What Technique or Practice Is Prescribed in the Integral Yoga?

it is a frequent inquiry: ‘Tell us what technique we should use to reach the spiritual goal?” Many ask what specific technique Sri Aurobindo or the Mother recommends for everyone to follow. They point out that other paths of spirituality offer specific actions one must undertake to succeed. There are fixed routines of asanas, pranayama, mantras, devotional exercises that are prescribed in those paths. The route is assured and the seeker can follow the guidance and move successfully to the goal.

The integral yoga, however, takes a different approach. It understands the complexity of the human being, the interaction of the physical, the vital, the emotional, the mental and the psychic elements in the being, as well as the issues that the seeker has to face in the life and the obstacles in his path, including influences from the society and the environment. It also recognises that one particular regimen does not answer to all of these varied elements and, while a seeker may have a predominant element in the nature that guides him to a specific type of practice, as he grows and changes over time, and as different aspects of the nature come forward, it may be necessary to take up another approach. Thus, they enunciate certain principles and general guidelines and make available to the seeker, the entire range of practices, techniques and guidance that have proven valuable in the past, as well as those which may speak to the needs of today or tomorrow more effectively. It is then up to the seeker to apply the principles, and make use of the appropriate techniques that are suited to the seeker’s own situation, both in the present and as circumstances change in the future.

It is also a frequent occurrence that once a seeker finds a method that works well, he tends to believe that this is the best approach and wants to have others adopt that same approach. In some cases he tries to turn this into a system or method that he insists is the only path to salvation. Sri Aurobindo and the Mother, emphasizing their understanding of the complexity of human nature and the individuality of the seekers and their specific issues and strengths, make it clear that what one adopts for oneself is not necessarily going to work for others and thus, each must find his own specific path forward with a basis of aspiration, concentration and perseverance acting as the overarching principles to obtain the results of the yoga.

Sri Aurobindo observes: “… men differ in nature and therefore each will approach the sadhana in his own way — one through work, one through bhakti, one through meditation and knowledge — and those who are capable of it, through all together. You are perfectly justified in following your own way, whatever may be the theories of others — but let them follow theirs. In the end all can converge together towards the same goal.”

The Mother adds: “In various times and places many methods have been prescribed for attaining this perception and ultimately achieving this identification. Some methods are psychological, some religious, some even mechanical. In reality, everyone has to find the one which suits him best, and if one has an ardent and steadfast aspiration, a persistent and dynamic will, one is sure to meet, in one way or another — outwardly through reading and study, inwardly through concentration, meditation, revelation and experience — the help one needs to reach the goal.”

Sri Aurobindo and the Mother, Growing Within: The Psychology of Inner Development, Chapter V Growth of Consciousness, Means and Methods, pg. 82

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