The vital nature is always interested in, even fixated on, the idea of having dramatic ‘spiritual experiences’. These experiences can open the eyes of the seeker to a wider reality, and can help reorient the direction of the life, sometimes in unusual or unexpected ways. There are many instances where an individual has a realisation, sometimes based on a near death experience or a vision quest of some sort, and recognises the futility of the old habits of his life and strikes out in a totally new direction. The New Testament of the Bible relates the instance of Saul on the road to Damascus and his conversion to become a dedicated disciple of Jesus. There is the example of Dannion Brinkley who was struck by lightning, was declared clinically dead and returned with a new insight and mission in life. The experience is meant to awaken the awareness not to be something that becomes a regular event! Once that re-directing process has been accomplished, in many cases, the active ‘headline’ experience recedes, and the work of taking up and addressing all the habitual processes of mind, life, body, the ego, the relation to the outer life begins. The experience is by its very nature a subjective event, not subject to proof or validation, other than that similar experiences have occurred for numerous people, throughout time and all across the world, to show that there is a reality to it. The change, the transformative effort comes as the individual takes up the challenge posed by the experience and begins to work on the human nature, its instruments, its opportunities and its limitations, and creates a process of moving from the old methods to the new ones indicated by the divine Force as it descends and takes charge of the being.

Sri Aurobindo briefly outlines 4 different methods that this change process can utilize. The individual must be prepared to move beyond the vital excitement of the major spiritual experience to carry out the day to day efforts needed to see, know, live and act from a new standpoint and new basis.

Sri Aurobindo notes: “The difficulty of the yoga is not in getting experiences or a subjective realisation of the Truth; it is in objectivising the Truth, that is in making the outer consciousness down to the material an expression of the inner Truth. So long as that is not done the attacks of the lower Nature can always intervene.”

“Experiences and descents are very good for preparation, but change of the consciousness is the thing wanted — it is the proof that the experiences and descents have had an effect. Descents of peace are good, but an increasingly stable quietude and silence of the mind is something more valuable. When that is there, then other things can come — usually one at a time, light or strength and force or knowledge or Ananda. it is not necessary to go on forever having always the same preparatory experiences — a time comes when the consciousness begins to take a new poise and another state.”

“Merely to have experiences of the higher consciousness will not change the nature. Either the higher consciousness has to make a dynamic descent into the whole being and change it; or it must establish itself in the inner being down to the inner physical so that the latter feels itself separate from the outer and is able to act freely upon it; or the psychic must come forward and change the nature; or the inner will must awake and force the nature to change. These are the four ways in which change can be brought about.”

Sri Aurobindo, Integral Yoga: Sri Aurobindo’s Teaching and Method of Practice, Chapter 9, Transformation of the Nature, Experiences and Transformation, pp. 239-240

Author's Bio: 

Santosh has been studying Sri Aurobindo's writings since 1971 and has a daily blog at and podcast at He is author of 16 books and is editor-in-chief at Lotus Press. He is president of Institute for Wholistic Education, a non-profit focused on integrating spirituality into daily life.