For the most part, people live on the surface of their being, and do not see into the occult or hidden beings and forces that exist and act upon them, unseen, invisible and essentially unregarded. Many things that occur in the world are hard to explain without an understanding of the occult forces at work. Western medicine made a great progress when it finally opened up to the action of invisible entities and forces that are causative factors in disease. Consider that the widespread and deadly disease we call malaria was originally thought to be caused by the bad air in certain locales, hence the name ‘malaria’ or “bad air”. In fact, Western medicine was able to identify that malaria is actually caused by a single-cell parasite called ‘Plasmodium’ which is transmitted through the bite of certain mosquitoes. Once the vector and the cause were understood, invisible to the normal surface vision, steps could be taken to mitigate the spread of the disease through vector control, etc. As long as the cause of malaria was unknown it was subject to the development of superstition based on unwarranted assumptions, based on what we take for knowledge when we are limited to the surface view of things.

This is not an isolated example, but an indicator of how things occur in all areas of our lives, including in our religious institutions and practices. We do not see the forces and beings that actually either erect, or at least take advantage of, the institutions within which we bring and express our fears, regrets, desires, and impulsions. These vital beings are also very conscious about where and how they can best feed off of human emotions and energetic expression, and thus, they tend to congregate and in some cases even actively manage what takes place in these places of worship.

This is not restricted to any specific religion, but is more generally operative, just as sincere consecration and devotion is not limited to any one religion. The depth of the individual sincerity is a measure of both the type of protection the individual has when entering into such a vitally charged environment, and the amount and type of progress in his spiritual seeking that he can obtain, even when he undertakes his practices in what might be seen as a ‘compromised’ environment.

The Mother observes: “I am sorry, but that’s how it is. I tell you I have deliberately tried this experiment a little everywhere. Maybe I found some very tiny places, like a tiny village church at times, where there was a very quiet little spot for meditation, very still, very silent, where there was some aspiration; but this was so rare! I have seen the beautiful churches of Italy, magnificent places; they were full of these vital beings and full of terror. I remember painting in a basilica of Venice, and while I was working, in the confessional a priest was hearing the confession of a poor woman. Well, it was truly a frightful sight! I don’t know what the priest was like, what his character was, he could not be seen — you know, don’t you? that they are not seen, they are shut up in a box and receive the confession through a grille. There was such a dark and sucking power over him, and that poor woman was in such a state of fearful terror that it was truly painful to see it. And all these people believe this is something holy! But is is a web of the hostile vital forces which use all this to feed upon. Besides, in the invisible world hardly any beings love to be worshipped, except those of the vital. These, as I said, are quite pleased by it. And then, it gives them importance. They are puffed up with pride and feel very happy, and when they can get a herd of people to worship them they are quite satisfied….”

Sri Aurobindo and the Mother, The Hidden Forces of Life, Ch. 5 Occult Forces, pp. 118-119

Author's Bio: 

Santosh has been studying Sri Aurobindo's writings since 1971 and has a daily blog at and podcast located at
He is author of 20 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.
Video presentations, interviews and podcast episodes are all available on the YouTube Channel
More information about Sri Aurobindo can be found at
The US editions and links to e-book editions of Sri Aurobindo’s writings can be found at Lotus Press