Thought has power. Power, however, has its conditions of action. A ‘passing’ thought running through the mind, disappearing as quickly as it enters, does not have the same impact as a concentrated and persistent focus coupled with the gathering of emotional or vital force to accentuate its impact. Similarly, a thought generated more or less mechanically has much less impact overall than one that involves the attention and support of the being. Thus, repetition of a mantra is said to be more effective when the individual focuses on the significance and energy behind the mantra, not just repeating a bunch of syllables by rote. Mantras are also said to be more effective if focused on through silent repetition in the mind rather than externalised, although it must be noted that this would depend on the actual application.

Turning to the question of impact on other people, once again, the issue is not simply having a ‘negative thought’ or a ‘positive thought’ but also looking at the direction, focus, amplitude and energy behind that thought. For the most part, the object of the thought will wind up having anything that is weak simply blocked by their vital sheath and have virtually no perceived impact from that thought. On the other hand, if someone focuses intensely on an individual and projects a stream of concentrated thoughts, they may find that those thoughts are able to break through the vital sheath and have a noticeable impact. This also occurs when someone with a direct relationship projects a thought and energy with it that meets little resistance due to a trusting relationship. And when there is a direct confrontation and a powerful thought-form is projected it may breach the protective sheath. Positive thoughts, in a similar way, will have their effect, or lack thereof, depending on the factors outlined above.

For the spiritual seeker specifically, the need to achieve a stillness or quiet of the ‘mind-stuff’ means that there should be no dwelling or focus on thoughts that arise, whether positive or negative, and thus, with little or no attention, they will have minimal, if any, noticeable impact. To the extent that a seeker has a developed and concentrated power of thought, however, he can project it and impact another person quite substantially. This would be considered one of the powers that can arise through the practice of yoga which must be managed, controlled and qualified by the need of the spiritual development rather than being allowed free reign with all of the potential consequences for all involved.

Sri Aurobindo writes: “Yes, one’s bad thoughts and good thoughts can have a bad or a good effect on others, though they have not always because they are not strong enough — but still that is the tendency. It is therefore always said by those who have this knowledge that we should abstain from bad thoughts of others for this reason. It is true that both kinds of thought come equally to the mind in its ordinary state; but if the mind and mental will are well developed, one can establish a control over one’s thoughts as well as over one’s acts and prevent the bad ones from having their play. But this mental control is not enough for the sadhak. He must attain to a quiet mind and in the silence of the mind receive only the Divine thought-forces or other divine Forces and be their field and instrument.”

Sri Aurobindo, Integral Yoga: Sri Aurobindo’s Teaching and Method of Practice, Chapter 11, Human Relationships in Yoga, Harmony with Others, pp. 339-342

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.