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What About Black Magic?
Vijay: Greetings, James. I enjoy reading the satsang emails you forward from time to time. I am doing well and I hope you are doing good.
James: Yes, I am doing very well, thank you.
Vijay: There are a few questions regarding supernatural phenomena that I want to ask you to see what you think and know of them, and also to know from you if there’s anything at all to these things that a seeker of self-knowledge should know or be cautious about.
First, is there such a thing called black magic? I hear people have suffered real torments due to such ill acts done by such magicians. And they take pains to seek the right person who would help them to exorcise and remove those effects. What is really happening in those cases? What are spirits? Why do they obey or serve the people who command them with appropriate rituals? And how does a self-realised person views all such things? Do such ill effects become neutralised in the presence of a gnani? Does he get that power automatically due to his firmness in self-knowledge? I can sense that a gnani hardly cares if there’s anything being influenced at all due to his presence, as he sees everything as one with him.
I read the book Aghora, where they talk about tantric rituals to raise the kundalini. Lots of things were being said about spirits/yakshas and yakshinis. To a self-seeker, all this is unnecessary. But one cannot deny these beings. What are those entities?
James: Black magic is just tamas, ignorance, manifesting as fear. When a person is ignorant of the nature of reality, he or she is “in the dark,” so to speak. When the lights go out in the street at night, you immediately experience fear. You do not know what will happen and you imagine the worst. It is very natural. When you do not know who you are you are subject to great existential fear. The “entities” or “spirits” of which you speak are not actual beings, although they seem to be. They are just fear thoughts “personified.” The mind imagines that these thoughts are malevolent beings out to harm them. This is called the pratibhasika level of reality (see my most recent blog on Advaita Academy). When you are in this level of reality, you take what you experience subjectively to be real even though it has no objective reality. So your projections are very real for you and you experience all the symptoms of real fear even though there is nothing behind it at all except a hyperactive imagination. Aghora tantra is for tamasic people. So it accepts the pratibhasika level of reality.
You can get rid of these fears temporarily if you go to someone who is honest and whom you trust. You put your trust in this person and he or she tells you that he will do a ritual – no ritual is actually required – and this relieves your mind and the “entities” go away. Or if you are particularly frightened, he or she does the ritual in your presence or gets you to participate in it and since you believe that the ritual works, your faith destroys the fear. But this is only treating the symptom; the fears always returns because the root cause has not been understood. So you have to do another ritual.
Of course jnanis are not interested in such things. It is all just maya. Yes, if a fearful person associates with a jnani, he or she will relax because the good shakti (fear is just negative shakti) gets into his or her mind and the effects of the fear are neutralized.
But the root cause will not be addressed unless the individual takes to self-inquiry. Many people who go to jnanis are superstitious. They think jnanis are lucky charms and because of this belief their fears abate. It is the same as the placebo effect that one experiences in medicine. It works in about a third of the cases.