is a common idea that visions are a sign of high spirituality.
Is this true?
necessarily. Moreover, to see is one thing but to understand
and interpret what is seen is quite another thing and much
more difficult. Generally, those who see are misled because
they give the meaning or interpretation they wish to give
according to their desires, hopes and prepossessions. And
then, too, there are many different planes in which you
can see. There is a mental seeing, a vital seeing, and there
are some visions that are seen in a plane very close to
the most material. The visions that belong to the last category
appear in forms and symbols that seem to be absolutely material,
so clear and real and tangible they are. And if you know
how to interpret them you can have very exact indications
of circumstances and of the inner condition of people.
us illustrate. Here is a vision that someone actually had.
A road climbs up a steep and precipitous hillside, bathed
in full bright sunlight. On the road a heavy coach drawn
by six strong horses is proceeding with great difficulty;
it is advancing slowly but steadily. Arrives a man who looks
over the situation, takes his position behind the coach
and begins to push it or tries to push it up the hill. Then
someone comes who has knowledge and says to him, "Why
do you labour in vain? Do you think your effort can have
any effect? For you it is an impossible task. Even the horses
find it difficult."
the clue to the meaning of the vision lies in the image
of the six horses. Horses are symbols of power and the number
six represents divine creation; so the six horses signify
the powers of divine creation. The coach stands for realisation,
for the thing that has to be realised, achieved, brought
up to the summit, to the height where dwells the Light.
Although these powers of creation are divine, it is a hard
labour even for them to consummate the realisation; for
they have to work against heavy odds, against the whole
downward pull of nature. Then comes in the human being in
his arrogance and ignorance, with his small fund of mental
powers and thinks that he is somebody and can do something.
The best thing he can do is to step inside the coach, sit
down comfortably and let the horses carry him.
are quite a different thing. They are more difficult to
interpret, since each person has his own world of dream-imagery
peculiar to himself. Of course, there are dreams that do
not signify much, those that are connected with the most
superficial and physical layer of consciousness, those that
are the result of stray thoughts, random impressions, mechanical
reactions or reflex activities. These have no regular or
organised form and shape and meaning; they are hardly remembered
and leave almost no trace in the consciousness. But even
dreams that have a somewhat deeper origin are still obscure,
since they are peculiarly personal, in this sense that they
depend for their make-up almost entirely upon the experiences
and idiosyncrasies of the individual. Visions also are made
up of symbols that do not necessarily obtain universal currency.
The symbols vary according to race and tradition and religion.
One symbol may be peculiarly Christian, another peculiarly
Hindu, a third may be common to all the East and a fourth
only to the West. Dreams, on the other hand, are exclusively
personal; they depend upon everyday occurrences and impressions.
It is exceedingly difficult for one man to explain or interpret
another's dream. Each man is like a closed circle to every
other man. But everyone can study for himself his own dreams,
unravel them and find out their meaning.
the procedure to deal with dreams and the dreamland. First
become consciousconscious of your dreams. Observe
the relation between them and the happenings of your waking
hours. If you remember your night, you will be able to trace
back very often the condition of your day to the condition
of your night. In sleep some action or other is always going
on in your mental or vital or other plane; things happen
there and they govern your waking consciousness. For instance,
some are very anxious to perfect themselves and make a great
effort during the day. They go to sleep and, when they rise
the next day, they find no trace of the gains of their previous
day's effort; they have to go over the same ground once
again. This means that the effort and whatever achievement
there was belonged to the more superficial or wakeful parts
of the being, but there were deeper and dormant parts that
were not touched. In sleep you fell into the grip of these
unconscious regions and they opened and swallowed all that
you had laboriously built up in your conscious hours.
conscious! Be conscious of the night as well as of the day.
First you have to get consciousness, afterwards, control.
You who remember your dreams may have had this experience
that, even while dreaming, you knew it was a dream; you
knew that it was an experience that did not belong to the
material world. When once you know, you can act there in
the same way as in the material world; even in the dreaming,
you can exercise your conscious will and change the whole
course of your dream-experience.
as you become more and more conscious, you will begin to
have the same control over your being at night as you have
in the day, perhaps even more. For at night you are free,
at least partially, from slavery to the mechanism of the
body. The control over the processes of the body-consciousness
is more difficult, since they are more rigid, less amenable
to change than are the mental or the vital processes.
the night the mental and vital, especially the vital, are
very active. During the day they are under check, the physical
consciousness automatically represses their free play and
expression. In sleep this check is removed and they come
out with their natural and free movements.
What is the nature of dreamless sleep?
Generally, when you have what you call dreamless sleep,
it is one of two things; either you do not remember what
you dreamt or you fell into absolute unconsciousness which
is almost death a taste of death. But there is the possibility
of a sleep in which you enter into an absolute silence,
immobility and peace in all parts of your being and your
consciousness merges into Sachchidananda. You can hardly
call it sleep, for it is extremely conscious. In that condition
you may remain for a few minutes, but these few minutes
give you more rest and refreshment than hours of ordinary
sleep. You cannot have it by chance; it requires a long
How is it that in dreams one meets and knows people whom
one meets and knows afterwards in the outer world?
is because of the affinities that draw certain people together,
affinities in the mental or the vital world. People often
meet in these planes before they meet upon earth. They may
join there, speak to each other and have all the relations
you can have upon earth. Some know of these relationships,
some do not know. Some, as are indeed most, are unconscious
of the inner being and the inner intercourse, and yet it
will happen that, when they meet the new face in the outer
world, they find it somehow very familiar, quite well-known.
Are there no false visions?
are what in appearance are false visions. There are, for
instance, hundreds or thousands of people who say that they
have seen the Christ. Of that number those who have actually
seen Him are perhaps less than a dozen, and even with them
there is much to say about what they have seen. What the
others saw may be an emanation; or it may be a thought or
even an image remembered by the mind. There are, too, those
who are strong believers in the Christ and have had a vision
of some Force or Being or some remembered image that is
very luminous and makes upon them a strong impression. They
have seen something which they feel belongs to another world,
to a supernatural order, and it has created in them an emotion
of fear, awe or joy; and as they believe in the Christ,
they can think of nothing else and say it is He. But the
same vision or experience if it comes to one who believes
in the Hindu, the Mahomedan or some other religion, will
take a different name and form. The thing seen or experienced
may be fundamentally the same, but it is formulated differently
according to the different make-up of the apprehending mind.
It is only those that can go beyond beliefs and faiths and
myths and traditions who are able to say what it really
is; but these are few, very few. You must be free from every
mental construction, you must divest yourself of all that
is merely local or temporal, before you can know what you
experience means the contact with the Divine in oneself
(or without, which comes to the same thing in that domain).
And it is an experience identical everywhere in all countries,
among all peoples and even in all ages. If you meet the
Divine, you meet it always and everywhere in the same way.
Difference comes in because between the experience and its
formulation there is almost an abyss. Directly you have
spiritual experience, which takes place always in the inner
consciousness, it is translated into your external consciousness
and defined there in one way or another according to your
education, your faith, your mental predisposition. There
is only one truth, one reality; but the forms through which
it may be expressed are many.
What was the nature of Jeanne d'Arc's vision?
d'Arc was evidently in relation with some entities belonging
to what we call the world of the Gods (or as the Catholics
say, the world of the Saints, though it is not quite the
same). The beings she saw she called archangels. These beings
belong to the intermediate world between the higher mind
and the supramental, the world that Sri Aurobindo calls
the Overmind. It is the world of the creators, the "Formateurs".
two beings who were always appearing and speaking to Jeanne
d'Arc would, if seen by an Indian, have a quite different
appearance; for when one sees, one projects the forms of
one's mind. To what you see you give the form of that which
you expect to see. If the same being appeared simultaneously
in a group where there were Christians, Buddhists, Hindus,
Shintoists, it would be named by absolutely different names.
Each would say, in reference to the appearance of the being,
that he was like this or like that, all differing and yet
it would be one and the same manifestation. You have the
vision of one in India whom you call the Divine Mother,
the Catholics say it is the Virgin Mary, and the Japanese
call it Kwannon, the Goddess of Mercy, and others would
give other names. It is the same Force, the same Power,
but the images made of it are different in different faiths.
What is the place of training or discipline in surrender?
If one surrenders, can he not be without discipline? Does
not discipline sometimes hamper?
But a distinction must be made between a method of development
or discipline and a willed action. Discipline is different;
I am speaking of willed action. If you surrender you have
to give up effort, but that does not mean that you have
to abandon also all willed action. On the contrary, you
can hasten the realisation by lending your will to the Divine
Will. That too is surrender in another form.
What is required of you is not a passive surrender, in which
you become like a block, but to put your will at the disposal
of the Divine Will.
But how can one do this before the union has been effected?
have a will and you can offer that will. Take the example
of becoming conscious of your nights. If you take the attitude
of passive surrender, you would say, "When it is the
Divine Will that I should become conscious, then I shall
become conscious." On the other hand, if you offer
your will to the Divine, you begin to will, you say, "I
will become conscious of my nights." You have the will
that it should be done; you do not sit down idle and wait.
The surrender comes in when you take the attitude that says,
"I give my will to the Divine. I intensely want to
become conscious of my nights, I have not the knowledge,
let the Divine Will work it out for me." Your will
must continue to act steadily, not in the way of choosing
a particular action or demanding a particular object, but
as an ardent aspiration concentrated upon the end to be
achieved. This is the first step. If you are vigilant, if
your attention is alert, you will certainly receive something
in the form of an inspiration of what is to be done and
that you must forthwith proceed to do. Only, you must remember
that to surrender is to accept whatever is the result of
your action, though the result may be quite different from
what you expect. On the other hand, if your surrender is
passive, you will do nothing and try nothing; you will simply
go to sleep and wait for a miracle.
to know whether your will or desire is in agreement with
the Divine Will or not, you must look and see whether you
have an answer or have no answer, whether you feel supported
or contradicted, not by the mind or the vital or the body,
but by that something which is always there deep in the
inner being, in your heart.
Is not an increasing effort of meditation
needed and is it not true that the more hours you meditate
the greater progress you make?
number of hours spent in meditation is no proof of spiritual
progress. It is a proof of your progress when you no longer
have to make an effort to meditate. Then you have rather
to make an effort to stop meditating: it becomes difficult
to stop meditation, difficult to stop thinking of the Divine,
difficult to come down to the ordinary consciousness. Then
you are sure of progress, then you have made real progress
when concentration in the Divine is the necessity of your
life, when you cannot do without it, when it continues naturally
from morning to night whatever you may be engaged in doing.
Whether you sit down to meditation or go about and do things
and work, what is required of you is consciousness; that
is the one need, to be constantly conscious of the Divine.
is not sitting down to meditation an indispensable discipline,
and does it not give a more intense and concentrated union
with the Divine?
may be. But a discipline in itself is not what we are seeking.
What we are seeking is to be concentrated on the Divine
in all that we do, at all times, in all our acts and in
every movement. There are some here who have been told to
meditate; but also there are others who have not been asked
to do any meditation at all. But it must not be thought
that they are not progressing. They too follow a discipline,
but it is of another nature. To work, to act with devotion
and an inner consecration is also a spiritual discipline.
The final aim is to be in constant union with the Divine,
not only in meditation but in all circumstances and in all
the active life.
are some who, when they are sitting in meditation, get into
a state which they think very fine and delightful. They
sit self-complacent in it and forget the world; but if they
are disturbed, they come out of it angry and restless, because
their meditation was interrupted. This is not a sign of
spiritual progress or discipline. There are some people
who act and seem to feel as if their meditation were a debt
they have to pay to the Divine; they are like men who go
to church once a week and think they have paid what they
owe to God.
you need to make an effort to go into meditation, you are
still very far from being able to live the spiritual life.
When it takes an effort to come out of it, then indeed your
meditation can be an indication that you are in the spiritual
are disciplines such as Hatha Yoga and Raja Yoga that one
can practise and yet have nothing to do with the spiritual
life; the former arrives mostly at body control, the latter
at mind control. But to enter the spiritual life means to
take a plunge into the Divine, as you would jump into the
sea. And that is not the end but the very beginning; for
after you have taken the plunge, you must learn to live
in the Divine. How are you to do it? You have simply to
jump straight in and not to think, "Where shall I fall?
What will happen to me?" It is the hesitation of your
mind that prevents you. You must simply let yourself go.
If you wish to dive into the sea and are thinking all the
time, "Ah, but there may be a stone here or a stone
there", you cannot dive.
But you see the sea and so you can jump straight into
it. But how are you to jump into the spiritual life?
course, you must have had some glimpse of the Divine Reality,
as you must see the sea and know something of it before
you can jump into it. That glimpse is usually the awakening
of the psychic consciousness. But some realisation you must
have a strong mental or vital, if not a deep psychic or
integral contact. You must have felt strongly the Divine
Presence in or about you; you must have felt the breath
of the Divine world. And you must have felt too as a suffocating
pressure the opposite breath of the ordinary world, drawing
you to an endeavour to come out of that oppressive atmosphere.
If you have that, then you have only to seek refuge unreservedly
in the Divine Reality and live in its help and protection,
in it alone. What you may have done in the course of your
ordinary life only partially or in some parts of your being
or at times and on occasions, you must do completely and
for good. That is the plunge you have to take, and unless
you do it, you may do Yoga for years and yet know nothing
of a true spiritual living. Take the whole and entire plunge
and you will be free from this outer confusion and get the
true experience of the spiritual life.
- The Mother