Faith and Patience Are Required to Persist Through the Stages of the Yoga

In the spiritual tradition of India, there is a story about a young boy who sought enlightenment. He abandoned his worldly life to dedicate himself to the spiritual practice and found a teacher in the form of a yogi who resided in an Ashram in the forest. When he applied for the teaching, the Guru told him to take a pair of cattle into the forest and when he had built a herd of 1000 cattle, to return for the teaching. Obviously this process was going to require many years’ of persistent effort. The boy, who had absolute faith in the teacher, took the two cattle and lived in the forest. During that time he obviously learned many things as he faced the difficulties of amassing a large herd, overcoming the dangers and risks both to himself and to the cattle during that time. Eventually he reached the requisite number and returned for the teaching. When the Guru saw the radiance of the youth, who had learned from the cows, the trees, the fire, the sun, the wind, and the water, he got down from his seat, bowed at the feet of the youth, established him in the teacher’s position and declared that he was now the teacher, as he had realized the spiritual truth of the Brahman.

The story illustrates the theme that Sri Aurobindo takes up at this point; namely, that the effort to overcome the ego-consciousness, transcend the action of the three Gunas, and achieve the spiritual standpoint of the Divine Consciousness is something that requires faith that does not waver when the process takes time or when difficulties are recognized.

“The Master of the work does not reveal himself at once to the seeker….Only when our surrender to his divine Shakti is absolute shall we have the right to live in his absolute presence. And only then can we see our work throw itself naturally, completely and simply into the mould of the Divine Will.”

“The vision of the full glory may come to us before, suddenly or slowly, once or often, but until the foundation is complete, it is a summary and concentrated, not a durable and all-enveloping experience, not a lasting presence. The amplitudes, the infinite contents of the Divine Revelation come afterwards and unroll gradually their power and their significance. Or, even, the steady vision can be there on the summits of our nature, but the perfect response of the lower members comes only by degrees.”

“In all Yogas the first requisites are faith and patience. The ardours of the heart and the violences of the eager will that seek to take the kingdom of heaven by storm can have miserable reactions if they disdain to support their vehemence on these humbler and quieter auxiliaries. And in the long and difficult integral Yoga there must be an integral faith and an unshakable patience.”

Sri Aurobindo, The Synthesis of Yoga, Part One: The Yoga of Divine Works, Chapter 11, The Master of the Work, pp. 231-232