Letters of Sri Aurobindo
Letter ID: 154
Sri Aurobindo — Roy, Dilip Kumar
September 2, 1931
It is certainly possible to have consciousness of things going on at a distance and to intervene – you will hear from the Mother one or two instances from her own experience. In this instance we had no such knowledge of the actual accident. When Bhavashankar was about to return to Bengal, both the Mother and myself became aware, independently, of a danger of death overhanging him – I myself saw it as connected with the giddiness from which he suffered, but I did not look farther. If this extraordinary combination of the giddiness with the boat and the river had been foreseen by us, the accident itself would not have happened, I think; for against something specific one can always put a special force which in most cases of the kind prevents it from happening,– unless indeed it is a case of irresistible predestination, utkaṭa karma, as the astrologers call it. Actually, we did as we always do when we see anything of the kind, we put a strong screen of protection around him. A general protection of that kind is not always unfailing, because the person may push it away from him or go out of its circle by some thought or act of his own; but usually we have found it effective. In this case there were two persons, Maya and your grand-uncle, who were open to the Mother and called her in the moment of danger; and Bhavashankar himself had been at least touched. To that I attribute their escape.
The idea that true yogins do not or ought not to use such powers, I regard as an ascetic superstition. I believe that all yogins who have these powers do use them whenever they find that they are called on from within to do so. They may refrain if they think the use in a particular case is contrary to the Divine Will or see that preventing one evil may be opening the door to worse or for any other valid reason, or simply because it is outside the scope of their action, but not from any general prohibitory rule. What is forbidden to anyone with a strong spiritual sense is to be a miracle-monger, performing extraordinary things for show, for gain, for fame, out of vanity or pride. It is forbidden to use powers from mere vital motives, to make an Asuric ostentation of them or to turn them into a support for arrogance, conceit, ambition or any other of the amiable weaknesses to which human nature is prone. It is because half-baked yogins so often fall into these traps of the hostile forces that the use of yogic powers is sometimes discouraged as harmful to the user. But it is mostly people who live much in the vital that so fall; with a strong and free and calm mind and a psychic awake and alive, such pettinesses are not likely to occur. As for those who can live in the true Divine Consciousness, certain powers are not “powers” at all in that sense, not, that is to say, supernatural or abnormal, but rather their normal way of seeing and acting, part of the consciousness – and how can they be forbidden or refuse to act according to their consciousness and its nature?
I suppose I have had myself an even more completely European education than you, and I have had too my period of agnostic denial, but from the moment I looked at these things I could never take the attitude of doubt and disbelief which was for so long fashionable in Europe. Abnormal, otherwise supraphysical experiences and powers, occult or yogic, have always seemed to me something perfectly natural and credible. Consciousness in its very nature could not be limited by the ordinary physical human-animal consciousness; it must have other ranges. Yogic or occult powers are no more supernatural or incredible than is supernatural or incredible the power to write a great poem or compose great music. Few people can do it, as things are,– not even one in a million; for poetry and music come from the inner being and to write or to compose true and great things one has to have the passage clear between the outer mind and something in the inner being. That is why you got the poetic power as soon as you began Yoga,– yogic force made the passage clear. It is the same with yogic consciousness and its powers; the thing is to get the passage clear,– for they are already there within you. Of course, the first thing is to believe, aspire and, with the true urge within, make the endeavour.
I do not know why you should deduce from my not yet having written about your experiences the strange conclusion that they were worth nothing. It is rather from the opposite cause that it is not written, because I considered a full explanation not only of the experience itself but of what lay behind it to be demanded by its importance, and I have had time only for short things that could be written off easily on the spur of the moment. However, since my silence is acting as a damper upon you, the best thing will be for me to explain the experience first and comment on the rationale of it afterwards. I told you from the first that it was of great importance and value, and I repeat it now, and add that when you have had an experience like that, you must accept it as a sign of destiny from within you and ought not to be discouraged even if it takes time for it to return or enlarge its scope.
P.S. The explanation of your experience is already half-written, so with good luck you may expect it on Friday or Saturday at the latest.