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.

https://incarnateword.in/agenda/03/february-27-1962

Aurobindo

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) http://www.aurobindo.ru/workings/purani/2-0059.htm

See also

19 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’.

    Reply
  2. P

    Daily, i see that many of my thoughts (desires, fears, aspirations) automatically manifest, usually immediately or after a short time. Many of these come as premonitions. Just yesterday, I was at a mall, and while there I had a premonition that it will be closed for a fire drill. And exactly the same thing happened an hour later!! Like this, many things happen every single day. I noticed that sometimes if I just look at the sky and wish (usually the wish occurs automatically) for rain, it begins to rain after a few hours!

    I do not find these happenings pleasant. Neither do I welcome them, yet they come automatically. I also find it rather bizarre and unfortunate that things are so very complicated.

    What could be going on in my consciousness for such things to happen?

    There is another thing I would like to add that I have noticed in myself. Spiritual teachers, including Sri Aurobindo, have often said completely contradictory things about the same problem to different people. So given a situation, you can not just go by what people have said in the past, because something completely different would have been applicable to you in that situation. Evil forces, etc, exploit this inherent confusion to play their tricks, again & again.

    Reply
    1. P

      In my case, thoughts etc manifest usually like this:

      I witness, almost always, thoughts and feelings coming to me. Many times, I experience a force associated with the accompanying suggestion (say, a desire or a fear) coming into my body/consciousness from outside of myself. Once it enters my body, I am fully identified with this force and its suggestion. I can then, if I am aware, stand back from this identification and simply observe it or reject it, in which case the force usually leaves. But this is not always possible to do, because the identification may be very strong, and so the force does not leave the body. Sometimes I am not aware of this identification, so I get carried away by it. In any case, whenever such strong identification persists, the suggestion usually manifests, sometimes immediately, sometimes a short period afterwards.

      I am not sure if this is the case the Mother describes in this article when she talks about expanding one’s consciousness. I am not aware of any expansion of consciousness, but If anyone is clear about it, I would appreciate their response.

      There are other cases of manifestation as well, wherein I simply will or wish for something and it happens. Sometimes, I observe a passing desire or fear and then forget about it. Then after a day or two, it manifests, and then I remember that I have seen it before. Sometimes I say or write something about some matter, and it manifests a day or two later usually as news.

      In case of premonitions, usually I have a passing vision or I witness an external event, and then I notice that the vision or the event I had witnessed manifests in my life some time later.

      Reply
      1. Sandeep Post author

        Sometimes I am not aware of this identification, so I get carried away by it. In any case, whenever such strong identification persists, the suggestion usually manifests, sometimes immediately, sometimes a short period afterwards.

        See

        All thoughts come from outside

      2. Sandeep Post author

        I am not sure if this is the case the Mother describes in this article when she talks about expanding one’s consciousness. I am not aware of any expansion of consciousness, but If anyone is clear about it, I would appreciate their response.

        what expansion are you referring to ? can you quote the exact line ?

      1. P

        Thanks for the links and your comments.

        The “expansion” I am talking about is contained in the below quote from The Mother:

        “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. ”

        Also, I want to make a correction. I often experience an expansion, a widening, of my chest. The chest widens massively to engulf everything I see around me, including roads, buildings, trees, people, etc. It happens often and automatically. Recently, I saw someone who had an awakening describe a similar thing, and he says it is an indication of the Self. I am not yet fully sure if that analogy applies to my experience.

      2. P

        Thanks for the link on “thoughts come from outside.”

        What sort of state is it when one becomes aware that thoughts & feelings come from outside of oneself? Is there a name for such a state?

        Because of this awareness, all opinions seem same to me. Likewise, I am seeing less and less distinction between happiness and suffering. My mind sees contrary opinions simultaneously, including sometimes seeing multiple views and opinions simultaneously. Unlike before, the mind functions less and less using logic and reasoning and comparisons. And I hardly think. All these things happen not by any effort but automatically.

      1. P

        I want to say that my consciousness operates quite differently from how it used to operate before, as in normal human beings. In many ways, I have forgotten what kind of person I used to be. Perhaps that is why these strange powers and manifestations occur.

        First, everything happens automatically. I experience a constant observing Presence in me that watches every single psychological movement at every moment with great energy and attention. Through this Presence, I become aware of all fears and desires, all thoughts and feelings, all body reactions — at every single moment, no matter what I am doing externally. This awareness is not always totally impartial, though, so sometimes I get myself tangled with what I am observing (for example, anger), but in the middle of the struggle or soon after it, the observation emerges once again automatically. This Presence and awareness completely disappears when I sometimes (rare) drop back into normal consciousness for a few minutes.

        In this state of awareness, I observe that my thoughts, feelings, and even illnesses come from outside of myself. Thoughts usually descend into me from a space above the top of my head.

        My perceptions have become very acute as well. I hear distant sounds (sounds of birds, squirrels, etc) very clearly, even amidst heavy traffic. Likewise, I see very distant things, like a mile or more off, very clearly. Trees, plants, flowers, and general nature look extraordinarily and breathtakingly vibrant and beautiful. There is a very strong energy presence in my body, almost always.

        I do not really have any set spiritual practice. This stuff, these observations, etc., just goes on automatically. I have seen that I can not stop this process either. It just goes on and on.

        Second, I get that feeling that something is working in me, doing the yoga in me. For example, whenever I do not understand something, I am usually automatically taken to the exact text or video, or person who gives the exact answer to my question or difficulty. Also, I find that many things I do on my own but have no idea why I am doing it have been prescribed as the right practice by spiritual teachers. So somehow, without any previous guidance or knowledge, I seem to end up doing the right things!

        The whole thing, to tell you the truth, astonishes me.

      2. Ian James

        There are other cases of manifestation as well, wherein I simply will or wish for something and it happens. Sometimes, I observe a passing desire or fear and then forget about it. Then after a day or two, it manifests, and then I remember that I have seen it before.<\i>

        As desires & fears are products of the lower nature, manifesting them may not be for the best.

        … I am seeing less and less distinction between happiness and suffering. My mind sees contrary opinions simultaneously, including sometimes seeing multiple views and opinions simultaneously. Unlike before, the mind functions less and less using logic and reasoning and comparisons.<\i>

        How are you doing with ‘Good & Evil’? These also need to go the way of happiness and suffering and will be replaced with other methods of determining right or correct action. As an example, you mentioned recently visiting a mall, and malls require a regular supply of stock. Pay some attention to slogans or artwork on the sides of delivery wagons etc. – you may find them quite helpful, though not necessarily to your liking – viewing with absolute sincerity is required.

        “If you have within you a psychic being sufficiently awake to watch over you, to prepare your path, it can draw towards you things which help you, draw people, books, circumstances, all shorts of little coincidences which come to you as though brought by some benevolent will and give you an indication, a help, a support to take decisions…”
        ~ The Mother, The Psychic Being, p 61.

  3. mike

    “What sort of state is it when one becomes aware that thoughts & feelings come from outside of oneself? Is there a name for such a state?”

    lf it’s the same state SA described having in alipore jail when he started yoga, then it must be the Witness Self which leads to nirvana or the silent mind.
    Also, the energy in the body is obviously the Force or Shakti working there. But, really you should read the ‘Letters on Yoga’ [i’m assuming you haven’t because your asking these questions]; especially the chapter on visions and experiences. SA describes very clearly what these things are.
    SA advises never to reject these experiences; which are a result of the Spiritual opening and are very useful to the yogi.
    l’m curious. Have you ever seen Sri Aurobindo or the Mother during these experiences [i might have missed it in your posts]..

    Reply
    1. P

      “But, really you should read the ‘Letters on Yoga’ [i’m assuming you haven’t because your asking these questions]; … ”

      I have read very little of Sri Aurobindo & The Mother’s words, and whatever I have read, I have done so only sporadically. In general, I read only when certain experiences compel me to search for answers. I am this way in all aspects of my life. Whenever I have tried to read spiritual stuff — Sri Aurobindo or others — I have not been able to go beyond a few pages. For example, I tried reading Savitri but dropped it after a few lines. I have never read it since. However, when experiences compel me to read, I only need to read a few lines before I experience a shift in my consciousness. So in this case, I will look at SA’s letters.

      “SA advises never to reject these experiences; which are a result of the Spiritual opening and are very useful to the yogi.”

      OK, thank you.

      “l’m curious. Have you ever seen Sri Aurobindo or the Mother during these experiences …”

      There is a constant Presence in me, an Awareness, which is observing thoughts, etc.. And this Awareness bypasses my mind and directly accesses my senses, which is why I experience acute sensory perceptions. I am able to contact this Awareness at will. I came to understand this after hearing an Eckhart Tolle talk that describes this phenomenon very well. Tolle describes this Awareness as the Self.

      I also have the feeling that there is something behind even this Awareness, and that it is this “something” that is doing the yoga in me. But I am not sure what this “something” is or whether it even exists.

      So, in summary, no, I have not seen Sri Aurobindo or the Mother ever in any of my experiences, although their words often trigger experiences in me.

      Reply
  4. P

    Ian James — ah, thanks. You hit me on the spot!

    Questions about good and evil, about justice and injustice, about competence and incompetence constantly confront me. Specifically, how can a god exist when so much evil has existed in the world for thousands of years? How can god be this incompetent, this foolish? How can god be this unfair? Why do evil beings exist? And if god has created all these horrible difficulties, why does he ask human beings to do yoga? I constantly face these questions through circumstances, experiences, etc. Usually, when such pressures come, it lasts for a while, before the contradiction dissolves. So, yeah, this is something going on with me for a year or so now.

    There is another set of puzzling questions that come often. These concern yoga and creation. Why is creation this way? How can a perfect being (the Divine) create an imperfect or evolutionary world? Why is god “hiding” behind the so-called veil? Is he shy? Why has the “technology” of yoga not evolved, not improved even after centuries? Why do most of us have to start at the bottom and work our way up? Yoga, even after thousands of years, is still a tedious, slow struggle for most people. Why is that? Can we find a way to “speed up” yoga? I have not got past these as well. So far, I haven’t found a solution anywhere, including from Sri Aurobindo.

    You mention about psychic being. I see flowers in my visions as well everywhere I go. Pale-pink flowers; red, blue, violet, yellow, blue, white flowers. This surprises me, because in the past, I have never been a “flower” person. But now, wherever I go, even on the Internet, I constantly see flowers, my attention is automatically turned to flowers. And they look stunningly beautiful. I feel that something is bringing these flowers to me — every single day! It is as if these flowers are blooming for me. There is a deep love, a growing deep longing, for nature. When I am in nature, my mind is quiet, and I am at peace.

    Reply
    1. Ian James

      Questions about good and evil, about justice and injustice, about competence and incompetence constantly confront me. Specifically, how can a god exist when so much evil has existed in the world for thousands of years? How can god be this incompetent, this foolish? How can god be this unfair? Why do evil beings exist?

      A question for you:- inhaling & exhaling – which is good and which is evil?
      From an everyday level of consciousness this question seems redundant as both are necessary for survival, for the moment at least. Now, put yourself in the position of a single lung cell. Every so often your immediate environment is turned into a tempestuous hell-hole filled with many noxious and seemingly evil particles and gasses. Your Nature, being what it is, compels you, during this winter of discontent, to sort through this toxic soup of chemicals, pick out the ones you like, then pass them to a neighbouring cell to do with you know not what. In time, summer arrives and the living is easy – your neighbour occasionally passing you particles which you effortlessly release into the air – it’s a breeze. If this lung cell had the capacity to contemplate God it may very well ask ‘What the hell is He up to?’ and ‘What am I doing here?’ and ‘Why can’t it always be summer?’ Indeed, all the questions you ask above would be perfectly valid.
      Now, you, with your comparatively higher consciousness, to that of a lung cell at least, know why this little cell leads the life it does and the actions its Nature compels it to take in a much greater cause. The lung cell however, knows nothing of the greater thing of which it is a tiny part. Or maybe it does, in some psychic way – as The Mother indicates in Her Agenda.
      The point being – the higher ones consciousness, the more one sees; the more one sees, the more one knows; the more one knows, the more questions seem redundant.

      And if god has created all these horrible difficulties, why does he ask human beings to do yoga?
      He doesn’t ‘ask’ people to do yoga just as you don’t ‘ask’ your lung cells to breathe, they do that which their Nature compels them to do.

      Why is creation this way?
      Which way would you have done it?

      How can a perfect being (the Divine) create an imperfect or evolutionary world?
      The ‘imperfections’ you observe are all part of the Becoming. Is a 14 day old tomato plant more perfect than a 7 day old tomato plant or is each plant perfect for the length of time it has had to develop?

      Why is god “hiding” behind the so-called veil?
      He’s playing hide & seek and you’re ‘it’. Go find Him.

      Is he shy?
      He’s everything.

      Why has the “technology” of yoga not evolved, not improved even after centuries?
      The ‘technology’ or at least the ‘hardware’ of yoga is the physical body. This has not evolved or improved very much even after centuries, neither has the ‘software’ or consciousness, at least generally.

      Why do most of us have to start at the bottom and work our way up?
      For the same reason we don’t teach differential calculus in kindergarten. Start with and master the basics, then move up.

      Yoga, even after thousands of years, is still a tedious, slow struggle for most people. Why is that?
      It used to be a lot slower before a rational, self-aware consciousness came along that could consciously modify the behaviour of mind & body to bring it more in line with what the yoga requires.

      Can we find a way to “speed up” yoga?
      By a constant concentration on the sun, a tomato plant goes from seed to producing fruit in around 6 months. Is that yoga speedy enough?

      Reply
      1. P

        Thanks for taking the time to write this detailed response. I appreciate it very much.

        I understood logically what you are saying and things are much clearer now, but the stuff has not yet fully sunk in. I am, at the moment, open to considerable doubts and counterarguments. I suppose, as you explained, that should be expected, because I am still operating at the lower level. At some point, I will have to rise to a higher level to see how it all makes perfect sense.

        Few clarifications …

        These “questions” are not “mine” per se; rather, I see them arise in me, and they resonate with me. They are sort of a repetitive thought formation, a network of thoughts, like a tornado, so to speak, usually triggered by repetitive circumstances. I let them hang around, because I want the yoga going on in me to cut its teeth on these things, to see and understand these things.

        Also, the “technology” of yoga refers to practices and methods prescribed by teachers in all spiritual traditions, such as meditation, concentration, prayer, aspiration, rejection, surrender, and so forth. Usually, the aspirant starts from scratch and follows these things, gradually moving towards the goal. This has been the approach for centuries, if not more. But the problem with this approach is that results are highly uncertain, and very few people cross the line. And there is no way to transfer or reuse the gains, as you do in engineering and science — everyone has to start from scratch, discovering the same stuff that others have already found. This is undeniably true with Sri Aurobindo’s yoga. So the question is, is there another way that is quicker, easier, and more deterministic to get there? I haven’t seen anything on this front anywhere so far.

        Finally, the vast majority of humanity is not following any yoga consciously. So most people have no clue what the heck is going on behind the scenes. On the other hand, as you mentioned, those who have risen to a higher level through yoga understands the stuff. But there is going to be an inevitable gap between these two groups. Is that something Sri Aurobindo’s yoga aims to resolve? Or it doesn’t care, really?

        Thanks much for your time. I really learned quite a bit and appreciate it very much.

      2. Ian James

        I let them hang around, because I want the yoga going on in me to cut its teeth on these things, to see and understand these things.
        All questions come from the lower nature and it seems your mental ego has convinced you it is necessary to allow the yoga to progress on its terms and under its supervision. The psychic being doesn’t need any ignorant meddling from the lower faculties, though it does have to bring them along. A partial, qualified surrender is not much of a surrender at all.

        And there is no way to transfer or reuse the gains, as you do in engineering and science — everyone has to start from scratch, discovering the same stuff that others have already found. This is undeniably true with Sri Aurobindo’s yoga. So the question is, is there another way that is quicker, easier, and more deterministic to get there?
        Nowadays, people can access yogic texts just as easily as science & engineering texts. But one must remember that all spiritual progress is not crammed into a single incarnation…

        It is not the mind and vital which develop and progress from life to life, it is the psychic… And it is the psychic which carries the progress over from one life to another, by organising its own evolution and development itself… And only that which is in contact with the psychic lasts, and only what can last can remember.
        ~ The Mother, The Psychic Being.

        But there is going to be an inevitable gap between these two groups. Is that something Sri Aurobindo’s yoga aims to resolve?
        The group or individual with supramental consciousness would impart an uplifting knowledge and harmonising influence on the more spiritually inclined of the lower group. Those in the lower group still inclined towards the mental life would be influenced by the greater knowledge of the higher.

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