Overcoming Tamasic Depression in the Practice of Yoga

It is inevitable that as long as the human standpoint remains active, there will be periods of doubt, depression, dissatisfaction, weakness, and self-doubt. The action of the Gunas ensures there will be such periods when the enthusiasm and focus, energy and optimism depart and darkness tries to strangle the spiritual aspiration of the seeker. If the shift to the divine standpoint occurs, such events cannot occur as the seeker is liberated from the small, narrow human egoistic viewpoint which holds these types of concerns and reactions. The way towards achieving this shift of standpoint is, however, long and the progress is variable. Thus, Sri Aurobindo frequently had to aid sadhaks in facing and overcoming the despair and self-doubt when it arose. He provided various affirmations for the seeker to apply when various types of negative thoughts and emotions begin to intrude and impact the mind and resolution.

Sri Aurobindo observes: “All depression is bad as it lowers the consciousness, spends the energy, opens to adverse forces.”

“Never allow this idea ‘I am not able’, ‘I am not doing enough’ to come and vex you; it is a tamasic suggestion and brings depression and depression opens the way to the attacks of the wrong forces. Your position should be, ‘Let me do what I can; the Mother’s force is there, the Divine is there to see that in due time all will be done.”

“When I spoke of being faithful to the light of the soul and the divine Call, I was not referring to anything in the past or to any lapse on your part. I was simply affirming the great need in all crises and attacks, — to refuse to listen to any suggestions, impulses, lures and to oppose to them all the call of the Truth, the imperative beckoning of the Light. In all doubt and depression, to say, ‘I belong to the Divine, I cannot fail’; to all suggestions of impurity and unfitness, to reply, ‘I am a child of Immortality chosen by the Divine; I have but to be true to myself and to Him — the victory is sure; even if I fell, I would rise again’; to all impulses to depart and serve some smaller ideal, to reply, ‘This is the greatest, this is the Truth that alone can satisfy the soul within me; I will endure through all tests and tribulations to the very end of the divine journey’. This is what I mean by faithfulness to the Light and the Call.”

Sri Aurobindo, Integral Yoga: Sri Aurobindo’s Teaching and Method of Practice, Chapter 10, Difficulties in Transforming the Nature, Difficulties and Depression, pp. 273-275

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