The Jealousy of the Gods

As we exercise our mental powers and will to achieve vital success in the world, we not only have to face the resistances stemming from our physical and vital nature, and the response of others with whom we interact and the social organization within which we move, but we also have to face a universal or cosmic force of evolutionary intention and development. This force essentially maintains the basic principles or laws of the universal manifestation, whether we understand or recognize them or not. While we may experience this in our lives, and talk of it as “luck” or “fate” or “necessity”, we do not often focus on or pay attention to this force and its operation.

Sri Aurobindo points out that the ancient Greeks had a great appreciation for this force and its operation on our lives and our destiny. It is “a Power that is on the watch for man in his effort at enlargement, possession and enjoyments and seems hostile and opposite. The Greeks figured it as the jealousy of the gods or as Doom, Necessity, Ate. The egoistic force in man may proceed far in its victory and triumph, but it has to be wary or it will find this power there on the watch for any flaw in his strength or action, any sufficient opportunity for his defeat and downfall. It dogs his endeavour with obstacle and reverse and takes advantage of his imperfections, often dallying with him, giving him long rope, delaying and abiding its time,–and not only of his moral shortcomings but of his errors of will and intelligence, his excesses and deficiencies of strength and prudence, all defects of his nature.”

This force tends to moderate the extremes. As we become more successful we tend to become arrogant and exercise our power in ever more extreme manifestations–until this force brings us back into balance and forces us to achieve the balance that our own striving and ambition blinded us from seeing. The Greeks held this to be the action of the gods. Today we may recognise a basic law of equilibrium or homeostasis that maintains the order of the universe and only permits change and development if it adheres to the universal principles and meets with the needs of the time spirit. Individual effort and success must be tempered by a sense of the Oneness and a balance in our proceeding. That is why “the Greeks held moderation in all things to be the greatest part of virtue.”

Sri Aurobindo, Rebirth and Karma, Section II, Chapter 15, Mind Nature and Law of Karma, pg. 134,

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