Sadhana Is the Core Focus — Mental and Emotional Practices Are Secondary

Sri Aurobindo makes a clear distinction between development of the mind and the heart through various intellectual or artistic pursuits, or through music or devotional activities, and the practice of Sadhana, which is the primary need and focus for the spiritual aspirant. While any of these activities may be supportive and act as aids at various stages of the sadhana, it is essential to not lose track of the objective and to keep that fixed in front of one as one undertakes to practice any external forms of development or worship.

Sri Aurobindo writes: “It is obvious that poetry cannot be a substitute for Sadhana; it can be an accompaniment only. If there is a feeling (of devotion, surrender etc.), it can express and confirm it; if there is an experience, it can express and strengthen the force of experience. As reading of books like the Upanishads or Gita or singing of devotional songs can help, especially at one stage or another, so this can help also. Also it opens a passage between the external consciousness and the inner mind or vital. But if one stops at that, then nothing much is gained. Sadhana must be the main thing and Sadhana means the purification of the nature, the consecration of the being, the opening of the psychic and the inner mind and vital, the contact and presence of the Divine, the realisation of the Divine in all things, surrender, devotion, the widening of the consciousness into the cosmic Consciousness, the Self one in all, the psychic and spiritual transformation of the nature. If these things are neglected and only poetry and mental development and social contact occupy all the time, then that is not Sadhana. Also the poetry must be written in the true spirit, not for fame or self-satisfaction, but as a means of contact with the Divine through inspiration or of the expression of one’s own inner being as it was written formerly by those who left behind them so much devotional and spiritual poetry in India; it does not help if it is written only in the spirit of the western artist or litterateur. Even works or meditation cannot succeed unless they are done in the right spirit of consecration and spiritual aspiration gathering up the whole being and dominating all else.”

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, Art, Poetry, Music, Literature, pp. 356-361


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