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At the Feet of The Mother

Visions: Symbols, Symbolism – The Mother and Sri Aurobindo

Visions are made up of symbols that do not necessarily obtain universal currency. The symbols vary, according to race, tradition and religion.

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

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.


There are all kinds in the experiences of each plane — symbolic forms, figures of suggestion, thought-figures, desire-formations or will-formations, constructions of all kinds, things real and lasting in the plane to which they belong and things fictitious and misleading.

At first when one begins to see, it is quite usual for the more ill-defined and imprecise figures to last longer while those which are successful, complete, precise in detail and outline are apt to be quite momentary and disappear in an instant. It is only when the subtle vision is well developed that the precise and full seeing lasts for a long-time.

It is not, usually, the object that vanishes; it is the consciousness that changes…. This subtle physical vision comes easiest in the moment between light sleep and waking.

When the colours begin to take definite shapes in the visions, it is a sign of some dynamic work of formation in the consciousness; a square, for instance, means that some kind of creation is in process in some field of the being; the square indicates that the creation is to be complete in itself, while the rectangle indicates something partial and preliminary. The waves of colour mean a dynamic rush of forces and the star in such a context indicates the promise of the new being that is to be formed.

It depends on the nature of the symbolic vision whether it is merely representative, presenting to the inner vision and nature (even though the outer mind has not the understanding, the inner can receive its effect) the thing symbolised in its figure or whether it is dynamic.

The Sun symbol, for instance, is usually dynamic. Again, among the dynamic symbols some may bring simply the influence of the thing symbolised, some indicate what is being done but not yet finished, some a formative experience that visits the consciousness, some a prophecy of something that may or will or is soon about to happen.

In interpreting these phenomena you must remember that all depends on the order of things which the colours indicate in any particular case. There is an order of significances in which they indicate various psychological dynamisms, e.g. faith, love, protection, etc. There is another order of significances in which they indicate the aura or the activity of divine beings, Krishna, Mahakali, Radha or other superhuman beings, there is another in which they indicate the aura around objects or living persons — and that does not exhaust the list of possibilities. A certain knowledge, experiences, growing intuition are necessary to perceive in each case the true significance. Observation and exact description are also very necessary….

The blue colour must here be the Krishna light, so it is a creation under the stress of Krishna consciousness. All these are symbols of what is going on in the inner being, in the consciousness behind and the results well up from time to time in the external or surface consciousness in such feelings as the awareness of a softening and opening… devotion, joy, peace, Ananda, etc. When the opening is complete, there is likely to be a more direct consciousness of the working that is going on behind, till it is no longer behind but in the front of the nature.

The light, colours, flowers are always seen when there is a working of the forces within at a certain stage of the sadhana. The light of course indicates an illumination of the consciousness, the colour, the play of forces mental (yellow), physical and vital, but forces making for enlightenment of these parts of the being.

The flowers usually indicate a psychic activity.

The light is often seen in front before the centre of inner vision, mind and will which is between the eyebrows in the forehead.

The light outside means a touch or influence of the force indicated by the light (golden is Truth-light, blue some spiritual force from the upper plane) while the light within means that it has penetrated or is established or frequently active in the nature itself. Light above means a force descending upon the mind, light around a general enveloping influence.

A glow means a subdued but rich light or else a sort of warm exhilaration of a luminous kind.

The sounds of bells and the seeing of lights and colours are signs of the opening of the inner consciousness which brings with it an opening also to sights and sounds of other planes than the physical.

What one sees or hears of the other planes depends on the development of the inner sense….

It depends on the nature of the sounds. Some have a connection (with sadhana), others are merely the sounds of the other planes.

They (subtle sounds connected with sadhana) are the signs of a working going on to prepare something — but as that is a general thing it cannot be said from the sounds themselves what the preparation is.

The gods in the overmental plane have not many heads and arms — this is a vital symbolism, it is not necessary in other planes. This figure may have belonged to the subtle physical plane.

The many-headed or many-armed figures belong usually to the vital plane….

The world you see is in some subtle physical plane where men see the gods according to their own idea and images of them.

It is the vital plane — probably the vital physical. It is mostly there that the beings of the vital world appear with animal heads or features. A human figure with a dog’s face means a very coarse and material sexual energy.

Infinite realities which cannot be limited by these symbolic forms, though they may be somewhat expressed by them; they might be expressed as well by other symbols, and the same symbol may also express many different ideas.

A symbol is the form on one plane that represents a truth of another. For instance, a flag is the symbol of a nation…. But generally all forms are symbols. This body of ours is a symbol of our real being and everything is a symbol of some higher reality. There are different kinds of symbols:

1) Conventional Symbols, such as the Vedic Rishis formed with objects taken from their surroundings. The cow stood for light because the same word ‘go’ meant both ray and cow, and because the cow was their most precious possession which maintained their life and was constantly in danger of being robbed and concealed. But once created, such a symbol becomes alive. The Rishis vitalised it and it became a part of their realisation. It appeared in their visions as an image of spiritual light. The horse also was one of their favourite symbols, and a more easily adaptable one, since its force and energy were quite evident.

2) Life Symbols, such as are not artificially chosen or mentally interpreted in a conscious deliberate way, but derive naturally from our day-to-day life and grow out of the surroundings which condition our normal path of living. To the ancients the mountain was a symbol of the path of yoga, level above level, peak upon peak. A journey, involving the crossing of rivers and the facing of lurking enemies, both animal and human, conveyed a similar idea. Nowadays I dare say we would liken yoga to a motor-ride or a railway-trip.

3) Symbols that have an inherent appositeness and power of their own. Akasha or etheric space is a symbol of the infinite all-pervading eternal Brahman. In any nationality it would convey the same meaning. Also, the Sun stands universally for the Supramental Light, the divine Gnosis.

4) Mental Symbols, instances of which are numbers, alphabets. Once they are accepted, they too become active and may be useful. Thus geometrical figures have been variously interpreted. In my experience the square symbolises the supermind… Of the triangle, too, there are different explanations. In one position it can symbolise the three lower planes, in another the symbol is of the three higher ones: so both can be combined together in a single sign.


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