It is easy to understand both the lure and the initial benefit of adopting the approach of the renunciate in the seeking for self-realization and God-realization. The abandonment of the outer life of the world, with all its entanglements, its requirements for focus of time and energy on living that life, and its confusing array of thoughts, feelings, emotions, sentiments, nervous impulses and desires, and physical demands. Clearly the path to self-realization is simpler and more direct when one can focus just on that, and not have to address all these other issues! Yet the apparent benefit is not necessarily realized when it comes to actual practice. Individuals carry the world with them wherever they go, and all human issues and obstacles arise at some point for the anchorite as for the worldly man. Eventually, the contradiction between the “oneness” and “unity” of all existence, and the attempt to separate oneself from that existence, treating it as something “other” or “different” or “unreal” to achieve God-realization becomes impossible to sustain.
For those who take up the integral yoga approach of Sri Aurobindo, there may be times and seasons for an exclusive concentration to achieve a particular result, but eventually, the oneness of all existence, and the unity of consciousness, will bring the realisation that indeed, as the Upanishads note, “all this is the Brahman” and that the Brahman is “one without a second”. With this understanding, we then can turn our attention to the evolution of consciousness in the world, and the vast universal manifestation and recognise that there is a significance from the divine standpoint that justifies participation and the direction of our efforts toward the goals of the manifestation, while at the same time, we work to overcome the illusory attachments to outer things and results that constitute the mind’s limitations to a greater understanding. This is not a matter of philosophy, creed, religious belief or thought, but a realisation that takes up our entire awareness and moves us beyond the limits of mind into the realm of direct knowledge and experience.
Sri Aurobindo writes: “The divine life will give to those who enter into it and possess it an increasing and finally a complete possession of the truth-consciousness and all that it carries in it; it will bring with it the realisation of the Divine in self and the Divine in Nature. All that is sought by the God-seeker will be fulfilled in his spirit and in his life as he moves towards spiritual perfection. He will become aware of the transcendent reality, possess in the self-experience the supreme existence, consciousness, bliss, be one with Sachchidananda. He will become one with cosmic being and universal Nature: he will contain the world in himself, in his own cosmic consciousness and feel himself one with all beings; he will see himself in all and all in himself, become united and identified with the Self which has become all existences. He will perceive the beauty of the All-Beautiful and the miracle of the All-Wonderful; he will enter in the end into the bliss of the Brahman and live abidingly in it and for all this he will not need to shun existence or plunge into the annihilation of the spiritual Person in some self-extinguishing Nirvana. As in the Self, so in Nature, he can realise the Divine.”
Sri Aurobindo, The Mind of Light, Supermind and the Life Divine, pp. 67-68