Adverse Forces on the path of Yoga (Radio program)
- 1 Introduction from Santé
- 2 “Man harbours dangerous forces in his house”
- 3 The paradox of the adverse forces
- 4 How the adverse forces operate
- 5 Their action on the mind
- 6 Their action on the emotions
- 7 Their action at night
- 8 Attack vs. influence vs. possession vs. incarnation
- 9 Three kinds of examiners
- 10 Humility, vigilance and sincerity
- 11 Safety in divine Love
- 12 On not neglecting matter, and making choices
- 13 Q & A
Introduction from Santé
Denis: So, good morning everybody. On behalf of Santé, I would like to welcome you to the third talk with Dr. Alok Pandey, on the general topic of how to face mental challenges on the spiritual path. And so today, the topic is more focused on the adverse forces. Mother used to say, some thought, when we use to think to the same topic constantly, our thought can become very strong, and maybe bounce back on the individual. So are we the creator of this kind of adverse forces?... Or maybe, sometimes we are very weak, and some forces can reach us. So it's a general topic.
So as usual, we start with a talk about 20 minutes, half an hour, and then spontaneous sharing about your experiences and whatever you would like to share. Thank you.
“Man harbours dangerous forces in his house”
Alok Pandey: In Savitri, we see Savitri's journey as she undertakes to go within, to discover her secret soul. And as she begins to enter, Sri Aurobindo gives us an overview of what is this realm – what is the world of the soul in which she is entering. And there is a remarkable passage there, where he writes (it's a long passage):
- Man’s house of life holds not the gods alone:
- Man harbours dangerous forces in his house.
- The Titan and the Fury and the Djinn
- Lie bound in the subconscient’s cavern pit
- And the Beast grovels in his antre den 
That's why it's very interesting that very often we see, in modern... the tendency to make yoga a mass movement; and people come and they learn a technique, and some exercises, and they feel they are on the path of yoga. But it's not as simple as that. There's a reason why the Vedic rishis wrapped up the truth around so many secrets, and mysteries. At one place Sri Aurobindo says that the soul is a world of numerous beings. It's a battlefield where forces clash. There are beings who harm, and beings who help in the progress of the soul. Every beautiful thought, uplifting thought is like a bird that climbs towards the heights. Life is like a luminous steed that carries it on the journey. That's why very often, in more modern language, I use the word that (or rather the phrase) that “Yoga takes place in real time” – it's not a technique. Techniques are all right, helpful – but it's real time, because the moment... in the beginning, there is the yoga fire, and some center part gets touched. But the moment it spreads, it begins to illumine and uncover layers after layers, layers after layers. Many of which we are totally unconscious.
And that is the reason sometimes when we speak about adverse forces, and hostile forces – which is so real to the journey of the soul; anyone who has traveled the path even a little encounters them – seems so unreal, almost a fallback to superstition. Sometimes people have asked me, “Do they really exist?” (Well, I'm not going into its details, but if there's a question we can take it up.) But it's true that even modern, scientific understanding is turning towards it – but through a strange door: the paranormal, which is full of all kinds of things. But very logically – leave aside those phenomena – very logically, we know that matter is not what it seems; there are countless forces that create even a material structure. We don't see them, but they're there, acting upon any given point upon matter, upon objects, upon solid things. Similarly, it's reasonable to presume that behind man's complex psychological apparatus, movements, there stand a host of forces that determine what we think, how we think, we feel, act – from all around the cosmos. Very similarly.
So how can we know about them? (Well, if one has occult vision it's a different matter. But we are not talking of that. That's a capacity, and some people are blessed with it.) But we can know about it, just as we know about matter that: an object falls to the ground, there is the force of gravity acting. By the effects. Similarly we can know about their action, their influence, by the effects that they create upon the human consciousness. And these effects have been very well studied; it's not only today, they have been known since antiquity.
As children, we grew up playing Ludo and “Snakes and Ladders”. At least in India, it's a very popular game. Very few people know that Ludo and “Snakes and Ladders” were actually initially spiritual games. “Snakes and Ladders” was discovered or created by a saint, a 13th century saint, called Gnanadev. And the game was called “Moksha Patam”. So: how you arrive at moksha. (Of course, it's not just moksha, because the figure of 100 actually means ‘perfection’.) How do you arrive at perfection? You have various challenges. You have sudden unexpected helps, and you rise up. And you are the traveler, identified with the game. (And actually that's why, you can any time call it up.) You are identified with the game, and the dice is Fate – which means all the forces that are interacting at a given point of time. And the ladder is forces that help you go up; and the snakes are those which bring us, pull us, down.
The paradox of the adverse forces
It's a very ancient knowledge; and Sri Aurobindo and the Mother have elaborated on it very much. When Sri Aurobindo was asked, “Do they exist?” Sri Aurobindo replies to Nirodbaran, “What do you mean do they exist? It's known – wherever there is a yajna these forces come.” Sometimes they are given very picturesque forms, grotesque forms – that is a part of human imagination. That ___'s coming and pouring all kinds of things on the yajna fire to extinguish it. But inwardly, it is a truth, that when the fire lights up and begins to spread, these forces rush in. Before we know that we are on the path, they know it.
Sri Aurobindo speaks of it very well: there is the __ of light – they intervene. They are aware. They see that little fire. In the little tent of house – tent of matter. And they rush in to occupy the space.
Both Sri Aurobindo and the Mother remind us – because people used to ask, “I was making such a good progress! What happened suddenly? I am down with a bout of depression.” Or, “I have hurt, injured myself.” And they would say: precisely when you are making a progress – it's precisely when you have probably made a progress, that they come. And why do they come? They have a function; that's why they are there. In any good factory, where you want to have “Six Sigma” perfection – so what happens is there are people there who are meant to test. You know, good wine: there are connoisseurs who have to taste and say, “This is good. This can pass.” And there are many more rejections; they put it aside.
So there are such beings, who actually in the end, end up building perfection. That's the paradox about it. They have a function to serve. But we need to understand their play; because sometimes in the process, we can break down, many things can happen. They, as Sri Aurobindo says, “clap a whole Himalaya in front”, where there is just a little hill to cross. So their actual purpose is, they are actually an original instrument of sincerity.
The Mother has used the word ‘censors’. They are meant to keep aligning us, back to the goal. But they do it in a very strange way: by seemingly deviating us from the goal. We have taken a wrong turn, and they take us further and further. And it's a dangerous way; they are not good teachers. But in ignorance, well, they are there – they have their own place.
How the adverse forces operate
So, how do they operate? Well, the soul is immune from them. They cannot touch the soul; they know it very well. So what do they touch? They touch the instruments of the soul: the dark field, the field of ignorant nature. So they will touch the mind; they will touch the vital, the life-impulse in us. They will touch the emotional chords, fray it. So where there is love, suddenly there is hatred, bitterness, quarrel, anger – all kinds of things. Similarly, they will touch the impulses. And we can confuse the impulsions from these beings for the true impulsions. There are strange instances: somebody would... and very often Sri Aurobindo and the Mother used to send them away from this intense force-field. That's why, here, the chances are even greater of losing the balance. That's why balance is so important. Mother speaks about it.
And when people had a breakdown, they were sent away very often, to be away from this intense field. So we have interesting correspondence: there is a person called Thirupati. He's meant to embody ‘faith’, one of the four pillars. And he has a breakdown (it can happen to anyone). So he sends a telegram to Sri Aurobindo that “I am coming to Pondicherry.” And Sri Aurobindo sends back, that “No, don't come.” And he says, “No, no, no. My inner voice has told me that I must come – you are calling me.” So Sri Aurobindo sends a telegram: “No, I myself am telling you not to come.” Then – back and forth telegram. “I know you are testing me. Outwardly you are telling me not to come, but inwardly you are coaxing me to come.” (Laughing) You know, what do you do in such a situation? So Sri Aurobindo had to again write to the family and other... he arranged for his stay there, and nothing is eventually lost. But they create big challenges.
So that's why it's not just a question of learning a technique and doing some meditation and having some experiences, and some visions or voices, or having some feeling, some energy... Yoga is much more profound, much more vaster. And these are very small things; it's like scratching the surface. The real journey begins when we really enter into the deeper penetrations of our existence. What do we find there? We find all of these energies, and they are so real to the world of the soul.
Their action on the mind
So in the mind, they act in various ways, and it's good to know how they act. One of them is suggestions. So one characteristic suggestion which many people in the Ashram context used to be plagued with is the sense of unfitness. “I am unfit for the Yoga.” Sri Aurobindo would say, “When Mother has told you to come, how come you are entertaining...?” “No, no, I am unfit.” One small defect, one small difficulty, or big difficulty, and always Sri Aurobindo would remind us that, “Look, there is the Grace. Don't look at the difficulty.” “But I am unfit.” Unworthiness. “I am no good.”
Then, still worse: guilt, saps away the entire energy. “I am a sinner...” You know, this whole approach: “I am a sinner.” Sri Aurobindo and the Mother have just put it aside as the work of the Adversary. And he gives us a very nice way, he says: “If you fall, get up, brush your pants, and walk! That's it; doesn't matter.” Somebody would say, “What if I fall a thousand times?” Mother tells us, “Get up, a thousand-and-one times.” What else can you do? Because that's the goal you have chosen; it's inevitable in the process that there will be some... many times, one has to ‘touch the soil’. And why one has to touch the soil? She explains very beautifully: because a little power, a little knowledge... very often people say “a little knowledge is a dangerous thing”. Now, it's a dangerous thing for others later; it's a dangerous thing for oneself, because one may get puffed up and think, “Ah, I am some great being!” “I am some yogi”, “some guru”, “swami...” See, it's so easy to become ‘guru’.
And, to touch base: “Look, don't do that.” They bring humility, by this constant repeated fall. That's why Sri Aurobindo says, “never walk under the banner of someone who has never failed.” Because he does not know what life is; he does not know what Yoga is; he does not know the totality of existence. Go through it.
- “308. Distrust the man who has never failed and suffered; follow not his fortunes, fight not under his banner.”
So they put us back to Mother Earth: touch base. So they have this purpose. Nevertheless, these suggestions come; and we should not start feeling guilty or unworthy about it, but summon up a greater sincerity. More sincerity; more one-pointedness. What does one do if there is darkness? One lights the fire a little more intense. That's what one has to do.
One detects: “Well, this is a part which is not in tune with my central aspiration”, tries to align it. Difficult – yes, it's difficult. No doubt about it. But that's the challenge we are here to undertake. Why else are we here? It's difficult – we are not here to do easy things. Even normal life is not an easy life. So we have to align. So they show us where things are not aligned.
So in the mind, they can take these kinds of suggestions. And sometimes, they can actually – in their extreme form – disrupt the thought sequences, disrupt the feelings, disconnect the whole apparatus. So that feelings and thoughts get disconnected; within the thought there is a disconnection; between the will and the impulse there is a disconnection. And we know what ‘technical’ illness we are speaking about. But I am not referring any names, because, well, these are labels. But what really happens is, if we allow them to act: a black confusion in the brain. Where even things which are so obvious, they put a blinder. And we're not able to see.
There are so many instances. I know one instance where someone saw Krishna, and... no, before that: he writes to Mother and says, “I want to start taking [giving] classes on The Life Divine” And Mother said no. Actually, the telegram didn't come; and then next telegram followed after a few days, he says: “I have seen Krishna, and he has given me permission to start The Life Divine classes.” So Mother writes back, urgent telegram: “Tell him he has not seen Krishna. He has seen a hostile being. And he should not be starting.” But he didn't trust it – he started.
That's why one has to be so careful, if work – whether it's really given, or not given. Even gurus used to... she would tell us to be so careful. There was a person who called... they can wear so many masks of deception. The worst mask is twofold. One is: these forces can completely oppose the Divine. They revolt; they are hostile to the Divine and his work and his purpose. Or, still worse: the worst form is when they imitate the Divine. The imitate the one whom they inwardly deny. And that's a very dangerous mask, because it's so difficult to detect. We are so much carried away by anybody who is wearing a sannyasi's robe.
Some of these can be great ascetics. Sri Aurobindo, 3-4 places he mentions, “somehow, the Asuras are very ascetic.” Very hard, very rigid. Stone-like. And they impose this asceticism on everybody around. So one has to be so careful. One cannot detect them simply by seeing how many times he is going to the church or the temple, or... inside a place. None of these things are markers. Markers are something very inside, which is so difficult for human beings to see.
Their action on the emotions
So they can create these kinds of disorders in the brain. They can attack the vital; emotions they can completely either make the whole emotional energy fall down, down, down – and the whole emotional energy gets turned into oneself. And one begins to wonder whether ‘anybody loves me or understands me’.
They would write to Mother: “Mother, you don't love me.” There's a very interesting instance of a lady (this is just to understand how dangerous they can be) – so Mother gave her a lot of love. (And she has a lot of intimate connection, incidentally, with Savitri Bhavan.) So, she was... (I mean, she is no more.) She was given some rose, white rose, by the Mother. So she (gesture) threw the rose, there. Can you imagine that? She says, “Mother, I don't love you. And you don't love me. I am going away from here.” And she threw the rose and went away, started packing things. She used to go into these fits, time and again. So Mother sends S__ all the way to her. And S__ says, “Mother has sent you a card.” So: “Ok, ok, I don't want to see. Keep it there.” “No, no, Mother has given a message also. You want to hear it?” “Ok, you say what you have to say.” “Mother has said – you know what Mother told me? Once you turned away, Mother said, ‘She does not know how much love she has in her heart for me’.” Mother is not even saying ‘she loves’ – of course she loves.
Sometimes Sri Aurobindo's one-liners: “Base your life on this one single fact: that the Mother loves you.” That's all. So she says, she was so much touched with that gesture: “I have love in my heart for Mother, and Mother is able to see it, even though I have thrown the white rose?” She unpacks – of course, she stayed on.
So these forces – and in fact, the closer we come, the more intense their attack. The more the possibility, the greater they attack the seeker. At one place, Mother says, “These forces, because they cannot attack me, attack those who are very close to me – especially those who have love for me.” Because here is... they know that these people who love the Divine are dangerous fellows. We may call them ‘mad’, but they are really capable of bringing into this world something which she calls as “a fine powder of delight”. Which is the ultimate power of transformation, which is love and delight.
So they attack. So they will do this to the emotions. Then depression in the vital, for no reason at all. Even depression is not justified, even if there is a reason. Because after all what is life? It's a challenge, and one has to take it. Leave aside Yoga – in normal life, what do we do? When there is a challenge, we face it. We equip ourselves; we go past it. We equip in terms of knowledge, power, will. And take it – that's what life is about; and through these challenges, we grow. Depression is a very illogical thing; but they attack, and then there's depression, there are periods which many sadhaks had to undergo. Sri Aurobindo said, “I myself had to undergo, for almost six months.” Because they bring in tamas, they bring in fatigue, and so on and so forth.
So depression is another common mode, and this depression can go on to despair, despondency and eventually, they push the person through one suggestion – strong suggestion – “You are no good. Your life is wasted. The Divine does not love you. And there is no hope for you.” So they are called in the Vedas as ‘those who steal’. So what do they steal? They first try to attack; then if we allow them to enter, they will steal the will. (Not ‘steel’ as in S-T-E-E-L, but ‘steal’ as in S-T-E-A-L.) So they will steal the will. So one feels, “No, I can't do anything. I am really not good. Really, I can't meditate. I can't read. I can't walk this path.” So they will steal the will.
Then, next, if you allow them to steal the will, then faith: they will come and attack faith. These are the two strong sentinels of the soul. They want to enter somehow. And then, when they go past, there is a slender, small little being near the soul, who resists for a long time. And that is Hope. Hope is the last thing they like to steal. And the moment hope is gone, then they push in the idea of suicide. “Kill yourself. This life is not worth it.” Even Ashram people will. They [these suggestions] used to circulate; and Sri Aurobindo used to say, “See, it circulates: first these people will have, then these people, then they.” Some people actually completed it. We are talking about 24th April – I think 24th April there was actually a... you know, just before that. And incidentally the Mother has said, 24th April is the day of victory over the adverse forces. And just the day before, or on that day, there was a suicide. Somebody actually completed it.
So this is real battle. It's not just like ‘I just learn how to meditate and start living...’ There are challenges one has to face, and these forces are allowed. So they can attack the vital, and bring in despair, despondency, doubt in the mind – repeated experience, and then one doubts. Or very often people say, “I don't know whether I just imagined or...” Okay, start with this premise: you experienced something. Whether it is imagination or not is not the issue. The experience is real; understanding of the experience can come later. Yes, we need to understand, we need to grow in knowledge. But we can't start with the premise of doubt.
Sri Aurobindo says, “Even if I write long letters, still the doubt can remain.” It's an attack from these forces.
Their action at night
And then finally, if they don't succeed there, they attack the body. Many illnesses which we regard as illnesses, and deal with right now through medication, are nothing but attacks from the adverse forces. And there's a very simple proof: those who are conscious of the night can actually trace back what happened at night. One has actually seen something; very often when you somehow prevent the body from the attacks, they still lurk in the subconscient part. And they wait for the right moment. And the right moment is night. Fatigue, bored, lying down in a helpless state... and they find an entry. So one wonders, “Night is usually so nice. I went to sleep so nicely, what happened? In the morning I am down, I just feel down for no reason.” Or, “my throat is bad”, etc.
Because that's the time: night is when they gain power. That's why in all literature we see: even physical night has this effect on these beings – they gain strength from that. And equally, at the advent of night, increase of night, the energies begin to get dissipated – so it almost sounds like a Hollywood movie, where it's a real thing that happens in the consciousness, when we undertake this journey.
Attack vs. influence vs. possession vs. incarnation
So if these are the attacks, then sometimes this goes still further, and there are influences. So ‘attacks’ is one thing: they come, and we can recognize, we can repel them. But ‘influence’ means that we begin to become... (no, it's not my [mobile phone ringing])... influences are where they actually begin to use a human being as their instrument and spokesperson. And that's very dangerous. They will use all kinds of means. One of the common: justifying things which are dangerous to Yoga. And these beings can actually begin to influence. And there are people who become their spokesperson.
Next level, after the influence (when attacks, then influence), next level is actually incarnation of these forces. Or even before that, temporary possessions – what is called as ‘seizures’. They try to take hold, and there's a resistance, so there's a seizure. At one place, somebody asked Sri Aurobindo: “Is it really true? Is it a possibility?” He said, “No, it's not a ‘possibility’ – I actually know it.” Seizure is a temporary possession by these forces. And there may be generally a problem with the heredity, problems, something in the constitution which may open the doors. Doors are opened through many ways. And these forces can attack, and when there's a resistance, there's a seizure.
Or worse still: they can actually possess. And when they possess, you know (it's described in Savitri), there can come a point when the soul departs. Though they cannot really do anything to the soul. And the psychic feels that “no, it's no more possible in this body”; the soul departs, and the body is left like a wandering shell. Body and mind are left to wander and die. They become repository of these forces.
Savitri, Book II, Canto VIII:
“The World of Falsehood, the Mother of Evil and the Sons of Darkness”
So all these extreme possibilities – and there is still one more, which is the worst form, and that is the actual incarnation of these forces. You know, Hitler, Stalin – there are beings who are actually incarnations; they are totally in sync with that. And it happens when the psychic is very, very, very little developed – hardly anything, just a little spark. And then these forces can actually incarnate in these beings.
Three kinds of examiners
So there are so many levels and so many types of action. But let's not take into account that; the important thing is to be aware. And to be aware, one of the first things that the Mother says: that there are examiners in this Yoga, and these examiners... see, how this yoga proceeds – it doesn't proceed by just a thought-method: sitting half an hour or one hour for meditation. There are examiners, who will see whether our resolve is true or not. And she said there are three kinds of examiners. There is the examination by spiritual and divine forces. (The Vedas are full of them.) So what they will do: they will offer us some nice seat – ‘plum post’, as they say. “Ok, you can become a swami, a guru!” – you know? “You will be revered and regarded.” “People will bow down at you.” It's a ‘plum position’, not realizing they have dug a deep well, and they fixed you there: stopped progressing. This is one way.
Second is, they attack through – there is the challenges by universal Nature. Universal Nature is what? Universal Nature is everything that we call ‘me’, ‘myself’. So these forces, as long as we are living live normally and ordinarily (in a certain sense of the word), they are fine. We are comfortable with them; they are comfortable with us. But the moment we try to overpass them, they say, “No, no, no, no, no. I – what do you mean? It's not possible; you can't conquer, you can't say that ‘ambition is not necessary’, ‘desire is not necessary’.”
Once, long back – 20 years back – in one of the camps in Nainital, one elderly lady told me, “Alok-bhai, your talks are all very fine, but please don't say such things like ‘I have to conquer my desires’ – how can I do it?” I said, “But then there's no yoga without it!” If we are not ready for it, then we are just not ready for it. You can't sell a ‘false product’. That's what Mother and Sri Aurobindo... at some point: it's not that it has to be done immediately, or it can be done immediately; there's a whole process. And we are not talking about the process right now. But one has to know what is to be done. If we don't know what is to be done, then we'll just be leading a life like everyone else.
So that's where the forces – anger, so common in ordinary life, becomes a big obstacle. They are forces of nature. Then: greed, jealousies. Hatred. This is the thing which normal life is made upon. Deception, lying, slander, criticism... people take a great joy in ___. But when we take to Yoga, it can become dangerous. In one place Mother says: this habit of malicious gossip, especially when it is done with words which are of a very crude and vulgar kind, she says it's like committing spiritual suicide, If we indulge in that kind of thing. So these forces are just looking, watching out for the instrument who can become their spokesperson. So this is universal nature.
And then there are adverse and hostile forces. They are by far of course the most dangerous. And they act by bringing in a state of denial: “No, there is no Divine. It's all nonsense.” So we will see that in much of what lives in siege of these forces. Fair enough – it's everybody's business. “There is no Divine. All these experiences are all hallucinations.” “Who knows whether it's there or not.” “Ok, Sri Aurobindo has written, by how do I believe what he has written is true?” It can go to any extent: doubts, denial, etc. Despair, as we have seen. Dark confusion – all of this is an action of these hostile forces. Turning away from the spiritual possibility; turning away from the divine Light; turning one's back to Grace. Even doubting the Grace, doubting the Love. So this is the way they act.
Humility, vigilance and sincerity
Sri Aurobindo makes a subtle distinction between the ‘adverse’ and the ‘hostile’ forces. Adverse forces press upon nature, and act through nature; and they exaggerate a difficulty. There is some difficulty, but they will make it appear as insurmountable. (Let's say the sexual impulse, or anger.) So they'll make it appear as though it's beyond... “I just cannot deal with it.” What are they doing? They're pressing upon it. They start pressing upon impulses – they know all our anatomy very well. We may not know; but they know which part of the brain – reptilian brain – because matter has evolved under the pressure of these forces. So they know exactly where to press; they will enter, press the switch, and you develop the impulse to be angry. And if one has not learned how to step back, how to discriminate, then one flows with it.
Later on, they make it worse, by saying, “See? Feel guilty. You are not good. I told you you are unworthy for Yoga,” making it still worse. And then, the third thought they bring in, making the final assault: “Look, Mother's grace cannot be with you. She cannot love you. How can she love such a sinner?” Now this is their final weapon. Once we know, we should detect them and discard them.
So for each level, she says how to deal with these. For adverse and hostile forces, she gives three things: sincerity, vigilance, and humility. Humility's a big safeguard. Because they are on the lookout. The moment you get puffed up, boasting – she would always say “don't boast”. “Ah, I had this wonderful experience...” Or even, “You know, Mother did this to me, Mother was very close to me...” We don't know: she is close to everyone. Who can say that Divine is closer to whom and further from whom? “Of whom,” the Isha Upanishad says... “He who is far, he who is near, he who is boundless vast, and he who is the smallest of the small. He who is within, he who is without.” Who can say whom the Divine is close to? It's close to everyone. We put a veil between us and the Divine; and we close the doors, our doors, to grace.
So this is where we need to be humble. To know that there is nothing before the infinite Divine – no power can stand before the power of the Divine Mother. Nothing can stand that.
There is the divine Love which is carrying us. To know that whatever we may know, however much ever we may speak, whatever we may have read, whatever our experiences – we are nothing before Her infinity. So this is humility. Humility is not a false projection before others, bowing down and saying, “I am nothing.” “I am a sinner.” That's sometimes the action of the hostiles to deceive others. Many people do false humility to deceive. To create an image. You will see how they will work.
Dissimilation, showmanship. These are their characteristic ways. Deceiving others and deceiving oneself, which is worse.
Then the other thing she says is: vigilance. So vigilance means we have to detect even before they enter. One of the ways their action can be felt, if one is very vigilant, is: a little restlessness. Some kind of an excitement, restlessness; or a little wave of sadness, tinge of sadness. Should be thrown out!
And that's why they say cheerfulness is so necessary. Sometimes good just to read a joke book, a healthy joke book. It's so nice! Sri Aurobindo's humor – it's an antidote.
I mean, this – they just come like a wave. Sometimes just a little restless. One doesn't know what's happening at the time. A little fear. These things open the door. And if we allow it, then it takes a big form. As Sri Aurobindo says, “clap a whole Himalaya”. So we must counter them with their opposites. Fear – bring in faith. What can harm, and what is harm? When the journey is being carried by... So fear is countered by faith. Restlessness by peace: peace, quietude, calm, equanimity. Endurance. These are wonderful ways to create a cushion, armor and a buffer against these forces. So they cannot enter.
Equanimity is so important. How beautifully Sri Aurobindo's beautiful poem, “The Divine Worker”. And there he says, “No power can slay my soul; it lives in Thee. / Thy presence is my immortality.”
So to live with the sense of the Divine surrounding one, the sense of the Divine within one. It does not mean that you have to see hostile forces – vigilance is not that we start detecting hostile forces in everyone. No. We have to know they exist. Be careful. But to think of the Divine, to live in the sense of the Divine, to be surrounded by the Divine – this is the safety on the path.
And the third thing she says (and that's a real function): sincerity. And sincerity in one word means ‘one-pointedness’. The fact is, if we look within ourselves, we are far from being one-pointed. We are many, many directions, all kinds of things – it's natural. But we should know that we have to become one-pointed. The direction is to gather all these energies and turn them into a bonfire. That's what I think Auroville fire ceremony means: to put in all the energies, and create a bonfire inside. And everything that we offer, it becomes a bonfire.
So one of the ways that Mother tells, reveals to us, is: every time we discover something which is like the anti-divine, don't try to put on a mask of virtuosity, or look like a pious person, or try to walk among the holy. That's not the way. That is just the opposite. It is a kind of self-delusional aggrandizement. “See, I don't keep company with these people...” – no, not like that. Of course, it doesn't mean that one freely mixes with anyone. There are beings whose influence is not healthy. But that apart. What is important is, she says: share, take your own burden of the anti-divine and offer it to the purifying flame. So we have to keep offering it till the thing gets purified; it's a long process. Probably through a couple of lives; but let's not think of another life – definitely it takes a couple of decades, for the purification to take place, and then one is ready.
So purity is, in the true sense of the word – purity is not moral purity. Moral purity is a cover-up, it's a sham. People who try to be morally very pure are, inside, in their private lives, absolutely the opposite.
But there is another kind of purity – it's a childlike purity. Which comes by offering everything to the Divine, and he burns it away layer by layer, step by step. So sincerity to become one-pointed.
Safety in divine Love
But the final thing, with which we can stop (it's a big subject) – but the final thing which the Mother and Sri Aurobindo both tell us, is about love, divine Love. It has the power of transformation. One of the biggest safety on the path – if we have that, these hostile forces see; they try to, but they remain arms away. And that is oneness, divine Love, devotion, faith, surrender. The moment we do it, they try to come but they cannot, because then the Divine takes charge of our journey, and takes charge of our destiny.
So to repeatedly remind us that “my life is for You”; devotion, faith, surrender. Sri Aurobindo says it's like a big shield. Because if I want to do Yoga by my effort – all right, the Divine allows us the freedom. But then we have to face them with our effort, because that is our fate – we want to undertake the journey that way. Cool. But if we say “I want to take the journey with You holding me close to your heart”, he will say, “All right. That's your choice.” And when we make that choice, we may go through an entire Mahabaratha... [but] because there is the Divine seated with us on the chariot, nothing will touch us. Even the shrapnels of the world, the criticisms, the hostile attacks, ___s, all kinds of slander, gossip – hundred things may happen, but nothing will touch us. Because He is seated. He is carrying the chariot of life.
So divine Love. And a very simple thing, which... or rather, two things. The simplest thing, which I often suggest because that's what Savitri reveals to us, that who is safe?: “...were safe who kept God in their hearts”, “A prayer upon his lips and the great Name.”. Just calling Mother's name. I cannot... with all my experience of some 30-odd years dealing with people who are going through psychological difficulties of various kinds – and seeing them both from the conventional medical standpoint and the yogic standpoint – I have no doubt that these forces exist. And they are very, very cunning. Equally I have no doubt, and I have never seen anything more powerful, than the Mother's name.
Unfortunately, very often when people come they are not even in a state to do that. That is the tragedy. So in that case, what is to be done? I simply tell the attendant, somebody who is very close – maybe the mother of a child, or the husband, the spouse, the friend – that “please pray to the Divine, and take Mother's name in the presence of this person.” So, put Mother's music – and I get very interesting responses. If I do anything like that, if I put Mother's picture, they turn it away. I have seen sometimes: one of the first signs, anything to do with the Divine there's a reaction, hostility. I have seen a person who actually developed (and quite a few, but one which I instantly remembered) – the first sign was, he said, “When I look at Mother, I feel so afraid.” So he used to turn the calendar back. And I knew this he was going to trip over. And he tripped over very badly.
So they don't want. So what do we do? So I tell them... see, these forces are very cunning and deceptive. So you have to play with them on their own terms. So what do you do? I often recommend: play Savitri, or play Mother's music; put the volume at zero (!). So the vibrations are still going in the atmosphere. I tell you, it works. I am not saying people get cured overnight of schizophrenia, but it works. It brings quietude. The people become more accepting – they begin to accept even going to a therapist, or taking help. Sometimes to take Mother's name in the atmosphere.
I use this with the person. And this is something Sri Aurobindo has recommended – someone who was having seizures. And Sri Aurobindo said, “Since he's fond of you,” (he's telling the father), “...since he's open to you, you sit near the child, hold his hand and you call me. You call me; hold his hand.” Simple practical ways.
On not neglecting matter, and making choices
And of course the last bit which I said, the second thing is: don't neglect matter. There are doors in matter through which they enter. Matter is their chosen field. They know all the nooks and crannies. That's one reason why if there is tamas, fatigue, they will find an easy access. We would have noticed that when we overtire ourselves, when the nerves are frayed – how depression comes in. So not to neglect matter: regular physical exercises; at every level not to allow or encourage tamas and fatigue. The right kind of diet; regularity; discipline – they are small simple things, which help in the journey. And that is why the last (which may or may not be a question): “All this is fine, when do you use medication?” Because there are gates in matter through which they enter. We call them ‘synapses’. What are synapses? They are gaps between neurons. Through the synapses the divine Grace can enter. That also Sri Aurobindo says. Gaps – wherever there is a gap, wherever there is a blank, somebody will fill it for you.
That's why the importance of making choices. I shared this experience sometime, that when I... once a friend took me to Taj in Mumbai and arranged a nice party with all the family. I was the only fellow. And asked me, “What do you want to eat?” In a characteristic way, I said, “Whatever you decide.” And he decided something which I just can't take, and that was Chinese food. Now, I had not made my choice! So somebody made my choice. And it reminded me in future: “Make your choice”. Don't... (laughing)... of course I knew it, but such an innocuous thing! But then divine Grace helps, because at that moment he called C___ (many of us may be knowing), and he says “You are sitting with Alok-da... so, what have you ordered for him?” And he mentioned ‘Chinese’. “Alok-da doesn't like Chinese!” So he asked me about it; I said, “No no, it's okay, don't worry – this is an opportunity to overcome my likes and dislikes.” And maybe to practice samata.
Time to time, we get courses in samata. Often life throws up challenges. So it's like: crash course, fresher's course – in medicine we have those courses. So it is like ‘continuing education’. In the beginning, we have to do a proper course in samata. Then we are given a certificate: BA or MA. But time to time, there is a repeat course. So somebody will suddenly insult us; somebody will say something, and we have to see where is the ego getting hurt. All these things where we turn upon ourselves – they block us from the divine grace and open the doors to these forces. Whereas everything that opens us to the Divine, the Grace, and the divine love, light, peace, ananda, takes care of these forces – and they go miles away from that state.
So we'll stop here; we have about 15-20 minutes, half an hour, and we can have questions.
Q & A
What about when adverse forces act through someone else?
- These adverse forces or hostile forces could also act through your loved ones.
- So, if it acts through ourselves, then we can do practice and yoga. But if it acts through someone else who is very dear to you, how do you deal with it?
Yes, that's a very good question, very practical question. How do you act when they make those who are near to you instruments?
Equanimity is a basic thing. So one has to make sure there is no bitterness or anger that comes within us. Because that's what they want. They want to turn you (I mean, the person) by these reactions; because when people are very close to us, it's not so easy to practice samata, not so easy to stay calm. And that's what they want – that's why they attack. But if we yield to it, they will make these people who are near to us and dear to us more and more of an instrument; but now they know, they find that that's the access road. So one has to be even more careful and even more vigilant in practicing samata.
Second is, you will see that telling that... this knowledge is not meant for it to be shared by everyone. So it's not like telling people, “You know, you are under the influence of adverse forces” – no, no. Not at all. Because humanity by and large lives under the siege of darkness. So it's not about this or that person. But rather, at that point of time, if we can practice peace (inner peace). It has a tremendous effect. Also to see – and that takes a lot of courage – “What is it in me that is opening the doors to this kind of reaction or responses in the other person?” Sometimes there is something within me. Maybe I think I am very sincere and walking on the path, but I am missing out on something. Most often people miss out on love; that is what I have seen. Because they think being one-pointed means, “I just will not talk to anybody, I'll just sit in meditation, I'll just not interact.” That's not what it means. So very often there is something within me which must learn to bring out a greater power of love.
You see, what did Mother do? Mother did that only. What did the world give her? The cross in payment for the crown – every time divine beings come. What was Christ's response?: “I forgive them.” Compassion – he brought compassion. Mother brings divine love. So we can respond with compassion, that when people are under... that's why this knowledge should not be misused. That, “Oh, so-and-so is under hostile force and adverse force.” No; that's not what it means. It means we understand human beings go through difficulties and challenges, and to bring a greater compassion. To bring a greater power of love, or to awaken it within.
To offer these persons, people, movements, to the Divine. And lastly to pray for them – that's something we can always do. Let's take a practical example: there is a fight. (‘One-sided’ fight, presuming.) Somebody threw a lot of anger, who loves you (apparently)... why is ‘dear and near’ to you, let's use that word. ‘Love’ is a very big word.
So what do you do? Normally there can be various reactions within the being. One of them is, we start vibrating with those vibrations, and speak things in that anger, which later on we regret. That's the worst anger response, we know it. Second kind of response is, we are feeling angry inside, but we are putting up a mask of – facade of – goodness outside, and stoic kind of thing. Third kind of response is (I am talking of ignorant responses), that inwardly we curse that moment or “Why so-and-so is in my life?” or “...near to me?” All these are dark responses: we are playing into their hands, actually. Worst is if we tell such a thing. These are not the responses which a person who is on the path should make.
The response should be just the opposite: to understand that people are caught up in their difficulties and issues. And when – what at least I can tell you what I would do, when such a thing happens. What would I do? I would go to the Samadhi and pray. Pray to the Mother. “Mother, bring peace to so-and-so's heart.” Because the person is... who should you feel sympathy on? If at all? Sympathy, again – good that this word came up. Because Sri Aurobindo says, “Don't be in sympathy with somebody who has taken the wrong path.” So there is a kind of sympathy which is dangerous. “Oh, poor fellow...” If somebody has gone hostile, just cut off yourself from that.
But this is a different kind of thing, where we start feeling, “Oh, I am so miserable; look, those who I love don't care about me...” Then we have actually... these forces have come with us. (Smiling) That, “Look, nobody loves me...” – then they are actually playing. Instead of that: “Mother, you have blessed me with your love. And you are the giver of peace and harmony. Give peace and harmony to so-and-so's heart. That person is troubled.”
I can tell you, I have seen hundreds of times it works like an immediate antidote. You don't have to say “sorry”, or hear a “sorry” – that's worse: “You must say sorry.” What is sorry? “Sorry”, forgiveness – whom do you forgive? There is no other. Bring compassion, peace, light, love. And I have seen so many times that when such a situation arises (and everybody has to face this by the way), I have gone and prayed at the Ashram, “Mother, bring peace and harmony in that heart.” “Mother, your light should awaken once more.” Within half an hour, I get a call: “I am really sorry, I lost myself.”
Whereas, I have seen in earlier days taking the other response: “We have taken this path! This is not what we are supposed to do!” It's like a disturbance. And I have seen it multiplies, multiplies, multiplies, cascades. What is the path? Path is here (touches heart). It's not there (arm flung out). It's here. It's the way we go through life, becomes the path.
Katha Upanishad recently we read: “the objects are the path”. If I think about difficulties, within myself, and within people, and their problem, their negative nature, negativity... then what happens? My path will be through the jungle of negativity, because I am thinking about it. But if we focus on the divine Presence in everyone – after all, everybody is Mother's child. Even those who are near, dear, whatever – everybody is Mother's child. So we have to support each other's energy. There must be a reason why somebody is there in our life. Yes, the person may not give us the so-called ‘space’, ‘joy’, ‘pleasure’ – we are not here for that. There is some reason why people are there in our life, and we need to support.
This doesn't mean that we have to just cling along together. I am not saying that. People can split up, they can go this way, that way: that's a different thing. But there should never be a bitterness and hatred in the heart. There should always be love and compassion, and the sense of peace, [toward] the difficulties and challenges of everyone on the path. And that works wonderfully.
So these are some of the practical solutions. And always to keep equanimity: very tough calling, but as I said, we are here to do tough things. Can't get the nectar of immortality... not for the weak. Nayam atma balahinena. That strength has to be with us to bear a Titan's force. And yet remain undisturbed and calm. Very difficult – nobody can deny it. But we know the goal; we will go that way.
“Never tell a lie”
- Yesterday we were discussing the adverse forces; just I would like to share. You reminded me a lot that “not to tell a lie” is an absolute condition of safety of the path. Please elaborate on that, sir.
Yes... many things open the doors. By the way there's a flower which Mother has given the name, ‘Never tell a lie’. Never tell a lie. It goes more than ‘not’ to tell a lie.
So there are many things which open the door to these forces. And what is worst is, falsehood.
Now, when we talk about ‘lie’, there are three types of lie. One is the lie which is like instinctive, habitual, which does not mean much. You are rushing, let us say, for a work, and somebody calls you up (I am giving a practical example). And you know you are in a hurry, but if you just say that you are hurrying up, it may be impolite; at the same time you want to convey, “please call me later”. So some people instinctively at that time just say, “I am busy, I can't take the call,” – things like that. Maybe innocuous lies like that, where you could have spoken, but you say something else. This is a common form of lying. This is the least harmful form of lie.
Then the second category of lie is when it is a conscious and deliberate lie. And this is done just to deceive; there is an intent behind it. If I tell a lie, it gives me ‘this advantage’. If I tell a lie, I will have ‘this benefit’. “I will make profit.” So to cheat people, to deceive people by telling lies. This is a dangerous form of lie.
But even this is not yet so dangerous. None of them is good; but the worst kind of lie, Mother says, is where you are revolted against the Divine. That's the attack of falsehood. And you completely deny; this is the lie we tell ourselves. We cheat ourselves. We cheat our very soul. So that's the most dangerous kind of lie, where we deny the Divine, deny the divine grace, deny the divine love. Most people don't consider it a lie at all! They would say, “It's my free thought.”
So when it is said, “Never tell a lie,” there are all these levels. But at the same time, the caveat is, you don't have to always speak the truth. We can remain silent. And there is a way to speak things. Sometimes it is good to say simply, “Look, I mean... (silence).” It's okay. People understand nowadays that you don't want to share what you don't want to share. Just stay quiet. Let them fill in those blanks. (As I said, somebody will fill those blanks! If you don't say. It's okay.) Maybe there'll be some misunderstanding; but not everything can be shared or spoken to everybody. And you have a right to privacy and right to your... and I think all this has come, and people are becoming even more accepting of this: that, well, you can't always speak everything.
So the first kind of lie is very easy to cure. You don't have to say everything and anything. Decide what you have to speak, step back, and speak. The second lie is dangerous; so there we have to detect it. “What is behind this movement? I want to cheat someone? I want to deceive someone? I want my own profit – for that I am telling things?” And to ruthlessly excise it. Offer it to Mother; pray to her, “Take away this tendency.” That's how it'll go. It has roots in the very dark.
The third kind of lie: never ever. That there is no Divine, there is no Grace. Even if we have not experienced, we should be agnostics. Even when we don't experience. Because when we say ‘negative’, then we are affirming a presence against which we stand. That's why, Sri Aurobindo says, the highest thought of the mind is agnosticism. Agnosticism is fine – it's not a lie. It's “I don't know.” To say, “No, there is no Divine!” – what am I really doing? I am actively opposing something. And if we have turned on the path and then do it, the consequences are phenomenal; it's like something better not even thought of. When we have turned on, gone on the path; when we have experienced the touch of Grace, when we have experienced even a drop of that Love, and then to turn back... Sri Aurobindo uses the word, it is to turn back on your spiritual possibilities and take the spiritual consequences. Which means God-knows-how-many lives. Because it's an ‘hour of God’, we miss it... who knows where.
On Truth and dharma
- I would ask you to speak a little bit about on ‘Truth’. Because often I recognize that Truth has a very – for common people – a very harsh understanding. So...?
Very beautiful, since you clarified it and qualified it. Truth, Mother says, is “supreme harmony”. And there's a very nice conversation of her, which in one of the “All India” magazines I just took out. (Was it... I don't know, probably the February issue.) So there, she speaks about it. Because she gave a message: “Cling to Truth.” So, she says: people have started coming to me, and they have started pointing falsehoods in others. (Laughing) And she says everybody has their own falsehoods and truth. Somebody is a vegetarian: he thinks those who are taking non-vegetarian food are in falsehood. She gives many suggestions; this example is one example. So she gives many such examples. And says, “What to do? I am the one who told them to cling to truth!”, very humorously.
And then the disciple asks Mother, “Mother, then what is Truth?” She says, “Yes, that is what I have written. Truth cannot be defined, but someone who wants to live it sincerely will know it.” So truth is something – the moment we define it, we create a narrow and rigid wall around it. Then it becomes ‘my truth’ vs. ‘your truth’. That's not what truth is. Truth escapes; truth is infinite, by its very definition. The Vedic rishis, why did they say: Satyam (Truth), Ritam (it knows the right law of each thing), Brihat (‘vast’ – it is vast, all-encompassing). But right law means what? That vastness is not the pell-mell junk store, or the wastepaper basket. Because people pick up ‘Truth’ and ‘vastness’, but there is Ritam. Ritam connects the two. Ritam means that everything has its own law; and we must act in accordance with that.
To give an example, someone in the Ashram, I give the example of Tirupati. Sri Aurobindo sends him away from the Ashram. Now somebody would say, “You are so vast, why did you do it?” “For him that is better. It's important.” Sometimes people were sent all the way to N__: Gangadharan. Such wonderful supramental experiences, and yet he lost his balance. So the Mother sent him all the way to N__ to get treatment. And see what happens is that in N__, every night he sees a nurse who comes with coconut water and he drinks it. And after two months he's out. And he wants to thank this nurse, and there is no such nurse (!). So he comes and asks Mother, “Mother, what is it? This nurse used to come and give water, coconut water.” So Mother smiled. “Was it you?” Mother smiled and said, “Of course yes.” “Why did you then send me all the way to N__? You could have given me coconut water here.” And that is the beauty and mystery of the Divine. The right law of being. This pressure he was not able to take, so he had to be sent away.
N__ becomes an excuse. Sometimes you need to work on the material gates. But ultimately the cure is coming from the Grace, which never abandons.
So the right law of things means this. Because ultimately the cure for all this is oneness. And Mother speaks of that, that Sri Aurobindo based his action on oneness. And then Sri Aurobindo qualifies that there's a right understanding of oneness, and there's a wrong understanding of oneness. And he gives the example of the elephant and the Mahabat. He says: a man goes and says, “All is Brahman.” Ok, very good. So there is the elephant coming, and the man sitting on top says, “Please get out of the way, can't you see the elephant is coming?” He says, “You are having illusion of sight. You do not have the true knowledge. True knowledge is: elephant is Brahman, I am Brahman. How can Brahman harm Brahman?” So the man sitting there says, “See, I don't have all this kind of knowledge, but I know for sure the elephant will hit you and throw you away.” And he says, (macho pose) “No, nothing...” – he stands with arrogance. And sure enough the elephant throws him away.
And Sri Ramakrishna's story stopped there. Sri Ramakrishna says, “Why didn't you listen to the Mahabat Brahman?” But Sri Aurobindo takes it one step further. He says, “this is the wrong way to take oneness. But there is a kind of oneness where you will not be harmed even if the elephant comes your way. And that is when you have really that state of humility. Not the pride and arrogance of knowledge. You are shielded by the divine Grace. And there she brings the story of Prahlad. Prahlad, she says, is the story of living in oneness. And when a person lives in oneness, one is protected. But there, you have to see the one Divine everywhere. It doesn't mean bonhomie, sympathy with the nature.
So truth always brings harmony, because it also brings the state of oneness. It is never harsh. Harsh truths are always... acetics – or rather, acetic Asuras (we read about) – they make truth very rigid, and very harsh. So very often they become strict disciplinarians. And they try to: “If you don't do it like this, you are not following the path.” Sometimes I used to ask... even here, people have made Mother into a strict disciplinarian. Authoritarian. Some people felt like that, and went away. So I used to ask earlier, “You know, I have a very different experience of the Divine Mother.” Once I remember asking Tara-di. I said, “You have lived with her from childhood and people say that she was strict disciplinarian. Not to my experience: she is an embodiment of love. So what is your take on it?” And she says, “Indeed, Mother is love. She is love. People don't understand.”
They have turned her into that image because the asuric mind wants to see the Divine in that image. And then they make everything harsh. Sri Aurobindo speaks of that in Savitri. A harsh philosophy, where they punish people for the sins they themselves have enjoyed.
- True freedom was abhorred and hunted down:
- Harmony and tolerance nowhere could be seen;
- Each group proclaimed its dire and naked Law.
- A frame of ethics knobbed with scriptural rules
- Or a theory passionately believed and praised
- A table seemed of high Heaven’s sacred code.
- A formal practice mailed and iron-shod
- Gave to a rude and ruthless warrior kind
- Drawn from the savage bowels of the earth
- A proud stern poise of harsh nobility,
- A civic posture rigid and formidable.
- But all their private acts belied the pose:
- Power and utility were their Truth and Right,
- An eagle rapacity clawed its coveted good,
- Beaks pecked and talons tore all weaker prey.
- In their sweet secrecy of pleasant sins
- Nature they obeyed and not a moralist God.
- Inconscient traders in bundles of contraries,
- They did what in others they would persecute;
- When their eyes looked upon their fellow’s vice,
- An indignation flamed, a virtuous wrath;
- Oblivious of their own deep-hid offence,
- Moblike they stoned a neighbour caught in sin.
So, truth is never harsh. It's very beautiful, very delightful. It brings harmony instinctively. It brings sweetness and a warmth – but that is the truth which is inside. And we will know it; each one has to figure it out for themself. And we will know what we have to do at a given point of time, as per the ‘law of truth’, but we should do it without bitterness and harshness. Even if we have to walk away. Cutting off; we have to fight a war... it should be done in that state of being in harmony with truth. What is called as Swadharma, and then of course, higher forms. And divine dharma.
Mother has used the word: ‘dharma’ is the only word you can use for this law of truth. If you act according to dharma, there's no problem, because you are not trying to hurt anybody, you're not trying to please anybody. You are simply trying to live by the truth. Then there is no problem.
Anything else? We have 5 minutes. Yes, please...
Compassion and sympathy are two different movements
- (Shilpi): So a thought came to me, that if I'm the one who somehow observes, like if I see pain or suffering in someone else, I soak a lot. And somehow that person comes to me for help or something. So, okay I give myself; but at the same time I notice that I am also suffering.
- So how can I help myself?
Yes, very good question, and good you... though it's a little bit different, but it's relevant in a certain sense. And I passingly mentioned, when I said, “Good I spoke this word, ‘sympathy’.” One cannot help another when one is at the same level. This is the axiomatic truth. And that's why one first has to arrive, oneself, at a state of – or a poise – where one has the strength, the knowledge, the light and the peace to help. And that's what Sri Aurobindo speaks even in Synthesis: that what is true compassion? True compassion leans from above. It has the power to cure. Otherwise it's very risky. Because one will end up taking, swallowing all the poison – but one is not Shiva. So if we swallow the poison and we are not Shiva, then we either end up suffering, or even dying, which is not what we are meant for. It's also not about becoming a martyr. So we have to, for a long time, strive only towards arriving at that fundamental truth, light, peace, within us. Before we do it.
Sri Ramakrishna put it in this way, when somebody started prematurely trying to help: he said, “You have not even gathered money in your account, and you have started giving.”
Sri Aurobindo says in Savitri, that she found truth in paradoxical terms: “Only who save themselves can others save.” (p.501) And if we follow this trail, then while it is a good deed – the motive is good – but very often then these forces will make sure that one is tied to that level. So one has to at the [least] keep a balance. One has to know where to draw the line. At least. I mean if that is the dharma – kindness and pity comes natural to oneself – one cannot say it's a bad quality; it's a good quality. But the first focus should be on, and the majority of focus should be on, finding the soul and calling the divine Grace, offering these people to the divine Grace.
Sometimes, you know, when we want to help someone, we take it too much upon ourselves. So what I say often in clinical practice: “Don't play God.” Don't play God. The person may improve, may not improve. The person may listen, may not listen – it's perfectly fine. But when we press it beyond, then we are playing God. Only God can do that. And if we become one with the Divine, yes we can do it (!). But till then, we should be clear: that if we go beyond a point... sometimes it's good to just give a suggestion. Sometimes you might like to interact a little more. But all the time, to keep that inner poise. And if that is getting disturbed, one has to be very cautious.
I can share with you one experience; because it's not just about people who are in difficulty. Sometimes you can actually come across beings who are... almost in a state of possession. So during the early years of my psychiatric practice, I had this person, and the moment the person sat before me, I would actually experience all the energy flowing from the hands and the feet. I didn't know what to do. I'd come back exhausted. The moment I went back, I needed to just slump and do something, call Mother... So I went on to tell my professor that, “I think...” (Because I knew that I was more sensitive, very sensitive. Probably this wouldn't happen to somebody else.) I said, “I would like to transfer this case to someone.” He said, “No, no, you are the best person to deal with it.” And I took it as a challenge, but not knowing what to do. So trust me, I tried various things, till one day (how you can be guided): I had Mother's picture on my table, like this, pointing towards me. So you know, when I was talking to this person, instinctively I was holding [the picture] more to protect myself (!), and, while doing this, unwittingly I did it like this (faces it towards the person). And I experienced the whole field cut. The entire flow of energy stopped. And I realized, ’this is so wonderful!’ I didn't know it works.
So then I did it a few times. Soon thereafter – after a few weeks – there was a talk at (this is in Bangalore) Bangalore Bhavan. And someone had come from Pondicherry. And he said something very interesting: that when Navajata-ji asked Mother, “When people are very angry and very hostile, what do I do to defend myself? Because I have to deal with them.” (It can apply to medicine also, or healing also.) She said, “Put myself between you and the person.” And I realized that, ‘my God, very instinctively I was doing it’. But now I've made it a way of practice, that whenever I have to deal with (in life, you have to deal with all kinds of things) – put on gloves, safety gloves. And the safety gloves are Mother's presence, Mother's name. So that's what will protect us.
Otherwise, if we get into an ignorant movement of sympathy, we may be sucked into it. Even medically it is known: folie à deux. Where people begin to believe the suspicions and delusions of another person. Because of very close sympathy. And we should be careful. Compassion and sympathy are two different movements.
So, anything else?... Any last bit?...
What is the right yogic attitude toward the feeling of discrimination?
- (Tapas): It's a question that is not directly related to the topic of the talk. But if I may ask it... What is the right yogic attitude we should have when a large number of people in the community express that they feel strongly discriminated? So if we turn to Yoga, if we turn to the Mother, what's the right answer one can give to that?
That is very simple. You see... you mean if oneself, one feels discriminated? Or some others are feeling discriminated?
Both ways. For oneself it's very simple. It's a joy and a blessing to be in solitude with the Divine. So if the entire community discriminates and cuts you off, a true yogi will turn everything to honey. He will not complain. He will say, “Thank you, Mother, you have given me quality time only with yourself!” (Laughter). He'll be grateful for this. And I am telling you honestly. All of us go through these things at some point or the other. By experience I can tell you: it's a great joy. It's a great relief. It's a moment, quality time with the Divine Mother, you can have.
If others are discriminated: many things are there in life which we know as ‘evil’. We can do two movements. One is: “Within me, I must make sure I don't discriminate”... ‘Discrimination’, of course, there is a higher kind of discrimination we have to have, but that's not based on caste, creed, color, racial – I am talking of that discrimination. There is a higher discrimination, which one has to make. There are beings who are actual influences and spokespersons of falsehood, and one has to stay away, or maybe even (gesture) keep them at arm's length. I am not talking of that yogic discrimination for yogic purposes. But the ordinary discrimination in life, when people do it in terms of work, power, position, etc., and the world is full of these things. Everywhere it is full of these things.
One: “Within me, I shouldn't have a single movement with that.” So I should even more thoroughly search: is there within me some kind of a discrimination? (Again, this word I am using in the ordinary sense of the word.) And I should cast it out. “Do I judge people based on their externalities, based on their power, based on their wealth? Based on their degrees, learning, etc.?” If yes, I must need to put it back. So equanimity towards people, and situations, and circumstances.
Second, as to the larger collective: every day if I am deeply moved by this evil, I should offer it to the Divine Mother, that, “Mother, take this from earth. It's a burden we are carrying, that should not be. Life should not be like that. It should be beautiful, harmonious.” And we should offer it.
But yes, there is a higher discrimination, which a yogi exercises. He does not indiscriminately mix with everyone and anyone, saying that, “well, all are one.” That will be the wrong use of oneness. The Mahabarat Brahman and the elephant Brahman.
What happens to that person is not your lookout; but you should know what is what. Yogic life is about that. That comes from Ṛta (the word ‘Ṛta’).
How to realize unity in diversity?
- (Tapas): The next question: Mother has given us objectives for the purpose to be in Auroville. One of the key exercises that she has asked is to experiment with unity in diversity.
- But then... how can we experience that unity in diversity unless we are not one with oneself?
Earth. Earth is the example. Earth is the example. See, what ‘unity in diversity’ means, again Ṛta has to be brought in. And beautifully it is seen in earth; and Mother says, “Evil is something which is not in its place.” Things should be in their place. Everything has a place. But if we put them pell-mell together, it's dangerous – it's like a snake. Now I had an Air Force officer staying two rooms after me; he one day called me, “See, I have a pet.” So I went, very excited about the pet. He had a krait snake kept inside his room in a jar. He said, “That's my pet.” I said, “Look, you know, maybe tomorrow you come, I'll talk to you in the office.”
No – that's not a pet! You are threatening yourself and threatening the community life. It's like unity in diversity surely would not mean if somebody says, “I am going to make a nuke, because I have the freedom. And I'm going to experiment.” “What if the community blows up?” “Well, I have my freedom.” So, everything has its place: if you want to make nukes, there are nuclear laboratories out there, and you should make nukes. Because that's your turn of being. So, fundamental unity in diversity: before that, comes the premise that you must be a willing servitor of the Divine. If that is the case, then making nukes if you feel, nukes, “I am serving the Divine” – all right.
We can't take away this fundamental premise. Because that is the first fundamental of Auroville. Then comes other things. If I take away this first fundamental, then everything is falsified.
So in earth, snakes live, tigers live, deer live; all kinds of mutual enemies live. But they live because each have a place.
Now, we should not [follow] Divine's example, [of] how Divine reacted. And often I give this example of Shiva on Mount Kailash. All the enemies live together. Shiva has put the snake around himself. Snake's [prey] is mouse; mouse is Ganesh's vehicle. And snake's enemy is garuda. (Not garuda, what is it? ...peacock.) Peacock is Kartikeya's vehicle. But he holds them together: Shiva can do it. So Divine Mother could do it. She kept some beings who were completely hostile very near her, for her own purposes. But that is not a rule which she is recommending. Ideally things should be in their place.
Now, how they can be in their place? Certainly not by discussions, arguments, and ‘my view’, ‘your view’. Things will be in their place the more we invoke the law of truth in our own life. That's what she said when she was asked, “What will supermind eliminate?” She says, “Eliminate? Well, if we go by what Sri Aurobindo said, it will eliminate nothing.” Then she says, “Perhaps hypocrisy!” (Laughing) It will eliminate hypocrisy. Then she says, “Rather, it will put things in the right place.”
So there is an order; and when it will happen? Well, it will happen when we are all ready. But that it something which only Divine can undertake. Collective harmony can only be undertaken by the Divine. No human being can do it.
But we should try to live our own life under the law of truth and harmony. If we do it, it will help the larger [collectivity]. Even when we observe that things are not in their place, according to our understanding – still, they are where they are.
I think we can stop here; and just two lines, because we began with Savitri, the same passage: it started with those lines,
- Man’s house of life holds not the gods alone
Man's house holds the Titan and the Fury and the djinn. Man's house holds dangerous guests.
- The Titan and the Fury and the Djinn
- Lie bound in the subconscient’s cavern pit
- And the Beast grovels in his antre den (p.480)
Then Sri Aurobindo goes on to describe what they can do: disrupt thought, rampage, carnage upon earth – all these things. But he ends with two beautiful lines in this whole passage. That's what we should remember; and I think they are the ultimate take-home points:
- But there is a guardian power, there are Hands that save,
- Calm eyes divine regard the human scene. (p.482)
- Savitri, p.480, “The Parable of the Search for the Soul”
- Essays Divine and Human, p.464
- “As for me, I must confess to you that I feel much more essentially myself when I am joyful and when I play — in my own way — than when I am very grave and very serious — much more. Grave and serious — that always gives me the impression that I am dragging the weight of all this creation, so heavy and so obscure, whereas when I play — when I play, when I can laugh, can enjoy myself — it gives me the feeling of a fine powder of delight falling from above and tinting this creation, this world with a very special colour and bringing it much closer to what it should essentially be.” (Questions and Answers 1957-1958, p.13)
- Collected Poems, p.612
- Savitri, p.211, “The Descent into Night”
- Ibid, p.210
- Words of the Mother – III, p.154
- Savitri, p.209, “The Descent into Night”