The Guru and the Disciple in the Integral Yoga

If one looks at traditional paths of yogic practice in India, or similar practices around the world, regardless of the religious or spiritual background, one finds that the relationship between Guru and disciple is of supreme importance and consideration, and there is a specific lineage that develops from Master to Disciple, from generation to generation. Thus, there is always a head of the order or lineage who directs, guides and manages the processes within that line, and from there, individual Guru / disciple relations develop under that framework.

It is thus a question that arises frequently when one turns to the teaching and method of practice of Sri Aurobindo, now that both he and the Mother have physically departed. Who is the head of the order and how does the Guru /disciple relationship function in the integral yoga.

No successor was named, with the understanding that the integral yoga does not actually require a physically present Guru. There is an active Force that guides. For the sincere seeker, this Force provides both insight and corrective directions. Sri Aurobindo left behind a body of written work that directly describes and details all manner of experience, practice and potential pitfalls along the way. This body of writings is unique in its breadth and depth of explanation. Additionally the Mother added insight, and detailed working out of innumerable issues in her talks and writings. There is also the collective yoga that provides support to the seeker. Many have had the experience of active guidance from the subtle physical plane by Sri Aurobindo, with experience of this guidance in dream or in states of deep meditation. Additionally, with the advent of the supramental force in the earth plane, there is a new “truth-consciousness” that opens up the way and the path for the seeker. This is a relatively recent development in the history of yogic practice, and thus, was not generally accessible to past generations of yogins. Finally, for those who actually require the aid of the teacher in physical form, individual relationships develop, in many cases as ‘guru-bhai’ (seekers who are disciples of the same Guru) who support one another in their growth and development. When the need is there, and the seeking is true, the Divine provides the needed guidance in one way or another. It is up to the seeker to ensure the true inward sincerity and dedication to avoid the many potential snares, obstacles and ego-traps along the way.

Sri Aurobindo notes: “It is not usual to use the word Guru in the supramental yoga, here everything comes from the Divine himself. But if anybody wants it he can use it for the time being.”

“The relation of Guru and disciple is only one of many relations which one can have with the Divine, and in this yoga which aims at a supramental realisation, it is not usual to give it this name; rather, the Divine is regarded as the Source, the living Sun of Light and Knowledge and Consciousness and spiritual realisation, and all that one receives is felt as coming from there and the whole being remoulded by the Divine Hand. This is a greater and more intimate relation than that of the human Guru and disciple, which is more of a limited mental ideal. Nevertheless, if the mind still needs the more familiar mental conception, it can be kept so long as it is needed; only do not let the soul be bound by it and do not let it limit the inflow of other relations with the Divine and larger forms of experience.”

Sri Aurobindo, Integral Yoga: Sri Aurobindo’s Teaching and Method of Practice, Chapter 12, Other Aspects of Sri Aurobindo’s Teaching and Method of Practice, The Guru, pp. 350-352

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