The Integral Yoga and the Activities of Daily Life

Sri Aurobindo’s approach is neither to deny the reality of the outer world, nor to try to artificially limit the activities of life that can be adopted within the “spiritual” framework. These approaches, while on one side, somewhat easier to address due to the simplification of the problem of integrating the spiritual perspective into daily life, are, on the other side, hampered by the limitations they impose upon themselves. “There is not and cannot be any ascetic or contemplative or mystic abandonment of works and life altogether, any gospel of an absorbed meditation and inactivity, any cutting away or condemnation of the Life-Force and its activities, any rejection of the manifestation in the Earth-nature.”

Sri Aurobindo of course recognizes the tactical necessity for periods of withdrawal to focus and concentrate on a specific spiritual development. “But this can only be a period or an episode, a temporary necessity or a preparatory spiritual manoeuvre; it cannot be the rule of his Yoga or its principle.”

“A splitting up of the activities of human existence on a religious or an ethical basis or both together, a restriction to the works of worship only or to the works of philanthropy and beneficence only would be contrary to the spirit of the integral Yoga.” These represent essentially mental rules devised by the limited human intelligence that cannot possibly comprehend or recognize the complete and manifold nature of the Divine manifestation.

“…the presence of an inner spiritual change and an outer transformation must be enforced upon the whole of life and not merely on a part of life; all must be accepted that is helpful towards this change or admits it, all must be rejected that is incapable or inapt or refuses to submit itself to the transforming movement.” Essentially every activity of life needs to be evaluated, not on some predetermined mental formulation, but based on the motivation of the Spirit and the need of the divine manifestation.

“But what accepts or rejects must be neither mind or open or camouflaged vital will of desire nor ethical sense, but the insistence of the psychic being, the command of the Divine Guide of the Yoga, the vision of the higher Self or Spirit, the illumined guidance of the Master. The way of the spirit is not a mental way; a mental rule or mental consciousness cannot be its determinant or its leader.”

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. 174-175