As the spiritual seeker develops the sadhana over time, eventually he is confronted with lights, voices, and energies that come to him. It is not sufficient for him to simply accept that whatever comes is to be seen as valid and supportive of his spiritual aspiration. Spiritual discrimination, the ability to distinguish between the pure and the impure, the higher and the lower, the light and the dark forces is essential.

Sri Aurobindo recommends several possible ways to accomplish this. One way is to work toward the attainment of the witness consciousness separate from the external nature. This witness, uninvolved, separate and free, can view all the reactions of body, life and mind with an impartial view and can thereby see clearly the source and intention of whatever comes before its view.

The other method is to have the soul, the psychic being, come forward and use its sense of purity as a spiritual compass to distinguish the differences. This is not the same as conscience, which is generally based in moral precepts trained into an individual and enforced by a mental understanding, but rather, a deeper ‘knowing’ of the source and energy of what one is experiencing or perceiving.

Sri Aurobindo writes: “Lights are of all kinds, supramental, mental, vital, physical, divine or Asuric — one has to watch, grow in experience and learn to know one from another. The true lights however are by their clarity and beauty not difficult to recognise.”

“The current from above and the current from below are familiar features of yogic experience. It is the energy of the higher Nature and the energy of the lower Nature that become active and turned towards each other and move to meet, one descending, the other ascending. What happens when they meet depends on the sadhak. If his constant will is for the purification of the lower by the higher consciousness, then the meeting results in that and in spiritual progress. If his mind and vital are turbid and clouded, there is a clash, an impure mixture and much disturbance.”

Sri Aurobindo and the Mother, Growing Within: The Psychology of Inner Development, Chapter VII Growth of Consciousness, Inner Experiences, pg. 140-141

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.