Advantages and Limitations of the Way of Bhakti for the Supramental Transformation of Consciousness

Each major path of Yoga relies on a different capacity within the human being and thus, is based on some truth of the nature and can achieve very powerful results when followed consistently. The way of the devotee relies on referring all that happens, all reactions and all actions to the Divine within, in the deepest spiritual center in the heart, and acting from the inspiration that eventuates. The Bhakta does not work to achieve a silence of the mind as we see in the Yoga of knowledge, nor unity with the unmoving Absolute with its advantages and disadvantages for the transformative effort envisioned by the integral Yoga. Yet this method has a much closer relation to the active nature and thus, can lead to types of progress that are missing from the path of the spiritual renunciate focused on the silencing of the mental process.

Sri Aurobindo observes: “It is natural to them to reject the intellect and its action and to listen for the voice, wait for the impulsion or the command, the adesa, obey only the idea and will and power of the Lord within them, the divine Self and Purusha in the heart of the creature…. This is a movement which must tend more and more to intuitivise the whole nature, for the ideas, the will, the impulsions, the feelings which come from the secret Purusha in the heart are of the direct intuitive character…. The secret Self within us is an intuitive self and this intuitive self is seated in every centre of our being, the physical, the nervous, the emotional, the volitional, the conceptual or cognitive and the higher more directly spiritual centres. And in each part of our being it exercises a secret intuitive initiation of our activities which is received and represented imperfectly by our outer mind and converted into the movements of the ignorance in the external action of these parts of our nature. The heart o emotional centre of the thinking desire-mind is the strongest in the ordinary man, gathers up or at least affects the presentation of things to the consciousness and is the capital of the system. It is from there that the Lord seated in the heart of all creatures turns them mounted on the machine of Nature by the Maya of the mental ignorance. It is possible then by referring back all the initiation of our action to this secret intuitive Self and Spirit, the ever-present Godhead within us, and replacing by its influences the initiations of our personal and mental nature to get back from the inferior external thought and action to another, internal and intuitive, of a highly spiritualised chacacter.”

The downside comes from a potential for narrowness and limitation in terms of the capacity for higher action beyond the mind, as this approach deepens, but does not necessarily lift up the higher powers of the mind to exceed themselves. “Nevertheless the result of this movement cannot be complete, because the heart is not the highest centre of our being, is not supramental nor directly moved from the supramental sources. An intuitive thought and action directed from it may be very luminous and intense but is likely to be limited, even narrow in its intensity, mixed with a lower emotional action and at the best excited and troubled, rendered unbalanced or exaggerated by a miraculous or abnormal character in its action or at least in many of its accomplishments which is injurious to the harmonised perfection of the being. The aim of our effort at perfection must be to make the spiritual and supramental action no longer a miracle, even if a frequent or constant miracle, or only a luminous intervention of a greater than our natural power, but normal to the being and the very nature and law of all its process.”

Sri Aurobindo, The Synthesis of Yoga, Part Four: The Yoga of Self-Perfection, Chapter 20, The Intuitive Mind, pp. 773-774