In his lectures on Raja Yoga, in the chapter titled “Powers”, Swami Vivekananda explains how various occult powers arise or can be developed. The process is an extension of the preceding efforts of purification, quieting of the ‘mind stuff’ and then gaining the ability to fix the concentration on a particular object. If one turns to the focus on development of specific powers, this form of concentrated effort will eventually bear fruit. If done with serious intent and discipline, the power eventually can be utilized at will. The question of course arises, whether this focus on attaining such powers is not actually distracting for the spiritual seeker. It is one thing for powers to arise spontaneously, or to be naturally developed in an individual, and it is quite another to devote serious time, attention and focus to the acquisition of these powers. Even when such powers arise naturally, the spiritual seeker has to evaluate to what extent they aid in the process of the sadhana and to what extent they are either a distraction, or are simply feeding the ego-personality.

Obviously as a new expression of consciousness takes hold, as humanity evolves beyond the mental level as its highest expression, one could expect that this new level of consciousness naturally includes certain powers of understanding, perception and action that are not available to the general mental-vital-physical evolution within which we currently live and act. As these powers then come into play and become normalized, they will not obviously require the kind of effort needed in a self-exceeding of the current level of consciousness, and they will be part of a new framework of living. In the meantime, as the spiritual discipline proceeds, and the seeker begins to have experiences of openings and descents of intermediate stages of development, there may come glimpses and expressions of certain powers, which can be experienced, understood, and not turned into an object of desire.

Certainly the idea of creating either fame or fortune from the use of these powers holds its dangers for the seeker, and would be highly discouraged as a result. The Mother describes the consequences of such a direction in greater depth.

The Mother notes: “Besides, one thing is certain: those who do not have these faculties and want to acquire them, for instance the capacity of foresight, foreseeing what is going to come, which is analogous to prophecy, the capacity to know events before they happen — as I said, there are people who have this spontaneously because of some peculiarity from birth — and if one wants to acquire them himself, that is to say, enter into contact with regions where these things can be seen — and not by chance or accidentally or without having any control over the thing, but on the contrary to see them at will — then this indeed means a formidable work. And that is why some people attach a very great value to these things. But they have some value only when they are under one’s control, done at will and the result of an inner discipline. In this case, yes, because this proves you have entered into contact with a certain region where it is difficult to enter consciously, at will and permanently. It is very difficult, it requires much development. And then, for you to be sure of what you have seen… because I haven’t told you that with these people who make a profession of their clairvoyance, it becomes… I said ‘commercialism’, but it is worse than that, you know, it is a fraud! When they do not see anything, they invent. When they make a profession of it, and people come to ask them something about the future, and they can see nothing at all, they are obliged to invent something, otherwise they would lose their reputation and their clientele. So this becomes a deception, you see, a falsehood, fraud or falsification.”

Sri Aurobindo and the Mother, Growing Within: The Psychology of Inner Development, Chapter VII Growth of Consciousness, Inner Experiences, pp. 129-130

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 17 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.