How to Distinguish The Divine Force from the Habitual Action of the Lower as well as from the Hostile Forces

Trying to change human nature, the basic physical-vital-mental makeup that we accept as the predominant mode of being in the world today, is hard. The actions and reactions of the body, the senses, the vital energy, the organ systems, the emotional system, the hormonal responses, and the mental habits are deeply embedded. When someone tries to change any of these elements, he runs up against walls, obstacles and resistance.

It is easy to try to shift the responsibility for these difficulties to some external, third-party adverse being, but for most people, there is no real need to invoke a hostile Force to explain what is taking place. Sri Aurobindo provides guidance on how to distinguish between the normal conservative principle governing the lower nature from the action of a truly hostile force, as well as from divine energies which can also work with an intensity that is overpowering for the individual awareness. When the energy of Mahakali enters to break down a strong resistance, the individual experiencing it can be overwhelmed; yet, this is clearly a divine action, not the action of a hostile being.

The primary distinguishing characteristic can be seen by the results, both psychological and in the being generally. Divine forces tend to bring with them a result that is consistent with the divine energy, which would bring knowledge, light, an atmosphere of peace and calm, a sense of a devotional and pure energy. Hostile forces tend to leave behind destruction, darkness and upset, chaos and confusion, a sense of aggressive egoistic desire that goes beyond a normal response of the lower nature in the circumstance. In between, the lower nature of the human being is perhaps dull, perhaps filled with desires, perhaps opinionated and self-satisfied with its understanding, but this is not the same as the kind of wreckage the hostile forces tend to leave behind.

Sri Aurobindo notes: “The lower nature is ignorant and undivine, not in itself hostile but shut to the Light and Truth. The hostile forces are anti-divine, not merely undivine; they make use of the lower nature, pervert it, fill it with distorted movements and by that means influence man and even try to enter and possess or at least entirely control him.”

“The intensity of the force does not show that it is a bad power; the Divine Force often works with a great intensity. Everything depends on the nature of the force and its working: what does it do, what seems to be its purpose? If it works to purify or open the system, or brings with it light or peace, or prepares the change of the thought, ideas, feelings, character in the sense of a turning towards a higher consciousness, then it is the right force. If it is dark or obscure or perturbs the being with rajasic or egoist suggestions or excites the lower nature, then it is an adverse force.”

Sri Aurobindo, Integral Yoga: Sri Aurobindo’s Teaching and Method of Practice, Chapter 10, Difficulties in Transforming the Nature, Difficulties Due to the Hostile Forces, pp. 280-286