The Internal Vision of the Enlightened Seer That Goes Beyond Mentality

The sage, the seer, the Rishi, the visionary poet, the realized Soul–these are statuses of consciousness that are recognized, in traditions throughout the world, as consisting of something other and greater than the operation of the intellect and the faculties of reason. The awareness that turns a man into a seer is the “inner vision”, which is, as Sri Aurobindo explains “…a sort of light in the soul by which things unseen become as evident and real to it–to the soul and not merely to the intellect–as do things seen to the physical eye.”

Sri Aurobindo explains this inner sight by first describing the process of knowing that occurs using the physical senses. “In the physical world there are always two forms of knowledge, the direct and the indirect…, of that which is present to the eyes, and …, of that which is beyond our vision. When the object is beyond our vision, we are necessarily obliged to arrive at an idea of it by inference, imagination, analogy, by hearing the descriptions of others who have seen it or by studying pictorial or other representations of it if these are available. By putting together all these aids we can indeed arrive at a more or less adequate idea or suggestive image of the object, but we do not realise the thing itself; it is not yet to us the grasped reality, but only our conceptual representation of a reality. But once we have seen it with the eyes,–for no other sense is adequate,–we possess, we realise; it is there secure in our satisfied being, part of ourselves in knowledge.”

A similar process occurs with respect to the inward vision and the knowledge of the Self. “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 realized 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,…, 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. After that revelation, whatever fadings of the light, whatever periods of darkness may afflict the soul, it can never irretrievably lose what it has once held. The experience is inevitably renewed and must become more frequent until it is constant; when and how soon depends on the devotion and persistence with which we insist on the path and besiege by our will or our love the hidden Deity.”

The Isha Upanishad states: “The face of Truth is covered with a brilliant golden lid; that do thou remove, O Fosterer, for the law of the Truth, for sight. (Sri Aurobindo, The Upanishads, Isha Upanishad, Sloka 15, pg 23)

Sri Aurobindo, The Synthesis of Yoga, Part Two: The Yoga of Integral Knowledge, Chapter 2, The Status of Knowledge, pp. 290-291