“Truth of philosophy is of a merely theoretical value unless it can be lived,” Sri Aurobindo wrote, “and we have therefore tried in the ‘Synthesis of Yoga’ to arrive at a synthetical view of the principles and methods of the various lines of spiritual self-discipline and the way in which they can lead to an integral divine life in the human existence.”
Sri Aurobindo discusses at considerable length the three great yogic paths of Knowledge, Works and Love, and comments more briefly on other paths: Hatha Yoga, Raja Yoga and the Tantric Yogas. In the final part of the book, the “Yoga of Self-Perfection”, he describes his own system of yoga, known as the Integral Yoga, through which his philosophy of supramental transformation and conscious evolution could be lived in life and finally the transformation of Man into Superman could be achieved.
Unlike the other systems, the aim of the Integral Yoga is not only to enter into the divine consciousness but to bring it down on earth to transform mind and life and body. Its principle is “a self-surrender, a giving up of the human being into the being, consciousness, power, delight of the Divine”, as a result of which the Divine himself “shall by the light of his presence and guidance perfect the human being in all the forces of the Nature for a divine living”.
Contents: Introduction: The Conditions of the Synthesis;
Part One: The Yoga of Divine Works;
Part Two: The Yoga of Integral Knowledge;
Part Three: The Yoga of Divine Love;
Part Four: The Yoga of Self-Perfection.
Subjects: Yoga, Philosophy, Psychology.
“Yoga-siddhi, the perfection that comes from the practice of Yoga, can be best attained by the combined working of four great instruments. There is, first, the knowledge of the truths, principles, powers and processes that govern the realisation — sastra. Next comes a patient and persistent action on the lines laid down by the knowledge, the force of our personal effort — utsaha. There intervenes, third, uplifting our knowledge and effort into the domain of spiritual experience, the direct suggestion, example and influence of the Teacher — guru. Last comes the instrumentality of Time — kala; for in all things there is a cycle of their action and a period of the divine movement.” – Sri Aurobindo (The Synthesis of Yoga, pp.53)
“All life is a secret Yoga, an obscure growth of Nature towards the discovery and fulfilment of the divine principle hidden in her which becomes progressively less obscure, more self-conscient and luminous, more self-possessed in the human being by the opening of all his instruments of knowledge, will, action, life to the Spirit within him and in the world. Mind, life,body, all the forms of our nature are the means of this growth but they find their last perfection only by opening out to something
beyond them. . .
Intellectual, volitional, ethical, emotional, aesthetic and physical training and improvement are all so much to the good, but they are only in the end a constant movement in a circle without any last delivering and illumining aim, unless they arrive at a point when they can open themselves to the power and presence of the Spirit and admit its direct workings. This direct working effects a conversion of the whole being which is the indispensable condition of our real perfection. To grow into the truth and power of the Spirit and by the direct action of that power to be made a fit channel of its self-expression,-a living of man in the Divine and a divine living of the Spirit in humanity,-will therefore be the principle and the whole object of an integral Yoga of self-perfection.” – Sri Aurobindo (The Synthesis of Yoga, pp.591-92)
A Modern Classic on Yoga – Review by David Frawley, May 5, 2007
Originally found on Amazon.com
Of the many books available on Yoga in book stores today, very few deal with the subject in any real depth. Most cater to the popular image of Yoga as yoga postures for physical well-being. Few challenge the reader to a deeper vision of Yoga or of their own inner nature. The Synthesis of Yoga stands apart from the available literature on Yoga, expressing the soul of Yoga to the deepest intelligence within us.
In fact, there are few works of such magnitude and comprehensiveness about Yoga ever written, and probably nothing comparable in the English language. Yet more importantly, this profound compendium on Yoga was not written from an academic or scholarly perspective, or from the view of those who work primarily with the physical yoga. It is a study of Yoga written by one of the greatest yogis of modern India, Sri Aurobindo, who has a reputation of spiritual greatness in India that exceeds Mahatma Gandhi, Tagore and other more well known figures in the West. There is probably no work of such scope and grandeur on Yoga available, and none by an author who was speaking from his own direct experience and realization.
The Synthesis of Yoga deals with Yoga as a means of Self-realization, God-realization and the transformation of humanity. It addresses all the classical yogic paths of knowledge, devotion, works and meditation, including Raja Yoga in all of its aspects. In this book, the term “Integral Yoga,” first arises, combining all aspects of Yoga into a comprehensive system for the full development of all of our potentials on all levels of our being. The book shows the relevance of Yoga to all that we are, do, or are meant to become.
As a student, teacher and writer on Yoga and related teachings for more than thirty years, I cannot emphasize enough the importance at looking at Yoga the deeper and integral manner that is so eloquently expressed in the Synthesis of Yoga. It is recommended reading to all those who want to approach deeper or inner aspects of Yoga. The book will transform your idea of Yoga and open many new dimensions of practice and realization for you that you had not previously considered possible. I don’t think anyone can seriously read the book and not come away without a sense of the vastness of real Yoga practice. The book will provide you with a deep understanding of the essence of Yoga, far beyond the common stereotypes of yoga as a physical or psychological practice for personal enhancement. The Synthesis of Yoga contains the keys for restoring Yoga as a deep spiritual practice with both an ancient and a futuristic vision.
In these days in which Yoga has largely been reduced to an exercise or fitness system, it is important to remember the spiritual orientation and purpose that classical Yoga was all about. The Synthesis of Yoga does this and much more, not from the ancient past or a poorly translated foreign language, but from a master teacher of the modern world, an eloquent poet and profound philosopher.
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The Synthesis of Yoga study guide by David Hutchinson, a point by point summary of Sri Aurobindo’s The Synthesis of Yoga
History of Revision and Publishing of The Synthesis of Yoga
SABDA catalog listing for The Synthesis of Yoga
Goodreads.com listing for The Synthesis of Yoga
Lectures on The Yoga of Works from The Synthesis of Yoga, given by M.P. Pandit in Auroville in the early ’70s