The transcription of inner events and experiences into our mental framework will generally utilize symbols, images and personalities which fit into our background, education, and experience, so as to build a link and acceptance through use of familiar images. We frequently find recounted the appearance of Jesus or the Virgin Mary to those who follow the Christian faith, while a Hindu may see Krishna (or any other Deity, Saint or Sage in the various traditional forms of worship), and a Buddhist, Lord Buddha. The insights provided thereby are packaged so as to be acceptable to the seeker’s understanding.

Yet, not every experience of this sort is a transcription. In some cases, there may be a real emanation that carries forward the energy and direction of the being. Some enlightened beings have the ability to project themselves, or create an aura of themselves, into multiple locations to be seen by numerous devotees at one time. The Tibetan yogi, Milarepa, at the time of his departure from his physical body, was reported seen by disciples residing at vast distances from one another, and he presented these disciples a final teaching in his physical being. Others may create an ongoing form or formation that resides active at the subtle physical level, impinging upon and influencing the external world and, in particular, guiding seekers who follow their teachings. These forms may have a tenacity that keeps them active long after the physical lifetime of the individual sage or seer.

At other times there may be a conscious force of being from another plane that acts upon the seeker’s awareness and utilizes a familiar visage or form that meets the seeker’s predisposition and background. This may occur, not only for followers of a specific path, but for someone who has a connection through thought, idea or intuition that matches up with that thought. Many seekers have found that viewing a photograph of the teacher or master, or hearing a recording or watching a video presentation of the teacher, can bring the force carried by that teacher into direct action in their inner life. Thus, one may enter into the ‘atmosphere’ of a Master through study of his work or through other means of relation, and thus open up a receptivity that brings about the form of that teacher in the life of the seeker as a bringer of knowledge, intuition, or an opening of some part of the inner being.

Sri Aurobindo notes: “These things [seeing Buddha, Ramakrishna, Vivekananda, Shankara frequently in vision] are the result of past thoughts and influences. They are of various kinds — sometimes merely thought-forms created by one’s own thought-force to act as a vehicle for some mental realisation — sometimes Powers of different planes that take these forms as a support for their work through the individual, — but sometimes one is actually in communion with that which had the name and form and personality of Buddha or Ramakrishna or Vivekananda or Shankara.”

“It is not necessary to have an element akin to these personalities — a thought, an aspiration, a formation of the mind or vital are enough to create the connection — it is sufficient for a vibration of response anywhere to what these Powers represent.” Sri Aurobindo, Integral Yoga: Sri Aurobindo’s Teaching and Method of Practice, Chapter 7, Experiences and Realisations, Symbols, Lights, Colours, Sounds, pp. 193-196

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 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.