Distinguishing Various Types of Symbolic Visions

As the seeker interacts more with the inner levels of consciousness, there are often various types of visions and symbols which are perceived. These visions, however, are not all from the same source, and do not all carry the same weight or significance. It is another element of the research and growth of understanding that the seeker undergoes, to gain a feel for the meaning of these visions and thus, be able to place the correct emphasis on them, and see what they actually are having as an impact on the consciousness.

Some visions simply provide a transcription of sorts to an experience, translating the experience from its real source and meaning into a representation that the body-life-mind complex can understand. In such an instance the vision may mean something entirely different than the representation. Those who interpret dream symbols are already aware of this type of representational significance of symbols and often are able to assign more or less conventional meanings to such experiences across a large number of human beings. C.G. Jung went so far as to indicate that there was a ‘collective unconscious’ that was a repository of symbols that had a universal meaning for people when they arose in their own subjective awareness.

Other visions represent an active force in the consciousness and, once again, there is a transcription of that force into symbols that the surface being can comprehend. Sri Aurobindo describes the various forms that these dynamic symbols tend to take.

Sri Aurobindo notes: “It depends on the nature of the symbolic vision whether it is merely representative, presenting to the inner vision and nature (even though the outer mind has not the understanding, the inner can receive its effect) the thing symbolised in its figure or whether it is dynamic. The Sun symbol, for instance, is usually dynamic. Again, among the dynamic symbols some may bring simply the influence of the thing symbolised, some indicate what is being done but not yet finished, some a formative experience that visits the consciousness, some a prophecy of something that may or will or is soon about to happen. There are others that are not merely symbols but present actualities seen by the vision in a symbolic figure.”

Sri Aurobindo, Integral Yoga: Sri Aurobindo’s Teaching and Method of Practice, Chapter 7, Experiences and Realisations, Symbols, Lights, Colours, Sounds, pp. 193-196


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