Letters of Sri Aurobindo - V

The physical is not the only world; there are others that we become aware of through dream records, through the subtle senses, through influences and contacts, through imagination, intuition and vision. There are worlds of a larger subtler life than ours, vital worlds; worlds in which Mind builds its own forms and figures, mental worlds; psychic worlds which are the soul's home; others above with which we have little contact. In each of us there is a mental plane of consciousness, a psychic, a vital, a subtle physical as well as the gross physical and material plane. The same planes are repeated in the consciousness of general Nature. It is when we enter or contact these other planes that we come into connection with the worlds above the physical. In sleep we leave the physical body, only a subconscient residue remaining, and enter all planes and all sorts of worlds. In each we see scenes, meet beings, share in happenings, come across formations, influences, suggestions which belong to these planes. Even when we are awake, part of us moves in these planes, but their activity goes on behind the veil; our waking minds are not aware of it. Dreams are often only incoherent constructions of our subconscient, but others are records (often much mixed and distorted) or transcripts of experiences in these supraphysical planes. When we do sadhana, this kind of dream becomes very common; then subconscious dreams cease to predominate.

The forces and beings of the vital world have a great influence on human beings. The vital world is on one side a world of beauty,—the poet, artist, musician are in close contact with it; it is also a world of powers and passions, lusts and desires,—our own lusts and desires, and passions and ambitions can put us into connection with the vital worlds and their forces and beings. It is again a world of things dark, dangerous and horrible. Nightmares like X's are contacts with this side of the vital plane. Its influences are also the source of much in men that is demoniac, dirty, cruel and base.

This experience of X is a contact with something on the wrong side of the vital plane. Her visions of gods, goddesses, etc., are vital world experiences on the other side. This one is an attempt of some vital force to get some kind of control on her acting on her through her fear. If she were not afraid, it could not invade her. If she suffers in her waking hours from desires or despondencies and depressions, that also would help to make her enter these worlds in sleep or have a connection with them. Her experiences as you reported them showed a very great power of entry into the vital plane on the good side—these dream experiences are the other side. As they are dreams, they are not so dangerous as a similar experience in meditation would be, but all the same they are very undesirable.

If such an invasion is attempted, the one thing to do is to fight it out as she did and at the same time to call the Mother. The rule should be to call the Mother before sleeping, to concentrate on her and try to feel the Mother's protection around her and go with that into sleep. In the dream itself a habit of calling the Mother when in difficulty or peril should be formed; many sadhaks do it. Not to allow the invasion, any invasion of any power or being, whether in dream, meditation or otherwise—no force except the Divine Force, means to reject it, never to give assent, whether through attention or through weakness. To cut connection can be done by will within, a will of rejection, a concentration on higher things than the things of the vital plane; also by rejection of vital desires or despondencies and depressions, if she has them. Let her aspire most for the higher spiritual experiences, the psychic opening, calm, peace, purity,
the opening to the higher light, strength, bliss, knowledge.

One thing, she should not lead too sequestered a life; some opening on the physical world is needed, also some normal mental activities of a healthy character.

                                                          


These are dreams sent from the vital world. There are three things she must develop with regard to them:

1. to get the habit of calling the Mother at once in the dream itself;
2. not to fear—if one does not fear, these other world forces become helpless;
3. to put no belief in the reality of such formations and regard them only as suggestions put into form, just as one gets a frightful imagination of this or that happening but the reason knows it to be a mere work of imagination and is not moved by it.
                                                          


Your experience of the peace in the body was a very good one. As for the bad dream, it was a hostile formation from the vital world—a suggestion in a dream form intended to upset you. These things should be dismissed—you should say in yourself “It is false—no such thing can happen” and throw it away as
you would a wrong suggestion in the waking state.

                                                          


These things that come to frighten you are merely impressions thrown on you by small vital forces which want to prevent you (by making you nervous) pushing on the sadhana. They can really do nothing to you, only you must reject all fear. Keep always this thought when these things come “The Mother's protection is with me, nothing bad can happen”,—for when there is the psychic opening and one puts one's faith in the Mother, that is sufficient to ward these things off. Many sadhaks learn, when they have alarming dreams, to call the Mother's name in the dream itself and then the things that menace them become helpless or cease. You must therefore refuse to be intimidated and reject these impressions with contempt. If there is anything frightening, call down the Mother's protection.

The heat you felt was probably due to some difficulty in the force coming down below the centre between the eyes where it has been working up till now. When such sensations or the unease you once felt or similar things come, you must not be alarmed, but remain quiet and let the difficulty pass.

What you had before that, the moonlight in the forehead was this working on the centre there between the eyebrows, the centre of the inner mind, will and vision. The moonlight you saw is the light of spirituality and it was this that was entering into your mind through the centre, with the effect of the widening in the heart like a sky filled with moonlight. Afterwards came some endeavour to prepare the lower part of the mind whose centre is in the throat and join it with the inner mind and make it open; but there was some difficulty, as is very usually the case, which caused the heat. It was probably the fire of tapas, Agni, trying to open the way to this centre.

The experience of being taken up into the sky is a very common one and it means an ascent of the consciousness into a higher world of light and peace.

The idea that you must go more and more within and turn wholly to the Mother is quite right. It is when there is no attachment to outward things for their own sake and all is only for the Mother and the life through the inner psychic being is centred in her that the best condition
is created for the spiritual realisation.

                                                          

The dream was of a kind one often has in the vital plane—in which one gets into inextricable difficulties till suddenly one finds the way out. Gujerat in the dream
was not Gujerat, but only a symbol of one part of the vital world which is opposed to the spiritual life and full of vital powers that come in the way either by fraud or by force. These dreams are indications of certain parts of vital nature (not one's own, but the general vital Nature) which stand in the way of spiritual fulfilment. When one goes there and masters them, then one is free from any intervention of these parts of Nature in the sadhana.

                                                          

These dreams are quite symbolical of the vital forces that come and attack you. If you face them with courage they are reduced to helplessness. I don't think that it is at all your father and brother that you meet—although something of their hostile feelings may be taken advantage of by those forces to take their
figures—also they may do it in order to create sympathy in you and prevent you from acting against them. But apart from that the figures of the physical mother
and father and relatives are very often symbolical of the physical or the hereditary nature or generally of the ordinary nature in which we are born.

                                                          

In these dreams the parents or relatives mean the ordinary forces of the physical consciousness (the old nature).

                                                          

These dreams are of the vital plane. Those about going home come from a part of the vital which still keeps the memory of the past relations and goes there during the sleep. The dreams about the Mother record meetings with her on the vital plane. For the first you should throw them away when you awake and not let your vital keep their impress. The experiences you had there (of the Mother coming in the heart and telling you) were psychic in character, not of the vital dream kind.

The difficulty you have in sadhana may come from the vital or physical mind becoming active. That often happens after the first experiences of calm and silence. One has to detach oneself from these activities in meditation as a witness and call down the original calm into these parts also. But this may take time. If one can in meditation sufficiently isolate oneself from the surroundings and go inside, the quietude comes more quickly.

                                                          

When you practise yoga, the consciousness opens and you become aware—especially in sleep—of things, scenes, beings, happenings of other (not physical) worlds and yourself in sleep go there and act there. Very often these things have an importance for the sadhana. So you need not regret seeing all this when you sleep or meditate.

But in no case should you fear. The fact that you were able to destroy the beings that fought with you (these were beings of a hostile vital world) is very
good, for it shows that in your vital nature somewhere there is strength and courage. Moreover, using the Mother's name and having her protection, you should fear nothing.

                                                          

The running away [in dream] is a symbol of the inertia in part of the being which allows the forces to invade, drawing back from them and losing ground instead
of facing and destroying them.

                                                          

It is evident that X's experience was only what is called a nightmare—an attack in sleep from some force of the vital world, to which he probably opened himself in some way, it may be by answering to the man from the street who carried the worst vital atmosphere around him. The figure of the woman was only a form given by his subconscient mind to this force. These forces are around everywhere, not only in one particular room or house, and if one opens the door to them, they come in wherever you are. It would have no importance
but for the nervous reaction of irrational terror indulged in by X. One who wants to do sadhana has no business to indulge in such panics; it is a weakness
incompatible with the demands of the yoga and, if one cannot throw it aside, it is safer not to try the yoga.

                                                          


The depression coming on you in sleep must have been due to one of two causes. It might have been the trace left by an unpleasant experience in some
disagreeable quarter of the vital worlds, and there are places in plenty of that kind there. It can hardly have been an attack, for that would surely have left a more distinct impression of something having happened, even if there was no actual memory of it; but merely to enter into certain places or meet their inhabitants or enter into contact with their atmosphere can have, unless one is a born fighter and takes an aggressive pleasure in facing and conquering these ordeals, a depressing and exhausting effect. If that is the cause, then it is a question of either avoiding these places, which can be done by an effort of will, once one knows that it is this which happens, or putting around you a special protection against the touch of that atmosphere. The other possible cause is a plunge into a too obscure and subconscient sleep—that has sometimes the effect you describe. In any case, do not allow yourself to be discouraged when these things happen; they are common phenomena one cannot fail to meet with as soon as one begins to penetrate behind the veil and touch the occult causes of the psychological happenings within us. One has to learn the causes, note and face the difficulty and always react—never accept the depression thrown on one, but react as you did the first time.
If there are always forces around which are concerned to depress and discourage, there are always forces above and around us which we can draw upon,—draw into ourselves to restore, to fill up again with strength and faith and joy and the power that perseveres and conquers. It is really a habit that one has to get of opening to these helpful forces and either passively receiving them or actively drawing upon them—for one can do either. It is easier if you have the conception of them above and around you and the faith and the will to receive them—for that brings the experience and concrete sense of them and the capacity to receive at need or at will. It is a question of habituating your consciousness to get into touch and keep in touch with these helpful forces—and for that you must accustom yourself to reject the impressions forced on you by the others, depression, self-distrust, repining and all similar disturbances.

As for the actual mastery of a situation by occult powers, it can only come by use and experiment—as one develops strength by exercises or develops a
process in the laboratory by finding out through the actual use of a power how it can and ought to be applied to the field in which it operates. It is of no use
waiting for the strength before one tries; the strength will come with repeated trials. Neither must you fear failure or be discouraged by failure—for these things
do not always succeed at once. These are things one has to learn by personal experiences, how to get into touch with the cosmic forces, how to relate or equate our individual action with theirs, how to become an instrument of the Master Consciousness which we call the Divine.

There is something a little too personal in your attitude—I mean the insistence on personal strength or weakness as the determining factor. After all, for the
greatest as for the smallest of us our strength is not our own but given to us for the game that has to be played, the work that we have to do. The strength may be formed in us, but its present formation is not final,—neither formation of power nor formation of weakness. At any moment the formation may change—at any moment one sees, especially under the pressure of yoga, weakness changing into power, the incapable becoming capable, suddenly or slowly the instrumental consciousness rising to a new stature or developing
its latent powers. Above us, within us, around us is the All-Strength and it is that that we have to rely on for our work, our development, our transforming change. If we proceed with the faith in the work, in our instrumentality for the work, in the Power that missions us, then in the very act of trial, of facing and surmounting
difficulties and failures, the strength will come and we shall find our capacity to contain as much as we need of the All-Strength of which we grow more and
more perfect vessels.

- Sri Aurobindo

He is himself the dreamer and the dream. - Sri Aurobindo