Western Science, Occultism, Magic, The Supernormal and Tantra

Modern science has been largely fixated on understanding and mastering physical forces of the world, and has essentially treated only these physical forces as “real”. For this reason, it largely pushed aside Western occultism, which erred in getting too caught up in the attempt to gain supernormal powers or control, and thereby devolved to a great degree into black or white magic or a type of mysticism that went beyond basis in fact and thus was easily discredited by the methodology of Western science. Western science, however, has its severe limitations by not recognising that in fact there are other and hidden forces than what they can ferret out from the side of physical science, and a too great concentration on this line, without the balancing understanding of deeper principles and forces at work, could create enormous dangers for our very existence. “…if this endeavour succeeded, it might not be without danger for the existence of the human race, even as now are certain other scientific discoveries misused or clumsily used by a humanity mentally and morally unready for the handling of powers so great and perilous; for it would be an artificial control applied without any knowledge of the secret forces which underlie and sustain our existence.” We note that the development of nuclear bombs, one such result of this concentration, even today still threatens all existence on the planet, so Sri Aurobindo’s warning in this regard is well-taken. Other activities such as genetic manipulation or the massive changes we are bringing about to the entire planetary climate are obviously similar human-activity-induced risks.

Sri Aurobindo points out that in Egypt and in the East, occultism took on a more stable basis and thus reached a greater maturity. “this ampler maturity can be seen still intact in the remarkable system of the Tantras; it was not only a many-sided science of the supernormal but supplied the basis of all the occult elements of religion and even developed a great and powerful system of spiritual discipline and self-realisation. For the highest occultism is that which discovers the secret movements and dynamic supernormal possibliities of Mind and Life and Spirit and uses them in their native force or by an applied process for the greater effectivity of our mental, vital and spiritual being.”

Sri Aurobindo, The Life Divine, Book 2, Part 2, Chapter 24, “The Evolution of the Spiritual Man”