“Yoga Made Easy?”

There is no way to achieve “instant” yogic realisation. There is no automatic technique, there is no pill one can take to suddenly become enlightened. The sages ensured that we understand the needed patience, persistence and efforts required in the various accounts of realised souls and how they achieved their realisations. The young boy who was asked to take two cattle to the forest and only return after the herd reached 1000 is a good example. Many years went by for this process, and much growth and learning had to occur to face and overcome all the difficulties. The story of Milarepa and his hard physical labour of many years followed by years of ascetic meditation in caves is another. The examples go on and on. There is the apocryphal story of the Divine Sage Narada encountering an ascetic yogi who had spent many years in meditation. The yogi inquired as to how much longer it would take to reach realisation, and Narada, with his divine sight replied that it would take four more lifetimes. The yogi became depressed with this news, as he wanted to see fruits of his yogic efforts immediately. Narada went on to see a devotee singing and dancing ecstatically beneath a great tree. The devotee inquired similarly and was told that it would take as many lifetimes as the leaves on that tree for full realisation. The devotee wept with joy saying “I will finally achieve realisation!”. He was liberated immediately.

It is impossible to conclude from the outward actions and life of any individual when and how the realisation will occur, as there may have been long preparation in past lifetimes for the soul to finally reach the objective at this time. These remain unseen. Meanwhile, strenuous efforts in this life may only bear fruit in a future lifetime.

All of this becomes much more difficult and requiring of time when the goal is not simply liberation from life into the Absolute, but supporting an evolutionary cycle to a new stage of consciousness and the consequent complete changes and modifications needed to the existing mind-life-body complex. Not only does the seeker need to be freed from the bondage of the mind, the desires and urges of the vital and the immobility and fixed habits of the physical, but there remain the subconscient and inconscient embedded instincts and responses, on top of the pressures of the outer world and its reactions, the society’s framework and the pressure of one’s social network in the form of expectations and demands. This process necessarily requires extreme patience, perseverance and the will to proceed regardless of any obstacles one finds in one’s path. ‘Instant yoga”? Not a chance.

Sri Aurobindo writes: “It is a mistake to think that any path of yoga is facile, that any is a royal road or short cut to the Divine, or that there can be, like a system of ‘French made easy’ or ‘French without tears’, also a system of ‘yoga made easy’ or ‘yoga without tears’. A few great souls prepared by past lives or otherwise lifted beyond the ordinary spiritual capacity may attain realisation more swiftly; some may have uplifting experiences at an early stage, but for most the siddhi of the path, whatever it is, must be the end of a long, difficult and persevering endeavour. One cannot have the crown of spiritual victory without the struggle or reach the heights without the ascent and its labour. Of all it can be said, ‘Difficult is that road, hard to tread like the edge of a razor.’ “

Sri Aurobindo, Integral Yoga: Sri Aurobindo’s Teaching and Method of Practice, Chapter 10, Difficulties in Transforming the Nature, The Resistance of the Nature, pp. 271-273

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