The importance of preparation of the nature for the spiritual quest, the development of a solid and unshakable aspiration and devotion, and growth of both an understanding and the ability to distinguish what one is seeing and experiencing, cannot be overstated. As the seeker moves into the inner realms of awareness, he may come into contact with vital worlds that represent forces and beings inimical to the spiritual quest. Such worlds may appear tempting as they lure the seeker with visions of power, wealth, sexual gratification, ego-recognition, or enjoyment in other forms, including offering of occult powers or temptations that offer worldly success and benefit. Some of these worlds take on a glittering and alluring form, and may feature sexual attraction, or intoxicating enjoyment fueled by drugs or alcohol, anything to tempt the seeker and divert him from his path of spiritual growth. Various elements in the world we inhabit are pale reflections of the forces at work in the vital worlds, and we can recognise their attraction to the vital being of man through their popularity here in this world.

In his novel Steppenwolf, Hermann Hesse has his protagonist enter into the world of the ‘magic theater’ which offers the participant access to all kinds of vital thrills, enjoyment and experience. Sex, drugs, alcohol, gratuitous violence, sadism, all arise in the various worlds he illustrates. An individual ensnared in these worlds finds that the initial sense of superficial beauty and attraction turns into a painful suffering in the end.

Hesse, in his novel Siddhartha illustrates a more subtle, but quite as distracting path when the seeker finds himself following desires and going into business, marrying a beautiful woman and then finding that all of the virtues he had developed in his spiritual path had evaporated and he was left struggling and suffering. The good news for Siddhartha in this novel was that this was an illusory experience provided by his teacher to illustrate, in advance, the dangers of succumbing to the vital enticements of the world. Yet there are vital worlds where such enticements are set forth and the unprepared seeker may easily be led astray if not prepared.

In his story The Masque of the Red Death, Edgar Alan Poe shows us the glittering images of a ball with all the vital attractions of glamour, wealth, sex, on display and the participants danced the night away, only to find that they have given themselves into the hands of suffering and death.

Spiritual aspirants throughout history have been confronted with the power and excitement that attends the opening to the vital worlds as they leave the safety and protection of the physical being and journey in the much more fluid and forceful vital realms.

The path of spiritual transformation requires the seeker to maintain balance and remain focused on the goal, without the distractions placed before him either in this world, or in any of the vital worlds that he may come in contact with during his opening of the inner contact and widening of the consciousness.

Sri Aurobindo observes: “What you say about the different vital worlds is no doubt interesting and has a certain truth, but you must remember that these worlds, which are different from the true or divine vital, are full of enchantments and illusions and they present appearances of beauty which allure only to mislead or destroy. They are worlds of ‘Rakshasimaya’ and their heavens are more dangerous than their hells. They have to be known and their powers met when need be but not accepted; our business is with the supramental and with the vital only when it is supramentalised and until then we have always to be on our guard against any lures from that other quarter.” Sri Aurobindo, Integral Yoga: Sri Aurobindo’s Teaching and Method of Practice, Chapter 7, Experiences and Realisations, Experiences in Dream, pp. 196-199

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 editor-in-chief at Lotus Press. He is president of Institute for Wholistic Education, a non-profit focused on integrating spirituality into daily life.