The Integral Yoga of Knowledge

Sri Aurobindo explains the differences between the traditional Yoga of knowledge and what may be called the “integral yoga of knowledge”. While the traditional Yoga of knowledge accepts the concept that “all this is the Brahman”, on a practical level, it focuses the attention on the inactive, passive Brahman and avoids or rejects the active Brahman of the manifested world. The goal is, through non-attachment to the outer world, to achieve a status that is pure, silent, immobile. Obviously there are occasional attempts made through history to bring this knowledge of Oneness into practice, but the vast weight of the traditional approach has tended to overlook the importance of this approach.

On the other hand, the integral Yoga of knowledge as described by Sri Aurobindo, seeks to unify the consciousness to embrace both the passive and the active Brahman, to give full weight to the Oneness of all that is manifested with the unmanifest, and to treat both as equal aspects of the divine creation, in what Sri Aurobindo elsewhere describes as “reality omnipresent”.

“The soul thus possesses itself in the unity of Sachchidananda upon all the manifest planes of its own being. This is the characteristic of the integral knowledge that it unifies all in Sachchidananda because not only is Being one in itself, but it is one everywhere, in all its poises and in every aspect, in its utmost appearance of multiplicity as in its utmost appearance of oneness.”

The integral knowledge …”finds the same oneness in the Unmanifest and the Manifest, in the Impersonal and the Personal, in Nirguna and Saguna, in the infinite depths of the universal silence and the infinite largeness of the universal action. It finds the same absolute oneness in the Purusha and the Prakriti; in the divine Presence and the works of the divine Power and Knowledge; in the eternal manifestness of the one Purusha and the constant manifestation of the many Purushas; in the inalienable unity of Sachchidananda keeping constantly real to itself its own manifold oneness and in the apparent divisions of mind, life and body in which oneness is constantly, if secretly real and constantly seeks to be realised. All unity is to it an intense, pure and infinite realisation, all difference an abundant, rich and boundless realisation of the same divine and eternal Being.”

Sri Aurobindo, The Synthesis of Yoga, Part Two: The Yoga of Integral Knowledge, Chapter 16, Oneness, pp. 401-402

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