The practice of Yoga is not an intellectual exercise, nor a philosophical or religious conception, nor even a devotional rite or ritual. The practice of Yoga is grounded in experience and thus, effectuates real changes to the mental poise, emotional response, vital reactions and physical being of the seeker. The preliminary stages represent preparatory efforts so that the being can both come into direct contact with the higher spiritual powers, respond to them, and integrate them harmoniously into all the parts of the being. In order to be able to receive, hold and utilize these higher forms of energy, there must be a strong and solid peace and equality in the entire being, as well as a receptiveness and a preparatory turning of the mind and heart toward the divine.
Sri Aurobindo describes the various ways the divine Shakti may manifest within the consciousness of the seeker: “This supramental Shakti may form itself as a spiritualised intuitive light and power in the mind itself, and that is a great but still a mentally limited spiritual action. Or it may transform altogether the mind and raise the whole being to the supramental level. In any case this is the first necessity of this part of the Yoga, to lose the ego of the doer, the ego-idea and the sense of one’s own power of action and initiation of action and control of the result of action and merge it in the sense and vision of the universal Shakti originating, shaping, turning to its ends the action of ourselves and others and of all the persons and forces of the world. And this realisation can become absolute and complete in all the parts of our being only if we can have that sense and vision of it in all its forms, on all the levels of our being and the world being, as the material, vital, mental and supramental energy of the Divine, but all these, all the powers of all the planes must be seen and known as self-formulations of the one spiritual Shakti, infinite in being, consciousness and Ananda. It is not the invariable rule that this power should first manifest itself on the lower levels in the lower forms of energy and then reveal its higher spiritual nature. And if it does so come, first in its mental, vital or physical universalism, we must be careful not to rest content there. It may come instead at once in its higher reality, in the might of the spiritual splendour. The difficulty then will be to bear and hold the Power until it has laid powerful hands on and transformed the energies of the lower levels of the being.”
In whichever way the divine Shakti touches the seeker’s being, there should be a progressive surrender of the ego-consciousness to the Divine, in all ways and forms of action and being; otherwise, the touch of a higher power, if it awakens and enlarges the ego, can lead to an increased egoistic action, with arrogance and self-righteousness as signs of that deformation.
Sri Aurobindo, The Synthesis of Yoga, Part Four: The Yoga of Self-Perfection, Chapter 17, The Action of the Divine Shakti, pp. 736-737