The Synthesis of Yoga

Ebook: The Synthesis of Yoga by Sri Aurobindo

The Synthesis of Yoga

The Synthesis of Yoga is Sri Aurobindo‘s principal work on yoga. In this book Sri Aurobindo examines the traditional systems of yoga and provides an explanation of certain components of his own system of integral yoga. There is an Introduction, “The Condi­tions of the Synthesis”, and four parts: “The Yoga of Divine Works”, “The Yoga of Integral Knowledge”, “The Yoga of Divine Love” and “The Yoga of Self-Perfection”. The material was first published serially in the monthly review Arya between 1914 and 1921; the introduction and first two parts were later revised by Sri Aurobindo for publication.

Book Details

Author: Sri Aurobindo

Print Length: 938 pages

Publisher: Sri Aurobindo Ashram

Contributor: Krishna

Book format: PDF, ePub, Kindle

Language: English

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Introduction. The Conditions of the Synthesis

  • Chapter 1. Life and Yoga
  • Chapter 2. The Three Steps of Nature
  • Chapter 3. The Threefold Life
  • Chapter 4. The Systems of Yoga
  • Chapter 5. The Synthesis of the Systems

Part I. The Yoga of Divine Works

  • Chapter 1. The Four Aids
  • Chapter 2. Self-Consecration
  • Chapter 3. Self-Surrender in Works — The Way of the Gita
  • Chapter 4. The Sacrifice, the Triune Path and the Lord of the Sacrifice
  • Chapter 5. The Ascent of the Sacrifice – 1; The Works of Knowledge — The Psychic Being
  • Chapter 6. The Ascent of the Sacrifice – 2; The Works of Love — The Works of Life
  • Chapter 7. Standards of Conduct and Spiritual Freedom
  • Chapter 8. The Supreme Will
  • Chapter 9. Equality and the Annihilation of Ego
  • Chapter 10. The Three Modes of Nature
  • Chapter 11. The Master of the Work
  • Chapter 12. The Divine Work

Part II. The Yoga of Integral Knowledge

  • Chapter 1. The Object of Knowledge
  • Chapter 2. The Status of Knowledge
  • Chapter 3. The Purified Understanding
  • Chapter 4. Concentration
  • Chapter 5. Renunciation
  • Chapter 6. The Synthesis of the Disciplines of Knowledge
  • Chapter 7. The Release from Subjection to the Body
  • Chapter 8. The Release from the Heart and the Mind
  • Chapter 9. The Release from the Ego
  • Chapter 10. The Realisation of the Cosmic Self
  • Chapter 11. The Modes of the Self
  • Chapter 12. The Realisation of Sachchidananda
  • Chapter 13. The Difficulties of the Mental Being
  • Chapter 14. The Passive and the Active Brahman
  • Chapter 15. The Cosmic Consciousness
  • Chapter 16. Oneness
  • Chapter 17. The Soul and Nature
  • Chapter 18. The Soul and Its Liberation
  • Chapter 19. The Planes of Our Existence
  • Chapter 20. The Lower Triple Purusha
  • Chapter 21. The Ladder of Self-Transcendence
  • Chapter 22. Vijnana or Gnosis
  • Chapter 23. The Conditions of Attainment to the Gnosis
  • Chapter 24. Gnosis and Ananda
  • Chapter 25. The Higher and the Lower Knowledge
  • Chapter 26. Samadhi
  • Chapter 27. Hathayoga
  • Chapter 28. Rajayoga

Part III. The Yoga of Divine Love

  • Chapter 1. Love and the Triple Path
  • Chapter 2. The Motives of Devotion
  • Chapter 3. The Godward Emotions
  • Chapter 4. The Way of Devotion
  • Chapter 5. The Divine Personality
  • Chapter 6. The Delight of the Divine
  • Chapter 7. The Ananda Brahman
  • Chapter 8. The Mystery of Love

Part IV. The Yoga of Self-Perfection

  • Chapter 1. The Principle of the Integral Yoga
  • Chapter 2. The Integral Perfection
  • Chapter 3. The Psychology of Self-Perfection
  • Chapter 4. The Perfection of the Mental Being
  • Chapter 5. The Instruments of the Spirit
  • Chapter 6. Purification — The Lower Mentality
  • Chapter 7. Purification — Intelligence and Will
  • Chapter 8. The Liberation of the Spirit
  • Chapter 9. The Liberation of the Nature
  • Chapter 10. The Elements of Perfection
  • Chapter 11. The Perfection of Equality
  • Chapter 12. The Way of Equality
  • Chapter 13. The Action of Equality
  • Chapter 14. The Power of the Instruments
  • Chapter 15. Soul-Force and the Fourfold Personality
  • Chapter 16. The Divine Shakti
  • Chapter 17. The Action of the Divine Shakti
  • Chapter 18. Faith and Shakti
  • Chapter 19. The Nature of the Supermind
  • Chapter 20. The Intuitive Mind
  • Chapter 21. The Gradations of the Supermind
  • Chapter 22. The Supramental Thought and Knowledge
  • Chapter 23. The Supramental Instruments — Thought-Process
  • Chapter 24. The Supramental Sense
  • Chapter 25. Towards the Supramental Time Vision


The Synthesis of Yoga

Chapter I. Life and Yoga

There are two necessities of Nature’s workings which seem always to intervene in the greater forms of human activity, whether these belong to our ordinary fields of movement or seek those exceptional spheres and fulfilments which appear to us high and divine. Every such form tends towards a harmonised complexity and totality which again breaks apart into various channels of special effort and tendency, only to unite once more in a larger and more puissant synthesis. Secondly, development into forms is an imperative rule of effective manifestation; yet all truth and practice too strictly formulated becomes old and loses much, if not all, of its virtue; it must be constantly renovated by fresh streams of the spirit revivifying the dead or dying vehicle and changing it, if it is to acquire a new life. To be perpetually reborn is the condition of a material immortality. We are in an age, full of the throes of travail, when all forms of thought and activity that have in themselves any strong power of utility or any secret virtue of persistence are being subjected to a supreme test and given their opportunity of rebirth. The world today presents the aspect of a huge cauldron of Medea in which all things are being cast, shredded into pieces, experimented on, combined and recombined either to perish and provide the scattered material of new forms or to emerge rejuvenated and changed for a fresh term of existence. Indian Yoga, in its essence a special action or formulation of certain great powers of Nature, itself specialised, divided and variously formulated, is potentially one of these dynamic elements of the future life of humanity. The child of immemorial ages, preserved by its vitality and truth into our modern times, it is now emerging from the secret schools and ascetic retreats in which it had taken refuge and is seeking its place in the future sum of living human powers and utilities. But it has first to rediscover itself, bring to the surface the profoundest reason of its being in that general truth and that unceasing aim of Nature which it represents, and find by virtue of this new self-knowledge and self-appreciation its own recovered and larger synthesis. Reorganising itself, it will enter more easily and powerfully into the reorganised life of the race which its processes claim to lead within into the most secret penetralia and upward to the highest altitudes of existence and personality.

In the right view both of life and of Yoga all life is either consciously or subconsciously a Yoga. For we mean by this term a methodised effort towards self-perfection by the expression of the secret potentialities latent in the being and — highest condition of victory in that effort — a union of the human individual with the universal and transcendent Existence we see partially expressed in man and in the Cosmos. But all life, when we look behind its appearances, is a vast Yoga of Nature who attempts in the conscious and the subconscious to realise her perfection in an ever-increasing expression of her yet unrealised potentialities and to unite herself with her own divine reality. In man, her thinker, she for the first time upon this Earth devises self-conscious means and willed arrangements of activity by which this great purpose may be more swiftly and puissantly attained. Yoga, as Swami Vivekananda has said, may be regarded as a means of compressing one’s evolution into a single life or a few years or even a few months of bodily existence. A given system of Yoga, then, can be no more than a selection or a compression, into narrower but more energetic forms of intensity, of the general methods which are already being used loosely, largely, in a leisurely movement, with a profuser apparent waste of material and energy but with a more complete combination by the great Mother in her vast upward labour. It is this view of Yoga that can alone form the basis for a sound and rational synthesis of Yogic methods. For then Yoga ceases to appear something mystic and abnormal which has no relation to the ordinary processes of the World-Energy or the purpose she keeps in view in her two great movements of subjective and objective self-fulfilment; it reveals itself rather as an intense and exceptional use of powers that she has already manifested or is progressively organising in her less exalted but more general operations.

Yogic methods have something of the same relation to the customary psychological workings of man as has the scientific handling of the force of electricity or of steam to their normal operations in Nature. And they, too, like the operations of Science, are formed upon a knowledge developed and confirmed by regular experiment, practical analysis and constant result. All Rajayoga, for instance, depends on this perception and experience that our inner elements, combinations, functions, forces, can be separated or dissolved, can be new-combined and set to novel and formerly impossible workings or can be transformed and resolved into a new general synthesis by fixed internal processes. Hathayoga similarly depends on this perception and experience that the vital forces and functions to which our life is normally subjected and whose ordinary operations seem set and indispensable, can be mastered and the operations changed or suspended with results that would otherwise be impossible and that seem miraculous to those who have not seized the rationale of their process. And if in some other of its forms this character of Yoga is less apparent, because they are more intuitive and less mechanical, nearer, like the Yoga of Devotion, to a supernal ecstasy or, like the Yoga of Knowledge, to a supernal infinity of consciousness and being, yet they too start from the use of some principal faculty in us by ways and for ends not contemplated in its everyday spontaneous workings. All methods grouped under the common name of Yoga are special psychological processes founded on a fixed truth of Nature and developing, out of normal functions, powers and results which were always latent but which her ordinary movements do not easily or do not often manifest.

But as in physical knowledge the multiplication of scientific processes has its disadvantages, as that tends, for instance, to develop a victorious artificiality which overwhelms our natural human life under a load of machinery and to purchase certain forms of freedom and mastery at the price of an increased servitude, so the preoccupation with Yogic processes and their exceptional results may have its disadvantages and losses. The Yogin tends to draw away from the common existence and lose his hold upon it; he tends to purchase wealth of spirit by an impoverishment of his human activities, the inner freedom by an outer death. If he gains God, he loses life, or if he turns his efforts outward to conquer life, he is in danger of losing God. Therefore we see in India that a sharp incompatibility has been created between life in the world and spiritual growth and perfection, and although the tradition and ideal of a victorious harmony between the inner attraction and the outer demand remains, it is little or else very imperfectly exemplified. In fact, when a man turns his vision and energy inward and enters on the path of Yoga, he is popularly supposed to be lost inevitably to the great stream of our collective existence and the secular effort of humanity. So strongly has the idea prevailed, so much has it been emphasised by prevalent philosophies and religions that to escape from life is now commonly considered as not only the necessary condition, but the general object of Yoga. No synthesis of Yoga can be satisfying which does not, in its aim, reunite God and Nature in a liberated and perfected human life or, in its method, not only permit but favour the harmony of our inner and outer activities and experiences in the divine consummation of both. For man is precisely that term and symbol of a higher Existence descended into the material world in which it is possible for the lower to transfigure itself and put on the nature of the higher and the higher to reveal itself in the forms of the lower. To avoid the life which is given him for the realisation of that possibility, can never be either the indispensable condition or the whole and ultimate object of his supreme endeavour or of his most powerful means of self-fulfilment. It can only be a temporary necessity under certain conditions or a specialised extreme effort imposed on the individual so as to prepare a greater general possibility for the race. The true and full object and utility of Yoga can only be accomplished when the conscious Yoga in man becomes, like the subconscious Yoga in Nature, outwardly conterminous with life itself and we can once more, looking out both on the path and the achievement, say in a more perfect and luminous sense: “All life is Yoga.”

Cathegory “Sri Aurobindo”


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