If it were only simple! The integral yoga holds out the goal of not just attaining liberation from the external surface nature, but also transforming that nature under the impulsion and intention of the divine intention in the universal creation. While the concept of liberation is well known and the object of many, if not most, of the religious, philosophical and spiritual traditions of humanity, the idea that there is a larger cosmic sense that acts as the foundation and basis for our existence, which then provides purpose and direction to the lives we lead, is one that has not been commonly seen or understood. This conception then implies that nature evolves, and that the role of the human individual is to participate consciously in this evolution and work to transform human nature in line with the larger evolutionary purpose.

The process of separating oneself from the entanglements of the external nature, the basis of liberation, is itself an arduous and difficult one. Seekers spend entire lifetimes focused on achieving this goal. The great yogi of Tibet, Milarepa, set his goal to achieve liberation in one lifetime and underwent extreme disciplines and unflagging efforts to achieve that aim.

When one adds to this the idea of actually effectuating change in human nature itself, one begins to recognise the additional complexity. It is not sufficient to separate oneself from the impressions, impulsions, cravings, desires, emotions, demands, predilections and tendencies, thoughts and cherished concepts, nor is it sufficient to shift the identification away from the ego personality to the true Self, the spiritual nature; rather, each of these things has to be raised up, understood as to its role and purpose and what it is intended to be, and the nature of its current deformations that need to be corrected. Some things then need to be rejected outright while others need to be uplifted, redirected, refined and brought into harmony with the larger divine intention.

Western psychology has taken the approach of raising up these things to view without first establishing the foundation and insight needed to actual control them. This leads to a substantial amount of confusion, distraction and in many cases, the accentuation of the very things that the individual is being asked to change! The approach of the integral yoga is to first bring the consciousness to the process, establish from above the basis of peace and separation of awareness needed so that when the lower forces actually are brought up (or arise on their own) they do not overpower the seeker, but are seen, understood and eventually, brought under control or transformed, as the case may be.

Sri Aurobindo observes: “… in order to reject anything from the being one has first to become conscious of it, to have the clear inner experience of its action and to discover its actual place in the workings of the nature. One can then work upon it to eliminate it, if it is an entirely wrong movement, or to transform it if it is only the degradation of a higher and true movement. It is this or something like it that is attempted crudely and improperly with a rudimentary and insufficient knowledge in the system of psycho-analysis. The process of raising up the lower movements into the full light of consciousness in order to know and deal with them is inevitable; for there can be no complete change without it. But it can truly succeed only when a higher light and force are sufficiently at work to overcome, sooner or later, the force of the tendency that is held up for change.”

Sri Aurobindo and the Mother, Our Many Selves: Practical Yogic Psychology, Chapter 4, Becoming Conscious, pp. 120-121

Author's Bio: 

Santosh has been studying Sri Aurobindo's writings since 1971 and has a daily blog at http://sriaurobindostudies.wordpress.com and podcast at https://anchor.fm/santosh-krinsky He is author of 17 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.