The Three Aspects of the Perfection of Devotion to the Divine

To turn the entire life and its acts into a process of devotion to the Divine, Sri Aurobindo has identified three parts or aspects: “a practical worship of the Divine in the act, a symbol of worship in the form of the act expressing some vision and seeking or some relation with the Divine, an inner adoration and longing for oneness or feeling of oneness in the heart and soul and spirit.”

A ritual outer form of worship is relatively ineffective if it is not accompanied by the inner spirit and intention of the act. At the same time, the ability to make the vision or intention solid through an expression in a material form, whether through physical manifestation of the being, or through some kind of material form of offering, is a benefit to to fix that devotion into the world.

Sri Aurobindo points out that the most essential point is the inner spirit and intention, as he quotes the Gita: “He who gives to me with a heart of adoration a leaf, a flower, a fruit or a cup of water, I take and enjoy that offering of his devotion;” He clarifies that it is not only these physical forms, but also the thoughts, feelings, and sensations that can be offered as elements of the devotional activity.

“It is true that the especial act or form of action has its importance, even a great importance, but it is the spirit in the act that is the essential factor; the spirit of which it is the symbol or materialised expression gives it its whole value and justifying significance.”

The end result is the devotee using every action and movement of life as an act of adoration and devotion: “It is so that life can be changed into worship,–by putting behind it the spirit of a transcendent and universal love, the seeking of oneness, the sense of oneness; by making each act a symbol, an expression of Godward emotion or a relation with the Divine; by turning all we do into an act of worship, an act of the soul’s communion, the mind’s understanding, the life’s obedience, the heart’s surrender.”

Sri Aurobindo, The Synthesis of Yoga, Part One: The Yoga of Divine Works, Chapter 6, The Ascent of the Sacrifice-2, The Works of Love–The Works of Life, pp. 152-153