Withstanding Attacks by Hostile Forces in the Practice of Yoga

It is a common occurrence for practitioners of yoga to adopt a position on one extreme or the other. Either they get fixated on dealing with weaknesses, failures, and attacks by forces inimical to their yogic progress; or else, they take the position that there is no reality to these forces and they need not worry about them at all if they focus on their spiritual sadhana. The reality is somewhere in between, as every human being has the capability of tuning to the vibration of either divine or undivine forces and powers, and at various times and under various circumstances, they may find themselves responding to or being overwhelmed by forces that they ordinarily do not want to accept.

It is interesting to note that in mass psychology there is a phenomenon that even people who are ordinarily not violent or extreme in their views or their temperament may frequently succumb to the energy of the mob and do things they look back on with regret. This is an illustration of how general forces in the environmental consciousness can impinge upon and take control over the psychology of the individual. In the practice of yoga, where the sadhak is working to surpass the limits of human habitual patterns, the forces that desire to maintain the status quo, the forces of tradition, the forces of vestigial responses all rise up to prevent the progress if possible. There is a period which can seem long and hard, during which the sadhak has to continually refocus and tune towards the higher Light and the higher Peace and away from the demands of the vital desire nature, and there can be an oscillation between the two until the process is set and the higher energies are firmly in control.

Sri Aurobindo notes: “About the attacks and the action of the cosmic forces — these attacks very ordinarily become violent when the progress is becoming rapid and on the way to be definite — especially if they find they cannot carry out an effective aggression into the inner being, they try to shake by outside assaults. One must take it as a trial of strength, a call for gathering all one’s capacities of calm and openness to the Light and Power, so as to make oneself an instrument for the victory of the Divine over the undivine, of the Light over the darkness in the world-tangle. It is in this spirit that you must face these difficulties till the higher things are so confirmed in you that these forces can attack no longer.”

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