Advanced Methods for Converting Work into Karma Yoga

Sri Aurobindo explores the methods of converting work into ‘karma yoga’ with several additional ways to approach this. The development of an inner ‘witness consciousness’, the purusha which is separate from the outer active nature, prakriti, is an intermediate stage beyond those which involve the individual remembering before and after the work takes place. Cultivation of this inner separation can aid both in developing a sense of constant peace as well as in being able to manage the reactions and responses of the outer nature eventually.

Another way is to move beyond the limits of the mind-life-body complex through the process of aspiration, focus and receptivity which reorients the motive force from within the normal human framework as a link is established for the higher divine Force to become active and undertake the work to be done from that standpoint.

Each method has its potential positive aspects, but in any case, time is needed for the needed changes in standpoint and reference center to occur and to become stable and solid as the modus of action of the individual nature.

Sri Aurobindo writes: “If you can’t as yet remember the Divine all the time you are wokring, it does not greatly matter. To remember and dedicate at the beginning and give thanks at the end ought to be enough for the present. Or at the most to remember too when there is a pause. Your method seems to me rather painful and difficult, — you seem to be trying to remember and work with one and the same part of the mind. I don’t know if that is possible. When people remember all the time during work (it can be done), it is usually with the back of their minds or else there is created gradually a faculty of double thought or else a double consciousness — one in front that works, and one within that witnesses and remembers. There is also another way which was mine for a long time — a condition in which the work takes place automatically and without intervention of personal thought or mental action, while the consciousness remains silent in the Divine. The thing, however, does not come so much by trying as by a very simple constant aspiration and will of consecration — or else by a movement of the consciousness separating the inner from the instrumental being. Aspiration and will of consecration calling down a greater Force to do the work is a method which brings great results, even if in some it takes a long time about it. That is a great secret of sadhana, to know how to get things done by the Power behind or above instead of doing all by the mind’s effort. I don’t mean to say that the mind’s effort is unnecessary or has no result — only if it tries to do everything by itself, that becomes a laborious effort for all except the spiritual athletes. Nor do I mean that the other method is the longed-for short cut; the result may, as I have said, take a long time. Patience and firm resolution are necessary in every method of sadhana. … Strength is all right for the strong — but aspiration and the Grace answering to it are not altogether myths; they are great realities of the spiritual life.”

Sri Aurobindo, Integral Yoga: Sri Aurobindo’s Teaching and Method of Practice, Chapter 6, Sadhana Through Work, Meditation and Love and Devotion, Work pp. 129-145

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