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At the Feet of The Mother

Visions and Voices

Guidance from Sri Aurobindo


I am not able to understand the varying subtle smells coming from some people. I used to get a strong bad smell from X. Then it stopped. Now again it is coming.

The smell is due to something in the person’s vital-physical. That something may not be prominent at all times. When it is, the smell is there.

What is this something in the vital physical?

I wrote that the something may be of different kinds in different cases and one cannot give a rule that it is this or it is that. What has the dirtiest smell is sex.

Has this subtle smell any connection with sadhana?

It isn’t connected with one’s sadhana. It is a part of the character, quite noticeable in those who do no sadhana.

When certain people pass by me, their influence falls on my environmental consciousness like a shadow. Something in me can discriminate whether the influence is good or bad, pure or impure etc. But still I cannot be sure of my judgment as I am not a mature Yogi.

The consciousness of these things is intended for knowledge — a psycho-occult knowledge, necessary for the fullness of consciousness and experience. It is not intended that what is felt should be allowed to become an influence, whether a good one or a bad one.

In meditation I saw three flowers of “Divine Ananda” hanging from a bower. Some time ago there was a similar vision of the three flowers of “Divine Love” offered to the Mother. Has this any correspondence with my sadhana?

It is not quite clear what this number 3 means in this connection. Possibly it is the aspiration for the divine’s love in the three parts of the being.

During yesterday’s dream, while plucking flowers I found two hidden flowers of “Surrender”. I plucked them immediately.

Well, they mean surrender; hiding will mean withholding themselves still.

In meditation I saw the Mother distributing the flowers called “Aspiration for the Divine”. But as it was the Darshan day there were many visitors and the flowers were exhausted when my turn came. So she gave me an incense stick. What does it symbolise?

The incense stick is the symbol of self-consecration.

At about 2 o’clock this afternoon I heard something like this: “Rise from thy slumber. Tamas and ego are in everybody, do not be disappointed. You are a child of the Mother. Rush forward with her fire. The psychicisation of the nature is certain, have faith and confidence in her.” From where and whom did this voice come?

It is an inner voice, evidently, but from where or whom it comes is not clear — anyway, the advice is good.

The inner voices give us a truth and a command. But books also can do that. The former must also bring the necessary force. Perhaps we don’t get it because some veil between the inner and the outer being hinders it.

The inner voice is a voice only — it may give direction, but not the force. A voice speaks, it does not act. There is a great difference between reading a book and receiving the inner direction.

I wrote to you about the subtle sounds heard by my ears. But now I hear very loud sounds in the head also. These are different not only in pitch but also in their character. They are of two types which, ring simultaneously and yet separately. The latter increases when I use will-power or draw on the Mother’s Force.

They are frequently heard when the force of sadhana is strong — I suppose they are sounds made by the vibration of subtle forces.

Has my opening to the subtle sounds, smells and tastes any importance for the progress of my sadhana?

They were merely signs of the opening. Their becoming of importance depends upon the development of the occult knowledge and powers.

How is it that there has been no development of knowledge and powers since the opening of the subtle faculty two years ago?

It was not an opening of occult knowledge and powers, but simply an opening of the inner consciousness.

In your book Bases of Yoga one reads, “It is with the Mother who is always with you and in you that you converse.” Will you kindly explain how the sadhak in question converses with her?

One hears the voice or the thought speaking inwardly and one answers inwardly. Only it is not always safe for the sadhak if there is any insincerity of ego, desire, vanity, ambition in him — for then he may construct a voice or thought in his mind and ascribe it to the Mother and it will say to him pleasing and flattering things which mislead him. Or he may mistake some other Voice for the Mother’s.

L told me that she had been in touch with the Mother long before she came here. She saw the Mother not only in meditation and vision, but in a waking state with open eyes. She also said that when she was in difficulty, Mother would appear and tell her what to do. Do not these experiences indicate an advanced sadhana?

She has not related them to us. But there is nothing improbable in it. It means simply that she externalised her inner vision and experience so as to see through the physical eyes also, but it was the inner vision that saw and the inner hearing that heard, not the physical sight or hearing. That is common enough. It does not indicate an “advanced” sadhana, whatever that phrase may mean, but only a special faculty.

This kind of inwardly visible contact with the Mother and her clear guidance seems to be unique. I wonder how many sadhaks here have developed it.

These things are extremely common among those who practise Yoga everywhere. In this Ashram the sadhaks are too intelligent, sceptical and matter of fact to have a mind of that kind of experience. Even those who might develop it are hampered by the outward-mindedness and physical-mindedness that dominates the atmosphere.

It is quite usual at a certain stage of the sadhana for people who have the faculty to see or hear the Devata of their worship and to receive constant directions from him or her with regard either to action or sadhana. Defects and difficulties may remain, but that does not prevent the direct guidance from being a fact. The necessity of the Guru in such cases is to see that it is the right experience, the right voice or vision — for it is possible for a false guidance to come as it did with Nolinbehari and Bijoy.

Are not peace, purity, surrender, etc. what is wanted of an integral sadhak? These are the real spiritual aids, visions and voices are only helpful to build faith in us, and no more.

Visions and voices are not meant for creating faith; they are effective only if one has faith already.

You take a very utilitarian view of spiritual things. Whatever develops in the sadhana, provided it is genuine, has its place in the total experience and knowledge. A knowledge of the occult worlds and occult forces and phenomena has its place also. Visions and voices are only a small part of that vast realm of occult experience. As for utility, for one who has intelligence and discrimination, visions etc. have many uses — but very little use for those who have no discrimination or understanding.

Visions and voices have their place when they are the genuine visions and the true voices. Naturally, they are not the realisations but only a step on the way and one has not to get shut up in them or take all as of value.

People who have the occult faculty always tend to give too large a place to it.

I suppose this capacity for visions and voices is by no means a sign of progress in itself.

What do you mean by progress? The Mother spent many years entering the occult worlds and learning all that was to be learnt there. All that time she was making no progress? She sees things always when she goes into trance. Her capacity is a thing of no value? Because a great number of people don’t know how to use these faculties or misuse them or give them excessive value or nourish their ego by them, does it follow that these faculties themselves have no Yogic use or value?

Even by itself it [the capacity for visions and voices] is a progress in the development of the consciousness, though it may not carry with it any spiritualisation of the nature.

I do not know what you mean by practical sadhana. If one develops the occult faculty and the occult experience and knowledge, these things can be of great use, therefore practical. In themselves they are a part of opening of the inner consciousness and also help to open it further — though they are not indispensable for that.

It is difficult to develop the faculty of hearing inner voices, whereas all can develop the consciousness for their guidance. Again, those voices are often dangerous, aren’t they?

There are plenty of difficulties and dangers in the consciousness also. There is only one reliable inner voice, the psychic.

X and Y had no voices but they justified the wrong things their consciousness suggested to them and indulged them as if they were divine things (Y) or very high and noble ideas (X). So what is the difference?

I see now that my ideas about the occult faculty are elementary. But if it has such good uses, then why did Sri Raman Maharshi discourage his disciples from having any dealings with it?

He discouraged his disciples because his aim was the realisation of the inner Self and the intuition — in other words the fullness of the spiritual Mind — visions and voices belong to the inner occult sense, therefore he did not want them to lay stress on it. I also discourage some from having any dealing with visions and voices because I see that they are being misled or in danger of being misled by false visions and false voices. That does not mean that visions and voices have no value.

The visions and voices can help one to receive constant directions from you or the Mother. Well, why not open me to them? I shall then not need to trouble you with all sorts of questions. With this faculty you will always appear before me and talk to me.

I shall have first to be sure that you will make the right use of them. I prefer that you should get higher discrimination and knowledge first.

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It is not the personality, the character that is of the first importance in rebirth — it is the psychic being who stands behind the evolution of the nature and evolves with it.