“This book throws light on the nature of the various powers which we already possess and wield consciously or unconsciously, as well as latest powers within us which us which are as yet more or less undeveloped…
“passages contained in the book have been selected so as to make the book of interest to the general reader as well as to the spiritual seeker.”
The term “power” is often used to mean force of influence – political, financial or social. Such external power is to be distinguished from the powers within spoken of in this book, consisting of abilities, capacities or faculties which are inherent in the human constitution, though more or less dormant or undeveloped.
Powers of Consciousness
According to the Vedantic view, the fundamental reality constituting the human being as well as the universe is Chit or Consciousness. All energy, dynamism or power comes from consciousness, for, as Sri Aurobindo sates, “Absolute consciousness is in its nature absolute power; the nature of Chit is Shakti [Force ].” Therefore, Chit is called also Chit-Shakti, Consciousness-Force. Thus the different form of consciousness-physical, vital, mental, subliminal, subconscient and superconscient- are different formulations of powers of consciousness.. In our ordinary state of consciousness we identify ourselves with our separate individual self called the ego, and seek power for the aggrandisement of ego. But from a deeper point of view, all the endeavours of the ego are motivated unconsciously by the urge to discover one’s true Self and its powers of consciousness.
Two types of latent powers may be distinguished. There are powers within us that are yet unevolved and for the most part unsuspected, if not disbelieved, such as clairvoyance, clairaudience, telepathy and other occult powers that we already possess and use but are latent in the sense of existing in quite a rudimentary and or undeveloped form. We do not regard these latter as “powers” because there seems to be nothing extraordinary about them. Such are the powers of thought, imagination,, will, concentration, intuition and the like, which in their present state in most human beings are quite undeveloped in relation to what they could be at their highest potential. What we see in a genius is simply the flowering of powers which are either undeveloped or totally latent in us. As the Mother remarks, “There is a genius within everyone of us”.
The possibility of developing one’s potential to a remarkable degree exists also with physical powers and abilities pertaining to bogy. An Olympic athlete has simply developed abilities which are present in some degree in everyone. The Mother gives example (pp. 7-8) of how even our sensory abilities, such as sight and hearing, can do heightened to a miraculous degree, and remarks, “We can do infinitely more than we actually do”.
When people think of latent powers, especially in the East, they often think of occult powers mentioned a little earlier.
There are different attitudes both in the West and the East towards such powers. In the West, where such powers are generally called “psychic abilities” , the majority of people look upon them with scepticism, attributing belief in them to credulity and gullibility. However, a growing number of Westerners do believe in the veracity of abilities claimed by the “psychics”, such as the ability to obtain information through extrasensory perception, to affect and persons from a distance, to heal by invisible means and the like. Despite their erratic nature, such abilities have been sporadically employed in numerous fields, including, police work, agriculture, archaeology and many others.
Psychiatrists tent to look upon persons who apparently possess psychic powers as abnormal, that is, suffering from a psychiatric disorder. Dr. Judith Orloff, a psychiatrist in Los Angeles and author of Second Sight (Thomas Moore, 1997) writes that she displayed paranormal abilities since the age of nine, but for years refrained from speaking about them because her mother and others around showed no understanding of these abilities and gave her the feeling she was abnormal. It was only when, after an out-of-body experience, she was seen at an institute for ESO that she learnt that she was gifted rather than psychiatrically ill. According to her estimate, perhaps based mainly on her own practice of psychiatry, about twenty-five percent of those who seek psychiatric help and are diagnosed as suffering from psychosis are in fact psychic rather than psychotic.
In the East, most people have tended to consider supernormal powers, or Siddhis (perfections)as they are called in India, to be marks of spiritual attainment. However, spiritual teachers of a high order have regarded occult powers as inferior and unrelated to spiritual attainment. One who seeks occult powers, remarked Ramakrishana, is like someone who being offered a boon by a king asks for a pumpkin. Some even hold that on the spiritual path one must desist not only form seeking occult powers but also from using them if tone has acquired them. Regarding such an attitude, Sri Aurobindo writes:
“The idea that yogins do not or ought not to use these powers [having consciousness of things at a distance and intervening] I regard as an ascetic superstition. I believed that all yogins who have these powers do use them whenever they find that they are called from within to do so. They may refrain if they think the use in a particular case is contrary to the Divine Will or see that preventing one evil may be opening the door to a worse or for any other valid reason, but not from any general prohibitory rule. What is forbidden to everyone with a strong spiritual sense is to be a miracle- monger performing extraordinary things for show, for gain, for fame, out of vanity or pride.’
Occultism in Daily Life
Sri Aurobindo defines occultism as “the knowledge and right use of the hidden forces of Nature …-especially the forces of the subtle physical and surpraphysicl planes.” As the Mother points out (p.17), in a way, everyone practices occultism with- out knowing it because everyone uses the powers of thought and imagination which are in fact occult or hidden but which produce visible effects on oneself and others. The effects produced by our ordinary thought and imagination are meagre compared to what they could be if the powers were developed through training. In fact, most people are not even aware of the effects brought about by thought and imagination on our bodies and our external lives. Therefore these powers are often used in ways which are detrimental to us and others. An important step in developing the powers within us is to become more conscious of the powers we already possess and use as also of the effects they are producing in our daily lives, so that we may learn to use them more deliberately and beneficially.
Power from Within and Without
Power can be derived from external things or from our own being. For example, power for fighting illness can come from the use of external means such as medicines, or it can be summoned from within in the body’s innate power of resistance. Until now, humanity in its efforts for gaining more and more power has endeavored to obtain power in different areas predominantly from without through technological and scientific development. Development of the powers within us has received far less attention, on that internal power has not only lagged far behind external power but has also deteriorated in some respects. Thus whereas great strides have been made in combating disease with the aid of external means, namely more powerful drugs and more advanced technology, there is an increasing prevalence of diseases related to the body’s own immune system, such as cancer, arthritis , AIDS and others, indicating a deterioration of the body’s own natural mechanisms of healing.
Apropos of the decrease in personal power that has resulted with the increase in technology, Joseph C. Pierce writes in his book, The Bond of Power (Dutton,1981):
“We have long spoken of our technological devices as ‘extensions’ of our personal power…. In practice, though, every technological achievement really undermines, erodes, even replaces in one way or another, our ability it ‘extends and enhances’.”
As an example, Pierce states that whereas we have extended our powers of aided vision through technological devices such as the telescope and the microscope, our own visual power has deteriorated. Thus, in Texas, in 1900, about twelve percent of children at the age of eight had short-sightedness In 1962, even at the age of six, approximately eighty percent of the children were found to have short-sightedness.
One of the signs of the dawning of the New Age-adumbrated by Sri Aurobindo and others-is that more and more people are seeking the development of powers within as evidenced by the emergence of human Potential Movement, training course for the enhancement of sensory and paranormal abilities, devices for expansion of consciousness (trying to developed the inside from outside!) and the increasing popularity of meditation and other spiritual practices.
This book throws light on the nature of the various powers which we already possess and wield consciously or unconsciously, as well as latent powers within us which are as yet more or less undeveloped.
It should be noted that passages from the works of the Mother consist of talks given by her to the children the Ashram, generally in answering questions put to her by the children.
Passages contained in the book have been selected so as to make the book of interest to the general reader as well as to the spiritual seeker.
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