5000 years ago, a war was fought. That war never ended, and is still being fought. In our minds….
Arjun, our hero, threw down his weapon, and said he would not fight. Thus starts the Gita, the Song of the Lord.
For those who don’t know the story of Mahabharata, of which the Gita is a chapter: The king Pandu died, and his blind brother was put as a caretaker in his place. It was supposed to be a temporary measure, until the real king’s sons grew up. But the blind king’s son’s were jealous, and tried to cheat and steal the kingdom. Over the years, the things got worse, until all out war broke out.
The Mahabharat was a total war, a sort of a World War of the time. Kings from as far as Persia and Afghanistan came to fight, which was basically all the known world at the time. Arjun was supposed to be the hero of the story, like Aragon or Luke Skywalker. For him to refuse to fight was hard to believe. And yet, he threw down his weapons in disgust.
While the external story of the Gita is about an outer war, the estoeric teaching is about the war in our minds. We, like Arjuna, resist facing our inner darkness and make all sorts of excuses to hide from it. Krishna, the Universal Teacher, must them come down to guide us.
Who is the one who fights this war?
What you call “me” is a collection of thoughts, random thoughts, that have taken over the seat of consciousness, and are masquerading as you. It’s not even the whole mind, just a few thoughts that believe they are “real”. These thoughts pretend to be you.
These thoughts are the ones that suffer. Because they have no concrete existence, and THEY KNOW IT. Which is why they are so scared all the time. Which is why YOU are so scared all the time.
Some of these thoughts have become self aware. They have come to realise that they are not the real rulers of this body-mind complex. That they have always been just the caretakers.
That the reason we are so miserable is because we have forgotten who the real king is, and given all our power to a thought that thinks it exists.
It is these self aware thoughts that are the ones, meditating, the ones that want peace, the ones trying to find a God outside of them.
But, this sets them on a collision course with the other thoughts, that don’t want to give up their seat of power.
And hence the Inner War starts- between 2 groups of thoughts. One that want everything to remain as it is, and others that want the Divine Light to come in and change the Being.
The thoughts on the side of the Light are few and weak. They often feel helpless and out of control, and throw down their weapons in disgust. Like Arjuna, like me, like YOU.
These good thoughts would certainly be crushed and destroyed; but they have help. They have the Teacher.
The Enemy- The Blind King
The enemy is the ego, the identification of the mind with the continuous stream of thinking, identifying with the limited self, identifying with the routine, mechanical and destructive thought patterns most people are stuck in.
This ego is the devil in Christian myths, cunning and dangerous. He attacks with cunning and guile.
In Hindu stories, there is always a demon who wants to be worshipped as God. And he kills anyone who refuses him. One demon, Hirnayakashyap, tried to murder his own son when the son refused to worship him.
This is the ego- it’s children are the Divine thoughts that accept that there is an external divine force in the world, that the ego is not God. This angers the ego so much it tries to murder it’s own children, the thoughts that want to bring peace and joy. This is known as the dark night of the soul, a spiritual depression so crushing that many Yogis give up the spiritual path completely. But never forever, as the Teacher brings them back. The Teacher is the Divine Guide, our friend from God who guides us to the Light. But more on him later.
In the Durga Saptashati, the Goddess Durga is attacked by the the main demon in the shape of the bull. The ego, the mind, is like that. Like a bull, it charges straight at us anytime we try to meditate, and destroys our practice.
Another demon is Rakta beej, literal translation, the Seed of Desire. Every time he was attacked and his blood fell on the ground, 2 demons would take his place.
Again, this is symbolic of our desires, our thoughts. Try to crush them by force, and 2 more take their place, until you are crushed under the weight of thoughts.
This is the enemy every spiritual student must face. This is the blind king, the ego, driven mad by anger and hate, willing to kill his own children, even the body, to get what it wants. The ego isn’t scared of death; indeed, if it feels it is losing, it is happy to destroy the body. Look at all the suicide bombers or the people who kill themselves when they face humiliation. The ego fears nothing, and it has the power of God behind it, as it too was created by the same Divine Energy that created the Divine Mind.
This is the enemy You must face.
The Teacher is a representative of God, who comes in as a friend, a guide, to help us through the night of the soul. In the Gita it was Krishna but it could equally be Buddha or Jesus.
The Teacher is the silent voice, the calm voice, that speaks last, but speaks with certainty. The ego speaks first and speaks loud. He is the one who wants to fight, to insult, to show them.
The Teacher is the calm voice of peace, the voice that has the strength of God behind it. The biggest tragedy of humanity is that most people can’t, or won’t listen to this voice.
And so begins the war. The ego, the blind and insane king, strikes first and draws the first blood.
The ego is strong, and will not be happy with just striking you inside the mind. No, remember he was created by the Divine Mind, and so he has some of its powers. No, the ego will attack you in the outer world as well.
You will face problems at work; in married life; with children or parents. And in many cases, all hell will break lose. You will be fired, as your wife will leave you emptying your bank balance and your parents will stop talking.
This is when the meditator usually throws down the weapon and says, “I can’t do it.”
In the Gita, Arjun says he can’t kill his own brothers. These brothers are your old habits and thought patterns. These are the thought patterns that got you through the hard times before. They have been with you since childhood. They have helped you out many times. And now, you are being asked to kill them, why? Because some God said so?
Where was this fucking God when you needed him the most? Should we trust some God we have never seen, and who may not even exist? Or should we trust our old habits and mind? After all, they have always been with us.
And this is the dilemma of the mind. It is being asked to take a leap of faith, to trust the unknown. It is being asked to jump into the dark, be willing to be crushed.
And this is what scares the mind. It throws a tantrum, refuses to meditate, and makes your life difficult.
And Yet, we must fight
We only have 3 choices:
- To fight the Darkness
- To refuse to fight
- To join the Darkness
Refusing to fight is the same as joining the Forces of Darkness. They lead to the same result.
And so we must fight, no matter how scary it seems, how painful it seems. And it is painful, fighting your own negative tendencies and habits. If meditation does not leave you in tears, you are not doing it right.
The Attack on Heaven
Many Hindu stories begin with the demons attacking heaven, and taking over heaven. They kick Indra, the king of heaven and the Hindu version of Zeus out.
Indra is the representative of the Divine Mind. When the demons attack heaven, it means the forces of Darkness take over the mind. They kick out the gods, who are the divine energies and thoughts.
The demons are the negative and suppressed emotions. These suppressed emotions eventually have had enough and attack the mind, easily taking over it.
The divine thoughts then go running to a higher force, usually the Divine Mother, for help.
The Mother is the active part of God, the force behind the universe. She is the energy that powers our mind, our breath, our body. The Mother can be felt most closely in the forest, near large water bodies like lakes or rivers or even the ocean, or in mountains. That is why humans love going into the nature, as they can feel this Mother Energy.
The Mother has several forms. In the west, she appears as Mother Mary. India has many Goddesses, Kali and Laxmi being the most popular; as does Tibet/China.
But these forms are just a tiny part of her. The Mother Energy is far beyond these forms. People say God is infinite. Well, so is the Mother Energy which permeates this world.
When the gods, or divine thoughts are defeated, they must go running to the Mother. This is the ultimate form of surrender. It is the realisation that we have reached our limits. That we are helpless against our own inner demons, that we can never win the war against ourselves.
And so we must ask the Mother for help. The Teacher, is also a representative of this Mother energy.
The Soap Bubble melting in the wind
The ego, the blind king, hates God and the Mother with a vengeance. But at the same time, he loves them immensely and cries out for them in pain.
This contradiction is the reason we suffer so much.
The ego is like a soap bubble- it has no real existence, and will pop anytime. The ego knows this, which is why it fears death so much. Not the death of the body- as we said, the ego will happily kill the body to save itself.
No, the ego fears annihilation. Thats why egos love the concept of heaven and hell- what is heaven and hell? It is a place the ego, or the thinking mind, can continue living after the body has died. Even if it being tortured in hell, at least it is alive!
What the ego fears is being wiped out, vanishing in the sun, like it had never existed. The ego knows it will die, all alone in a dark and cruel world.
The ego believes the world is dark, cold and cruel. He is scared, terrified, scared shitless, that there is no God. That there is nothing. That it will just vanish one day, that it has no real existence.
The ego yearns for the love of God. It yearns for a bit of warmth, a bit of kindness and love. But it fears there is no God, that it is all an illusion, that it will die all alone in the dark and cold, with no one to love it.
And that is why the ego is so cruel. It’s cruelty is born of ignorance. Its loneliness drives the ego mad, and it attacks itself and any part of itself it believes is praying to God or meditating.
The Mad King
The ego is mad, and you can see it in your own life.
The mind will first tell you to do something that it feels is wrong. Eat unhealthy food, sleep around, waste your life watching TV. And then the same mind will attack you and shame you, calling you fat, loser, slut, and failure.
The mind keeps attacking itself without pity.
All the while, even in its most mad moment, all it wants is a hug, to be loved for what it is.
And that is why the Mother teaches compassion. One who has no compassions for oneself can never have it for others.
The Hidden Enemy – The Enemy Behind the Ego
We are faced with an inner energy, a raw energy that is the biggest enemy of our meditation, but one most people aren’t even aware of.
I’ve called this the ego in the past, but I feel that the ego, identification with form that includes our thinking and mental beliefs, is a reaction to this force.
Deep within us there is a strong pool of energy. This energy is one of deep fear, which I will call FEAR to differentiate it from normal day to day fear.
I thought it was just me when I originally felt it, something personal to me, when I heard Eckhart Tolle mention it in the Power of Now as well.
You need to have a level of awareness before you notice this energy, but once you do, you will wonder why you never felt it before.
It is like a static noise in the background, one that gives you a headache, but that you aren’t even aware exists until it stops, and you suddenly feel peaceful.
The FEAR is like that. It drives us crazy, makes us to stupid stuff, makes us run after “things” to make us happy, it drives every single thing we do, and we aren’t even aware of it!
The FEAR is like a pain in the background, a pain that never goes away. Because the pain is unconscious, we are not aware of it, though we do FEEL it even on the conscious level. Previously I have called this the Pain of Living though a better term would be the Pain of Unconscious Living.
So everyone, and I do mean EVERYONE feels this pain, this FEAR, this raw energy that hurts them non stop and they try to deal with it by:
1 Externalising the pain
I am tense/scared/angry because my parents/wife/kids/boss don’t love/respect me. If only I had more sex/money/hard disk I would be happy
2 Trying to heal the pain by filling it with “things”
Where “things” could be money or sex, but also spirituality, religion, and gasp God (at least a mental idea of god).
And some of the problems in your life may even be true. You may actually be suffering due to lack of money, you may be struggling to find romantic love, your life may actually be shit.
I myself was at one point at a stage where if we ate out, even at a cheap place like McDonalds, I’d have to worry if we’d make rent. We had to constantly dip into our savings, cancel holidays, just to meet rent.
I used to dream: “One day, I’ll have a shit load of money. And then I’ll be happy!”
And then my salary doubled (after a few years), but I still felt miserable. And that’s when I discovered FEAR in me. Until then, I could rightly blame circumstances for my problems. But now I had no problems meeting rent, we could eat out at fancy places whenever we wanted, so why the FUCK was I so miserable?
You are Never Upset for the Reason you Think
Coming back to the pain, we feel this pain, but being unaware of its source, try to externalise it
I’m scared because of BOSS / WIFE (for me, BOTH)
I’m angry because [REASON]
I’m sad because [EXCUSE]
Like the Course in Miracles says:
You think you have many problems, but you only ever have one problem
I am never upset for the reason I think I am
The pat/cliched answer to this is: We are upset because we are separate from God/Spirit. It is cliched because most people just say it without any experience to back it up. It is yet another mental belief.
And so we try to find a medicine for the pain, something to soothe the hurt. We run after money, sex, power, and to repeat, ain’t nothin’ wrong with bein’ rich and gettin’ laid every night (preferably with different men/women 😉 ). It’s only when you try to do this to heal the inner pain, as a substitute for inner peace, that you get into trouble.
How do You Heal This Pain?
This is one of those things. Like the Alcoholics Anonymous, you have to admit you have been taken down by a force greater than yourself; and so, you have to ask for help from a force greater than your limited mind.
The FEAR is too strong for the mind. Indeed, some philosophies say it created the ego, which for most people is their mind.
So we can’t go beyond the FEAR, because our own mind created it. Anything we do, which includes meditation or praying, we do from the mind. And the mind IS the problem. It is a Catch 22 situation, an infinite recursive loop that never ends.
But that doesn’t mean we are helpless.
What we can do is become aware of this background FEAR, this hidden pain. By meditation, by practicing compassion, by living a life of kindness and forgiveness, or any other spiritual technique.
And once you SEE the FEAR (thru the inner eye), you just keep an eye on it. YOUR own Power of Awareness, which is God, will melt the FEAR, like the sun melts a block of ice.
It will take time, as the FEAR won’t just sit there, twiddling its thumbs. And here you need faith, you need trust.
You need to be like a child, with full faith in the mother. You need to be like a pilot flying on instruments in the storm, trusting the instruments will guide him even when he can’t see the ground (to use an analogy from Marianne Williamson).
It takes TIME, but it also takes FAITH. An impatient Why the FUCK aren’t I enlightened by now, THERE IS NO GOD! is a game played by the ego to delay the inevitable.
Like I’ve said before, PEACE is our NATURAL STATE. If we don’t have peace, something has gone wrong.
We need to stop resisting, but it takes courage to trust the unknown.
And it takes EXTREME COURAGE to do nothing. Doing nothing means doing nothing from the ego. Like trying to meditate “harder” or “longer”.
At one point, you have to trust the Spirit to do the work. You have to trust the universe is helping you, even if you can’t feel it yet.
The Ego is a Scared Child: And an Enemy that Cannot be Defeated
And this is the biggest tragedy of all. Our biggest enemy is a scared child, a child looking for an ounce of love. And we don’t even have that to give it.
Ultimately, the ego must be defeated. For while it lives, it will keep attacking itself, it will keep self harming until it destroy itself. But it cannot be defeated by force.
But the Teacher and the Mother do not wish for us to become monsters as we fight the ego. We must remain Aware, Compassionate and loving. The ultimate war is fought by the Mother. Over time, the Light of the Divine will melt the forces of Darkness.
There is little or nothing for us to be done- and this is what makes so many spiritual people unhappy. They want secret techniques, shaktipat from enlightened Gurus, powerful mantras, special meditations. These things might work, but they never defeat the ego, as the ego takes over the meditation. It always does.
The way to defeat the Darkness is to surrender to the Mother Energy, to let her work through us, to let her Heal us. To listen to the Inner Teacher as he guides us on our path. Sure, we can and should meditate, but these meditations should be guided from the inner self and not from the pressure of the ego to become “enlightened” so it can “finally be happy, dammit!”.
Ultimately, we have to realise we are not the ones doing the Spiritual Practice. Instead, it is being done through us. That the part of us that wants to be enlightened now, dammit! is the enemy, is the ego. That we have to let go of that. Not just give up attraction to material wealth, but also spiritual wealth.
When the Light of the Divine comes, that is when we will finally die. That is when the ego will finally find peace, and stop fighting, as it melts into the Love of the Mother.
And that is when the War will end, and You will finally find the Peace and Joy of God
Read more in the Series on Meditation