The process of the yogic sadhana inevitably begins to shift the consciousness inward and upward, and exposes the seeker to powers, forces and energies that are not easily seen or understood from the standpoint of the external mind and life. Thus, there is what we may call a natural opening to the mental, vital and subtle physical planes that surround and press upon the external manifestation of the universe. An individual may choose to adopt a discipline, such as the process of Samyama as outlined in Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras, to focus and concentrate on a particular aspect and thereby gain true knowledge and connection to it. Patanjali rightfully notes the need for preliminary purificatory developments to avoid being overcome, distracted or misled by the powers that arise.

Sri Aurobindo provides another viewpoint that relies on the shift of standpoint to the soul and its aspiration as the way to avoid the dangers of opening to powers and forces that are not easily understood or withstood by the seeker. The psychic being has a natural and automatic ability to distinguish truth from falsehood if it is allowed to take the primary lead and guide the seeker. The ancient tale of the swan being able to separate the milk from the water is a parable of the soul being able to identify the essential truth from everything else.

Sri Aurobindo observes: “It [the breaking of the veil] comes of itself with the pressure of the sadhana. It can also be brought about by specific concentration and effort. … It is certainly better if the psychic is conscious and active before there is the removing of the veil or screen between the individual and the universal consciousness which comes when the inner being is brought forward in all its wideness. For then there is much less danger of the difficulties of what I have called the Intermediate Zone.”

Sri Aurobindo and the Mother, Growing Within: The Psychology of Inner Development, Chapter VII Growth of Consciousness, Inner Experiences, pg. 137

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.