Practically from the moment we are born into this world we have to deal with a polluted environment and a constant stream of toxic energies. I am not referring to the physical environment. We all know about that and make, if we are honest, fairly desultory attempts to clean it up since most of us are reluctant to sacrifice too much towards that end. We don’t want environmental pollution but we do want the benefits of which that pollution is an unfortunate side-effect. But I am not talking about that here. Nor, when I speak of matters toxic, am I referring to what we put into our bodies. If you are a spiritual aspirant you know that smoking, alcohol (in excess, not a glass of wine now and then), drugs and meat are not only bad for your health but have a spiritually detrimental effect too. You know, or should do, that they desensitise you and make access to higher levels of awareness harder to achieve. However, as you progress on the path, your desire for these things drops away quite naturally so there should be little difficulty for most serious seekers to avoid them.
But there are some things not so easy to avoid. The psychic atmosphere of our planet is heavily polluted, and we all live in this atmosphere. The emotional body of humanity is still seriously infected with such things as anger, fear, irritation and even hatred, and we, who are part of humanity, have to learn not to respond to these energies or let them influence us. If they are not present within us then they will not affect us (‘unto the pure all things are pure’) and we can help in the much-needed task of purification, but if they do in any way exist within us (and rare is the person who is free of them), then we may find our emotional reactions are provoked and magnified by what is in the air around us unless, that is, we take steps to protect ourselves. The first and most effective way to do this is to be aware of ourselves – change our habits and replace reactions with non-reactions - but there are spiritual techniques (the word is suitable on this occasion) that may help too.
Before discussing these I must mention other forms of pollution that the spiritual aspirant has to learn to recognise and defend himself against for if he chooses not to, either through ignorance, over-confidence or disbelief, then his progress will be slowed down and it may even come to a halt.
First of all, there is the pollution of false ideas. From a spiritual perspective the most obvious of these is the prevailing materialism but there are many that take an ostensibly spiritual form too. There are wrong spiritual ideas and there are perversions of right spiritual ideas. We protect ourselves against this kind of pollution by sharpening our powers of intuition and discernment. We can also defend ourselves by standing aside from all forms of conditioning and by refusing to follow any of the numerous crowds that clamour for our attention. Perhaps most effective of all, we can submit these ideas to the power of Christ or the Buddha to see how they measure up to the yardstick of their perfection. Here’s how you do that. Visualise one of these two saviours. Align yourself with his vibration and see how the idea reacts when set against that vibration. Does it flourish and expand when exposed to it or does it wither and shrink? Does it take on an entirely different complexion as maybe some aspects of it grow while others die away, or is it seen to have no real value at all? How does it respond to their presence? How is it seen in their light?
Then there is the pollution caused by what we can justifiably call spiritually unhygienic forms of culture, music, art and entertainment. This is extremely widespread at the moment and it is hard to escape. Much of it is superficially attractive, to the eye, ear, feelings or mind, but if you subject it to the acid test of spiritual discernment you see it is goes against the laws of harmony, beauty and truth, and its consumption has a deleterious effect on a person’s spiritual health. In my view, this pollution, rarely seen as such, is one of the biggest problems of the day. Unless you live in some form of retreat you will encounter it so you need to see it for what it is to avoid being influenced by it.
So there are various kinds of pollution other than the commonly accepted physical sort. Somewhat simplistically, but for ease of reference, we might call them emotional and intellectual. These are just as pervasive as the physical variety but potentially even more harmful as they are often unacknowledged so we take no steps to guard ourselves against them. We absorb them unthinkingly and allow our children to be exposed to them with the result that young minds, eager to explore the world, are contaminated by influences in many cases designed to lead them away from the spiritual path. I say they are designed because a significant proportion of them do not just arise from human wrong thinking but from fallen spiritual powers, discarnate beings often described as the dark forces.
Don’t stop reading at this point. You have not inadvertently stumbled across the paranoid ravings of a superstitious conspiracy theorist. The Masters who spoke to me confirmed that evil powers do exist and that they attempt to derail the spiritual progress of humanity. In their words, the greater progress you make the more you will be assailed by evil in all its forms. But, while these powers may assail the disciple individually, they also mount an attack on humanity as a whole through the stimulation of negative energies and the spread of falsehood often carefully dressed up to resemble truth. And that is what I mean by spiritual pollution. Of course, it’s not really spiritual in the higher sense but it has its origin outside the physical world which is why I call it that.
The existence of the dark forces is something that has been known and accepted by all religions until very recently when we have decided that to believe in such things is childish. But I wonder, who are the children? Those who acknowledge something real or those who deny it because it does not fit in with their pre-conceived ideas? Certainly one can react to the concept superstitiously or with fear, both of which are mistaken, but, whether one likes it or not, these dark forces do exist. Through pride, through egotism they have set themselves up against God and they desire to separate human beings from their divine source too because that will increase their power. They do this through a variety of means and one of the most potent is to influence our minds. The Masters warned me that I could be vulnerable to attacks from outward evil that would affect my thoughts if I let it, and the same applies to anyone trying to pull away from the mass consciousness and realign themselves with the soul. This is something all disciples should be fully aware of and it is why we need spiritual protection, a subject I will consider in the next post.