The sign of dawning Knowledge is to feel that as yet I know little or nothing; and yet, if I could only know my knowledge, I already possess everything.
- Sri Aurobindo
In sleep one occasionally has a very accurate knowledge of what is going to happen, with an extraordinary precision in the material details, as if everything were already there complete down to the smallest details, on an occult plane. Is that correct? What is this plane of knowledge? Is there one or several? What should one do to gain access to it consciously in the waking state? And how is it that people who are serious, who have a divine realisation, sometimes make such gross mistakes in their predictions?
But it is a whole world in itself! It is not one question, but twenty!
There are all kinds of premonitory dreams. There are premonitory dreams that are fulfilled immediately, that is to say, you dream in the night what will happen on the next day, and there are premonitory dreams that are fulfilled over varying lengths of time. And according to their position in time, these dreams are seen on various planes.
The higher we rise towards absolute certainty, the greater the distance is, because these visions belong to a region which is very close to the Origin and the length of time between the revelation of what is going to be and its realisation may be very great. But the revelation is certain, because it is very close to the Origin. There is a place—when one is identified with the Supreme—where one knows everything absolutely, in the past, the present, the future and everywhere. But usually people who go there forget what they have seen when they return. An extremely strict discipline is needed to remember. And that is the only place where one cannot make a mistake.
But the links of the chain of communication are not always all there and one very rarely remembers.
To come back to what I was saying, according to the plane on which one has seen, one can more or less judge the time that the vision will take to be fulfilled. And the immediate things are already realised, they already exist in the subtle physical and they can be seen there—they simply are, they exist there. They are only the reflection—not even a transcription—the reflection or projection of the image in the material world which will appear on the next day or in a few hours. There you see the exact thing in all its details, because it already exists; so everything depends on the accuracy of the vision and the power of vision. If you have a power of vision that is objective and sincere, you see the thing accurately; if you add your own feelings and impressions to it, it is coloured by them. So accuracy in the subtle physical depends exclusively on the instrument, that is to say, on the one who sees.
But as soon as you enter a more subtle region, such as the vital—and even more so in the mental, but already in the vital there is a small margin of possibility—then there you can see roughly what is going to happen, but in detail it may be like this or like that; there are wills and influences that may possibly intervene and create a difference.
And this is because the original Will is reflected, so to say, in the various regions, and each region alters the organisation and the relation of the images. The world we live in is a world of images. It is not the thing itself in its essence, it is the reflection of the thing. One could say that we are, in our material existence, only a reflection, an image of what we are in our essential reality. And the modalities of these reflections bring in every error and falsification—what you see in the essence is perfectly true and pure and exists from all eternity; the images are essentially variable. And according to the degree of falsehood that enters into the vibrations, the degree of distortion and alteration increases. One could say that every circumstance, every event, every thing has a pure existence, which is the true existence, and a considerable number of impure or distorted existences, which are the existence of the same thing in the various domains of being. For example, in the intellectual domain, there is already a good deal of distortion; in the mental domain there is a considerable amount of distortion, and as all the emotional and sensorial domains come in, the distortions increase. And once you reach the material plane, it is most often unrecognisable. It is completely distorted—so much so that it is sometimes very difficult to know that this is the material expression of that—they are no longer very much alike.
It is a rather novel way of approaching the problem and it may be the key to many things.
Thus when you know someone well and you often see him physically, if you see him in the subtle physical, already there are things which become more marked, more visible, more outstanding, which you had not seen physically, because in the greyness of the material world they had merged with many other things on the same plane. There are characteristics or expressions of character which become outstanding enough to be quite visible, although they had not been physically apparent. When you look at a person physically, there is the complexion, the features, the expression; at the same moment, if you see this face in the subtle physical, you suddenly notice that one part of the face is one colour, another part another colour; that in the eyes there is an expression and a kind of light which were not at all visible; and that the whole has quite a different appearance and, above all, gives a very different feeling, which to our physical eyes would seem rather extravagant, but which to the subtle vision is very expressive and revealing of the character, or even of the influences acting on this person. What I say here is the record of an experience that I had again a few days ago.
So according to the degree to which you are conscious and the extent to which you see, you perceive images, see events that are more or less near, and you see them more or less accurately. The only vision that is true and sure is the vision of the divine Consciousness. So the problem is to become aware of the divine Consciousness and to keep this consciousness in all details all the time.
Until then, there are all sorts of ways of receiving indications. The precise, accurate, familiar vision that certain people have may come from several sources. It may be a vision by identity with circumstances and things, when you are used to extending your consciousness all around you. It may be an indication given by a talkative being from the invisible world who amuses himself by informing you of what is going to happen— this happens very often. Then everything depends on the moral character of your informant; if he is amusing himself at your expense, he tells you all kinds of tales—and this is what happens most of the time to people who get information from entities. To lure people on, they may very often tell them things as they really will be, since they have a universal vision in some domain of the vital or of the mind; and then when they are quite sure that you will trust them, they may start telling you tales and you make a fool of yourself. This happens very often. You yourself should be in a higher state of consciousness than these individuals or entities or these little gods, as some people call them, and be able to verify from above what their statements are worth.
If you have a universal mental vision, you can see all mental formations. Then you see—and it is very interesting—how the mental world is organised to realise itself on the physical plane. You see the various formations, the way in which they approach and fight each other, combine together and organise themselves, the ones that prevail and gain influence and achieve a more complete realisation. Now if you really want to have a higher vision, you must rise above the mental world and see the original wills as they descend to express themselves. In this case, you may not possess all the details, but the central fact, the fact in its central truth, is indisputable, undeniable, absolutely correct.
Some people also have the power to predict things which already exist on earth, but at a distance, at a great distance, very far from the physical eyes. These are usually people who are capable of widening and extending their consciousness. They have a physical, but slightly more subtle vision, which depends on an organ that is more subtle than the purely material one—what might be called the life of this organ—and so, by projecting their consciousness with a will to see, they can see very well, they can see things: these things already exist, only they are not within the field of our ordinary vision. People who have this capacity and who tell what they see, who are sincere and who are not bluffers, see in a way that is absolutely precise and exact.
In fact, an important factor for those who predict or see, is their absolute sincerity. Unfortunately, because of people's curiosity, their insistence, the pressure they apply—which very few can resist—what happens, when there is something they do not see exactly and precisely, is that there is an almost involuntary faculty of inner imagination, which adds the little missing element. This is what causes the flaws in their predictions. Very few have the courage to say, "Oh no, I do not know about that, it eludes me." They do not even have the courage to say it to themselves. And then, just a touch of imagination, acting almost subconsciously, and they fill in the vision, the information—anything can happen. Very few people can resist that. I have known many, many clairvoyants, I have known many people who had a marvellous gift; very few of them would stop when they come to the end of their knowledge. Or else they would add some little detail. This is what always gives these faculties a rather doubtful quality. One must truly be a saint—a great saint, a great sage—and completely free, not at all influenced by other people. Naturally, I am not speaking of those who seek fame, because there they fall into the crudest traps; but even goodwill, the wish to make people happy, to please them, to help them, is enough to create a distortion.
When events are already prepared in the subtle physical and you have a vision of them, is it too late to change things? Can one still act?
I know of a very interesting example. There was a time when in the newspaper Le Matin—it was a long time ago, you must have been very young—every day there was a little cartoon of a boy pointing to something—a kind of page-boy dressed like that—and always showing the date or something—a little cartoon. Now the gentleman in this story was travelling and he was staying in a big hotel, I do not remember in which town, and one night or early in the morning, very early, he had a dream. He saw this page-boy pointing to his funeral carriage—you know, when they take people to the cemetery, in Europe—and inviting him to step into it! He saw that and then in the morning when he was ready, he left his room which was on the top floor, and there, on the landing, the same boy, dressed in the same way, was pointing out the lift for him to go down. That gave him a shock. He refused and said, No thank you. The lift fell and crashed, killing the people inside.
He told me that after that he believed in dreams.
It was a vision. He saw the boy, but instead of the lift, the boy was showing him his hearse. So when he saw the same gesture, the same boy—like the cartoon, you see—he said, No thank you, I'll walk down, and the machine was one of those hydraulic lifts—broke and fell. It was right at the top. It was crushed to a pulp.
My explanation is that an entity had forewarned him. The image of the page-boy seems to indicate that an intelligence, a consciousness had intervened; it does not seem to have been his own subconscient. Or it might be that his subconscient was aware and had seen in the subtle physical that this was going to happen. But why did his subconscient give him an image like that? I do not know. Perhaps something in the subconscient knew, because it was already there, it was already in the subtle physical. The accident already existed before it happened—the law of the accident.
Obviously, there is always, in every case, some difference, sometimes a few hours—but that is the maximum—sometimes a few seconds. And very often, things tell you that they are there, and it takes them sometimes a few minutes, sometimes a few seconds to come into contact with your consciousness. Constantly, constantly I know what is going to happen, and for things that are of absolutely no interest—there is no advantage in knowing it beforehand, it changes nothing; but it exists, it is all around you. If your consciousness is wide enough, you know all that, for example, that a certain person is going to bring you a parcel, things like that. And it is like that every day. Or that a certain person is about to arrive. It is because the consciousness is extended, so it contacts things.
But in that case we cannot say that it is a premonition, for it already exists, only the contact with our senses takes a few seconds to be realised, because there is a door or a wall or something that prevents us from seeing.
But several times I have had experiences like this. For example, once when I was walking in the mountains, I was on a path where there was only room for one—on one side the precipice, on the other sheer rock. There were three children behind me and a fourth person bringing up the rear. I was leading. The path ran along the edge of the rock; we could not see where we were going—and besides, it was very dangerous; if anyone had slipped, he would have been over the edge. I was walking in front when suddenly I saw, with other eyes than these—although I was watching my steps carefully—I saw a snake, there, on the rock, waiting on the other side. Then I took one step, gently, and indeed on the other side there was a snake. That spared me the shock of surprise, because I had seen and I was advancing cautiously; and as there was no shock of surprise, I was able to tell the children without giving them a shock, "Stop, keep quiet, don't stir." If there had been a shock, something might have happened. The snake had heard a noise, it was already coiled and on the defensive in front of its hole, with its head swaying—it was a viper. This was in France. Nothing happened, whereas if there had been any confusion or commotion, anything could have happened.
This kind of thing has happened to me very, very often—with snakes it happened to me four times. Once, it was completely dark, here, near the fishing village of Ariankuppam. There was a river and it happened just at the place where it flows into the sea. It was dark—the night had fallen very quickly. We were walking along the road and just as I was about to put my foot down—I had already lifted my foot and I was going to put it down—I distinctly heard a voice in my ear: Be careful! And yet nobody had spoken. So I looked and saw, just as my foot was about to touch the ground, an enormous black cobra, which I would have comfortably stepped on—those people don't like that. He streaked away and across the water—what a beauty, my child! His hood open, head erect above the water, he went across like a king. Obviously, I would have been punished for my impertinence.
I have had hundreds and hundreds of experiences like that; at the very last moment, not a second too soon, I was informed. And in the most varied circumstances. Once, in Paris, I was crossing the Boulevard Saint Michel. It was during the last weeks; I had decided that within a certain number of months I would achieve union with the psychic Presence, the inner Divine, and I no longer had any other thought, any other concern. I lived near the Luxembourg Gardens and every evening I used to walk there—but always deeply absorbed within. There is a kind of intersection there, and it is not a place to cross when one is deeply absorbed within; it was not very sensible. And so I was like that, I was walking, when I suddenly received a shock, as if I had received a blow, as if something had hit me, and I jumped back instinctively. And as soon as I had jumped back, a tram went past—it was the tram that I had felt at a little more than arm's length. It had touched the aura, the aura of protection was very strong at that time, I was deeply immersed in occultism and I knew how to keep it—the aura of protection had been hit and that had literally thrown me backwards, as if I had received a physical shock. And what insults from the driver! I jumped back just in time and the tram went by.
I could tell scores of such stories, if I could remember them.
The protection may come from many different sources. Very often it was someone who informed me: a little entity, or some kind of being; sometimes it was the aura that protected me. And it was for all kinds of things. That is to say, life was seldom limited to the physical body—this is convenient, this is good. It is necessary, it increases your capacities. This is what the person who taught me occultism told me straightaway: You are depriving yourself of senses which are most useful even for the most ordinary life. And this is true, quite true. We can know infinitely more things than we usually do, simply by using our own senses. And not only from the mental point of view, but also from the vital and even the physical point of view.
But what is the method?
Oh, the method is very easy. There are disciplines. It depends on what you want to do.
It depends. For each thing there is a method. And the first method is to want it, to begin with, that is, to take a decision. Then you are given a description of all these senses and how they work—that takes some time. You take one sense or several, or the one which is easiest for you to start with, and you decide. Then you follow the discipline. It is the equivalent of exercises for developing the muscles. You can even succeed in creating a will in yourself.
But for more subtle things, the method is to make for yourself an exact image of what you want, to come into contact with the corresponding vibration, and then to concentrate and do exercises—such as to practise seeing through an object or hearing through a sound, (Mother explained later: To hear behind the sound is to come into contact with the subtle reality which is behind the material fact, behind the word or the physical sound or behind music, for example. One concentrates and then one hears what is behind. It means coming into contact with the vital reality which is behind the appearances. There can also be a mental reality, but generally, what lies immediately behind the physical sound is a vital reality) or seeing at a distance. For example, once, for a long time, for several months, I was confined to bed and I found it rather boring—I wanted to see. I was in a room and at one end there was another little room and at the end of the little room there was a kind of bridge; in the middle of the garden the bridge became a staircase leading down into a very big and very beautiful studio, standing in the middle of the garden. I wanted to go and see what was happening in the studio, for I was feeling bored in my room. So I would remain very quiet, close my eyes and send out my consciousness, little by little, little by little, little by little. And day after day—I chose a fixed time and did the exercise regularly. At first you make use of your imagination and then it becomes a fact. After some time I really had the physical sensation that my vision was moving; I followed it and then I could see things downstairs which I knew nothing about. I would check afterwards. In the evening I would ask, Was this like that? And was that like this?
But for each one of these things you must practise for months with patience, with a kind of obstinacy. You take the senses one by one, hearing, sight, and you can even arrive at subtle realities of taste, smell and touch.
From the mental point of view it is easier, for there you are accustomed to concentration. When you want to think and find a solution, instead of following the deductions of thought, you stop everything and try to concentrate and concentrate, intensify the point of the problem. You stop everything and wait until, by the intensity of the concentration, you obtain an answer. This also requires some time. But if you used to be a good student, you must be quite used to doing that and it is not very difficult.
There is a kind of extension of the physical senses. Red Indians, for example, possess a sense of hearing and smell with a far greater range than our own—and dogs! I knew an Indian—he was my friend when I was eight or ten years old. He had come with Buffalo Bill, at the time of the Hippodrome—it was a long time ago, I was eight years old—and he would put his ear to the ground and was so clever that he knew how far away... according to the intensity of the vibration, he knew how far away someone's footsteps were. After that, the children would immediately say, I wish I knew how to do that!
And then you try. That is how you prepare yourself. You think you are playing but you are preparing yourself for later on.