Putting aside the ‘allurement factor’ of having some kind of special, unusual, extraordinary type of experience, which is clearly a way to feed the ego-personality, we come to the actual benefits of such experiences. There are cases where an individual is leading a perfectly ordinary life in the world, and something extraordinary happens to him, which changes the entire future direction and focus of his life. We can look at the experience of Saul on the road to Damascus, recounted in the Bible. We also see some individuals have what is called a ‘near death experience’ which transforms their view of life and they come back with a new focus and mission, such as the case of Dannion Brinkley, who was struck by lightning and who returned to life to become the author of Saved by the Light, and subsequently founder of an organization called Compassion in Action. His prior life was radically different from what he subsequently took up. in the book Called to Heal, one of the chapters deals with an African healer who tried to avoid taking up the the role of Shamanic healer, and tried to live an ordinary life, but continued experiences and signs made it clear to her that she was intended for the healing path so eventually began to follow. thus, an extraordinary experience can bring an individual to consciously take up the spiritual life. It is of course not something that occurs without precedent, such as prior life development of the spiritual interest or practice, as the Divine Force works within the framework of His own manifestation process, even if we cannot always see or understand the background or the links to past development due to our mental framework and ignorance of the movement of the soul through birth and death, and the evolutionary development through time.

Additionally, spiritual experiences may come while one is treading the path, perhaps to open up a new capacity to work on the transformation of the nature, perhaps to encourage and support the faith of the individual, to help him endure and persevere. Sometimes these experiences may provide an insight that helps them work through particular inner or outer limitations or obstacles they are facing.

A disciple inquires: “Then what’s the use of having experiences?”

The Mother writes: “It is not a question of ‘use’. Not everything in the world is utilitarian. It’s like that because it’s like that. Yes, you can say ‘what’s the use’ to someone who is exclusively preoccupied with having experiences, who has no inner intellectual and spiritual preparation, and who through some sort of fantasy would like to have experiences. You could say to him, ‘Yes, what’s the use? It is not this that will lead you to the spiritual life. It can help you if you have taken up the path. And if you have taken up the path in all sincerity, well, they will come to the extent that they are useful. But to seek experience for experience’s sake is altogether useless.’ And you can tell people, ‘What’s the good? It is a fantasy, a fantasy on another plane; it is another kind of desire, but it is a desire.’

Sri Aurobindo and the Mother, Growing Within: The Psychology of Inner Development, Chapter VII Growth of Consciousness, Inner Experiences, pp. 127-128

Author's Bio: 

Santosh has been studying Sri Aurobindo's writings since 1971 and has a daily blog at http://sriaurobindostudies.wordpress.com and podcast at https://anchor.fm/santosh-krinsky 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.