Resistance to Evil

Swami Satyananda Saraswati, Manchester, England, 20.4.82

According to the philosophy of yoga, throughout all creation there are three qualities of nature known as gunas or attributes of prakriti. Prakriti means matter, and matter has three attributes. The human body, emotions and mind, the vegetable and animal kingdom, in fact the total creation, all have these three attributes, which are known as sattwa, rajas and tamas. The inclining order is tamas, rajas and sattwa.

The oscillating gunas

When the consciousness is full of inertia, darkness, ignorance and total lack of higher awareness, that is called tamas or tamoguna. When the consciousness is chasing the sensualities of life, motivated by passion, ambition, fear, anxiety, jealousy, love, hate, etc., you involve yourself in actions, reactions and over actions. At times you are happy and at times you are unhappy. Not knowing the hitching pin for the mind, you keep on oscillating and dissipating; running after things, hither and thither. That is known as the state of rajas or rajoguna.

When the mind has found its centre, although it may still oscillate from time to time; when you have become almost free from the heat of passion and ambition, then you begin to realize the nucleus of your own existence. If you can be aware of pain and pleasure, of likes and dislikes, but remain unaffected; if you can observe each and everything as it is happening, and know it as a part of the entire movement or function of creation, then you are in a sattwic state.

These are the three states to which the mind of man is subjected. The practices of yoga lead one from darkness to light, from external experience to internal experience, from object to source, from appearance to reality. Step by step, they bring more and more balance to the energy circuits of the mind. As a result of that, every man finds himself in fullest control of his mental functions.

A necessary evil

Evil is eternal, it has to exist. You cannot efface it, because the whole of creation is subject to a process of evolution. It is not just creation, it is a process of creativity. Things are being created, evolved and again disintegrated to start a new cycle of evolution. In this process of evolution all things, whether evil, or glorious and noble, have their places. What yoga does is create a balance between the positive and the negative forces, thereby taking man's mind from the abyss of darkness. That is how it helps man to maintain a balance in his external and internal life.

Of course, from time to time, yogis have come. In the last few hundred years, however, yoga was almost totally forgotten, and that is why people have not been able to resist the onslaughts of material philosophy. Country by country, nation by nation, man by man; everything became a victim of this onslaught of materialism. During this period, we hardly find one exception, because man did not have the philosophical principles giving him the power to resist

In India for thousands of years we have been saying that everyone must have a philosophy for himself, not merely a religion. Indians have a religion, they are Christian, Hindu, Buddhist, Muslim, but that is not enough. They must have a practical philosophy by which they can train the mind, by which they can create a higher faculty in the mind. Resistance to evil does not come through a political force.

Good and evil lies in the balance

Mind knows no barriers. You can limit man's external and social movements, but not his internal movements. If I think evilly, no law can check me. If I am evil in my mind, no C.I.D. can prevent it, and if I want to think about being good, nobody can stop me. That awareness must be developed, and the basis of that awareness is a disciplined mind.

A disciplined structure of man's daily program is necessary. In hatha yoga it is very simply put; prana and mind are the two aspects which comprise each and every being. Prana means life force and mind means thought force. You are a combination of prana and mind. When the pranic and mental forces are in disequilibrium, that is the definition of evil according to hatha yoga.

Even in medical science we read that sometimes the sympathetic nervous system is predominant and the parasympathetic is subservient. Man behaves differently according to the balance between these two nervous systems. At times you find him depressed, criminal, crazy, paranoid and at other times saintly and compassionate. All that depends upon the relationship between the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems, also responsible for balance or imbalance in hormonal distribution in the body. If there is hormonal imbalance, then any sort of behaviour can occur. You can commit suicide, kill a man, rape four women, shout at your neighbour, kick your child, or divorce your wife. Evil is merely called a moral or ethical crisis, but it is actually a product of the totality of your existence. You are creating it.

When you have a bad stomach, you feel very irritable. Sometimes, if you sleep too much, you find yourself fighting with everybody you come across. But after a few sleepless nights, if you become involved in a fight, you would be more likely to walk away. Like this, the brain has to balance all the situations of life.

The yogic scales of 'ha' and 'tha'

In hatha yoga there is a very simple definition for all of our disturbances - prana and mind are unbalanced. When mental energy is in excess and pranic energy is low, you have physical sicknesses. And when pranic energy is in excess and mental energy is low, you have mental sicknesses. These are called somo-psychic or psychosomatic illnesses. Sometimes diseases are psychic, and sometimes somatic. Pranic excess is somatic and mental excess is psychic. This imbalance between the pranic and mental system is responsible for man's nature. A balance has to be brought about between these two forces and that is hatha yoga.

Rishi Gheranda, author of 'Gheranda Samhita', Yogi Swatmarama, author of 'Hatha Yoga Pradipika', Yogi Gorakhnath, author of 'Goraksha Samhita', and many more have clearly indicated that before you can purify your mind, nature or consciousness, you must purify the body, because the body is the basis. What is the use of correcting the electrical flow if the cables are out of order? You must first set your lines, circuits and switches in order, then you can find out what voltage is required, whether it is 110, 220 or 440 volts. If you fry to correct the input before the lines are in order, you are going to blow up the whole building.

Similarly, within your body the nadis which are responsible for conducting the energy inputs are impure. How do the forces of prana and consciousness function throughout your body? If you get a prick from a thorn, you feel it immediately. When the air enters the nose, immediately it becomes blocked. How does the brain control that? The moment the air comes in contact with the hairs in the, nostrils, minute receptors send a message to the brain stating the proportion of negative and positive ions it contains. Immediately, the brain signals to close the entrance and not allow the passage of air. So these nadis belong to two ranges, ida and pingala, which are responsible for conducting the mental and pranic influxes. These nadis have six main points within the spine and 72,000 branches throughout the entire body. These 72,000 nadis in each individual have to be purified, and not just in the religious sense. Purification of the nadis means unblocking, opening, connecting the points, so that the distribution of energy takes place.

Equalizing opposite energies

In order to create balance in the entire system, first the nadis, the pranic system, and the mucus in the body, must be purified. For this, seven types of purification must be effected in the body by the six processes of inner cleansing, known as hatha yoga.

After you have practised hatha yoga and purified the nadis, then you can easily isolate your brain from the senses. Ordinarily, the senses constantly supply information to the brain. But if you cut off the wires, the brain can be isolated. Once it is isolated, the brain relaxes, it has rest. Then you can start meditation and look into your own self. After that you will develop a different awareness and better functioning of the brain.

In this way much of the imbalance in life can be removed. Therefore, in yoga we do not ,say that evil must be destroyed, because it is impossible, but we do say you must remove the imbalance. Then the higher, sattvic, noble, peaceful, spiritual forces become predominant.