Psychic Self-Defense

The true test of spiritual equanimity and balance is how one responds to adverse circumstances. It is relatively easy to be calm and peaceful when there is no external pressure and one is surrounded by a quiet and nourishing environment. It is quite another to remain focused, balanced and equal on the “battlefield”. Sri Krishna provided his guidance to Arjuna in the middle of the battlefield of Kurukshetra, as a great war was about to come to its climax in a battle that would pit cousins against cousins and force the protagonists to take up arms against beloved elders and respected teachers. There are numerous anecdotes about renunciates experiencing blissful meditations in their cave of tapasya, who, however, when they entered into society, exhibited anger, lust or other disruptions of the vital energy, as their peace was conditioned on their surroundings.

This is not to imply, however, that one should seek out difficult environments and purposely subject oneself to disruptions as a form of test. If the situation comes to one, then the peace must abide; but otherwise, constant subjection to obstructions, disruptions and chaotic energies simply acts as a distraction and steals away the energy needlessly.

Acceptance does not require one to simply give in to whatever comes. One can acknowledge the unavoidable disruptions while at the same time work to modify, eliminate or defuse situations that are inimical to peace and progress in the sadhana.

Sri Aurobindo writes: “It is true that one has to try to keep the inner condition under all circumstances, even the most adverse; but that does not mean that one has to accept, unnecessarily, unfavourable conditions when there is no good reason for their being allowed to go on. Especially, the nervous system and the physical cannot bear an excessive strain as well as the mind and higher vital; your fatigue came from the strain of living in one consciousness and at the same time exposing yourself too much to prolonged contacts from the ordinary consciousness. A certain amount of self-defence is necessary — so that the consciousness may not be pulled down or out constantly into the ordinary atmosphere or the physical strained by being forced into activities that have become foreign to you. Those who practice yoga often seek refuge in solitude from these difficulties; that is unnecessary here, but all the same you need not submit to being put under this kind of useless strain always.”

Sri Aurobindo, Integral Yoga: Sri Aurobindo’s Teaching and Method of Practice, Chapter 11, Human Relationships in Yoga, Mixing with Others, pp 332-335


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