Many who take up the practice of yogic sadhana find that they receive some signs of encouragement either prior to starting consciously down the path, through some kind of experience that opens other dimensions and opportunities for growth for them, or through some spiritual experiences in the early stages of the sadhana. Thereafter, it is quite usual for the experiences to recede and the slow, steady, patient work of aspiration, receptivity and dedication to the process takes over. For the seeker, the peak spiritual experiences are important stages that give confidence and reinforce the needed faith to continue on the journey; yet if they become the goal of the seeking, or get captured by the vital ego seeking to assert itself, they actually can be a hindrance.

Changing human nature is not a matter of peak experiences, but a matter of day to day effort and receptivity to let the higher forces work to change, in many cases quite gradually, one’s outlook, focus, and ways of responding to situations. True progress cannot be measured in terms of these experiences, but when one looks back over a number of years of the process, one can in many cases see substantial changes to the trend of the being. One may become more peaceful, with a basic equanimity that was not there earlier in life. There may be different values about what is important and there come about as a result, changes in direction of the life-effort. One may see dietary and lifestyle changes as well as changes in the way one reacts to events in life, all of which show a process of maturity in the yogic sadhana actually working on the basic interactions of human life.

Sri Aurobindo observes: “In a more deep and spiritual sense a concrete realisation is that which makes the thing realised more real, dynamic, intimately present to the consciousness than any physical thing can be. Such a realisation of the personal Divine or of the impersonal Brahman or of the Self does not usually come at the beginning of a sadhana or in the first years or for many years. It comes so to a very few. But to expect and demand it so soon would be taken in the eyes of any experienced yogi or sadhak as a rather rash and abnormal impatience. Most would say that a slow development is the best one can hope for in the first years and only when the nature is ready and fully concentrated towards the Divine can the definitive experience come. To some rapid preparatory experiences can come at a comparatively early stage, but even they cannot escape the labour of the consciousness which will make these experiences culminate in the realisation that is enduring and complete. It is not a question of liking or disliking, it is a matter of fact and truth and experience. It is the fact that people who are cheerful and ready to go step by step, even by slow steps, if need be, do actually march faster and more surely than those who are impatient and in haste. it is what I have always seen.” Sri Aurobindo, Integral Yoga: Sri Aurobindo’s Teaching and Method of Practice, Chapter 5 Bases of Yoga, Patience and Perseverance, pp. 113-115

Author's Bio: 

Santosh has been studying Sri Aurobindo's writings since 1971 and has a daily blog at 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.