Importance of the Individual
In this entire process, the role of the individual, according to Sri Aurobindo, is of capital importance, since the individual must be the instrument and first field of the transformation. At the same time, Sri Aurobindo points out that an isolated individual transformation is not enough and may not be wholly feasible. He further points out that even when achieved, the individual change will have a permanent and cosmic significance only if the individual becomes a centre and a sign for the establishment of the supramental Consciousness-Force as an overtly operative power in the terrestrial workings of Nature. In other words, the evolution of the supermind will have a decisive bearing on humanity and even on the process of the solution of the problems that human life is confronted with and of the problems that humanity is passing through at the contemporary moment. Not only that, just as the evolution of the thinking mind has led the evolutionary process to develop a human body with special characteristics and structure that distinguish it from the body of the Darwinian Ape, similarly, there would come about, according to Sri Aurobindo, in the evolution of a supramental being the appearance also of a body, which would be appropriate to the operation of the supramental consciousness, having its own distinguishable capacities, form and structure. In the words of Sri Aurobindo:
"There must be an emergent supramental Consciousness-
Force liberated and active within the terrestrial whole and an organized supramental instrumentation of the Spirit in the life and the body, — for the body-consciousness also must become sufficiently awake to be a fit instrument of the workings of the new supramental Force and its new order. ...On this basis the principle of a divine life in terrestrial Nature would be manifested; even the world of ignorance and inconscience might discover its own submerged secret and begin to realize in each lower degree its divine significance."57
The Divine Body
The structure of the human body and the functioning of the human body indicate that the law of the body arises from the subconscient or inconscient. But as Sri Aurobindo points out, in the Gnostic or Supramentalised being the subconscient will have become conscious and subject to the supramental control, penetrated with its light and action; the basis of inconscient with its obscurity and ambiguity, its obstruction or tardy responses will have been transformed into supporting superconscience by the supramental emergence. The supermind, according to Sri Aurobindo, will not act as now, veiled in an apparent inconscience and self-limited by law of mechanism, but as a sovereign Reality in self- effectuating action. "It is this" Sri Aurobindo states, "that will rule the existence with an entire knowledge and power and include in its rule the functioning and action of the body. The body will be turned by the power of the spiritual consciousness into a true and fit and perfectly responsive instrument of the Spirit."58
But apart from the emergence of the divine life in the divine body and apart from the integral yoga being a method
of future evolution and of the emergence of the next supramental species, this yoga will increasingly become the yoga of the perfection of the life of humanity on earth. The first essential condition will be, in the vision of Sri Aurobindo, the utmost possible individual perfection; the second condition will be the perfection of the spiritual and pragmatic relation of the individual with all around him. This will imply a complete universality and oneness with all life upon the earth. But there is also a third perfection to be attained. This will mean the development of a new world, a change in the total life of humanity, or, to begin with, a new perfected collective life in the earth-nature. Integral yoga is an evolving yoga, and in order to lead this yoga to its farthest possibilities, Sri Aurobindo and the Mother have suggested a difficult programme of research.
Integral yoga and Method of Self-surrender
The integral yoga involves research in various directions, and unlike religion, it is an open book; the object of this yoga involves a very long journey, and for conducting that journey as rapidly as possible, and as perfectly as possible, a synthesis of yoga has been proposed by Sri Aurobindo and the Mother; it is neither a combination en masse of different systems of yoga, whether connected with religions or independent of them, nor is it a process of successive practice of these systems of yoga. As noted earlier, the one central principle common to all the systems of yoga is concentration, and this principle is developed integrally and applied integrally to the integral object of realization; that central principle is so utilized that it becomes the basis of organizing a natural selection and combination of the various energies and different utilities or varieties of specialized and
synthetic systems of yoga. In this synthesis, the forms and outsides of the Yogic disciplines are neglected, and the central principle of concentration is enlarged so as to become a vehicle of the total concentrated utilization and offering or sacrifice of all the human energies to the all-integrating Supreme. The true essence of sacrifice is not self-immolation, it is self-giving; its object is not self-effacement, but self-fulfillment; its method is not that of self-mortification, but a greater light; not self-mutilation, but a transformation of our natural human parts into divine members, not self-torture but a passage from a lesser satisfaction to a greater Ananda, by purification and renunciation, — a passage in which all life is accepted but all life is offered as a sacrifice for total transformation. In this process, the only one thing which is painful in the beginning is the indispensable discipline that is demanded, — the discipline of the denial necessary for annihilation of the ego; that discipline leads to the discovery of real, greater or ultimate completeness in others, in all things, in cosmic oneness, in the freedom of the transcendental Self and Spirit, in the rapture of the touch of the Divine.
The secret of the sacrifice to the Lord of sacrifice was discovered by the Veda, the Upanishads and the Gita, as their texts testify. In the Gita, the truth and secret of sacrifice has been expounded more explicitly and, that too, in the language that is more easily understandable. Moreover, the Gita, by laying a special emphasis on Karma Yoga, brings out more clearly the dynamic side of yoga, which is indispensable for the perfection and total integration that is envisaged in the new synthesis of yoga. The Gita at its cryptic close sums up the method of sacrifice and of total sacrifice as the method of total surrender to the Supreme. This total
surrender is evocatively described as the sacrifice of all human standards of conduct by means of which the divine standard of all-harmonising divine action (divyam karma) is discovered and made operative. The Gita's insistence on the attainment of the state of trigundtita (attainment of transcendence of the three qualities or gunas of the lower nature) indicates the necessity of the method of total self-surrender, since the higher and divine nature which requires to be manifested in every dynamic movement in the state of accomplishment of Karma Yoga can be attained only by the influx of the divine nature into the operations of the lower nature; and this influx becomes possible only if the operations of the lower nature give up their demands and their narrow satisfactions and provide ample room for the influx of the divine nature. The method of self-surrender is, as we can see in the Gita, a plenary invitation to the divine nature by its descent from its heights with all its power of transformation in the alchemy of which the lower nature is transformed and the state of sadharmyam is attained, — the state in which the human being is united with the Supreme not only in His essentiality and in His Lordship of manifestation, but even in respect of actual operations of activities in the human instrument.
This great principle of self-surrender, which has been so clearly enunciated in the synthesis of yoga of the Gita, is explicitly acknowledged in the new synthesis of yoga. But, as Sri Aurobindo points out, the Gita works out fully the path as the ancients saw it, but the highest secret of the method of self-surrender is hinted rather than developed. Sri Aurobindo states:
"The Gita at its cryptic close may seem by its silence to stop short of that solution for which we are seeking; it pauses
at the borders of the highest spiritual mind and does not cross them into the splendours of the supramental Light. And yet its secret of dynamic, and not only static, identity with the inner Presence, its highest mystery of absolute surrender to the Divine Guide, Lord and Inhabitant of our nature, is the central secret. This surrender is the indispensable means of the supramental change and, again, it is through the supramental change that the dynamic identity becomes possible."59
The new synthesis of yoga accepts the Gita's method of self-surrender, but, in its search of the total manifestation of Spirit in Matter, it found it necessary to discover the supreme splendours of the supramental Light, and a vast labour of research had to be undertaken and accomplished that led to the discovery of the process of the descent of the supermind right into the physical and the inconscient. The permeation of the supramental consciousness in the organic cells of the human body came to be envisaged and worked out, the detailed account of which reveals new vistas of knowledge and power as also of the formidable obstacles which were required to be crossed.
Sri Aurobindo speaks of the method of total and sincere surrender; but this surrender is not to be confused with an inert passivity. As Sri Aurobindo points out:
"...out of an inert passivity nothing true and powerful can come. It is the inert passivity of physical Nature that leaves it at the mercy of every obscure or undivine influence. A glad and strong and helpful submission is demanded to the working of the Divine Force, the obedience of the illumined disciple of the Truth, of the inner Warrior who fights against obscurity and falsehood, of the faithful servant of the Divine."60
What is thus demanded is this process of self-surrender in which the seeker is not only constantly engaged in the search of the Truth and Truth alone but is also in a state of illumination and of obedience to the Truth, in a state of the one who is heroic and constantly vigilant to obscurities and falsehoods and fights against them courageously, and in a state of faithfulness and total devotion to the service with full loyalty and fidelity in the service of the Divine. It is the total and sincere surrender to the divine Being, divine consciousness and power, that is required as the condition under which the highest supramental Force can descend, and as Sri Aurobindo states: "... it is only the very highest supramental Force descending from above and opening from below that can victoriously handle the physical Nature and annihilate its difficulties____"61
Integral Yoga: Aspiration from Below and Grace from Above
In the path of the integral yoga at the beginning and long after, the development of the seeker depends on the aspiration and personal effort. In fact, a fixed and unfailing aspiration that rises constantly upwards is one of the two fundamental powers of the integral yoga, the other power being the response that comes from above — the response from the Supreme, the response of the supreme Grace. The conjunction of the two, the aspiration from below and the supreme Grace from above can alone effect the fulfillment of the great and difficult aim of the integral yoga. Aspiration from below manifests itself as a turning of the seeker from the egoistic state of consciousness absorbed in the outer appearance and attraction of things to a higher state in which the Supreme Divine Being, — the Transcendental and Universal
Being, — can pour itself into the individual mould and transform it. This implies the intensity of the turning and personal effort of the seeker, and this intensity can be measured by the power of aspiration of the heart, the force of the will, the concentration of the mind, and the perseverance and determination of the applied energy. The ideal seeker should be able to say in the Biblical phrase, "My zeal for the Lord has eaten me up."62
Sri Aurobindo has formulated the personal effort as a triple labour of aspiration, rejection and surrender as follows:
"... — an aspiration vigilant, constant, unceasing — the mind's will, the heart's seeking, the assent of the vital being, the will to open and make plastic the physical consciousness and nature;
rejection of the movements of the lower nature — rejection of the mind's ideas, opinions, preferences, habits, constructions, so that the true knowledge may find free room in a silent mind, — rejection of the vital nature's desires, demands, cravings, sensations, passions, selfishness, pride, arrogance, lust, greed, jealousy, envy, hostility to the Truth, so that the true power and joy may pour from above into a calm, large, strong and consecrated vital being, — rejection of the physical nature's stupidity, doubt, disbelief, obscurity, obstinacy, pettiness, laziness, unwillingness to change, Tamas, so that the true stability of Light, Power, and Ananda may establish itself in a body growing always more divine;
surrender of oneself and all one is and has and every plane of the consciousness and every movement to the Divine and the Shakti. "63
There are three stages of the process of the integral yoga,
not indeed sharply distinguished or separate but in a certain measure successive. In the first stage, the element of personal effort must normally predominate; in that stage the effort is directed towards at least an initial and enabling self-transcendence and contact with the Divine; in next stage, the seeker receives light, power, communion and help that comes to him from above; what is received is utilized for the transformation of the whole conscious being. In the third stage the transformed seeker is to be utilized as a divine centre in the world.
Each of the three stages has, in this yoga, its necessity and utility and must be given its time or its place. During the period of personal effort, which is more or less prolonged, there is struggle in which the individual will has to reject the darkness and distortions of the lower nature; one has to strain to put oneself resolutely or vehemently on the side of the divine Light. As one has voluntarily resolved to undertake the process of yoga and transformation, one has to ensure that mental energies, the heart's emotions, the vital desires, the very physical being accept the discipline of vigilance so that there is constant right attitude and there is constant training to admit an answer to the right influences. It will not do, and it cannot be safe or effective to take the attitudes which are valid for the higher stages of progression. When the personal effort has been truly done, then only can the surrender of the lower to the higher be effected. Indeed, as one progresses, the energy of the personal effort remains no longer personal and separate, but it becomes a part of higher Power and Influence which are at work in the individual. But even then, there remains for a long time a sort of gulf of distance between the emerging human effort and the transforming power that is descending from above. This
necessitates an obscure process of transit, and only at the end of the second stage of progression, with the progressive disappearance of egoism and impurity and ignorance that the gulf of separation between the individual and the divine is removed. Only then can one be secure in the third stage of the process and all in the individual becomes a divine working.
According to Sri Aurobindo, Nature has unconsciously followed the secret methods of integral yoga, but the integral yoga is a conscious application of the methods of the evolution that are found to be operating in Nature. The mental man, according to Sri Aurobindo, has not been Nature's last effort or highest reach; mental man is a transitional being; and the evolutionary Nature points man to a yet higher and more difficult level; Nature inspired him with an ideal of a spiritual living, begun the evolution in him of a spiritual being. As a result, the thinker, the idealist, the Prophet, the Sage, the self-controlled, self-disciplined, harmonized mental being have been led to exceed themselves and to go higher and deeper within. Their efforts indicate their call to the inner soul, inner mind and inner heart to come out into the front, and they also indicate their call to the higher forces of the spiritual mind and higher mind and overmind to come down; and we find among them the flowering, under the light and the influence that have come down from above, of the spiritual Sage, Seer, God-lover, Yogin, Gnostic, Sufi, Mystic.
Nature aims, first, at an enlargement of the bounds of our
surface Ignorance; secondly, Nature attempts in the spiritual endeavour to abolish the Ignorance, to go inwards and discover the soul and to become united in consciousness with God and with our cosmic existence. But that is not enough; if the victories of the Spirit are to be secure, a third step of integration is necessary. For that to happen, the old foundation of the inconscient itself, which lies at the bottom of Matter, will have to be made conscious, according to Sri Aurobindo and the Mother; and in that context, the yogic experiment of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother has shown that the highest consciousness, the highest supramental consciousness can alone by the inflow of light and awareness brought down from its highest planes that can penetrate successfully the hard rock bottom of the inconscience and bring about the needed integration of Spirit and Matter. Then only would it be possible for the supramental consciousness not merely to dwell in the cellular consciousness of the body and widen it or universalize it but also permeate that consciousness and thus fix itself in the physical consciousness of the human body; only then the integration of Spirit and Matter can be secured. That integration would manifest, first, in a few individuals, and then it will spread into collectivities of such individuals; this would secure for humanity the higher and higher states of welfare and harmony.
Evolution of consciousness on the earth, in order to be secure, must find a physical base. Everything that has evolved has had a material basis. The same rule will apply to the evolution of the supermind on the earth. For that purpose, supramental consciousness must not only descend in the physical consciousness, but it must also be fixed in the physical consciousness. On the other hand, the physical
substance itself must undergo the necessary change so as to be able to receive the supramental consciousness and to manifest it. But even this fixing of the supramental consciousness in the physical consciousness will, according to Sri Aurobindo and the Mother, lead to great and even visible changes in the structure of the physical body. Just as with the evolution of newer species in the past, not only has there been the emergence of new capacities of consciousness but even physiological changes, even so, the evolution of the supramental being will eventually lead to the appearance on the earth of a new divine body. There will be, in other words, the development of the next supramental species. Sri Aurobindo has even described the essential features of the divine body in his book 'The Supramental Manifestation Upon Earth'. And the Mother's own experimental research in the physical transformation confirms the formation of the divine body of the new species, at least, in its subtle state. But the Mother has made it clear that the crucial point was the fixing of the supramental consciousness in the human physical consciousness. She had also foreseen several intermediate stages thereafter which would eventually lead to the physical appearance of the new supramental body on the earth. That eventual result may even take two or three centuries. For the present moment, Sri Aurobindo and the Mother had envisaged the accomplishment of the crucial task of fixing of the supramental consciousness in the physical human body; and according to what is recorded in 'Mother's Agenda', that task was accomplished by her in her own body in 1970.64