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Integral (Purna) Yoga?

Integral yoga is a modern version of the traditional yoga systems of India. Many contemporary philosophers felt that traditional yoga gives too much importance to the attainment of the salvation and too much emphasis to the next life that the present life is neglected. This yoga teaches that what you do everyday (karma) is important (Although traditional yoga always had karma or yoga of work as part of the arsenal all the time. It is the emphasis or importance on attaining the consciousness, outside space-time that is of issue here.) Integral yoga gives yoga an affirmative and dynamic form. It places the spiritual ideal of life on the foundation of an integrated world-view that takes into account the evolutionary and historical perspective of life.

Integral Yoga evoke three levels of integration: the integration of the inner environment (or harmonization of the human personality), the integration of the human psyche with its external environment, and the integration of the psyche with its ultimate spiritual Ground, or the Divine. It is a world-affirmative and body-positive spirituality that skillfully combines self-transcendence with love, compassion, and reverence for all life.

For integral yoga the ultimate goal of life is complete self-integration. Action, love, wisdom and peace are equally important elements in such self-integration. The yoga of love or devotion (Bhakti yoga) is perfectly right in affirming love as the fulfillment of life and as an essential ingredient of salvation. But integral yoga points out that love is inseparable from wisdom and selfless action. Love in its spiritual essence is an attribute of wisdom. It is active interest in the progress and betterment of society. Love is undivided loyalty to life's higher values.

The yoga of knowledge (Jnana yoga) is perfectly right in affirming knowledge as the fulfillment of life and an essential ingredient of salvation. But integral yoga points out that knowledge is inseparable from love and action. Knowledge in its essence is comprehensive awareness of the nature of existence.

The yoga of action (Karma yoga) is perfectly right in affirming action as the essence of human reality and as an essential condition of salvation. But integral yoga points out that action is not merely a means to self-purification resulting in salvation.

An unbridgeable gulf is believed to exist between nature and spirit, between body and soul. All forms of self-torture and mortification of the flesh are invented in order to help in the triumph of the spirit. According to integral yoga, freedom is not emancipation from Nature, but emancipation in Nature. The balanced growth of personality-complete self-integration or integral self-realization-is the ideal for those practicing this yoga.

According to integral yoga, the values designated spiritual are no less an essential part of the spirit of Nature than the values designated material. The spirit may be defined as the higher mode of fulfillment of the creativity of Nature. And Nature may be regarded as the self-expressive energy and evolutionary dynamism of the spirit. So, both nature and spirit are equally important.

The dualism of matter and mind, nature and spirit, is inherent in the same evolutionary flux. Spiritual values emerge naturally and dualistically out of the organized and intelligent fulfillment of material values. When man intelligently co-operates with Nature, he gets rewarded with the treasures of the spirit. Integration of personality lays the foundation for an integrated outlook on life.

In integral self-realization, the growth of personality is as important as the vision of the super-personal. It implies organized fulfillment of normal human desires. The growth of personality brings power and love. It represents a vision of new values and the hidden possibilities of life. Integral yoga aims at the unity of personality growth and spiritual intuition. It affirms the ideal of integrated personality as a creative center of expression of the external.

There are three essential ingredients in the realization of complete self-integration: psychic integration, cosmic integration, and existential integration. Integral yoga is the art of harmonious and creative living on the basis of the integral experience of Being. It aims at opening the springs of creative inspiration hidden in the human psyche. It aims at that serenity of self poise which preserves the light of the eternal amidst the storm and stress of social living.

Next Topic: Ashtanga Yoga, The Eight-Limbs of Yoga

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