Reviews Written by David Frawley (Santa Fe, NM) Life Divine - U.S. Edition by Aurobindo Edition: Paperback Price: $29.95 from $18.99 A Great Modern Spiritual Classic, May 5, 2007
There are very few great spiritual classics that each century produces. The Life Divine is one of these great spiritual classics, one of the key spiritual studies of the twentieth center, perhaps of all time. There are few great mystics and enlightened masters who are able to express themselves in extensive philosophy and profound poetry. Sri Aurobindo was one of these, and the Life Divine is probably his magnum opus.
The Life Divine is no mere call to a life of piety, asceticism or outward religious fervor. It is a call to bring the Divine as a force of higher consciousness into all that we are and do, both individually and as a species. The Life Divine unfolds a panoramic exploration of consciousness from the Absolute (Brahman), to the Cosmic Creator (Ishvara), to the individual soul (Jivatman), and all the realms of existence, manifest and unmanifest, known and unknown. There are few books that cover such an expanse and with such depth, direct knowledge and clarity. For those who want to widen their horizons and extend their awareness into the realms of higher consciousness, there is perhaps no other book that is as complete, comprehensive and challenging. Reading it requires both concentration and meditation of a very high order, but brings great riches of inner insight in return.
As someone who has studied the main religious traditions of the world, and has written extensively on the traditions of India, this book has remained with me as life time companion. I recommend it to all those who are looking at the spiritual life as a quest for a higher consciousness and grace that can transform all that we do. One can continue to delve into the book for new wisdom and insight year after year. The Life Divine teaches us in depth about the great spiritual traditions of India, Veda, Vedanta, Samkhya, Yoga, Tantra and Buddhism, but from a view of practice and realization, and a seeking for the universal truth behind all these great teachings.
Most notably, the Life Divine outlines the spiritual purpose of the soul and of our human lives. It charts a way to a future in which we can go beyond our current mentality of ego and strife to a world of Divine peace, bliss and knowledge. It charts the transformation of our species from a confused adolescence to the maturity of wisdom and grace. Sri Aurobindo shows how the Divine Shakti can descend into our minds and lift us to a higher level of intelligence as our natural state of existence. The book is perhaps the best study of the spiritual evolution of humanity, the evolution of consciousness in man and nature, which is available.
Synthesis of Yoga, US Edition by Aurobindo from $16.50 A Modern Classic on Yoga, May 5, 2007
Of the many books available on Yoga in book stores today, very few deal with the subject in any real depth. Most cater to the popular image of Yoga as yoga postures for physical well-being. Few challenge the reader to a deeper vision of Yoga or of their own inner nature. The Synthesis of Yoga stands apart from the available literature on Yoga, expressing the soul of Yoga to the deepest intelligence within us.
In fact, there are few works of such magnitude and comprehensiveness about Yoga ever written, and probably nothing comparable in the English language. Yet more importantly, this profound compendium on Yoga was not written from an academic or scholarly perspective, or from the view of those who work primarily with the physical yoga. It is a study of Yoga written by one of the greatest yogis of modern India, Sri Aurobindo, who has a reputation of spiritual greatness in India that exceeds Mahatma Gandhi, Tagore and other more well known figures in the West. There is probably no work of such scope and grandeur on Yoga available, and none by an author who was speaking from his own direct experience and realization.
The Synthesis of Yoga deals with Yoga as a means of Self-realization, God-realization and the transformation of humanity. It addresses all the classical yogic paths of knowledge, devotion, works and meditation, including Raja Yoga in all of its aspects. In this book, the term "Integral Yoga," first arises, combining all aspects of Yoga into a comprehensive system for the full development of all of our potentials on all levels of our being. The book shows the relevance of Yoga to all that we are, do, or are meant to become.
As a student, teacher and writer on Yoga and related teachings for more than thirty years, I cannot emphasize enough the importance at looking at Yoga the deeper and integral manner that is so eloquently expressed in the Synthesis of Yoga. It is recommended reading to all those who want to approach deeper or inner aspects of Yoga. The book will transform your idea of Yoga and open many new dimensions of practice and realization for you that you had not previously considered possible. I don't think anyone can seriously read the book and not come away without a sense of the vastness of real Yoga practice. The book will provide you with a deep understanding of the essence of Yoga, far beyond the common stereotypes of yoga as a physical or psychological practice for personal enhancement. The Synthesis of Yoga contains the keys for restoring Yoga as a deep spiritual practice with both an ancient and a futuristic vision.
In these days in which Yoga has largely been reduced to an exercise or fitness system, it is important to remember the spiritual orientation and purpose that classical Yoga was all about. The Synthesis of Yoga does this and much more, not from the ancient past or a poorly translated foreign language, but from a master teacher of the modern world, an eloquent poet and profound philosopher.