Sri Aurobindo and the Mother on Clairvoyance

In the sixth century BCE, Gosala founded the Ajivika sect which claimed that every event in the future is predestined and one must be resigned and accept its inevitability.  Before founding the sect, Gosala had been a disciple of Mahavira (24th Tirthankara of Jainism) for six years.  Gosala had observed that the predictions made by Mahavira came true, and this was believed to be the reason he began to believe that the future is predestined.

In recent times, we have seen popular interest in the predictions made by Baba Vanga and Nostradamus. This raises the question – “Do all visions come true ?”.

Sri Aurobindo and the Mother indicated that the events which happen on the physical plane first get fleshed out in the higher planes. On the highest plane, there is usually an Idea which gets further expanded on the vital plane and subtle-physical plane, before we experience it on the physical plane. A clairvoyant is seeing the event on that higher plane when they make a prediction about the future. But the event can still change shape or intensity when it manifests on the physical plane.

The future events get fleshed out on higher planes before they materialize on the physical plane

Mother on clairvoyance

Question : in sleep one can have a very exact knowledge of what is going to happen, sometimes with astonishingly accurate material details; it’s as if everything were already worked out down to the least detail on an occult plane. Is this correct? What is this plane of knowledge? Is there more than one? How can one gain conscious access to it in the waking state? And how is it that serious people, who have a divine realization, are sometimes so grossly mistaken in their predictions?

Mother : There are different kinds of premonitory dreams. Some are immediately realized – you dream at night what will happen the next day – while the realizations of others are staggered over varying spans of time; such dreams are seen in different realms corresponding to the time they take to be realized. The closer you approach absolute certainty, the greater is the time span, because the realm of such visions is quite close to the Origin, and a long time can pass between the revelation of what will be and its realization. But being so near the Origin, the revelation is very certain. When one is identified with the Supreme, there is a place where all is unequivocally known: in the past, in the present, in the future and everywhere.

Meanwhile, there are all sorts of ways to receive indications. That exact, precise and … (what’s the word?) habitual vision certain people have may stem from various sources. It may be a vision through identity with circumstances and things when you have learned to expand your consciousness. It may be an indication from some chatterbox of the invisible world, who has got it into his head to let you know what’s going to happen – this is often the case.

With a universal mental vision, you can see (and this is very interesting) how the mental world operates to get realized on the physical plane. You see the various mental formations, how they converge, conflict, combine and relate to one another, which ones get the upper hand, exert a stronger influence and achieve a more total realization. Now, if you really want a higher vision, you must get out of the mental world and see the original wills as they descend to take expression. In this case, you may not have all the details, but the central FACT, the fact in its central truth, is indisputable, undeniable, absolutely correct.

Some people also have the faculty of predicting things already existing on earth but at a distance, far from physical eyes – they’re generally those who have the capacity to expand and extend their consciousness. Their vision is slightly more subtle than physical vision, and depends on an organ subtler than its purely material counterpart (what could be called the “life” of this organ). So, by projecting their consciousness, and having the will to see, they can clearly see things that already exist but are beyond our ordinary field of vision. Those who have this capacity – sincere people who tell what they see, not bluffers – see with perfect precision and exactness.

Ultimately, absolute sincerity is the great deciding factor for those who predict or foresee. Unfortunately, because of people’s curiosity, their insistence and the pressure they exert (which very few can resist), an almost involuntary mechanism of inner imagination comes to add just that small missing element to something not seen with precision or exactness. That’s what causes flaws in prediction. Very few have the courage to say, “Ah no, I don’t know this, I don’t see that, this eludes me.” They don’t even have the courage to say it to themselves! So then, with a tiny drop of imagination, which acts almost subconsciously, the vision or information gets rounded out – it can turn out to be anything at all! Very few people can resist this tendency. I have known many, many psychics, many extraordinarily gifted beings, and only a handful were able to stop just at the point where their knowledge stopped. Or else they embellish. That’s what gives these faculties their slightly dubious quality. One would have to be a great saint, a great sage, and completely free from other people’s influences (I don’t speak of those who seek fame: they fall into the most flagrant traps); because even goodwill – wanting to satisfy people, please them, help them – is enough to distort the vision.


Disciple: There are two ways of foretelling the future: the astrological calculations which are based upon the general lines of character and happenings indicated by the stars, another is that of clairvoyance in which the image of the future event, correct even to the minutest detail, is brought before the vision. How does this happen?

Sri Aurobindo: These clairvoyants are awake on the physical plane and because they are passive these images which are already there in the subtle impose themselves upon their vision; of course, you must have this vision in order to know the future.

Disciple: Can the events, thus foreseen, be averted? Generally, there is something always missing in the vision which does not allow men to escape it, e.g., the, place or the time of the event is not indicated etc. But there are some instances in which the foreknowledge of the event has allowed the man to change the result foreseen.

Sri Aurobindo: There is a vital image which is a possibility and it can be prevented; secondly there is the image of the event on the subtle physical plane which, if it is fixed, can’t be avoided.

Disciple: Are there events absolutely fixed which cannot be changed?

Sri Aurobindo: Yes, there are. If you want to change then you have to go to a plane which is higher than the one where these things are decided and that is not always easy.

There are three kinds of movements which one has to distinguish in seeing the future.

  1. First of all there is the result of the actualities: it is a very narrow field and things there are fixed and it is generally the very near future.
  2. Secondly, there is a play of potentialities in which certain forces are struggling and you can see the force which is most likely to succeed. But generally it is that force which represents the higher decision on that plane. But you can’t be always sure that it will succeed unless you know definitely that it represents the highest decision—the Truth.
  3. Thirdly there is a higher plane where important decisions are made. For that movement you have to go very high. It is difficult to distinguish between these three and most of the clairvoyants make a confusion.

Disciple: There are cases where most minute details have been known by clairvoyance.

Sri Aurobindo: One has to be passive and often the decision to be taken, or the happening that is going to take place, forces itself upon one.

Disciple: Is seeing the past the same faculty as seeing the future?

Sri Aurobindo: Yes. But it is much easier to see the past. The impression and memory are left on so many things.

Disciple: Is it the same thing that A.E. speaks of as the “earth-memory” in one of his books.

Sri Aurobindo: What do you mean by the memory of the earth?

Disciple: All things leave their impression in the world and they are all stored up in earth-consciousness. When A.E. was travelling in Egypt he saw much of the history of Egypt in the subtle.

Sri Aurobindo: That is something quite different from earth-memory.

(Purani, Evening Talks, 18 June 1926)

See also

2 thoughts on “Sri Aurobindo and the Mother on Clairvoyance

  1. mike

    l think the person ‘AE’ mentioned in the post is George William Russell – an irish theosophist. For anyone interested, his clairvoyant and visionary experiences are described in his book ‘THE CANDLE OF VISION’.


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