Understanding the Limitations of the Fixed Yet Confused Action of the Lower Nature

As we examine the issues that surround the attempt to exceed and transcend the limitations of the lower nature, we find that the action of body-life-mind in the world is very much conditioned by fixed habitual responses to stimuli. We note that there is a limited capacity of development, growth and maturity taking place, but all of this is within the framework of what appear to be laws of nature that circumscribe our action.

Sri Aurobindo examines this framework in order to find out how much these laws of nature actually can be transcended, uplifted and transformed, and, to the extent they are unable to be so modified, what must be done to escape the bondage of their habitual action: “But no perfection, much less this perfection can be attained without a very radical dealing with the present nature and the abrogation of much that seems to be the fixed law of its complex nexus of mental, vital and physical being. The law of this nexus has been created for a definite and limited end, the temporary maintenance, preservation, possession, aggrandisement, enjoyment, experience, need, action of the mental ego in the living body….To arrive at a higher utility and freer instrumentation this nexus must be partly broken up, exceeded, transformed into a larger harmony of action. The Purusha sees that the law created is that of a partly stable, partly unstable selective determination of habitual, yet developing experiences out of a first confused consciousness of self and not-self, subjective being and external universe. This determination is managed by mind, life and body acting upon each other, in harmony and correspondence, but also in discord and divergence, mutual interference and limitation. There is a similar mixed harmony and discord between various activities of the mind in itself, as also between activities of the life in itself and of the physical being. The whole is a sort of disorderly order, an order evolved and contrived out of a constantly surrounding and invading confusion.”

Sri Aurobindo, The Synthesis of Yoga, Part Four: The Yoga of Self-Perfection, Chapter 4, The Perfection of the Mental Being, pp. 612-613

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The Definition of the Aim of the Integral Yoga

The Integral Yoga differs from many other spiritual paths in terms of the ultimate goal it propounds. There has been traditionally a very heavy emphasis on individual liberation from the bondage of the chain of cause and effect, and the escape from the outer world of illusion to a reality which is unmoving, infinite and absolute.

Sri Aurobindo sets forth his own criteria for the path of the Integral Yoga: “This is the entire definition of the aim of integral Yoga; it is the rendering in personal experience of the truth which universal Nature has hidden in herself and which she travails to discover. It is the conversion of the human soul into the divine soul and of natural life into divine living.”

To achieve this aim, the seeker must find the way past the limitations of the egoistic consciousness, and identify himself with the Supreme. “To see, know, become and fulfil this One in our inner selves and in all our outer nature, was always the secret goal and becomes now the conscious purpose of our embodied existence. To be conscious of him in all parts of our being and equally in all that the dividing mind sees as outside our being, is the consummation of the individual consciousness. To be possessed by him and possess him in ourselves and in all things is the term of all empire and mastery. To enjoy him in all experiences of passivity and activity, of peace and of power, of unity and of difference is the happiness with the Jiva, the individual soul manifested in the world, is obscurely seeking.”

Sri Aurobindo, The Synthesis of Yoga, Part One: The Yoga of Divine Works, Chapter 1, The Four Aids, pp. 56-57