Speaking About One’s Spiritual Experiences

An individual has a peak spiritual experience, or something unusual takes place in his inner life about which he has no prior knowledge or understanding. This creates an impulse to speak of the experience to other people. There can be a number of motivations for talking about an inner experience with others. In some cases, there is a genuine confusion and an attempt to understand ‘what happened?’ . In other cases, the vital ego latches onto the experience and uses it to try to increase one’s status and recognition, making it seem like the individual is advanced in spirituality. In yet other cases, there is an attempt to gain followers or some form of control or benefit from being a leader in the spiritual seeking.

Speaking of a spiritual experience to someone who has no basis in knowledge is generally not helpful in resolving any confusion involved. Either there is a lack of understanding, or there may actually be explanations given that undermine the faith and benefit of the experience in the inner life. At the same time, converting a spiritual experience into a mental formation that can be expressed to some degree in words uses the energy that was part of the experience, not to solidify and fill out that experience, but to dissipate it through the communication process.

For those seeking status or some external benefit by describing the experience, the situation can actually be worse. The focus on the external benefit and the ego-gratification pulls the focus away from the inner life and spiritual development. The reinforcement of the ego acts as an obstacle to further progress.

There are situation where it can be helpful to describe an experience, a spiritual dream, or an inner event, particularly when the individual has a guide or Guru who is knowledgeable and can aid the seeker in understanding and supporting the spiritual experience and its significance.

Sri Aurobindo observes: “On the whole you are right. Useless conversation which lowers the consciousness or brings back something of a past consciousness is better avoided. Talking about sadhana also comes under the category when it is merely mental discussion of a superficial kind.”

“The Light left you because you spoke of it to someone who was not an adhikari. It is safest not to speak of these experiences except to a Guru or to one who can help you. The passing away of an experience as soon as it is spoken of is a frequent happening and for that reason many yogis make it a rule never to speak of what happens within them, unless it is a thing of the past or a settled realisation that nothing can take away. A settled permanent realisation abides, but these were rather things that come to make possible an opening in the consciousness to something more complete — to prepare it for realisation.”

Sri Aurobindo, Integral Yoga: Sri Aurobindo’s Teaching and Method of Practice, Chapter 11, Human Relationships in Yoga, Talking with Others, pp. 335-338

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