The Synthesis of Yoga (2000-2001, Super school, Auroville) - Session 9 (11 January 2001)

We had read last time “For he is not the sadhaka of a book or of many books; he is the sadhaka of the Infinite.” There is no bondage to any particular book in the Integral Yoga.

“Another kind of Shastra is not Scripture, but a statement of the science and methods, the effective principles and way of working of the path of Yoga which the sadhaka elects to follow.”

We have a distinction here between scripture and a book of science.

What is the meaning of a scripture? Veda for example is a scripture; Upanishads is a scripture; Bible is a scripture; Koran is a scripture; Avesta is a scripture; Bhagavad Gita is a scripture. All these scriptures are in some way or the other books of yoga. And the characteristic of scriptures is that they are revealed words. Scriptures are words received by revelation. They are supposed to contain truth and normally adherents of a scripture believe that the entire truth is given in that scripture. But Sri Aurobindo has said earlier “even the largest scripture does not bind the sadhaka of the Integral Yoga” because the truth is ever developing and cannot be imprisoned in one single statement.

A scripture is a revealed word. This is distinguished from a scientific book on yoga. There is, for example, in India a book called Yoga Sutra. Sutra means aphorism. Aphorism or Sutra means a brief statement which does not contain explanation so that if you want to explain to somebody you have to make a commentary on it. There are some human beings who are very developed, they are not in the habit of giving lectures, they only give statements, they shoot at you a word or two which contains a lot of meaning. For example the statement I gave you once: “That are thou”, in Sanskrit “Tat tvam asi”: “You are that”. Who is you, who is that is not explained. In India there was a system where most of the teachers spoke in terms of aphorisms, for instance the first sutra of this book called Yoga Sutra which is written by Patanjali. He was a very great yogi of India. He put down his system of yoga which is called Raja Yoga. And the very first sentence is a sutra; is an aphorism. It simply says: “Cessation of the modifications of the stuff of consciousness is yoga.”

This book on Raja Yoga written by Patanjali is written in the form of aphorisms. “Cessation of the modifications of the stuff of consciousness is yoga.” It is the first sentence. It does not tell you what are the modification, what is stuff of consciousness, what is cessation. It simply uses these three words and the commentator has to explain all these words. There are many books in India which are called scientific books which give you the processes in a systematic manner. First this, then this, and this and this… In a revealed scripture such a special method is not used to expound. A scientific book is one in which you have first the definition of a word, then explanation of each word, then you have the goal and the methods, processes, all one by one laid down. Description of experiences, inter relationships between experiences, the highest experience, all systematically stated. That is called a scientific book of yoga as distinguished from scripture. In scripture all may be given but not in a systematic manner. From a scripture you have to make a scientific book later on. That is also Shastra. In his book on Raja Yoga, Patanjali explains in due course but not in detail what is chitta, what is stuff of consciousness, how you can arrive at a modification of consciousness, therefore the method of meditation is given, then the achievement and the meaning of samadhi is given and what you experience in samadhi is also given. That is the entire science of Raja Yoga.

Similarly for Hatha Yoga there is a book called Hatha Yoga Pradipika. Dipa means the lamp; dipaka means that it makes the lamp and pra means put forth — that which puts forth the knowledge that brings about the lamp of light of Hatha Yoga. That is the meaning of Hatha Yoga Pradipika. It is also a book which tells you what is the body, what are the basic processes of the body — namely breathing and postures. Then it explains to you various kind of breathing, various kind of postures, the processes of breathing, the processes of postures, what are the steps by which you can master your breathing and the postures of the body, and what results are obtained when you breathe in one way or the other, and when you become the master of breathing and when you become the master of postures. It is a scientific process explained and described, again in the form of sutras — very briefly.

For every yoga there could be a scientific statement. For instance, this book The Synthesis of Yoga is a scientific book in which everything is explained step by step scientifically. It is also a scripture because it is also revealed; it is not thought out by Sri Aurobindo in his mind. It is both a scripture and a scientific work.

So we come again:

Another kind of Shastra is not Scripture, but a statement of the science and methods, the effective principles and way of working of the path of Yoga which the sadhaka elects to follow. Each path has its Shastra, either written or traditional, passing from mouth to mouth through a long line of Teachers. In India a great authority, a high reverence even is ordinarily attached to the written or traditional teaching. All the lines of the Yoga are supposed to be fixed and the Teacher who has received the Shastra by tradition and realised it in practice guides the disciple along the immemorial tracks.

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

These words are very important: “All the lines of the Yoga are supposed to be fixed…”If a given process is given you are told what is the first step, what is the second step, what is the third step, what is the eighth step, what is the end of it. And usually you have to master each step little by little. You are not allowed to go to the third step unless you have mastered the first and the second step. If you go to Hatha yogi and say: “I want to be Hatha yogi. I want to master my body.” Then for about five years you are only taught how to breathe properly. Although breathing is our natural process, the scientific way of breathing takes four to five years to learn: how to breathe properly and to master the breathing. During the time when you are learning breathing you are not normally taught how to do asana, postures of the body, they come later on. You are taught how to move forward from one step to the other and even if the second step is allowed over the first step, it is only temporarily for a short while. But it is insisted upon to master the first step first then the second step and the third step.

In the Integral Yoga, it is a speciality of Integral yoga, the fixation is very loose. There is not such insistence that you should first master the first step, then this, then this… There is some kind of fixation but it is very loose, you can change. There is no insistence that you must start first with Karma Yoga, then you should continue with Jnana Yoga, then you should do Bhakti Yoga. There is no such line. If it is easier for you to start with Karma Yoga you start with Karma Yoga. If it is easier for you to start with Jnana Yoga you start with Jnana Yoga. It depends upon each individual; the freedom is tremendously given in the Integral Yoga. But normally in the systematic systems, which are currently available in tradition, all the lines are fixed and you cannot move forward by breaking the line.

One often even hears the objection urged against a new practice, a new Yogic teaching, the adoption of a new formula, “It is not according to the Shastra.” But neither in fact nor in the actual practice of the Yogins is there really any such entire rigidity of an iron door shut against new truth, fresh revelation, widened experience. The written or traditional teaching expresses the knowledge and experiences of many centuries systematised, organised, made attainable to the beginner. Its importance and utility are therefore immense. But a great freedom of variation and development is always practicable. Even so highly scientific a system as Rajayoga can be practised on other lines than the organised method of Patanjali.

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

You can do Raja Yoga, normally you follow the same process called Ashtanga Yoga — it is called the eightfold path. I told you about the eightfold path earlier. You have first yama, niyama, asana, pranayama, pratyahara, dharana, dhyana and samadhi. These are the eight steps and normally you should move in this direction, one after the other in a fixed line. But even this Raja Yoga practice, Sri Aurobindo says, can be handled in another way. Although there is fixation some kind of flexibility is allowed. But in Integral Yoga as I said there is a tremendous flexibility, much greater than anywhere else.

Each of the three paths of the trimārga breaks into many bypaths which meet again at the goal. The general knowledge on which the Yoga depends is fixed, but the order, the succession, the devices, the forms must be allowed to vary; for the needs and particular impulsions of the individual nature have to be satisfied even while the general truths remain firm and constant.

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

Tri means three, marga means path. Trimarga are Jnana Yoga, Karma Yoga and Bhakti Yoga. They are called the three paths. It is also called the triple path. Whenever there is the expression triple path, it normally refers to the path of Jnana, the path of Karma, the path of Bhakti.

Each of the three paths of the trimārga breaks into many bypaths which meet again at the goal. The general knowledge on which the Yoga depends is fixed, but the order, the succession, the devices, the forms must be allowed to vary; for the needs and particular impulsions of the individual nature have to be satisfied even while the general truths remain firm and constant.

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

The way in which you can connect jnana with karma, karma with bhakti — there are many different ways of doing it.

The general knowledge on which the Yoga depends is fixed, but the order, the succession, the devices, the forms must be allowed to vary; for the needs and particular impulsions of the individual nature have to be satisfied even while the general truths remain firm and constant.

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

For each individual there has to be a difference, a kind of variation.

And now Sri Aurobindo speaks of the Integral Yoga.

An integral and synthetic Yoga needs especially not to be bound by any written or traditional Shastra; for while it embraces the knowledge received from the past, it seeks to organise it anew for the present and the future. An absolute liberty of experience and of the restatement of knowledge in new terms and new combinations is the condition of its self-formation. Seeking to embrace all life in itself, it is in the position not of a pilgrim following the highroad to his destination, but, to that extent at least, of a path-finder hewing his way through a virgin forest.

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

This is our present condition. We are actually pilgrims who don’t have the map. We do not know where the highway is. The map does not give the highway. We are like the path-finder. We go sometimes this way, sometimes in that way, we are constantly making a voyage into the unknown — as Sri Aurobindo says in a virgin forest. A forest, which has not been trodden by anybody as yet, and you make a new path.

For Yoga has long diverged from life and the ancient systems which sought to embrace it, such as those of our Vedic forefathers, are far away from us, expressed in terms which are no longer accessible, thrown into forms which are no longer applicable. Since then mankind has moved forward on the current of eternal Time and the same problem has to be approached from a new starting-point.

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

This is an example which is given here which requires a little explanation. Yoga has for long deviated from embracing life. What does it mean? If you look at the first page of The Synthesis of Yoga you will find a very short line: “All life is Yoga.” It is the most important line of this book.

This was the original idea of the Veda. If you read the Veda the whole life was explored just as a physicist explores matter, a biologist explores organic life and psychologist explores mind. Even so, the scientist of yoga basically explores the whole life, the totality of life. It is a very difficult task to find out what is human life. The Vedic Rishis made a big exploration and laid out the entire process and said if you lead your life in this particular fashion you will reach the highest fulfilment. It was the programme. And if you read the Veda you will find the whole yoga as in a scientific book but in due course this effort to lead the whole life was reduced. People began to find shortcuts instead of leading the whole life they tried to find out if there was a shortcut to the achievement, to the realisation, to the fulfilment. As a result a distinction came to be made; don’t bother about the whole life, bother only about one process and develop only one process. And they said that you develop that process to such extend that you don’t have time for anything else.

If you go to the Hatha yogi he will occupy the whole day so that you can do no other work in life. Go on doing asanas and pranayama and no other time is left for you to do anything in the world. If you go to Raja yogi he will constantly ask you to do pratyahara, dharana, dhyana and samadhi. You don’t have much time left for anything else. You are told don’t do this, don’t do that. If you go to a jnana yogi he will say: “Think but don’t feel. All activities of feeling you ban them. All activities you ban them. Only think and think in only one particular line” If you go to a bhakta he will say: “Don’t think, don’t do any activity, do only bhajan and kirtan. Sing a song in praise of God all the time or turn your rosary all the time. Take the name of God all the time. Don’t think, don’t do any activity, cut off everything.” If you go to a karma yogi he will say, don’t feel anything, you simply go on acting and that is enough.

You will find that in due course of time life was cut off from the process of yoga. It even came to be known in such a way; that if you want to become a yogi you should renounce life. Therefore even today many people are afraid that if you become a yogi you will be out of the world. It is against this principle that Sri Aurobindo has written: “All life is Yoga.” No need to cut yourself off from life, on the contrary use the life itself as a process of yoga. You must be absolutely involved in life. Instead of renouncing you are completely immersed in feeling, in thought, in action, in all kinds of relationships. But in a special way and that special way constitutes the yoga. How do you relate yourself to others in action? Don’t renounce action; don’t renounce relationship in action. But what kind of relationship will you have? What do you expect from action? That will be different from what other people do. This yoga does not say that you should not feel. It does not say don’t love as many yogis do —they say don’t fall in love. In this yoga you love but love differently, there is a different way of loving. Not love for bargaining which is the normal way of loving, no there is a different way of loving. This is what constitutes yoga. Yoga of love is yoga of Divine love, how do you love Divinely— Love, but love Divinely that is the message of the Integral yoga. Jnana yoga as Sri Aurobindo proposes is not only to think but think Divinely. Not only to stop thinking because in Jnana yoga there is stoppage, cessation of modifications of stuff of consciousness. According to that yoga you cease to think and what Sri Aurobindo says is that you cease to think and yet you think in a different way. You arrive at a point where thoughts arise automatically and the nature of thoughts are different. There are inspirations, not thoughts but inspiration. There are revelations, there are intuitions, and there are discriminations but not arising in the ordinary way, in a new way. In other words in the yoga that Sri Aurobindo has proposed all life is taken up, every activity of life is accepted but every activity is transformed. This is one formula of the Integral yoga: All life is accepted but all life is transformed. That is the meaning. “All life” is merely ordinary life, not the doctrine. All life is life, transformed the statement “all life is yoga.” If you accept life as it is and be satisfied with it, it becomes all life is life but if you say all life is accepted but all life is transformed it becomes all life is yoga. Yoga is a process of transformation. You accept life but transform it.

This was also the principle of the Veda but Sri Aurobindo says that the Veda was a very remote experiment and we are not able to understand it now. It is written in terms which are very difficult to us to understand therefore Veda does not become easily accessible to us. So even that past experience has now to be done again and that is what Sri Aurobindo has done. Even the Vedic yoga is accepted here but re-termed. It is not given in the same terms as in the Veda. It is written in terms that are understood by us today. “Unite the horse and the cow” was one of the expressions of the Veda and Sri Aurobindo says, “Unite knowledge and will.” This is the new terminology, the same sentence. “Unite horse and the cow” was an expression of the Veda and you would not understand what it means but to us we will understand if you say “Unite knowledge and will”. Sri Aurobindo has changed the whole terminology of the Veda and written in such a way that we can understand it in our modern times. And also he found that what was in the Veda is not enough. Vedas had made a big exploration but not a complete exploration. And this is a very important statement that has to be underlined. The Integral yoga explores something which has never been explored earlier even in the highest realisations of the past in the Veda or even in the Upanishads, Sri Aurobindo found to be not capable of answering the question that he had put forward. We must know what is that question and what is that answer. And then only we shall be able to understand this phrase “All life is yoga”.

All life is life on the earth as also life which is above the earth. You remember last time we spoke of different planes of existence, all the cosmic planes, from satyamayi prakriti; chaitanyamayi prakriti; anandamayi prakriti, then vijnanamayi prakriti, manomayi prakriti, pranamayi prakriti, annamayi prakriti. All this is the domain of life. In the past there was exploration of all the planes but there was one thing that was missing. How to unite the highest plane of prakriti with the lowest plane of prakriti?

How to unite the Supreme Consciousness with the inconscient? Inconscient is even below matter. Even matter is not the lowest. How to transform inconscient was not even explored and Sri Aurobindo found that unless you explore this plane and do it, all life cannot be transformed. If you want a complete transformation of life then you should find out the method by which the Supreme consciousness can enter into the inconscient and transform it. Even the inconscient becomes conscious and supremely conscious. This is the secret. Unless you do this… there are four stings of life — you know just as a scorpion has a sting similarly life has stings: sting of death; sting of sorrow; sting of darkness; and sting of falsehood. These are the four stings of life.

Question: What is falsehood?

When I make an error and admit this error, it is not falsehood. When I make an error and tell people, look, it is true and try to make others believe that it is true, that is falsehood. When I insist upon error as true, it is falsehood. If I make an error and tell people that I may be in error, there is no falsehood in it. When I know that something is an error and yet present it to other people as true that is falsehood: I did not see that you passed from here and went up to there but I tell somebody that I saw you coming from here to there. But if I say that I don’t remember, you might have passed, that is not a falsehood. It is always possible that you might have passed but I have really not seen you, but during this hour you don’t pass and I tell somebody I really saw you passing that is called falsehood.

This is one of the stings of life. Life is full of falsehood, if you go around the world you will see how many people in the world are living in the realm of falsehood. They believe something to be wrong and yet they put it before other people as right and canvas it saying: “Yes it is true”. I may not be a saint and yet I allow people to believe that I am a saint, it is a falsehood. I may not be a philosopher and yet I believe that I am a philosopher, that is falsehood and I try to make other people believe that I am a philosopher, it is a falsehood. A true seeker must be so transparent, so shining that there is no shadow of falsehood arising in it. That is the big sadhana. Not to speak anything is easier but to speak and yet speak the truth, that is very difficult. That is the difference between other yogas which deny life and this yoga which accepts life. Other yogas will say because when you speak you may somehow speak falsehood and don't speak at all. Deny all speaking then you will never tell a lie. It is very much simpler but if you speak and always tell the truth it is a very difficult task. And Sri Aurobindo says speak but speak the truth. Do not deny yourself the happiness of speaking. Accept the life of speaking but transform it, speak the truth. These are the four stings; death, sorrow and falsehood, darkness, which are inherent in our present life. As soon as you accept life these four things immediately present themselves.

The question is: can we have real life in which these stings are removed? That is the problem of life. If you don’t live at all there is no death; it is only if you live that there is death. If you don’t make any effort at all — become like a log, like a stone, there is no sorrow. Only when you begin to live there is pain, pleasure, joy, sorrow, etc… If you don’t live you don’t move from darkness to light. If you are in darkness you don’t even know that there is darkness. A stone does not know it lives in darkness. Experience of darkness comes when you begin to live, begin to move forward. When we say all life is yoga, if you want to make this world a heaven on earth then it should be a perfection of life in which these stings don’t exist. The fact that these stings exist means that life is not yet transformed. Now, Sri Aurobindo asks this very question: Why is life not yet transformed? And how can life be totally transformed?

This is a question which was not even addressed in the whole history of mankind. The question was asked in a certain way but not fully, not centrally, not fundamentally. It was said that if you want to go out of these four stings you reject life and go upwards. In life it is not possible. This was the answer obtained up till now. If you want to get rid of death, darkness, sorrow and falsehood you just renounce life. And find out the way by which life can be renounced; what is the effective method of withdrawing from life. Of course, one method is suicide but it was found out that this is not sufficient because you have rebirth and you cannot cut off from rebirth. So suicide was given up. While living, but not committing suicide and yet withdraw from life — how could you to do it— they found out many methods of doing it. These are called yogas which are life-negating. You negate life and come out of life and attain to a higher state of consciousness — don’t come down at all on life — there you feel that you are blissful all the time. As I said, if you don’t speak, the question of speaking falsehood does not arise. Just do not speak anything, reduce your life activity to the minimum, the most minimum. Sri Aurobindo found that there is a way, but that way is difficult, and he made a new path as it were, hewed from a virgin forest, and he found out that there is a way by which the inconscient can be transformed. When this inconscient begins to move upward it produces these four flowers. So unless you deal with this inconscient and transform it, you cannot get rid of these four stings.

Therefore the Integral yoga that we are going to study, is a new yoga in which this new secret has been found out. Mother one told me that when you take your classes the first thing you should explain is this. I have taken such a long time to tell you this — after nearly one year. Actually, I should have continued my first lecture through such a long term, without giving you any break, until I came to this point. So, count this as my first lecture to you!

The most important thing to be learnt is this new secret. The secret, first of all, is that these four flowers arise from the inconscient. They are not tied up with life itself, if they were tied up with life itself then it means that life will always be like this. Sri Aurobindo discovered that it is not true. Life inherently is not this. Life by its own nature is deathless — in life there is no death. Life is eternal life always; life is full of delight; life is always luminous; life is absolutely truthful. It is because the inconscient has intervened that there is a fall of life. There is a glory of life and there is a fall of life. In Savitri there is a chapter entitled (Book II, Canto 3) The Glory and the Fall of Life in which Sri Aurobindo explains how life in itself is deathless, sorrowless, luminous and true. And he explains how this has fallen and has become subject to these four things. This is very important because many-many panaceas have been proposed in the world: capitalism, socialism, communism, liberty, equality, fraternity, so many good names have been given. And people have been trying all the time, how to bring out a new kind of social order in which there is great happiness, great joy, people living like brothers and sisters. How to do that? Sri Aurobindo found out that unless you work here all these glorious things will not happen permanently. You will arrive at some little thing and it will break down. There is a big dragon, as it were, sitting at the bottom of things and whatever you achieve is swallowed by it. How to deal with this dragon? Such is the stupendous task that the Mother and Sri Aurobindo did. It is in doing that that you can fulfil this statement: all life is yoga.