The human being is a walk, a process from and towards the divine, a voyage of return to a place never abandoned.
We are an adventure that begins and ends in ourselves, in our reality. We are a path that starts and finishes here.
We are a journey that is initiated when we take ourselves seriously, and which concludes when we cease to perceive ourselves as something separate from reality. The ego, or the feeling of being apart from everything and everyone, is no more than an absurdity, an illusion.
The sin of idolatry is “to objectify” oneself, which leads us to believe there is something or someone who lives in illusion or can be enlightened.
Yoga is an endeavor to reunite what has never been separated, with the meaning of developing full consciousness that we are not objects, and that no one or nothing exists that can or must be enlightened.
What is pūrṇa-yoga?
The Sanskrit word pūrṇa means ‘complete’, ‘total’ or ‘integral’. Pūrṇa-yoga simultaneously opens different doors for us to discover and integrate ourselves: the doors of action, body, breathing, heart, energy, mind, sex, observation, sound and word, among others.
Through integral yoga, our different facets as human beings can be harmonized, unified, and ultimately, transcended through a process that includes the path of action, through karma-yoga; the emotional, through bhakti-yoga; the mental, through rāja-yoga, the way of self-inquiry, to which jñāna-yoga invites us, and many others.
It can be said that pūrṇa-yoga is a synthesis of the immense and ancient wisdom of Viśva-dharma.
Any system unconcerned with our totality, and directed only to a part or a particular aspect, will merely increase our suffering and our conflicts. Pūrṇa-yoga refers to the process of integrating each and every one of our aspects, so that we can reunite in turn with the Whole and be elevated to the plane of divine existence.
It is a movement that leads us above the intellect, allowing us to transcend the intellectual judgments executed by the prism of the mind, so that we may perceive the light of intuition. In this way, our actions, emotions and sense perceptions become “intuitivized”.
Rather than struggling against the darkness, or investing time and energy to bring the sun into our room, this path suggests that we simply open our windows and make ourselves accessible, so that the golden rays of sunlight may enter and warm our frozen heart. There is no other way to dispel the darkness. Opening doors and windows means shedding all our defenses, to let what is impossible to achieve through effort, happen.
In integral yoga, renunciation of the body is not essential to reach the soul. If enlightenment is the realization of totality, our aspiration must be inclusive; never exclusive.
Our longing must be rooted in the integration of all values, whether classified as material or spiritual, for any such division is illusory. Matter is not the counterpart of spirit; the manifested retains within itself the unmanifested, and spirit lies in the depths of the material.
Yoga is not to flee from the earthly, but to integrate it with the divine; its intention is not only the transcendence of illusion, or mundane consciousness, but to manifest the celestial in this world, to create a paradise on earth. Into dark ignorance, yoga brings the power of light.
Śrī Aurobindo refers to his integral yoga as “having God descend to the mundane”. In Hassidism we find very similar idea, expressed in Hebrew as “laasot lo dira ba tajtonim” or “make Him a dwelling place below”. If we go deeper, we will discover that the descent of heaven to earth is actually nothing more than the revelation that any division of material from spiritual —or above from below—has no existence beyond our egoic perspective, and that there is no need to make anything descend, because heaven is much closer than we believe, and God dwells within us.
The mind is made up of different pieces, segments, or fragments; it is a collection of innumerable external opinions, ideas, conclusions, and concepts accumulated since our earliest days on the planet from everyone we have ever associated with, who themselves have been formed in turn, by others. Therefore, the mind is the history of humanity.
We are a creation of society, since we have been programmed by it. What we call “I” is merely the aggregate of ideas about ourselves which has been acquired from disparate sources, not necessarily coherent with one another.
The mind divides an original unity into opposing parts. Through the mind, we perceive a world of opposites, and thus, a reality in conflict: light and darkness, just and unjust, good and evil. Although the only thing that really exists is light, thought creates its counterpart: darkness. Although we can only perceive different intensities of heat, the mind creates its opposite: cold. The intellect separates life from death, inhalation from exhalation, night from day, the internal from the external.
Psychological time, which is thought, further divides us into what we were, what we are and what we should be or hope to be. Therefore, if we examine what we are, we can see that as ego, we are opposed, divided, and fragmented. As thinking instruments, and therefore, fractured in our foundations, we live projecting our internal dichotomy on the external physical reality.
The reality perceived through this instrument appears evidently fractured, not because it really is, but because the mind has divided reality by projecting itself upon it. Our being is so fragmented that we cannot claim to have an experience of totality, a vision of the Whole. Thus, the main obstacle to a holistic vision of reality is the intellect. Due to its very structure and nature, thought has no chance at all of perceiving life in its totality, because is itself division.
As long as opposites exist, there will be conflicts and we will continue to flee from one extreme only to rush headlong to the other, striving to obtain what we like and to reject what we don’t like.
Patañjali defines yoga as yogaś-citta-vṛtti-nirodhaḥ
Pūrṇa-yoga is a path that leads us to transcend mental activity and awaken to the sole reality, a situation in which consciousness perceives without necessarily being limited, without creating an illusory world of dual opposites.