There are numerous strategies adopted by spiritual seekers throughout the ages to try to address the divergent pulls of the various aspects or ‘personalities’ within each individual. Brute force has been tried. Stoicism and resistance to the force of desire has been tried. Abandonment of the active life has been tried. Sublimation of sexual impulses has been tried. Various forms of intense meditation and concentration have been tried. Suppression of one or another impulse, aspect or power of the being has been tried. Some of these provide temporary results, particularly if the spiritual practice is one that leads away from an active life in the world, and support of the evolutionary intention in the manifestation.

Sri Aurobindo’s view of Yoga provides a very different approach and result. He does not try to deny the various powers of the being; rather, he sees the truth that lies behind each of these powers and works to integrate them into an harmonious and coordinated whole representing all the powers and potentialities of the human being as the seeker undertakes to upgrade, and transform, his nature from that of the human animal to the spiritual individual aligned with the divine intention in the universe.

Sri Aurobindo writes: “What are you going to do with all these people? If you want Nirvana, you have either to expel them or stifle them or beat them into coma. All authorities assure us that the exclusive Nirvana business is a most difficult job (duhkham dehavadbhih, says the Gita), and your own attempt at suppressing the others was not encouraging, — according to your own account it left you as dry and desperate as a sucked orange, no juice left anywhere. If the desert is your way to the promised land, that does not matter. But — well, if it is not, then there is another way — it is what we call the integration, the harmonisation of the being. That cannot be done from outside, it cannot be done by the mind and vital being — they are sure to bungle the affair. It can be done only from within by the soul, the Spirit which is the centraliser, itself the centre of these radii. In all of them there is a truth that can harnonise with the true truth of the others. For there is a truth in Nirvana — Nirvana is nothing but the peace and freedom of the Spirit which can exist in itself, be there world or no world, world-order or world-disorder. Bhakti and the heart’s call for the Divine have a truth — it is the truth of the divine Love and Ananda. The will for Tapasya has in it a truth — it is the truth of the Spirit’s mastery over its members. The musician and poet stand for a truth, it is the truth of the expression of the Spirit through beauty. There is a truth behind the mental affirmer; even there is a truth behind the mental doubter, the Russellian, though far behind him — the truth of the denial of false forms. Even behind the two vital personalities there is a truth, the truth of the possession of the inner and outer worlds not by the ego but by the Divine. “

“That is the harmonisation for which our yoga stands — but it cannot be achieved by any outward arrangement, it can only be achieved by going inside and looking, willing and acting from the psychic and from the spiritual centre. For the truth of the being is there and the secret of Harmony also is there.”

Sri Aurobindo and the Mother, Our Many Selves: Practical Yogic Psychology, Chapter 5, Organisation, Harmonisation, Unification, pp. 144-145

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 19 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.