The Essential Characteristics of the Integral Path of Knowledge

While the traditional path of knowledge leads away from the life of the world, treating it as either an illusion or a lesser reality to be abandoned in order to achieve Oneness with the Supreme, the integral path of knowledge obviously cannot follow this route. The integral Yoga starts from the premise that the manifestation is real, an “omnipresent reality” and thus, the path of knowledge is not focused on abandonment, but on sifting out the truth of our existence from the falsity that parades as knowledge for the physical-vital-mental sphere of the outer life.

Sri Aurobindo observes: “Eliminate the falsity of the being which figures as the ego; then our true being can manifest in us. Eliminate the falsity of the life which figures as mere vital craving and the mechanical round of our corporeal existence; our true life in the power of the Godhead and the joy of the Infinite will appear. Eliminate the falsity of the senses with their subjection to material shows and to dual sensations; there is a greater sense in us that can open through these to the Divine in things and divinely reply to it. Eliminate the falsity of the heart with its turbid passions and desires and its dual emotions; a deeper heart in us can open with its divine love for all creatures and its infinite passion and yearning for the responses of the Infinite. Eliminate the falsity of the thought with its imperfect mental constructions, its arrogant assertions and denials, its limited and exclusive concentrations; a greater faculty of Knowledge is behind that can open to the true Truth of God and the soul and Nature and the universe.”

This path leads to the integral development of all the powers of life in Oneness with the Supreme, rather than a denial and an abandonment of the creation. “…an absolute, a culmination for the experiences of the heart, for its instinct of love, joy, devotion and worship; an absolute, a culmination for the senses, for their pursuit of divine beauty and good and delight in the forms of things; an absolute, a culmination for the life, for its pursuit of works, of divine power, mastery and perfection; an absolute, a culmination beyond its own limits for the thought, for its hunger after truth and light and divine wisdom and knowledge. Not something quite other than themselves from which they are all cast away is the end of these things in our nature, but something supreme in which they at once transcend themselves and find their own absolutes and infinitudes, their harmonies beyond measure.”

Sri Aurobindo, The Synthesis of Yoga, Part Two: The Yoga of Integral Knowledge, Chapter 1, The Object of Knowledge, pp. 277-278

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