How to Tread the Sunlit Path of Yoga

There are no exemptions from the issues, obstacles and difficulties that attend the work of bringing forth a new evolutionary principle and thereby impacting, changing and vastly reorganizing the existing status quo of the mind-life-body complex in the world. The issues must be addressed. The individual, however, may deal with these issues differently, based on how embedded he is in the existing ego-personality versus his ability to separate himself and shift his standpoint towards the divine standpoint.

There is a general ‘test’ about optimism versus pessimism where someone is asked to determine whether he sees the glass half-full or half-empty. Some people of course see the glass as ‘refillable’ and they tend not to worry about the exact current state of liquid in the glass! Similarly, one can view the difficulties of the spiritual path with a negative perspective and identify with the suffering that they entail; or else, with a positive perspective and recognise that all things will and must change as the spiritual development takes place, and in the meantime, these are just the factors that have to be dealt with and addressed. The separation of the awareness between the witness consciousness and the active being can be an enormous aid in not being beaten down by the obstacles that come up. To the extent that the quality of rajas is active, and ambition is present, there is always the impetus to succeed and the fall back into a depressive state of tamas when things go awry. The seeker may moderate these reactions through applying sattwa and maintaining a calm, collected overarching view of everything that occurs.

Sri Aurobindo writes: “The sunlit path can only be followed if the psychic is constantly or usually in front or if one has a natural spirit of faith and surrender or a face turned habitually towards the sun or psychic predisposition (e.g. a faith in one’s spiritual destiny) or, if one has acquired the psychic turn. That does not mean that the sunlit man has no difficulties; he may have many, but he regards them cheerfully as ‘all in a day’s work’. If he gets a bad beating, he is capable of saying, ‘Well, that was a queer go but the Divine is evidently in a queer mood and if that is his way of doing things, it must be the right one; I am surely a still queerer fellow myself and that, I suppose, was the only means of putting me right.’ But everybody can’t be of that turn, and surrender which would put everything right is, as you say, difficult. At least it is difficult to do completely. That is why we do not insist on total surrender at once, but are satisfied with a little to begin with, the rest to grow as it can.”

Sri Aurobindo, Integral Yoga: Sri Aurobindo’s Teaching and Method of Practice, Chapter 10, Difficulties in Transforming the Nature, The Sunlit Path, pp. 275-277