What Is Superstition?


Does eye twitching have any significance in spirituality or day to day life? I have observed many times, bad things happening when my left eye twitches. But not every time, at least not when I affirm nothing wrong is going to happen. Does it have a significance or it's just another superstition?

—Pradeep Laveti, Canada


Dear Pradeep,

I am familiar with this superstition, that an involuntary twitch in the eye, arm, or leg is supposed to herald news: auspicious, if the twitch occurs on a man’s right side or on a woman’s left side; inauspicious, if the reverse.

Regarding superstitions in general, Swami Kriyananda writes (in Conversations with Yogananda):

What is superstition? It may sometimes be actually simply a deeper-than-usual sensitivity to interrelationships, or influences, of which most people are unaware. Sensitivity to solar radiation, for example, may seem superstitious to people if they know nothing about it. In modern times, science has discovered countless subtle influences that, even a few decades ago, would have struck people as imaginary. I don’t intend to enlarge on this point here, so I’ll leave it to my readers to decide for themselves whether the following notions, most of which the Master accepted from traditional Indian lore, should be classed as superstitions or as endorsed by his own intuitive awareness. These were beliefs that he not only held personally, but actually asked others to follow. They may strike some people as being contrary to common sense. I myself am in no position to judge, but I don’t think they should be dismissed as “quaint idiosyncrasies,” for if that is all they are, I never saw him display any others.

He told the disciples around him, for example, when they greeted him the first thing in the morning, not to close one eye in a squint as they came in. If one eye was closed, he told them to shut the other eye also. This “superstition” is widely held in India, where people say that if you greet someone in the morning with one eye closed, the two of you may quarrel that day.

When accepting gifts from people, the Master always received them with his right hand. He insisted that we do the same also. I often saw him insist on a gift being also given with the right hand, not with the left one. This is another universal practice in India, where it is held that the left hand is impure. I think, however, that the Master may have meant also that the magnetism of the left hand is passive, or negative, and less adapted therefore to whole-hearted giving or receiving.

When he saw a broom left out, he always insisted that it be put away. The monks who ate (some of them also lived) in the basement, tended to be lax in this regard until he said to them finally, “Brooms have a negative astral vibration.”

This passage goes on to detail a number of other such practices of Yoganandaji.

As for your own observations of eye-twitching, I myself don’t know enough to comment. Your other observation — that positive affirmation leads to positive results — I wholeheartedly endorse. If you can put out a strong enough positive magnetism, you can overcome any negative superstition, any outward obstacle, and any karmic test!

Joy to you,