Approaching God Through Our Limited Human Nature

For the practitioner of the Integral Yoga, an all-encompassing devotion is the eventual result. Each person, however, takes up their spiritual practice and focus based on the pre-existing conditions and development of their individual nature within the context of their society, education and background. For the most part, this leads to a more narrow focus initially on a particular aspect, attribute or form of the Divinity. Even in the normal life, not focused on Yoga, there are specific developed qualities and experiences which, over time, are intended to broaden and open the individual to a wider understanding and basis, which represents a preparation for the development of a spiritual life.

Sri Aurobindo observes, with regard to the comprehensive approach needed for the integral Yoga: “in fact, it is only possible if the intelligence, the temperament, the emotional mind have already been developed into largeness and fineness by the trend of our previous living. That is what the experience of the normal life is meant to lead to by its widening culture of the intellect, the aesthetic and emotional mind and of our parts too of will and active experience. it widens and refines the normal being so that it may open easily to all the truth of That which was preparing it for the temple of its self-manifestation. Ordinarily, man is limited in all these parts of his being and he can grasp at first only so much of the divine truth as has large correspondence to his own nature and its past development and associations. Therefore God meets us first in different limited affirmations of his divine qualities and nature; he presents himself to the seeker as an absolute of the things he can understand and to which his will and heart can respond; he discloses some name and aspect of his Godhead. This is what is called in Yoga the ista-devata, the name and form elected by our nature for its worship.”

This leads naturally to the many forms of God that are worshipped by people all over the world. “These are those forms of Vishnu, Shiva, Krishna, Kali, Durga, Christ, Buddha, which the mind of man seizes on for adoration. Even the monotheist who worships a formless Godhead, yet gives to him some form of quality, some mental form or form of Nature by which he envisages and approaches him. But to be able to see a living form, a mental body, as it were, of the Divine gives to the approach a greater closeness and sweetness.”

Sri Aurobindo, The Synthesis of Yoga, Part Three: The Yoga of Divine Love, Chapter 8, The Mystery of Love, pp. 574-575

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