Thoughtful individuals tend to dismiss the role of omens, dreams, astrology, tea-leaf reading, palmistry, and other “psychic” methods of interpreting past and future, yet these methods continually arise and are given credence by large numbers of people. Is there a truth then that underlies these “sciences” and provides sufficient evidence to assert that there is some value in them? We know that people are hungry for knowledge of the future, and they seek whatever ways they can find that promise them some glimpse of what to expect in their lives; or they seek to learn about something in the past that impacts them, but which remains occult and hidden. It is clear that there is much that is unreal and fantastical about the way many of these methods are applied in today’s world, and for the most part, they do not pass the test of the rational intelligence. However, we cannot dismiss all such methods out of hand just because the vast majority of them turn out to be a combination of sham, wishful thinking and suggestion.
Sri Aurobindo explores these things, and describes both the basis upon which there can be some real information elicited, as well as the limitations that cause so much misinformation to be obtained and disseminated: “Challenged and discredited by the sceptical reason these still persist in attracting our minds and hold their own, supported by desire and credulity and superstition, but also by the frequent though imperfect evidence we get of a certain measure of truth in their pretensions. A higher psychical knowledge shows us that in fact the world is full of many systems of correspondences and indices and that these things, however much misused by the human intelligence, can in their place and under right conditions give us real data of a supraphysical knowledge. It is evident, however, that it is only an intuitive knowledge that can discover and formulate them,–as it was in fact the psychical and intuitive mind that originally formulated these ways of veridical knowledge,– and it will be found in practice that only an intuitive knowledge, not the mere use either of a traditional or a haphazard interpretation or of mechanical rule and formula, can ensure a right employment of these indices. Otherwise, handled by the surface intelligence, they are liable to be converted into a thick jungle of error.”
Sri Aurobindo, The Synthesis of Yoga, Part Four: The Yoga of Self-Perfection, Chapter 25, Towards the Supramental Time Vision , pp. 860-861