LETTERS ON YOGA
Volume 3. Part Four
7. Opposition of the Hostile Forces
II III IV V VI VII VIII
21.04.1937 ▪ Nirodbaran ▪ Full text of the letter
When somebody leaves the Ashram, I feel a kick, a shock, a heartquake.
May I ask why? People have been leaving the Ashram since it began, not only now. Say 30 or 50 people have gone, 130 or 140 others have come. The big Maharathis, X,Y,Z, departed from this too damnable Ashram, where great men are not allowed to do as they like. The damnable Ashram survives and grows. A and B and C fail in their yoga – but the yoga proceeds on its way, advances, develops. Why then kick, shock and heartquake?
As for X, he has been going some dozen or dozen and a half times, only pulled back with great difficulty. Wants immediate siddhi in perfect surrender, absolute faith, unshakable peace. If all that is going to take time, can't do the Yoga. Feels himself unfit. Not being allowed to reach the Paratpara Brahman at once, had better rush out into the world and dissipate himself into the Nihil. Besides got upset by every trifle and, as soon as upset, lost faith in the Mother – and without faith no Yoga possible. Reasoning, sir, reasoning – the mighty intellect in its full stupidity. Understand now?
I hold the view that the Supramental is descending concentratedly and that those who resist, who are between two fires, have either to quit or to submit.
Even if it were so, that is their own business. The Divine is driving nobody out except in rare cases where their staying would be a calamity to the Ashram; if they cannot bear the pressure and rush away, listening to the “go away, go away” push and suggestions of the Hostile can it be said then that it was the Divine who drove them away and the push and suggestion of the Hostile is that of the Divine? A singular logic! The “go, go,” push and suggestion have been successfully there ever since the Ashram started and even before when there was no Ashram. How does that square with your theory that it is due to the concentrated descent of the Force?
Why should I stop the business – that is to say postpone the possibility for another millennium because A or B gets shaky or many others look homeward? Will that postponement change the lower nature or get rid of the Asuras?
What occult secret? It is a fact always known to all Yogis and occultists since the beginning of time, in Europe and Africa as in India, that wherever Yoga or Yajna is done, there the hostile Forces gather together to stop it by any means. It is known that there is a lower nature and a higher spiritual nature – it is known that they pull different ways and the lower is strongest at first and the higher afterwards. It is known that the hostile Forces take advantage of the movements of the lower nature and try to spoil through them, smash or retard the siddhi. It has been said as long ago as the Upanishads (hard is the path to tread, sharp like a razor's edge); it was said later by Christ “hard is the way and narrow the gate by which one enters into the kingdom of heaven” and also “many are called, few chosen” – because of these difficulties. But it has also always been known that those who are sincere and faithful in heart and remain so and those who rely on the Divine will arrive in spite of all difficulties, stumbles or falls. That is the occult knowledge pertinent here.
I have expatiated – but in the line of common sense, not occultism.
Normal human defects are one thing they are the working of the lower nature of the Ignorance. The action of the hostile forces is a special intervention creating violent inner conflicts, abnormal depressions, thoughts and impulses of a kind which can be easily recognised as suggestions e.g. leaving the Ashram, abandoning the yoga, revolt against the Divine, suggestions of calamity and catastrophe apparently irresistible, irrational impulses and so on. It is a different order from the usual human weaknesses.
The normal resistance of the lower Nature in human beings and the action of the Hostiles are two quite different things. The former is natural and occurs in everybody; the latter is an intervention from the non-human world. But this intervention can come in two forms. (1) They use and press on the lower Nature forces making them resist where they would otherwise be quiescent, making the resistance strong or violent where it would be otherwise slight or moderate, exaggerating its violence when it is violent. There is besides a malignant cleverness, a conscious plan and combination when the Hostiles act on these forces which is not evident in the normal resistance of the forces. (2) They sometimes invade with their own forces. When this happens there is often a temporary possession or at least an irresistible influence which makes the thoughts, feelings, actions of the person abnormal a black clouding of the brain, a whirl in the vital, all acts as if the person could not help himself and were drawn by an overmastering force. On the other hand instead of a possession there may be only a strong Influence; then the symptoms are less marked, but it is easy for any one acquainted with the ways of these forces to see what has happened. Finally it may be only an attack, not possession or influence; the person then is separate, is not overcome, resists.
There are some who are never touched by the hostile forces.
There is a natural movement of the ordinary human nature in the material consciousness which takes time to get rid of. Of course we call them forces of the lower nature but one must not regard them as hostile, only ordinary. They have to be changed but it usually takes time and it can be done quietly. One must be more occupied with the positive side of the sadhana than with them. If one is always thinking of them as hostile things, getting disturbed when they come, considering them as hostile possessions, then it is not good.
The things that are really hostile are few and must be distinguished from the ordinary movements of the nature. The first must be repelled, the second dealt with quietly and without getting troubled or discouraged by their appearance.
The defects of the nature are nothing, they can be dealt with progressively. It is these outward attacks, these suggestions and throwing in of wrong forces to which the sadhak must shut himself altogether.
The lower nature is ignorant and undivine, not in itself hostile but shut to the Light and Truth. The hostile forces are anti-divine, not merely undivine; they make use of the lower nature, pervert it, fill it with distorted movements and by that means influence man and even try to enter and possess or at least entirely control him.
Free yourself from all exaggerated self-depreciation and the habit of getting depressed by the sense of sin, difficulty or failure. These feelings do not really help, on the contrary, they are an immense obstacle and hamper the progress. They belong to the religious, not to the yogic mentality. The yogin should look on all the defects of the nature as movements of the lower Prakriti common to all and reject them calmly, firmly and persistently with full confidence in the Divine Power without weakness or depression or negligence and without excitement, impatience or violence.
It [the vital ego] is part of the ordinary human nature, everybody has it. It has to be purified and transformed, the ego being replaced by the true vital being of which it is a distorted shadow. The forces of the lower nature are often rebellious and resist transformation out of attachment to the familiar movements of the Ignorance, desire, vanity, pride, lust, self-will etc., but they are not in their nature hostile. The hostile forces are those whose very raison d'être is revolt against the Divine, against the Light and Truth and enmity to the Divine Work.
The forces of the Ignorance are a perversion of the earth-nature and the adverse Powers make use of them. They do not give up their control of men without a struggle.
The hostile forces have a certain self-chosen function: it is to test the condition of the individual, of the work, of the earth itself and their readiness for the spiritual descent and fulfilment. At every step of the journey, they are there attacking furiously, criticising, suggesting, imposing despondency or inciting to revolt, raising unbelief, amassing difficulties. No doubt, they put a very exaggerated interpretation on the rights given them by their function, making mountains even out of what seems to us a mole-hill. A little trifling false step or mistake and they appear on the road and clap a whole Himalaya as a barrier across it. But this opposition has been permitted from of old not merely as a test or ordeal, but as a compulsion on us to seek a greater strength, a more perfect self-knowledge, an intenser purity and force of aspiration, a faith that nothing can crush, a more powerful descent of the Divine Grace.
06.04.1936 ▪ Nirodbaran ▪ Full text of the letter see here
About the contact with the world and the hostile forces, that is of course always one of the sadhak's chief difficulties, but to transform the world and the hostile forces is too big a task and the personal transformation cannot wait for it. What has to be done is to come to live in the Power that these things, these disturbing elements cannot penetrate, or, if they penetrate, cannot disturb, and to be so purified and strengthened by it that there is in oneself no response to anything hostile. If there is a protecting envelopment, an inner purifying descent and, as a result, a settling of the higher consciousness in the inner being and finally, its substitution even in the most external outwardly active parts in place of the old ignorant consciousness, then the world and the hostile forces will no longer matter for one's own soul at least; for there is a larger work not personal in which of course they will have to be dealt with; but that need not be a main preoccupation at the present stage.
There is always a pressure on the forces of the lower nature to change through that the pressure is felt by the hostiles; but whether they change or are destroyed seems to be left very much for them to choose.
That is true. As things are the vital falsehood seems to take a temporary advantage over the superior sattwic nature.
It is quite true that falsehood reigns in this world, that is the reason why these difficulties manifest. But you have not to allow yourself to be shaken. You must remain calm and strong and go straight, using the power of Truth and the Divine Force supporting you to overcome the difficulties and set straight what has been made crooked by the falsehood.
I suppose so. Whenever anything has to be done, there are always forces that want to interfere. I suppose they want to show that smooth walking and the wide unbarred and thornless path belong only to the Vedic ṛtam satyam bṛhat and we must get up there if we can.
Whatever point the adverse forces choose for attack, however small it may seem to the external human mind, becomes a crucial point and to yield it up may be to yield to them one of the keys of the fortress. Even if it is a small postern door, it is enough for them if they can enter.
Nothing is really small and unimportant in the Great Path. Especially, when the struggle has come down to the physical level, these distinctions cease to have any value; for there small things have a not easily calculable index value and are of great importance. On that level to lose a small post may be to make certain the loss of the big battle.
All have had to pass through the ordeal and test through which you are passing. We would have avoided it for you if it had been possible, but since it has come we look to you to persist and conquer. Patience, quiet endurance, calm resolution to go through to the end and triumph, these are the qualities now required of you the less spectacular but more substantial of the warrior virtues.
Also, perspicacity and vigilance. Do not shut your eyes to the difficulty in you or turn away from it, but also let it not discourage you. Victory is certain if we persevere, and what price of difficulty and endeavour can be too great for such a conquest?
Yes, certainly. Men are being constantly invaded by the hostiles and there are great numbers of men who are partly or entirely under their influence. Some are possessed by them, others (a few) are incarnations of hostile beings. At the present moment they are very active all over the earth. Of course in the outside world there is no consciousness, such as is developed in yoga, by which they can either become aware of or consciously repel the attacks the struggle in them between the psychic and the hostile force goes on mostly behind the veil or so far as it is on the surface is not understood by the mind.
The first attempt of the possessing entity is to separate the person from his psychic, and it is that that creates the struggle. All depends on the extent and persistence of the possession how much of the being it occupies and whether it is constant or not.
Do you not know the story of the Elephant Brahman? All is Brahman, but in action you have to treat the elephant as the Elephant Brahman and the Asura as the Asura Brahman and neither as merely Brahman pure and simple. One has either to avoid the Rakshasa or overcome him; otherwise the Rakshasa may eat up the man, all Brahman though both be. The Brahman realisation is an inner static realisation, until one has become the dynamic instrument of the Divine Consciousness and Force then the problem of the elephant and the Rakshasa won't arise, for the Divine Consciousness will know and the Divine Force will execute what is to be done in each case. There is no need to have vaira inside, but to be friendly with the Rakshasa is not prudent, as the Rakshasa is impervious to that kind of thing he will take advantage of it to farther his own purpose.
It is one thing to see things and quite another to let them enter into you. One has to experience many things, to see and observe, to bring them into the field of the consciousness and know what they are. But there is no reason why you should allow them to enter into you and possess you. It is only the Divine or what comes from the Divine that can be admitted to enter you.
To say that all light is good is as if you said that all water is good or even that all clear or transparent water is good: it would not be true. One must see what is the nature of the light or where it comes from or what is in it, before one can say that it is the true Light. False lights exist and misleading lustres, lower lights too that belong to the being's inferior reaches. One must therefore be on one's guard and distinguish; the true discrimination has to come by growth of the psychic feeling and a purified mind and experience.
The mere intensity of the force does not show that it is a bad power; the Divine Force often works with a great intensity. Everything depends on the nature of the force and its working: what does it do, what seems to be its purpose? If it works to purify or open the system, or brings with it light or peace, or prepares the change of the thought, ideas, feelings, character in the sense of a turning towards a higher consciousness, then it is the right force. If it is dark or obscure or perturbs the being with rajasic or egoistic suggestions or excites the lower nature, then it is an adverse force.
I do not see how I could say that you were not for this yoga when you had and still get the experiences that are characteristic of the yoga. The obstacles in the consciousness and the attacks are no proof that a man is not fit for yoga. There is no one practising yoga who does not get them. Even those who have become great siddha yogis had them during their time of sadhana.
It is not a fact that the Rajayogin or others are not attacked by environmental forces. Whether Moksha or transformation be the aim, all are attacked because the vital forces want neither liberation nor transformation. Only the yogins speak of it in general terms as Rakshasi Maya or the attacks of kāma, krodha, lobha, they don't care to trace these things to their sources or watch how they come in, but the thing itself is known to all.
Hostile forces attack every sadhak; some are conscious of it, others are not. Their object is either to influence the person or to use him or to spoil his sadhana or the work or any other motive of the kind. Their object is not to test, but their attack may be used by the guiding power as a test.
There is always this critical hostile voice in everybody's nature, questioning, reasoning, denying the experience itself, suggesting doubt of oneself and doubt of the Divine. One has to recognise it as the voice of the Adversary trying to prevent the progress and refuse credence to it altogether.
There are no sadhaks who are never attacked by wrong forces but if one has a complete faith and self-consecration, one can throw off the attack without too much difficulty.
If the faith and surrender are complete in all parts of the being then there can be no attack. If there is a strong central faith and surrender at all times, there can be attacks but the attacks will have no chance of success.
There are two things that make it impossible for them [the hostile forces] to succeed even temporarily in any attack on the mind or the vital first, an entire love, devotion and confidence that nothing can shake, secondly, a calm and equality in the vital as well as in the mind which has become the fundamental character of the inner nature. Suggestions then may still come, things go wrong outside, but the being remains invulnerable. Either of these two things is sufficient in itself and in proportion as they grow, even the existence of the hostile forces becomes less and less of a phenomenon of the inner life though they may still be there in the outer atmosphere.
It is those who are of a highly sattwic nature, especially if strongly surrendered to the Mother, who escape the invasion or attacks of the hostile Forces in the mind and vital. That does not mean that they escape the difficulties of the lower human nature or of the sadhana, but these are not complicated by the effective support given to them by the hostiles. It is not that there is no point in them that might be pressed upon by the hostiles but in actual fact they cannot get at these points because of the build of the nature which is fortified against them owing to the large proportion of prakāśa and sukha (see Gita) which the sattwic brings with it. But otherwise there is an internal clarity, a balance, a happy composition in the being reflecting sunlight easily, less amenable to the touch of cloud and tempest, which gives no handle to the hostile forces. The nature refuses to be violently agitated or disturbed or upset. At most it is the body that the hostiles can attack and there too because the nervous being is calm and, it is only through the most material that it can be done.
Vital purity is very necessary, but it is not easy to make it immune from attack unless the wideness is there along with a solid spiritual purity and peace descending in the wideness. Of course, wideness by itself is not sufficient.
They [the hostile forces] come because they were freely permitted in the past so they want to renew and continue their action. An entire rejection and a complete turning to the Divine are the way to meet them.
Evil forces can always attack in moments of unconsciousness or half-consciousness or through the subconscient or external physical so long as all is not supramentally transformed. Only if the force is there, they can at once be pushed back.
The hostile forces do not need a cause for attacking they attack whenever and whoever they can. What one has to see is that nothing responds or admits them.
You ask whether the adverse Force is stronger than the Divine Force. The implication is that man has no responsibility for his action and whatever he does or however he errs and falls in consequence, the Divine Force is to blame. It may be so, but in that case there is no need or utility in doing sadhana. One has only to sit still and let the adverse Force or the Divine Force do what they like! According to that theory the Devil was quite right in telling Christ, Cast thyself down from this mountain and let His angels come and upbear thee, and Christ was quite wrong in rejecting the suggestion and saying, It is written 'Thou shalt not tempt (put to a test) the Lord thy God!' He ought to have jumped and if he got smashed, it would only have proved that the adverse forces were greater than the Divine Force!
If an adverse Force comes, one has not to accept and welcome its suggestions, but to turn to the Mother and refuse to turn away from her. Whether one can open or not, one has to be loyal and faithful. Loyalty and fidelity are not qualities for which one has to do yoga. They are very simple things which any man or woman who aspires to the Truth ought to be able to accomplish.
It is what everybody should realise. It is the psychic fidelity that brings the power to stand against the Asuras and enables the Protection to work.
About the attacks and the action of the cosmic forces these attacks very ordinarily become violent when the progress is becoming rapid and on the way to be definite especially if they find they cannot carry out an effective aggression into the inner being, they try to shake by outside assaults. One must take it as a trial of strength, a call for gathering all one's capacities of calm and openness to the Light and Power, so as to make oneself an instrument for the victory of the Divine over the undivine, of the Light over the darkness in the world-tangle. It is in this spirit that you must face these difficulties till the higher things are so confirmed in you that these forces can attack no longer.
He is quite right in saying that the heaviness of these attacks was due to the fact that you had taken up the sadhana in earnest and were approaching, as one might say, the gates of the Kingdom of Light. That always makes these forces rage and they strain every nerve and use or create every opportunity to turn the sadhak back or, if possible, drive him out of the path altogether by their suggestions, their violent influences and their exploitation of all kinds of incidents that always crop up more and more when these conditions prevail, so that he may not reach the gates. I have written to you more than once alluding to these forces, but I did not press the point because I saw that like most people whose minds have been rationalised by a modern European education you were not inclined to believe in or at least to attach any importance to this knowledge. People nowadays seek the explanation for everything in their ignorant reason, their surface experience and in outside happenings. They do not see the hidden forces and inner causes which were well-known and visualised in the traditional Indian and yogic knowledge. Of course, these forces find their point d'appui in the sadhak himself, in the ignorant parts of his consciousness and its assent to their suggestions and influences; otherwise they could not act or at least could not act with any success. In your case the chief points d'appui have been the extreme sensitiveness of the lower vital ego and now also the physical consciousness with all its fixed or standing opinions, prejudices, prejudgments, habitual reactions, personal preferences, clinging to old ideas and associations, its obstinate doubts and its maintaining these things as a wall of obstruction and opposition to the larger light. This activity of the physical mind is what people call intellect and reason, although it is only the turning of a machine in a circle of mental habits and is very different from the true and free reason, the higher Buddhi, which is capable of enlightenment and still more from the higher spiritual light or that insight and tact of the psychic consciousness which sees at once what is true and right and distinguishes it from what is wrong and false. This insight you had very constantly whenever you were in a good condition and especially whenever Bhakti became strong in you. When the sadhak comes down into the physical consciousness, leaving the mental and higher vital ranges on which he had first turned towards the Divine, these opposite things become very strong and sticky and, as one's more helpful states and experiences draw back behind the veil and one can hardly realise that one ever had them, it becomes difficult to get out of this condition. The only thing then, as X has told you and I also have insisted, is to stick it out. If once one can get and keep the resolution to refuse to accept the suggestions of these forces, however plausible they may seem, then either quickly or gradually this condition can diminish and will be overpassed and cease. To give up yoga is no solution.
You are right. The hostile forces, their attacks, their suggestions ought now to be superannuated, out of date, out of place here in this sadhana. If somebody would realise that and fulfil it in his sadhana, the others might perhaps get strength to follow. At present these things are still here because the sadhaks open themselves to them out of habit, out of desire, out of attraction for the drama of the vital, out of fear, out of passive response and unresisting inertia. But there is no real necessity for them any longer or true justification for their presence here, the outer world is a different matter. The sadhana could very well go on and should go on as an unfolding, a natural falling away of defects and difficulties, a coming of greater and greater light and power and transformation.
When I said no more necessary, I did not mean that their action could not go on I think I expressly said that if the sadhaks persisted in opening themselves to it, it would continue. There is a difference between the action of the hostile powers and the ordinary action of the lower nature. The latter of course goes on until it is changed but there is no necessity for it to take the form of hostile attacks and upsettings; it can be treated as a machinery that has to be set right and with the aid of the higher Light and Power can be set right. There are several who were once taken by hostile attacks who have now reached the point where they can follow this method, others are approaching it some of course have always followed and never were attacked, at least in their mind and vital. But there are still many who are very far from it and so the action of the Hostiles continues.
I wrote because now there is a sufficient descent of Light and Power, for one not to be subject to the ordeals and tests which the Hostile Powers are permitted to put when one has only the mental, or ordinary spiritual forces on the plane of mind to support one's progress. If you look closely, you will see that when these Forces work now it is in a perfectly irrational instinctive way, repeating always the same movements without any intellectual or higher vital power behind them. Theirs is now an irrational mechanical method which obscures more in the lowest physical and subconscient than anything else. That means that their true justification for being there is gone.
The things enumerated are not causes of the attacks, but they are the occasion, the weakness in the sadhaks that allows them when they could very well be dismissed. The hostile forces are there in the world to maintain the Ignorance they were there in the sadhana, because they had the right to test the sincerity of the sadhaks in their power and will to cleave to the Divine and overcome all difficulties. But this is only so long as the higher Light has not descended into the physical; now it is descending, it is sufficiently there for anyone to receive it more and more fully, so that the way becomes smooth and open, a progressive development and not a struggle.
It is not the pressure from above that creates difficulties. There is a strong resistance to change in the lower planes and certain Forces take advantage of it to throw in vortices of disturbance and try to upset as many people as possible. The only action of the Pressure from above on these is to push them out from the atmosphere of the person touched or from the atmosphere generally. After a time they are pushed out of the atmosphere of the person and can no longer work on him except from a distance with very slight effect. When that can be done generally so as to push them to a distance from the atmosphere of the Ashram, then all this trouble will cease.
11.05.1933 ▪ Nirodbaran ▪ Full text of the letter
I hear that many people have been on the point of going away due to the pressure of Yoga.
It is not due to the pressure of Yoga, but to the pressure of something in them that negates the Yoga. If one follows one's psychic being and higher mental will,1 no amount of pressure of Yoga can produce such results. People talk as if the Yoga had some maleficent force in it which produces these results. It is on the contrary the resistance to Yoga that does it.
A progress made often stirs the adverse forces to activity, they want to diminish its effect as much as possible. When you get a decisive experience of this kind, you should remain concentrated and assimilate it avoiding self-dispersion and all externalising of the consciousness.
It is very often after a good experience or a decisive progress that the beings of the vital world try to attack and threaten.... They have always the hope that they can turn back the sadhak from his path by attacks and menaces.
It often happens like that. When a progress has been made (here it is the opening of the inner vision) the hostiles attack in a fury. You must be especially on your guard when you are making a progress so as to check the attack before it can get in.
That is right. The rest is the remnant of the attack such an attack, sudden and violent, as sometimes indeed often comes when one is making full progress to the straight and open way. It cannot permanently deflect the progress and, when it disappears, there is usually a chance of going on more firmly and swiftly towards the goal. That is what we must do now.
Naturally, the hostile forces are always on the watch to rob what they can of the things received by the sadhak, not that they profit by them but they prevent them from being used to build up the Divine in life.
There is always a struggle going on between the forces of Light and the opposing forces when there is a true movement and progress the latter try to throw a wrong movement across to stop or delay the progress. Sometimes they do this by raising up old movements in yourself that have still the power to recur; sometimes they use movements or thoughts in the atmosphere, things said by others to disturb the consciousness. When a settled peace and working of the Power and self-giving of the being can be fixed in the physical, then there comes a secure basis there are no more fluctuations of this kind, though superficial difficulties may continue.
Either the higher consciousness has to descend into the vital and physical or else by the psychic consciousness coming forward one has to detect whatever imperfection is in the vital and reject it.
There are always hostile forces that try to stop or break the experience. If they come in, it is a sign that there is something in the being vital or physical that either responds or is too inert to oppose.
Your description is too vague. From what you write it may just as well be the reaction that frequently follows an experience; the adverse force coming in with a contrary movement. Tests come sometimes from the hostile forces, sometimes in the course of Nature. I suppose they must be necessary, since they always come in sadhana.
There is no use of testing at all whatever test is needed, comes of itself in the ordinary way in the very use of the capacity and in the very steps of the progress no other is needed. Beyond that the tests that come are from the hostile forces but their way of testing is to take advantage of any point of weakness and push with all their force at that point to break down the sadhana or else to hurl all the adverse forces on the consciousness while it is still in process of transition and not yet mature so as to shatter all that has been done. It is not a true test but mere destruction replacing the constructive method. By unnecessary testing one dangerously invites this hostile pressure and raises up things which one has to banish. To be conscious is necessary, but quiet self-examination is sufficient for that raising up difficulties under plan of testing is quite the wrong method.
The method of the Divine Manifestation is through calm and harmony, not through a catastrophic upheaval. The latter is the sign of a struggle, generally of conflicting vital forces, but at any rate a struggle on the inferior plane.
You think too much of the adverse forces. That kind of preoccupation causes much unnecessary struggle. Fix your mind on the positive side. Open to the Mother's power, concentrate on her protection, call for light, calm and peace and purity and growth into the divine consciousness and knowledge.
The idea of tests also is not a healthy idea and ought not to be pushed too far. Tests are applied not by the Divine but by the forces of the lower planes mental, vital, physical and allowed by the Divine because that is part of the soul's training and helps it to know itself, its powers and the limitations it has to outgrow. The Mother is not testing you at every moment, but rather helping you at every moment to rise beyond the necessity of tests and difficulties which belong to the inferior consciousness. To be always conscious of that help will be your best safeguard against all attacks whether of adverse powers or of your own lower nature.
If one knows how to profit by experience, even the Hostile Forces and their attacks can be useful; although of course that does not mean that the attacks should be invited. What they do is to press with all their force upon some weak point of our nature and if we are vigilant, we can see and throw away that weakness. Only the attack method of these Forces is too violent and upheaving and endangers the good things in one also, faith and peace etc. so one has to be careful to keep these against all attacks.
The hostiles when they cannot break the yoga by positive means, by positive temptations or vital outbreaks, are quite willing to do it negatively; first by depression, then by refusal at once of ordinary life and of sadhana.
Indirect attacks are not of this kind, a violent rush and covering by hostile forces they are done through covert suggestions, half-truth, half-falsehood, attempts to represent the falsehood in the garb of the Divine Truth or to mix the lower consciousness cleverly with the higher. Their attempt is to mislead by guile rather than to conquer by force.
When the vital forces or beings throw an influence, they give it certain forms of thought, action and put them in the minds and vital of people so that they feel, think, act and speak in a particular way. Whoever opens to their influence acts according to this formation, perhaps with variations due to his own vital temperament.
There is no particular number but sometimes there are particular vital beings that attach themselves to a man if he accepts them.
Attacks are always going about and it is a period when they have fallen on many. But with a strong faith founded in the Mother and a whole-hearted aspiration, no attack can leave any lasting result.
Either to reject by dynamic means or to remain unaffected and let it pass are the two usual ways of dealing with the attacks.
This state which tries to come upon you and seize is not part of your true self, but a foreign influence. To yield to it and to express it would therefore be not sincerity, but the expression of something false to your true being, something that will grow more and more foreign to you as you progress. Always reject it, when it comes, even if you feel strongly its touch; open in your mind and soul to the Mother, keep your will and faith and you will find it receding. Even if it returns obstinately, be equally and more obstinate against it, firm in rejection that will discourage and wear it out and finally it will grow weak, a shadow of itself and disappear.
Be true to your true self always that is the real sincerity. Persist and conquer.
They [the lower forces] hope by persistence to tire you out or to get in by sheer obstinacy or at least to delay the realisation by their attacks. That is always their method. If they can shake the faith, the peace and samatā, they think themselves richly recompensed.
The one thing wrong would be to allow yourself to be overcome by them [the adverse forces]. If you remain steady in yourself, you can repel the attack or else it will exhaust itself and pass. In such circumstances you have to be like a cliff attacked by a stormy sea but never submerged by it.
It is not sincerity to express only what the adverse forces suggest or what you feel when you are in a bad condition, full of obscurity and a wrong outlook. When you are in the Truth, you feel quite the opposite and it is not insincerity to cling to that and recall it. It is only by bringing it back that the Truth can grow in you.
The trouble in your chest comes only from a vital resistance and it continues because you identify yourself with that resistance. It is only by quietude and opening to the Mother that these things can disappear. There is no other way to progress.
If you have not got quietude, you can always aspire first and a sincere aspiration will bring it back.
I do not see what reasons can be so subtle as to justify or even appear to justify something that opposes and tries to destroy the sadhana. Whatever stands in the way of spiritual progress, must be a falsehood whatever reasons it gives in its own favour. The best thing is not to listen to its reasons.
From your last letter it is clear that it is not your own will that pushes you to go but something that has taken hold of your mind, a clutch of some Force which is using an old movement of the outward mind and vital to drive the action. All the more reason to reject this action as contrary to the soul's and heart's true feeling. The pride that says: I am one of those who can break but will not bend, is a poor thing and conceals the fact that one is bending before forces and impulses that are ignorant and obscure. Its result is, as you yourself have seen at the end of your letter, that one bends to the lower forces of nature but refuses to bend to the Divine.
If sadhana is a struggle between the higher Will and the old forces of nature bringing suffering and inner torment, we do not want you to do that kind of sadhana. That is not the spirit of our yoga. What we want you to do is to recover your quietude and go on in that. To have the basis of quietude and allow the Divine Force to work in you firmly and quietly is always the best method it is not necessary to proceed through a big personal effort, disturbance and struggle. Come back to this open yourself once more as you did before then you got back sleep or health in a day or two and were growing inwardly without excessive trouble and let the Mother's Power and Grace lead you.
I shall do all to help you and pull you out, but that which has closed itself in you must open for the help to work quickly as it did before. Otherwise too it can pull you out, but if there is this strong obstruction that has to be undone, time is needed. A central change of attitude in your mind would, I believe, make all the difference it has done before.
You ought to realise that these things are attacks which come on you from an adverse Force to which your nature was responsive because of vital desire and the vital ego what you call selfishness. When it comes, you have to realise that it is an attack and refuse instead of accepting it and in order to be able to do that you must always discourage desire and selfishness in you and all that comes from them such as jealousy, claim, anger etc. It is no use alleging that there are good reasons for their rising even if all the alleged reasons were true, they would not justify your indulging them, for in a sadhak nothing can justify that. There is no need to understand for there is only one thing that is necessary to understand that, reason or no reason, desire, selfishness, jealousy, demand, anger have no place in the spiritual life.
If you keep to what you have resolved, then all will be right and the right knowledge will come not from the mind and its reasonings but from the soul and its true vision of things.
Yes, the difficulty is always that something in the nature gives a hold to the attack. It either still indulges it or likes it or even, if wanting to be free, is too accustomed to receive and respond to the old feelings, thoughts, suggestions and does not yet know how not to respond. The first thing is for the mental being to stand back, refuse to accept, say This is no longer mine. Then, even if the vital being responds to the attack, one part of the nature can be free and observe and discourage it. The next thing is for this free part to impose the same will of detachment on the vital so that after a time this also when the attack comes feels that it is something foreign, not its own, as if a stranger had come into the room and was trying to impose his ideas or his will on the inmates. After that it becomes more easy to get rid of it altogether. Of course, there is the Mother's Force working, but this kind of assent from the mind and vital makes the result quick and easy otherwise it takes time and more labour and struggle.
When there is an attack or obstruction, the call or the thinking of the Mother may not succeed at once, even the will to get rid of the attack or obstruction may not succeed at once, but one must persevere till the result comes, and if one perseveres the result is bound to come.
One sees the negative side only during the attacks, because the first thing the attack or obstruction does is to try to cloud the mind's intelligence. If it cannot do that it is difficult for it to prevail altogether for the time being. For if the mind remains alert and clings to the truth, then the attack can only upheave the vital and, though this may be painful enough, yet the right attitude of the mind acts as a corrective and makes it easier to recover the balance and the true condition of the vital comes back more quickly. If the vital keeps its balance, then the attack touches the physical consciousness only with its suggestions and is much more superficial or even it can do no more than create a temporary restlessness, uneasiness or ill-health in the body the rest of the consciousness remaining unaffected. It is therefore very important to accustom oneself to keep the right mental attitude even in the midst of an attack, however strong it is. To keep faith is the best help for that the faith that the Divine is always there and I shall pass to him through whatever trials. That helps to look at other things also in the true light.
By tamasic ego is meant the ego of weakness, self-depreciation, despondency, unbelief. The rajasic ego is puffed up with pride and self-esteem or stubbornly asserts itself at every step or else wherever it can; the tamasic ego, on the contrary, is always feeling I am weak, I am miserable, I have no capacity, I am not loved or chosen by the Divine, I am so bad and incapable what can the Divine do for me? Or else I am especially chosen out for misfortune and suffering, all are preferred to me, all are progressing, I only am left behind, all abandons me, I have nothing before me but flight, death or disaster, etc., etc., or something or all of these things mixed together. Sometimes the rajasic and tamasic Ahankar mix together and subtly support each other. In both cases it is the I that is making a row about itself and clouding the true vision. The true spiritual or psychic vision is this: Whatever I may be, my soul is a child of the Divine and must reach the Divine sooner or later. I am imperfect, but seek after the perfection of the Divine in me and that not I but the Divine Grace will bring about; if I keep to that, the Divine Grace itself will do all. The I has to take its proper place here as a small portion and instrument of the Divine, something that is nothing without the Divine but with the Grace can be everything that the Divine wishes it to be.
The Mother's help is always there but you are not conscious of it except when the psychic is active and the consciousness not clouded. The coming of suggestions is not a proof that the help is not there. Suggestions come to all, even to the greatest sadhaks or to the Avatars as they came to Buddha or Christ. Obstacles are there they are part of Nature and they have to be overcome. What has to be attained is not to accept the suggestions, not to admit them as the truth or as one's own thoughts, to see them for what they are and keep oneself separate. Obstacles have to be looked at as something wrong in the machinery of human nature which has to be changed they should not be regarded as sins or wrong-doings which make one despair of oneself and of the sadhana.
But when the suggestions come, surely it is possible to know from their very character what they are and that itself shows that they must come from wrong vital Forces. The only thing is that they must be at once rejected and the entry into your own mind and vital refused to them i.e. they must not be accepted or allowed to influence. Very few have the direct occult perception of the Forces behind the suggestion at least until the cosmic consciousness fully opens, for then direct perception becomes more easily possible, but the mental understanding can be used with good effect.
Do not allow these suggestions to prevail. Each time these powers attack, if you hold them at bay, you gain an added force for progress. They attack and suggest to you a wrong understanding in the hope that, if you accept, their power to return on you will last a little longer. Do not allow them to prevail for however short a time.
It is sufficient if you can keep in touch with the Force and reject any strong attack of the confusion. The rest will be done by the Force itself for none is really strong enough to change himself, it is the Divine Force called down that does it.
Yes, the Power with its help and inner working is always there with you and always will be. In the strongest attacks and darkest hours it was covered up and hidden, but it was never absent or withdrawn and never will be.
All naturally in these difficulties has its original roots in the vital and its expectations of all kinds. When one wants to get rid of them, the vital resists and is unwilling to part with them, but this by itself would not be anything more than a work of change, adjustment, re-arrangement which might take time but not cause serious conflicts and upheavals. For once the mind and inner will are settled to be rid of these movements, the will of the higher vital would also come into line and the rest which is more obstinate against change because it is a thing of habitual movements, supported on the subconscient and not governed by reason or knowledge, would yet be unable to resist permanently or vehemently the pressure from the higher will of the being. Its force of resistance would diminish and the habitual reactions wear out or fall away. But the prolongation of the difficulty and its acuteness come from the fact that there are Forces in Nature, not personal or individual but universal, which live upon these movements and through them have long controlled the individual nature. These do not want to lose their rule and so when these movements are thrown out, they throw them back on the sadhak in strong waves or with great violence. Or they create in the vital a great depression, discouragement, despair that is their favourite weapon because it is losing its former field of desires and has not yet in any certainty something that would replace it, the assured continuous psychic or spiritual condition or experience. To prevent that is the whole effort of these Forces. So they create these upheavals and the vital admits them because of its own habit of response to the lower Forces. At the same time they put in suggestions to the mind so as to make it also accept the disturbance, discouragement and depression. That is what I meant by saying that these are attacks from outside and must be rejected. If they cannot be rejected altogether, yet one must try to keep a part of the mind conscious which will refuse to admit the suggestions or share in the depression and the trouble, which will say firmly I know what this is and I know that it will pass and I can resume my way to the goal which nothing can prevent me from reaching, since my soul's will is and will always be for that. You have to reach the point where you can do that always; then the power of the Forces to disturb will begin to diminish and fall away. Our Force is there with you and will not fail to support and strengthen you. The suggestion that we are indifferent is obviously nothing but a suggestion intended to help and fortify the depression. As such you should regard it and not accept it as true or as your own thought; for it could not possibly be true. Your success in reaching peace and light is as much our concern as yours and even more so.
There are almost always some parts of the being that are either unwilling or feel an incapacity for the effort demanded of them. It is the psychic and the mind and the higher vital usually that join together for the yoga for if these three do not join, it is difficult to do any yoga at all beyond getting a few experiences from time to time. But in the lower vital there is almost always something recalcitrant and there is much of the physical that is too obscure. If the sadhak were left to himself this could be remedied without much difficulty, but it is here that the hostility in the universal (lower) forces comes in they want to keep their reign over the being. The result is an exacerbation of the resistance of the lower vital and an exaggeration of the obstruction (inertia, passive resistance) in the physical which then admit these suggestions of self-destruction, depression or despair.
They [the hostile attacks on the outer being] are felt as suggestions, or a touch on the surface mind, vital, physical or as movements in the atmosphere (the personal or the general environmental consciousness) but for the inner being it is like gusts or storms outside. If they penetrate by chance into the house, they are immediately ejected and the doors and windows banged on them there is nothing that accepts them or tolerates them inside.
It must have been an indication of the source and location of the suggestion or influence. Either thoughts or vibrations or some pressure of wrong force can be felt being thrown or sent in a very concrete way when the consciousness is open. When it is not, they come in without being noticed, only the result is felt.
From the higher mind upwards, all is free from the action of the hostile forces. For they all belong to the spiritual consciousness though with varying degrees of light and power and completeness.
Vital forces can attack the mind and do. Many receive suggestions from them through the brain, so it is quite possible that it may be felt as coming in through the head from above. That does not mean that it came from regions above the mind (higher Mind, intuition or overmind). Correct reasoning means no more than coherent argument from a certain standpoint and does not validate a fit of anger or indicate for it a non-adverse source.
You were getting the true consciousness down into the vital but as the old difficulty rose again in the physical, there is again the vital attack. The sign of complete liberation will be when your vital can face this attack always without being upset or crying out, repelling its force by a calm rejecting force from within.
There has been progress in all these parts, but they seem to be subject still to a response to the suggestions of the hostile forces. Everybody gets these suggestions, but they ought not to be allowed to enter inside, especially in the heart, or to be accepted by the vital. Evidently, they enter through the physical mind (from the throat upwards meant that) and affect the surface vital and emotional being. You must get the power to reject them from there by a constant and steady denial and refusal of their suggestions. So long as anything in you says yes or accepts, there is always the possibility of a return.
As I have said, the response of the physical mind or vital to these forces is a habit. You get upset as soon as they touch either and lose control over yourself. The concentration in the heart is the way to get rid of them, but there must also be a detachment of the consciousness so that it can stand back from the attack and feel separate from it.
If the attacks of the hostile forces have been made less strong by concentrating in the heart (or if they have become less frequent) you must continue that concentration until you are able to join the head and the heart, the psychic and the higher consciousness. It all depends on that. The psychic must be strong enough to compel the vital and physical to give themselves to the Divine or the higher consciousness must so descend and occupy everything that the old movements can only at most move on the surface without being able to enter in or touch the inner calm or the two together, psychic and higher consciousness must occupy the whole being. These are the three ways in which the yoga moves. If the concentration in the heart which means the awakening of the psychic is most effective against the attacks, then it is that you must follow.
If you can feel even in these attacks that part in you in which there is constant Peace even amidst the pains and darkness, and if you can keep it always, that is an immense gain. The something in you which does not always feel it, which remains half way, undecided, must also now take the step of complete surrender. It is only a part of your physical mind that does not understand, that receives back the old ideas that must be converted. It does not matter about the weakness and incapacities when the full peace and Power is there in the physical, they will be removed. The new birth in you is certain to come the first touch of it is already there in the awakened psychic the rest cannot fail to come.
It is more the lack of sleep that is responsible, I think; also the excess of struggle which the constant pressure of the vital disturbances and the physical tamas bring in and by that weaken the nerves.
Like the vital disturbance the physical inertia with all its symptoms is an attack of the hostile forces intended to cut short and prevent the higher opening. The ideas that arise to justify it are of no value it is not true that physical work is of an inferior value to mental culture, it is the arrogance of the intellect that makes the claim. All work done for the Divine is equally divine, manual labour done for the Divine is more divine than mental culture done for one's own development, fame or mental satisfaction.
This inertia, numbness, pain should be thrown off with the same resolution as the vital disturbances. The only peculiarity of it in your case is the persistent violence of the attack as in the case of the vital otherwise, it is what others get also; but each time they reject, call on the Mother and get free, after a little time if the attack is violent, at once if it is of a lesser character.
If there is temporary physical inability, one can take rest, but solely for the purpose of recovering the physical energy. The idea of giving up physical work for mental self-development is a creation of the mental ego.
The inertia gives room and power for the hostile forces to act.
The attacks you speak of can come anywhere. It is an attack of the nervous centres and on the nervous being by contrary vital forces. The fact that it was not allowing you to come here and that it began to go when you steeped yourself in the atmosphere and ideas of The Yoga and its Objects is significant of its origin. As for the other symptoms they were amassing to a height of the restlessness of the nervous being and are quite familiar in such cases. The desire to run away somewhere is a very usual symptom. Hysteria is also an attack by similar forces, but it is only one form; the attack need not take the appearance of any illness. The Doctors usually consider it as a type of what they call neurasthenia, nerve-weakness; but that simply locates the thing without explaining its real nature and cause. In both cases, here and there, it was an attempt to come across your spiritual life by creating a disability and state of disturbance in the vital-physical part of the being. Anyhow the fact that you could not go from here and that the whole thing could be removed by us at once as soon as you opened somewhere by this feeling of sorrow at going shows that the spiritual life is stronger and deeper within you, even when covered over, than the opposite forces at their height. That is the main thing.
What is there in you is the capacity for response to these suggestions that still remains owing to the stamp of the past habit on the physical, especially the subconscient physical. I have explained to you what happens that these things when rejected by the mind and vital descend into the subconscient or else go out into the environmental consciousness and from there they can return when pushed by the hostile forces. It is in these two ways that the hostiles try to recover their hold. But the rising from the subconscient is not so important except for its long persistence it comes up in dream or it is, in the waking consciousness, fragmentary. But when it comes from the environmental consciousness then it can be a strong attack and it is evidently that which is taking place now.
I think what lends force to these attacks and tends to upset you, is a feeling of impatience somewhere that things are not going forward, progress of a definite kind is not being made and that these things are not done with already forever. A period of apparent halt is not necessarily an adverse thing, it can be a preparation for a fresh progress of a more decisive character that often happens in the sadhana but you have to keep vigilantly the advance gained in spite of attacks. The next progress ought to be the descent of the full spiritual calm and peace from above an opening of the consciousness into wideness. Till it comes, keep yourself firm and do not allow these attacks to shake your basis.
The exterior consciousness can be invaded by what rises up from the subconscient or comes in from outside and owing to a renewed vibration of the past habit can respond but that does not mean that the will of the vital or of the physical mind is for these things. If there was anything in them normally on the side of sex or violence, then you could say the impurities were there. But if it were so, there would be more than these attacks, there would be a daily struggle with anger and desire.
If one had to wait for an absolute purity free from all possibility of these attacks before beginning to realise the Divine, nobody would ever be able to realise. It is as the realisation progresses, that the fundamental transformation takes place.
These attacks should not discourage you. There are always moments so long as there is not the complete basis in the physical when old movements seem to revive. But so long as it is only a rush of an outside force churning up the subconscient and it does not last, it does not at all mean that the progress is not there. We have to deal with all the complexity of the human consciousness in its hidden parts as well as on its surface and there are layers and layers of the consciousness in which something may lurk of the old reactions, but each conquest makes the control stronger and brings the full purification nearer.
You need not be upset about the matter; it is sufficient if you note movements like these and are vigilant that they should find no ground in you again. The cause is probably to be found in the contact with the outside world renewing some possibilities of the old Adam in you. When there is some lowering or diminution of the consciousness or some impairing of it at one place or another, the Adversary or the Censor who is always on the watch presses with all his might wherever there is a weak point lying covered from your own view, and suddenly a wrong movement leaps up with unexpected force. Become conscious and cast out the possibility of its renewal, that is all that is to be done.
These [forces of dullness, depression, etc.] are things that wander about in the atmosphere and jump upon one without notice. It is often difficult to see where precisely they come from and often there is no reason at all or any inviting cause in oneself. They have simply to be thrown off as when something falls on the body.
It happens so with everybody so long as there is not the positive siddhi of transformation by which it becomes contrary to the very nature of the instrument to respond to these vibrations because they have become foreign to it. Till then all depends on the vigilance of the consciousness and its will. The repetition of the response does not increase the difficulty it only retards the clearing out of the invading forces.
The response-giving mechanism is like that in everybody. It is not by something shocking but by something enlarging and uplifting that it can get out of its rut of habit.
It is better not to trouble about the hostile forces. Keep your aspiration strong and sincere and call in the Divine in each thing and at each moment for support and in all that you feel keep yourself open to us. That is the easiest way to the Divine. If you begin to concern yourself about the hostile forces, you will only make the path more difficult.
It is so that they [the hostile suggestions] must be regarded without interest, with indifference. That removes the necessity for constant struggle which is itself a form of interest, and it is as discouraging and more to these suggestions.
It is quite true. To talk of one's experiences to others tends to diminish the power of the experience. Also to think too much of the hostile Powers is to bring in their atmosphere. One has to recognise them when they come and repel them, but to think much about them, to fear, to be expecting or looking out for them is a mistake.
The worst thing for sadhana is to get into a morbid condition, always thinking of lower forces, attacks. If the sadhana has stopped for a time, then let it stop, remain quiet, do ordinary things, rest when rest is needed wait till the physical consciousness is ready. My own sadhana when it was far more advanced than yours used to stop for half a year together. I did not make a fuss about it, but remained quiet till the empty or dull period was over.
Yes, the adverse forces take advantage of any perturbation of that kind, for it opens, as it were, a passage to their action. Fear is the one thing that one must never feel in face of them, for it makes them bold and aggressive.
Moreover, fear, as you justly say, calls the thing feared it must therefore be thrown out altogether.
That is very interesting for it agrees with the Mother's constant insistence that to feel sympathy or any emotion of the weak philanthropic kind with those possessed by vital forces is most dangerous as it may bring an attack upon oneself which may take any form. One must do what is to be done but abstain from all such weakness.
There is no such thing as a mere accident. There is some perhaps a very slight unconsciousness in the physical and it is taken advantage of by these small beings of the vital physical plane who are more mischievous than consciously hostile.
It is not a bad shakti that gets inside you and from there does these things; it is small forces from outside that amuse themselves by creating small accidents of that kind, taking advantage of some inattention or forgetfulness etc.
You are right about the accidents. It is chiefly the physical mind's unconsciousness that makes these accidents or interventions of mischievous forces easy.
That is right. These accidents happen only to disturb you. You must not allow yourself to be disturbed.
Yes it is because they [the hostile forces] know that Peace is the basis and if that is there in full, all the rest will come. So they want anyhow to prevent it.
Yes, it was an attack the hostile forces often take the form of this or that person to get through the physical association a more concrete grip on the physical consciousness.
It sometimes happens that by a carefully formed formation like this and through the instrumentality of a third person whose movements they control, the hostile forces get through the conscious guard and bring about an accident like this. It is through the subconscient that they manage to do this, for the subconscient has not yet either the mass of force descended from above which could have repelled the arriving cycle and turned its movement away or the instinctive sureness which would have felt beforehand what the cyclist was going to do and done just the thing to avoid it. However when the protection is there such accidents even when grave in character are usually reduced to something minor in their results.
It has often been seen that when an accident takes place at a particular spot, there is a tendency for some time for other accidents to happen there. It was so with a place near Villianur some years ago. There is the same tendency with suicides at a particular place. It is a sort of powerful formation that remains there with or without a vital being (spirit) in charge of the formation.
I must say however that it is not the push for union with the Divine nor is it the Divine Force that leads to madness it is the way in which people themselves act with regard to their claim for these things. To be more precise, I have never known a case of collapse in yoga as opposed to mere difficulty or negative failure, a case of dramatic disaster in which there was not one of three causes or more than one of the three at work. First, some sexual aberration I am not speaking of mere sexuality which can be very strong in the nature without leading to collapse or an attempt to sexualise spiritual experience on an animal or gross material basis; second, an exaggerated ambition, pride or vanity trying to seize on spiritual force or experience and turn it to one's own glorification ending in megalomania; third, an unbalanced vital and a weak nervous system apt to follow its own imaginations and unruly impulses without any true mental will or strong mental will to steady or restrain it, and so at the mercy of the imaginations and suggestions of the adverse vital world when carried over the border into the intermediate zone of which I spoke in a recent message.2 All the causes of collapse have been due to these three causes to the first two mostly. Only three or four of them have ended in madness and in these the sexual aberration was invariably present; usually a violent fall from the way is the consequence. X is no exception to the rule. It is not because X pushed for union with the Divine that X went mad, but because X misused what came down for a mystic sexuality and the satisfaction of megalomaniac pride, in spite of my repeated and insistent warnings.
Usually there is some predisposition behind, hereditary, natal (due to some circumstances of birth) or founded in insufficient nervous balance. Often there is in the vital excessive ambition, lust or some other violent Ripu. But these though they might distort or break the sadhana by opening it to undesirable Forces could not bring madness (megalomania, erotic mania, or what is called religious mania) only if there is some taint or want of nervous balance. Anxiety or excessive stress of meditation would not bring it either except by acting upon some such predisposing weakness. In some cases possession by beings of the vital worlds without any such predisposing cause may be possible, but that will be more easily curable. There are however cases of people who break down their nervous balance by wrong practices there the madness has nothing really to do with the sadhana.
As to gratitude, it is a psychic feeling and all that is psychic helps the soul to flower. There is nothing wrong from the spiritual point of view in emotion. The only thing is that it should not become a tie of bondage in the path.
It is quite impossible for the descent of the Divine Grace to produce nausea and nervousness to think so is self-contradictory. Sometimes when one has pulled or strained, there is a headache or a sensation as if of headache, or if one pulls down too much Force then there may be a giddiness, but one has only to remain quiet and that sets itself right by an assimilation of what has come down or otherwise. There is never any adverse or troublesome after-consequence.
The idea that X was sent mad by a Divine Force is an absurdity and an irrational superstition. People go mad because they have a physical predisposition due either to heredity or to some kind of organic cause or secret illness like syphilis, the action being often brought up by some psychological factor (ambition turning to megalomania, hypochondria, melancholia, etc.). All that happens in everyday life and not only in yoga: the same causes work here. The one thing is that there may be an invasion of an alien Force bringing about the upsetting, but it is not the Divine Force, it is a vital Force that invades. The Divine Force cannot by its descent be the cause of madness any more than it can be of apoplexy or any other physical illness. If there is no predisposition, one may have all kinds of attacks from vital or other forces or from one's own movements of the lower nature, as violent as possible, but there will be no madness.
18.10.1936 ▪ Nirodbaran ▪ Full text of the letter
A descent cannot possibly produce nausea and vomiting etc. There can, if one pulls down too much force, be produced a headache or giddiness; both of these go if one keeps quiet a little, ceases pulling and assimilates. A descent cannot produce blood pressure, madness or apoplexy or heart failure or any other illness.
Illness does not rise up by the descent of the Force; nor hereditary taint nor madness. They come up of themselves, as in X's case who never had even the smallest grain of a descent or a Force anywhere. It is only after he went off his centre that we are putting Force (not as a descent, but as an agent) to keep him as straight and as sound as possible.
In the case of an illness, how do you then decide whether it is the recrudescence of an old illness or the action of a dark force or even some experience? From the description supplied to you?
Yes, certainly – just as you go by the symptoms of a case as seen by you and as related by the patient.
I thought that it is not possible to have spiritual experiences, especially major ones, without your previously having knowledge about it.
Previously? My God, we would have to spend all our time prevising the sadhaks' experiences. Do you think Mother has nothing else to do? As for myself, I never previse anything, I only vise and revise. All that Mother prevised was that there was something not right in Y, one part of him at odds with his aspiration. That might lead to trouble. That is why entre nous I want him to find out what part of him did not want the descent.
What I gather from Y's letter is that he felt great intensity of descent (much greater than he had before) and got into a panic (because of the indescribable sensation) and thought he might be going mad like Z (Z's madness was not the result of a descent), so nervous that he upset his stomach and possibly his circulation also. That is the only possible explanation if it is not an attack of illness over which it is for the doctors to pronounce, not me.
There are sensations that are due to descent and not troublesome or dangerous at all, there are others that are physical. But the description is necessary in order to distinguish.
The difficulty is that he has got the fear and the association in his mind of the descent with the disturbance.
You wrote to X: “before there can be a resumption of the sadhana”. What exactly did you mean in connection with his trouble?
I meant by sadhana the positive side (descent etc.). What I indicated was that there was a part of the being which was afraid of the descent, didn't want it and by its fear got this trouble. This must be found out and put right before calling any descent again.
He complained of nausea.
Well, that's a physical ailment, not a yogic phenomenon.
Cannot the illness be due to the action of a dark force?
Not through the descent, but through the fear a dark Force might strike in. That is what it is trying with many people.
Seeing some of these “upsets” I feel pulled down. I ask “Well, my friend, whither, whither are you going? What awaits you?”
Perhaps the parātpara puruṣa beyond even the Purushottama.... But why this pulled downness? You are not pulling down Purushottama or any other gentlemen from the upper storey, are you? It is strain and want of rest, I suppose. Sleep, sleep! Read Mark Twain or write humorous stories. Then you will be quite chirpy and even M won't feel heavy to you.
It is quite possible that if a too intense Ananda is allowed before the purity and peace are in the nature, it may disturb the system though I don't know whether there is any instance of madness as a consequence. At any rate, it is a fact that normally Ananda comes (in the natural course, I mean, if not pulled down) only occasionally so long as the peace and purity are not there as a base. It is probably right that it should be so.
Those who fall into insanity have lost the true touch and got into the wrong contact. It is due either to some impurity and unspiritual desire with which the seeker enters into the way or some insincerity, egoism and false attitude or to some weakness in the brain or nervous system which cannot bear the Power it has called down into it.
The safest way is to follow the guidance of someone who has himself attained to mastery in the path. Only that guidance should be implicitly and sincerely followed; one's own mind and its ideas and fancies must not be allowed to interfere. It goes without saying that it must be a true guidance, not the leading of a tyro or an impostor.
Epilepsy is not possession it is an attack or at most a temporary seizure. Insanity always indicates possession. The hereditary conditions create a predisposition. It is not possible for a vital Force or Being to invade or take possession unless there are doors open for it to enter. The door may be a vital consent or affinity or a physical defect in the being.
Epilepsy is itself a sign of vital attack, even if there is a physical cause for it the attacking force not being able to disturb the mental and vital (proper) falls on the body and uses some physical cause (latent or growing) for the base of its action. For everything manifested in the physical must have a physical support or means for its expression.
Insanity is always due to a vital attack, or rather possession although there is often a physical reason as well. Hysteria is due to a pressure from the vital world and there may be momentary possessions also. The same thing cannot be said of ordinary delirium the cause of which is physical only except in so far as all illness is an attack of lower forces of Nature, but these lower forces are not vital beings or what we call specifically hostile forces they are simply performing their role in nature and of course there may be and probably is a being of some kind presiding over each kind of illness in Bengal they give a special name to some of them and worship them as goddesses to avert the visitation. But as I say these are really Forces, not vital hostiles.
As for the interest of vital beings in possessing men beings of the vital world are not constituted like men they take a delight in struggle and suffering and disorder it is their natural atmosphere. They want besides to get the taste of the physical world without being under the obligation of taking on birth and developing the psychic being and evolving towards the Divine. They wish to remain what they are and yet amuse themselves with the physical world and physical body.
In these cases of hysteria usually nothing is gained by humouring or indulgence firmness generally pays better, because most often there is something there that wants to be interesting and get sympathy and have a fuss made over the person. As for cure, that is a different matter, the subjective cause has to be got rid of and it is not easy.
Loss of balance produces disorder in the consciousness and the adverse forces use that loss of balance for attacking and wholly upsetting the system and doing their work. That is why people become hysterical or mad or filled with the desire to die or go away.
[Occurrence of loss of balance:] More easily in the women than in the men but in some of the latter also. What produces the loss of balance is an inability to control the vital movements by the reason and an instability of the vital itself so that it sways from one feeling to another, one impulse to another without harmony or order.
I may observe that X does not seem to me to be mad there is no sign of a dislocation of the thinking mind due to lesion or accident or illness. What there is is a fixed idea and what is called folie de persιcution, but that is not due to insanity people have it who have otherwise an acute and perfectly well-ordered intelligence. X from his photograph appears to have had a mediumistic element in him and to have by some ill-chance entered into contact with powers of the vital plane which were able to put their suggestions in him in that part of the consciousness which we call the vital mind so that he is unable to ascertain things in their proper light and is tormented by the suggestions that have driven their furrows there in the form of habitual ideas that tyrannise over him and which he is unable to embrace or refuse. Unfortunately this is a malady of the consciousness, which it is very difficult to cure because the patient himself gives no assistance, as he clings to his fixed idea and even when the influence is taken away, calls it back upon him. Certainly he could be told from here that he is not mad and is not cursed of God but that of itself might not be sufficient to cure him.
I am writing today about your son X and his illness if it can be called by that name. I shall state first in general terms the nature of the malady and its usual developments, that is to say, the normal course it takes when no psychic or spiritual force is brought in to remove it. Afterwards I shall indicate the two possible means of cure.
I think it is best for me to state the case in its worst and not only in its best possible terms because it is necessary that you should know the full truth and have the courage to face it. These cases are not those of a truly physical malady, but of an attempt at possession from the vital world; and the fits and other physical symptoms are signs, not of the malady itself, but of the struggle of the natural being against the pressure of the hostile influence. Such a case in a child of this age indicates some kind of accumulation in the physical heredity creating an opportunity or a predisposition of which the vital invasion takes advantage. It is especially the physical consciousness and physico-vital which contain the germs or materials of this predisposition. The physical being is always changing its constituents and in each period of seven years a complete change is effected. If the symptoms of this predisposition in the nature are detected and a wise influence and training used by the parents to eradicate them and this is done so effectively that in the first seven years no seeds of malady appear, then usually there is no further danger. If on the contrary they manifest by the seventh year, then the next period of seven years is the critical period and, ordinarily, the case would be decided one way or the other by or before the fourteenth year.
There are normally three possible eventualities. The difficulty in dealing with the case of so young a child is that the mind is not developed and can give no help towards the cure. But as the mind develops in the second seven years it will, if it is not abnormally weak which I think is not the case here, react more and more against the influence. Aided by a good control and influence it may very well succeed in casting out the hostile intrusion and its pressure altogether. In that case the fits and other signs of the physical struggle pass away, the strange moral and vital tendencies fade out of the habits and the child becomes mentally, morally and physically a healthy normal being.
The second possibility is that the struggle between the natural being and the intruding being may not be decisive in the psychic sense, that is to say, the intruder cannot take full possession but also he cannot be thrown out entirely. In that case anything may happen, a shattered mind and health, the death of the body or a disturbed, divided and permanently abnormal nature.
The third and the worst possibility is that the intruding being may succeed and take entire possession. In that case the fits and other violent symptoms will disappear, the child may seem to be physically cured and healthy, but he will be an abnormal and most dangerous being incarnating an evil vital force with all its terrible propensities and gifted with abnormal powers to satisfy them.
In X's case there is not as yet possession in the full sense of the word, but a strong pressure and influence indicated by the strange habits of which you have written. These are suggested and dictated by the intruding being and not proper to the boy himself. The fearlessness and security with which he does these things is inspired from the same source. But the fits prove that there is as yet no possession. There is a struggle indicated by them and a temporary hold which passes out again. He is evidently in the earlier part of the critical period. I have indicated the course normally taken by the illness, but it is not necessary to pass through it and take its risks. There are other means which can come to his help and effect a complete cure.
The first and easiest is to cure by hypnotic suggestion. This if properly applied is an absolutely sure remedy. But in the first place it must be applied by someone who is not himself under the influence of evil powers, as some hypnotists are. For that obviously will make matters worse. Moreover, it must be done by someone who has the proper training and knows thoroughly what he is about; for a mistake might be disastrous. The best conditions would be if someone like yourself who has a natural relation and already an influence over the child could do it with the necessary training and knowledge.
The other means of cure is the use of spiritual power and influence. If certain psycho-spiritual means could be used, this would be as sure and effective as the other. But this is not possible because there is no one there who has the right knowledge. The spiritual influence by itself can do it but the working is likely to be slow. It must ordinarily be conveyed through someone on the spot and you yourself are obviously the right instrument. What you have to do is to keep the idea that I am sending to you power for this object, to make yourself receptive to it and at the same time make your own will and natural influence on the child a direct channel for it. The will must be a quiet will, calm and confident and intent on its object, but without attachment and unshaken by any amount of resistance and unalarmed and undiscouraged by the manifestations of the illness. Your attitude to the child must be that of a calm and firm protecting affection free from emotional weakness and disturbance. The first thing is to acquire such an influence as to be able to repel the attack when it comes and if it takes any hold to diminish steadily its force and the violence of its manifestation. I understand from your letter that you have already been able to establish the beginning of such an influence. But it must be able to work at a distance as well as in his presence. Further you must acquire the power of leaving a protection around him when you are absent. Secondly, you must be able to convey to him a constant suggestion which will gradually inhibit the strange undesirable habits of which you speak in your letter. This, I may say, cannot be effectively done by any kind of external coercion. For that is likely to make these impulses more violent. It must be a will and suggestion and silent influence. If you find the control increasing and these habits diminishing, you can understand that the work of cure has begun. Its completion may take some time because these vital beings are very sticky and persistent and are always returning to the attack. The one thing which will make the cure rapid is if the boy himself develops a will in his mind to change for that will take away the ground of the hostile influence. It is because something in him is amused and takes pleasure in the force which comes with the influence that these things are able to recur and continue. This element in him calls the invading presence back even when it has been centrally rejected. I shall of course try to act directly on him as well as through you, but the instrumentality of one on the spot greatly enforces and is sometimes indispensable to the action.
End of Part Four
1 call (in the "Letters on Yoga)
2 See Part Three, pp. 1039-1046.