Spiritual seekers are frequently advised not to indulge in or display any ‘powers’ that arise along the way. Patanjali, in his Yoga Sutras, describes a number of powers that can arise naturally through the practice of Yoga, and seekers throughout the ages have validated the reality of powers that develop as the concentration of force, tapasya, effectuates openings in the various energy centres of the being, and as the powers of the vital being and the mind are activated. The primary objection to the exercise of any of these powers has always been the potential for distraction, or for the increase of egoism which then works to neutralize the yogic practice in its essential pursuit. There are similar proscriptions to avoid involvement with money, wealth, as it too tends to corrupt or mislead the practitioner. It is not just aspirants who are confronted by these issues. Seasoned yogis, some who have taken up positions of teaching and guiding others, are subject to the same temptations to use the powers, and some succumb to demonstrating these powers, initially with the idea of providing a real example of the powers of the yogic practice for the disciples, but later, as an expression of vanity and pride.

In his book The Mother, Sri Aurobindo specifically addresses the question of money, as a representative of a universal force, or power, that has been the source of much concern for practitioners everywhere. Some paths enjoin a vow of poverty on the seekers, to help them avoid the distraction, the temptation and the corruption that can occur through seeking after, handling, or applying the money-power.

Sri Aurobindo points out that money is a power of the Divine, which has been frequently misused and corrupted, but which can and should be applied for the divine manifestation in its right form and for the right purpose, with the right intention. In this sense, money stands as a representative of the other powers that develop. The issue is not the ‘use’ or ‘avoidance’ of the powers that arise naturally, but the proper use, at the proper time, for the proper purpose, in the proper way, without intervention of the egoistic personality, and in furtherance of the divine intention in the creation. The real issue then is the inner poise of the practitioner or seeker. It may be noted that Patanjali sets forth preliminary practices intended to remove the action of desire and egoism, the yamas and niyamas, as well as the development of a strong ‘seat’ by which to hold the powers that arise, and the practice of pranayama, to purify the nerves and prepare the energy channels for holding and deploying the forces that enter the being through the deeper practices that follow these preliminary steps. By eliminating the pull of the ego, the promptings of desire, the uprising of vanity and pride, or the desire for power and control over others, the seeker can avoid the pitfalls that arise from those causes, and can then utilize the naturally developing powers of action that are part of the evolving expression of the Divine in the manifested universe.

Just as various powers of vital nature developed as a next stage of the evolution of consciousness out of the material force, and just as the mental powers have developed as a further evolution of consciousness, so one would anticipate and expect further powers to develop as the process continues. These powers are essential elements of the future expression of consciousness in the world, and thus, should not be denied out of hand.

A disciple cites an answer from the Mother in her Questions and Answers 1929 (14 April): “They [powers] have to be used in the same way as they came. They come by union with the Divine. They must be used by the will of the Divine and not for display.’

The Mother notes: “If you use power to show that you possess it, it becomes so full of falsehood and untruth that finally it disappears. But it is not always thus, because as I said at the beginning, when it concerns a power like the power of healing or the power of changing an altogether external thing — of making an unfavourable circumstance favourable, of finding lost objects, all these countless little ‘miracles’ which are found in all religions — it is much more easy and even more effective to do these ‘miracles’ with the help of the entities of the vital world which are not always recommendable, far from it; and then these beings make fun of you. This begins very well, very brilliantly, and usually finishes very badly.”

“I know the story of a man who had a few small powers and indulged in all kinds of so-called ‘spiritualist’ practices, and through repeated exercises he had succeeded in coming into conscious contact with what he called a ‘spirit’. This man was doing business; he was a financier and was even a speculator. His relations with his ‘spirit’ were of a very practical kind! This spirit used to tell him when the stocks and shares would go up and when they would come down; it told him, ‘Sell this’, ‘Buy that’ — it gave him very precise financial particulars. For years he had been listening to his ‘spirit’ and had followed it, and was fantastically successful; he became tremendously rich and naturally boasted a lot about the spirit which ‘guided’ him. He used to tell everybody, ‘You see, it is really worthwhile learning how to put oneself in contact with these spirits.’ But one day he met a man who was a little wiser, who told him, ‘Take care.’ He did not listen to him, he was swollen with his power and ambition. And it was then that his ‘spirit’ gave him a last advice, ‘Now you can become the richest man in the world. Your ambition will be fulfilled. You have only to follow my direction. Do this: put all that you have into this transaction and you will become the richest man in the world.’ The stupid fool did not even realise the trap laid for him: for years he had followed his ‘guide’ and succeeded, so he followed the last direction; and he lost everything, to the last penny.”

“So you see, there are small entities who make fun of you, and to make sure of you they work these little miracles to encourage you, and when they feel that you are well trapped, they play a fine trick upon you and it is all over with you.”

Sri Aurobindo and the Mother, The Hidden Forces of Life, Ch. 5 Occult Forces, pp. 124-125

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 located at https://anchor.fm/santosh-krinsky
He is author of 20 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.
Video presentations, interviews and podcast episodes are all available on the YouTube Channel https://www.youtube.com/@santoshkrinsky871
More information about Sri Aurobindo can be found at www.aurobindo.net
The US editions and links to e-book editions of Sri Aurobindo’s writings can be found at Lotus Press www.lotuspress.com