The Role of Devotion and Love in the Integral Yoga

Every part of the being must be engaged if the integral yoga is to progress. The physical body, the vital being, the emotional being, and the mind all have their role. What is a chore for the physical being, and a dry intellectual endeavour for the mind, becomes a source of joy and dedication when it comes from the emotional center. The emotional center is also closest to the true soul, the psychic being, within. Thus, there is an important, even essential role for devotion in the practice of the yoga. There may be times, of course, where focus must be on some other aspect of the being, but the force of true devotion can be a powerful gateway to the psychic transformation of getting in touch with the soul and acting from there to carry the flame upward to the Divine and bring it into reality in the life.

This does not mean necessarily carrying out the specific methods or traditional practices of the devotional paths of the past, as these each have both their positive aspects and their limitations for the needs of today. Rather, it means understanding the essence of devotion and allowing it to express itself in one’s life, as one turns thoughts, feelings and the very physical being toward the divine light and force.

Sri Aurobindo writes: “It is a misunderstanding to suppose that I am against Bhakti or against emotional Bhakti — which comes to the same thing, since without emotion there can be no Bhakti. It is rather the fact that in my writings on yoga I have given Bhakti the highest place. All that I have said at any time which could account for this misunderstanding was against an unpurified emotionalism which, according to my experience, leads to want of balance, agitated and disharmonious expression or even contrary reactions and, at its extreme, nervous disorder. But the insistence on purification does not mean that I condemn true feeling and emotion any more than the insistence on a purified mind or will means that I condemn thought and will. On the contrary, the deeper the emotion, the more intense the Bhakti, the greater is the force for realisation and transformation. It is oftenest through intensity of emotion that the psychic being awakes and there is an opening of the inner doors to the Divine.”

“The traditions of the past are very great in their own place, in the past, but I do not see why we should merely repeat them and not go farther. In the spiritual development of the consciousness upon earth the great past ought to be followed by a greater future.”

Sri Aurobindo, Integral Yoga: Sri Aurobindo’s Teaching and Method of Practice, The Integral Yoga and Other Systems of Yoga and Philosophy, pp. 33-35

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