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Mental health

Hallucinations and visions*

The Mother

That which men term a hallucination is the reflection in the mind and senses of that which is beyond our ordinary mental and sensory perceptions. Superstition arises from the mind’s wrong understanding of these reflections. There is no other hallucination.1

Can hallucinations be compared to visions?

A vision is a perception, by the visual organs, of phenomena that really exist in a world corresponding to the organ which sees.

For example, to the individual vital plane there corresponds a cosmic vital world. When a human being is sufficiently developed he possesses an individualised vital being with organs of sight, hearing, smell, etc. So a person who has a well-developed vital being can see in the vital world with his vital sight, consciously and with the memory of what he has seen. This is what makes a vision.

It is the same for all the subtle worlds — vital, mental, overmental, supramental — and for all the intermediate worlds and planes of the being. In this way one can have visions that are vital, mental, overmental, supramental, etc.

On the other hand, Sri Aurobindo tells us that what is termed a hallucination is the reflection in the mind or the physical senses of that which is beyond our mind and our ordinary senses; it is therefore not a direct vision, but a reflected image which is usually not understood or explained. This character of uncertainty produces an impression of unreality and gives rise to all kinds of superstition. This is also why “serious” people, or people who think themselves serious, do not accord any value to these phenomena and call them hallucinations. And yet, in those who are interested in occult phenomena, this type of perception often precedes the emergence of the capacity of vision which may be in course of formation. But you must guard against mistaking this for true vision. For, I repeat, these phenomena occur most often in a state of almost complete ignorance and are too frequently accompanied by much error and wrong interpretation; not to mention the cases of unscrupulous people, who introduce into the account they give of their experiences many details and particulars not actually there, thus justifying the discredit with which these phenomena are received by rational and thoughtful people.

So we shall reserve the word “vision” for experiences that occur in awareness and sincerity. Nevertheless, in both cases, in “hallucination” as well as in vision, what is seen does correspond to something quite real, although it is sometimes much deformed in the transcription.

* Heading provided by the Editor.

1 Sri Aurobindo. Birth Centenary Library, Volume 17. Pondicherry: Sri Aurobindo Ashram Trust; 1971, p. 80.

*The Mother. Collected Works of the Mother, Volume 10. Cent. ed. Pondicherry: Sri Aurobindo Ashram Trust; 1977, pp. 41-2.

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A vision