The study of human history is one of externalities generally. We memorize dates of important events and try to lay the responsibility for certain subsequent actions at the door of those events. To hear historians tell it, the assassination of the Archduke Ferdinand was the trigger that set off World War I. Sometimes historians will naturally capture and try to explain further causes to cataclysmic events having to do with geopolitical power plays or economic imbalances. For example, the entry of Japan into World War II is attributed to several causes by historians, including pressure from the Axis of Germany and Italy on their partner Japan to take pressure off of the European Front, and (more importantly perhaps), the Western alliance cutting off the vast bulk of the oil that Japan needed to operate its economy.

Behind these external events however there are several additional factors. One of them is the pressure of the Time-Spirit to break up the old world-order that had the European powers trying to subjugate and control the rest of the world, including Asia, the Middle East and Africa (while the USA as a neo-European power exercised substantial control over Central and South America). After the fact we can see that the result of World War II had the European imperial powers losing virtually all their colonies and we saw the emergence of China and India as major powers in their own right.

Another factor is not so well recognised and that is the action of occult forces form other domains of existence that interact with our world and feed off of the results. In the material world, we gain sustenance from material foodstuffs. In the vital domain, the ‘food’ is various forms of energy. Some beings in that world feed off of strong emotions and passions that they can create, fear, hatred, lust, etc. They consciously work to bring about situations that evoke this type of strong reaction and gorge themselves on the energy released.

We can get an inkling of the way these forces work when we read The Plague by Albert Camus, or when we review a history of the panic and hysteria that set in with the rise of the Black Death in Europe. In some cases these forces are able to take possession of human instruments who can use demagoguery and fear-mongering to drive masses of people into actions they would not otherwise want to undertake. Orwell described one such method of breeding these strong negative emotions in his description of the ‘two minute hate’. It did not matter who the ‘enemy’ was. What mattered was the energy and intensity developed. This aided the dictatorship, but behind the dictatorship, was there not a vital force that was feeding on these intense energies? We cannot see them, obviously, with our normal human way of looking at things, but there are states of awareness where we can actually begin to either see these forces at work, or at least trace the line of their action. How can we explain the rise of someone like Hitler solely with socio-economic factors? The mermerizing force he wielded, even against all the best human instincts and refinements of mind and emotions is impossible to overlook as it went so far beyond the explanations of “cause and effect’ from the external viewpoint.

Sri Aurobindo notes: “…looking at what happened in 1914 — or for that matter at all that is and has been happening in human history — the eye of the Yogin sees not only the outward events and persons and causes, but the enormous forces which precipitate them into action. If the men who fought were instruments in the hands of rulers and financiers, these in turn were mere puppets in the clutch of those forces. When one is habituated to see the things behind, one is no longer prone to be touched by the outward aspects — or to expect any remedy from political, institutional or social changes the only way out is through the descent of a consciousness which is not the puppet of these forces but is greater than they are and can compel them either to change or disappear.”

Sri Aurobindo and the Mother, The Hidden Forces of Life, Ch. 1 Life Through the Eyes of the Yogin, pg. 6

Author's Bio: 

Santosh has been studying Sri Aurobindo's writings since 1971 and has a daily blog at and podcast at He is author of 20 books and is editor-in-chief at Lotus Press. He is president of Institute for Wholistic Education, a non-profit focused on integrating spirituality into daily life.
More information about Sri Aurobindo can be found at
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