The Teaching of Sri Aurobindo

The teaching of Sri Aurobindo starts from that of the ancient
sages of India that behind the appearances of the universe
there is the Reality of a Being and Consciousness, a Self
of all things, one and eternal. All beings are united in that
One Self and Spirit but divided by a certain separativity of
consciousness, an ignorance of their true Self and Reality
in the mind, life and body. It is possible by a certain
psychological discipline to remove this veil of separative
consciousness and become aware of the true Self, the
Divinity within us and all.
Sri Aurobindo’s teaching states that this One Being and
Consciousness is involved here in Matter. Evolution is the
method by which it liberates itself; consciousness appears in
what seems to be inconscient and once having appeared is self
impelled to grow higher and higher and at the same time to
enlarge and develop towards a greater and greater perfection.
Life is the first step of this release of consciousness; mind
is the second; but the evolution does not finish with mind, it
awaits a release into something greater, a consciousness which
is spiritual and supramental. The next step of the evolution
must be towards the development of Supermind and Spirit as
the dominant power in the conscious being. For only then will
the involved Divinity in things release itself entirely and it
become possible for life to manifest perfection.
But while the former steps in evolution were taken by
Nature without a conscious will in the plant and animal life, in
man Nature becomes able to evolve by a conscious will in the
instrument. It is not, however, by the mental will in man that
this can be wholly done, for the mind goes only to a certain
point and after that can only move in a circle. A conversion

has to be made, a turning of the consciousness by which
mind has to change into the higher principle. This method
is to be found through the ancient psychological discipline
and practice of Yoga. In the past, it has been attempted by
a drawing away from the world and a disappearance into
the height of the Self or Spirit. Sri Aurobindo teaches that
a descent of the higher principle is possible which will not
merely release the spiritual Self out of the world, but release it
in the world, replace the mind’s ignorance or its very limited
knowledge by a supramental Truth-Consciousness which
will be a sufficient instrument of the inner Self and make it
possible for the human being to find himself dynamically as
well as inwardly and grow out of his still animal humanity
into a diviner race. The psychological discipline of Yoga can
be used to that end by opening all the parts of the being to a
conversion or transformation through the descent and working
of the higher still concealed supramental principle.
This, however, cannot be done at once or in a short time or
by any rapid or miraculous transformation. Many steps have
to be taken by the seeker before the supramental descent is
possible. Man lives mostly in his surface mind, life and body
but there is an inner being within him with greater possibilities
to which he has to awake — for it is only a very restricted
influence from it that he receives now and that pushes him
to a constant pursuit of a greater beauty, harmony, power and
knowledge. The first process of Yoga is therefore to open the
ranges of this inner being and to live from there outward,
governing his outward life by an inner light and force. In doing
so he discovers in himself his true soul which is not this outer
mixture of mental, vital and physical elements but something
of the Reality behind them, a spark from the one Divine Fire.
He has to learn to live in his soul and purify and orientate by
its drive towards the Truth the rest of the nature. There can
follow afterwards an opening upward and descent of a higher
principle of the Being. But even then it is not at once the full
supramental Light and Force. For there are several ranges
of consciousness between the ordinary human mind and the
supramental Truth-Consciousness. These intervening ranges
have to be opened up and their power brought down into the
mind, life and body. Only afterwards can the full power of
the Truth-Consciousness work in the nature. The process of
this self-discipline or sadhana is therefore long and difficult,
but even a little of it is so much gained because it makes the
ultimate release and perfection more possible.
There are many things belonging to older systems that are
necessary on the way — an opening of the mind to a greater
wideness and to the sense of the Self and the Infinite, an
emergence into what has been called the cosmic consciousness,
mastery over the desires and passions; an outward asceticism
is not essential, but the conquest of desire and attachment and
a control over the body and its needs, greeds and instincts
are indispensable. There is a combination of the principles of
the old systems, the way of knowledge through the mind’s
discernment between Reality and the appearance, the heart’s
way of devotion, love and surrender and the way of works
turning the will away from motives of self-interest to the
Truth and the service of a greater Reality than the ego. For
the whole being has to be trained so that it can respond and
be transformed when it is possible for that greater Light and
Force to work in the nature.
In this discipline the inspiration of the Master and, in the
difficult stages, his control and his presence are indispensable
— for it would be impossible otherwise to go through it
without much stumbling and error which would prevent
all chance of success. The Master is one who has risen to a
higher consciousness and being and he is often regarded as
its manifestation or representative. He not only helps by his
teaching and still more by his influence and example but by a
power to communicate his own experience to others.
This is Sri Aurobindo’s teaching and method of practice. It
is not his object to develop any one religion or to amalgamate
the older religions or to found any new religion — for any of
these things would lead away from his central purpose. The
one aim of his Yoga is an inner self-development by which
each one who follows it can in time discover the One Self
in all and evolve a higher consciousness than the mental, a
spiritual and supramental consciousness which will transform
and divinise human nature.

Something has been shown to you in this year of seclusion,
something about which you had your doubts and it is the truth
of the Hindu religion. …I am raising up this nation to send
forth my word. This is the Sanatana Dharma, this is the eternal
religion which you did not really know before, but which I
have now revealed to you. …What is this religion which we
call Sanatana, eternal? It is the Hindu religion only because the
Hindu nation has kept it, because in this Peninsula it grew up
in the seclusion of the sea and the Himalayas, because in this
sacred and ancient land it was given as a charge to the Aryan
race to preserve through the Ages. But it is not circumscribed
by the confines of a single country, it does not belong peculiarly
and for ever to a bounded part of the world. That which we call
the Hindu religion is really the eternal religion, because it is the
universal religion which embraces all others. If a religion is not
universal, it cannot be eternal. A narrow religion, a sectarian
religion, an exclusive religion can live only for a limited time
and a limited purpose. …It is the one religion which shows
the world what the world is, that it is the Lila of Vasudeva. It
is the one religion which shows us how we can best play our
part in that Lila, its subtlest laws and its noblest rules. It is the
one religion which does not separate life in any smallest detail
from religion, which knows what immortality is and has utterly
removed from us the reality of death.

What is needed now is a band of spiritual workers whose
tapasya will be devoted to the liberation of India for the
service of humanity.
…We need an institution in which under the guidance of highly
spiritual men workers will be trained for every field, workers
for self-defence, workers for arbitration, for sanitation, for
famine relief, for every species of work which is needed to
bring about the necessary conditions for the organisation
of Swaraj. If the country is to be free, it must first organise
itself so as to be able to maintain its freedom. The winning of
freedom is an easy task, the keeping of it is less easy. The first
needs only one tremendous effort in which all the energies
of the country must be concentrated; the second requires a
united, organised and settled strength. If these two conditions
are satisfied, nothing more is needed, for all else is detail and
will inevitably follow.

Her mission is to point back humanity to the true source of
human liberty, human equality, human brotherhood. When
man is free in spirit, all other freedom is at his command;
for the Free is the Lord who cannot be bound. When he is
liberated from delusion, he perceives the divine equality of
the world which fulfils itself through love and justice,… When
he has perceived this divine equality, he is brother to the whole
world, and in whatever position he is placed he serves all men
as his brothers by the law of love, by the law of justice. When
this perception becomes the basis of religion, of philosophy,
of social speculation and political aspiration, then will liberty,
equality and fraternity take their place in the structure of
society and the Satya Yuga return. This is the Asiatic reading
of democracy, which India must rediscover for herself before
she can give it to the world.

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