Devotion and Works

The underlying principle of the traditional Yoga of works is obedience to the Divine Will in works. This approach may, however, be one of long-suffering carrying of a burden if it is not modified by the spirit of love and devotion. It may also emphasize a difference between the Master and the servant which accentuates the apparent separation and division between the human being as instrument of divine action and the Divine Master who appoints the practitioner to the chosen effort.

Sri Aurobindo describes the modified relationship that can eventuate when the seeker approaches the way of works from the side of devotion: “He is the Master; but in this way of approach all distance and separation, all awe and fear and mere obedience disappear, because we become too close and united with him for these things to endure and it is the lover of our being who takes it up and occupies and uses and does with it whatever he wills. Obedience is the sign of the servant, but that is the lowest stage of this relation, dasya. Afterwards we do not obey, but move to his will as the string replies to the finger of the musician. To be the instrument is this higher stage of self-surrender and submission. But this is the living and loving instrument and it ends in the whole nature of our being becoming the slave of God, rejoicing in his possession and its own blissful subjection to the divine grasp and mastery. With a passionate delight it does all he wills it to do without questioning and bears all he would have it bear, because what it bears is the burden of the beloved being.”

Sri Aurobindo, The Synthesis of Yoga, Part Three: The Yoga of Divine Love, Chapter 8, The Mystery of Love, pg. 577

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