Every individual has a unique set of current capacities, difficulties and predilections in the nature. Spiritual growth therefore is not “one size fits all”. Some have a strongly developed mental power, others a vibrant emotional being, and still others have an active vital nature and / or physical capacity. This eventually was understood in terms of 4 major types of individuals, those who were intellectual and scholarly, those who were rulers or warriors, those who were concerned with business, interchange and artisan work, and those who primarily provided labor and support through a spirit of service. While these traits help to define the primary activity of the outer nature, they were not intended to create an inflexible system ruled by birth into a family, nor to limit the spiritual growth potential of the individual; rather, they help to guide the individual to the path most suited to his or her characteristics and psychological makeup.

It is rather useless for someone not suited to meditation to try to sit for meditation as a way of realisation. In the integral yoga, the question goes beyond the original native temperament and characteristics that define the initial path — the need to eventually take up and transform all levels and parts of the being means that eventually the mind, the heart, the vital being and the physical nature all come within the purview of the seeker in this yoga, and thus, there may be times and seasons when meditation, devotion and consecrated work all are called upon to play a role.

Sri Aurobindo writes: “I have always said that work done as sadhana — done, that is to say, as an outflow of energy from the Divine and offered to the Divine or work done for the sake of the Divine or work done in a spirit of devotion is a powerful means of sadhana and that such work is especially necessary in this yoga. Work, bhakti and meditation are the three supports of yoga. One can do with all three or two or one. There are people who can’t meditate in the set way that one calls meditation, but they progress through work or through bhakti or through the two together. By work and bhakti one can develop a consciousness in which eventually a natural meditation and realisation becomes possible.” Sri Aurobindo, Integral Yoga: Sri Aurobindo’s Teaching and Method of Practice, Chapter 6, Sadhana Through Work, Meditation and Love and Devotion, Work pp. 129-145

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.