People follow different spiritual paths and practices and tend to identify with their own path and the spiritual experiences and realisations that come with it. In some cases, they believe that the experience they have is the preeminent or real experience while others are less authentic. In addition, many people have a number of different types of experiences, all classified in the general term as ‘spiritual experiences’ but they remain confused and do not know what they mean or what significance or role they are intended to have. Even more people have various types of experiences which they simply do not comprehend nor identify as spiritual experiences, and this leads to disorientation or even a feeling that there is something wrong or uncanny taking place. Guidance about the nature of such experiences, the role they play in the growth of consciousness and recognition of one’s own purpose in life, can go a long way toward bringing these experiences out into the open and allowing people to gain confidence in the way forward in their lives.
Sri Aurobindo has taken the time to distinguish between different types of experiences, has shown the foundation and basis of each one and recognises that each is important as part of the integral growth of the being and the widest and most comprehensive spiritual growth. And it is not just the specifics of one path that lead to this variety of experience, but even within one individual’s life, there come different stages and needs and openings to the spiritual force that can bring forward different experiences.
Sri Aurobindo observes: “The Jiva is realised as the individual Self, Atman, the central being above the Nature, calm, untouched by the movements of Nature, but supporting their evolution though not involved in it. Through this realisation silence, freedom, wideness, mastery, purity, a sense of universality in the individual as one centre of this divine universality become the normal experience. The psychic is realised as the Purusha behind the heart. It is not universalised like the Jivatman, but is the individual soul supporting from its place behind the heart-centre the mental, vital, physical, psychic evolution of the being in Nature. Its realisation brings bhakti, self-giving, surrender, turning of all the movements Godward, discrimination and choice of all that belongs to the Divine Truth, Good, Beauty, rejection of all that is false, evil, ugly, discordant, union through love and sympathy with all existence, openness to the Truth of the Self and the Divine.”
Sri Aurobindo, Integral Yoga: Sri Aurobindo’s Teaching and Method of Practice, Planes of Consciousness and Parts of the Being, pp. 56-61
Spiritual path – journey from to the inner psychic being