This post offers some practical advice on how to deal with different kinds of people in this world based on some ideas drawn from Vedic philosophy—namely, divine and demonic natures—which are separated into the upper and lower parts of the universe. In the present world, which lies in between the upper and lower extremes, these natures are mixed. That means some people have divine nature, others have demonic nature, and yet others have a mixture of these natures. By learning to spot them through a philosophical understanding, we can understand how to relate to different people.
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The Hierarchical Nature of the Universe
The world is organized hierarchically. The higher person generally has more knowledge, beauty, power, fame, wealth, and detachment. Conversely, the lower person has lesser of these qualities. Accordingly, you can find those with higher qualities in a higher position in society, and those without these qualities in a lower position. However, this post is not about who has more wealth, power, knowledge, etc. It is about the emotional attitudes of persons in relation to those in higher or lower strata.
Our wealth, beauty, fame, power, knowledge, etc. are often temporary. They come and go, and someone rich today may be poor tomorrow. They may be in a higher position today and may fall tomorrow. The position and material qualities are temporary. However, there is an inner attitude in a person which persists for long despite the changes in their position.
Therefore, by divine and demonic natures, I mean that inner quality which determines their emotional response to their position and to those who are higher or lower placed in the world. The possession of greater knowledge, wealth, beauty etc. doesn’t make one divine, nor does the lack of these qualities makes one demonic. The determinant is how they emotionally react to the status of other people, and this is what I mean by nature in this post. By understanding these natures, we can spot different kinds of people, or the times when these natures are dominant in them, and then use this understanding in order to determine our approach and reaction to them.
A person with divine nature feels gratitude in relation to those lower in stature or position. The gratitude is caused by the realization that their situation could have been much worse but since they have better position they are grateful for it. The gratitude is accompanied by compassion for others. The divine person feels compassion for the unfortunate and tries to help them. The help may not change their situation, and sometimes the help may be rejected, in which case, the divine person still feels compassion toward them.
The divine nature is humble in relation to the superior. The humility is that their own achievements are insignificant compared to those of the superior. There is no reason for arrogance because there is still a long way to go. Since others have achieved more, the person with divine nature is inspired by the accomplishments of the superior and is motivated to pursue an even higher goal. The person with divine nature looks up to the superior, seeks their guidance, follows their advice, and if the superior offer corrective recommendations, they accept it with gratitude and thank them for it.
The divine nature collaborates and cooperates with peers. There is little compassion or inspiration among equals. However, there is still respect and cooperation between them. They listen to suggestions, sometimes question for clarification, find mutual interest and commonalities, and find ways by which each person can progress in their life.
In essence, the divine nature feels compassion and gratitude when they look downward; they feel inspiration and humility when they look upward; and they feel mutuality and friendship with their peers. These feelings or emotions are present regardless of their stature in life. Thus, they possess a positive emotional energy which makes their lives peaceful, constructive, goal-oriented, collaborative, and progressive.
The demonic nature is a contrast to the divine nature. The demonic person looks at the less fortunate and instead of feeling compassion toward them, he or she feels proud at their superiority and delighted by other’s suffering. Sometimes out of pride the demonic person disdains the less fortunate. They might insult, humiliate, or dominate the unfortunate, knowing they are powerless in front of a superior. It is common for some rich and powerful, for instance, to have disdain for the naked, poor, and hungry people.
The demonic nature is also characterized by fear of the superior. Instead of being inspired and humbled by their superiors, the demonic fear the superior person’s position and bow to them offering flattery. The presence of the superior injects a paranoia and dread in the demonic person and they feel insecure about their inferiority. All their actions are meant to create a greater sense of security by pleasing the perceived aggressors. Their praise of the superior is false, because they don’t genuinely value their qualities. They only desire to have a superior position, and dream of the day when they will occupy a similar position and strike fear in the hearts of those inferior to them.
The demonic nature competes with those with an equal stature rather than cooperating with them. If peers are trying to move forward, the envious person will try to hold them back. This might involve rat-holing into irrelevant things, distracting people with unnecessary so-called facts, and raising irrational fears, pretending to be concerned about the group’s best interest. While others are busy trying to address the objections raised by the demonic person, the demonic will try to project himself as the savior from a disastrous situation and others as the cause of the overlooked problems, trying to gain an unfair competitive advantage over the sincere but unwitting peers.
In essence, the demonic nature feels proud and superior to those who are unfortunate, fearful of those who are more fortunate and in a superior position, and envious of the peers. The demonic look to dominate and control others because that control makes them feel powerful. They disdain others who are less educated, wealthy, attractive, famous, or powerful. They flatter their superiors, and pretend to be their faithful servants, but they have no moral commitment to anyone. If the flag changes, they will quickly salute the new flag. They can be found taking other’s credit, and passing the blame to them.
Problems in Spotting Natures
It is very difficult to spot divine and demonic natures because both types of people often seem to have the same behaviors. For example, both divine and demonic people praise their superiors; the divine because they feel gratitude and humility, and the demonic because they want to flatter the superiors to overcome their fear of the superior.
Both divine and demonic natures seem to be concerned about their peers; the divine because they are trying to cooperate and find common ground, and the demonic because they are worried that if unchecked the peers will move ahead and leave them behind. Their efforts are directed to raise seemingly legitimate concerns in order to drag or derail the progress while they work out alternative schemes to progress.
Both divine and demonic people are seen trying to help others; the divine because they are compassionate and concerned about the unfortunate and the demonic because they want to use their so-called help to feel superior to the unfortunate and to offer them advice in a way that will make them further dependent on their support in the future.
Most gullible people are therefore easily fooled by the demonic and consider them divine. It might take considerable amount of time to spot their true nature, and this generally involves looking at a person’s behavior in relation to each of the three strata—superior, inferior, and equal—over time because if you only look at a subset of their behaviors for a short period of time, then you might be easily deceived. The fact is also that the same behavior can be explained by either divine or demonic tendencies, so even if you feel that the person is demonic, you will generally lack concrete evidence to prove it.
The problem is further exacerbated because many people may have both divine and demonic natures. Especially in the present world, which lies in between divine and demonic extremes, most people have both tendencies. So, even if you spot a person’s demonic nature, the fact that he or she sometimes acts with divine qualities, only increases the confusion. Also, since you might have shades of both tendencies in you, you might be more willing to give the benefit of the doubt to others. The demonic person relies on this confusion about their true nature, and exploits it. He or she camouflages among the divine, and hopes that their tricks will not be caught by the gullible.
How to Understand a Person’s Nature
The only reliable method to understanding a person’s true nature is spotting the trends in behavior over longer periods of time. The divine person will be consistent in their praise, respect, and affection of the superiors, and this will reflect in their imbibing the qualities of the people they praise. The demonic person on the other hand will be inconsistent; he can be found praising, but there is no affection. Instead, the person feels fear of losing his position and being persecuted by the superior if false praise was not offered. A demonic person will offer praise but they will not imbibe the qualities that they praise. For instance, a demonic person may praise the fearless leadership and honesty of a superior but you will never find them developing courage and truthfulness themselves.
Over time you can see that when a demonic person pretends to collaborate, he or she actually competes. This presents itself as inconsistency in words and actions: they will talk about collaboration but their actions will reveal competition. They will remain critical of those who are solving problems, but if called upon to help with those problems they will not produce anything useful. They rely not on their own competence but on projecting incompetence on to others. They are attached to the symbolic titles and love performing the unnecessary rituals associated with their title in order to project their power.
In relation to the less fortunate, you can see a clearer demonstration of their deep desire for authority and power. They will try to assert their superior position against the helpless and intimidate them into submission. Their “help” will be offered after telling others how they have no other recourse other than a submission to their superior authority. They will offer carrots to those who obey them, and wield the sticks on those who don’t. You can see that they don’t believe in choice and free will because there are only two paths available—success if you submit to them, and disaster and destruction if you don’t.
Perhaps the most telling sign of a demonic person is his or her selfishness. They will cling to your support, praise your worth, and offer you rewards when they need you. But they will quickly abandon you when their needs are fulfilled, when they have found an alternative, or if the interests clash. Their “love” is superficial because they don’t care about anyone other than themselves. You can feel their coldness and disinterest toward you, as they focus on their benefits ignoring your losses. They listen to you, not because they care about you, but because they are seeking something from you. If they don’t get what they are expecting and desiring, they will drop you like a hot potato.
The divine nature is open about their shortcomings and the demonic hide their faults. A divine person will be self-critical and accept their mistakes quickly. A demonic person will be defensive about their flaws and will employ endless yarns of lies and deceit to cover up their tracks and follies. Over time, the gap between their reality and their imaginary projection widens continuously. Therefore, as time passes, you cannot but help notice the contradictions and their detection thus becomes easier with passing time.
Divine Living with Demonic
Since the divine nature is humble, cooperative, and compassionate, it attracts the demonic like a magnet who sees an easy opening to exploit the humility, cooperativeness, and compassion in the divine nature. A demonic person only has to cry before a divine person about his or her problems, and the divine will be gullible enough to take them in their shelter, offering them help and support. Since the divine like to cooperate, the demonic use it to force their agenda; in the spirit of cooperation, the divine nature will set aside his or her needs, in order to prioritize the needs of the demonic. Since the divine are generally humble, it fits the desire in the demonic to dominate the other person.
The net result of the mixing of divine and demonic people is that the demonic find an easy prey in the divine nature and exploit their humility, cooperativeness, and compassion to the fullest. The divine nature suffers due to this because for them to come out of that exploitation they have to be assertive instead of being humble, unaccommodating instead of cooperative, and merciless instead of compassionate. All these traits are against the divine nature. So the divine person is compelled to suffer at the hands of the demonic because to do otherwise means going against their own divine nature.
When a divine person is harassed by the demonic nature, he or she is pained and might sometimes become angry. But due to their own divine qualities they tell themselves to stop being angry and pained; they rationalize their suffering as a divine quality of tolerance, which emboldens the demonic even more. In fact, when the divine person shows their anger, the demonic will equate the divine to the demonic, create feelings of guilt and self-doubt in them, and through that process extend their exploitation.
Possible Pathways for the Divine Nature
The demonic can easily live with the divine because their humility, cooperativeness, and compassion nicely complement the arrogance, competitiveness, and domination of the demonic. But the divine cannot live with the demonic because of their exploitative nature. Similarly, the demonic cannot live with other demonic people because both are arrogant, uncooperative, dominant, aggressive, and cold. Thus, both divine and demonic cannot tolerate the demonic, but both divine and demonic like the divine nature.
The best course of action is to let the divine live with other divine persons, and the demonic with other demonic. The divine finding other divine people will help them relish their divinity. And the demonic living with other demonic will compel them to change their nature into divine. This is also the separation between the worlds of the divine and demonic life forms that the Vedic texts describe in their cosmology.
The demonic don’t like the other demonic; no thief likes to be with other thieves who will steal from him; a thief always wants an honest accountant. But when the thieves are subjected to other thieves in a jail, both realize their mistake. The thief has to be shown the mirror in which he realizes his true nature and its follies and hopefully corrects them.
The divine should carefully watch for the demonic nature and stay away from them. The divine cannot become angry, arrogant, competitive, or ruthless as it is against their nature. And they cannot be exploited by the arrogance, competitiveness, and ruthlessness of the demonic. Avoiding the demonic and protecting oneself by creating a distance from them is the only course of action for the divine, so that they don’t lose their divine nature in trying to battle the demonic, or allow themselves to be exploited by the demonic.
I fall in love with this post! Thank you so much sir. Could you please help me better my understanding on the following:
When a divine personality is being exploited/tortured by a demon, does the Supreme Lord interfere to help the divine or the divine needs to ask for help from Him?
What I understand is if the divine is surrendered to the Lord (this requires a further bifurcation among the divine – those who are good but not devotees and those who are good and devotees), the Lord interferes. As shown in the “Ocean Churning and Mohini” incident.
Kindly provide your feedback.
There are different levels of divine too. Sometimes demigods ask for help from Lord Visnu, as you mentioned. At other times, the divine continue to tolerate like Prahlad and Lord Visnu automatically intervenes to kill Hiranyakasipu.
In the Bhagavad-Gita four kinds of people are said to worship the Lord. Of these, the first class is the aarta — distressed, or who are suffering.