Synthesis of Yoga Practicum (April 22, 2020) - Week 1

Organizers

Marco Masi (@MarcoMasi), Geoffrey Edwards (@Geoffrey_Edwards), Mateo Needham (@Matteo)

Title of reading group

Synthesis of Yoga Practicum

Proposed meeting time

From 12 noon Pacific Time to between 1:30 or 2 p.m. Pacific Time, every second and fourth Wednesday of each month.

Start date: April 22, 2020 (suggested start date)

End date: the end date is open-ended. The exercise will take the time that it takes. Probably at least a year.

Description

We will be leading an open-ended reading and discussion of Sri Aurobindo’s “Synthesis of Yoga” with a focus on the practice of integral yoga as this finds expression in Sri Aurobindo’s work. The group is open to all participants although we may cap the number of participants if this grows unwieldy, or split the group into two.

About ‘The Synthesis of Yoga’ in Sri Aurobindo’s words.

“What we propose in our Yoga is nothing less than to break up the whole formation of our past and present which makes up the ordinary material and mental man and to create a new centre of vision and a new universe of activities in ourselves in ourselves which shall constitute a divine humanity or a superhuman nature… Mind has to cease to be mind and become brilliant with something beyond it. Life has to change into a thing vast and calm and intense and powerful that can no longer recognise its old blind eager narrow self of petty impulse and desire. Even the body has to submit to a mutation and be no longer the clamorous animal or the impeding clod it now is, but become instead a conscious servant and radiant instrument and living form of the spirit.”

“The Synthesis of Yoga was not meant to give a method for all to follow. Each side of the Yoga was dealt with separately with all its possibilities, and an indication [was given] as to how they meet so that one starting from knowledge could realise Karma and Bhakti also and so with each path. It was intended when the Self-Perfection was finished, to suggest a way in which all could be combined, but this was never written.”

Front matter:

© Sri Aurobindo Ashram Trust, Pondicherry, India
ISBN: 978-81-7058-615-9

An older edition of “The Synthesis of Yoga” and other writings can also be downloaded in pdf format for free here: link

A series of audio recordings by Marlenka: link

About Sri Aurobindo

Sri Aurobindo evolved a new method of spiritual practice, which he called the Integral Yoga. Its aim is a spiritual realisation that not only liberates man’s consciousness but also transforms his nature. In 1926, with the help of his spiritual collaborator, the Mother, he founded the Sri Aurobindo Ashram.
For a life sketch see here: Link

Complementary Reading & Additional Media

Other relevant books by Sri Aurobindo :

  1. The Life Divine (see recordings from The Life Divine Reading Group link)
  2. Savitri (see the page link or the recordings from the Savitri Reading Group, which is ongoing link)
  3. The Secret of the Veda

Reference material useful for further insight and practice*

Letters on Yoga

Reading schedule and session organisation

We will typically read one or more subsections of each chapter in each session. We will read these aloud, each participant reading one paragraph in turn, and then discuss what we have read at the end of each section (eventually clarifying it with quotations from other writings of Sri Aurobindo such as the Letters on Yoga, the Life Divine, Savitri, etc. ). Each session will begin with a five minute meditation and end with a shorter meditation (3 minutes usually). Participants are encouraged to think about how the material applies to their everyday lives and to share aspects of these as this become possible. Even though not necessary, it may help participants to read the relevant chapter ahead of time.

Video conference link

You will need to be logged in with a Zoom account to join the sessions.

Join the Readers Underground.

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Sri Aurobindo is notoriously not an easy read since, in most cases, his writings assume the reader to be already a bit acquainted with the basics of the philosophy of yoga and its terminology. It might therefore be helpful to resort also to other sources as a complement to what we are going to read.

For example, in the first two chapters he uses frequently the term “Nature”, with a somewhat different connotation and in a vaster context than what is usually meant in our common language. In preparation to the reading session I thought it could be useful to let Sri Aurobindo himself explain its meaning from the ‘Essays Divine and Human’ and ‘Letters on Yoga’. I hope this pdf might help: link

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