Addressing the Danger of the Ego Appropriating the Divine Energy For Its Own Aggrandisement

Practitioners of Yoga have recognized the danger of having the higher force descend and begin to act within an individual who has not undertaken the preliminary purification and self-surrender steps sufficiently to avoid the risk of appropriation for the ego’s fulfilment rather than to simply carry out the divine purpose. There are numerous stories illustrating these dangers, whether used for individual satisfaction of desires for power, wealth or sex, or when combined with a sense of being called to a larger work, the use of these powers to gain ascendancy and try to impose one set of ideas on others, with whatever cost or harm may be involved in the attempt.

Patanjali specifies the need for various restraints to be practiced, called Yamas and Niyamas, which essentially try to protect the seeker from misusing the influx of new energy and power that comes with the disciplines of Yoga.

Sri Aurobindo observes: “And equally when we first become aware of the infinite Shakti above us or around or in us, the impulse of the egoistic sense in us is to lay hold on it and use this increased might for our egoistic purpose. This is a most dangerous thing, for it brings with it a sense and some increased reality of a great, sometimes a titanic power, and the rajasic ego, delighting in this sense of new enormous strength, may instead of waiting for it to be purified and transformed throw itself out in a violent and impure action and even turn us for a time or partially into the selfish and arrogant Asura using the strength given him for his own and not for the divine purpose: but on that way lies, in the end, if it is persisted in, spiritual perdition and material ruin.”

Sri Aurobindo advises that simply taking the approach that one is the instrument of the Divine still allows the ego to distort things. The true solution is to effectuate the true and complete self-surrender to the Divine. There has to be an increasing sense of the Shakti carrying out its purpose, and during the transition, there must be a vigilant witness awareness of the mental Purusha to protect against misuse. The goal can only be fully “…carried out when we become insistently aware of the highest spiritual presence and form of the divine Shakti. This surrender too of the whole action of the individual self to the Shakti is in fact a form of real self-surrender to the Divine.”

Sri Aurobindo, The Synthesis of Yoga, Part Four: The Yoga of Self-Perfection, Chapter 17, The Action of the Divine Shakti, pp. 738-739


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