Journal of New Approaches to Medicine and Health

Namah Journal
Moving Forward
New Issue
About us
Other Publications


Beyond paradigms — II

Dr. Alok Pandey

Editor’s note

In these times we see a rise of complementary medicine. Prānic healing, reiki, crystal healing are common words. Cancers have been cured, AIDS treated, arthritis and blood pressure healed! Allopathic physicians can mock this yet the Americans are willing to spend millions researching it. Do we have an explanation as to what is happening? This article explores the occult and spiritual Truths behind the phenomena….

A confluence of two sciences

That there is in us a much greater potential is now well accepted. We know that we hardly use most of our capacities and that a number of such capacities lie hidden and buried within unseen tracts of our nature. Sometimes these capacities emerge from their sleep and surprise the human instrument. The anomalous and the unexplained, the phenomenon of the genius born in human clay, the visions of the mystic and the various powers and siddhis well-known to yogis all over the world bear testimony to these possibilities that wait beyond the present arc of our vision and action. Once scoffed at as superstition and credulous, science itself is now turning to examine these possibilities with excitement and amazement. The Indian yogis knew very well that, extending beyond and behind our surface consciousness, there awaits a whole world (or worlds) teeming with forces, powers, energies, beings whose influence reaches our earth and who have had their role in shaping the earthly life. This intuition has inspired the search for an alien life elsewhere than on our planet. In reality, the alien is not a creature from another planet but rather an energy-formation from another dimension of the Space-Time continuum, following another set of laws than those we are aware of. These visitations of another life are not from outside but from our inner Space. Even the efforts of genetic scientists at modifying our genetic endowment, so that we may have better possibilities, is also inspired by this concealed intuition that there is more to us than what we presently believe, experience or imagine. The issue is how we can generalise this possibility for the race. Genetic manipulation is not likely to yield the desired result since the genes have a much greater say in determining our physical make-up than our psychological one. The physical base is important; but the capacities and possibilities that we are speaking of are not solely dependent upon the physical make-up. The very fact that they can be developed through education, training, and certain occult and yogic processes means that nurturing plays a great role in their blossoming. We may be hard-wired in certain ways, but we also have something in us that can re-programme and re-wire us. That something we must find and activate.

According to yoga, the human body, like the physical universe itself, is a façade that conceals behind and beyond it ranges of consciousness and energies waiting to be discovered. In fact these energies and forces intertwine with our everyday life, even intervene in it but their action often goes unnoticed because it is conditioned and thereby limited by the resistance offered by the physical apparatus, the human body itself. It is only when the action is overwhelming or defies simple natural explanation that we begin to suspect something other than and beyond the boundaries of the known and start looking for causes that are like early leads into the now occult realms of our existence. This search does not exclude physical causes, but also it does not limit itself to purely physical causes alone. We may almost say that two kinds of sciences have always existed in man’s long and hazardous quest for the Unknown, — the physical and the occult, with the psychological as the common meeting-point between the two. In days of old, the occult side was rather developed, especially in certain civilisations, while in the present era the physical approach is much more developed. It is a question of stress on one or the other. Both approaches have their validity, both have their strengths and limitations, both can be usefully and fruitfully combined for the good of humanity. Indeed there is an increasing attempt to understand and combine the two all over the world and we can see this as a welcome sign.

Science of appearances and science of hidden forces

But before we go any further, it may be helpful to define what exactly we mean by the physical and the occult respectively. Also what is this psychological ground where the two streams of energies meet? To simplify, we may say that all physical phenomena can be resolved into a complex play of physical forces whose fine and intricate balance ‘creates’ (or more accurately, manifests) the physical side of the universe that is so tangible and sensible to our cognition. The tangibility is, of course, provided by the sensory apparatus that has evolved along certain lines to receive the impact of these forces and convert their signals into perceptible images. We may say, without the least exaggeration, that we never see, sense, experience or know the universe as it really is, but rather as it presents itself to our senses. We play with images that are real and not real at the same time. They are real in the sense that they are the surface representations and transcripts of something deeper. It is not real in the sense that the representation is tentative, a workable thing and not the actual fact which we cannot catch exactly. Just as a blind man can learn to accurately navigate his passage without exactly knowing what he is navigating through, so do we pass through objects and navigate through the physical world teeming with physical events and circumstances in a half-blind manner, simply through habit and learning. So too, there is behind the world of sensible physical facts and phenomena, a series or hierarchy of worlds teeming with forces of various orders that have an influence upon our lives. To understand these forces is to understand the occult side of creation.

It is also important to distinguish these occult forces from the spiritual. Much of what is spiritual is occult to us since we hardly ever sense it, but much that is occult is not necessarily spiritual. For practical purposes, we may say that the forces which hide behind our physical, emotional, sensational and vital movements; the vibrations and energies that are concealed within the universe as a subtle pattern intervening between the pure spiritual and the physical can be called the occult. The metaphysical logic or the spiritual justification for these subtle energies is that although it is the Spirit that has become Matter (in the deepest spiritual vision of things), this process of becoming is still not a sudden precipitation or condensation of one into the other. As vapour passes through the liquid state before it solidifies into fixed forms of the earth, so too the spiritual energy passes through a series of less dense, more subtle, easily flowing and intermixing, less circumscribed forms of energy until it concretises into material forms. These intermediaries between the physical and spiritual world exist and continue to exercise their influence upon matter. At one level, they put a screen between the spiritual and the material, at another level they help in a slow awakening of the physical world to the spiritual. A sudden awakening may well be disastrous. Each such step of awakening becomes a step in the great evolutionary journey. A leap is possible but is often precipitous. Therefore Nature has adopted this slow deliberate process. Too much fire and too intense an energy may well burn off the spiritual possibility ingrained in matter rather than unfolding it. It is here that we touch the heart of the evolutionary problem.

The evolutionary puzzle

The evolutionary problem is, in a way, the core problem or the central issue around which everything else revolves. To understand life, to understand death, to understand health and illness, we need first to understand this most happening thing upon earth, that is evolution. It is the pressure of evolution within and without, with its attendant call to adaptation, that creates disequilibrium resulting in illness and even death. Although, to all appearance, this adaptation seems to be to outside forces and other species, in essence it is always an inner adaptation. Each species represents some aspect of the Whole, each is one piece of the great jigsaw puzzle of Nature, and each is needed in the total cosmic scheme of things. Through the mutual conflict and clash of forces, new possibilities emerge from within the species that successfully adapts. This adaptation again is not about survival but a movement along the path of releasing from within new possibilities. Sometimes this new emergence is at the cost of the previous ability, at other times, the new is a transformation of the old. Thus, for example, the fish loses its ability to swim underwater and an amphibious organism is born. The reptile loses its ability to crawl and a bird sails in the sky. The bird loses its ability to fly and a four-footed creature with strong sinews to run and hunt comes into existence. The four-footed animal loses its strength, swiftness and suppleness and a thinking creature called man inhabits the earth. But seen in another way, the reptile is a modification of the nervous vital energy that we see as a seed in the plant into a creature that is slimy and swift. Nature so modifies the instruments that a greater vital energy can pour and be consumed by the emerging species. The same vital energy undergoes further and further modification until it reveals itself as the feeder energy of the mind turning into thought activity rather than muscular movements alone.

In simple words, we may say that the problem of evolution is two-fold, — physical and occult. The physical side of the problem relates to the modification of the instruments of nature that have so far evolved to express certain vibrations. The occult side involves the expression of higher and higher states of consciousness and energy through the form. We can compare it loosely to a certain degree of interdependence between the hardware and the software of a computer. Living systems are however far more complex. Our past lingers in us as habits formed by actions that have repetitively run in certain fixed grooves. Evolution does not destroy the past but keeps modifying it step by step until it accommodates the future. In other words, to come back to our original issue, we have to work at two ends simultaneously to bring the evolutionary potential into full play. The first is of course finding some way and means to come out of the limited frame of consciousness in which we are trapped and which we consider so much more real and true. This frame determines our experience of the self and the world. But before we can think of exceeding it, we should know what constitutes this frame. It is rather like a series of frames reinforcing each other. The first frame is of course formed by the senses that at once limit as well as construct the reality that we believe so much to be true. Next comes in our desires, hopes, expectations, fears, strivings and anxieties that add their own peculiar hue and colour. All this is further strengthened by our ideas, opinions, prejudices, views that we have gathered through learning or grown up with, absorbed mechanically with the mother’s milk. The final lock and seal of limit is put by our beliefs in what can be and cannot be.

The inner keys

We have to first of all open the lock. We need faith as the key, — faith in our possibilities, faith in the divinity of things, faith in the seemingly blind steps of destiny, faith in the human spirit that alone is capable of undoing this hypnosis with which we are born and die carrying as a cross upon our shoulders. The animal has a spontaneous trust in its instincts, man in his reason. But instinct and reason are both merely devices and instruments of nature. Nature has more to offer, but for that we must stop treating her as a mechanical unconscious energy, but treat her with the same respect and love as we would a living goddess. Once we do that, she will herself remove the outermost mechanical veil that she has spun around herself like a dress to hide her deeper secrets. Leading us to her fairer and brighter forms, she shall show us her most marvellous of faces, the luminous Śakti or the Conscious Power of the Supreme. These two are the key to all other discoveries we can make with their conjunction. This is the basic principle behind certain forms of yoga (particularly the Tantra), that seek to bring out these deeper and higher possibilities of Nature picturesquely called by various names, Kuṇḍalini Śakti for instance.

Added to faith and Grace of the Spirit is will, that energy of all effectuation often dissipated in us in lesser channels for the fulfillment of some gross appetites and crude desires. The gift of conscious will is something unique in human beings. Whether there is any real free-will or not is a question best left to metaphysical thought, but from a practical point of view there is indeed in man some semblance of free will, perhaps a device of Nature that creates in man a pressure to choose and evolve, to learn deliberately and grow consciously, to refer everything to some kind of discriminating faculty, however imperfectly developed it may be. In fact, will and faith together are the most formidable allies of conscious evolution that support the action of higher consciousness when it acts upon our present nature and its limited formations to push them beyond their limits. This is as true in any matter concerning world-knowledge as it is concerning Self-knowledge, the two that we discover to be one in the end. For the deepest truth discovered by the practice of yoga is that the world is nothing else but an extension and expression of our self. Psychologically, we discover it in everyday life. We often see in the world nothing else but a projection of ourselves. Even what we call God or a higher Reality, we often construct or impose upon it the structures of our ignorant understanding, making God simply a magnified human being. The same is true at the deepest level. Creation is an extension of the Self. We may say with an equal validity that as is our self, so is the world experienced and perceived. It is as much true at the physical level as at the spiritual. The animal ‘sees’ and ‘hears’ the world very differently than a human being does. The sense organs in different people do not report the same way. To add to the many paradoxes of the world, we may say without much error that we all see and experience ‘the same thing’ and yet we all see and experience ‘different things’. To this, the Vedantic Yogin adds that we all experience only the One since there are no two.

The One

We may wonder what this profound experience of the One Reality behind the many façades has to do with evolution. But the ancient Indian seers did not see it that way. In fact they connected everything to this One. They saw evolution as an effort towards an increasing awareness, manifestation and expression of the One. Birth was a self-limitation of the ‘One’. Death was the dissolution of the teguments in which the One had wrapped Itself. Rebirth was the process through which the soul (a spark of the One) grew and became aware of the One. The many forms of creatures formed an ascending scale in terms of expression of the ‘One’. But this One is not simply some featureless, formless essence of things but a dynamic Power, an Infinite that contains within Itself all possibilities just as the sun carries within it light and heat, whose fraction reaches our earth through its countless rays. By discovering this ‘One’, we discover the Source of our Strength, Wisdom, Love and Bliss. By discovering the One, we uncover our highest spiritual possibility, the Perfection, the Real-Idea of which our present life is a poor imitation or a bad replica. It is this ‘One’ that has become these countless worlds. It is this One that has become you, me, us and everything and everyone else. It is this One that is the cause of the secret unity behind creation despite all the surface clash and strife. It is this One through which we can re-establish our secret bond with all things. The possibilities are immense, the potential applications of this discovery are manifold.

(To be continued)

Dr. Alok Pandey is a doctor practising at the Sri Aurobindo Ashram.

Share with us (Comments, contributions, opinions)

When reproducing this feature, please credit NAMAH, and give the byline. Please send us cuttings.

Complementary medicine


A physical base





A four-footed animal




Practice of yoga