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Namah Journal


Yoga and our destiny

James Anderson


We have to work on ourselves to attain our destiny. As long as ego is present, we have to use personal effort. First we interiorise our consciousness. Then through yoga, we gradually bring light to the shadows that mask out true nature. Parallel to this, through progressive harmony, a unique individual is created. The ultimate destiny however comes with the surrender of this individuality allowing the Truth to transform everything we are.

Sri Aurobindo calls yoga “the art of conscious self-finding” so it is deeply connected with the making of our destiny. But before we create anything true with our lives, we have to know ourselves first. Destiny is not so much a matter of what we do; it is what we are. We have to know who we are. The doing is a consequence of the being. So yoga too itself is not really something that we do but rather it is something that we become. The aim is to change the state of our existence. Finding our svadharma is a purpose of yoga but that is not enough for Integral Yoga. We have to live and express this Truth in every aspect of our life.Yoga is not only a means of manifesting our destiny. It is our destiny and an end in itself. There can be no greater destiny than to join with the Divine. There can be no greater destiny than collaborating in the Divine Work of opening to the Truth-Consciousness in every aspect of our existence. There can be no greater destiny than becoming a pioneer of the transformation that is still to come.

So how does the journey begin? How do we fulfil our svadharma? Every great endeavour begins with grinding personal effort. There is always an initial phase of blood, sweat and tears. Constantly we have to push through resistance. Everyone has to go through it. Everything shunning the Light of Truth must go. However, as long as ego is present, effort will always be there. Every part of our nature wants its piece of the cake. The will is fragmented. As the different sides of our nature squabble, we pray for guidance and sometimes have to fumble helplessly in the dark. We have to latch onto the noblest part of our nature to get anywhere near the Truth. There is a ‘divine possibility’ in all of us that generally moves us in the right direction. There is always a Higher Force which acts. By surrendering increasingly to this Force, our effort gradually abates.
Yoga also teaches us first to be awake. When we are conscious and awake, we notice for the first time those layers of conditioning that comprise our ‘personality’. When we candidly look at ourselves, what we see amounts to very little that is authentic and true. Everything seems very superficial. What is real and what is false? We have to go deeper to access something more authentic inside of ourselves. So we look below the surface and interiorise our consciousness. There is little truth on the surface and if we live there we amount to little more than a toy for all kinds of different forces. As soon as the orientation changes, the quality of our life starts to expand and deepen. We come closer to our life purpose. We begin to develop a greater immunity to forces outside. We start to rely more and more on our inner resources.

As our consciousness changes direction we seek more guidance within. We dispense with the props and belief-systems that have up to now supported us in life. When we enquire inside we become aware at first of something that watches and stands back from the play of our nature. There is a Witness who merely looks and does not intervene. We learn to follow its example. We try to detach a little from the outside play of shocks and circumstances. It is a source of solidity and strength but the function of the observer only changes when our awareness changes into consciousness. Sri Aurobindo defines consciousness as the “…faculty of being aware of anything through identification. The Divine Consciousness is not only aware but knows and effects. To be aware of a vibration, for instance, does not mean that you know everything about it (1).” Moreover, consciousness is aligned always to Force. With consciousness, full knowledge of the self and everything emerges. This knowledge has an executive action. As Sri Aurobindo says, “Consciousness is cit but also cit śakti (2).”

From Witness to Teacher

So as soon as we identify with this observer and seek to become it, the function of this Witness starts changing. Very gradually, it starts to take on an executive action itself. The relationship becomes more dynamic and intimate. Gradually the Witness becomes our Inner Teacher. If we are going to steer our course through to our destiny this Inner Teacher is indispensable. It is our true pilot. This entity is, in a sense, our true individuality, the Divine Person who has accompanied us through countless previous lives. As soon as we identify with it we start to realise our true identity which is also divine in essence. Our svadharma is to express the divinity that lies buried inside our nature.

At first the instructions of this Teacher are barely audible. It never imposes its will on our nature. It only invites our collaboration and it is this Truth inside that we have to bring out in our yoga. It comes forward by being attentive to its presence. When we follow her commands the connection inside is strengthened and we start to radiate it more and more in every part of our being. We don’t toss away the scriptures and other external helps, but we come to rely more and more on our inner Guide.

To manifest our Truth we have to raise and refine the level of our nature. We have to clear away a lot of inner debris. At the beginning what the observer witnesses is a mess of conflicting wills. Our nature is hopelessly divided and its different sides jar and compete with one another. These discords need to be annulled but we have to rely upon a higher determinism than the mind. As soon as we become truly conscious of these conflicts inside, the nature starts to harmonise and change. It is the Divine Person, our Psychic Being that orchestrates this change. Through it, dispersion moves closer to a state of oneness. Working through harmony, it changes nature’s parts into true instruments for the Divine Work. This harmony radiates outwards in our contacts with the outside world. It is a long and arduous process but by sincere surrender to the Inner Teacher our whole being becomes more of what it is in essence, Divine. Our mode of expression becomes more one of the Truth.

The conversion of our nature can only be achieved through inner work: there is no other way. We come back to effort again but gradually the momentum moves into one of seamless surrender. We learn to align our entire nature with the light of our Truth and soul. A key tool is the practice of self-observation. Self-observation is something which grows by continual practice. It is not work that we can afford to do part-time. When we observe a part of ourselves with consciousness, that part changes and aligns to the Truth. The change will happen automatically if one is connected to the psychic truth inside. This is the true agent of change and the true individual that is present in all of us. At the point from where we first surrender to it, to constantly referring to it in all our inner movements and outer actions, our speech and our silence, when we rise and when we sleep, it gradually steps forward and our being becomes more and more harmonised. Our nature starts to merge more into it. The spirit through the outer form starts to truly shine. One becomes more vast and free; there is a greater feeling of health, abundance and well-being. One must learn to live exclusively there: surely this is the only way to become the true individual who can shape his own destiny.

Working through the body

It is possible to work on the the body and convert our nature. This is very intricate work. The body provides a detailed window into our inner psychology. Everything surfaces there. The body has an affinity with the soul which facilitates this work. Through this inner work, every inner vibration, whether good or bad, comes to the light through the body. We watch inner disharmonies erode our own sense of oneness. We merely observe with our consciousness from top to bottom all that appears. When we observe ourselves with true consciousness, the effect is alchemy. The creases of our nature that rise up to the physical get instantaneously ironed out. We look at ourselves disinterestedly and without judgement and open to the transforming Force from above. We go inside what we see and fully experience the vibration but we maintain our station above. We don’t identify with what we see; our consciousness is cemented to the Truth inside. It just looks and when it looks, there is a spontaneous action. Truth takes the place of distortion. It is marvellous! We let that Light saturate everything we see. This practice turns every wrong movement to right. It harmonises the nature and instils a dynamic peace. It works at every level of our being. Ultimately, it is the only way to transform pain into its true identity, Bliss. Most of all, it installs the Truth into every facet of our being, which is our svadharma.

We should aim to extend this practice into everyday life. The consciousness needs to be always in an alert and attentive state. Above all we must be present, which means to be present in both time and space. We need to be living in the moment and not craving for future favours or dragged downwards by the oppressions of the past. We need to be present and grounded in our very own body because the body is a crucible for change and transformation. Most important, there must always be some link to our Truth inside. Wrong movements will surface throughout the day, but if our consciousness is awake, its light can change them into right.

The reality is, though, nature plays hide and seek with the soul. The nature is repeatedly blindfolded by falsehood and ignorance. When that happens we live in shadow and lose touch with our Truth. When this happens, there is such a feeling of lack. How can one stop this perpetual game? This is a major aim of sadhana and Yoga. Yogic discipline strengthens this sense of vigilance because attentiveness is the key. Yogic practice reinforces our identity with the Truth.

But the poise must be one of complete surrender. We have to consecrate our life to the Truth. There are no shortcuts but if one is blessed with a mantra, the Divine Name, which vibrates harmoniously and truly inside, the game will desist more rapidly. Through sincerity and repetition, the mantra can vibrate spontaneously inside. It can take over our being and fill in these gaps of unconsciousness.

Individuality and destiny

The entire process of self-finding towards our true destiny runs parallel to the erection of our unique individuality. To make our destiny, we have first to become authentic human beings. By definition, this is a conscious process. Through yoga, our individuality becomes more focused and discrete. This conscious individuality is essential in the making of our destiny. I have found that the work takes two forms. In a sense, one is preparatory to the other but both seem to run simultaneously side by side. The first task is to dismantle whatever conceals the truth of our being and the second is to open the gates to our divine potential. Many layers of habits and conditioning need to be peeled away before our true human-hood can shine forth.

It is by a progressive harmony that the true individual is created. Individuality needs to be cemented and harmony is the glue which holds it all together. Harmony is a principal attribute of the Psychic Being. Starting from a narrow base this harmony will, with attention, expand and grow. As the harmony becomes more perfect, a true integer gradually evolves. It takes considerable time and patience.When our individuality consciously develops, we become more able to shape our unique destiny. As our will aligns closer to the Supreme, we walk a path of joyful synchronicity. We manifest. At the end, when our individuality becomes one our destiny is no longer in our hands. There is no sense of separation; every vestige of ego is effaced. That is because everything that we are is surrendered to the Supreme. The individuality constructed by will and effort is laid at Her feet. The Truth consumes and transforms us. This is the supreme destiny of the Integral Yoga.


1. Pandit MP (compiled by). Dictionary of Sri Aurobindo’s Yoga. Twin Lakes WI, USA: Lotus Light Publications; 1992, p. 35.

2. Ibid.

James Anderson is a member of SAIIIHR and coordinating editor of NAMAH.

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