The Way of Devotion in the Integral Yoga

The integral Yoga accepts the reality of the world and our individual existence as a manifestation of the Divine. There is no ultimate break between the “reality” of the Divine and the “illusion” of the world. In a traditional practice of devotional Yoga, concentration is placed on the specific form of the Godhead, and a relationship of adoration is established between the practitioner and the Divine form. In the integral Yoga, however, the devotion must break through all the limitations and see, experience, relate to and adore God in oneself, in the universal manifestation and in the Transcendent which exceeds all the specific names and forms of the manifestation while still encompassing them.

Sri Aurobindo explains further: “The way of the integral Yoga of Bhakti will be to universalise this conception of the Deity, to personalise him intimately by a multiple and an all-embracing relation, to make him constantly present to all the being and to devote, give up, surrender the whole being to him, so that he shall dwell near to us and in us and we with him and in him…..a constant thinking of him in all things and seeing of him always and everywhere is essential to this way of devotion. When we look on the things of physical Nature, in them we have to see the divine object of our love; when we look upon men and beings, we have to see him in them and in our relation with them to see that we are entering into relations with forms of him; when breaking beyond the limitation of the material world we know or have relations with the beings of other planes, still the same thought and vision has to be made real to our minds.”

In our normal everyday view of things, we see each individual and each physical form or object as something separate and distinct, and we do not ordinarily see and recognize the divinity that is expressed there. We then treat the Divine as someone or something abstract or at least different from the forms and forces and personalities we see in the world. The integral seeker corrects this misperception with the higher insight that the Upanishads relate “All this is the Brahman.”

“In all godheads we have to see this one God whom we worship with our heart and all our being; they are forms of his divinity. So enlarging our spiritual embrace we reach a point at which all is he and the delight of this consciousness becomes to us our normal uninterrupted way of looking at the world. That brings us the outward or objective universality of our union with him.”

Sri Aurobindo, The Synthesis of Yoga, Part Three: The Yoga of Divine Love, Chapter 8, The Mystery of Love, pp. 575-576

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