Explaining out-of-body and near-death experiences

This article expatiates on the phenomenon of out-of-body experience(OBE) , astral projection , etheric projection and near-death experience based on the works of Sri Aurobindo and The Mother, who used the term exteriorization to denote all such phenomena. Please note that this post is *not* a how-to guide on astral projection. It is dangerous to forcibly attempt any kind of exteriorization or astral projection for it may put one into contact with malevolent supernatural forces which could even lead to one’s death. It is better to let exteriorization happen naturally with the practice of Yoga and under the guidance of an able Master/Guru.


To die, to sleep;
To sleep: perchance to dream: ay, there’s the rub;
For in that sleep of death what dreams may come
When we have shuffled off this mortal coil,
Must give us pause:

(Shakespeare.  Hamlet Act 3, Scene 1)

The Yogic explanation of all out-of-body phenomena is based on the fact our being is composed of five major sheaths (see Constitution of Man) and that these sheaths correspond to various planes of the Universe(see Cosmology). Our total consciousness is not limited to the physical body but is actually distributed into the various sheaths. There are links which join these sheaths and the whole composite is held together by the psychic being (soul). At the time of death, the psychic being dissolves these links and then the various sheaths fall apart.

Note that there is no such thing as unconsciousness; what we experience during sleep, trance or fainting is just a transfer of consciousness between the various sheaths of our body.  A Yogin accomplishes this transfer of consciousness from one sheath to another through meditation.

There are four states of consciousness as per the Mandukya Upanishad:

  • Waking (Jagruti): In the waking state, our consciousness in terms of mind, vital and physical is focussed on the physical world.
  • Dream (Swapna): When we fall asleep, our consciousness withdraws from the physical world and retreats into the occult mental and vital worlds. For a Yogin, this withdrawal of consciousness occurs as part of meditation itself.  One may identify two stages in this dream state:
  1. The first stage we experience after falling asleep is a state of slumber where our consciousness lies submerged near the subconscient. After waking up from this state, we remember little except some incoherent images recorded in our own subconscient. In medical terms, this  stage is called NREM or non-REM sleep.
  2. The next stage occurs when a major portion of our consciousness transfers into the vital or mental sheaths.  This transfer occurs spontaneously in those who have well-developed Udana Prana (The Udana Prana or Upward Moving air is one of the five major Pranas which comprise the vital body or Pranamaya Kosha).  This rise in consciousness enables our inner sheaths to separate from the physical body and travel independently in their own domain giving rise to the phenomenon called OBE.   In medical terms, this dream experience occurs during  REM sleep.  Dreams and OBE occur more frequently than we assume  but we do not remember them because our inner sheaths lack the ability to record what is happening in those other worlds.   This inability to remember disappears with the practice of Integral Yoga when we are able to interiorize better (i.e. when growth in consciousness enables us to navigate effectively in the occult world.)
  • Deep Sleep (Sushupti): Here, the consciousness shifts into the causal body and we experience the state of Divine Bliss (Sachchidananda) which refreshes and energizes the soul.  In medical terms, this is called slow-wave sleep
  • “The Fourth” (Turiya): This is the state which encompasses all the three described above. It is the state of a person who has gained liberation (salvation). The liberated soul is conscious of all sheaths at all times and is able to navigate unrestricted through the various occult worlds. It is as the Buddha described “I am awake” because there is no fall into the subconscient at any time.

Five kinds of exteriorization

Five kinds of exteriorization can be distinguished depending on which sheath makes an excursion into its corresponding world and the manner in which the excursion occurs.

Mental exteriorization

This is the easiest type and can occur naturally in those who have a strong sense of visualization. When you think of a person or object, your mental sheath extends itself in the mental world, your thought goes there and you may be able to feel the mental atmosphere of that person (e.g, what someone is thinking right now). This form of exteriorization does not require entering a state of trance. This is the basis of what parapsychology refers to as remote viewing.

Sri Aurobindo eludicated this form of exteriorization in a conversation with his disciple Pavitra:

When the vital body leaves the physical, the latter remains in trance, but if it is only the mind, this does not happen. The mind leaves, for instance, in meditation, and goes on a visit to certain places or certain planes. It can observe things there and even make itself felt. It is not even the whole mind which goes out thus, but a central portion, so to say. There are no dangers as of trance. If you are awakened, the mind comes back immediately without danger. It is not the same if the vital itself has gone out. A link ties it to the physical. As it is the life, if this thread is cut, death results. An abrupt recall is also dangerous. As a rule, it is better to acquire a certain experience of the mental going-out and a mental knowledge of the planes before attempting the exit in the vital body. [1]

This is how the Mother described it.

Mother, the other day you said that when one thinks of someone or something, one part of this thought goes there at once.

Yes. For example, I think of someone who is in Calcutta, then if my thought goes there, I ought to have the knowledge of…

Thought is only conscious of thought in the mental world. So you can become very conscious of the mental atmosphere of Calcutta, of the thought of the person to whom you go, but of nothing else, absolutely nothing that has to do with the vital and physical….But the mental exteriorisation occurs constantly. It puts you in contact only with the mental world. Perhaps if you are very conscious and the person you go to see is very conscious, and if at that moment he has formed opinions or ideas about something happening in Calcutta, then you can become conscious of the ideas of this person on what is happening – indirectly – but you are not directly conscious of the thing.

The Mother, Questions and Answers (1955): 6 July 1955

Vital exteriorization

In this state, the mental and vital sheaths together leave the physical body to explore a vital world while still remaining bound to the body by a silver cord. About three-fourths of the consciousness can be said to have left the physical body in this situation.  Some of the stories of disciples receiving initiation from adepts in a dream fall into this category.

These are two instances of Ramakrishna Paramahansa talking about his exteriorization experiences.

Sometimes the visions were of the young sannyasin resembling himself. When he wished to see some deity of a distant place, or hear the singing of God’s glories here or there, the sannyasin would come out of the Master’s body in a shining form and travel to those places along a luminous path(i.e. silver cord). By that way he would come again and re-enter the body.

Sri Ramakrishna told him, when both had returned to the temple garden, ‘I was feeling a great yearning to see your worship; I went into bhavasamadhi and felt that I was going along a path of light (i.e. silver cord) and was present in your worship hall in a luminous body.’ [2]

Subtle physical exteriorization

In this state, the mental, vital and subtle physical sheaths travel together out of the physical body and move in a world which resembles the physical world, hence the appellation “subtle physical“.   In this situation, since most of the consciousness has left the physical body, one  enters a state of catalepsy where the body can become cold and rigid.  However, the link connecting the other sheaths with the body still exists so re-entry is still possible.

Amal Kiran, a disciple of Sri Aurobindo, in a letter outlined how he was able to move about in a subtle physical world.

It’s come to be a habit now to get out of my body, time and again. Occasionally I just see with my closed, eyes. At other times I actually leave the body – and the coming back to it is often due to some disturbing thrust of impulse from it into the new condition. I am fully conscious when I leave the body and soon start testing the concreteness and reality of the things I am amidst by touching them. Usually I move about in my own room but now and then I go outside too. The room I move in is not quite the same as the physical: the furniture is arranged somewhat differently. My conclusion is that I move in a subtle body in a subtle plane; but is that always unavoidable? Does one’s subtle body never move in the very physical plane? In my latest experience I went to the pier, but the street through which I ran to reach the pier was of a strange kind because I moved, shortly after, from room to room, as through some deserted building. At last I glimpsed the sea; many boats were standing in dirty green water close to the shore. The word “lagoon” came to my mind. But further on I found myself in full sight of the sea. And it was an extremely beautiful spectacle. The water had a violet colour mixed with indigo and there was an atmosphere of magic as the large waves heaved and broke with spray and sparkle.

I have margin-bottom: 0; asked whether one is forced to explore only some subtle world. But take the following experience. I was meditating in my easy-chair. A book was lying on my left side where I had put it before closing my eyes there was a book-marker inserted at the page where I had stopped reading. Now, I went all numb, as I always do when these phenomena take place – but the eyes are exempted from the general paralysis, so to speak. I keep on opening them and thus swing from the consciousness of one plane to that of the other. This time, however, I opened my eyes and saw not only my own body lying inert, with my both arms dropped paralysed, but also a third arm free at the right shoulder, it was, of course, a subtle arm and could move. Immediately my experimentalist mind thought of a test. So I strained the third arm towards the book by my side, caught hold of the hook-marker and tried to full it out. I actually did pull it out, but imagine my surprise when I saw that though I was holding a book-marker in my subtle hand the original was still in the book! [3]

Sri Aurobindo’s responded by confirming that Amal Kiran had indeed found himself in a subtle-physical world.

It is evidently in a subtle world, not the physical-material that you move; that is evident from the different arrangement of things, but such details as the third arm and the book-marker removed yet there show that it is a subtle world very near to the physical; it is either a subtle-physical world or a very material vital domain. In all the subtle domains the physical is reproduced with a change, the change growing freer and more elastic as one gets farther away. Such details as the lameness show the same thing, — the hold of the physical is still there.

Sri Aurobindo, Letters on Yoga – II: Experiences of the Inner and the Cosmic Consciousness – IV

Etheric projection

This is a variation of the subtle physical exteriorization called Etheric projection where the subtle physical sheath, instead of exploring the subtle-physical worlds, instead materializes into the physical world.  Sri Aurobindo explicates this variant in a letter to a disciple:

It is possible to move about in the physical world, but usually that can only be done by drawing on the atmosphere of other physical beings for a stronger materialisation of the form – when that happens one moves among them and sees them and all the surroundings exactly as they are at that time in the physical world and one can verify the accuracy of the details if immediately after returning to the body (which is usually done with a clear consciousness of the whole process of getting into it) one can traverse the same scene in the physical body.

Sri Aurobindo, Letters on Yoga – II: Experiences of the Inner and the Cosmic Consciousness – IV

Near-death experience

The most extreme form of exteriorization called NDE occurs when all other sheaths leave the physical body and enter what the Mother referred to as the Domain of Death, where one first receives a review of the current life before the sheaths are dissolved.  At this point, the links to the physical body have been cut and if one tries to re-enter the physical body again, it requires some effort.  This corresponds to the case where a person who was thought to be clinically dead for some time suddenly comes back alive.  In the words of  the Mother:

The experience I am speaking about is still much more difficult. Once one has gone out like that and left his body in a cataleptic state, one cuts the links. So, one is really dead; that is, the heart beats no longer. But as there is still “the life of the form”, and it is not through an accident that one has left, as it is by an act of will with knowledge and power, one can force one’s way back, re-establish the connection and come back forcibly into one’s body. It is not a comfortable business – the whole thing is difficult. Like that, on paper it seems to be nothing at all. But it is not easy.

The Mother, Questions and Answers (1954): 10 March 1954

Summary of various methods

Exteriorization How does it work Travel into which world
Mental Mental sheath extends itself.  Possible without deep trance. Mental worlds
Vital Mental, Vital sheaths separate but remain connected to physical body with a silver cord.  About 75 percent of consciousness has left the physical body. Vital worlds
Subtle-physical Mental, Vital, Subtle-physical leave the body.  Body becomes cold and rigid.  State of catalepsy. Subtle-physical worlds
Etheric projection Mental, Vital, Subtle-physical separate and materialize in the physical world. Physical worlds
Near-death experience Mental, Vital, Subtle-physical leave the body.  Silver cord is cut and then one re-enters the body. Domain of death

Two ways to exteriorize

The Mother identified two ways of exteriorizing: through the heart and through the head via the Brahmarandhra(anterior fontanelle).

You must go out through here (the heart) – you can go out through the top of the head, but it’s more difficult. You must leave through the heart and return the same way. It’s quite natural; it’s the first thing you learn when you want to exteriorize. The whole consciousness has to be concentrated here (the heart), and that’s where you go out. And you must reenter the same way and maintain the link.

The Mother, Mother’s Agenda: September 5, 1962

Rebutting the simulated OBE

In light of the above passages, let us examine the simulated OBE reported here or here. Neuroscientists conducted experiments which simulated OBE by tricking the senses into imagining that the physical body is in a different location.

By deliberately scrambling a person’s visual and tactile senses, it is now possible to give them an “out-of-body” experience.

Two procedures – which are the first to imitate an out-of-body experience artificially – use cameras to fool people into thinking they are standing or sitting somewhere else in a room. They provide the strongest proof yet that people only imagine floating out of their bodies during surgery or near-death experiences.

The primary objection with regards to this experiment is that it was conducted on subjects who were awake whereas OBEs have been traditionally reported during when subjects are asleep, when the senses are inactive and the consciousness has withdrawn from the physical world. Scientists need to demonstrate that senses can be tricked in sleep as well and that this can cause an OBE to occur. Can science induce a sleeping man to dream that he or she is floating in the air ?

References

  1. Pavitra.  Conversations with Sri Aurobindo.
  2. Swami Yogeshananda. The visions of Sri Ramakrishna. Sri Ramakrishna Math(Madras), 1973.
  3. Amal Kiran. Poet and Critic, p 29.

83 thoughts on “Explaining out-of-body and near-death experiences

  1. jim oglesby

    Stated above that one must leave through the heart to exteriorize but not exactly true.
    I have exteriorized completely free of all body chakra’s, that is well beyond the heart chakra.
    Heart chakra is a good starting point to work up or out from.

    Reply
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  4. gerard antrope

    Oui! Mère est l’ancienne de l’évolution!A paris,quand elle
    avait 20 ans,elle formait <un groupe de recherches psychiques et occultes< et son ami Alexandra Nels,celle qui,plus tard à visitée,la première-le Tibet,faisait partit
    de ce groupe.plus tard elle est invité à Tlemcem,eAlgérie ,chez un grand occultiste et Mage(Max Théon)il faut lire
    les livres de Sujata-Nahar(la compagne de Satprem)
    publié par Buchet-Chastel-le tome3(Mirra occultiste.
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    Piat.-n°51.75020.Paris.a plus! gégé de Dunkerque.france.ôm.santhi-swasti.

    Reply
    1. Sandeep Post author

      Gerard,

      This article reflects my current understanding. It will be helpful if you could indicate the exact problem.

      Thanks

      Reply
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  13. mike

    l’ve had these OBE’s most of my life but l stopped making the attempts, because l read by the Mother that it’s best not to do these things until we have developed a certain degree of purity [psychic purity l assume], as there are many illusions and dangers in these other worlds [intermediate zone etc]. Although, l never had any bad experiences.
    As for going out through the heart centre, l’m not sure if l ever did. What usually happens with me is thart l’m looking at the blank space between my eyes [ajna chakra] and a road will appear. lf l follow the road [requires some effort] l find myself out of the body. Or, occasionally, l feel my subtle body spinning round and l whip out like that. l also wake in the morning and and just roll out – this is possibly the best. Of, course l also wake in sleep or feel more conscious than usual in certain dreams.
    ln fact l had an OBE recently. l found myself in the subtle world [l think.l usually find the worlds closer to the physical aren’t as brightly colored as the higher one’s] but l immediately called on Sri Aurobindo with a mantra l use, and his face appeared instantly [huge face] and then l believe he put someone in front of me [possibly a disciple – didn’t recognise him but he was smiling].
    One thing l’ve never understood is where we go in the after-life if our sheaths are dissolved and the Psychic Being goes to rest as The Mother says. Presumably, if we are not Psychically aware we carry on living on some astral or mental plane – but if the sheaths are gone???
    l know in Yogananda’s book ‘autobiography of a yogi’ the death process is described in detail by Sri Yukteswar [his guru] and apparently,we go to some compatible plane until we evolve and that body then dissolves for us to go to the next level. All a bit confusing lol.

    Reply
    1. Sandeep Post author

      Mike: One thing l’ve never understood is where we go in the after-life if our sheaths are dissolved and the Psychic Being goes to rest as The Mother says. Presumably, if we are not Psychically aware we carry on living on some astral or mental plane – but if the sheaths are gone???

      If you are NOT psychically aware, then the sheaths dissolve one by one, and finally the psychic being goes to rest in what is known as the psychic world. For psychic world, See Collected Works of the Mother vol. 3:62-63; vol 4:165,228-29; vol 15:6; and vol 17:368-70.

      If you are psychically aware, then the psychic being integrates the mental or vital sheaths around itself and consequently, “you” continue to survive on some astral or mental plane. This is the case with advanced beings, and is probably what Yogananda was talking about when he discusses the vision of other worlds that Sri Yukteswar gave him. As Yukteswar describes, “It is called Hiranyaloka or ‘Illumined Astral Planet.’ There I am aiding advanced beings to rid themselves of astral karma and thus attain liberation from astral rebirths. The dwellers on Hiranyaloka are highly developed spiritually; all of them had acquired, in their last earth-incarnation, the meditation-given power of consciously leaving their physical bodies at death. No one can enter Hiranyaloka unless he has passed on earth beyond the state of sabikalpa samadhi into the higher state of nirbikalpa samadhi”. The quote is from the book online at http://crystalclarity.com/yogananda/chap43.html

      On the subject of advanced beings, there is a parallel discussion where the Mother was asked how Vivekananda could guide Sri Aurobindo after his death. She explained that it could be because Vivekananda had integrated the mental sheath around his psychic being. Here is the dialogue:

      Child: Sweet Mother, when Sri Aurobindo was in Alipore, Vivekananda came for fifteen days and explained something special to him. What part of Vivekananda was it, the psychic being or the atman?

      Mother Mirra: It could very well be his mind. It could very well be the mind because he had unified his mind around his psychic being. Therefore his mind could continue to exist indefinitely. It partakes of the immortality of the psychic being. It could very well be his mind.

      The Mother, Questions and Answers (1955): 6 July 1955

      Reply
  14. mike

    Thanks for those replies Sandeep. l’m still curious about those on planes below Hiranyaloka [ordinary people who end up in some astral/mental region]. l think yukteswar says there’s a lot of fighting amoung the residents of the lower astral [mantra bombs etc]. l suppose people on these planes carry on as they did on earth, only with greater senses, until that body dissolves or they re-incarnate. l have read of some staying on an astral plane for thousands of years simply because they didn’t want to move on. Dr Hiroshi Motoyama [japanese yogi] wrote about a japanese emperor who chose to stay back in this way, surrounded by all his armies, wives, concubines of course lol. lt’s a very interesting book ‘Karma and Reincarnation: The Key to Spiritual Evolution and Enlightenment’.

    Reply
    1. Sandeep Post author

      Mike: l’m still curious about those on planes below Hiranyaloka

      I can’t answer that because I haven’t experienced them🙂

      Hiroshi Motoyama’s book has been reviewed here
      http://nextfuture.sriaurobindosociety.org.in/feb05/nffeb05_room.htm

      According to the review above, Motoyama’s book mentions the case of a woman who was prone to depression because she committed suicide in her past life:

      Ms Y, a devotee of the Tamamitsu Shinto shrine with which Dr Motoyama is associated, killed herself in a previous incarnation in which she had been forbidden to marry beneath her station. Ms Y’s clinical depression took hold when she was twenty-one, the same age as her former self’s suicide.

      This is similar to the case of Satprem, who was prone to a general feeling of angst. According to Tantric Guru, Satprem had committed suicide in his past three lives (the first by fire, the second by hanging, and the third by throwing myself into the void). See Mother’s Agenda: June 25, 1959.

      Both Sri Aurobindo and the Mother have said that suicide creates dreadful Karma for future lives. See Mother’s Agenda: November 22, 1958 and this quote from Sri Aurobindo

      When a man dies in great pain, or in great grief or in great agitation of mind and his last thoughts are full of fear, rage, pain or horror, then the Jivatma(soul) in the suksma sarira(subtle body) is unable to shake off these impressions from his mind for years, sometimes for centuries. The reason of this is the law of death; death is a moment of great concentration when the departing spirit gathers up the impression of its mortal life, as a host gathers provender for its journey, and whatever impressions are predominant at that moment, govern its condition afterwards. Hence the importance, even apart from Mukti(liberation), of living a clean and noble life and dying a calm and strong death. For if the ideas and impressions then uppermost are such as associate the self with this gross body and the vital functions, that is to say, with the lower upādhi, then the soul remains long in a tamasic condition of darkness and suffering, which we call Patala or in its worse form Hell. If the ideas and impressions uppermost are such as associate the self with the mind and the higher desires then the soul passes quickly through a short period of blindness to a rājaso-sāttvic condition of light and pleasure and wider knowledge which we call Paradise, svarga or behesta, from which it will return to birth in this world; if the ideas and impressions are such as to associate the self with the higher understanding and the bliss of the Self, the soul passes quickly to a sāttvic condition of highest bliss which we call Heaven or Brahmaloka and thence it does not return.

      Sri Aurobindo, The Upanishads: The Ishavasyopanishad

      Reply
      1. MT

        It’s quite revealing that, in the experience of Satprem, “For two other lives, under the influence of these beings, the same drama was repeated with a few variations.”

        It makes me wonder if most of us, unknowingly, repeat the same drama life after life, with few variations, with similar roles among the same beings, until a moment of awareness makes us not commit the same mistakes and “leave the loop”, this is, abandon a mechanic behaviour (response) for a conscious one?

        It’s been always an intuition of mine that some present relationships (i.e. my sister, parents, etc.) come from “long ago”.

      2. Sandeep Post author

        MT: It makes me wonder if most of us, unknowingly, repeat the same drama life after life, with few variations, with similar roles among the same beings

        In this context, the Mother once said that one can change the past – in the sense that one can change the past Karmic formations which continue to afflict us. The following is from Mother’s Agenda: October 26, 1966

        Sri Aurobindo wrote somewhere, I don’t remember in what connection, that in a certain state of consciousness one had the power to CHANGE THE PAST. I found that very striking. Because it’s an experience I’ve had several times, and with all this work I am doing now, I understand better. You see, what seems to be perpetuated or preserved isn’t individuals: it’s states of consciousness – states of consciousness. Those states of consciousness manifest through many individuals and many different lives, and those states of consciousness are what progress towards a more and more luminous perfection. There are now, at present, all kinds of “categories” of states of consciousness that come one upon another in order to be put in contact with the Truth, the Light, the perfect Consciousness, and at the same time they have retained a sort of imprint (like a memory) of the moments when they manifested.

      3. Sandesh

        Dear Sandeep,
        I have read the reference given by you regarding Hiranyaloka(“Resurrection of Sri Yukteshwar”) . I am just wondering is this Hiranyaloka same as Supramental world which Sri Aurobindo and Mother are talking about. For example Mother has talked about Supramental world in her Agenda {see link : Supramental ship }.
        thanks

      4. Sandeep Post author

        The supramental world (symbolized as a ship) spoken of there is the one that exists in the subtle physical (the domain of consciousness closest to the Earth-physical). I have no idea if it corresponds to what Sri Yukteswar describes as Hiranyaloka. Although Hiranya means golden, I am inclined to reserve judgement on matters beyond my ken!

        Note that this supramental world is different from the Supermind plane (Maharloka, Vijnanaloka) which is the fourth in the seven planes of creation (Sat, Chit, Ananda, Supermind, Mind, Vital, Physical)

  15. mike

    Thanks for the links Sandeep.
    l was reading the bit about past-life regression on the Motoyama link. What’s your opinion of this. l believe SA and The Mother weren’t too keen on things like hypnosis.
    l think the mother said a lot of past life memories were just a subconscious mixture and usually false, or something like that, and if we want a true memory of our past lives we need contact with the Psychic Being first.
    Also, in that link it mentions the Akashic Records [which cayce was supposed to have accessed as well], but l’ve never heard Sri Aurobindo or Mother mention this. Have you come across any info on it by them.
    l’d forgotten that Satprem had committed suicide in 3 lives. l’m not sure what ‘throwing yourself into the void’ means – don’t you need to be a realised being to do that, and if so, would that be suicide???
    Also, would Euthenasia be classed as suicide? That’s a big question these days – with it’s rise in popularity now.
    So much to understand LOL. Sorry to bombard you with so many questions.

    Reply
    1. Sandeep Post author

      Based on observations of Sri Aurobindo, the Mother and Vivekananda, it is not advisable to subject oneself to hypnosis in order to recover past life information. If you are destined to know, it will be revealed to you when your psychic being comes to the front. You are right when you state: “mother said a lot of past life memories were just a subconscious mixture and usually false…if we want a true memory of our past lives we need contact with the Psychic Being first.”

      Akashic records are not mentioned by name but are discussed in various places. For instance, in Savitri, Book One, Canto – 5

      There in a hidden chamber closed and mute
      Are kept the record graphs of the cosmic scribe,
      And there the tables of the sacred Law,
      There is the Book of Being’s index page;

      See the section “Record of world history is kept in the mental world” under the Cosmology page

      MIke: would Euthenasia be classed as suicide?

      There is one recorded conversation where Sri Aurobindo seems to have no qualms about euthanasia. The following exchange is from Nirodbaran’s book Talks with Sri Aurobindo dated 7 Dec 1940

      Dr Manilal : Is not the taking of life a sin, Sir?
      Sri Aurobindo: You are all the time thinking of sin. It depends on circumstances. English doctors advocate giving injections to cases of incurable suffering in order to cut short their lives.
      Purani: Gandhi also advocated it in case of the Ashram cow and there was a row among the Jains.
      Dr Manilal : What about suicide?
      Sri Aurobindo: It depends on the spirit in which it is done. If it is done in a vital spirit or with a vital motive it may be sin. Would you say that the Sannyasi who committed suicide in the story about Alexander engaged in an act of sin?
      Dr Manilal : I don’t know the story.
      Sri Aurobindo: When Alexander was returning to Greece he wanted to take with him two Sannyasis. One refused, the other accompanied him. But after some time the latter had a severe attack of colic. He said his body was betraying him. So he decided to give up his body by immolating himself. In spite of pleadings he carried out his decision.

      Mike: Sorry to bombard you with so many questions
      No problem🙂

      Reply
    2. MT

      I think that “throwing yourself into the void” means, literally, throwing yourself physically from a high place (a building, a mountain…).

      As per hypnosis, I don’t think it is advisable at all. Vivekananda in his book on Raja Yoga, chapter 3 (prana) advised against it. The book is available online for free if you want to read it yourself.

      Reply
      1. Sandeep Post author

        MT: Vivekananda in his book on Raja Yoga, chapter 3 (prana) advised against it

        You are right but slightly off on the chapter number. Hypnotism is discussed in chapter 4.

        The Mother Mirra has also commented on the adverse effects of hypnotism

        Child: Sweet Mother, there are people who do hypnotism. Then, when they always practise it on the same person, does that person fall ill after a while?
        Mother Mirra: Not necessarily ill. It depends on the kind of hypnotism and hypnotiser. Not necessarily ill. One thing is certain, that this person loses his personal will, that the hypnotiser’s will takes the place of the personal will, otherwise it would not work. But not necessarily ill, terribly dependent! It creates almost a kind of slavery.

        The Mother, Questions and Answers (1955): 3 August 1955

        In another conversation, she said, ” I don’t approve of hypnotism. I have seen many cases of so-called hypnotism in which the forces remain behind and the subjects lend themselves to be used by the forces. What is hypnotism? Doesn’t it mean that the subject’s will-power is replaced by somebody else’s? ” (Nirodbaran, Talks with Sri Aurobindo, 4 Jan 1939, vol. 1 , p 103)

      2. MT

        Sorry, I’m not really sure this was the book and/or chapter, and I can’t check it now. It certainly was a book by Vivekananda.

  16. mike

    l remember the Dalai Lama not advocating Euthenasia based on some karmic theory. He even said he’d like to die painfully with cancer because of the karma he would rid himself of.
    l’m inclined to ally myself with Euthenasia, though. l don’t feel we need to go through atrocious suffering [unless it’s part of yoga]. ln something like alzheimers, most people don’t know where they are anyway [although those around us might learn a lot about compassion – perhaps]
    Sandeep your a minefield of information, and this site is a goldmine. Thanx.

    Reply
    1. Sandeep Post author

      Buddhist views on euthanasia can be found at euthanasia.procon.organd on wikipedia. The Dalai Lama prefers a case-by-case approach.

      This is another conversation where Sri Aurobindo refers to the complexity of decisions regarding euthanasia.

      It is the same with the problem of the taking of animal life under the circumstances put forward by your friend in the letter. It is put on the basis of an invariable ethical right and wrong to be applied to all cases – is it right to take animal life at all, under any circumstances, is it right to allow an animal to suffer under your eyes when you can relieve it by an euthanasia? There can be no indubitable answer to a question put like that, because the answer depends on data which the mind has not before it. In fact there are many other factors which make people incline to this short and merciful way out of the difficulty – the nervous inability to bear the sight and hearing of so much suffering, the unavailing trouble, the disgust and inconvenience – all tend to give force to the idea that the animal itself would want to be out of it. But what does the animal really feel about it – may it not be clinging to life in spite of the pain? Or may not the soul have accepted these things for a quicker evolution into a higher state of life? If so, the mercy dealt out may conceivably interfere with the animal’s Karma. In fact the right decision might vary in each case and depend on a knowledge which the human mind has not – and it might very well be said that until it has it, it has not the right to take life. It was some dim perception of this truth that made religion and ethics develop the law of Ahimsa – and yet that too becomes a mental rule which it is found impossible to apply in practice. And perhaps the moral of it all is that we must act for the best according to our lights in each case, as things are, but that the solution of these problems can only come by pressing forward towards a greater light, a greater consciousness in which the problems themselves, as now stated by the human mind, will not arise because we shall have a vision which will see the world in a different way and a guidance which at present is not ours. The mental or moral rule is a stop-gap which men are obliged to use, very uncertainly and stumblingly, until they can see things whole in the light of the spirit.

      Sri Aurobindo, Letters on Yoga – I: Rebirth

      Reply
  17. mike

    yes exactly, it’s a matter of having the right knowledge. Personally, if l see someone suffering, l just ask the Divine to deal with it [usually repeating a mantra with the names of Sri Aurobindo and mother in it].

    Reply
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  20. mike

    ” In the words of the Mother:

    The experience I am speaking about is still much more difficult. Once one has gone out like that and left his body in a cataleptic state, one cuts the links. So, one is really dead; that is, the heart beats no longer. But as there is still “the life of the form”, and it is not through an accident that one has left, as it is by an act of will with knowledge and power, one can force one’s way back, re-establish the connection and come back forcibly into one’s body. It is not a comfortable business – the whole thing is difficult. Like that, on paper it seems to be nothing at all. But it is not easy”

    The Mother, Questions and Answers (1954): 10 March 1954

    l don’t quite understand the above reference to NDE’s. l saw a program last night on this subject and, of course they’re hearts did stop, but they were then put back in their bodies [some are even told it’s not their time and pushed back into the body].
    The Mother seems to be talking about a person who is consciously able to leave at will, l think, [aka Her experience with Theon when Her cord was accidentally cut]. Otherwise, with ordinary ppl this seems to be done by a Higher Power [Psychic Being probably].

    Reply
    1. Sandeep Post author

      I don’t know what the people said about their NDEs on the program you saw, but the difference could be between partial and total exteriorization discussed at https://auromere.wordpress.com/2011/11/04/on-death-burials-cremations-funerals-and-resurrection/ in this passage:

      Disciple: I was seriously ill, unconscious for two hours, and I had the impression that I had gone over to the other side, that I was in a different world. When I came back to myself, I had the impression of having made a long journey in a world quite different from the one where I normally lived.

      Mother: It was a partial exteriorisation; it was not a total exteriorisation which indeed causes death. If one goes out entirely, that is, if there is a complete separation from the body and one is really dead, and then one comes back, that causes such an intense suffering that one cannot forget it. It is said that babies cry when they come into the world because the first contact with air makes them cry, but I think it is something else. The re-entry into the body causes a kind of friction, for what goes out has to be something very material if it is to bring about death, something even more material than the subtle physical, and this friction is extremely painful. Otherwise one may be externally unconscious, but one is not dead for all that. It is only when something extremely material goes out of the body and all ties are broken that there is truly “death”. And that is why (I believe we are beginning to discover it) people do not die till six or seven days after their death. That is, they are not “dead” as long as the body remains intact, but only when a part of the body begins to decompose. Hence during this period, someone who has the necessary knowledge, power and capacity may “raise” a person in such a state. I believe this explains most of the cases of “miraculous” resurrection

      The Mother, Questions and Answers (1950 – 1951): 24 February 1951

      Reply
  21. mike

    Yes, Sandeep, that sounds right. lt must be a ‘partial exteriorisation’ in most, if not all NDE’s. A lot of these NDE ppl also say they’re in the Presence of God. l’m trying to think of examples where people have forced their way back into the body when it’s dead, as Mother says. Apart from the great suffering would there be other signs too???.
    l know She mentioned that lower vital beings take the opportunity to jump in sometimes [especially when babies are apparently dead and then suddenly re-awaken], and if the walk-in theory is correct, [never heard SA or Mother mention it] then they will take over that body.
    Of course, there are quite a few people who get negative NDE’s and say they descend into some hellish place.

    Reply
    1. Sandeep

      Mike: Apart from the great suffering would there be other signs too???.

      I imagine the body would experience rigor mortis

      Mike: l know She mentioned that lower vital beings take the opportunity to jump in sometimes [especially when babies are apparently dead and then suddenly re-awaken], and if the walk-in theory is correct, [never heard SA or Mother mention it] then they will take over that body.

      I don’t know what you part you meant when you said “never heard SA or Mother mention it”, but the possession of the body by another has been discussed

      Disciple : Is it possible to revitalize the dead?
      […]
      Sri Aurobindo : That is possible. Just as you can revive a drowned man by pulling his physical organs into function again, that is, by resorting to physical devices life can be restored. If you know how to reintroduce the power that sets the organs to action, after the body is wounded or dead, you can revive the man.

      The real question is whether it is the being of the man that comes back to life, or it is some other spirit that wants to live and gets hold of the body. Both are possible, because revival is done in two ways : One, is to bring back the spirit of the man which is still not far away, the other is to get some other spirit that consents to come.

      (A.B.Purani. Evening Talks, Third Series, 16th January, 1939)

      Reply
  22. mike

    “the other is to get some other spirit that consents to come”
    Yes, that does sound like a walk-in. So, l suppose the body can be brought back to life even if the ‘Silver Chord’ has been severed – if it’s repaired or re-connected somehow.
    “I imagine the body would experience rigor mortis”
    l see. l obviously missed the point here lol. For some reason l was thinking the body would be re-animated, but the Mother is plainly talking about ordinary people and not trained adepts. Obviously if there’s rigor mortis, then it wouldn’t be possible to stay in that body for long, or if they did the suffering would be intense while they were stuck inside it. l suppose only very materialistic ppl would even want to do that, though.

    Reply
  23. Ram Satish

    Hi Sandep and others,

    Is expansion of consciousness same as vital exteriorization? In other words, where is the consciousness centered? Is exteriorization a form of samadhi?

    Thanks
    Ram Satish

    Reply
    1. Sandeep Post author

      Ram: Is expansion of consciousness same as vital exteriorization?

      No, they are different.

      Exteriorization (mental or vital) occurs when a part of your consciousness (mental being or vital being) leaves the physical body and moves in a different plane of consciousness. During this time, the physical body remains in a state of trance or sleep.

      Expansion of consciousness occurs when the mental and vital being expand into their respective planes while remaining attached to the physical body. You feel seated in your body but your body feels vaster on all sides. In conventional terms, they say “your Chakras have opened”. See the last section of Circumconscient where Sri Aurobindo says, “The subliminal is able to widen indefinitely this circumconscient envelope and more and more enlarge its self-projection into the cosmic existence around it. A point comes where it can break through the separation altogether, unite, identify itself with cosmic being, feel itself universal, one with all existence. In this freedom of entry into cosmic self and cosmic nature there is a great liberation of the individual being; it puts on a cosmic consciousness, becomes the universal individual.” (Life Divine, Knowledge by Identity)

      Ram: Is exteriorization a form of samadhi?

      No, it is not samadhi. Large sections of humanity experience vital exteriorization during nightly dreams without any effort or any control over it. Expansion is experienced only by those who have advanced in Yoga.

      Ram: In other words, where is the consciousness centered?

      Normally the consciousness is centered in the surface personality (outer being) because there is no connection to the psychic being within the heart. That is why SA&M said most people “live in the vital”. When the psychic awakens, the center of consciousness shifts deeper within. You feel as if your physical body has become lighter.

      Reply
      1. Ram Satish

        Thanks Sandeep for the detailed explanation. I have been following and practicing Sri Aurobindo’s work since last few years. I am glad I found this web site. Your work is amazing! Each article has a life of its own, very fascinating and intricate. It shows that Sri Aurobindo and Mother Mirra still live in our heart. Thanks a ton!

      2. Sandeep Post author

        It shows that Sri Aurobindo and Mother Mirra still live in our heart.

        Yes, you got that right.


        As one lamp lights another, nor grows less,
        So nobleness enkindleth nobleness.

        (James Russell Lowell’s poem Yussouf)

    2. Sandeep Post author

      This is an instance of how Expansion feels:

      Nagin: Yesterday not only my consciousness but the body also felt horizontally wide and vertically huge. And then I experienced that I was the Self. When the physical began to widen out still more, I was afraid of a possibility of ego aggrandisement, though the whole experience was taking place in an impersonal aspect. So I called at once for the Personal and put my widened self on the Mother’s lap. Was my fear a true one?

      Sri Aurobindo: The feeling of the body enlarging and widening itself is of course an indication of widening out of the physical (body) consciousness and is a subtle material rendering in the body of the self-realisation. One has not to be afraid of it, but to keep the idea of the ego out of it, for it is not the personality that is in question but the realisation of the Self, one in all.

      (Nagin Doshi, Guidance from Sri Aurobindo, vol.3, p 115)

      Reply
  24. mike

    “This is an instance of how Expansion feels:

    Nagin: Yesterday not only my consciousness but the body also felt horizontally wide and vertically huge. And then I experienced that I was the Self. When the physical began to widen out still more, I was afraid of a possibility of ego aggrandisement, though the whole experience was taking place in an impersonal aspect. So I called at once for the Personal and put my widened self on the Mother’s lap. Was my fear a true one?”

    l assume the ‘experience of expansion’ is one that repeats itself until we are ready for the Permant Experience or realisation. l mean, l suppose it’s like other experiences – descent of Peace, Force, Light etc… that come and go until they remain with us permanently, and not just like ‘instant enlightenment’ that happens once.

    Reply
  25. mike

    Quite an interesting audio lecture on this subject by G.Van Wrekhem:
    “7) Bridges across the Afterlife

    The Mother has said explicitly that one of the reasons for her incarnation was to provide a safe passage to the deceased on their way to the psychic world through the vital and mental domains. She built these passages when she was still quite young. Since then more cases have been reported of “near-death experiences”, where people who return from such an experience describe it in ecstatic terms. In this lecture Georges Van Vrekhem describes such experiences and relates them to the passing and realisation of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother.”

    http://beyondman.org/audio.php

    Reply
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  27. Sandeep Post author

    Singer Pam Reynolds underwent surgery for a brain aneurysm. Physicians had drained all the blood from her brain and all brain operations had ceased during the surgery. During the operation, she found herself floating above her body, and after awakening, she was able to describe the operation in incredible detail. (e.g. she narrated the type of saw which had been used and the conversation which occurred between operating room personnel).

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pam_Reynolds_%28singer%29

    Reply
  28. Mr.K

    Dear Sandeep,
    I came to this blog when I was searching for something and started reading the articles which were
    profound and insightful.You answer the questions posed by the readers sincerely with a lot of patience and not annoyed by the ignorance.This encourages readers like me to ask and get clarified without hesitation.
    Regarding the above mentioned topic, you have warned in that the malevolent supernatural forces may pose a danger while astral projection.Some time back impressed by the works of Robert Monroe and Robert Bruce, I tried astral projection and to my ultimate surprise I was able to
    have OBEs frequently.I understand know that almost all the time I sleep I go out of the body.
    I never expected this would happen because I was just curious to know and understand the complexities of the realities.However I am not trying this deliberately nowadays as some one else advised me not to do because I may be affected by the negative forces.

    I would like to ask you know how I can protect myself from negative forces when go out of the body either intentionally or naturally in everyday sleep.Also I understand that almost all the time when I was in the other worlds in the sleep, I was hovering in lower worlds close to the physical earth(The light is not bright, its like being in a full moon light which means that I am not moving higher planes)

    Your guidance will be help me a lot.Sorry for the long post

    Regards
    Mr.K

    Reply
    1. Sandeep Post author

      Mr K.

      Just to ensure we are on the same level…how do you know you are having an OBE? You could be having an ordinary dream.

      The best way to protect oneself in the dream is to chant the name of the Divine(Krishna, Shiva, etc.) or some Guru whom you feel close to. You could also chant a Mantra; a simple one like Om can also work. If you are actually having an OBE, you should be conscious enough to voice such a request.

      Reply
  29. K

    Dear Sandeep,
    Thanks for your advice.Initially I had difficulty in differentiating the experience but learnt to do so by experience.There is no motivation because I feel that I am not getting any spiritual benefits, just
    mundane episodes on the other sides.I may have been experiencing significant events in higher planes but those were not imprinted on the mind properly so I don’t remember, or remember only a distorted version of the events.

    //The best way to protect oneself in the dream is to chant the name of the Divine(Krishna, Shiva, etc.) or some Guru whom you feel close to. You could also chant a Mantra; a simple one like Om can also work. //

    Thanks for confirming the same because that what I exactly did some days back when I got panicked in the middle of a dream, chanting the name of divine and repeating a mantra.

    Regards
    K

    Reply
    1. Sandeep Post author

      Judging by your writing, you seem to know what you are doing, so good luck🙂

      There is no motivation because I feel that I am not getting any spiritual benefits, just mundane episodes on the other sides

      Yes, the Mother also said OBEs don’t have spiritual benefits:

      Mother: The other things, exteriorization and so forth, are innate, just as some people are born artists or painters or aviators. It’s one of Nature’s special combinations. I’ve known some downright stupid girls who could exteriorize remarkably well and be fully conscious of their experiences in the subtle physical or the mind or the material vital (when one is undeveloped it’s more often in the material vital than the subtle physical). And they would tell you all about what they saw. But incapable of yoga. Nature’s fancies, I tell you.

      The Mother, Mother’s Agenda: September 5, 1962

      Reply
  30. K

    Have also heard that imagining light around the body before sleep will be helpful but I think what you suggested is the right thing because your response comes as a confirmation at the right time for the experience I had.Thanks for the same

    Reply
    1. Gordana

      Yes K, the Mother says several times in the Agenda, that imagining light around the body before sleep can be of help. I can’t search the references now, but I am sure that she mentioned it (more than once) and I remember her words that Sri Aurobindo’s opinion differs a little bit on this. She says to imagine a white light around our body and around it one more cover of violet (purple) light. (I find it pretty interesting that some New Age spiritualists advise the same way of protection).
      And of course mantra, prayers, calling the Mother – all this can be of help before sleep.

      Reply
      1. Sandeep Post author

        thanks Gordana. I found one passage where the Mother talks of it, but here she is not asking Satprem to “imagine” the light but to “call” her light. I don’t know if purely imagining light can help. See the statement in bold below.

        Mother: There are also mischievous spirits. Mischievous spirits that come and suggest all kinds of things. There is a zone there, very near the physical, very near – a zone infested with worms, mon petit! All the bad suggestions of all possible catastrophes, of all malicious ill wills, of all desires…. It’s sickening. All that swarms as if you plunged your nose into a vase full of worms. That’s troublesome. Well, yes! I will try to make a cocoon for you. Before you go to sleep, when you lie down, you must summon the white Light, my white light, and then I will be listening. Wrapped like that: a cocoon, a nice little cocoon, all white. That way you can sleep peacefully.

        The Mother, Mother’s Agenda: July 10, 1965

      2. amsha

        Obviously that imagined one can’t be stronger than your personal mind and life energy level, I always doubt those who advise such protection – looks too weak to be true.

      3. Sandeep Post author

        yes, exactly. I think you need something deeper than imagination to be protected in dreams

      4. Gordana

        Imagination is also a part and parcel of the personal mind and even of the life energy level – it’s my direct experience as well as experience of many adepts and mystics described in many writings and sayings.
        amsha if you read carefully the collected writings of the Mother you will see that in many of her answers to questions
        I am sure that the Mother said the above as an advise for
        protection before sleep – I have no reason to make up things and I only convey things on which I clearly remember. And she mentioned in the Agenda that purple is a colour of protection.

      5. Sandeep Post author

        Gordana: And she mentioned in the Agenda that purple is a colour of protection.

        In Mother’s Agenda: July 12, 1960, she saw the occult formation of the Ashram in a dream and there she says the colour purple signifies protection.

        Gordana: Imagination is also a part and parcel of the personal mind and even of the life energy level –

        The word “imagination” can mean different things to different people, hence the disagreement.
        If you just “think” for a while before sleep that you are going to be protected, it is a weak formation which cannot withstand anything hostile, but if you meditate before sleep and deploy that power to develop an envelope of protection, that would be useful.

      6. amsha

        It’s very good if it helps you, for me sort of aspiration works better.
        In the above case Mother made special formation for Satprem: “I will do it here, but your “picturing” is to help it be better adapted, better adjusted.” Drawback is that if you imagine only, you can end up living in your imaginations🙂.

  31. mike

    K, lf you call Sri Aurobindo and Mother or just one of them by name, l know they will be there. This is my experience.
    l’ve had a lot of O.B.E’s over the years and most of the time l end up in the place you describe “The light is not bright, its like being in a full moon light “. Robert Bruce has written a huge book on protection [apparently, he says garlic is one of the best things for keeping certain low-life spirits away – like placing slices of garlic around your bed. Good luck with that one LOL]. But, l find it much easier, and obviously better to call SA and Mother… Fortunately, for me they are the first one’s to come to mind when in danger.
    One particular night l just found myself outside the body and l immediately called Sri Aurobindo and He was there like a bolt of lightning. At least His face was. His face was huge and appeared over me. Then, in front of me was a man [an old disciple l think] who was smiling at me.The experience ended there, but but you see what l mean about calling them by name alone.
    More often than not l find myself transported back to the body when l call them.

    “Mother: There are also mischievous spirits. Mischievous spirits that come and suggest all kinds of things. There is a zone there, very near the physical, very near – a zone infested with worms, mon petit! All the bad suggestions of all possible catastrophes, of all malicious ill wills, of all desires…. It’s sickening. All that swarms as if you plunged your nose into a vase full of worms. That’s troublesome.”

    The Mother, Mother’s Agenda: July 10, 1965

    l don’t have any doubts about that… l always wondered why so many bad suggestions come to the mind when you just hit the pillow before sleep.
    l think as the consciousness expands we open to this region more often, because these ‘suggestions of all possible catastrophes’ [especially about the ppl close to us] become more oppressive and invasive in my experience…

    Reply
    1. mike

      Upon further reflection on this. lf you find yourself outside the body and it’s nor very clear, you only have to say ‘Clarity Now’ or ‘Light Now’ and this command will improve your astral vision…. Little commands like this work well apparently – such as ‘Control Now’ if you want to be more in control of your subtle body etc..

      Reply
  32. Sandeep Post author

    River of Dreams – Billy Joel

    In the middle of the night
    I go walking in my sleep
    From the mountains of faith
    To the river so deep
    I must be lookin’ for something
    Something sacred I lost
    But the river is wide
    And it’s too hard to cross
    even though I know the river is wide
    I walk down every evening and stand on the shore
    I try to cross to the opposite side
    So I can finally find what I’ve been looking for

    Reply
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  35. mike

    ‘subtle physical’ – is the invisible plane or world next to this one. Probablt the same world that theosophists and other occultists refer to as the ‘etheric’.

    ‘physical sheath’ – would be the physical body, l believe.

    ‘subtle physical envelope’ – would possibly be the etheric portion of the aura surrounding the physical body. Or the subtle body we use in the ‘subtle physical worlds’.

    Reply
  36. bhupriya

    in o.b.e. there is summary of various methods …etheric exteriorization …. only physical sheath with etheric will extereiorizes it moves only in physical world because of only physical sheath with etheric( not the astral & mental sheath) there is wrongly written in the summary of various methods please correct it & reply

    Reply
  37. elizabeth carman

    We have a question about NDEs. Only a small percentage of the people who experience clinical death report NDEs.

    In one famous study, 18% of 344 survivors of cardiac arrest in 10 Dutch hospitals reported an NDE

    282 of these patients (82%) had no recollection of the period of cardiac arrest, of their period of unconsciousness

    could it be that people who are declared clinically dead in the hospitals, could have had an NDE, yet they are not able to remember it? If so, why not? Could it be that maybe their consciousness is not high enough to retain it?

    We would appreciate any insights from you!!

    Reply
    1. Sandeep Post author

      forgot to reply to your question..🙂

      Could it be that maybe their consciousness is not high enough to retain it?

      In this regards, the Mother speaks of “missing links” between different parts of our being because to which we do not remember our dreams (and NDEs). This might explain why NDEs are not widely experienced.

      Mother: Between the outer consciousness and the deepest consciousness there are truly holes – which are ‘missing links’ between states of being and which have to be built, but they don’t know how to do it. So their first reaction when they go within is panic! They feel they are falling into night, into nothingness, into non-being!

      I had a Danish friend, an artist, to whom this happened. He wanted me to teach him how to go out of his body. He had interesting dreams so he thought it might be worthwhile to go there consciously. I helped him to ‘go out’ – but it was frightful! … When he dreamed, a part of his mind indeed remained conscious, active, and a kind of link remained between this active part and his outer being, so he remembered some of his dreams, but it was only a very partial phenomenon. To go out of your body means that you must gradually pass through ALL the states of being, if you are to do it systematically. But already in the subtle physical it was almost non-individualized, and as soon as he went a bit further, there was no longer anything! It was unformed, nonexistent.

      So they sit down (they are told to interiorize, to go within themselves), and they panic! – Naturally they feel that they … that they are disappearing: there is nothing! There is no consciousness!

      The Mother, Mother’s Agenda: October 25, 1958

      Reply
      1. elizabeth carman

        Wow! Thanks so much for that astonishing answer. We had not heard of these “missing links.” Is there a source of info anywhere where Mother speaks about why we don’t remember a dream?

      2. Sandeep Post author

        I just want to add that not everyone who had a cardiac arrest may have had an NDE. Who knows what state they were in; maybe they were just paralyzed physically.

        You might also like to check out another blog post: https://auromere.wordpress.com/2011/07/14/why-do-we-forget-our-vivid-dreams/

        At the moment, I can’t find any other quotation from the Mother on “missing links” but there exists 3-4 inexpensive books which have compiled all of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother’s remarks on sleep and dreams.

        See http://www.auromere.com/Compilations-Sleep_and_Dreams.html
        and
        http://www.auromere.com/Compilations-Yoga_of_Sleep_Dreams.html

        Auromere.com store is in California and is run by someone else although it carries the same name as this blog. If you call them up and ask, they might guide you to a few more books on this topic.

      3. elizabeth carman

        Thank you so much for all your help!! This is the most in-depth spiritual wisdom from Aurobindo and the Mother! We are pre-birth researchers and have written a book on that which does include people who also had NDEs. We are preparing a talk for a conference on NDEs so we really appreciate your kindness and suggestions!

        We found the info on Mother building the Bridges to the Afterlife very fascinating also. We listened to the audio recording of the talk by the European author and devotee. Is there any more info on the “Bridges” on this blog or other sources?

        Thanks so much!
        Namaste!

        Elizabeth

      4. Sandeep Post author

        The “bridges” are explained in Collected Works of the Mother, vol 6, p 55-57 (10 Mar 1954) which you can download from here http://www.sriaurobindoashram.org/ashram/mother/writings.php

        Generally, “domain of death” is the name given to a certain region of the most material vital into which one is projected at the moment one leaves one’s body. The part – how to put it? – of one’s life that’s usually the most conscious is projected there at the moment of death. Well, that region, that material vital world is very dark, it is full of adverse formations having desires at their centre or even adverse wills, and these are very, very elemental entities which have a very fragmentary life and are like vampires, in the see that they feed on all that is thrown out from human beings. And so, at that moment, from the shock of death – for very few die without a shock, go out consciously, in full knowledge of the thing, there are not many such – usually it is an accident: a last accident; well, at that shock of death, those entities rush in upon this, upon this vitality that goes out, and feed upon it. So long as a person is alive, they cannot touch him…. This of course is the general law. Now there are bridges, as it were, “protected passages” which have been built in the vital world in order to cross over all these dangers. There are atmospheres, which receive people leaving their body, give them shelter, give them protection. There are all kinds of other conditions; what I have told you just now is the normal state of those who die, of ordinary human beings, but as soon as we come to a little higher type of humanity, all these conditions change. The general law remain unless there is a special higher development within the being. There are people with so total a cohesion in their being that they no longer depend upon the body – not at all – whether it be there or not there.

        The Mother, Questions and Answers (1954): 10 March 1954

        There is an unusual case where the Mother’s remarks were proven true later in time. In 1953, she said that
        there are “spirits of death” that one meets after death. In 1979, Dr Ian Stevenson interviewed an Indian man, Durga Jatav, who had died and found himself amidst a group of men. The men decided to cut off his legs but then they realized they had the wrong man so they rejoined his legs and he came back alive. His knees still carried the marks of injuries he had sustained in the NDE.

        You can read about it here : https://auromere.wordpress.com/2011/03/21/physical-marks-appearing-after-injuries-sustained-in-dreams/

      5. elizabeth carman

        Thank you again for your kind and wise guidance!!❤ You have helped us so much to find the answers so quickly and comprehensively. Thank you for knowing how to lead the way!!❤

  38. mike

    lt’s interesting, because there have been millions of ppl having NDE’S in the last 20 years or so, since raymond moody and others started recording them.
    From my understanding a lot depends on the physical ailment – head injuries don’t seem to produce all that many NDE’s, but cardiac failure produces a lot, apparently.. Probably the heart stopping is very conducive to this experience..
    Also, lt probably depends on how far out the subtle body is from the the physical. Ultimately, these ppl might be destined to have them or their soul decides they need that experience – it is a great wake-up call in many cases..

    Reply
    1. elizabeth carman

      We agree that some people are destined to have the NDEs. As pre-birth researchers, we interviewed Lorenzo (1935–2008) is a former Wall Street advertising director and the author of Mouth of God: Your Cosmic Contract. During our interviews with Lorenzo for our book, Cosmic Cradle, Spiritual Dimensions of Life before Birth, he shared his “natural” pre-birth memories. Part of Lorenzo’s plan for this life was to end the curse of samsara: “Samsara, Samsara, Samsara, who needs it? That is the reason for three NDEs in one life. I accelerated so that I do not have to be born three more times.”

      Reply
      1. Felix

        I have a Sri Aurobindo Ashram Trust publication entitled “Sri Aurobindo and the Mother on Sleep and Dream” which is a 27 page compilation of their writings on the subject. Mother speaks of gaps in consciousness and how to overcome them in it.

        The concept is similar to that of “state dependent learning,” if you’re familiar with it. Essentially what it means is you must be able to reenter a particular state or phase of consciousness in order to recall what you previously experienced or learned in that state. A mundane example of this would be a writer who developed a habit of drinking alcohol when he writes because he found it relaxes him and frees up his thought processes. He may then find it very difficult to organize and write down his thoughts while sober.

  39. Al

    Very interesting…and many thinks to all those who commented previously!

    It seems to me that the type of OBE ambulation described in the Subtle physical Exteriorization above is explained during sleep by those quasi-cataleptic symptoms known as Sleep Paralysis. But I believe that that “silver cord” described in the Vital Exteriorization when about 75% of the consciousness leaves the physical frame, is still a factor here otherwise the experiencer of this subtle physical plane would not be able to return to life. Sri Aurobindo described this world as:

    “The subtle physical is closest to the physical, and most like it. But yet the conditions are different and the thing too different. For instance, the subtle physical has a freedom, plasticity, intensity, power, colour, wide and manifold play (there are thousands of things there that are not here) of which, as yet, we have no possibility on earth.”

    Sri Aurobindo, Letters on Yoga – I: Planes and Parts of the Being – II

    The Acharya whose Kundalini Yoga I follow, is proficient in OBE and has written about it, from the point of view of Sleep Paralysis:

    Very interesting…and many thinks to all those who commented previously!

    It seems to me that the type of OBE ambulation described in the Subtle physical Exteriorization above is explained during sleep by those quasi-cataleptic symptoms known as Sleep Paralysis. But I believe that that “silver cord” described in the Vital Exteriorization when about 75% of the consciousness leaves the physical frame, is still a factor here otherwise the experiencer of this subtle physical plane would not be able to return to life. Sri Aurobindo described this world as:

    “The subtle physical is closest to the physical, and most like it. But yet the conditions are different and the thing too different. For instance, the subtle physical has a freedom, plasticity, intensity, power, colour, wide and manifold play (there are thousands of things there that are not here) of which, as yet, we have no possibility on earth.”

    Sri Aurobindo, Letters on Yoga – I: Planes and Parts of the Being – II

    The Acharya whose Kundalini Yoga I follow, is proficient in OBE and has written about it, from the point of view of Sleep Paralysis:

    http://www.amazon.com/Sleep-Paralysis-Michael-Beloved/dp/0984001360/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1412690481&sr=8-1&keywords=sleep+paralysis+beloved

    And from the point of view of Astral Projection:

    http://www.amazon.com/Astral-Projection-Michael-Beloved/dp/0984001379/ref=pd_sim_b_1?ie=UTF8&refRID=1CJ1EQVMVN4ZMA1DY3PT

    My own studies with the plants of Ayahuasca (2 plant’s brew) and San Pedro (cactus) in Peru have helped me to internalize and understand the different levels of being.

    Patanjali proposes the use of certain substances as valid during his course of yoga.

    Chapter 4 Verse 1
    जन्मौषधिमन्त्रतपःसमाधिजाः सिद्धयः॥१॥
    janma auṣadhi mantra tapaḥ samādhijāḥ siddhayaḥ
    janma – birth, particular species; auṣadhi – drugs; mantra – special sound; tapaḥ – physical bodily austerities in haṭha yoga; samādhi – continuous effortless linkage of the attention to a higher concentration force, object or person; jāḥ – what is produced from; siddhayaḥ – mystic skills.
    The mystic skills are produced
    by taking birth in particular species,
    by taking drugs, by reciting special sounds,
    by physical bodily austerities or
    by the continuous effortless linkage of the attention
    to a higher concentration force, object or person.

    Reply
  40. Al

    I know a Mahayogi who is very proficient in astral projection, and who has communion with several Gurujis in that realm, among them Lahiri Baba and Sri Yogeshwarananda.

    So, a while back, I asked him whether he has met Sri Aurobindo and/or the Mother in the astral world. It was after asking a second time and after some hesitation that he said to me: “That the Mother has created as astral ashram where Sri Aurobindo and certain selected devotees dwell. She is in charge. To get in there you have to go through Her.”

    A little while after I had the following astral encounter with Sri Aurobindo and Mother in this location, during a lucid dream.

    “I first entered a room where several devotees were seated on the floor in front of Sri Aurobindo. There was not the slightest doubt about who Sri Aurobindo was, as his countenance corresponded exactly to his 30s-40s in his physical body. What surprised me the most, was how jocular he was, smiling, and he put a hand on top of my head and blessed me. After a while, I asked him: “Where is the Mother”. He answered: “She is coming”. Mirra Alfassa showed up, entering from a side of the room. Her size was doubled everyone else’s. I did not have much interaction with her because of the hostile attitude of a few disciples, who surrounding me, made clear to me that I was not welcome there. At this point the interaction ended”.

    Reply

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