What is the basic principle underlying Sri Aurobindo's teaching?
Sri Aurobindo's teaching states that there is a one Being and Consciousness involved here in Matter which is impelled to enlarge and develop towards a greater and greater perfection. Life and Mind are only the first two steps of this evolution. The next step of the evolution must be towards development of a greater spiritual and supramental Consciousness which will release the involved Divinity in things after which it will become possible for life to manifest perfection.
What are the main lines of practice of Sri Aurobindo's Yoga?
In Sri Aurobindo's view, Man, at present, lives mostly in his surface mind, life, and body. There is an inner being within which pushes him to a constant pursuit of a greater beauty, harmony, power, and knowledge. He has to awake to the greater possibilities of this inner being and purify and orient by its drive towards the Truth the rest of the nature. There can follow afterwards an opening upward to the several ranges of consciousness between the ordinary human mind and the Supramental Truth-Consciousness, and their power brought down into the mind, life, and body. This will enable the full power of the Truth-Consciousness to work in the nature.
How is Sri Aurobindo's Yoga related to earlier systems of Yoga?
There are many things belonging to the earlier systems that are necessary on this path—an opening of the mind to a greater wideness and to a sense of the Self and the Infinite, an emergence into the cosmic consciousness, mastery over the desires and passions. An outward asceticism is not essential, but the conquest of desire and attachment and a control over the body and its needs and instincts is indispensable. There is a combination of the way of knowledge through the Mind's discernment between Reality and appearance, the heart's way of devotion, love, and surrender, and the way of works turning the will away from motives of self- interest to the Truth and the service of a greater reality than the ego. For the whole being has to be trained so that it can respond and be transformed when it will be possible for a greater Light and Force to work on the nature.
Is this not a very difficult spiritual discipline?
The opening of all parts of the being to a conversion through a descent and working of the higher Consciousness cannot be done at once or in a short time or by any rapid or miraculous transformation. Many steps have to be taken by the seeker before this is possible. The process of this discipline is therefore long and difficult, but sustained effort in this direction brings the seeker ever closer to the goal of this Yoga.