People come to the spiritual quest for a number of different reasons. Some of these are due to disappointment or trouble in the outer life, with work, with relationships, with failures or setbacks or with disease, illness, remorse or grief. Others come seeking for the powers, mental, vital or physical that one will acquire through the spiritual quest. Still others come seeking for knowledge and wisdom. All of these motives, however, are trying to respond to stated needs of some aspect of the ego-personality. No door opening to the Divine should be shunned, so if this is where one starts, it can be recognized as a first step, and supported.

There is also what one might term a “pure aspiration” for the Divine, which does not seek any benefit or reward for oneself, but is carried out in the form of self-giving to the Divine, to be the instrument of the Divine and to carry out the tasks of life that the Divine is manifesting through each individual.

Sri Aurobindo writes: “Obviously to see the Divine only for what one can get out of Him is not the proper attitude; but if it were absolutely forbidden to seek Him for these things, most people in the world would not turn towards Him at all. I suppose therefore it is allowed so that they may make a beginning — if they have faith, they may get what they ask for and think it a good thing to go on and then one day they may suddenly stumble upon the idea that this is after all not quite the one thing to do and that there are better ways and a better spirit in which one can approach the Divine. If they do not get what they want and still come to the Divine and trust in Him, well, that shows they are getting ready. Let us look at it as a sort of infants’ school for the unready. But of course that is not the spiritual life, it is only a sort of elementary religious approach. For the spiritual life to give and not to demand is the rule. The sadhak, however, can ask for the Divine Force to aid him in keeping his health and recovering it if he does that as part of his sadhana so that his body may be able and fit for the spiritual life and a capable instrument for the Divine Work.” Sri Aurobindo, Integral Yoga: Sri Aurobindo’s Teaching and Method of Practice, The Integral Yoga and the Ordinary Life, pp. 18-22

Author's Bio: 

Santosh Krinsky has been studying Sri Aurobindo's works since 1971. He writes a daily blog at and is the author of 16 books on the subject. He is also editor in chief at Lotus Press and President of Institute for Wholistic Education, a non profit dedicated to the integration of spirituality into daily life.