Letters On Yoga by Sri Aurobindo

Letters on Yoga is a collection of letters written by Sri Aurobindo on the philosophical and psychological foundations of Integral Yoga. He wrote the letters between 1927 and 1950 to his disciples, in response to their queries.

Excerpts from the book follow:


Consciousness is a fundamental thing, it is the fundamental thing in existence – it is the energy, the action, the movement of consciousness that creates the universe and all that is in it – not only the macrocosm, but the microcosm is nothing but consciousness arranging itself.
This is the crucial point in the question, what is consciousness, whether it is a temporary phenomenon of Nature or a reality in itself fundamental to existence.
Men do not know themselves and have not learned to distinguish the different parts of their being. […] It is part of the foundation of Yoga to become conscious of the great complexity of our nature, see the different forces that move it and get over it a control of directing knowledge.

The Riddle of this World

This is an unideal and unsatisfactory world, strongly marked with the stamp of inadequacy, suffering, evil. 
[…] why should evil and suffering ever have been there? […] 
It is not, as some religions suppose, a supra-cosmic, arbitrary, personal Deity himself altogether uninvolved in the fall who has imposed evil and suffering on creatures made capriciously by his fiat. The Divine we know is an Infinite Being in whose infinite manifestation these things have come – it is the Divine itself that is here, behind us, pervading the manifestation. […] in ourselves there is a spirit, a central presence greater than the series of surface personalities.
If we find out this Divine within us, if we know ourselves as this spirit, that is our gate of deliverance and in it we can remain ourselves even in the midst of this world’s disharmonies, luminous, blissful, and free. That much is the age-old testimony of spiritual experience.


Transformation of the body […] The inner must change before the outermost can follow.


The Divine Truth is greater than any religion or creed or scripture or idea or philosophy.
I regard the spiritual history of mankind and especially of India as a constant development of a divine purpose, not a book that is closed. […] I may say that it is far from my purpose to propagate any religion new or old. 
I have no attachment to the past forms; what is Truth will always remain; the Truth alone matters. 

Fate / Destiny

Destiny in the rigid sense applies only to the outer being so long as it lives in the Ignorance. […] But as soon as one enters the path of spiritual life, this old predetermined destiny begins to recede.
Question: Can astrological truths have any influence on a sadhak?
Answer: That is not the question. The question is what influence has the sadhak on the stars?

Food / Diet

Prolonged fasting may lead to an excitation of the nervous being which often brings vivid imaginations and hallucinations […] It is therefore discouraged. The rule to be followed is that laid down by the Gita which says that “Yoga is not for one who eats too much or who does not eat.”

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Book – Tao Te Ching

Tao Te Ching is a Chinese classic text written about two thousand years ago. Its title is often translated as “The Book of The Way.” Although it is just 81 verses long, it contains the wisdom of the ages. This particular edition is a translation by Stephen Mitchell.

On Knowledge

Not-knowing is true knowledge.
Presuming to know is a disease.
First realise that you are sick;
then you can move toward health.
- Tao Te Ching, verse 71

On Religion

When they lose their sense of awe,
people turn to religion.
When they no longer trust themselves,
they begin to depend on authority.
- Tao Te Ching, verse 72

Wait and watch

Do you have the patience to wait
till your mud settles and the water is clear?
- Tao Te Ching, verse 15

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Mindfulness - book cover

In the book Mindfulness, Joseph Goldstein quotes Buddha:

When the Buddha spoke of the kinds of thoughts provoking malice and ill will, he ended with the reflection, “What good will it do to hold on to malice, anger, or resentment?”… [It] is like holding onto a hot, burning coal.

– Joseph Goldstein

How to talk to God


I am reading Mindfulness by Joseph Goldstein. The book’s source is the Buddha’s discourse on “the four ways of establishing mindfulness.” While trying to stress the importance of bare attention, Joseph gave the following anecdote.

An interviewer once asked Mother Teresa what she says to God when she prays. “I don’t say anything,” she replied. “I just listen.” Then the interviewer asked her what God says to her. “He doesn’t say anything,” said Mother Teresa. “He just listens.”

Excerpt from the book

She has put it so beautifully – prayer is ‘Silence,’ nothing more, and nothing less.