The Object of Yoga

In the brief compass of a paragraph, Sri Aurobindo summarizes the human aspiration and the object of the practice of the integral Yoga.

“The object of Yoga is to raise the human being from the consciousness of the ordinary mind subject to the control of vital and material Nature and limited wholly by birth and death and Time and the needs and desires of the mind, life and body to the consciousness of the spirit free in its self and using the circumstances of mind, life and body as admitted or self-chosen and self-figuring determinations of the spirit, using them in a free self-knowledge, a free will and power of being, a free delight of being. This is the essential difference between the ordinary mortal mind in which we live and the spiritual consciousness of our divine and immortal being which is the highest result of Yoga.”

While in the West, life on earth is explained by the theory of evolution of forms, Sri Aurobindo observes that what is taking place behind these changing forms is an evolution of consciousness. We see Life arising out of Matter, and Mind arising out of Life, and as the powers of consciousness grow and intensify, the forms of the beings who embody them undergo changes as well, to support the new powers and conscious energy that they have to hold as the evolution takes place. Thus, the evolution of consciousness envisioned by the integral Yoga represents a newly evolving level of awareness, “…as great as and greater than the change which we suppose evolutionary Nature to have made in its transition from the vital animal to the fully mentalised human consciousness.”

The human mind, when it actually achieves its higher potentials, still only gets faint glimpses of the illumination and light that await the next level, which Sri Aurobindo calls the supramental level, and which the ancient sages referred to as the “Vijnana” or “Knowledge” level.

“A complete conversion of all the parts of his being into moulds and instruments of the spiritual consciousness is demanded of him before he can make quite real, constant, present to himself this greater thing that he can be and entirely live in what is now to him at the best a luminous aspiration. He must seek to develop and grow altogether into a greater divine consciousness by an integral Yoga.”

Sri Aurobindo, The Synthesis of Yoga, Part Four: The Yoga of Self-Perfection, Chapter 19, The Nature of the Supermind, pp. 754-755