Difference between Vision, Experience and Realization

Spiritual Vision

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Difference between vision, experience and realization.

  • When you see Light, that is vision.   The vision signifies a future realization.
  • when you feel Light entering into you, that is experience;
  • when Light settles in you and brings illumination and knowledge, that is a realisation. Repetition of experience leads to realisation.

(Sri Aurobindo, Letters on Yoga, Visions and Symbols)

An experience of a truth in the substance of mind, in the vital or the physical, wherever it may be, is the beginning of realisation. When I experience peace, I begin to realise what it is. Repetition of the experience leads to a fuller and more permanent realisation. When it is settled anywhere, that is the full realisation of it in that place or that part of the being.

(Sri Aurobindo. Letters on Yoga, Experiences and realizations)

There are two classes of things that happen in yoga: realisations and experiences.

Realisations are the reception in the consciousness and the establishment there of the fundamental truths of the Divine, of the Higher or Divine Nature, of the world-consciousness and the play of its forces, of one’s own self and real nature and the inner nature of things, the power of these things growing in one till they are a part of one’s inner life and existence, – as for instance, the realisation of the Divine Presence, the descent and settling of the higher Peace, Light, Force, Ananda in the consciousness, their workings there, the realisation of the divine or spiritual love, the perception of one’s own psychic being, the discovery of one’s own true mental being, true vital being, true physical being, the realisation of the overmind or the supramental consciousness, the clear perception of the relation of all these things to our present inferior nature and their action on it to change that lower nature. The list, of course, might be infinitely longer. These things also are often called experiences when they only come in flashes, snatches or rare visitations; they are spoken of as full realisations only when they become very positive or frequent or continuous or normal.

Then there are experiences that help or lead towards the realisation of things spiritual or divine or bring openings or progressions in the sadhana or are supports on the way, – experiences of a symbolic character, visions, contacts of one kind or another with the Divine or with the workings of higher Truth, things like the waking of the Kundalini, the opening of the Chakras, messages, intuitions, openings of the inner powers, etc. The one thing that one has to be careful about is to see that they are genuine and sincere and that depends on one’s own sincerity – for if one is not sincere, if one is more concerned with the ego or being a big yogi or becoming a superman than with meeting the Divine or getting the Divine consciousness which enables one to live in or with the Divine, then a flood of pseudos or mixtures comes in, one is led into the mazes of the intermediate zone or spins in the grooves of one’s own formations. There is the truth of the whole matter.

(Sri Aurobindo, Letters on Yoga, Experiences and realizations)

Question: Could a vision of the Mother or seeing her in dream or in waking be called a realisation ?

Answer: That would be an experience rather than a realisation. A realisation would be of the Mother’s presence within, her force doing the work ― or of the Peace or Silence everywhere, of universal Love, universal Beauty or Ananda etc., etc. Visions come under the head of experiences, unless they fix themselves and are accompanied by a realisation of which they are as it were the support ― e.g. the vision of the Mother always in the heart or above the head etc.

(Sri Aurobindo in the book “The Mother”)

23 thoughts on “Difference between Vision, Experience and Realization

  1. ipsa

    Excerpts from the book Visions of Champaklal by Champaklal

    Sri Aurobindo said:”Vision is of value because it is, often a first key to inner planes of one’s own being and one’s own consciousness as distinguished from worlds or planes of the cosmic consciousness.”
    What do these visions indicate?

    The growth of the Psychic Being dominating the whole consciousness can develop visions, till it penetrates the inconscient and rebuilds the entire being. As in the case of Champaklal, the soul gets perfected by the process of life itself and the very sincerity of the effort will carry it forward, until one synthesizes the conscious with the superconscious. The entire being is then filled with one idea, one consciousness – the consciousness of the Divine Presence and it even tends to lose all distinction from the surroundings and to feel one with them.
    Sri Aurobindo said once that Realisation consists of three successive movements, internal vision, complete internal experience and total identity. The spiritual vision can take on mental forms of itself that can help towards this identification, each in its own way.

  2. ipsa

    Champaklal told Sri Aurobindo during one conversation that he sometimes felt peace and also saw light, which Sri Aurobindo replied,
    “You see, the peace which you feel shows that God is near you. Light shows that you can meet him in that peace. Gradually, you will be able to stay in this.”

  3. ipsa

    An anecdote from the book Champaklal Speaks, page 13

    Champaklal : Once I asked Sri Aurobindo: “When will I have realisation? ”

    In reply he told me the following story of Narada:

    Two devotees were doing their sadhana in a forest for many years. Once when Narada passed by, one of them asked him, “Bhagavan [a form of addressing holy and venerable souls], you are regularly visiting the Lord. Would you kindly ask Him on my behalf when I shall be able to get His darshan?” A little further Narada met the second devotee. He too entreated him to ask the Lord the same question. On his return Narada told the first devotee, “You will see the Lord after as many births as there are leaves on the tree under which you are doing your tapasya.” The devotee was utterly disappointed and gave up his sadhana. When Narada met the second devotee and told him the same thing, he felt unbounded joy and began to dance in delight: “Oh, after all I am certain to see the Lord!” The promise filled him with such an intense joy that he lost all sense of self and realised the Lord that very instant.

    Thus Sri Aurobindo described to us how the time when we will realise the Divine depends on the one-pointedness and intensity of our aspiration.

    When I asked Sri Aurobindo if we could see his room, he smiled, said “Yes”, and pointed towards his room. The three of us went inside unescorted. There, on his table, I saw an old pocket- watch. A thought crossed my mind that if I had the means I would get a better watch for his use and request this one for myself. The thought arose and disappeared like a sudden wave. (It had an interesting sequel. One day, after I had settled here and started working with the Mother, she brought that watch and asked me if I would like to keep it. I was amazed but did not answer because I had firmly decided never to take anything from Sri Aurobindo and the Mother, bur to offer whatever I could, All the same she gave it to me.)

    We had not decided on which day we would leave Pondicherry. On the eighth day we all felt it to be the last day; for every evening, when we took leave of Sri Aurobindo after being near him for an hour, he used to say, “Now, tomorrow.” But this time he said, “Whenever you meet with a difficulty, remember me”, and after a pause, “Write to me.” So we understood it was the last day. The wonder was that all that we wanted to ask Sri Aurobindo, all that we had to tell him, was over in the first two or three days, and yet every day, when we were leaving he used to say, “Now, tomorrow.” This shows how he showered his infinite grace to keep us in his presence for some more days.

  4. Sandeep Post author

    A Q&A with the Mother on visions

    Question: There is a common idea that visions are a sign of high spirituality. Is this true?

    Mother Mirra Alfassa: Not necessarily. Moreover, to see is one thing but to understand and interpret what is seen is quite another thing and much more difficult. Generally, those who see are misled because they give the meaning or interpretation they wish to give according to their desires, hopes and prepossessions. And then, too, there are many different planes in which you can see. There is a mental seeing, a vital seeing, and there are some visions that are seen in a plane very close to the most material. The visions that belong to the last category appear in forms and symbols that seem to be absolutely material, so clear and real and tangible they are. And if you know how to interpret them you can have very exact indications of circumstances and of the inner condition of people.

    Let us illustrate. Here is a vision that someone actually had. A road climbs up a steep and precipitous hillside, bathed in full bright sunlight. On the road a heavy coach drawn by six strong horses is proceeding with great difficulty; it is advancing slowly but steadily. Arrives a man who looks over the situation, takes his position behind the coach and begins to push it or tries to push it up the hill. Then someone comes who has knowledge and says to him, “Why do you labour in vain? Do you think your effort can have any effect? For you it is an impossible task. Even the horses find it difficult.”

    Now the clue to the meaning of the vision lies in the image of the six horses. Horses are symbols of power and the number six represents divine creation; so the six horses signify the powers of divine creation. The coach stands for realisation, for the thing that has to be realised, achieved, brought up to the summit, to the height where dwells the Light. Although these powers of creation are divine, it is a hard labour even for them to consummate the realisation; for they have to work against heavy odds, against the whole downward pull of nature. Then comes in the human being in his arrogance and ignorance, with his small fund of mental powers and thinks that he is somebody and can do something. The best thing he can do is to step inside the coach, sit down comfortably and let the horses carry him.

    Dreams are quite a different thing. They are more difficult to interpret, since each person has his own world of dream-imagery peculiar to himself. Of course, there are dreams that do not signify much, those that are connected with the most superficial and physical layer of consciousness, those that are the result of stray thoughts, random impressions, mechanical reactions or reflex activities. These have no regular or organised form and shape and meaning; they are hardly remembered and leave almost no trace in the consciousness. But even dreams that have a somewhat deeper origin are still obscure, since they are peculiarly personal, in this sense that they depend for their make-up almost entirely upon the experiences and idiosyncrasies of the individual. Visions also are made up of symbols that do not necessarily obtain universal currency. The symbols vary according to race and tradition and religion. One symbol may be peculiarly Christian, another peculiarly Hindu, a third may be common to all the East and a fourth only to the West. Dreams, on the other hand, are exclusively personal; they depend upon everyday occurrences and impressions. It is exceedingly difficult for one man to explain or interpret another’s dream. Each man is like a closed circle to every other man. But everyone can study for himself his own dreams, unravel them and find out their meaning.

    (Collected Works of the Mother, vol. 3, pp 13-15)

    1. Sandeep Post author

      When one sees Mother opening the eyes what does it signify?

      To be frank, I have no idea but there are a number of points that might be used to guide the interpretation:

      1) Dreams do not always have absolute meaning; some can be relative to the seeker.
      2) One must beware of hallucinations which can result from the strong desire to connect to the Mother. If the dream occurred in a desire-less state of equanimity, it could mean that one has been accepted by the Mother.
      3) It is prudent to be patient and let the dream reveal it’s own meaning in due time, perhaps through some subsequent confirmatory dreams or signs. As the consciousness develops, unresolved dreams automatically resolve themselves like jigsaw puzzles.

  5. mike

    l find that dreams about SA and Mother [when their not just wish-fullfillment as sandeep says] have a totally different quality and, at least in my case l can feel a special force in their presence. Also, l tend to be more conscious and l remember it more easily that ordinary dreams.
    Some dream-experiences with SA and Mother are so real and powerful that it’s hard to believe it isn’t a genuine meeting with them.
    l had one with SA some years ago, where l was seated in front of SA and he put his foot on my head [this was something totally unexpected and also something l wouldn’t imagine ever happening. lt might if l was indian or belonged to a tradition that expected this from the Guru, but at the time l had no idea about the Guru doing this]. As He did a flood of tears washed through my entire being. l’ve never felt so clean in my life. lt was a real than anything in my waking life.

    l think we have to somehow learn to distinguish between real meetings with other beings etc. on the other planes and mere subconscious hallucinations. For me it’s the realistic quality and co-ordination [order] that makes the difference.
    Funny about the Horse symbolism. SA says the horse represents The Force and Mother says it’s Power [same thing really l suppose]. Anyway, just about every night, almost as soon as my head hits the pillow, l see an image of a White horse or sometimes horses [sometimes a black horse which l think means an unknown Force]. Hadn’t thought about it much before. So, l suppose the Force is with me when l go to sleep lol.

    1. Sandeep Post author

      Mike: For me it’s the realistic quality and co-ordination [order] that makes the difference

      In the Adventures of Consciousness, Satprem says that the quality of light changes when one dreams on the higher planes. The contact with the consciousness becomes more soothing and refreshing.

  6. mike

    Yes, l feel that’s definitely true. Also, l think l remember SA saying that the colors change according to the plane we are on . It was something to do with how long something seen on another plane takes to manifest here. Apparently the Higher the plane of consciousness, the more brilliant the colors. The subtle physical or those closer to this plane usually have a lot of greys, l believe.

  7. ipi

    The vision of the Light and the vision of the Lord in the form of Jagannath are both of them indications that he has the capacity for yoga and that there is a call of the Divine on his inner being. But capacity is not enough; there must be also the will to seek after the Divine and courage and persistence in following the path. Fear is the first thing that must be thrown away and, secondly, the inertia of the outer being which has prevented him from responding to the call.

    The Light is the light of the Divine Consciousness. The aim of this yoga is first to come into contact with this consciousness and then to live in its light and allow the light to transform the whole nature, so that the being may live in union with the Divine and the nature become a field for the action of the divine Knowledge, the divine Power and the divine Ananda.

    He can succeed in this only if he makes it the supreme object of his life and is prepared to subordinate everything else to this one aim. Otherwise all that can be done is only to make some preparation in this life — a first contact and some preliminary spiritual change in part of the nature.

    Sri Aurobindo
    (Letters on Yoga; Part I; PP 550-551)

  8. mike

    “Moreover, to see is one thing but to understand and interpret what is seen is quite another thing and much more difficult”

    That’s very true. l find it more true with external signs and synchronicities.

    “There is a mental seeing, a vital seeing, and there are some visions that are seen in a plane very close to the most material. The visions that belong to the last category appear in forms and symbols that seem to be absolutely material, so clear and real and tangible they are. And if you know how to interpret them you can have very exact indications of circumstances and of the inner condition of people.”

    l seem to get a lot of these lately. About two nights ago l was just sitting quietly and suddenly my mind was taken to lndia – lt’s like being mentally pulled or drawn away from where you are physically. lt’s not like thinking about a place – this is the literal dragging motion of a force tugging you in another direction.
    l wasn’t thinking about lndia at all [l’m in UK thousands of miles from lndia as well]. This is how these things usually happen. Then l saw a image of the whole country but it was covered in blackness and l could see a large band of black crossing the top portion of the country [most of northern lndia, but darkest just above andhra pradesh]. At first l thought it might be a tornado or typhoon [looked more like a tornado], but wasn’t sure. l tried not to mentally interfere anyway. The south didn’t seem affected. l was going to put it on the blog here last night to see if anyone had heard about bad weather conditions over there, but decided not to. l did check the news and a weather site but nothing untowards was happening.
    Today, l looked at a news channel l normally don’t – al jazeera [because if you want the real news it usually on there or the RT news channel]. So, they start showing lndia and the major blackout that has just hit northern lndia [from andhra pradesh to the top l believe].
    So, this was my vision [if you can call it that – l suppose so].
    l’m not sure when exactly the Blackout occurred – whether l saw it before or after it happened [or perhaps when]. Perhaps, someone can give me the exact time it hit.
    l wonder if it’s anything to do with the intensity of solar flare activity that is building up at the moment?
    l know this is after the event, but at least it’s confirmation for me that these visions are genuine. l’ve been wondering why my consciousness gets dragged out like this. l usually get it with ppl, [especially SA and Mother], but it’s taking on a more global aspect now – especially lndia.

    1. Sandeep Post author

      l know this is after the event, but at least it’s confirmation for me that these visions are genuine.

      Remarkable, and its heartening to get confirmation, as any yogi circumspect about his or her visions will tell you !

      l’ve been wondering why my consciousness gets dragged out like this. l usually get it with ppl, [especially SA and Mother], but it’s taking on a more global aspect now – especially lndia.

      Aphorism 119 of Sri Aurobindo: If when thou art doing great actions and moving giant results, thou canst perceive that thou art doing nothing, then know that God has removed His seal from thy eyelids.

      Today, l looked at a news channel l normally don’t – al jazeera [because if you want the real news it usually on there or the RT news channel]

      That is so true.

  9. mike

    Here’s the full story – 300 million without power.

    “NEW DELHI — A massive grid failure in Delhi and much of northern India left more than 300 million people without electricity on Monday in one of the worst blackouts to hit the country in more than a decade.

    The lights in Delhi and seven states went out about 2 a.m and had not been restored by the morning rush-hour, leaving the capital’s workers sweltering overnight, then stranded at metro stations in the morning as trains were cancelled.”

  10. mike

    l realise from that news feature that it occurred today at 2.am. So, it appears l was seeing ahead. And because, as the Mother says above, it was a very material vision, it happens very quickly after.

    l still haven’t seen anything about it on UK news channels, but they’re obsessed with the london olympics right now – still, half of lndia blacked out, and they ignore it.

  11. mike

    l wonder if that ‘blackout’ could be symbolic of the condition that part of lndia is in. Like a darkness covering the top of the country.
    Perhaps it indicates the coming of a dark event in the north.
    l’m not sure, but the north of lndia seems to be where most of the corruption and darkness in the country resides.

    1. Sandeep Post author

      Sri Aurobindo also had a couple of visions of India, as per the Record of Yoga

      Jan 28, 1911: A group of young Bengalis walking on a road, only the last clearly seen, two children sitting on a hillock at the side. All remarkable for beauty of figure and grace. Chitra tejas, in a fragment of the lining of a bird’s nest on the floor. Vision of future India (Record of Yoga, p 39)

      15 March 1914: Varnamaya image on the wall; India, Bengal a vivid blue, the rest a bright & beautiful green, the whole floating in a haze of strong golden colour. Blue spirituality, green divine karma, golden knowledge. India is now shedding knowledge rather than in conscious possession of it. (Record of Yoga, p 387)

  12. mike

    ” Chitra tejas, in a fragment of the lining of a bird’s nest on the floor. Vision of future India”

    That is a bit difficult to grasp. l assume it is part of the Master’s vision. l had to look up ‘Chitra tejas’ – still not clear lol. lt seems Chitra basically means ‘bright’ and ‘tejas’ as the purified Fire element, gives us glowing health, strength and courage, and penetrating insight.
    l suppose the ‘bird’s nest’ would mean a ‘new birth’.
    Chitra is a very interesting term:

    “Chitra means “bright”, and is represented by Spica, a bright white first magnitude star in the sign Virgo. The symbol for Chitra is a pearl, called Mukta in Sanskrit. The words Mukti and Moksha, both meaning liberation, are derived from the same root. Virgo represents the sixth house of the Cosmic Man, the house of disease and opposition. Here the seeker endures trials and tribulations that precede the activation of the Soul’s faculties. The diety associated with Chitra is Vishvakarman, the Divine Architect, who helps us chip away the unwanted and unnecessary aspects of the self to reveal the “Pearl” within. Chitra is the 14th of the 27 nakshatras, occurring exactly in the middle and representing the balance point of equilibrium that is the midpoint between expansion and contraction, the pause between the inhalation and the exhalation. In numerology, the number 14 has similar connotations. In the Tarot the number 14 card is called “Temperance” and depicts an angel mixing two heavenly fluids with one foot in the water and one foot on dry land. Chitra stimulates the desire to build and reach new levels of achievement. Those under the influence of this nakshatra are extremely honest, seek intellectual delopment, are efficient leaders and can be true wonder workers. Whatever our level of spiritual development, Chitra encourages us to glimpse the vision of perfection and work and struggle to make that vision a reality.”

  13. mike

    l had another one of these experiences about 2 months ago.
    l was drawn to the ashram and l found myself sitting just outside the Mothers room [l’ve never physically been to the Mother’s room] and l could see Her seated in there talking to some ppl. l heard Her ‘There might be another war’. That was all.
    Of course, it might be something to do with reading the agenda at the time [not sure if l was, though], but, it was quite vivid and l don’t know why l would be strongly drawn to Her if it was only based on something l read – it doesn’t normally happen that way.
    Wait and see, l guess.

  14. Pingback: Ways of navigating this blog | Integral Yoga of Sri Aurobindo & The Mother

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