Seeking visions has been a part of what has been called a “spiritual journey” by countless individuals around the world throughout history and in all religious and spiritual traditions. The “vision quest” is a well known and accepted activity among seekers. Christian mystics, for instance, chose to go out to the desert or into a monastic order to focus on their religious life and seek for a vision. Native Americans would go out to a sacred spot for a vision, to discover one’s totem animal and path forward. South American shamanic tradition used various plant medicines to induce the vision, whether it was peyote, psilocybin, ayahuasca or other entheogenic substances. Various sects of yoga practitioners in India used cannabis in concentrated forms for similar purposes. The Middle East was known for its use of hashish as a means of gaining a vision. Whether aided by plant medicine, or achieved through various forms of yogic development or practices, the vision has been a sought-after and coveted experience for those who chose to go inwards and seek a real significance to their lives.
Sri Aurobindo acknowledges the value and role of visions for the seeker, while distinguishing the source of visions and the role they play from the spiritual focus that he sets as the primary importance for the seeker in the integral yoga.
Sri Aurobindo observes: “Visions do not come from the spiritual plane — they come from the subtle physical, the vital, the mental, the psychic or from the planes above the Mind. What comes from the spiritual plane are experiences of the Divine, e.g. the experience of self everywhere, of the Divine in all, etc.”
“All visions have a significance of one kind or another. This power of vision is very important for the yoga and should not be rejected although it is not the most important thing — for the most important thing is the change of the consciousness. All other powers like this of vision should be developed without attachment as parts and aids of the yoga.”
Sri Aurobindo, Integral Yoga: Sri Aurobindo’s Teaching and Method of Practice, Chapter 7, Experiences and Realisations, Supraphysical Vision, Audition, Sensation, pp. 189-193