Westerners and Indian Yoga, Part 5: the Yogic Path Is Not Limited by Race, Origin or Religious or Cultural Background

The objective of the integral yoga is to support the evolutionary process of the development and integration of the next stage of consciousness, beyond the mental consciousness. This step is necessary to overcome the limitations of the current mental framework which have helped create the existential crisis we are facing in the world today. This is not a yoga intended solely for individual salvation. As it is working to support an evolutionary process, it necessarily involves all of humanity in some way or another. Since it is focused on a change of consciousness, it is not a matter of intellectual beliefs, creeds, religious identification, or any other factor of superficial details such as country of origin, gender, race or the particular economic system or cultural folkways into which any individual is born. The integral yoga does not require anyone to join a particular movement or identify themselves with a specific group. It can, and must, take place regardless of any of these external details. This yoga is not focused on, nor intended just for those who profess a specific religious or philosophical belief, and thus, must be accessible to anyone who has the inclination, receptivity, goodwill and focus to carry out the needed steps to facilitate this consciousness change. The division between Eastern and Western is a false dichotomy in this regard.

Sri Aurobindo observes: “This conclusion of yours about the incapacity of the non-oriental for Indian yoga is simply born of a too despondently acute sense of your own difficulties; you have not seen those equally great that have long troubled or are still troubling others. Neither to Indian nor to European can the path of yoga be smooth and easy; their common human nature is there to see to that. To each his own difficulties seem enormous and radical and even incurable by their continuity and persistence and induce long periods of despondency and crises of despair. To have faith enough or enough psychic sight to react at once or almost at once and prevent these attacks is given hardly to two or three in a hundred. But one ought not to settle down into a fixed idea of one’s own incapacity or allow it to become an obsession; for such an attitude has no true justification and unnecessarily renders the way harder. Where there is a soul that has once become awake, there is surely a capacity within that can outweigh all surface defects and can in the end conquer.”

“If your conclusion were true, the whole aim of this yoga would be a vain thing; for we are not working for a race or a people or a continent or for a realisation of which only Indians or other orientals are capable. Our aim is not, either, to found a religion or a school of philosophy or a school of yoga, but to create a ground of spiritual growth and experience and a way which will bring down a greater Truth beyond the mind but not inaccessible to the human soul and consciousness. All can pass who are drawn to that Truth, whether they are from India or elsewhere, from the East or from the West. All may find great difficulties in their personal or common human nature; but it is not their physical origin or their racial temperament that can be an insuperable obstacle to their deliverance.”

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, Westerners and Indian Yoga, pp. 365-370

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