Detachment and The Integral Yoga

Detachment and The Integral Yoga
Transcript of a Talk given at Nainital, India on 8/16/06
By Debashish Banerji

I have been asked to speak of detachment and its place in the Integral Yoga. Detachment in a spiritual sense is the development of another dimension within us, a dimension which coexists with our active personality but is outside of it. It is to find an inner freedom, to discover a part of the being that cannot be touched by external circumstances or by the outer being’s activities – a separation within between what we know as ourselves in the world and something which is intrinsic and connected to an infinite being, a sort of an immutable witnessing. That is detachment.

How do you do it? How can you arrive at it? Everybody has to find their own way of arriving at it. For example, an approach through the mind may be some form of Rajayoga meditation, a process by which you can watch your thoughts. The best practice for this is to find a time which you can repeat everyday. It is best to fix a time because just like poetic inspiration, spiritual power also works habitually, it can be invoked more powerfully if there is a certain time which one fixes. So one can take a certain period of time everyday and it does not need to be a long period, not more than half an hour to start with – or even fifteen minutes, fifteen to twenty minutes.

During this period you can try just to watch your thoughts. Make it your intent to watch the thoughts. In the beginning it may be very difficult, but also, you may find it easy. Try to avoid expectations. There are many people who at the first attempt find that they can watch the thoughts. But because we are habitually identified with our thoughts, you usually find it difficult to watch them. You may find that the mind jumps from thought to thought and you are completely involved in its movement. You sit down and are identified with the jumping of the mind, then at a certain point you realize that you couldn’t watch your thoughts, so many thoughts went through your mind and you became them, became identified with them, you couldn’t watch them. You may find your thinking interrupted at some point by the thought that you wanted to watch the thoughts but couldn’t. That is a moment where a part of the mind which has aligned itself to your intent has kicked in. So at that point you try again. Even if the first few times it feels futile, you feel like a fool, you feel frustrated – ‘what am I doing, why I am doing it’, the important thing is to maintain the practice.

Many people feel if  they don’t succeed, say, in three sittings, they start believing ‘it is impossible for me’ or ‘it’s going to take a very long time’, ‘it is not do-able’. These thoughts are to be immediately  discouraged because the emergence of the power of witnessing is unpredictable, it can happen suddenly. You cannot know when it will click in. Suddenly you discover that you are watching your thoughts, that thoughts are coming and going but something in you has separated itself and is not affected by them. This is the beginning of detachment – at the level of the mind at least. This can be deepened with practice. We can spend longer and longer periods and then you find that throughout the day constantly there is something in you that remains untouched and awake like a witness. You are doing whatever you are doing – sometimes you are involved, sometimes you are upset, sometimes all kinds of waves of normal behaviour are going through you but you recognise the fact that something in you is outside of your active self, is not touched and you can withdraw, retreat  into that. And, at the same time you realize that there are two separate things – the part of your being that is not touched by anything and the part of your being that is active, thinking, feeling, acting.

So developing this separation is the essence of detachment. Detachment doesn’t mean that one needs to stop meeting people, stop talking to people, stop doing things or seclude oneself in a room. Those are just practices of exclusion. But the experience of detachment is one that nobody even needs to know anything about. You may be more involved in life than most people. You may have an active interaction with all kinds of people. People may feel that you are intimately involved in the world, but something in you is absent, and gradually you feel that a large part of your being is like that, that whatever it is that you are doing occupies only a minuscule portion of your existence.

You know there is an exhibition on the Alipur Bomb Case in Delhi at this time, an exhibition on Sri Aurobindo’s time at the Alipur jail. We went to see it. And all the freedom fighters, their pictures are there. The Mother has talked about them to Mona Sarkar – she has spoken of the fearlessness in their eyes. She says the psychic being is right there in the eyes and it is completely fearless. But you can look at all of them, impressive as they are and then you look at Sri Aurobindo’s photograph there and you realize that to him all this activity is a minute portion of his existence. Freedom of India is important to him but he is so much vaster than that. That’s the power of detachment. It’s an inner quality and it supports you.

In the Gita they talk about two Purushas – Akshara and Kshara Purusha. The Kshara Purusha is involved in the entanglement of life, but the Akshara Purusha supports it – that is Static Power. The development of that – it’s firstly the awakening of that, because it’s in all of us, it’s inside us. So the question is since we are identified with the active part we are not aware of this static part. We have to develop an awareness of that part.

Detachment and Freedom
Another source of detachment is the psychic being. Maybe everyone is not so drawn to developing mental detachment or awakening the purusha of the mind. But deep in the heart, the psychic being exists as a source of spiritual detachment. To connect behind the heart with that living source which is there – you have first to recognize that the psychic being is an entity, that it is an independent living consciousness. It is not some kind of metaphor or imagination or even a part of the being that you are already familiar with or that is involved somewhere in your other actions. It is a being, it has substance to it, and its substance is an independent substance. You may feel it as a flame. The Mother talks about experiencing it as a flame within. It’s not just the seeing of a flame, it’s the substance of an inner flame. The psychic substance is substantial, it is concrete, and to come into contact with that is the source of the beginning of identifying with the psychic being. If you bring your attention behind the heart and focus it there, if you pray to the Mother, at some point there is an opening, and you feel this substance. And this substance can then be experienced as that fire which we feed with our offerings, into which everything can be put as in the Vedic yajna. You can go within to that inner center, you can reside there. Whatever problems or difficulties you may have, this is the inviolable shelter within you into which you can retreat and reside and there you experience freedom, because that is always completely free.

One may act out of that consciousness and once again one may have a dynamic life in the world without feeling trapped by it. The nature may take a long time to transform, or to even to bring into some kind of order. Many of you have addressed the difficulties of the vital; difficulties of the vital belong to the nature; these may stay with us for a long time. They may be very difficult to overcome because the habits of the nature have their roots in the struggling Unconscious, and they need to be grappled with. But even to grapple with the problems of the nature you need a key. If you don’t have this key you often end up with frustration and guilt. You’ll constantly feel a sense of unworthiness –  ‘why am I not able to solve this problem in my nature?’ The thing is to find a part in your being which is already free. This is the key. It doesn’t change the problem of the nature (or the nature of the problem) but it gives you the attitude with which to tackle it. Then you can approach it with the best that you can give it, and you are not concerned about the amount of time it will take because somewhere you are already free. If you fall, you get up and start walking again, because something in you is free. So I feel it’s very important for anybody on this path, first and foremost, to experience spiritual freedom in whatever way they can, at whatever level of the being they can.  And it is accessible to all of us, because there is something in all of us which is always free.

But one must have courage to find this freedom, one must make oneself available to spiritual freedom. It is our conditioning, our fears, our duties which stand in the way, which prevent us from claiming what we come with from birth, our birthright. We are so afraid of freedom, something in us feels – ‘If I stop thinking about the things which I have to do, then my life will completely collapse’. The Mother talks about a young Japanese man who asked her, ‘You talk about the divine within. What is this divine within?’ She says she put him in touch with his psychic being. He used to come to her regularly, but after this he stopped coming. Then when she met him after some time, and asked why he had disappeared, he said, ‘You know what you showed me is very dangerous. I am afraid I will become unfaithful to the Emperor.’ Prior to World War II, the Japanese were culturally conditioned to take their Emperor as God. They had to obey him with their lives. So to awake to an inner source of freedom, to which the Emperor meant nothing, was terrifying to this man.

Rejection of Thoughts
So what it amounts to is that our socially constructed ego is afraid of spiritual freedom, because its importance and reason for existence is challenged by it. This part feels that if it experiences unconditional freedom, it will collapse, which indeed it will and it retains its stranglehold on our surface identity by convincing us that we will have no existence if it collapses. This is the first thought or idea to be firmly and deliberately rejected. That is where mental discipline comes in, where the conscious act of rejection comes. If you learn to reject this thought, if, every time it comes into your mind, you say, ‘Go away, I am not concerned about you,’ then it will lose its strength. There are certain thoughts which are obsessive. They insist, ‘How dare you not think of me? I am the key to your life; you have to give me your attention.’ If you have sufficient mental strength, then you can forcibly push it away. With the determination of your inner mind you can respond to it  – ‘I have no need for you, I don’t need anything. I am not afraid of any consequences of life or death, because I am free beyond them.’ If you can practice that kind of rejection of thoughts then it is not that difficult to come into contact with the part in you which is free.

Offering and Mental Attitude
But if you cannot use your mental strength to reject these obsessive worries, that is where offering to The Mother can be a very helpful power. This is a great tool, a very great weapon that Sri Aurobindo has given us. Here you say to yourself  – ‘I have no power over my own life. I cannot predict what will happen to me tomorrow.’ You do this also with a part of the mind – a part which is faithful to the Divine – in our terminology we would say this is a part of the inner mind which is under the psychic influence or at a higher pitch, which has become psychicisized. The role of mind in training attitude should not be underestimated – the mind under the divine influence can be a very good trainer of our inner being. It can play the role of a teacher and say in reply to the fears and worries – ‘Think about it, you really have no control over your own life. What will happen tomorrow you don’t know at all, so whatever is obsessing you, offer it to the Mother, because she knows. She has control over circumstances, and she knows better than you what is best for you.’ Because, indeed, we have very little idea of what is best for us. We like to believe in our personal knowledge based on our power of experience and we take pride in our freedom of choice but all this experience and all this choice is sunk in seven fathoms of Ignorance and something in us knows this. We want control but we are so helpless and so ignorant. The more clearly we understand this, the more clearly we also see the action of divine Grace in our lives. Without this constant Grace, we would be obliterated as individuals and as a race long back. So this part of our mind can bring home to the rest of us this lesson – “You have no control and no knowledge of what is best but She knows what is best for you and has the power to achieve it. Surrender your concerns to her .”

To develop this attitude progressively, to have the mind address the vital and the rest of the being, bringing constantly to their attention the fact that they cannot know what is best for them, nor can they know what the future holds for them – this is a very strong directing help for fostering the practice of a constant and integral offering to The Mother. But please remember that to be effective this knowledge must not remain theoretical, it needs to be made active. It is like Sri Aurobindo’s comment about the passage in the Gita about remembering the Divine at the time of death. In the Gita, Krishna says, ‘If you remember Me at the time of death, then you will come to Me’. According to Sri Aurobindo, this sounds like a lazy man’s short cut to Nirvana, except that it is not so easy to achieve a sudden willed remembrance of the Divine. To remember the Divine at will one must practice constant remembrance of the Divine. This applies in the case of offering as well. One must practice offering in one’s everyday life and for this one must make active and constant the practice of the need for offering . “Why should I offer?” – this question should have a clear and ready answer at the forefront of our consciousness at all times, because without that there is enough hidden in each of us to subvert our best efforts.

Even when a part of our being feels the need for a spiritual life or for the practice of yoga, a large part of us remains quite happy with life as it is; it cannot understand any demand of offering or surrender being made of it since it feels quite self-confident, independent, in control of itself. It has no need for the Divine. So why should it offer itself to the Divine? This is where the active practice of the mind’s mentorship is a powerful help, the practice of the reminder to all our parts that we are really helpless, that we don’t have any hold over the future and that we have very little idea of what is best for us, for ourselves – but that there is a Presence and Power that knows and this is the Mother. And so, whatever forces itself as an obsession on the mind with its sense of urgency and necessity, learn to offer it to that Power. Put the burden on her shoulders. You don’t need to carry that burden. When you can do that with fullness, with all your will, you receive a distinct feeling from within. This is a recognition of the fact that it has gone to her shoulders. She has accepted my burden.

Handing over the burden
Dyuman, a great sadhak of the ashram, writes about how he came to Sri Aurobindo and The Mother. He says that from an early age, after his college education, he felt a constant inexplicable weight on his shoulders. He used to feel as if he was carrying a chronic physical load yet he didn’t know what it was. But after his first darshan of Sri Aurobindo, when he left the room, he suddenly realized that the load had disappeared – he felt light, the burden had gone, and it never came back. This is the guru’s Grace – he had taken the burden. So we all carry this burden, it’s the burden of personal responsibility. It’s a curse of Ignorance, of feeling that we are lonely conscious agents in an unconscious world, that our well-being is in our own hands, our unaided efforts and we have to control all of life’s enormous unpredictable forces. The more conscious we become the more we realize how laughable this illusion of control is. And it is only then that we can learn to put the burden on Their shoulders, because, it’s really Their burden.

To the extent that this can be done sincerely, by the building and the practice of the proper attitude, you start finding that circumstances in your life change. They sometimes change gradually and sometimes suddenly, but in either case you realize that they change miraculously. This has happened in everybody’s life. I think all of us here can confirm that many things that we thought would be very difficult – with an invocation to The Mother and an offering to Her, become much easier. You find that even if you have to go through it; there is a strength and a help constantly with you, easing the journey. Little miracles continue to become your everyday experience. Her grace surrounds you. This is the power of putting the burden on her shoulders. It is an aspect of surrender. This is offering. Surrender is a more complete and integral thing but offering is an indispensable part of it .

Quiet Mind and Freedom of the Self
So, by doing this we create space within ourselves. More and more we feel free. More and more we feel unburdened. We realize that we have some control over the thoughts which surround us, which are trying to enter us. They don’t control us. And then we begin coming into contact with a part in us which is completely untouched and which cannot be touched, because it is another dimension. This is the Purusha.

To discover this other dimension it is helpful to begin with the inner mind. The subtler operations of the mind, the deeper contemplative thoughts are coming from the inner mind, it is a more conscious aspect of prakriti. The purusha is not the inner mind; the purusha is separate from the inner mind. In yogic terminology, the inner mind is called the inner instrument (antahkarana) – but inner mind can become the first reflective instrument in prakriti of the purusha. In this way, by reflection, the inner mind can develop silence. Even when thoughts are circling in the outer mind, you are aware of them but not identified with them, they are not happening to you or by you, they are happening in you but not to you. This is how we can form a part of the mind which is untouched by thoughts. That is what Sri Aurobindo calls ‘quiet mind.’ Quiet mind is not silent mind. But quiet mind is the beginning, it is the necessary precondition to arrive at freedom of the Nature. Freedom of the Self lies behind the freedom of the nature. To the extent that we develop a quiet mind, we also start becoming aware of the presence of the purusha behind it, supporting it, which is what it reflects. It is a witnessing presence. We may become aware of this through these exercises of trying to watch the thoughts and clearing a space in the inner mind which refuses entry to them. But this awareness comes upon us unexpectedly, unpredictably. It can dawn on us at any stage of the exercise, It can come in glimpses and then as a steady presence or it may establish itself all at once. We realize that it is another dimension coexisting with the operations of what we call the mind. This is why we can become partially aware of it even before establishing the quiet mind. Thus one can contact freedom of the Self, which is something intrinsic within us, the purusha which is conscious and free. But this does not involve itself in action; it is an inert witnessing Outsider. In the meantime action continues in us by the power of Nature, Prakriti. As it says in the Gita, Prakriti and its modes will run you, whether the ego is active or not. Sri Aurobindo’s first major discovery after the Nirvana was this, it didn’t matter that he had Nirvana and had no initiative to act, Prakriti would make him act, make him speak. He was to give a political speech the next day, but had no will to give it after realizing Nirvana. But his teacher asked him to go up to the podium and allow the speech to be delivered through him and this is just what happened – he witnessed himself giving the speech, though he had no will to give it.

Change of Nature and Surrender
Thus Nature will continue to run in us, even if we find the freedom of the Self. Of course, Sri Aurobindo also tells us that Purusha has power over Prakriti. It is not just the witness, sakshi, but the giver of sanction, anumanta. But this sanction does not transform or change the quality of the nature, it either allows it to run its course or to cease from action. This is why developing the quiet mind servss such an important first step. Not only does it give us access to the presence of the Purusha, it can also become the beginning for a reorganization of the Prakriti. Nature, prakriti in us in its intrinsic form is unregenerate, it hasn’t been organized, it hasn’t been set into any kind of perfection. This is a very important part of this yoga – to perfect the nature, to transform the nature. That takes a very long time, but in the meantime one can begin by bringing certain elements into it, bringing calm into it, establishing a quiet mind, making it receptive to a higher prakriti, to the Mother’s Force rather than to the lower prakriti, the force of Nature, and then trying to draw on that constantly, in different actions and activities of the life.

It is when one begins this process of transforming the Nature, that one finds that there is so much unconsciousness in us, of which we are completely unaware. We realize that the human being is so complex, so deep, it’s literally like what the psychoanalysts say – our conscious surface personality is just the tip of an enormous iceberg. There is so much about ourselves that we don’t know that starts surfacing. And then this word ‘surrender’ starts taking on significance and meaning, because we progressively realize that we are so helpless in front of our own nature. Today I may find that I have some realization, even spiritual realization of some kind, but that I am still completely helpless in so many other ways. So then you realize the practical necessity of surrender, and learn to call on some higher power, to call on The Mother for Her help. And that is a movement of the psychic being in us, the movement of calling, the movement of surrender, that then starts making the Grace active in our lives in a detailed manner, a detailed Grace.

The Dynamic of Aspiration and Grace
The whole yoga of Sri Aurobindo condenses itself to the first sentence of the book The Mother:  “There are two powers that alone can effect in their conjunction the great and difficult thing which is the aim of our endeavour, a fixed and unfailing aspiration from below and a supreme Grace from above that answers.” This double process, this engine, this dynamic action of aspiration and grace, an unfailing call from below and a supreme Grace from above that answers, needs to become active in one’s life and that is a critical stage in the yoga.

One of you asked if the realization of the psychic is the first step of this yoga. You may think of it in this way, but then that is a very big step; realization of the psychic is already an advanced realization. We have to look at earlier stages, steps to the psychic realization that need to establish themselves, become realizations. One of these critical realizations which needs to establish itself is this engine, yantra, this double dynamic of aspiration and grace. I would say this realization is the beginning of the Integral Yoga. One knows that somewhere at the centre of one’s being there is something called a psychic aspiration that has been lit that cannot be quenched, that cannot be extinguished and that in response to this constant aspiration something from above is responding constantly, constantly. The perception of this can be obscured but it can’t be extinguished. This is the beginning of the Integral Yoga.

Jivatman and the Psychic Being
One of you asked about the difference between what Sri Aurobindo calls the jivatman and what he calls the psychic being. Things like jivatman, psychic being, etc., these are words until you realize them. One can have a sort of mental understanding of these things, and the mental understanding is helpful – this is why Sri Aurobindo has given us these words, because when one has some kind of experience or realization one needs a map, otherwise one may be confused. You don’t know what it is that you have realized, you may have realized a part of some spiritual condition and think that you have had the whole realization. Many people make this kind of mistake. I have encountered a number of people who think that they have gone beyond Sri Aurobindo and The Mother in their realization. And then they start professing their “advanced teachings” and inducting disciples. This is why it’s important to have a sincere understanding, within one’s present limits, and a sincere aspiration for true understanding, of what Sri Aurobindo and the Mother have written. But we cannot have a clear understanding of what they have written about until we experience these things. Once you experience it the words become alive. The words are already living but you don’t know the life of those words until you experience it in your own life.

It’s enough to know that jivatman belongs to the akshara part of the being; in other words, it is immutable; it doesn’t enter into time. Jivatman is like a soul blueprint that exists in some kind of soul space, a spiritual space, eternal spiritual space. From it there is a projection that enters time – that is the psychic being. This also projects itself and stands behind the mental, vital and physical sheaths of the nature as the mental, vital and physical purushas.

The one becomes the many by this mechanism. One atman, paramatman becomes many, one purusha becomes many purushas. In the Gita there is this correction to the earlier Sankhya. The earlier Sankhya believed that there is one prakriti but many purushas, since many individualities mean many subjectivities. The Gita gives a corrective to this; it says there is one purusha and one prakriti. Then how do we account for the many subjectivities that we are, the many living beings, jivas? The one supreme Purusha has represented itself to itself as many witnessing centers. It is as if it has separate concentrations within itself. Each of these self-concentrations is an individualized purusha, what Sri Aurobindo calls the “central being” of each individual. Central being – he uses this term for the jivatman which is like our spiritual blueprint which remains outside time, but in a dynamic sense, it is jivatman’s projection, on one particular plane, which constitutes the location of each person’s central being in manifest space. It still hasn’t entered into time and the process of change but it is a purusha because the central being is each individual’s principal mode of being, what determines his or her swabhava. The dynamic law of becoming of this swabhava is what is called swadharma; this is the manifesting quality in time. So the location of the central being becomes the determinant of one’s predominant law of being and becoming. If the central being is the mental purusha one will be of the brahmin proclivity; if it is the vital purusha one may be of the kshatriya or vaishya proclivity and if it is the physical purusha, one will have the sudra proclivity or predisposition. This is how central being is related to swadharma. The jivatman projects itself as the mental purusha, the vital purusha and the physical purusha but one of these is the central being. The jivatman also projects itself as our innermost being or psychic being and this also bears the predominant characteristic of the central being. In the Vedantic tradition, this is expressed in terms of the Purusha. The predominant Indian tradition is a patriarchal tradition so this purusha based expression is the only one which is traditionally understood. That’s the reason why in the Veda you have the Purusha Sukta, which makes the divisions of Purusha into the varnas, the basis of swabhava and swadharma; the Brahmin, Kshatriya, Vaishaya and Sudra are born out of the parts of the Supreme Purusha.

Surrender to The Mother
But these multiple concentrations of the Purusha may also be seen as the self-becomings of the Para Prakriti, the Shakti or Conscious Power of the Purusha, because after all this concentration is tapas, chit-tapas, an activity of the Supreme Prakriti. The Gita brings this out where it describes individuality in terms of the self-becoming of the Para Prakriti – para prakritir jiva bhuta. This points to an alternate formulation which prioritized the importance of the female or matriarchal principle in the understanding of swabhava, swadharma, the central being and the jivaman. Sri Aurobindo has revived once more this matriarchal formulation – through the importance of para-prakriti, in fact, the centrality of para-prakriti, because without this formulation, we cannot think of a transformation of Nature. So for him the more significant formulation is what emerges from his text “The Mother”  – that the central being is born out of one of the four aspects of the Divine Mother, out of Maheshwari, Mahakali, Mahalakshmi or Mahasaraswati. This therefore also constitutes the qualitative essence of each of our psychic beings. So though we may say that it is the jivatman which projects its emanations or representations as a Purusha into the jiva, it cannot do this without the power of concentration, tapas of the Prakriti. It is this which precipitates Purusha into the jiva – as the central being, standing behind the mind, vital or physical and the psychic being, bearing the predominant quality of the central being. It is this quality which will determine whether your activity is proceeding mainly out of the mind, mainly out of your feelings or your willed experience or mainly out of the body. This is what lends the idea of Swadharma .

Swadharma may be thought of as a law of self-becoming. In the Gita, Krishna says to Arjuna that it is much better to follow one’s own swadharma, even badly, than to be good at another’s swadharma. This issue is of great importance in the Gita because Arjuna is being exhorted to arise out of his despondency and take part in battle as a kshatriya. But though Swadharma can be a convenient starting point in our yoga, it is not something to be made a fetish of. Here, whatever one’s swadharma may be, it needs to be surrendered to The Mother because the Mother is the integral power of Becoming. Your central and psychic beings may have been born out of Mahakali but Sri Aurobindo is not asking you to make your surrender to Mahakali or to istadevi. He is asking you to surrender to The Mother. The reason is that she is the integral power of Becoming. She not only integrates you and brings the other powers into action in your life, she is also integrating the entire universe, because she knows what to bring into your consciousness and when, in a harmonious fashion so as to create a coordinated universal growth towards the supramental manifestation.

The supramental life is one in which All is one and yet each is different – but it is governed by the Oneness. The power which controls the supramental consciousness is the integral power of The Mother – Aditi, the central circle in the Mother’s symbol. This is what we are called to make our surrender to.

The Action of the Four Powers of The Mother
The four Mahashaktis of The Mother are all supramental powers in their origin, so each is active on all the parts of the being, though it may have a more concentrated expression in one part. This is just as in the case of the modes of Prakriti, the gunas – sattwa, rajas and tamas. Tamas is more settled in the physical, rajas is more settled in the vital, satwa is more settled in the mind, but each is active in the entire nature. It is similar with the action of the four Mahashaktis – Maheshwari acts more characteristically through the mind, Mahakali more through the vital, the higher vital, the will part of the vital, Mahalakshami acts more through the emotional part of the vital and Mahasaraswati acts more predominantly though the physical being, developing and expressing its skills. But, at the same time, each is active on all four parts of the being. So it isn’t really possible to isolate their action in any one part of the being though there is a certain centrality of action. There is an action centered in one of these parts of the being depending on the swadharma. Children of Maheshwari are the Brahmins, Children of Mahakali are the Kshatriyas, Children of Mahalakshmi are the Vaishyas, Children of Mahasaraswati are the Sudras. So the central being will locate itself accordingly, and the psychic being will take on a specific quality accordingly.

Growth and Transformation of the Psychic Being
But whatever the quality expressed by the psychic being, it is also potentially of infinite quality. Behind the psychic being is the psychic entity and the psychic entity is a portion of the original integral Mother, Aditi, Para Prakriti, the central Supramental Shakti. Thus it is capable of brining forth from its own potential, powers of the Mother which are unexpressed in its present constitution. It can constantly transform itself under the guidance and action of the Supreme Mother. This transformation of the psychic being is at the center of the Integral Yoga of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother. Sri Aurobindo speaks of the Integral Yoga in terms of what he calls the Triple Transformation. Ultimately, this triple transformation is accomplished through the growth and transformation of the psychic being. The first transformation is the transformation of the inner and outer nature by the power of the psychic, the psychicisation – the coming to the front of the psychic being and its recasting of the mind, life and body into its own principle. The second transformation is the cosmic or spiritual transformation. Here it is the psychic being that must unite and identify itself with the Cosmic or Universal Being, with what Sri Aurobindo has called the Overmind. The psychic purusha must become one with the Overmental Purusha and transform the nature by the power of the Overmental Shakti. And finally, the third transformation is the supramental transformation. And here it is the psychic being that has to become supramentalized. The psychic purusha must unite and identify itself with the Supramental Purusha and transform the entire nature by the power of the Supramental Shakti. The Mother says that the psychic being holds the key to supramentalization. And it is a supramentalized psychic being that in its physical aspect can bring down the Supermind into the cells of the body.

So the key to this very complex growth and transformation of the psychic being is in the hands of The Mother, the central or integral Supramental Shakti and nobody else. None of the emanated Powers of the Mother can do it. They can be deployed by her to do it. Into our lives she brings these powers. We are put through various experiences in which various powers of the Mother aid us, act on us, act through us in our journey. But the central granter, the giver of the yoga and its movements, its circumstances, its inner and outer growth is the Mother, the supreme Mother at the transcendent centre and origin of the manifestation.

Let us end with a meditation.

Debashish Banerji
Foundation Course for Facilitators
(16.08.06 : At Van Nivas, Nainital)



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2 thoughts on “Detachment and The Integral Yoga

  1. Anonymous says:

    Dear Debashish,
    I just want to say thanks for making the transcript of this talk available online. Lately my spiritual practice has suffered because I am in a very mental environment at grad school. But reading your words here really helped me and gave me a lot of clarity. There was a palpable force that came through and touched me deeply.
    This was a really insightful piece. I'll probably end up quoting it on my blog.
    All the best,

  2. Anonymous says:

    Thank you for bringing this speech to our notice. I did not read this speech before. I liked certian parts of the speech which emphasizes the importance of nature and the role it plays in finding oneself. But I also had one question about a certain part of the speech which I would ask Debashish how that was possible.
    DB says:”Thus Nature will continue to run in us, even if we find the freedom of the Self. Of course, Sri Aurobindo also tells us that Purusha has power over Prakriti. It is not just the witness, sakshi, but the giver of sanction, anumanta. But this sanction does not transform or change the quality of the nature, it either allows it to run its course or to cease from action. This is why developing the quiet mind servss such an important first step. Not only does it give us access to the presence of the Purusha, it can also become the beginning for a reorganization of the Prakriti. Nature, prakriti in us in its intrinsic form is unregenerate, it hasn’t been organized, it hasn’t been set into any kind of perfection. This is a very important part of this yoga – to perfect the nature, to transform the nature. That takes a very long time, but in the meantime one can begin by bringing certain elements into it, bringing calm into it, establishing a quiet mind, making it receptive to a higher prakriti, to the Mother’s Force rather than to the lower prakriti, the force of Nature, and then trying to draw on that constantly, in different actions and activities of the life.”
    I liked this above section of the speech becuase it tells us that nature is not transformed. It can either be stopped or used for whatever purposes but it is not transformed to a diviner and purer nature. It can be frustrating and painstaking job to change our nature but the difficulty can be eased by surrendering to the Mother and let her transform the nature. Mother is the higher nature only She can change our lower nature.
    DB:”So though we may say that it is the jivatman which projects its emanations or representations as a Purusha into the jiva, it cannot do this without the power of concentration, tapas of the Prakriti.”
    This single sentence also makes us realise that even the detachment needs the power of prakriti for the reversal of conciousness from dispersed state to a concentrated or withness state.
    In the Gospel of Ramakrishna the Master says that
    when one really really feels that it is only the nature that does the work all the time then one is absolutely liberated from ego. It is when one feels all the time that it is nature that does all the work and not me or this kind of meditation can also be helpful for the sacrifice of the lower nature to the divine above.
    DB says: “But his teacher asked him to go up to the podium and allow the speech to be delivered through him and this is just what happened – he witnessed himself giving the speech, though he had no will to give it”.
    Here I feel that Sri Aurobindo willed it otherwise there is no way nature can work without the will of purusha. But it must have been a passive will.
    Overall this is an excellent speech. Very nice.

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