Friday, December 17, 2010

Integral Yoga and Social Concern

...(continued)...Just as Aurobindo shows us the social-political ramifications, outer ramifications, Western necessity, for pursuing the divine for the sake of fulfilling a sort of divine evolution, he also examines the inner tradition in terms of Yoga. Aurobindo refers to the various Indian traditions in which we find inner experience such as the Kundalini experience. He examines the various yogas as separate and distinct paths that must become synthesized. He explains that as we advance in one arena of spirit its effects manifest themselves in the other arenas. If we advance in the mental we will see the fruits of our relation to spirit manifest in action and devotion as well. Aurobindo ties these together with the additional benefit seen in Tantric yoga, the benefit of enjoying the outer universe as an extended experience of the Divine. Again we see the pattern of Aurobindo to synthesize the ancient tradition, and again we see him take it to its logical conclusion. If the yoga benefits the practitioner in all arenas of experience then would not, from the modern, global perspective, the yoga benefit humanity as a whole? Wouldn't Tantric yoga have implications in the broader social and political realms of experience. Aurobindo asks the practitioner of any yoga to, upon the growth in relation to spirit in the realm of the personal exercise, begin to seek the growth of the spiritual relation in all realms of life. Yoga for Aurobindo is the discipline by which the individual may free the self from the many egoic veils that obscure the manifestation of spirit.


Again, if this is the possibility for the individual why then is it not also the possibility for the group? In this sense Aurobindo believes that Integral Yoga is the ultimate of social activism. To lower the veils obscuring our relation to the Divine through discipline, to begin to see those veils being lowered in integral life, and to begin to see the possibility of lowering those veils through sympathetic, or better, empathetic action, is the beginning of the next stage in evolution. Again this is where Aurobindo simply extends the spirit of the Hindu tradition into realms that were not as widely understood in the 'smaller' ancient world. Aurobindo simply applies the spirit of the tradition to suit his experience with the modern world, a world in which social, global questions are increasingly significant. Many efforts are made by many people for social justice, Aurobindo’s own philosophy arose partly out of grave concern for changing India. But his answers come in the form of intense spiritual practice, a synthesizing practice that plays within the outer world but always remains rooted in its relationship to Divinity. The cultivation of spirit in oneself and in the larger social sphere is for Aurobindo the ultimate act of social concern. If, as the Gita illustrates, each human no matter their transgressions has the capacity for spiritual achievement then the logical extension of this would be the capacity for large scale group achievement...(conclusion to follow)...

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