Rays of the One Light

Weekly commentaries on the Bible and the Bhagavad Gita
by Swami Kriyananda (J. Donald Walters)

Truth is one and eternal. Realize oneness with it in your deathless Self, within. The following commentary is based on the teachings of Paramhansa Yogananda.


Week 33: Does Satan Exist?

The Bible tells us in Chapter 4 of the Gospel of St. Matthew:

Then [after baptism] was Jesus led up of the spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil.

To most modern minds, this passage seems quaintly obsolete. Psychologists would say—have said, in fact—that the temptation of Jesus, if it occurred at all, was purely psychological. They call it a projection of desires lurking in his own subconscious mind.

The subconscious plays a strong part, certainly, even if not a unique one, in any testing the spiritual seeker must undergo.

The Bhagavad Gita, in dealing with this undeniable reality, quotes Arjuna in the third Chapter, and then Sri Krishna's reply:

Yet tell me, Teacher! [said Arjuna] by what force doth man
Go to his ill, unwilling; as if one
Pushed him in that path?”
[Krishna replied:]
Desire it is!
Passion it is! born of the Darknesses,
Which pusheth him. Mighty of appetite,
Sinful, and strong is this!—man's enemy!”

Yet even Krishna describes passion as “born of the Darknesses.”The fact is, as Paramhansa Yogananda wrote in Autobiography of a Yogi, “All thoughts vibrate eternally in the cosmos. . . . Thoughts are universally and not individually rooted; a truth cannot be created, but only perceived.” Psychology, yes, but psychology attuned to currents of consciousness that pervade the entire universe, attracted by each of us according to our own personal inclinations.

Yogananda, quoted in The Path, said, “I used to think Satan was only a human invention, but now I know, and add my testimony to that of others who lived before me, that Satan is a reality. He is a universal, conscious force whose sole aim is to keep all beings bound to the wheel of delusion.”

We should take pains, then, to attract uplifting currents of universal consciousness, and to avoid attracting the negative, which—disease that it is!—can infect our thoughts even while it leads us to believe that our thoughts are purely our own.

Thus, through holy scripture, God has spoken to mankind.