Integral Yoga: Sri Aurobindo’s Teaching and Method of Practice — Summary and Conclusions

Sri Aurobindo took up yoga, not for individual salvation or to abandon the life of the world, but to aid in transforming life, for action in the world. He developed a deep background and understanding of the major lines of thought and development of the West, including his studies of Greek and Latin as well as his mastery of English, and then, upon his return to India and taking up a role in the battle for liberation from the British colonization and subsequently in his practice of yoga, his intense study and efforts at understanding and validating the ancient texts of the Rishis, the Rig Veda, the Upanishads and the Bhagavad Gita. Out of this basis of understanding coupled with an intense practice of sadhana, evolved the integral yoga.

Integral yoga was not intended to set forth a specific and rigid set of practices for everyone to follow; rather, it was developed to understand the specific needs of each individual at each stage of development and to employ those methods and practices that would best aid in the further progress for the individual seeker. It also was not targeted at abandoning life. The integral yoga first focuses on achieving the necessary liberation from the fixed habits of body, life and mind that create a framework around each person’s life, and then, on bringing down into the being a higher status of consciousness and aiding its transformation of the being in all its aspects.

The eventual objective of the integral yoga was to provide conscious support to the natural process of evolution of consciousness, and thereby speed up its advent. Sri Aurobindo recognised that the evolution of life out of physical matter, and of mind out of life could not occur if they were not, in fact, already involved in matter. The evolution of forms follows the needs of the evolution of consciousness. He also recognised that the emergence of the mental being was nothing more than a transitional phase and that there would be a further development, which he called ‘supramental’, that would transform life for the individual and through individuals the life of the world in a similar but more powerful manner to the way that life transformed matter, or that mind transformed life.

Humanity has taken the mental evolution to such an extent that it has now become an obstacle and has resulted in an evolutionary crisis that threatens all of human existence on the planet. Either we need to evolve and transform our action, or face extinction. It is one of the principles of Nature that in preparation for a needed evolutionary leap, a crisis ensues which requires successfully transitioning to the next phase in order to solve the riddle of existence. The evolutionary crisis clearly puts a sense of urgency to the manifestation of this next phase of consciousness.

The evolution and manifestation of the supramental consciousness is not dependent upon any particular creed, cult, religion, philosophy, scientific standpoint, cultural background, race, gender or economic outlook. Sri Aurobindo himself pointed out that it was not his goal to start a new religion or creed, but to make possible a true transformation of human consciousness, independent of the mental standpoint that individuals hold based on their culture and education.

The book Integral Yoga: Sri Aurobindo’s Teaching and Method of Practice was compiled and organised from among the thousands of letters on yoga that Sri Aurobindo wrote to disciples and others over a number of years. It outlines his philosophical outlook, the background and basis of the integral yoga, and delves into a vast array of details which aid the sincere seeker in understanding the inner workings of consciousness, and helps the seeker to work through the difficulties, obstacles and resistances of nature to truly bring about a transformation of consciousness in all parts of his being.

Sri Aurobindo, Integral Yoga: Sri Aurobindo’s Teaching and Method of Practice, Summary and Conclusions

Westerners and Indian Yoga, Part 2: A Hindu Temperament in a Westerner’s Body?

When a Westerner takes up a serious yogic practice, they frequently hear that they must be Hindu souls born into Western bodies. They are then viewed as somehow anomalous to the cast of mind, vital force and emotions that tend to develop through life-long exposure to Western culture, educational systems and social interactions. In some cases, there is speculation about whether they have taken prior births in India and are continuing the yogic practices of the past. Yet, this does not change the fact that taking birth in the West and undergoing the developmental process there has a significance of its own and should not be disregarded or undervalued. The integration of the Western and the Eastern ways of relating to one’s life in the world can actually bring about new solutions to old problems. The materialistic bent of the West needs balance with the spiritual focus of the East. The tendency to extreme other-worldly spiritual practices of the East may find a balance with an appreciation of the cosmic creation and its reality as part of the divine manifestation. Even supposing that someone brings forward sufficient mental and vital formations from a past lifetime to actually take up those activities as before (not a common, but a possible occurrence), the object in taking a Western birth is clearly not to simply fall into the groove of the former lifetime.

Sri Aurobindo observes: “Your explanation of the ability of many Westerners to practice Indian yoga seems to be that they have a Hindu temperament in a European or American body. As Gandhi is inwardly a moralistic Westerner and Christian, you say, so the other non-oriental members of the Ashram are essentially Hindus in outlook. But what exactly is this Hindu outlook? I have not myself seen anything in them that can be so described nor has the Mother. My own experience contradicts your entire explanation. I knew very well Sister Nivedita (she was for many years a friend and a comrade in the political field) and met Sister Christine, — the two closest European disciples of Vivekananda. Both were Westerners to the core and had nothing at all of the Hindu outlook; although Sister Nivedita, an Irish woman, had the power of penetrating by an intense sympathy into the ways of life of the people around her, her own nature remained non-oriental to the end. Yet she found no difficulty in arriving at realisation on the lines of Vedanta. Here in this Ashram I have found the members of it who came from the West (I include especially those who have been here longest) typically occidental with all the quality and also all the difficulties of the Western mind and temperament and they have had to cope with their difficulties, just as the Indian members have been obliged to struggle with the limitations and obstacles created by their temperament and training. No doubt, they have accepted in principle the conditions of the yoga, but they had no Hindu outlook when they came and I do not think they have tried to acquire one. Why should they do so? It is not the Hindu outlook or the Western that fundamentally matters in yoga, but the psychic turn and the spiritual urge, and these are the same everywhere.”

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

Westerners and Indian Yoga, Part 1: Is It Possible For Westerns to Practice Yoga?

The question is frequently raised as to whether Westerners, with a background and culture grounded in materialism, the fulfillment of the vital ambitions and desires, and the development of the mental faculties, can truly enter into the spirit of yoga and obtain the fruits of the yogic practice in the same way as people who stem from the culture of India, with its long history of spiritual practice and cultural inclinations towards devotion and prayer. There are numerous questions that arise from such an inquiry and Sri Aurobindo takes them up systematically. If one disregards the differences of specific practices and names, one can see that in the mystical traditions of the West there are clearly practices and spiritual developments that very closely mirror the lines of yoga developed in the East. Just as in India, yoga is not for everyone, so also in the West, it has always been a few who have gravitated toward these spiritual pursuits and endeavours. Humanity is one, regardless of superficial differences and cultural variances. The basic capacities, drives, needs and evolutionary pressures are similar for all of humanity. In today’s world, as it becomes ever-more clear that the entire world is threatened with extinction unless a new evolutionary principle of consciousness can manifest and change the course of human civilisation, it is to be hoped, and expected, that all human beings, regardless of their cultural or national origin, will participate in the needed transitions.

Sri Aurobindo writes: “The best way to answer your letter will be, I think, to take separately the questions implied in it. I will begin with the conclusion you have drawn of the impossibility of the yoga for a non-oriental nature.”

“I cannot see any ground for such a conclusion; it is contrary to all experience. Europeans throughout the centuries have practiced with success spiritual disciplines which were akin to oriental yoga and have followed, too, ways of the inner life which came to them from the East. Their non-oriental nature did not stand in their way. The approach and experiences of Plotinus and the European mystics who derived from him were identical, as has been shown recently, with the approach and experiences of one type of Indian yoga. Especially, since the introduction of Christianity, Europeans have followed its mystic disciplines which were one in essence with those of Asia, however much they may have differed in forms, names and symbols. If the question be of Indian yoga itself in its own characteristic forms, here too the supposed inability is contradicted by experience. In early times Greek and Scythians from the West as well as Chinese and Japanese and Cambodians from the East followed without difficulty Buddhist or Hindu disciplines; at the present day an increasing number of occidentals have taken to Vedantic or Vaishnava or other Indian spiritual practices and this objection of incapacity or unsuitableness has never been made either from the side of the disciples or from the side of the Masters. I do not see, either, why there should be any such unbridgeable gulf; for there is no essential difference between the spiritual life in the East and the spiritual life in the West; what difference there is has always been of names, forms and symbols or else of the emphasis laid on one special aim or another or on one side or another of psychological experience. Even here differences are often alleged which do not exist or else are not so great as they appear. I have seen it alleged by a Christian writer (who does not seem to share your friend Angus’ objection to these scholastic small distinctions) that Hindu spiritual thought and life acknowledged or followed after only the Transcendent and neglected the Immanent Divinity, while Christianity gave due place to both Aspects; but in point of fact, Indian spirituality, even if it laid the final stress on the Highest beyond form and name, yet gave ample recognition and place to the Divine immanent in the world and the Divine immanent in the human being. Indian spirituality has, it is true, a wider and more minute knowledge behind it; it has followed hundreds of different paths, admitted every kind of approach to the Divine and has thus been able to enter into fields which are outside the less ample scope of occidental practice; but that makes no difference to the essentials, and it is the essentials alone that matter.”

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

Reading and the Concentration and Dispersion of Conscious Awareness

As we become aware of the states of conscious awareness within our being, it becomes clear that there are times when the consciousness is highly concentrated, intensely focused, and other times when it is dispersed and wandering seemingly aimlessly. Our activities, including reading, are indicative of these states, and help to create these states. We understand the concept that ‘you are what you eat’ on a physical level, but do we recognise that the food of the mind is the sensory input and ideas that we ingest? Reading becomes a vehicle for ingestion of ideas, experiences and facts into the mind, and if our reading is focused on literature that supports the spiritual sadhana, it can aid in the development of a spiritual state of consciousness; alternatively, if we focus our reading on external things, on vital forces and activities, on the ‘gossip’ of the world around us, then we are loosening the focus and dispersing the consciousness.

There is a price to be paid, generally, for any focus on the external world. For those who have a one-pointed fixation on achieving liberation or salvation, there is little, if any, reason for putting any attention whatsoever on the things of the world, and we find that such individuals take up a path of renunciation of the world to try to achieve their aim.

For those who believe that the universal creation is being transformed through the evolution of consciousness, and who understand that their role is to participate in that transformation, it is not so simple. A clear understanding needs to be achieved, and a balance struck, whereby the consciousness remains gathered and focused, while nevertheless relations with the outer world are continued and developed, which will include a certain amount of relation to the news, events and concepts afloat in the world.

Either way, the important thing for the seeker is to recognise these varying states of concentration or dispersion, understand them for what they are, and modulate them in such a way as to advance the sadhana and the transformative process.

Sri Aurobindo notes: “If one is always in the inner consciousness then one can be not dispersed even when doing outward things — or if one is conscious of the Divine at all times and in all one does, then also can one read newspapers or do much correspondence without dispersion. But even then though there is not dispersion, yet there is less intensity of consciousness when reading a newspaper or writing a letter than when one is not putting part of oneself into quite external things. It is only when the consciousness is quite siddha that there is not even this difference. That does not mean one should not do external things at all, for then one gets no training in joining the two consciousnesses. But one must recognise that certain things do disperse the consciousness or lower it or externalise it more than others. Especially one should not deceive or pretend to oneself that one is not dispersed by them when one is.”

“You are mistaken in thinking that the sadhana of X, Y, and Z does not suffer by the dispersion of their minds in all directions. They would have been far farther on the path if they did a concentrated yoga — even, Y who has an enormous receptivity and is eager for progress might have gone thrice as far as he has done. Moreover, your nature is intense in all it does and it was therefore quite its natural path to take the straight way. Naturally, when once the higher consciousness is settled and both the vital and physical sufficiently ready for the sadhana to go on of itself, strict tapasya will no longer be necessary. But till then we consider it very useful and helpful and in many cases indispensable. But we do not insist on it when the nature is not willing. I see too that those who get into the direct line, (there are not yet very many), get of themselves the tendency to give up these mind-dispersing interests and occupations and throw themselves fully into the sadhana.”

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, Mental Development, Reading and Study, pp. 361-365

Reading as a Spiritual Practice and Its Limitations

While Sri Aurobindo created an enormous body of written materials regarding the integral yoga, the development of the next phase of consciousness growth in the earth-evolution, he also clearly recognized that there are limits to how much reading can aid the spiritual seeker. He made a clear distinction between mental and emotional development that can be supported by reading, and the experience of spiritual states of consciousness which develop within, and which are, at most, only tangentially influenced by reading and mental development, and at worst, can be impeded by either over-reliance on the mental processes, or by the seeker being misled in believing that mental processes are actually spiritual processes.

Reading may increase an individual’s understanding of the external world and help him to see the illusions of our interpretations of sense data, such as understanding the rotation of the world and travel through space versus our perception that the sun revolves around the earth. Similarly, reading may help one understand the complex interaction of the various aspects of our being and may help us also train and develop the powers that are unformed or latent within the being.

Reading of devotional literature may prepare the heart to enter into a state of consecration and aspiration.

Reading of mantric writings may, if practiced with the correct attitude and focus, bring about changes in the inner vibrational state. Similarly reading with a quiet and receptive mind of writing that evokes higher planes of conscious awareness may lead the individual to the edge of experience.

In the end, however, it is the spiritual experience, the actual change of consciousness, the reception of higher spiritual vibratory patterns into the being, that actually counts as spirituality, not a high mental or emotional development.

Reading may actually turn out to be a distraction from the sadhana if it is focused on entertainment, titillation of the mind and senses, awakening of energies that stem from the lower vital level of the being, or simply matters that bring down the energy into a gross, external, dull or vital atmosphere.

Sri Aurobindo observes: “Reading good books can be of help in the early mental stage — they prepare the mind, put it in the right atmosphere, can even, if one is very sensitive, bring some glimpses of realisation on the mental plane. Afterwards the utility diminishes — you have to find every knowledge and experience in yourself.”

“Yes, the real knowledge comes of itself from within by the touch of the Divine. Reading can be only a momentary help to prepare the mind. But the real knowledge does not come by reading. Some preparation for the inner knowledge may be helpful — but the mind should not be too superficially active or seek to know only for curiosity’s sake.”

“To read what will help the yoga or what will be useful for the work or what will develop the capacities for the divine purpose. Not to read worthless stuff or for mere entertainment or for a dilettante intellectual curiosity which is of the nature of a mental dram-drinking. When one is established in the highest consciousness, one can read nothing or everything; it makes no difference — but that is still far off.”

“One can say generally that newspaper reading or novel reading is not helpful to the sadhana and is at least a concession to the vital which is not yet ready to be absorbed in the sadhana — unless and until one is able to read in the right way with a higher consciousness which is not only not ‘disturbed’ by the reading or distracted by it from the concentrated yoga-consciousness but is able to make the right use of what is read from the point of view of the inner consciousness and the inner life.”

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, Mental Development, Reading and Study, pp. 361-365

Intellectual Understanding and Understanding in the Consciousness

Those who find their basis primarily in the mind tend to believe that their intellectual understanding of something represents something real and definitive and that their “knowing” means they “know” something. This is however, not quite accurate. For instance, one can read books and “know” about a particular activity or process but nevertheless be unable to fully comprehend all the subtlety or complexity that only becomes clear through experience and inner review. There is also the famous statement that reading about swimming does not mean one can swim when one enters the water.

Yoga is not dependent on an intellectual understanding of the processes or steps along the way. It is a matter of inner experiential understanding that may not correspond to the mental formations that develop as one studies books or hears lectures on the subject. It is one of the great distinguishing factors between academic learning and real life experience.

Sri Aurobindo writes: “… There are two kinds of understanding — understanding by the intellect and understanding in the consciousness. It is good to have the former if it is accurate, but it is not indispensable. Understanding by the consciousness comes if there is faith and openness, though it may come only gradually and through steps of experience. But I have seen people without education or intellectuality understand in this way perfectly well the course of the yoga in themselves, while intellectual men make big mistakes, e.g. take a neutral mental quietude for the spiritual peace and refuse to come out of it in order to go farther.”

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, Mental Development, Reading and Study, pp. 361-365

The Needed Balance of Spiritual Development and Mental Development

There has been a long-standing debate between those who believe in the power of mental development, under the rubric of ‘science’ and those who believe in the power of faith and spiritual aspiration, under the general terminology of ‘religion’. A similar debate rages between the position of academia and the paths of spiritual yoga. We prize high mental intelligence, particularly when it is focused on making our life in the material world more comfortable or rewarding. When it comes to spiritual practice, however, an insight, and a balance must be achieved to avoid mistaking mental development and intellectual development as somehow being spiritual in nature. Even those who can recite all the scriptures and describe all the various parables, stories and insights of the spiritual traditions may be acting from a purely intellectual basis, with no real foundation in spiritual development.

This is not to imply that going to the other extreme and devaluing the intellect will ensure spiritual progress. Much of this confusion is due to what Sri Aurobindo describes as ‘the refusal of the ascetic’ in The Life Divine. Spiritual pursuits that focus on the complete devaluation of the external life of the world have little interest in developing the intellect.

For a yogic practice that believes in both realisation of the spiritual truths, and the transformation of the external life based on those truths, a working relationship between spiritual experience and growth on the one hand, and the power of the mind on the other, is basically essential.

It is also true that certain types of study, reading and reflection in the mind can be aids in the spiritual quest by focusing the mind and controlling the vital nature, such that there can be a receptivity to spiritual insight and experience. This requires the mind, however, to maintain a poise of humility and not arrogantly assume that it ‘knows’, when in fact, its ‘knowledge’ is always partial and colored by preconceived notions and cultural training.

Sri Aurobindo observes: “It does not help for spiritual knowledge to be ignorant of things of this world.”

“Knowledge is always better than ignorance. It makes things possible hereafter if not at the moment, while ignorance actively obstructs and misleads.”

“The development of the mind is a useful preliminary for the Sadhak; it can also be pursued along with the Sadhana on condition that it is not given too big a place and does not interfere with the one important thing, the Sadhana itself.”

“Mental development may or may not help sadhana — if the mind is too intellectually developed on certain rationalistic lines, it may hinder.”

“Sadhana is the aim of a sadhak, not mental development. But if he has spare time, those who have the mental turn will naturally spend it in reading or study of some kind.”

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, Mental Development, Reading and Study, pp. 361-365

Art as a Dedicated Expression of the Divine

The object of creative expression through art is of primary importance to the spiritual seeker. As long as art is used as a way to enhance the vital ego, achieve recognition, fame, wealth, it has little, if any, value for spiritual practice. These objectives, in and of themselves, are part of the normal life of the mental/vital man and are expected to be the goals for those who take up these pursuits. When the individual begins, first, to treat the artistic pursuit as a means of inner development and expression, regardless of external recognition, he begins to recognise the true inner growth that is possible through such activity. At some point, this may develop further into a communion, a form of dedication, an aspiration, and an expression of the deeper sense of oneness that characterizes the spiritual consciousness.

Sri Aurobindo writes: “What you write is perfectly true, that all human greatness and fame and achievement are nothing before the greatness of the Infinite and the Eternal. There are two possible deductions from that: first that all human action has to be renounced and one should go into a cave; the other is that one should grow out of ego so that the activities of the nature may become one day consciously an action of the Infinite and Eternal. I myself never gave up poetry or other creative human activities out of tapasya; they fell into a subordinate position because the inner life became stronger and stronger slowly: nor did I really drop them, only I had so heavy a work laid upon me that I could not find time to go on. But it took me years and years to get the ego out of them or the vital absorption, but I never heard anybody say nor did it ever occur to me that that was a proof that I was not born for Yoga.”

“Every artist almost (there can be rare exceptions) has got something of the public man in him in his vital-physical parts which makes him crave for the stimulus of an audience, social applause, satisfied vanity, appreciation, fame. That must go absolutely if you want to be a yogi, — your art must be a service not of your own ego, not of anyone or anything else but solely of the Divine.”

“It is your aim to write from the Divine and for the Divine– you should then try to make all equally a pure transcription from the inner source and where the inspiration fails return upon your work so as to make the whole worthy of its origin and its object. All work done for the Divine, from poetry and art and music to carpentry or baking or sweeping a room, should be made perfect even in its smallest external detail as well as in the spirit in which it is done; for only then is it an altogether fit offering.”

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

Gaining the Support of the Vital Being for the Sadhana Through the Joy of Creative Activity

One of the issues that every spiritual seeker eventually faces is what to do about the vital nature. The vital being is an essential element of life on earth. Normally however it is distracted with its needs and desires, the seeking for pleasure and enjoyment, the avoidance of pain and suffering. The difficulty of dealing with the drives of the vital being have led many spiritual seekers to attempt to suppress it, or overpower it through an action of the mental will. Thus we have paths that focus on asceticism or extreme austerities to try to force the vital to respond in a way that supports the spiritual seeking and demand of the practitioner.

Yet there are enormous problems with this approach unless the goal is to abandon life and achieve a concentrated state independent of an active life in the world. For the spiritual seeker in the integral Yoga, however, this approach does not work, as the objective is not to drop the body and the life entirely, but to eventually transform life into a life divine.

This approach requires what may be seen as “untying the knot” of the vital difficulties rather than “cutting the knot”. The vital must eventually agree and eventually enthusiastically support the transformation, and thus, it must also find an appropriate form of satisfaction that both meets its needs, and helps to carry out the transformative effort. Sri Aurobindo has identified this as an approach that supports the joy of creative effort.

Sri Aurobindo notes: “I have always told you that you ought not to stop your poetry and similar activities. It is a mistake to do so out of asceticism or with the idea of tapasya. One can stop these things when they drop of themselves, because one is full of experience and so interested in one’s inner life that one has no energy to spare for the rest. Even then, there is no rule for giving up; for there is no reason why poetry etc. should not be part of sadhana. The love of applause, the desire for fame, the ego-reaction have to be given up, but that can be done without giving up the activity itself. Your vital needs some activity — most vitals do — and to deprive it of its outlet, an outlet that can be helpful and not harmful, makes it sulking, indifferent and desponding or else inclined to revolt at any moment and throw up the sponge. Without the assent of the vital it is difficult to do sadhana — it non-co-operates, or it watches with a grim, even if silent dissatisfaction ready to express at any moment doubt and denial; or it makes a furious effort and then falls back saying: ‘I have got nothing.’ The mind by itself cannot do much, it must have support from the vital and for that the vital must be in a cheerful and acquiescent state. It has the joy of creation and there is nothing spiritually wrong in creative action. Why deny your vital this joy of outflow?”

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

Art and Literature in the Service of Spiritual Development

While they are not a substitute for spiritual sadhana, art, music and literature nevertheless have a role to play, both as a means to access and express the inner aspiration and as a way to bring to the external being some of the force of the spiritual development taking place internally. Those who have developed a connection to their inner mind and emotional being have already begun the process of discovery of a deeper self and a deeper meaning to life than those who remain fixed on the surface in the external being.

Sri Aurobindo observes: “To be a literary man is not a spiritual aim, but to use literature as a means of spiritual expression is another matter. Even to make expression a vehicle of a superior power helps to open the consciousness. The harmonising rests on that principle.”

“The use of your writing is to keep you in touch with the inner source of inspiration and intuition so as to wear thin the crude external crust in the consciousness and encourage the growth of the inner being.”

“Literature and art are or can be a first introduction to the inner being — the inner mind, vital; for it is from there that they come. And if one writes poems of Bhakti, poems of divine seeking, etc., or creates music of that kind, it means that there is a Bhakta or seeker inside who is supporting himself by that self-expression. There is also the point of view behind Lele’s answer to me when I told him that I wanted to do Yoga but for work, for action, not for Sannyasa and Nirvana, — but after years of spiritual effort I had failed to find the way and it was for that I had asked to meet him. His first answer was, ‘It would be easy for you as you are a poet.’ “

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