The yoga of self-perfection has, as its aim, perfect manifestation of the perfect supramental consciousness and power through the perfected individual vehicles for the upliftment of the entire humanity so that the supramental manifestation on the earth can facilitate more and more rapidly and more and more effectively humanity's endeavour towards increasing unity and harmony and, eventually, towards the evolution of the next supramental species.
We may, in this connection, briefly indicate a few important elements in the integral yoga which reflect its thrust towards the yoga of self-perfection.
In Sri Aurobindo's synthesis of yoga, the spirit in man is regarded not solely as an individual being traveling to a transcendent unity and the divine but universal being capable of oneness with the divine in all souls and in all-Nature with all its practical consequences.
As Sri Aurobindo points out:
"The human soul's individual liberation and enjoyment of union with the Divine in spiritual being, consciousness and delight must always be the first object of the Yoga; its free enjoyment of the cosmic unity of the Divine becomes a second object; but out of that a third appears, the effectuation of the meaning of the divine unity with all beings by a sympathy and participation in the spiritual purpose of the Divine in
humanity. The individual Yoga then turns from its separateness and becomes a part of the collective Yoga of the divine Nature in the human race. The liberated individual being, united with the Divine in self and spirit, becomes in his natural being a self-perfecting instrument for the perfect out flowering of the Divine in humanity."57
As has been noted, each of the three ways of Jnana yoga, Karma yoga and Bhakti yoga plays a major role, but in this yoga, each of these three ways is pursued with certain largeness and can take into itself the powers of the others and lead to their fulfillment. One can, therefore, start by one of them and find the point at which it meets the others at first parallel lines of advance and melts into them by its own widening. But one could also take up a more difficult, complex, wholly powerful process by starting, as it were, on three lines together. But in any case, one has to arrive at a point at every step of the development by which the conditions and means of the yoga of self-perfection are increasingly fulfilled. For it is by the yoga of elf-perfection that the supramental knowledge, supramental will and supreme Ananda become a direct instrumentation of spirit. In other words, the methods of the integral yoga include the methods of total transformation of human nature into divine nature.
The foundation of the integral yoga implies integrality of will, knowledge and love, which are the three divine powers in human nature and all these three powers which are at work in the life of man need to be integrated, and the union of man with the divine unites all these three divine powers.
If one begins with the yoga of works and of will-power,
the path will be followed by the methods of renunciation of desire, renunciation of egoism in action, of offering works as sacrifice to the Divine, and of complete surrender of will in all its aspects (sarvabhāvena) to the Divine. When the will in the individual is made one with the divine will and the whole action of the being proceeds from the Divine and is directed towards the Divine, the union in works is perfectly accomplished. But as the Gita points out, works fulfill themselves in knowledge: sarvam karmākhilam jnāne parisamāpyate58Works find their source in the divine being, and with the knowledge of that being, there grows the knowledge of the source of becoming, the source of the divine will and also of the operation of the divine will. That leads to the fulfillment of Karma yoga, since the specific aim of the karma yoga is to unite the individual being and will with the divine being and divine will, as a result of which the individual is rendered into the egoless and desireless instrument of the divine will that works itself out triumphantly through the individual. But there is also another consequence. With the knowledge of the divine being and the divine will as also with the dynamic operation of the divine will in the individual instrumentality, the individual grows not only into the divine Consciousness and divine Force but also into the divine Delight. There is then the rise of Bhakti, because Bhakti is essentially the delight in the Presence of the Divine Consciousness and Divine Force. The crown of the union of Karma yoga and Jnana yoga is divine Love, and the divine Love expresses the delight of conscious union with the divine Being in whom we live, act and move, by whom we exist, for whom alone we learn in the end to act and to be. The three powers of knowledge, will and love are then united in the Divine to which one can arrive when one starts from works as an initial way of access and our line of contact.
One can, however, begin with knowledge as the way of access and line of contact, and this way may be regarded as a foundational way, since consciousness is the foundation of all living and being, and knowledge is the action of the consciousness, the light by which it knows itself and its realities. It is by the powers of pursuit of knowledge that our conscious being grows until it accomplishes itself, by union in the infinity of the divine being. In the pursuit of knowledge, one meets the Divine in many aspects, and it is by knowledge that one can enter into and possess the infinite and Divine in every way of one's being, sarvabhāvena, and one is able to receive the Divine into oneself and one is possessed by him in everyway of one's being. By the method of knowledge or Jnana yoga the divine being is foundationally known and possessed, but the knowledge of the being is not complete without the knowledge of the Divine Will and Divine Love. The divine will in being also is God and not the being or itself self-aware silent existence alone; and just as works find their culmination in knowledge, even so, knowledge also finds its fulfillment in works and the crown of the knowledge as also of the growth in the divine will is the divine love. Perfect knowledge leads to perfect love, integral knowledge leads to multitudinous richness of divine love. As the Gita points out, one who knows the supreme Purusha, who is not only the immutable monotone of oneness but who is also the many- sided movement, and who transcends both the immobile and the mobile, and thus because one has the integral knowledge, one seeks the Divine by love in every way of his being. Here again, we arrive at the union of knowledge, works and love, —all united in the Divine, —when one starts with knowledge.
There is in our consciousness a secret delight, but that delight is covered by suffering of division to heal which one
takes recourse to various forms and intensities of love for the Divine. And one may begin the pursuit of yoga on account of suffering of division, which may manifest as physical pain, or as dire need of physical help in terms of material wealth or else as irresistible demand to know. As the Gita points out, the ārta, arthi, and jijnāsu (the one who suffers from pain, one who is in need of material help, and one who wants to know) may and do approach God.59 As the Gita further points out, all these three motives which turn God ward are legitimate (udārah),60 and all these approaches can develop into approaches of love. Love is indeed the crown of Karma yoga and Jnana yoga, but love as the starting point of yoga heals the suffering of division and the path is as simple and straightforward as love and desire going right towards their object. The more intimate yoga of divine love or Bhakti resolves itself simply into these four movements: there is, first, the desire of the Soul when it turns towards God and the straining of its emotions towards him; secondly, there is the pain of love and the divine return of love; thirdly, the delight of love comes to be possessed and there is a play of that delight; and, finally, there is the eternal enjoyment of the divine Lover which is the heart of celestial bliss. As one proceeds on this path of divine love, the power of knowledge also grows. The completer the knowledge, the richer the possibility of love. Again, as the Gita points out, it is by Bhakti that a man comes to know the divine in all his extension and greatness as also as he is in the principles of his being; and when one knows the divine in the principles of his being, then one enters into the Divine. It is by the union of love and knowledge that the seeker of the Divine in his pursuit avoids blindness, crudeness and stumbling blocks that are often dangerous; if love does not become united with knowledge,
there is only the fervour of adoration and that fervor condemns itself often to narrowness. Love leading to perfect knowledge brings the infinite and absolute union. But this union reveals God not only in his powers of consciousness and powers of delight but also in his powers of will; and the God-lover who loves God in every way of his being, sarvabhāvena, is automatically thrown into the channels of God's will and God's work for the world. Once again, one arrives at the trinity of our powers, the union of knowledge, love and will, when we start on our journey by the path of divine love.
In the integral yoga, there is a constant striving to unite the three powers and the seeker is counseled to avoid or throw away, if he has them at all, the misunderstanding and mutual deprecation which is often found between the followers of the three paths. Even in the paths, which are synthetic in character, there are claims of the superiority of one of the chosen paths over the other paths. It is, for instance, claimed by some that even when works and love are appropriate means to be adopted along with the path of knowledge, the ultimate deliverance of liberation comes only by knowledge; works may lead, it is sometimes said, to liberation but cannot give liberation; similarly, it is said that the devotion is helpful up to a certain point, up to a very high point of attainment, but since the path of love or devotion involves the duality between the seeker and the object to be attained, and since the liberation can come only by identity, the relationship of love or devotion has ultimately to be given up in order to achieve the object of the path of knowledge. It is also found that those who consider knowledge to be the ultimate power of deliverance seem often to look down upon the path of the devotee, as if it were a thing inferior, ignorant, and good only for souls that are not yet ready
for the heights of the Truth. On the other hand, some of those who follow the path of devotion often seem to look down upon those who follow the path of knowledge or works; even when they permit some place to these two powers of knowledge and will in some kind of their synthesis, the divine love is considered to be the power of ultimate deliverance. There is also a tendency among those who pursue the path of knowledge and devotion to look down upon those who follow the path of works. For there is an intensity of love, as there is an intensity of knowledge, and in that state of intensity, work seems something outward and distracting. But in the new synthesis of yoga, works appear to be outward and distracting only when one has not found oneness of will and consciousness and when one has not yet seen the being of the Beloved Lord working tirelessly for the establishment of the highest welfare of all creatures. In the real synthesis, works become the very power of knowledge and the very outpouring of love. It is true that the limitations and exclusiveness that we find in the mutual deprecation between the followers of the three paths do occur at the beginning and for a long time on the way. But in the new synthesis of yoga which Sri Aurobindo has put forward, these limitations will be passed through more loosely than in the more exclusive ways of seeking. Sooner than later, the three paths will grow as complements of each other, and they will meet in perfect synthesis where consciousness and knowledge will be found always to be the foundation and culmination of works and yet the secret basis for the perfection of works, where love will be always the crown of all being and its way of fulfillment, as also where knowledge will perfect love and love will perfect knowledge and they will both lend their powers for perfection and accomplishment of God's works in the world.61 The
essential and the inalienable relationship between knowledge, will and delight will also determine the principle of the synthesis of yoga, which in Sri Aurobindo's view, has to serve the higher and highest aims of the Yoga of Self-Perfection. The supramental perfection implies a complete enjoyment and possession of the whole divine and spiritual nature; and it is complete lifting of the whole nature of man into its power of a divine and spiritual existence. Integrality becomes, in this context, an essential condition of what Sri Aurobindo calls the Supramental Yoga.
The supramental perfection that is envisaged in the integral yoga has been analyzed by Sri Aurobindo as consisting of six elements, and the yoga of self-perfection is directed towards the integral attainment of these six elements of perfection. The first necessity is the fundamental poise of the soul, both in its essential and its natural being, in regarding and meeting impacts and workings of Nature; this poise can be arrived at by growing into a perfect equality, samata. This samata is not merely the capacity to endure in a poise of equality pleasant or unpleasant, honorable or dishonorable, successful or unsuccessful. It is not even a philosophic equality of the mind which views the whole world as a complex unity in which everything and every occurrence finds its proper place, value and justification. It also transcends the state of resignation in which everything and every occurrence is offered to the Supreme Being without any preference. These three states of equality, stoic, philosophic or religious, are indeed necessary to be cultivated in the course of developing the supramental equality, which is not only the state of internal
tranquility but also a state of eternal potency which generates the perfect spiritual action. The calm of equality is the inmost principle, but there is also an active and positive side, even an equal bliss which can only come when the peace of equality is founded and which is the beatific flower of its fullness.62
The second element of perfection relates to all the active parts of the human nature. First of all, these active parts consist of active instruments such as the body, life and mind or the activities of understanding, activities of the heart, activities of life-force and activities of the body and its organs. Another element of active part in the human nature consists of the dynamic force (vīrya) of the temperament, character and soul- nature, swabhāva. Perfection of the instruments of action and perfection of temperament cannot be achieved without the aid of what the Gita calls the Para Prakriti. Para Prakriti or daivī prakrti or bhāgavati śhakti needs to be invited and received in increasing measure, and the perfection will grow, according to Sri Aurobindo, in the measure in which we can surrender ourselves to the guidance and then to the direct action of Para Prakriti and of the Purushottama, the master of our being and our works to whom our being belongs. But this perfection will grow, depending upon the power of our aspiration, the power of unfolding sense of certainty of what we inwardly are and what we can become, and also on the labour that we can employ to manifest that certainty and to transmute it into realization. This growing sense of certainty is what can appropriately be called the power of faith, shradda, and this power, as it grows, imparts in our being increasing faith in the bhāgavati śhakti, the Divine Mother and the Supreme Lord. Perfection of the srhaddhā is also a part of the perfection of our native parts. The second element of perfection, therefore, is
the perfection of "the full powers of the members of the instrumental nature, the perfected dynamics of the soul nature, the assumption of them into the action of the divine Power, and a perfect faith in all our members to call and support that assumption, śakti, vīrya, dam prakrti, śraddhā."63
The third element of perfection implies the evolution of the mental into the supramental or Gnostic being, vijnānamaya. This implies a stride upward and a conversion of all that we are into the terms of this greater consciousness. In the supermind itself, vijnāna, there are several gradations which open at their highest into the full and infinite Ananda, The supermind or gnosis, when it begins to act effectively, will progressively take up all the terms of intelligence, will, sense- mind, heart, the vital and sensational being and transmute them by a luminous and harmonizing conversion into a unity of the truth, power and delight of a divine existence. The super mind has the power even of overcoming physical limitation and developing a more perfect and divinely instrumental body. Explaining this third element of perfection that comes about by the progressive action of supramental transformation of our nature, Sri Aurobindo states:
"While it perfects the individual soul and nature in the sense of a diviner existence and makes a full harmony of the diversities of our being, it founds all its action upon the Unity from which it proceeds and takes up everything into that Unity. Personality and impersonality, the two eternal aspects of existence, are made one by its action in the spiritual being and Nature body of the Purushottama."64
The fourth element of perfection relates to the supramental
or Gnostic perfection and the physical body, and it aims at and accomplishes the transformation of life in the physical world as one of its fields and even though the super mind opens up possession of planes and worlds beyond the material world. Perfection of the body as the outer instrument of a complete divine living on earth is a necessary part of the supramental transformation. In its highest movement, Sri Aurobindo envisages illumination of the whole physical consciousness and a divinizing of the law of the body. The yogic literature, particularly relating to Hatha yoga and Tantra, speaks of physical siddhis acquired by some opening up of the law of the subtle or a calling down of something of the law of the spiritual body. Normally, the method consists of opening up of the Chakras by Hatha yogic processes or of the Tantric discipline. According to Sri Aurobindo, these methods may be optionally used at certain stages by the integral Yoga, but they are not indispensable. In the integral yoga, reliance is laid on the power of the higher being to change the lower existence; a working is chosen mainly from above downward and not the opposite way, and therefore the development of the superior power of the supermind is awaited as an instrumentative change in this part of the Yoga.65
The fifth element of perfection is then developed and culminates in the perfect action and enjoyment of being on the Gnostic basis. This action and enjoyment will be not those of the gunas of Apara Prakriti, but they will manifest the will to delight of the Purusha enjoying in his freedom and perfection the action of the perfected Prakriti and all her members. In the words of Sri Aurobindo:
"The individual soul will be the channel of this action and
offering, and it will enjoy at once its oneness with the Ishwara and its oneness with the Prakriti and will enjoy all relations with Infinite and finite, with God and the universe and beings in the universe in the highest terms of the union of the universal Purusha and Prakriti."66
Gnostic Evolution into Divine Ananda and Brahmic Consciousness
Finally, — this is the sixth element of perfection, — the individual by virtue of his Gnostic evolution into the divine principle of Ananda, will live in union with the Purushottama in the Brahmic consciousness. In that state, as Sri Aurobindo points out, "he will be conscious in the Brahman that is the All, sarvam brahma, in the Brahman infinite in being and infinite in quality, anantam brahma, in Brahman as self- existent consciousness and universal knowledge, jnānam brahma, in Brahman as the self-existent bliss and its universal delight of being, ānandamdm brahma. He will experience all the universe as the manifestation of the One, all quality and action as the play of his universal and infinite energy, all knowledge and conscious experience as the out flowing of that consciousness, and all in the terms of that one Ananda. His physical being will be one with all material Nature, his vital being with the life of the universe, his mind with the cosmic mind, his spiritual knowledge and will with the divine knowledge and will both in itself and as it pours itself through these channels, his spirit with the one spirit in all beings. All the variety of cosmic existence will be changed to him in that unity and revealed in the secret of its spiritual significance. For in this spiritual bliss and being he will be one with That which is the origin and continent and inhabitant and spirit and constituting power of all existence. This will be the highest reach of self-perfection."67