Visions: Characteristics, Types – The Mother and Sri Aurobindo

Usually, the vision is the expression of the consciousness in things.

Can hallucinations be compared to visions?

A vision is a perception by the visual organs, of phenomena that really exist in a world corresponding to the organ which sees. For example, to the individual vital plane there corresponds a cosmic vital world…. In this way, one can have visions that are vital, mental, overmental, supramental etc.

Sri Aurobindo tells us that what is termed a hallucination is the reflection in the mind or the physical senses of that which is beyond our mind and our ordinary senses; it is therefore not a direct vision, but a reflected image which is usually not understood or explained. This character of uncertainty produces an impression of unreality and gives rise to all kinds of superstition. This is also why “serious” people, or people who think themselves serious, do not accord any value to this phenomena and call them hallucinations. And yet, in those who are interested in occult phenomena, this type of perception often precedes the emergence of the capacity of vision which may be in course of formation. But you must guard against mistaking this for true vision.

We shall reserve the word “vision” for experiences that occur in awareness and sincerity.

Are there not false visions?

If you narrate something you have not seen, evidently that is a false vision! Also if you embellish, rearrange, change your vision when you report it, this too becomes a false vision.

Is a vision false if the being who appears in the vision pretends to be what it is not?

I don’t think it is this that people mean when they speak of “false visions.” They say “false visions” when they have seen something which they believe does not exist; and the reply I always give them is, “Had you already thought of what you saw? Had you made an effort to see it? Was it in your imagination or your wish? If so, it must be false”… these spirits who pretend to be what they are not in reality, if you believe them, it does not mean that your vision is false, but that the interpretation of your vision is false, that you do not have the necessary discernment to perceive the deception.

The Mother

The visions he has between the eyebrows are not imaginations — they could be so only if he thought them first and his thoughts took shape but as they came independent of his thoughts, they are not visual imagination but vision.

This realm (whose centre is between the eyebrows) is the realm of inner thought, will, vision….

There is an inner vision that opens when one does sadhana and all sorts of images rise before it or pass. Their coming does not depend upon your thought or will; it is real and automatic. Just as your physical eyes see things in the physical world, so the inner eyes see things and images that belong to the other worlds and subtle images of the things of this physical world also.

Visions are of all kinds — some are merely suggestions of what wants to be or is trying to be, some indicate some approach of the thing or movement towards it, some indicate that the thing is being done.

Vision in trance is vision no less than vision in the waking state.

It is only the condition of the recipient consciousness that varies…. But in both it is the inner vision that sees.

The mental visions are meant to bring in the mind — the influence of the things they represent.

In mental vision the images are invented by the mind and are partly true, partly a play of possibilities. Or a mental vision like the vital may be only a suggestion, — that is a formation of some possibility on the mental or vital plane which presents itself to the sadhak in the hope of being accepted and helped to realise itself.

Dreams or visions on the vital plane are usually either:

1) symbolic vital visions;
2) actual occurrences on the vital plane;
3) formations of the vital mind, either of the dreamer or of someone else with whom he has contacts in sleep or of powers or beings of that plane. No great reliance can be put on this kind of experience, even the first having only a relative or suggestive value, while the second and third are often quite misleading.

Everything not physical is seen by an inner vision.

When the inner vision opens, there can come before it all that ever was or is now in the world, even it can open to things that will be hereafter — so there is nothing impossible in seeing thus the figures and the things of the past.

Inner vision is vivid like actual sight, always precise and contains a truth in it.

The inner vision can see objects, but it can see instead the vibration of the forces which act through the object.

Cosmic vision is the seeing of the universal movements — it has nothing to do with the psychic necessarily. It can be in the universal mind, the universal vital, the universal physical or anywhere.

When you see Light, that is vision; when you feel Light entering into you, that is experience; when Light settles in you and brings illumination and knowledge, that is a realisation. But ordinary visions are also called experiences.

We may hear clear and luminous teachings about the Self from philosophers or teachers or from ancient writings; we may by thought, inference, imagination, analogy or by any other available means attempt to form a mental figure or conception of it, we may hold firmly that conception in our mind and fix it by an entire and exclusive concentration; but we have not yet realised it, we have not seen God. It is only when after long and persistent concentration or by other means the veil of the mind is rent or swept aside, only when a flood of light breaks over the awakened mentality, jyotirmaya brahman, and conception gives place to a knowledge-vision in which the Self is as present, real, concrete as a physical object to the physical eye, that we possess in knowledge; for we have seen.

The supramental knowledge or experience by identity carries in it as a result or as a secondary part of itself a supramental vision that needs the support of no image, can concretise what is to the mind abstract and has the character of sight though its object may be the invisible truth of that which has form or the truth of the formless. This vision can come before there is any identity, as a sort of previous emanation of light from it, or may act detached from it as a separate power. The truth or the thing known is then not altogether or not yet one with myself, but an object of my knowledge: but still it is an object subjectively seen in the self or at least, even if it is still farther separated and objectivised to the knower, by the self not through any intermediate process but by a direct inner seizing or a penetrating and enveloping luminous contact of the spiritual consciousness with its object. It is this luminous seizing and contact that is the spiritual vision, dṛṣṭi….

The sense can only give us the superficial image of things and it needs the aim of thought to fill and inform the image, but the spiritual sight is capable of presenting to us the thing in itself and all the truth about it. The seer does not need the aid of thought in its process as a means of knowledge, but only as a means of representation and expression, — thought is to him a lesser power and used for a secondary purpose.

This experience and knowledge by spiritual vision is the second in directness and greatness of the supramental powers. It is something much more near, profound and comprehensive than mental vision, because it derives direct from the knowledge by identity and it has this virtue that we can proceed at once from the vision to the identity, as from the identity to the vision. Thus when the spiritual vision has seen God, Self or Brahman, the soul can next enter into and become one with the Self, God or Brahman.

The supramental vision brings with it a supplementary and completing experience that might be called a spiritual hearing and touch of the truth, — of its essence and through that of its significance, — that is to say, there is a seizing of its movement, vibration, rhythm and a seizing of its close presence and contact and substance. All these powers prepare us to become one with that which has thus grown near to us through knowledge.

This can only be done integrally on or above the supramental level, but at the same time, the spiritual vision can take on mental forms of itself that can help towards this identification each in its own way. A mental intuitive vision or a spiritualised mental sight, a psychic vision, an emotional vision of the heart, a vision in the sense-mind are parts of the yogic experience. If these things are purely mental, then they may but need not be true, for the mind is capable of both truth and error, both of a true and of a false representation. But as the mind becomes intuitivised and supramentalised, these powers are purified and corrected by the more luminous action of the supermind and become themselves forms of a supramental and a true seeing.

Therefore in the development out of the mental ignorance into the supramental knowledge this illumined thought comes to us often, though not always first, to open the way to the vision or else to give first supports to the growing consciousness of identity and its greater knowledge.

Sri Aurobindo

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