Sharing spiritual experiences with others

Spiritual experiences provide us with a path to the realization of a higher consciousness within us.   Discussing such experiences freely in public is not advised because the power that one has gained through the experience dissipates.  These are the remarks of Sri Aurobindo and The Mother on this matter:

The Mother cautions on sharing spiritual experiences with others

The modern rationalistic mind looks askance at the tradition – common to all spiritual culture – of not publicising one’s spiritual experiences. It sees in this injunction an unnecessary attempt at mystification of experiences which, on the other hand, should be boldly submitted to the open scrutiny of reason from as many angles as possible. All experiences or happenings claiming to be spiritual must be recorded, analysed and verified objectively before they can be accepted. Hence, we are told, there should be no secrecy about these things. It is a superstition with unwholesome consequences and should be done away with.

The truth of the matter, however, is different. Secrecy about one’s inner experiences is enjoined for very strong reasons. Spiritual experience always proceeds from a realm that is beyond the mind and it has its own ways of working which cannot be seized by the mental reason. To seek to understand it, to give it a thought-form is to interfere with its spontaneity. That puts a certain determination over the flow of the experience. It is much worse when one speaks of it to another. When one does so, a whole set of operations is set into motion: the understanding, the thought vibrations, the reactions (mental and vital), the feelings of curiosity or envy for example, the good-will or bad-will, – all these start flowing from the person spoken to and they cannot but have a direct effect on the experience. Its duration, its direction, its intensity, all are subjected to the impact of these movements surging upon it from outside and the experience gets weakened, modified if not interrupted.

[M.P. Pandit, Mother of Love, Vol 2, Page 182-183]

Sri Aurobindo on the same subject in various letters to disciples

1. The usual rule given by yogis is that one should not speak of one’s experience to others except of course the Guru while the sadhana(practice) is going on because it wastes the experience, there is what they call kşaya (reduction) of the tapasya (austerity). It is only long past experiences that they speak of and even that not too freely.

2. The Light left you because you spoke of it to someone who was not an adhikārī (spiritually qualified) It is safest not to speak of these experiences except to a Guru or to one who can help you. The passing away of an experience as soon as it is spoken of is a frequent happening and for that reason many yogis make it a rule never to speak of what happens within them, unless it is a thing of the past or a settled realisation that nothing can take away. A settled permanent realisation abides, but these were rather things that come to make possible an opening in the consciousness to something more complete – to prepare it for realisation.

3. I thought it was understood that what I wrote to you about persons was private. Experiences one’s own or others’ if one comes to know of them, should not be talked about or made a matter of gossip. It is only if there can be some spiritual profit to others and even then if they are experiences of the past that one can speak of them. Otherwise it becomes like news of Abyssinia or Spain, something common and trivial for the vital mass-mind to chew or gobble.

4. If you want to keep the joy, it will be wise not to speak of it to others. Things spoken about get wings and try to escape.

5. To show what is written about experiences or to speak about one’s experiences to others is always risky. They are much better kept to oneself.

6. There is a separate question and that is the telling of one’s own experiences to others. That too is very much discouraged by most yogis – they say it is harmful to the sadhana(practice). I have certainly seen and heard of any number of instances in which people were having a flow of experiences and, when they told it, the flow was lost – so there must be something in this objection. I suppose however it ceases to apply after one has reached a certain long-established stability in the experience, that is to say when the experience amounts to a definite and permanent realisation, something finally and irrevocably added to the consciousness. I notice that those who keep their experiences to themselves and do not put themselves out on others seem to have a more steady sadhana than others, but I don’t know whether it is an invariable rule. It would probably not apply any longer after a certain stage of realisation.

Sri Aurobindo, Letters on Yoga – II: Experiences and Realisations – VII

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16 thoughts on “Sharing spiritual experiences with others

  1. Pingback: Why spiritual experiences do not repeat? | Integral Yoga of Sri Aurobindo & The Mother

  2. Sandeep Post author

    Another Q&A on why one must not share experiences with others:

    Question: Why, and through what mechanism, does mental formulation dissipate an experience, cause it to lose the major part of its power for action on the consciousness?

    Mother: If, for example, you want to get rid of a wrong movement and, as the result of a grace, the force is sent out for this purpose, this force begins to act on the consciousness. Then, if you draw it towards you, so to speak, in order to formulate it, naturally you decentralise it, disperse and dissipate it.

    But this is not all: the simple fact of speaking to another person opens you automatically to whatever may come from him; an interchange always occurs. In this way his curiosity, his obscurity, his good-will and also at times his ill-will intervenes, modifies, deforms.

    On the other hand, if you want to speak of your experience to your Guru and he agrees to listen to you, it means that he adds his force, his knowledge and his experience to the working of the force and he helps to bring about the result.

    Question: But doesn’t the harm caused by the formulation still exist?

    Mother: Yes, but he repairs it.

    The Mother, Words of the Mother – III: (July?) 1958

    Reply
  3. mike

    Worse than losing the experience is the inflation of EGO that can arise from communicating it to all and sundry. Thinking oneself special or a big yogi etc…
    I try only to mention a few of mine on here for the aid of others who might benefit from the information. I always leave what l say in the hands of SA and Mother [ not just here, of course ].

    Reply
    1. Sandeep Post author

      It’s permissible to share experiences after they have stabilized within and one has progressed to the next stage of realization. The Mother has said so somewhere

      Reply
      1. huta

        that means one will remember them long after the experience has settled but can one remember exactly what one goes through for such long period? and this brings me to my next question of consciousness how is it different from mind?

      2. Sandeep Post author

        Huta: that means one will remember them long after the experience has settled but can one remember exactly what one goes through for such long period?

        Yes, in fact neuroscientists distinguish between “remembering” and “knowing”. These are different types of memories. Years after visiting a place(say Singapore), you still “know” you went there but you may not “remember” all that you did over there. The images of an experience diminish over time but the idea still remains.

        Huta: and this brings me to my next question of consciousness how is it different from mind?

        When you experience something in consciousness, it is a “full body” experience which triggers something deep within the body – like swimming in an ocean. But in the mind, you can only imagine what it might feel like.

        The Mother was once asked by a little girl “What is Consciousness” 🙂
        See http://mother-agenda.narod.ru/Agenda_7/1966-06-29.htm

  4. Pingback: Dharana Shakti : the capacity to sustain spiritual experiences | Integral Yoga of Sri Aurobindo & The Mother

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  7. huta

    4. If you want to keep the joy, it will be wise not to speak of it to others. Things spoken about get wings and try to escape.

    but shouldn’t knowledge (of these experiecnes) increase by sharing ?

    Reply
    1. Sandeep Post author

      Huta: but shouldn’t knowledge (of these experiences) increase by sharing ?

      Mental knowledge increases but the richness of that experience disappears.

      We share experiences because we seek to mentally understand them, but it just brings us down to the ordinary level of humanity. It is better to hold the experience secretly within your consciousness and let it reveal its meaning to you when the time is right.

      You should only share when
      1) the experience has been integrated into your consciousness and you have gone beyond it, so to speak.
      2) you don’t have a Guru, and you are facing a conundrum and need some direction for the future.

      Reply
  8. 01

    Oh. Well, things I shared were from years ago, I don’t practice magick nor WILD (wake induced lucid dream) anymore. While experiences are happening I can’t even put them into words, let alone write essays on them and share them. Only after they pass I stop feeling like wtf is happening and become able to put them into words.

    Reply
  9. Shankar

    Even though I had read and directed by the mother inwardly I bursted out my experiences to one and all and as expected I fell into a lot of negativity. But the all gracious mother ever with me, made me to change this habit gradually and she even showed a specific person with whom I can share the experience !!!!

    Reply
  10. mike

    Yes, shankar, i found this out the hard way too. Not so much Spiritual experiences, more with discussing the Yoga with ppl who can turn out to be quite hostile. SA warns about attracting hostility also – especially from those who are only concerned with ordinary life. Much discrimination is needed. Although, this could apply to anyone your incompatible with no matter what the subject matter. l’ve learned to hide my light under a bushel or not to cast pearls before swine lol.

    Reply
    1. Mark

      I wonder why, for a spell, I found places like this site (and auroconf), to be places to interact and ask questions/share experiences. I began only talking to someone many many years after I started an interior process (before meeting SA&M) and that was not a planned meeting. Most the time I had only have books to reflect upon. Perhaps our processes are intended to be insular rather than broadcast. But there were those times when I questioned what is happening inside and wanted verification. But lately, I don’t know what has changed, and why it is okay to let the process go it’s own course, so to speak, without outside contact.

      Reply
  11. mike

    Also, there are some recent free e-books at auro-ebooks which might interest some here. Wasn’t sure where to post it.
    https://www.auro-ebooks.com/e-books/free-ebooks/

    1/ My Pilgrimage to the Spirit
    Author: Dr. Govindbhai Patel

    My Pilgrimage to the Spirit by Dr. Govindbhai Patel is the book of his experiences in sadhana in Sri Aurobindo Ashram as well as in his life outside, while following an ideal of Sri Aurobindo– “All life is Yoga.” The book therefore is significantly divided mainly in two parts. The first part covers his Yogic experiences and visions guided by the Divine Grace in the form of letters by the Divine Master of Yoga in Sri Aurobindo Ashram. The second part covers his experiences in the thick of life outside, guided by the Divine Grace, which gives a touch of originality and uniqueness to the book, for it is the first book of its type which contains author’s experiences outside the Ashram, moulding his life with care, by the touch of the Grace and fulfilling it into a stream of dedicated pilgrimage. Here we have the pleasure to see, how skilfully the door of the human life which is a paradox, is opened by the key of the Divine Grace, turning it into a fulfilment of life as a dedicated pilgrimage. “Life is a paradox, with God for key.”

    2/ The Mother’s Vision
    This book contains a selection of the Mother’s conversations during the periods 1929-31 and 1950-58. Speaking to members of the Sri Aurobindo Ashram and students of its school, she drew upon her unique occult, spiritual and practical experience to answer their questions. The topics range from the spiritually elevated and philosophically complex to the practical and mundane. Taken as a whole, the conversations offer an uplifting vision of human existence. In the Mother’s view, we are destined to outgrow our limited ego-centric personalities, discover our true selves, and ultimately create a divine life on earth.

    The compilation covers a broad range of subjects in considerable depth, taking up many issues that are rarely treated elsewhere. Yet the general tone of the conversations is informal and intimate. There are many long passages in which the Mother brings in personal anecdotes, side stories and touches of humour. As she speaks, her personality comes out and the reader becomes, as it were, a member of the class, listening as she instructs and guides those gathered before her.

    3/ Death Dying and Beyond: Author: Alok Pandey
    The Science and Spirituality of Death
    Man’s paradoxical relation to death is that he sees the fact of death all around him, yet lives as if he were immortal. He may struggle to understand, wandering from the material scientist to the mystic in search of the secret meaning of death. In this book the author examines the complex questions on the nature of death, and follows Sri Aurobindo’s deeper vision behind the veil of death to find the answers to some of the most perplexing ethical and existential problems related to death, dying and the beyond.

    4/ The Golden Path: Author: Anie Nunnally
    Interviews with Disciples of Sri Aurobindo and The Mother
    from the Sri Aurobindo Ashram and Auroville
    World-teachers Sri Aurobindo and The Mother have laid down a revolutionary spiritual path envisaging as its goal a Divine Life on earth.

    During their lifetimes, a growing number of people gathered around them to receive guidance in their yoga of integral transformation. The author herself spent several years at the Sri Aurobindo Ashram while The Mother was alive and formed lasting bonds within the collective life there.

    Today the Gurus are no longer in the physical but increasing numbers worldwide are being drawn to their yoga. Their ashram in Pondicherry, India and the nearby planetary city of Auroville continue to be vibrant expressions and embodiments of their teachings. Today, the recipients of their living Grace are anchors of the Light and are empowered to convey the contagion of their inspiration to countless many who have never been in their physical presence.

    The author has interviewed twelve such disciples and, in these interviews, has drawn out the thread of the spiritual life that has grown in them through their contact with the Masters. Their sharing opens up multiple windows into a world of beauty, delight and joy kindled by the practice of Integral Yoga and graced by Sri Aurobindo and The Mother.

    Reply

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