The Nature and Power of Sincerity in the Practice of the Integral Yoga

For spiritual practices that seek a solution outside the life in the world, it is possible to try to “cut the knot” and simply abandon, or at least minimize, the active engagement of mind, life and body in the world. For a spiritual practice such as the integral yoga, however, which aims at a taking up and transforming of human existence and activity in the world, such a step is not feasible, and the “knot” must be “untied” rather than “cut”. This means that at each stage of the spiritual development, the physical, vital and mental being of man is active and has its influence on the focus, and the results that can occur. Sincerity represents the power of focus and tuning of the being on the transformative action, rather than allowing the being to either be distracted or waylaid by the more or less normal motives and drives of the mind, life and body.

The vital being, in particular, has the ability to influence the mind and present “arguments” that justify what it seeks to do. For the most part, it is engaged in making plausible excuses for satisfaction of its desires and wishes, and the mind tends to accept these excuses and allow the vital to achieve its aims. To the extent that these aims run contrary to the needs or focus of the transformative force, an obstruction, delay or mis-direction then takes place.

Digging into all the details of the vital impulsions and the mental acceptance of these impulses occupies a considerable amount of the seeker’s attention in the practice of the integral yoga. It is only by working through all of these hidden motivations that the transformation can actually fully take hold in the earth-nature. When the spiritual seeker begins this process, he generally finds that it is a wide-ranging and constant task and seems never to be completed. It is also quite true that the inner being begins to see these things in a magnified manner, and thus, will tend to possibly become discouraged or depressed, when, from a longer and higher view, substantial progress is indeed taking place. It is a matter of reflecting from the higher standpoint across a span of time rather than becoming overanxious about the day to day reactions.

Sri Aurobindo observes: “The most important thing for the purification of the heart is an absolute sincerity. No pretense with oneself, no concealment from the Divine, or oneself, or the Guru, a straight look at one’s movements, a straight will to make them straight. It does not so much matter if it takes time: one must be prepared to make it one’s whole life-task to seek the Divine. Purifying the heart means after all a pretty considerable achievement and it is no use getting despondent, despairful, etc., because one finds things in oneself that still need to be changed. If one keeps the true will and true attitude, then the intuitions or intimations from within will begin to grow, become clear, precise, unmistakable and the strength to follow them will grow also: and then before even you are satisfied with yourself, the Divine will be satisfied with you and begin to withdraw the veil by which he protects himself and his seekers against a premature and perilous grasping of the greatest thing to which humanity can aspire. … A sincere heart is worth all the extraordinary powers in the world.”

Sri Aurobindo, Integral Yoga: Sri Aurobindo’s Teaching and Method of Practice, Chapter 5 Bases of Yoga, Sincerity, pp. 115-117

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