“The sadhaka of the integral Yoga will make use of all these aids according to his nature; but it is necessary that he should shun their limitations and cast from himself that exclusive tendency of the egoistic mind which cries, “My God, my Incarnation, my Prophet, my Guru,” and opposes it to all other realisation in a sectarian or a fanatical spirit. All sectarianism, all fanaticism must be shunned; for it is inconsistent with the integrity of the divine realisation.”
What are all these aids? Sri Aurobindo has said that the Divine himself is the teacher but human nature being what it is, with its limitations, we may conceive of many others first such as ishta devata. The words Ishta devata mean favourite God. Some may consider Ganapati as ishta devata, or Shiva or Vishnu or Durga according to our nature one or another becomes the one we desire and worship. Favourite means one in whose image we would like to be moulded. You would like to be like him or like her. If I am a worshipper of Durga I would like to be like Durga, if I am a worshiper of Shiva I would like to be like Shiva. When you admire you like to become. Admiration, adoration these are the first steps but you become satisfied only when you become like that which you admire. That is ishta devata. You may consider ishta devata as your guru, as your teacher or you may like an incarnation to be your guru –– either Christ or Buddha or Krishna or Rama as guru –– or you may like a Prophet as your guru. There is a difference between an incarnation and a prophet. Incarnation is the one in whom the Divine himself descends; a Prophet is a very great man who has contact with the Divine but in whom Divine himself has not descended. Like Mohammed is a prophet. So you may like to have ishta devata as your teacher or you may like an incarnation to be your teacher or you may like a prophet to be your teacher or you may like a human being as your teacher. These are all the aids.
“On the contrary, the sadhaka of the integral Yoga will not be satisfied until he has included all other names and forms of Deity in his own conception, seen his own Ishta Devata in all others, unified all Avatars in the unity of Him who descends in the Avatar, welded the truth in all teachings into the harmony of the Eternal Wisdom. Nor should he forget the aim of these external aids which is to awaken his soul to the Divine within him. Nothing has been finally accomplished if that has not been accomplished. It is not sufficient to worship Krishna, Christ or Buddha without, if there is not the revealing and the formation of the Buddha, the Christ or Krishna in ourselves. And all other aids equally have no other purpose; each is a bridge between man’s unconverted state and the revelation of the Divine within him.”
We have now a full description of our teacher: first that the Divine himself is our teacher; secondly that he has no method and every method and that his system varies according to each one nature; thirdly that he is a teacher who teaches by suggestion and not by imposition, he teaches by his own example and he teaches by his own influence, influence that proceeds from the closeness of his being with our own being; and that his entire aim is to take us through the vicissitude of experiences, varieties of experiences so that you may awake, which is the central thing –– awakening. The Divine Teacher awakes to his presence, to his working in the world, his hand in everything that happens to you whether success or failure, stumbling or fall or catastrophe or glory. Unveiling of the Divine in you is what the Divine ultimately aims and accomplishes. But since it is difficult for the human being to open directly to the Divine Teacher there are other aids: ishta devata, incarnations, prophet or a human teacher. In any case the important thing is that the teacher must awaken and that awakening is to the integral Divine who is not limited to one form or another form, to one ishta devata or another but includes all so that once again we can say that our teacher is the Supreme Lord who is the Teacher of all.
Now is the description of the human teacher because that is easier for human beings to obtain rather than the Supreme Teacher directly. “The Teacher of the integral Yoga will follow as far as he may the method of the Teacher within us. He will lead the disciple through the nature of the disciple.” This is the ultimate justification of what we call free progress system. Since everyone has a different nature the system or the method will be such as to be suitable to each one, to his own nature. Even when there is a collective class like this he looks upon each one differently and he addresses in such a way that each one can derive, according to his own nature, what is suitable for him or to her. “Teaching, example, influence, — these are the three instruments of the Guru. But the wise Teacher will not seek to impose himself or his opinions on the passive acceptance of the receptive mind…” He does not become a propagandist. A good teacher is not a propagandist; he does not make any propaganda. He does not want that his opinions should be accepted by his pupils. “… he will throw in only what is productive and sure as a seed which will grow under the divine fostering within.” It is a very important statement. The task of the teacher is only to throw a few seeds in the soil of the child and then it is the divine who will foster, it is the Divine himself who will water the seeds so that they will grow and become a tree. “He will seek to awaken much more than to instruct…” This is the mark of a good teacher. He does not like to instruct, he does like to say do this, do that. He might do it but much more important for him is to awaken. “… he will aim at the growth of the faculties and the experiences by a natural process and free expansion.”