Aspects of the Integral Ideal of Self-Perfection

A crucial factor in differentiating the integral Yoga and its ideal of self-perfection from either the mundane or religious ideals, lies in the underlying basis of an “omnipresent reality” that forms a core principle of the integral Yoga. The mundane or secular goals are based on the limitations, divisions and fragmentation involved in the mental, vital and physical formations in the world. It treats each individual as separated from all others and achieves its successes in comparison to or in competition with the other beings, forms and the environment. The religious ideal tends to accept the idea that the world and all its beings and activities are less real or substantial than the ultimate spiritual principle or reality. The integral Yoga accepts the Upanishadic concept of “One without a second” while concurrently accepting that “All this is the Brahman.” This brings the integral Yoga to a unified view that sees the manifestation that takes place in the world, and through individuals, as being the action of the Divine carrying out its intention through its own being as manifested in these forms.

Sri Aurobindo notes: “But the integral Yoga founds itself on a conception of the spiritual being as an omnipresent existence, the fullness of which comes not essentially by a transference to other worlds or a cosmic self-extinction, but by a growth out of what we now are phenomenally into the consciousness of the omnipresent reality which we always are in the essence of our being.”

The two-stage process starts with the personal effort to widen the consciousness and turn the being toward the Divine and is followed up by “…a conversion through a divine influence and possession; but this divine grace, if we may so call it, is not simply a mysterious flow or touch coming from above, but the all-pervading act of a divine presence which we come to know within as the power of the highest Self and Master of our being entering into the soul and so possessing it that we not only feel it close to us and pressing upon our mortal nature, but live in its law, know that law, possess it as the whole power of our spiritualised nature.”

“The conversion its action will effect is an integral conversion of our ethical being into the Truth and Right of the divine nature, of our intellectual into the illumination of divine knowledge, our emotional into the divine love and unity, our dynamic and volitional into a working of the divine power, our aesthetic into a plenary reception and a creative enjoyment of divine beauty, not excluding even in the end a divine conversion of the vital and physical being.”

The entire normal life of all beings is considered to be a secret “Yoga of Nature” and thereby a preparation for the eventual stage where the Yoga can become a self-directing process through conscious awareness in the evolved human individual.

“Admitting the supracosmic truth and life in worlds beyond, it admits too the terrestrial as a continued term of the one existence and a change of individual and communal life on earth as a strain of its divine meaning.”

Sri Aurobindo, The Synthesis of Yoga, Part Four: The Yoga of Self-Perfection, Chapter 2, The Integral Perfection, pp. 595-596

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