A yoga that focuses on opening to a new power of consciousness beyond the mind, and that does not abandon life, but acts to transform it, has to address the issues of the limitations embedded in the existing ‘status quo’ of mind-life-body. The limitations inherent in the operations of these elements circumscribe the progress. In order to transcend the framework within which we operate, we must find a way to access the next power of consciousness and allow it to function and overcome or modify these limitations.

This illustrates why it is not possible to achieve the intended results through practices involving the mind-life-body complex solely. Physical asanas, pranayama, meditation, concentration, various techniques all rely on the operations of the existing manifested powers.

The issue then is how to step beyond the framework of the mind-life-body complex. Sri Aurobindo therefore has presented a methodology of constant aspiration and receptivity that calls upon and opens to the influence and power of the higher stage of conscious evolution which is in the process of manifesting. It is the connection to this Force and the openness to its action, that comprises the method of the integral yoga. Specific techniques may be called upon from time to time as the need arises, but this is under the guidance of that higher Power and its determination of what is needed to break through the resistance or limits of the lower nature.

Sri Aurobindo observes: “The sadhana of this yoga does not proceed through any set mental teaching or prescribed forms of meditation, Mantras or others, but by aspiration, by a self-concentration inwards or upwards, by self-opening to an Influence, to the Divine Power above us and its workings, to the Divine Presence in the heart and by rejection of all that is foreign to these things. It is only by faith, aspiration and surrender that this self-opening can come.”

“The object of the self-opening is to allow the force of the Divine to flow in bringing light, peace, Ananda, etc. and to do the work of transformation. When the being so receives the Divine Shakti and it works in him, produces its results (whether he is entirely conscious of the process or not,) then he is said to be open.”

“To be open is simply to be so turned to the Mother that her Force can work in you without anything refusing or obstructing her action. If the mind is shut up in its own ideas and refuses to allow her to bring in the Light and the Truth, if the vital clings to its desires and does not admit the true initiative and impulsions that the Mother’s power brings, if the physical is shut up in its desires, habits and inertia and does not allow the Light and Force to enter in it and work, then one is not open. It is not possible to be entirely open all at once in all the movements, but there must be a central opening in each part and a dominant aspiration or will in each part (not in the mind alone) to admit only the Mother’s ‘workings’, the rest will then be progressively done.”
Sri Aurobindo, Integral Yoga: Sri Aurobindo’s Teaching and Method of Practice, Chapter 5 Bases of Yoga, Opening, pp. 97-100

Author's Bio: 

Santosh has been studying Sri Aurobindo's writings since 1971 and has a daily blog at http://sriaurobindostudies.wordpress.com He is author of 16 books and is editor-in-chief at Lotus Press. He is president of Institute for Wholistic Education, a non-profit focused on integrating spirituality into daily life.