Introduction to the Yoga of Self-Perfection

Sri Aurobindo introduces the Yoga of Self-Perfection with the following statement: “The principle of Yoga is the turning of one or of all powers of our human existence into a means of reaching the divine Being. In an ordinary Yoga one main power of being or one group of its powers is made the means, vehicle, path. In a synthetic Yoga all powers will be combined and included in the transmuting instrumentation.”

One of the unique contributions Sri Aurobindo has made to the science of Yoga is the integration of all aspects of human life into one comprehensive unified approach that values each path for the specific progress it can provide without thereby denying or devaluing other methods of practice. Each individual is encouraged to take up the practice of Yoga starting from whichever aspect of being is in the forefront in his nature. At the same time, the seeker is asked to recognize that the other methods also have their rationale and importance and should be validated; in fact, the seeker may, and frequently does, find that there are varying stages in his own evolution that bring about a natural adjustment in his practice as the focus shifts from one aspect of being to another.

There may be periods of intense introspection and deep meditation consistent with the Yoga of knowledge. At other times there may be a focus on development of a deep devotion through the practices associated with the Yoga of love and devotion. Yet again, there are periods of dedicated, selfless work in the world as the seeker takes up the Yoga of works. The result of each practice adds to the completeness and integrality of the yogic realisation and ensures thereby that the seeker recognizes the maxim “All life is Yoga”.

Because the life in the world is seen as a real manifestation of the Divine, the human being is seen as part of the evolutionary development of the Divine’s intention, and thus, the various capacities are to be supported, raised up and perfected so that the individual can actively and consciously be an instrument of this divine action. Rather than abandoning the active life, the integral Yoga seeks to take it up and develop it, not for individual self-aggrandisement or for material gain, but for more effective participation in the evolutionary movement of the universe.

Sri Aurobindo, The Synthesis of Yoga, Part Four: The Yoga of Self-Perfection, Chapter 1, The Principle of the Integral Yoga, pg. 583