This play between the forces of darkness and light, their struggles and conflicts, have been recognised through all ages of mankind. The role of the forces of darkness—adverse and hostile—in bringing about illness is also known. The role of certain spiritual forces in testing the human soul in its upward march by creating difficulties is also widely acknowledged.
The effects of these forces are both psychological and physical. The forces of darkness deplete our energy, create disorder in our body and mind and take the form of various diseases and illnesses. They create quarrels and disharmony not only within the organs but also disrupt the peace and harmony outside, giving birth to quarrels, misunderstandings, confusion and rupture between individuals and groups. They are behind any kind of accident and feed upon the excitement and horror that it produces. They do so through unconsciousness and ignorance. Some of these beings and forces feed upon our vital life-energy and deplete us of strength and inner resistance to disease. They can even attack the body, directly or indirectly, through fear and any such movements that are their supporters and allies. These forces act best wherever and whenever there is unconsciousness, falsehood and gross ignorance, or wherever there is crudity and vulgarity, or even where there is crowd and confusion. In the mind, they throw doubt and depression, disrupt clarity and fill us with fear and suspicion, rage or the sense of an inflated ego, full of vanity, ambition and insatiable desire and greed. Lust and violence born of hatred, spite and revenge are part of their ways of working to keep man tied to the animal nature out of which he is emerging. Thus they keep him tied to the past and prevent him from his evolutionary advance. Some of these forces can be quite clever and cunning. They can imitate the true but give it a diabolical name and acceptable face or they may prolong the past into the future by polishing the surface and giving it a more modern and fashionable name. All these factors prolong the reign of darkness in us and perpetuate disorder, disease, disharmony, suffering and death.
The forces of light, in contrast, bring peace and harmony and light wherever they act. They bring balance and unity, but not through a mechanical and regimented uniformity or propaganda. They bring a deeper unity of the heart reaching out to another heart, of thoughts and feelings acting in unison, of a will not divorced from the light of knowledge but one with it. They bring sincerity and purity where now there is only hypocrisy and artificiality. They give birth to hope and faith, charity and love, kindness and compassion and, by so doing, free us from our limited ego-self and release in us the delight of being that is the healer par excellence. The forces of light bring us closer to the truth, to the core of our being, to our soul which is their origin and home. They take us back to the original power at whose beckoning the worlds have run their course since times sempiternal. Their touch fills us with vigour and strength. No illusion or magic of ignorance can stand before these powers as they see through the masks of such ignorance or illusion. Their action is always liberating and unifying and even though the intensity of their might may appear like a violence yet still at their core there is always wisdom, light, truth and love. They are, in essence, bringers of harmony and peace.
To tackle the forces of darkness is more an art than science. However in ancient times, an elaborate occult science had developed to keep these beings and forces away and at arms length. This science, now largely lost to us except as a dead shell composed of certain rituals, has in essence three main aspects that work in tandem – yantra, mantra and tantra. The yantra refers to an occult symbol, a sign that carries power in it, the shape and design or pattern that attracts forces of harmony and light and repel the negative type. One such well-known yantra is the Sri Chakra. Another simple symbol that is auspicious but was twisted and distorted for evil purposes is the Swastika. It is supposed to be clockwise but was reversed and made anti-clockwise by Hitler, indicating retrogression and a backward movement.
The mantra is a sound symbol, the power of the word that in its sound and substance embodies something of the higher vibrations. These vibrations naturally attract beings and forces of the higher planes and repel any dark attacks. One well-known mantra is the Gayatri which is meant to bring and increase the light of intelligence and orientate our thought and mentality towards the light and right. Another mantra often used for warding off imminent threat to life is invoking the Eternal who stands as master of death. This is the Mahamrityunjaya mantra. Then there are some universal mantras which do not require to be charged by a living master. An example of such a mantra with a universal appeal and action on all the planes of our being and for our highest good is the sacred syllable ‘AUM’. Then there are mantras for specific gods and specific purposes such as acquiring wealth, having a progeny and healing illnesses.
Finally, there are the elaborate occult rites or tantra that use both yantra and mantra. There are certain psychophysical processes, involving will, thought and concentration for awakening certain powers in our being. According to the principle of tantra, there lies concealed in us, at the base of the spine in our subtle body, an infinite power, coiled up like a sleeping serpent, the kundalini. The processes of tantra are supposed to be able to awaken this inexhaustible reservoir of spiritual power by cultivating purity and surrender within us. But this elaborate occult and spiritual science is now largely lost or else buried under a mass of ill-understood rituals, mechanical ceremonies and superstitions. There are very few genuine practitioners and even fewer authentically realised men which leaves the field open to all kinds of charlatans and posers. Besides, this field of occult knowledge, dealing with great and powerful cosmic forces and their deceptive and imitative counterparts is by its very nature a dangerous and slippery ground.
So what do we do when we do not understand such complex equipment or how to handle its workings? In the physical field, we can take the analogy of an aircraft whose flight involves the play of many physical and psychological forces – electrical, electronic, mechanical, hydraulic, magnetic, gravitational, thrust and wind speed, as well as psychological processes of alertness, cognition, memory, reaction time, etc. Not all have the time, money, capacity and the possibility of learning to fly through the haze and maze of space. So we entrust ourselves to a pilot who knows the dynamics and is an expert in the field. In man too, there is the inner pilot who knows the way and the ways of life, the destination, roads and steps, the forces and the aids and hindrances. To trust the inner Divine and leave oneself in His hands is the road to freedom from the entire chain of cause and effect. The Divine Grace cuts through these and it can do so because ultimately all the forces owe their origin to the Divine and are linked to Him. Faith and surrender to the Grace are therefore the highest wisdom and the supreme science.
Apart from faith and surrender, one can face this complex web of forces with equanimity and fortitude. The other way is of course the inner way of vigilance, sincerity and humility that can save us from the network of the lower forces that take the form of greed, anger, fear, lust, vanity, etc. From the Yogic point of view these forces can be divided into three main categories:
- Forces of the Universal Nature: It is these cosmic forces, in whose net our ordinary ‘normal’ lives are caught, that thrive in an individual who feeds them by his substance and his consciousness. The more we feed them by repeating a certain movement, say anger, the more they come back upon us. These forces of the Universal Nature keep the individual tied to certain limits. It is to these ‘natural’ limits, so to speak, that we give the name ‘normalcy’ and call them ‘laws’. They maintain a certain rhythm and balance to the individual with regard to the whole. They are meant to average out the species and maintain the balance between creation, destruction and preservation. An individual trying to rise high above the average pitch inevitably has to tackle them one way or the other. Nature does it in him by creating a kind of imbalance, by an overemphasis on certain points and aspects and an undermining of others. It is Nature’s attempt at going beyond its own limits wherein the individual becomes like a reconnoitering unit to see how far he can go. Much of the rules and norms of life for ‘healthy living’ are actually meant to be ways and means to exploit these natural rhythms and boundaries and to live inside these frames, respecting the natural laws and living in moderation and avoiding excesses. While this can secure some kind of a balance, it cannot ensure a greater flight. That greater possibility can only come by a greater will and faith that endeavours to exceed those safe limits that Nature has set for man. When we try to do that, the same Universal Nature begins to resist. That is why every individual who tries to exceed himself must exercise a certain degree of control over the forces of Universal Nature or else there is some likelihood of imbalance.
- Adverse and Hostile Forces: Outside the range of universal forces operative in human nature, there are the hostile forces on the one side and spiritual forces on the other side. The adverse forces press upon nature and aggravate feelings such as lust, greed, ambition, vanity, anger and doubt. The hostile forces throw upon us heaps of doubt, confusion, depression, a sense of helplessness and hopelessness, a total lack of faith and will. The person may even be driven to the brink of despair and suicide.
- Spiritual Forces: These of course have the opposite effect – they bring hope, increase light, peace, strength and joy, creating health harmony and well being.