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Hostile Forces

SriAurobindo paintings

We have often heard of the term ‘Hostile Forces’ when pursuing the path of Yoga. Some may tend to glamourise and give their imagination complete freedom in trying to comprehend these entities and that too can be dangerous if one is sincerely trying to follow the path and do away with their influence. Here is Sri Aurobindo’s explanation of what these Forces really are and what one’s attitude must be towards them.

The hostile forces exist and have been known to yogic experience ever since the days of the Veda and Zoroaster in Asia (and the mysteries of Egypt and the Cabbala) and in Europe also from old times. These things of course cannot be felt or known so long as one lives in the ordinary mind and its ideas and perceptions; for there, there are only two categories of influences recognisable, the ideas and feelings and actions of oneself and others and the play of environment and physical forces. But once one begins to get the inner view of things, it is different. One begins to experience that all is an action of forces, forces of Prakriti, psychological as well as physical, which play upon our nature – and these are conscious forces or are supported by a consciousness or consciousnesses behind. One is in the midst of a big universal working and it is impossible any longer to explain everything as the result of one’s own sole and independent personality. You yourself have at one time written that your crises of despair etc. came upon you as if thrown on you and worked themselves out without your being able to determine or put an end to them. That means an action of universal forces and not merely an independent action of your own personality, though it is something in your nature of which they make use. But you are not conscious, and others also, of this intervention and pressure at its source for the reason I state. Those who have developed the inner view of things on the vital plane have plenty of experience of the hostile forces. However, you need not personally concern yourself with them so long as they remain incognito.

One may have the experiences on the mental plane without this knowledge coming; for there mind and idea predominate and one does not feel the play of Forces—it is only in the vital that that becomes clear. In the mind plane they manifest at most as mental suggestions and not as concrete Powers. Also, if one looks at things with the mind only (even though it be the inner mind), one may see the subtle play of Nature-forces but without recognizing the conscious intention which we call hostile.

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The universe is certainly or has been up to now in appearance a rough and wasteful game with the dice of chance loaded in favour of the Powers of darkness, the Lords of obscurity, falsehood, death and suffering. But we have to take it as it is and find out—if we reject the way out of the old sages—the way to conquer. Spiritual experience shows that there is behind it all a wide terrain of equality, peace, calm, freedom, and it is only by getting into it that we can have the eye that sees and hope to gain the power that conquers.

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The lesser forces of Light are usually too much insistent on seeking for Truth to make effective their logic or their rule—the hostiles are too pragmatic to care for Truth, they want only success. As for the greater Forces (e.g. overmind) they are dynamic and try always to make consciousness effective, but they insist on consciousness, while the hostiles care nothing for that—the more unconscious you are and their automatic tool, the better they are pleased—for it is unconsciousness that gives them their chance.

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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.

Sri Aurobindo