Understanding the Concept of Wideness in the Integral Yoga

The Vedic Rishis spoke of Satyam, Ritam, Brihat, ‘the truth, the right, the vast’. These represent psychological states into which the yogic practitioner can enter in order to embody the truth of the Brahman. The vast consciousness takes us out of the human egoistic standpoint into an awareness, which is a palpable experience in consciousness, of the divine standpoint. The mind tends to discount these as some kind of philosophical orientation, but they are in fact descriptions of actual states of consciousness. The experience of the vast consciousness, the sense of inclusion of all of the universal creation within one’s own being, is one of the core spiritual steps, or stages that can come to the seeker.

The more we remain limited within the ego-consciousness, the less we can experience true inner peace or tranquility, as the psychologically small human instrument of mind-life-body simply cannot sustain the pressure of the higher force trying to manifest. It begins to break down and we see symptoms of psychological, mental or emotional imbalance, vital extremes, depression and even physical illness and breakdown of the physical body. The only way to receive and hold the spiritual force in its intensity is to widen the psychological being and open up the receptivity of the mind, life and body. This experience is different from the ‘out of body’ experience that some report, or the sense of being ‘in the zone’ with a focus of concentration; rather, it is a sense of the being encompassing all and experiencing the whole creation within one’s being. The Mother, collaborator of Sri Aurobindo, provided a reminder of this with her saying “when you are conscious of the whole world at the same time, then you can become conscious of the Divine.”

Sri Aurobindo writes: “Wideness and calmness are the foundation of the yogic consciousness and the best condition for inner growth and experience. If a wide calm can be established in the physical consciousness, occupying and filling the very body and all its cells, that can become the basis for its transformation; in fact, without this wideness and calmness the transformation is hardly possible.”

“When the consciousness is narrow and personal or shut in the body, it is difficult to receive from the Divine — the wider it expands, the more it can receive. A time comes when it feels as wide as the world and able to receive all the Divine into itself.”

Sri Aurobindo, Integral Yoga: Sri Aurobindo’s Teaching and Method of Practice, Chapter 5 Bases of Yoga, Wideness, pp. 122-124

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