The Synthesis of Yoga (2000-2001, Super school, Auroville) - Session 6 (14 November 2000)

Yoga is practical psychology. When you are studying yoga you have to remember that you are basically studying psychology and you are also going one step further to applied psychology. You go into the depth of the human mind, human consciousness in search of practical application. And this search is methodical. You remember we had defined yoga as a methodized effort. It is a methodical study and therefore it is a scientific study. You are not required to have any basic dogma. There is no dogma in Yoga. There is no preconceived idea. Just as you make a study of steam in physics: how you can produce steam, how steam works. You may see a kettle of water on a stove which is burning and you suddenly see the lid being thrown open because steam is a force and by the pressure of the force the lid is opened up. It is the natural tendency of steam: it always pushes. Having seen this you may then apply it. If you want to push anything you know that steam can be produced and can push. We all have seen railway trains and some railway trains are moving by virtue of steam engines. Have you seen a steam engine? In steam engines you have plenty of water, a lot of coal which is ignited and becomes the fuel with which water is heated to such an extent that it can push. A small illustration of a kettle with steam pushing on the lid can be applied on a large scale and can produce such a big effect that huge trains can be moved and pushed by the power of steam. This is the result of the application of this knowledge of steam —that steam can be produced and can be used to push big loads of weight in the direction that you want. You can choose what direction you want. Similarly you discover that consciousness is like steam. It is not very evident, when you think you don’t feel any kind of movement or of pushing. Because normally our thinking is very limited —like a limited amount of water, producing a limited amount of steam which can push only a little thing. But if you can produce a huge amount of steam then big things can be pushed forward. Similarly Yoga has discovered that there is consciousness and consciousness can be made to move, it is a power. And with the result of this power which is generated you can move forward. You can generate this power by methodised effort. You make an effort but in a methodized manner and as a result you can produce a tremendous amount of power of consciousness and with that power if you want you can move mountains. All this by the power of consciousness. Like electricity. Electricity is also a force. The method by which you can produce steam is not the same method by which you can produce electricity. There are other methods. Normally we see electricity as lightning in the sky when the clouds collide and suddenly you find a streak of electricity, a light flashing out. If you study how that lightning is produced, you can create methods by which whenever you want you can produce electricity. If you study how electricity is produced suddenly in nature you can then apply it and then electricity is produced. Similarly in the case of yoga you can produce electricity in consciousness. Actually electricity exists in our body. You know our nerves are all electric nerves. Normally we don’t see electricity working in our body but our body is very electrical. Quite naturally there is electric force running all the time. Sometimes some people become paralyzed and you ask the question: What is paralysis? It is nothing but the stoppage of the electric current in the body. It is basically the stoppage of the electric force which is normal. All our organs are moving because of the electric force. And often this electric force runs automatically. When you touch an object an electric force is produced. And as a result there are reactions which are also generated by electric force. It is found that, if you know psychology, if you know what consciousness is, you can learn when consciousness can produce the electricity or a greater electricity, greater force than even electricity. What are the methods which can turn the consciousness in us which is simply like a small stream into an ocean? How do you do that? The knowledge of consciousness and the method by which this consciousness can be developed methodically. That is the shastra of Yoga. Shastra means science. It is this subject with which we are dealing now.

As Sri Aurobindo says, that shastra is already in us. But we have forgotten it. It is potentially present in us and we can open it up. But as Sri Aurobindo says, sometimes you need a word to open up. It is also part of shastra. A mere word can unseal the blockage of consciousness. In fact this is happening to us all the time. Whenever you hear something, there is a vibration, our consciousness is affected. Many people, knowing the effect of words on consciousness have developed the art of advertisement. You see so many advertisements all over the world —huge letters, short sentences —and they are relayed onto our mind. And advertisers know that if publicity and advertisement is successful, thousands and millions of customers will run to the shops. It is a power. It is a very small utilisation of the knowledge of consciousness. They know that words can move the consciousness. And if that word is relayed at a particular place it is very important. Put in a place where they can reach a larger number of people and also the way in which the words are used they can be made to move millions of people. These are ordinary uses of the knowledge of consciousness.

Yoga is a much greater, much vaster understanding of words and the effect it can produce in the psychology of human beings. I would like you to read two or three sentences on page number 3. “Yogic methods have something of the same relation to the customary psychological workings of man as has the scientific handling of the natural force of electricity or of steam to their normal operations in Nature.” There are normal operations of steam and electricity but when you scientifically deal with them the uses of steam and electricity have a tremendous impact. Similarly there are psychological workings in man and these working, if you study them —these workings which seem to be very small, almost ineffective, but if you know how to handle them scientifically tremendous consequences can be produced. Take for example a simple handling of psychological working. It happens sometimes when suddenly your mind stops thinking. Sometimes suddenly the mind stops thinking. You find for example when you are falling asleep the mind begins to stop thinking. The result however is that when the mind stops thinking your body relaxes and when you get up next morning you are refreshed. This is the minimum little thing that we see. If the mind stops thinking what happens? Secondly when the mind stops thinking very often you begin to have dreams. This is also a psychological effect. We normally do not give much importance to all this. But if you make a scientific study and see what happens if you can stop thinking without going to sleep. It is a scientific study: don’t go to sleep and yet stop thinking and if you can do that it is a scientific handling. You find that things which are not known can be known. You gain a great experience. Now, what are the conditions in which the mind can stop thinking? That also has to be learnt. Of course when you are very tired then your mind stops thinking for a short while. When you are extremely happy your thinking stops. When you deeply admire somebody, thinking stops. You notice a beautiful scene, the thinking stops. A great explosion takes place; you are stunned, thinking stops. These are the normal ways by which thinking stops. But this stoppage of thinking is only for a short while. If you make a scientific study, you can ask the question: Is it possible to stop thinking for a long time?

Yogis are like scientists, practical psychologists. They made a great study and they said that we have in our consciousness many elements—elements of thought, elements of will, elements of emotions, traits of your personality, your normal psychological likings and dislikings, your attractions, your repulsions. There are so many elements in our psychology. You make a scientific study of them and see how you can recombine them. In our own psychology there is one kind of combination,— your thinking, your emotion, your willing. These three are the basic operations of the mind and many subordinate operations. In every individual you find a different combination. Every human being has a special way of combining his thinking, willing and feeling. If your thought becomes very powerful, feeling becomes diminished. Therefore, very often the thinkers don’t have heart. They have a big mind but they do not have very much heart. Those who have a big heart, very often don't have mind, the power of thinking is very limited. Those who think a lot very often find that in practical life they are great failures. This is true of many many good thinkers. When they come to apply something in life they are totally incapable. They can give long lectures but when they come to life, application of knowledge, they are very poor. These are different combinations and there are millions of combinations, not one or two. Every human being has a certain kind of combination.

Yoga therefore asks you to study your particular combination. It says first you study your own combination. How much is your thought power, how much is your will power, and how much is your feeling power. Having known this you begin to apply true knowledge, how to combine, how to recombine. You become like a medical doctor, you become an alchemist, a chemist. This is what has been done in Raja Yoga. And Raja Yoga tells you that if you want to stop your mind it is not first of all an easy thing. First proposition: do not think; stopping of your thinking —remaining conscious is an easy thing. While falling asleep of course you can stop your thinking. But this has not much result except refreshing your body, it does not have many more effects. They found out that if you can remain conscious and yet you can stop your thinking it has tremendous effects. It is like steam pushing on the lid of your kettle and a steam which can push a huge train. If you know how to stop thinking without falling asleep then your power of consciousness will be so great that any knowledge that you want to posses can be possessed. This is the great connection with mind stopping and attaining the knowledge, because knowledge already exists —this was the discovery of the yogis. Knowledge already exists but if knowledge is not already working in you now it is because of a blockage and this blockage is caused by a constant movement of your thought. It is vibrating so it does not allow the knowledge to come to the surface. So they pointed out that if you want to stop thinking without falling asleep then you can recombine your consciousness in various ways. It takes a long time but you can do it. It is not a dogma that you must believe, no. You can practically do it. You can arrive at a real concentration of consciousness, at a real stoppage of thought and you can increase the time during which you can remain quiet.

Sri Aurobindo says:

All Rajayoga, for instance, depends on this perception and experience that our inner elements, combinations, functions, forces, can be separated or dissolved, can be new-combined and set to novel and formerly impossible workings or can be transformed and resolved into a new general synthesis by fixed internal processes.

Sri Aurobindo, The Synthesis of Yoga - I: Life and Yoga

You do some internal processes by which you can recombine; you can even change your entire mentality. You become a new person. Similarly in Hatha Yoga:

Hathayoga similarly depends on this perception and experience that the vital forces and functions to which our life is normally subjected and whose ordinary operations seem set and indispensable, can be mastered and the operations changed or suspended with results that would otherwise be impossible and that seem miraculous to those who have not seized the rationale of their process.

Sri Aurobindo, The Synthesis of Yoga - I: Life and Yoga

The Hatha yogis have proved that you can live without breathing for hours and hours and hours and that you can survive even when the heartbeat stops.

Just as in Raja Yoga the mind stops thinking; in Hatha Yoga even the heart can be stopped and yet one can survive, one can live. These results may seem miraculous but the methods are actually very simple in a certain sense. You should know how to sit; you should know how to breathe —both very simple processes. They discovered that breathing and sitting have a tremendous effect. If you know how to sit properly and breathe you can increase your capacity of breathing and while sitting you can inhale and you can stop your breath, first for a little while and then for a longer time and for a longer time. And what are the results? The breath which has been inhaled can go on circulating in the whole body, and to certain portions of the body which do not receive oxygen in our normal breathing, which is very fast, oxygen can reach and regenerate them. Your body becomes very fresh because the oxygen which was not going to those places in the body begins to receive it, so bodily power begins to develop in a way which is normally unimaginable.

Such are all yogic systems you take for example Jnana Yoga: when the intellect ceases to doubt, a new force of consciousness begins to operate. We do not know how much we actually doubt in our life and how much that doubting prevents the full growth of consciousness. Very often you are told not to doubt as a dogma: “Take it for granted, don’t doubt!” That does not have that much effect.

You must really arrive at a destruction of the doubt by a conscious effort. The yogis found out that if philosophy is pursued, if you study philosophy, with the purpose of destroying doubts, then through that method, when the doubt is finished, the intellect begins to perceive reality. Not only the reality of life as we see it but what is called cosmic consciousness can arise suddenly in you. Transcendent consciousness can arise also, simply by destruction of doubt. These are the discoveries of the yogis: Doubt disturbs you so much that your consciousness is limited to a small circle in which it is revolving round and round. And all your energies are wasted. Jnana Yoga says, take the doubt itself into your purpose, — on what you are doubting concentrate. Study philosophy by means of which the doubt can be resolved. Not by dogma, not by belief, not by creed. You really destroy the doubt by philosophical method, by questioning everything, by doubting fully, exhaust your doubt completely. And when the doubt is exhausted you can see the power of consciousness that rushes out.

Similarly in Karma Yoga. Our activities are so small. Our actions are normally minor actions. We are not capable of what can be called mighty actions. Why? Because there is an obstruction, obstruction on account of desire. Just as doubt is the blockage in the field of intellectual knowledge, similarly desire is a big obstruction in the field of action. Because we go on desiring and desiring, our actions become so small and therefore we are incapable of mighty actions. Suppose you want to change the course of history. Not only arranging your household which is a small action but you want to rearrange the whole world, then Karma Yoga tells you that if you give up desires then you will gain such power by which you can reorganize the world. Sri Aurobindo when he started yoga—it is a short story of Sri Aurobindo’s life –– his younger brother, Barin Ghose was suffering from fever. One yogi came to the house of Sri Aurobindo and he saw his younger brother suffering from fever and he simply asked for a glass of water and then he crossed the water symbolically, he recited a mantra and said to Barin “Drink this”. Barin drank the water and was cured. This may look like a miracle. Now what is it that produced these results? Sri Aurobindo, seeing this, felt that there was something tremendous in yoga and it was not a belief. Here was an operation done by a yogi and it produced a result. So he came to the conclusion: by yogic method you can gain power. You can gain and produce results. At that time Sri Aurobindo wanted freedom of India. He said, why not generate the power by which India can become free? He decided to practice that yoga by which India could be free. It was the starting point of Sri Aurobindo’s yoga, to create a power by which all India could be reorganized. To create a mighty will, a mighty power. For example we say that Auroville should be changed. We are complaining, we are grudging, we are under great stress. But if you apply yoga, as we can now because we are all students of yoga, if you apply a great force, not only can Auroville be reorganized but we can reorganize the whole world on the pattern of Auroville. This is the power available to us. If we can really do this, and we ought to do it, in fact we are there for that, not only for ourselves but also for the whole world. The world is sick. The world is filled with maladies. And if the world is to be changed Auroville should be changed. And if Auroville changes —we are like yogic practitioners here. If you do yoga rightly you can produce such mighty results that we will also be surprised to see what results it can produce. Karma Yoga for that is necessary and Karma Yoga means you dissolve your desires. If your desires are dissolved then a mighty Will can be produced. There is a mighty will in us, it is potential in us. But that will can be produced if this desire, which is a small little thing constantly whirling around and preventing us from willing, is dissolved. A time must come when you will and it is realised. Not desire, if you desire you sometimes achieve a little result after tremendous efforts. But if you dissolve desire —it is a psychological element in us —and Will… There is a very beautiful sentence of The Mother: “Awake and will.” Not desire. Desire is that you want to enjoy the fruits of action. That is desire. You want to enjoy the fruits of action or you want to experience “I did, I am the doer” like the dog under the cart. This is our normal way of desiring and acting. But if these two things are eliminated, the desire for enjoyment of the fruits of action, and secondly the idea that you are the doer, that you did it —you want to prove to the world: “Look I can do it!” Don’t desire this, just will. If you do this you will see the consequences, action will be released, a tremendous force will be released. This is the shastra.

This shastra, Sri Aurobindo says, is present in every one of us. If you really have a great aspiration to know it, you can know it by yourself, you don’t need anybody. By internal processes of observation and experimentation you can discover it. And therefore many people who are really powerful don’t need the help. They discover by themselves or one word is enough. There is the story of Kabir. Kabir was a great poet and a great yogi. He lived in Benares. It is said that as a young boy he had no house, he had to sleep on the steps of a ghat near the temple, near the river Ganga. One day a yogi, in the early morning before the sunrise, pitch darkness, simply went down the steps of that ghat, and unknowingly put his foot on the body of Kabir who was sleeping. And he simply said the name of God and as he uttered this word Kabir awoke but awoke with a new consciousness. One word was enough, the name of God was enough and he himself became a yogi. He did not go to any teacher afterwards. In one second by one word he was awakened. The very fact that even after hundreds of years we are now remembering him at this moment and his poems are read and re-read and recited by millions of people of India shows that he attained such a tremendously high consciousness and affected the people. He brought Muslims and Hindus together in harmony. This is one of the great works he did in his life. So this yoga is already present in us, the Shastra is present in us. And sometimes it can be unsealed even with one word.

There are many ways by which this knowledge can come. There is a very interesting paragraph in Chapter II (p.63). Sri Aurobindo tells us how you can enter into yoga, what are the different ways to enter into yoga.

All Yoga is in its nature a new birth; it is a birth out of the ordinary, the mentalised material life of man into a higher spiritual consciousness and a greater and diviner being. No Yoga can be successfully undertaken and followed unless there is a strong awakening to the necessity of that larger spiritual existence. The soul that is called to this deep and vast inward change, may arrive in different ways to the initial departure.

Sri Aurobindo, The Synthesis of Yoga - I: Self-Consecration

The starting point may come from different sides. You are entering into yoga with one method now and there are different people who can enter with different ways and now Sri Aurobindo gives the different ways by which you can enter. “It may come to it by its own natural development which has been leading it unconsciously towards the awakening;” by gradual, natural development. Many people don’t have a sudden awakening like Kabir had. It may come by a natural rhythm of a long period of life, thirty, forty years one leads an ordinary life, but gradually it grows and then comes the period of awakening. may reach it through the influence of a religion or the attraction of a philosophy; it may approach it by a slow illumination or leap to it by a sudden touch or shock; it may be pushed or led to it by the pressure of outward circumstances or by an inward necessity, by a single word that breaks the seals of the mind or by long reflection, by the distant example of one who has trod the path or by contact and daily influence. According to the nature and the circumstances the call will come.

Sri Aurobindo, The Synthesis of Yoga - I: Self-Consecration

This is how one departs into yoga —by many methods. This is by way of introducing what we are reading up till now in the first Chapter. We have read: “Ordinarily, the Word from without” is necessary; a word should be revealed to you by somebody. It is the normal method.

But usually the representative influence occupies a much larger place in the life of the sadhaka. If the Yoga is guided by a received written Shastra,—some Word from the past which embodies the experience of former Yogins,—it may be practised either by personal effort alone or with the aid of a Guru. The spiritual knowledge is then gained through meditation on the truths that are taught and it is made living and conscious by their realisation in the personal experience..

Sri Aurobindo, The Synthesis of Yoga - I: The Four Aids

Reading the word meditation we had made an excursion and we were just about to understand what is meditation when we suspended the class. So now let us go back to that part of this book where meditation is explained.

What is meditation? (p.307) “Concentration is of two kinds: meditation and contemplation”. These are two words. There is a process called meditation and a process called contemplation. Some concentrations are meditative and some concentrations are contemplative. Even in ordinary life we do meditation and contemplation. But as we do not examine the powers of meditation or of contemplation we don’t derive much result. But if like psychologists we know what is the secret of meditation and of contemplation we can derive a tremendous result. Sri Aurobindo analyses what is the secret of meditation.

“This concentration proceeds by the idea”. This is a very important word: idea. Without an idea you cannot have meditation. Meditation is ideative in character. You should have an idea. An idea using thought, form, name, — three things: thought, form and name. We ask what is in a name. But name sometimes is very important for opening the gates. As I told you last time, there is something like magic in the process of yoga. Outwardly it looks very simple but if you go into the depth of it, a miraculous result will come. So thought, form and name—very ordinary things. We have plenty of thoughts in our mind, it is not as if we have to go far to seek. There are many forms in us, there are so many names hovering around in our consciousness but the secret lies in catching one thought out of so many, one name, one form. That is where the scientist comes into the picture. Whatever is running about in our consciousness, pick up one thing, which thing? That only the psychologist will tell you, that is, the yogi will tell you. So “it proceeds by the idea using thought, form and name as keys which yield up to the concentrating mind the truth that lies concealed behind all thought, form and name”. There is a discovery of the Truth. We have said yoga is the discovery of the Divine Being or Divine Love or Divine Will or all the three. The central knowledge is the knowledge of the Divine Being, the Divine Truth. So if you want to know the truth, the key to the truth is in seizing upon a thought, form and name and piercing through it so that truth is seized. “It is through the idea that the mental being rises beyond all expression to that which is expressed, to that of which the idea itself is only the instrument.” It is a key by which the lock can be opened. “By concentration upon the idea”this is an important point —you take an idea and “by concentration upon the idea the mental existence, which at present we are, breaks open the barrier”. If you just concentrate upon the idea then the barrier between you and the truth breaks down. And you arrive at a state of “consciousness, a state of being, a state of power and bliss of the conscious-being to which the idea corresponds and of which it is a symbol, movement and rhythm.” You select that idea, out of so many ideas you may have, of which you want to know the truth.

Take for example; you want to know what equality is, a word which we use very often. You want equality. Then you take that idea, concentrate only upon the idea of equality, all other ideas are abolished. Just concentrate upon equality for hours and hours and hours… You will arrive at the state of equality. When you awake from this meditation your mind will be equal to all things in the world. You arrive at that stage simply by concentrating upon the idea of equality. Or take the idea of brotherhood. How to feel that all human beings on the earth are brothers and sisters? How to feel, automatically, spontaneously, not artificially, not for greeting purposes, but for the real purpose, for real experience? How to do that? You take that idea of brotherhood, concentrate upon it until all other ideas are abolished from the mind and you will rise up in a state of a real brotherhood. You will not have to make any effort. Like Vivekananda when he spoke in the Parliament of Religions in 1893, when he said: “Brothers and sisters of America…” he spoke from that consciousness. He really felt that all humanity is one brotherhood. He was in the state of brotherhood that is why there was a tremendous response. It is the power of your idea, because he was in the state of brotherhood. This is the idea, when you pick up any idea the truth of which you want to know, you just keep yourself concentrated on that idea. If you want to know God for example just keep the idea of God in front of you. Reach a point where no other idea is present. And you will rise in the state of God-consciousness. You don’t need to believe in God, it is not a dogma that you must believe in God. No, don’t believe; just make a psychological experiment even without any belief.

That is why Yoga is a science, it is not a religion. In religion you need a dogma; you need a belief; while in yoga you don’t need a belief. You may not believe in God but the yogi tells you, if you just concentrate upon the idea of God in such a way that all other ideas disappear except this idea, you arrive at a concentration on it and the state of God consciousness will reveal itself. Now, if you don’t believe in this magic, do it, try, experiment! It is like any other experiment, if you are told water can be produced by hydrogen and oxygen put together you may not believe in it. But bring oxygen, bring hydrogen, put them together, see for yourself what happens. You don’t need to believe in it.

Sri Aurobindo says:

By concentration upon the Idea the mental existence which at present we are breaks open the barrier of our mentality and arrives at the state of consciousness, the state of being, the state of power of conscious-being and bliss of conscious-being to which the Idea corresponds and of which it is the symbol, movement and rhythm. Concentration by the Idea is, then, only a means, a key to open to us the superconscient planes of our existence; a certain self-gathered state of our whole existence lifted into that superconscient truth, unity and infinity of self-aware, self-blissful existence is the aim and culmination; and that is the meaning we shall give to the term Samadhi.

Sri Aurobindo, The Synthesis of Yoga - I: Concentration

When you can attain to that state where the idea vanishes and the actual state corresponding to the idea is experienced. That is why meditation is not a thought it leads to an experience. You know because you experience it.

Now on page 308 Sri Aurobindo describes in some details the process of meditation.

To arrive then at this settled divine status must be the object of our concentration. The first step in concentration must be always to accustom the discursive mind to a settled unwavering pursuit of a single course of connected thought on a single subject and this it must do undistracted by all lures and alien calls on its attention.

Sri Aurobindo, The Synthesis of Yoga - I: Concentration

That is why people who want to meditate go into a silent room so that all the calls which come by sounds of various kinds are avoided to the extent possible.

Such concentration is common enough in our ordinary life, but it becomes more difficult when we have to do it inwardly without any outward object or action on which to keep the mind; yet this inward concentration is what the seeker of knowledge must effect. Nor must it be merely the consecutive thought of the intellectual thinker, whose only object is to conceive and intellectually link together his conceptions. It is not, except perhaps at first, a process of reasoning that is wanted so much as a dwelling..

Sri Aurobindo, The Synthesis of Yoga - I: Concentration

There is a difference between a process of reasoning and that of dwelling. The mind must not only go on fabricating ideas, it must dwell.

Such concentration is common enough in our ordinary life, but it becomes more difficult when we have to do it inwardly without any outward object or action on which to keep the mind; yet this inward concentration is what the seeker of knowledge must effect. Nor must it be merely the consecutive thought of the intellectual thinker, whose only object is to conceive and intellectually link together his conceptions. It is not, except perhaps at first, a process of reasoning that is wanted so much as a dwelling so far as possible on the fruitful essence of the idea which by the insistence of the soul’s will upon it must yield up all the facets of its truth.

Sri Aurobindo, The Synthesis of Yoga - I: Concentration

Now Sri Aurobindo gives an example of one meditation:

Thus if it be the divine Love that is the subject of concentration, it is on the essence of the idea of God as Love that the mind should concentrate in such a way that the various manifestation of the divine Love should arise luminously, not only to the thought, but in the heart and being and vision of the sadhaka. The thought may come first and the experience afterwards, but equally the experience may come first and the knowledge arise out of the experience. Afterwards the thing attained has to be dwelt on and more and more held till it becomes a constant experience and finally the dharma or law of the being.

Sri Aurobindo, The Synthesis of Yoga - I: Concentration

If you attain this meditation process to the end then whenever you speak, you feel it will be only Divine Love that will manifest. It becomes your own, part of your being. It won’t be a distant love that is far off somewhere. It will be in the heart and mind of your being in the very bodily vibrations. It is the Divine Love that will vibrate. This is meditation. Sri Aurobindo says that if it is a shastra in a written book —then you meditate upon it. Every line of the shastra you meditate upon and by constant meditation the truth of the shastra will begin to illumine your mind and heart.

The spiritual knowledge is then gained through meditation on the truths that are taught and it is made living and conscious by their realisation in the personal experience; the Yoga proceeds by the results of prescribed methods taught in a Scripture or a tradition and reinforced and illumined by the instructions of the Master. This is a narrower practice, but safe and effective within its limits, because it follows a well-beaten track to a long familiar goal.

Sri Aurobindo, The Synthesis of Yoga - I: The Four Aids

Narrower because you take the help of a book, the wider way is not to take any book at all, but we, being narrow ourselves we take a narrower method as an aid.

The spiritual knowledge is then gained through meditation on the truths that are taught and it is made living and conscious by their realisation in the personal experience; the Yoga proceeds by the results of prescribed methods taught in a Scripture or a tradition and reinforced and illumined by the instructions of the Master. This is a narrower practice, but safe and effective within its limits, because it follows a well-beaten track to a long familiar goal.

Sri Aurobindo, The Synthesis of Yoga - I: The Four Aids

Therefore this is one of the easier methods by which the shastra of Integral Yoga is known and practiced. If you read this book and follow the practice prescribed here then it will be a safe method because all that is written here has been realised. And if you follow the method like a geographical map —there is a difference between making a map and following a map. If you go to a terrain which you do not know, you take a map. And then you must work out wherever you want to go.