends and encompasses all those forms, forces and beings that we formerly considered to be separate and outside of us. Our actions also are transformed to be those, not of a separated individual ego-personality, but to be the outflowing of the divine Force in its development of the intention of its manifestation.

In order for this to occur, Sri Aurobindo describes a dual process of ascent and descent: “There must be an ascension of the whole being, an ascension of spirit chained here and trammelled by its instruments and its environment to sheer Spirit free above, an ascension of soul towards some blissful Super-soul, an ascension of mind towards some luminous Supermind, an ascension of life towards some vast Super-life, an ascension of our very physicality to join its origin in some pure and plastic spirit-substance.”

“At the same time there must be a descent too to affirm below what we have gained above: on each height we conquer we have to turn to bring down its power and its illumination into the lower mortal movement; the discovery of the Light forever radiant on high must correspond with the release of the same Light secret below in every part down to the deepest caves of subconscient Nature.”

The process to shift from the human to the divine standpoint, with all that is implied, can take on the aspects of a strenuous effort or a battle of conflicting impulses, thoughts, desires and reactions. “For all our old obscure and ignorant nature will contend repeatedly and obstinately with the transforming Influence, supported in its lagging unwillingness or its stark resistance by mot of the established forces of environing universal Nature; the powers and principalities and the ruling beings of the Ignorance will not easily give up their empire.”

Because we are not the totally separate individuals, walled off from the rest of the creation, which we consider ourselves to be, the transformation process itself cannot proceed without setbacks and struggles. Even if we have gained some ground within the individual standpoint, the same forces and impulses still exist and work to regain their influence and undermine the progress from outside. Until all is transformed, nothing is completely transformed. The yogic process entails dedicating oneself to this continuous and continual effort, while opening up to and responding to the descent of the divine consciousness and force as it answers from above.

Sri Aurobindo, The Synthesis of Yoga, Part One: The Yoga of Divine Works, Chapter 4, The Sacrifice, The Triune Path and the Lord of the Sacrifice, pp. 123-124

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