Liberation and the Integral Freedom of the Spirit

In the traditional Yoga of knowledge, the idea of liberation is tied into the abandonment of life in the world, and the systematic dissolution of all ties until the concentration becomes totally focused on the Absolute, and the individual dissolves his personality into the unmoving, silent Beyond. For the seeker of the integral Yoga, however, Sri Aurobindo frames the idea not as traditional moksha but as mukti or freedom of the spirit. To accomplish this, there are both a “negative” aspect and a “positive” aspect. The “negative” aspect involves freeing oneself from the various bondages of the life-energies and the forces of Nature. The “positive” aspect uses the freedom provided by the “negative” aspect to allow the seeker to grow into the larger spiritual existence that awaits, through universalising of the being and through heightening and spiritualising the being through transcendence.

The bondages that hold the seeker back are defined in the Gita and taken up by Sri Aurobindo: “they are four, desire, ego, the dualities and the three gunas of Nature; for to be desireless, ego-less, equal of mind and soul and spirit and nistraigunya is in the idea of the Gita to be free, mukta. We may accept this description; for everything essential is covered by its amplitude. On the other hand, the positive sense of freedom is to be universal in soul, transcendently one–as we may say, like to God, or one with him in the law of our being. This is the whole and full sense of liberation and this is the integral freedom of the spirit.”

Sri Aurobindo, The Synthesis of Yoga, Part Four: The Yoga of Self-Perfection, Chapter 8, The Liberation of the Spirit, pp. 647-648