The Development and Use of Occult Powers and the Spiritual Quest

The lure of occult powers represents one of the temptations to be faced by the spiritual seeker who begins to access the inner and higher realms of consciousness. These powers may be developed through systematic efforts, following the protocols and laws of action under which these powers exist. Alternatvely, they may develop spontaneously as the spiritual seeking progresses.

It is important for the seeker to reflect upon and decide upon the goal of his efforts. There are many who consider themselves to be occult practitioners and who consciously strive to develop and hold various powers of action. This is similar to those scientists who work to develop the occult powers of gravitation, the electro-magnetic spectrum and the secrets of the atom and of biology, in their own fields. In each case, occult forces are studied, understood and applications of them devised to deliver power, whether inner mental, vital or physical powers, or external powers based on unseen, but nevertheless real, forces at work in the creation.

Those who seek spiritual development, liberation, enlightenment or transformation need to be clear about the right place and use of these powers, if and when they manifest during the process. Traditional yogas would eschew the use of any of these powers as being pure distractions, but in the integral yoga of Sri Aurobindo, they represent powers that can, and do, aid in the transformation of the outer life, as long as they do not take over the focus or the direction followed by the seeker and are kept in their proper role when it comes time to act to carry out the spiritual transformative actions in the world.

Sri Aurobindo writes: “The stumbling-block of X was ambition, pride, vanity — the desire to be a big yogi with occult powers. To try to bring down occult powers into an unpurified mind, heart and body — well, you can do it if you want to dance on the edge of a precipice. Or you can do it if your aim is not to be spiritual but to be an occultist, for then you can follow the necessary methods and get the help of the occult powers. On the other hand, the true occult spiritual forces and mysteries can be called down or can come down without calling, but this must be made secondary to the one true thing, the seeking for the Divine, and if it is part of the Divine plan in you. Occult powers can only be for the spiritual man an instrumentation of the Divine Power that uses him: they cannot be made the aim or an aim of his sadhana.”

Sri Aurobindo, Integral Yoga: Sri Aurobindo’s Teaching and Method of Practice, Chapter 7, Experiences and Realisations, Supraphysical Vision, Audition, Sensation, pp. 189-193

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