Integral Yoga is the path to enlightenment put to paper by Sri Aurobindo, an Indian activist, guru and philosopher. After playing an important role in the liberation of India, he retreated to Pondicherry in the South of India to undertake his spiritual quest. What makes him different than most seekers or gurus is that instead of choosing one of the many spiritual paths, keeping his head down and ass on the cushion, he pursued many of them at the same time.
In doing so he learned that each Yoga (path to enlightenment) has virtue and is valid - he developed an hypothesis that only a Yoga which incorporates all the elements of the various paths can lead to the full experience of enlightenment. The main paths, love, will, and knowledge, each bring forth varied aspects of the Divine into being. After pursuing these paths, he developed Integral Yoga. Aurobindo examines consciousness and enlightenment, making ever so subtle differentiations in states, aspects of the Divine, etc. This uncommon precision in describing all the paths and his Integral path is what is most intriguing about him. An Eastern mystic with an ability to articulate all aspects of the Divine with the precision and detail of a Western psychologist. What is Integral Yoga? Its a philosophy and roadmap of human evolution. That's right, our birth was not the capstone on our evolution. Our evolution is continual and can not only deliver us to closer communion with the Eternal, Infinite, Divine, also to expanded states of consciousness. These expanded levels of consciousness are not destinations, or escapes, so much as they are evolution. Little Leaguers cannot comprehend the skills required of a major league pitcher, and we cannot comprehend higher orders of consciousness, that is unless we commit to evolving ourselves to these levels and experiencing them first hand. Integral Yoga is such a method. Book ReviewThe Integral Yoga of Sri Aurobindo, by Rishabhchand, draws heavily upon Aurobindo's Life Divine and Synthesis of Yoga. The Rishabhchand book is incredibly thorough and detailed (approx. 470 pages) and can at times seem repetitive; he commands a wealth of knowledge in Eastern and Western philosophy, as well as a familiarity with and bias against Western psychotherapy. It is a really solid effort though - unfortunately, it is not available, unless ordered from the Aurobindo Society directly. My general comments on the philosophy of Aurobindo are exceedingly positive. He makes every attempt to be comprehensive and exhaustive in his explorations, the extent to which has not been improved upon since only about 20 years ago with the advent of Ken Wilber's work. For 30 years, Aurobindo's work was untouchable in terms of comprehensiveness. He commands an incredible breadth of knowledge with respect to not only all spiritual enlightenment paths, but psychology, sociology and politics. He beautifully blends the masculine (Divine) and feminine (The Mother) aspects of spirituality providing a balanced and comprehensive insight into the nature of God. There is only one major point which I think is a bit weak, which is the somewhat overreliance on a deus maquina for areas of transformation which cannot yet be clearly articulated logically. However, if you want to get a comprehensive and systematic formula for the purpose and meaning of life, specifically with regard to human evolution going forward, Aurobindo remains untouchable.
As evidence of how powerful I believe the work of Aurobindo to be I have made a summary so that hopefully anyone can have a little taste of his work. I hope you enjoy it! Book Summary: Integral Yoga is based on the ancient spiritual traditions of India, so a background knowledge of Eastern religion, and Hinduism specifically, would be helpful, but by no means necessary in embracing Integral Yoga. There is a word that is central to IY, Hinduism, etc.; it is Sachchidananda or Sat, Chi, Ananda. This word is the descriptor of all man's qualities.