The vital nature revels in having extraordinary experiences that arise as a result of spiritual practice or some type of opening to other planes of being. These experiences support the ego, making the individual feel special, uniquely qualified and selected for spiritual progress, and they are frequently ‘shown off’ to others as a type of spiritual “one-upmanship” and as a sign of authority to exercise influence or power over others.
Spiritual experiences have their role and purpose; yet, in an unprepared vessel, they can create enormous psychological imbalances, emotional or nervous upset and even disruptions to the health and well-being of the physical body.
Sometimes an experience comes on its own, unexpected and unplanned, particularly as the seeker begins to open to the spiritual energies. This type of experience is generally short-lived and gives the seeker faith or confidence in the focus he has decided on for his life. In some cases, the experience may come and totally disrupt the life-plans or career-focus of an individual, such that he heads off in a totally different direction. Yet these are not things that should be sought after for repetition but seen as signs or markers along the way. The longer lasting work is to systematically address and deal with the limitations and weaknesses of human nature and turn the being entirely toward the Divine Presence. This is not accomplished through ‘headline’ experiences, but through solid, day to day efforts done with patience and persistence.
Sri Aurobindo and the Mother emphasize that the long-term need is to create a vessel that is capable of holding the force when it enters the being without either spilling it or breaking down the various elements of the being.
Sri Aurobindo notes: “Do not be over-eager for experiences, for experiences you can always get, having once broken the barrier between the physical mind and the subtle planes. What you have to aspire for most is the improved quality of the recipient consciousness in you, discrimination in the mind, the unattached impersonal Witness look on all that goes on in you and around you, purity in the vital, calm equanimity, enduring patience, absence of pride and the sense of greatness — and more especially, the development of the psychic being in you — surrender, self-giving, psychic humility, devotion. It is a consciousness made up of these things, cast in this mould, that can bear without breaking, stumbling or deviation into error the rush of lights, power and experiences from the supraphysical planes. An entire perfection in these respects is hardly possible until the whole nature from the higher mind to the subconscient physical is made one in the light that is greater than the mind, but a sufficient foundation and a consciousness always self-observant, vigilant and growing in these things is indispensable — for perfect purification is the basis of the perfect Siddhi.”
Sri Aurobindo and the Mother, Growing Within: The Psychology of Inner Development, Chapter IV Growth of Consciousness First Steps and Foundation, pg. 64