The integral yoga works to shift the standpoint from the ego to the divine consciousness. As that is accomplished, the focus on the ego-personality and its suffering and difficulties and the feelings it is experiencing are reduced or entirely removed. The being is absorbed in the divine standpoint, and sees all activities as part of that consecrated expression of its aspiration, its devotion, and its fulfilled surrender to the divine Will. Even obstacles at that point simply become part of the dedicated effort required to manifest the divine intention and thus, the being can move forward with a sense of calm and a sense of quiet joy, rather than a dramatic display of separation, suffering and the cries of an abandoned ego looking for someone to soothe it and acknowledge it.

The vital being of man may actually enjoy the sense of struggle and suffering in a sort of perverse way. It carries this as a “badge” of recognition for how much it cares and how much it is trying and doing despite immense opposition. It is in that sense, a formation of vanity and clearly a sign of the centrality of the ego-consciousness in the being.

Of course, as the seeker begins from the ego standpoint, some periods of such depression and feelings of abandonment are certain to arise from time to time, whenever the quality of Tamas rises in the consciousness. The sense of separation from the play of the Gunas can help modify and mitigate the power these feelings have until the shift in standpoint is fully accomplished.

The shift to the divine standpoint can bring about, then, what Sri Aurobindo calls the ‘sunlit path’ that does not require a show of struggle in order to express its aspiration, dedication and consecration. In the interim, carrying on through all difficulty and doubt with faith and reverence can aid the seeker along the way in gaining and maintaining this sunlit attitude.

Sri Aurobindo notes: “Fits of depression and darkness and despair are a tradition in the path of Sadhana — in all Yogas, oriental or occidental, they seem to have been the rule. I know all about them myself — but my experience has led me to the perception that they are an unnecessary tradition and could be dispensed with if one chose. That is why whenever they come in you or others I try to lift up before them the gospel of faith. If still they come, one has to get through them as soon as possible and get back into the sun.”

“The change noted by X evidently indicates a great progress in the vital and physical being. There is nothing spiritually wrong in being glad and cheerful, on the contrary it is the right thing. As for struggles and aspiration, struggles are really not indispensable to progress and there are many people who get so habituated to the struggling attitude that they have all the time struggles and very little else. That is not desirable. There is a sunlit path as well as a gloomy one and it is the better of the two — a path in which one goes forward in absolute reliance on the Mother, fearing nothing, sorrowing over nothing. Aspiration is needed but there can be a sunlit aspiration full of light and faith and confidence and joy. If difficulty comes, even that can be faced with a smile.”

Sri Aurobindo, Integral Yoga: Sri Aurobindo’s Teaching and Method of Practice, Chapter 10, Difficulties in Transforming the Nature, The Sunlit Path, pp. 275-277

Author's Bio: 

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