The Working Faith Needed in the Daily Life of the Practitioner of the Yoga

The development of the yogic process in the seeker is a long, arduous and complex series of insights, experiences, emotional responses, vital reactions, and the setbacks that inevitably take place during the journey. There must therefore be, not just the larger, comprehensive form of faith in the eventual result and the divine Shakti’s action, but a more detailed faith in the steps along the way and their necessity, the working of the divine force in this daily process, and the step by step progress, even if the seeker cannot see it at a particular moment or in a specific circumstance of his life and activity. While this kind of detailed faith in the process is necessary, Sri Aurobindo also cautions that it should not lead to attachment to any one particular method, experience or realisation along the way, as invariably these are stepping-stones, not a final resting place for the spiritual seeker.

What is required is “…a day to day working faith in the power in us to achieve, in the steps we have taken on the way, in the spiritual experiences that come to us, in the intuitions, the guiding movements of will and impulsion, the moved intensities of the heart and aspirations and fulfilments of the life that are the aids, the circumstances and the stages of the enlarging of the nature and the stimuli or the steps of the soul’s evolution.”

The caution arises in that none of these things are final and thus, the seeker must be able to let go of them and shift his working faith into the next phase of the soul’s growth and development: “There is not only much that will be strongly raised in us in order to be cast out and rejected, a battle between the powers of ignorance and the lower nature and the higher powers that have to replace them, but experiences, states of thought and feeling, forms of realisation that are helpful and have to be accepted on the way and may seem to us for the time to be spiritual finalities, are found afterwards to be steps of transition, have to be exceeded and the working faith that supported them withdrawn in favour of other and greater things or of more full and comprehensive realisations and experiences, which replace them or into which they are taken up in a completing transformation.”

“That which will support him through these changes, struggles, transformations which might otherwise dishearten and baffle,–for the intellect and life and emotion always grasp too much at things, fasten on premature certitudes and are apt to be afflicted and unwilling when forced to abandon that on which they rested,–is a firm faith in the Shakti that is at work and reliance on the guidance of the Master of the Yoga whose wisdom is not in haste and whose steps through all the perplexities of the mind are assured and just and sound, because they are founded on a perfectly comprehending transaction with the necessities of our nature.”

Sri Aurobindo, The Synthesis of Yoga, Part Four: The Yoga of Self-Perfection, Chapter 18, Faith and Shakti, pp. 747-748