© Sri Aurobindo Ashram Trust

The Inner Worlds
30 January 1951

In the invisible worlds, are things seen as in the physical world or as in dreams?

We have to agree on what dreams are! There are dreams where you see things so precisely, so concretely that the material world seems rather unreal in comparison. There are dreams like that where things are so intense, so precise, so concrete, so objective and leave you with such a vivid impression that the material world seems rather misty, not very clear, not very distinct. So, if it is a dream like that, yes. But if it is a dream where things clash incoherently, inconsistently with one another, no.

The first step: you must be able to discern the various inner states of being and know for sure: this belongs to the vital, this belongs to the mind, this belongs to the psychic, this belongs to matter. And as I said earlier, there are subdegrees in all that. There is a material vital, a vital vital, a mental vital, a vital under the psychic influence. You must be able to classify things very clearly and not allow any mixtures, any vague confusions in yourself: "Oh, where does this movement come from? What is it?"--indistinct impressions. That is the first step.

Second step: you learn to concentrate in one of these inner states. You choose the one which you feel to be the most alive, the most developed in yourself and you learn to concentrate there. And then you do the same exercises... I wonder whether you remember the exercises you used to do when you were very young in order to walk, to drink, to talk, to hear, to feel. You used to do many exercises. All children do exercises without knowing it, but they do them. So you have to do something on the same lines. You must build up senses and develop them, make them conscious, independent and precise in their perceptions. That is the second stage. It may take time, it may come quickly, it depends on the degree of development of your inner being.

After that--this is only a beginning--after that, you must learn to isolate yourself from all the other parts of the being, to concentrate on the one where you want to have the experience and concentrate in such a way that you come into contact with the corresponding outer world. I don't mean that it is an exteriorisation that leaves your body in a state of coma. No, a very intense concentration is enough, a power to isolate yourself from everything except the place where you are concentrating. And then you come into contact with the corresponding world. You must want that and little by little you learn how to do it. And there you have the exercise required to improve the senses you have gradually developed and give them a field of action. At first, you may be rather lost in this outer world, you won't feel quite at ease. But little by little you will get used to it and start moving about there in the way that is appropriate to each of these worlds.

But if you know beforehand what they are like--the mind is such a magnificent instrument of formation that it can build up a whole experience for you, and unfortunately, it will never be the genuine experience--it will be merely a mental construction. So, normally, when you want to instruct someone about these occult matters, you never tell him what is going to happen, in the beginning. The only thing is that if something happens to him, if he says, "This is what happened to me," you tell him, "Yes, this is correct" or "No, that is not correct." You can help him. But you don't tell him beforehand, "You will go to such and such a place. It will be like that. You will have such and such an experience," etc., for then all these things may happen only because of a well-built mental construction in which you move about with ease. In that case it is really a dream!