The Traditional Yoga of Knowledge and the Outer World of Forms

Not every spiritual seeker in the traditional Yoga of knowledge starts from the same place nor follows the exact same path of development. Those who can follow the inner-directed approach using the positive and negative affirmations are encouraged to do so; while there remain those who interact with and respond to the universal manifestation. And even for those who follow the individual inward path, there are times when the consciousness turns outward. These individuals are then asked to implement an approach that addresses this relationship with the outer world.

There are a series of affirmations or meditations that systematically deconstruct the forms of the outer world into their constituent basis and from there, to the absolute Brahman. Sri Aurobindo explains: “The ascetic Path of Knowledge has its solution and its discipline for the soul that looks out on the universe. It is to regard the immanent and all-encompassing and all-constituting Self in the image of the ether in which all forms are, which is in all forms, of which all forms are made. In that ether cosmic Life and Mind move as the Breath of things, an atmospheric sea in the ethereal and constitute from it all these forms; but what they constitute are merely name and form and not realities; the form of the pot we see is a form of earth only and goes back into the earth, earth a form resolvable into the cosmic Life, the cosmic Life a movement that falls to rest in that silent immutable Ether. Concentrating on this knowledge, rejecting all phenomenon and appearance, we come to see the whole as an illusion of name and form in the ether that is Brahman; it becomes unreal to us; and the universe becoming unreal the immanence becomes unreal and there is only the Self upon which our mind has falsely imposed the name and form of the universe. Thus are we justified in the withdrawal of the individual self into the Absolute.”

For seekers following the path of the integral Yoga, there is clearly more to the story that needs to be revealed; yet it is helpful to both understand and be able to apply these traditional methods under those circumstances when the soul needs to establish its separation from the phenomenal existence in order to be able to shift standpoint from the human to the divine standpoint.

Sri Aurobindo, The Synthesis of Yoga, Part Two: The Yoga of Integral Knowledge, Chapter 6, The Synthesis of the Disciplines of Knowledge, pp. 324-325